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Declaration of war by Woodrow Wilson on the German Reich
The United States enters World War I.
Nicholas II after his abdication and internment
The Russian Tsar Nicholas II is overthrown by the February Revolution .
Portrait of Lenin in Switzerland before his departure
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin travels from Zurich to Petrograd
in a sealed train .
Rally of workers' and soldiers' councils on Annunciation Square in Nizhny Novgorod, October 1917
With the October Revolution
, the Bolsheviks take power in Russia .
1917 in other calendars
Armenian calendar 1365/66 (July turn of the year)
Ethiopian calendar 1909/10 (10/11 September)
Baha'i calendar 73/74 (20/21 March)
Bengali solar calendar 1322/23 (beginning of the year April 14 or 15)
Buddhist calendar 2460/61 (Southern Buddhism); 2459/60 (alternative calculation according to Buddha's parinirvana )
Chinese calendar 76th (77th) cycle

Year of the Fire Serpent丁巳 ( at the beginning of the year Fire Dragon 丙辰)

Chuch'e ideology (North Korea) Chuche 6
Chula Sakarat (Siam, Myanmar) / Dai calendar (Vietnam) 1279/80 (April turn of the year)
Dangun era (Korea) 4250/51 (October 2nd/3rd)
Iranian calendar 1295/96 (around March 21)
Islamic calendar 1335/36 (17/18 October)
Japanese calendar Taishō 6 ( 大正元年);
Koki 2577
Jewish calendar 5677/78 (September 16/17)
Coptic calendar 1633/34 (10/11 September)
Malayalam calendar 1092/93
Minguo Calendar (China) Year 6 of the Republic
Rumi Calendar (Ottoman Empire) 1332/33 (March 1)
Seleucid era Babylon: 2227/28 (April turn of the year)

Syria: 2228/29 (October turn of the year)

Suriyakati Calendar (Thai Solar Calendar) 2459/60 (April 1)
Tibetan calendar 1663
Vikram Sambat (Nepalese calendar) 1973/74 (April)

The year 1917 is determined by the international events that take place against the formative background of the First World War . The entry of the United States into the war on the Entente side, triggered by the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German Empire and the intercepted Zimmermann dispatch to Mexico at the beginning of the year, explains the slow rise from an industrial superpower to a political world power . The Entente's increased tank warfare and their surplus of material and troops let the strategic initiative pass to them.

In the Russian Empire , social and political tensions led to the fall of the ruling Tsar family , the Romanovs , in the February Revolution , whose representatives were in turn overthrown by the October Revolution and the subsequent civil war . The establishment of a Soviet system , the USSR , laid the seeds for the East-West conflict and allowed Russia to grow into a world power of communist design over the next few decades.

The political and socio-economic upheavals that the war demands of the countries involved mark the end of the so-called “long 19th century” , the break in monarchical tradition towards the politicization of the masses. Due to these complex phenomena, which give the year 1917 a caesura character, it is also referred to as an epoch year .


