World War One

The first World War began in 1914 and ended with a German defeat in 1918. Due to imperialist expansion and the involvement of the USA the war had a world-wide impact. Technological developments led to a high number of dead soldiers.


Causes of World War I

After Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II came into power in
he aimed to expand the German Empire's influence and territory. Germany then founded colonies and started to enlarge its
. This caused trouble with the big naval power
At the time there were two major alliances in Europe: the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. The
consisted of the UK, France and Russia. The Triple Alliance was formed by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. These three states are also known as the
due to their location between Russia and France.
On June 28 1914, the Austrian Archduke
and his wife were shot by a group of Bosnian Serb nationalists. This event is considered the
of the First World War as Austrian leaders now wanted to militarily assert their rule in Serbia.
promised to defend its ally Serbia. But as the Central Powers had promised to support each other if one were attacked Germany and Italy were now also involved in the war against Russia which meant that
would also join.
Franz Ferdinand
France and Britain
Central Powers
Triple Entente
immediate cause
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When did the Austrian invasion of Serbia begin?

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World War I began on July 28 1914. In the beginning of August 1914 the other powers also declared war on each other.

The Western Front

The Allies broke through the German Hindenburg Line
mobile warfare mostly ended and trench warfare began (early 1915).

The Schlieffen plan
consisted in Germany first trying to beat France in the West and then focussing on Russia.

After the Race to the Sea
and about 750 thousand people died in the battle.

German offensives ended in March 1918,
was a British attempt to weaken the Germans at Verdun.

After the victory in the East
Germany transferred one million soldiers to the Western Front.

The Battle of the Somme with about one million casualities
partly because of the arrival of US troops.

Germans started a big offensive at Verdun in 1916
in October 1918.

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The Schlieffen plan