politics and world affairs

First World War

Political and diplomatic developments
Zimmermann telegram
The war zone declared by the German Reich on February 1, 1917
Wilson's second inauguration in 1917
Karl Hjalmar Branting (centre) and Hungarian delegates at the Stockholm Peace Conference
A Good Riddance
cartoon by Punch on the British royal family's name change
Page 2 of the declaration with the signatures
Image of Balfour and his declaration
Signing of the armistice
  • December 9: In Brest-Litovsk , the delegations of Russia and the Central Powers meet for the first time to negotiate a ceasefire. Despite mutual personal dislike of the negotiators, a ceasefire agreement is signed on December 15.
Map of the 1917 election
  • December 17: Prime Minister Robert Borden wins Canada 's general election with the Unionist Party , a short-lived coalition of Conservatives and some pro-conscription Liberals, the largest majority ever won by any party in a federal election. Candidates from the opposition Liberal Party , who support their party leader Wilfrid Laurier , are predominantly being elected in the French-speaking province of Quebec , where conscription has met with unanimous opposition.
"Home Front"
western front
The Western Front 1917
Change in the course of the front caused by the Alberich company
  • 9 February to 15 March: Under the alias of Operation Alberich , German forces on the Western Front prepare to withdraw to the Siegfried Line. This is intended to shorten the course of the front and thwart the Allied attack plans. The withdrawal is carried out from March 16 to 20 under the leadership of Army Group "Kronprinz Rupprecht" . The area to be cleared on both sides of the Somme is systematically devastated before the withdrawal in order to make it largely impossible for the enemy to use it for military purposes. Around 200 towns and the infrastructure are completely destroyed; more than 100,000 civilians are deported . From the German point of view, the enterprise is successful and surprises the military leadership of the Entente . But it also strengthens the reputation of the Germans as "barbarians".
Mata Hari on the day of her arrest
  • February 13: Mata Hari is arrested for espionage in Paris and taken to Saint-Lazare women's prison after her appearance before the magistrate of the court-martial . Her trial begins on July 24th and lasts only one and a half days in camera.
  • March 27: German soldiers blew up the keep of Coucy Castle , one of the most important medieval feudal castles in Europe, in Picardy , despite numerous protests from historians on both sides .
  • April 9 Battle of Arras begins. By May 16, British and Canadian troops succeeded in taking a strategic ridge near Vimy from German troops, but without achieving a decisive breakthrough. British losses during the battle amount to 150,000 men, the Germans are slightly lower.
  • April 16: Under General Robert Nivelle , the French army launches a major offensive against the Chemin des Dames, which is considered impregnable. The second battle of the Aisne had to be stopped at the end of May because of the heavy losses.
  • End of April: The first extensive mutinies in the French army occur . By June 10, around 25,000 to 50,000 men were refusing to carry out orders.
  • May 21: Battle of Messines begins. It is best known for the simultaneous detonation on 7 June of a group of mines previously dug by Allied troops under German positions, ending on 21 June in a British victory and German withdrawal.
  • May 27: Mutiny breaks out among around 30,000 French soldiers at Missy-aux-Bois in north -eastern France .
  • June 4 France forms the Blue Army from Polish émigrés.
  • June 13: John J. Pershing , commander in chief, American Expeditionary Forces , arrives in Paris with his staff. Barely two weeks later, on June 26, the first combat troops of the 1st Infantry Division landed at Saint-Nazaire . Pershing wants to train his soldiers well before they are sent into battle, which is why American troops only move into trenches on the Western Front at the end of October. He also considers the Entente's plan to deploy its troops at the front under foreign command to be unacceptable. This initially caused great tension between the US militaries and their European allies.
  • July 12: In the course of the gas war during the First World War , German troops used mustard gas for the first time near Ypres .
Water-filled trench
Passchendaele before and after the Third Battle of Ypres
Mountain warfare between Italy and Austria-Hungary
  • May 12 to June 10: The tenth Battle of the Isonzo brings heavy losses on both sides only small gains for the Italian attackers.
  • August 17th to September 12th: In the eleventh Battle of the Isonzo, the Italian army is able to record successes, but fails to achieve its goal of conquering Trieste . Both sides not only suffer heavy casualties in the fighting, but are also increasingly weakened by rampant diseases such as dysentery and typhoid.
Initial situation of the 12th Battle of the Isonzo and development of the situation up to November 12th
eastern front
German troops invading Riga
The Fronts of the Ottoman Empire
Lawrence of Arabia in Aqaba
  • On May 9, TE Lawrence sets out with the Sherif Nasir and a few men on a journey through the Nefud desert to Maʿan in order to recruit more warriors there for sabotage actions in the vicinity and finally for the capture of Aqaba . They are soon joined on the journey by Auda ibu Tayi , a Howeitat tribal chief . With his help, the Turks finally succeeded in beating the Turks in front of Akaba at Abu l-Lisan on July 1st. The Arabs were able to take Aqaba without a fight on July 6th. With supplies now embarking in the city, the Bedouins are now able to take the Arab Revolt to Palestine and Syria and carry out several sabotage actions against the Hijaz railway and telegraph poles. On October 8th, the British expeditionary forces manage to break through at Gaza and advance further north through Palestine.
  • Mid-July: At the request of the Ottoman army command under Enver Pasha , Erich von Falkenhayn takes over the leadership of Army Group F , whose forces have been newly formed in Iraq and near Aleppo. After lengthy arguments with the Turkish leadership, on September 7 he was appointed as an Ottoman field marshal and commander-in-chief of two Turkish field armies in Palestine .
Allenby enters Jerusalem
  • 31 October: Edmund Allenby , since June 28 replacing Archibald Murray in command of the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force , begins a successful offensive against the Ottoman Army on the Palestine front . With the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade and the British 5th Mounted Brigade, he led one of the last successful cavalry attacks in history during the capture of Be'er Sheva . On November 7th he takes Gaza , which has been heavily fortified by the German commanders of the Ottoman troops. Ottoman resistance then collapses and Allenby is able to conquer Jaffa on November 16th. On November 19 he opens the Battle of Jerusalem , which ends on December 9 with the capture of the city .
  • 5 December: Revolutionary Russia and the Ottoman Empire sign the Erzincan Armistice , ending hostilities on the Caucasus Front.
The War in the Colonies
The Africa trip of LZ 104 (return dashed)
  • 3 November: A last attempt to supply the Schutztruppe with supplies by the airship LZ 104/L 59 from Berlin-Staaken via Bulgaria fails. On November 21, the airship turns back over Sudan and returns to Bulgaria. In flight, it sets a long-distance record. LZ 104 covered a distance of 6,757 kilometers in 95 hours and five minutes .
Sea and Air War

Due to the difficult overall military situation, the Supreme Army Command urged Wilhelm II to allow unlimited submarine warfare; on January 8, the Kaiser agreed. On January 9, Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg presented all the counter-arguments again, but in contrast to the discussions in 1915 and 1916, he no longer raised any fundamental objections. On January 9, 1917, the Privy Council decides to open unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1 without further negotiations and advance notices. This means that submarine commanders can attack "any ship using any available weapon without notice". The neutrals will receive a brief notification to this effect on January 31st. By December 31, 6.141 million GRT of Allied shipping and 1.127 million GRT of neutral shipping were sunk by the German U-boat fleet, consisting of approximately 110 operational boats.

The sinking Cornwallis , hit by German torpedoes east of Malta
  • January 9: The German submarine U 32 under the command of Kurt Hartwig sinks the British battleship Cornwallis in the Mediterranean . Since the ship can be kept under control for a long time before sinking, only 15 people are killed.
Squadron Richthofen 1917; Richthofen on the plane
  • January: Manfred von Richthofen is given the command of Jagdstaffel 11 .
  • February 3: The German submarine SM U 53 under captain lieutenant Hans Rose boards the US freighter Housatonic south of the Isles of Scilly . After the crew has boarded lifeboats, the ship is scuttled.
  • February 7: The British passenger liner California is sunk by the German submarine SM U 85 off the south coast of Ireland without warning . 41 people die.
  • February 17: When the French troop carrier Athos is sunk in the eastern Mediterranean by the German submarine SM U 65 under the command of Hermann von Fischel , 754 crew members, soldiers and passengers die.
  • February 25: The British ocean liner RMS Laconia is sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of southern Ireland without warning; 12 people die. The death of two Americans creates political tension.
  • March 11: SM U 53 under Hans Rose sinks the former Cunard Line passenger ship Folia , which has been converted into a cargo ship , killing seven crew members.
  • April 4: German submarine UC 35 sinks British passenger liner City of Paris off Cap d'Antibes ( Côte d'Azur ) . All 122 people on board die.
  • April 10: The British hospital ship HMHS Salta runs into a sea ​​mine off Le Havre and sinks. Of the 205 people on board, 130 die.
U 35 hits the British cargo ship Maplewood with a torpedo (April 7, 1917 in the Mediterranean)
British fighter pilot Albert Ball in the cockpit of his SE5
  • 22 April: A Royal Aircraft Factory SE5 is used for the first time on a Royal Flying Corps patrol flight over France. Starting in the summer, together with the Sopwith Camel , it made a significant contribution to achieving air supremacy for the Allies on the western front and maintaining it until the end of the war.
  • April 24: 180 nautical miles west of Fastnet Rock , the British passenger and cargo steamer Abosso is sunk by the German submarine U 43 ; 65 passengers and crew perish.
  • May 4: The former ocean liner Transylvania , converted into a troop carrier, is sunk by the German U-boat U 63 in the Gulf of Genoa . 412 soldiers and crew members die.
  • 15 May: An Austro-Hungarian attack on the Otranto Lock between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas leads to the Battle of the Straits of Otranto , the largest naval battle in the Adriatic during the war. Without losing a ship, the Austrian Navy , under the command of Miklós Horthy , inflicts great damage on the Entente and is able to break through the barrier. However, the battle changes little in the overall strategic situation in the Adriatic and the barrier can be rebuilt a little later.
Crew members celebrate Dunning after his historic landing
The accident on August 7th
  • August 2: Edwin Harris Dunning 's Sopwith Pup becomes the first pilot to land on a moving ship, the British aircraft carrier HMS Furious . Five days later, trying again, he falls and drowns.
  • August 13: The troop carrier Turakina is sunk by the German submarine U- 86 southwest of Bishop Rock at Land's End .
  • September/October: Operation Albion
  • 17 October: Battle of the Shetland Islands ends in Imperial Navy victory over Royal Navy .
  • November 17: In the German Bight , a naval battle breaks out between British and German naval forces off Heligoland , which is broken off without a decision being made.
  • November 28: Off the island of Anglesey , the British passenger and cargo steamer Apapa is sunk by two torpedoes by the German U-boat U 96 ; 77 passengers and crew perish.
  • December 6: SM U 53 under Hans Rose sank the United States Navy destroyer USS Jacob Jones . Two officers and 64 sailors are killed. It is the first US Navy destroyer to be lost to enemy action.
  • December 12: The sea ​​battle off Bergen ends with another German victory over British units.
  • December 30: The British troop carrier Aragon is sunk by a torpedo off the port of Alexandria by the German submarine UC-34 . 610 British soldiers and crew members perish.
  • December 31: The British troop carrier Osmanieh runs into a sea mine laid by the German submarine UC 34 off Alexandria and sinks within a few minutes. 199 people are killed, including eight British nurses.

The revolution in Russia

February revolution and overthrow of the tsar
Session of the Soldiers' Section of the Petrograd Soviet during the Russian Revolution
Poster showing the members of the original Provisional Government, March 1917
Journey of Lenin and October Revolution
Departure tomorrow – ( Lenin from Bern to Henri Guilbeaux on April 6, 1917)
Nikolos Cheidze, Speech in Petrograd
Lenin addresses the Petrograd Soviet in the Tauride Palace
July uprising in Petrograd: Government troops shoot down demonstrators with machine guns
Alexander Kerensky 1917
Decree on Peace
independence aspirations
The recognition of Finland's independence by Russia


President Bernardino Machado and Prime Minister Afonso Costa 1917
  • 25 April: Finance Minister Afonso Costa succeeds António José de Almeida and becomes Prime Minister of Portugal for the third time . The new government consists only of democrats and non-partisans close to them, but is tolerated by the liberal evolutionists .
  • June 12: In Portugal, the Afonso Costa government declares a state of emergency after allegations of corruption killed in violent demonstrations.
Sidonio Pais
  • December 5: A military revolt begins in Portugal, with Captain Sidónio Pais taking power.
  • December 8: After the December 5 coup , Prime Minister Afonso Costa leaves Portugal and goes into exile in France. Sidónio Pais becomes the new head of government, suspends the constitution and proclaims the República Nova . President Bernardino Machado , who refused to hand over his office, was briefly arrested and then also had to go into exile in France.

Other events in Europe

Other events in America

Venustiano Carranza around 1917


Ishii Kikujirō and Robert Lansing after signing the agreement in Washington, DC


  • August 2-September 8: At times, more than 100,000 workers took part in the 1917 Australian General Strike , which emanated from New South Wales . However, the strike is ended without success, and numerous strikers are subsequently fired or transferred to other jobs with lower wages. The strike was triggered by the introduction of a new cost and performance control system, a Taylorism system, for railway and streetcar workers.


war economy

  • July 24: The War Economy Enabling Act is passed in Austria . In it, the imperial and royal government is empowered by the emperor and the Reichsrat to enact the necessary decrees for the functioning of the economy and the supply of the population by decree and also to change laws.
  • December 22: The standards committee of German industry (precursor to DIN ) is founded.

Company formations and takeovers

Other Economic Events

The German Leather Museum, May 2001

science and technology

Antarctic research

natural sciences

Technical achievements

Erection of the central trusses of the Metropolis Bridge in October 1917
  • December 15: After more than two years of construction, the first train crosses the Metropolis Bridge over the Ohio between the city of Metropolis , Illinois and McCracken County , Kentucky . The steel bridge, which is almost two kilometers long, has the world's longest simple truss girder of a railway bridge at 220 meters and was originally designed for a double-track expansion, which was never implemented.
  • The American Eugene Clark produces the first forklift truck .
  • Technicolor is used for the first time in the film The Gulf Between with a 2-color process. However, the process leads to a great disappointment, as the cinema projectionist does not manage to adjust the two cinema projector prisms in such a way that the two colored partial images are correctly superimposed on the screen.

Teaching and Research


Visual arts

Fountain , photo by Alfred Stieglitz (1917)
Amedeo Modigliani Exhibition 1917 Berthe Weill


Easy Street Movie Title
  • The premiere of Charlie Chaplin's silent comedy Easy Street , scheduled for January 22, has had to be postponed by two weeks due to several mishaps on the set. The "comical parody of Victorian reformatory melodramas" is considered one of the artist's early masterpieces.
Buster Keaton and Roscoe Arbuckle in The Butcher Boy
  • February: During a studio visit, Roscoe Arbuckle spontaneously invites the initially skeptical vaudeville comedian Buster Keaton to appear in one of his films. The Butcher Boy is considered Keaton's screen debut.
  • March 1st: With the first of four parts of Let There Be Light! directed by Richard Oswald , the first educational film was released in cinemas and received a positive response from the general public and non-bourgeois critics. Archconservative and military circles, on the other hand, are fiercely fighting the plant.
  • June 17: The tragic comedy The Immigrant , starring Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance , premieres. Clips from the film are used in the McCarthy era as "evidence" of Chaplin's alleged anti-Americanism.


The members of Siuru
Hogarth House , home and publishing house from 1917 to 1924

music and theatre

Premiere poster of Turandot



First Council of the Reestablished Georgian Orthodox Church 1917
Jacinta, Lúcia and Francisco (from left to right) around 1917


ship disasters

Plume of smoke from the explosion seen from Bedford Basin
  • December 6: The largest accidental man-made explosion to date occurs in the port of Halifax on Canada's east coast. The French ammunition freighter Mont Blanc collides with the Norwegian ship Imo , catches fire and explodes. The accident killed at least 1,946 people and injured many more thousands. The explosion is so powerful that it triggers a tidal wave and violent earthquakes, while the enormous blast uproots trees, bends railroad tracks and destroys numerous buildings.


  • January 21: An earthquake of unknown magnitude in Bali , Indonesia kills about 15,000.
  • July 30: A 6.5 magnitude earthquake in China kills around 1,800.

fire disasters

  • May 21: A major fire breaks out in Atlanta , destroying 1,938 buildings and making about 10,000 people homeless. However, there is "only" one fatality to be lamented.
Fire at the luxury hotel Splendid in Thessaloniki
  • August 18: The Great Fire in Thessaloniki begins. The flames can only be finally extinguished the following day. 32 percent of the city is destroyed, and about 70 percent of the jobs are destroyed by the fire. Thousands of residents become homeless.

other disasters

The train derailed in Ciurea station

Minor accidents are listed in the sub-articles of Disaster .

nature and environment

The national park in winter
Treysa Meteorite (Main Piece)


South American champion Uruguay

Nobel prizes

price person country Justification for the award image
Nobel Price for physics Charles Glover Barkla
(awarded 1918)
United Kingdom 1801 United Kingdom "for his discovery of the characteristic X-ray radiation of the elements " Charles Glover Barkla
Nobel Prize in Chemistry not awarded
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine not awarded
Nobel Prize in literature Karl Gjellerup
Denmark Denmark "for his diverse, rich poetry, which is based on high ideals" Karl Gjellerup
Henrik Pontoppidan
Denmark Denmark "for his rich portrayal of contemporary Danish life" Henrik Pontoppidan
Nobel Peace Prize International Committee of the Red Cross
(founded 1863)
Based in Geneva, SwitzerlandSwitzerland  campaigned for prisoners of war and wounded and for the respect of the Geneva Convention during the First World War Logo of the International Committee of the Red Cross




  • 0February 1 – Ray Bray , American football player (d. 1993)
  • 0February 2 Herman Feshbach , American physicist (died 2000)
  • 0February 2: Hans Friedrich , German politician, MP (died 1998)
  • 0February 2: Karl Gass , documentary film director and film functionary of the GDR († 2009)
  • 0February 2: Đỗ Mười , Vietnamese politician (died 2018)
  • 0February 4: Franz Josef Bach , German politician and member of the Bundestag (died 2001)
  • 0February 5: Otto Edelmann , Austrian singer († 2003)
  • 0February 5: Yamada Isuzu , Japanese actress († 2012)
  • 0February 6: Emmanuela Aichinger , German Abbess of Tettenweis Monastery (died 2005)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (1955)



Ella Fitzgerald (1975)


John F Kennedy, 1963




Robert Mitchum (1976)
Lou van Burg, 1968




Indira Gandhi, 1984


Arthur C Clarke
Heinrich Boll (1981)
  • December 21: Heinrich Böll , German writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (died 1985)
  • December 21: Ivor Dean , British actor (died 1974)
  • December 22: Marthe Gosteli , Swiss women's rights activist († 2017)
  • December 26 – Joe Osmanski , American football player (d. 1993)
  • December 26: Rose Mary Woods , US secretary to Richard Nixon († 2005)
  • December 28 Mouloud Mammeri , Algerian-Kabyle writer, anthropologist and linguist (died 1989)
  • December 29: David Hampshire , British racing driver (d. 1990)
  • December 30: Wesley Tuttle , American country music artist (d. 2003)
  • December 31 Italo Astolfi , Italian track cyclist (died 2004)
  • around December 31: Suzy Delair , French actress and singer († 2020)

Exact date of birth unknown


January February

Buffalo Bill's grave near Denver

March April

Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
Emil Adolf von Behring

May June

July August

Edward Buchner
Adolf von Baeyer, 1905

September October

  • 05 September: Albin Köbis , German sailor and a leader of the Sailors' Rebellion (b. 1892)
  • 0September 5: Marie Schröder-Hanfstängl , German opera singer and singing teacher (b. 1847)
  • 0September 8: Charles Lefèbvre , French composer (b. 1843)
  • 09 September: Madge Syers , British figure skater, first world and Olympic champion in women's figure skating (b. 1881)
  • September 12: Désiré André , French mathematician (b. 1840)
  • September 15: Kurt Wolff , German fighter pilot in World War I (b. 1895)
  • September 20: José Gallegos y Arnosa , Spanish painter, sculptor and architect (b. 1859)
  • September 21: Grete Trakl , Austrian pianist and sister of Georg Trakl (b. 1891)
  • September 25: Thomas Ashe , Irish independence campaigner (b. 1885)
  • September 25: Bernhard von Gaza , German rower (b. 1881)
Edgar Degas' tomb in the Cimetiere de Montmartre in Paris

November December

Rodin's grave on the grounds of the Musée Rodin de Meudon

Exact date of death unknown

web links

Commons : 1917  - Collection of images, videos and audio files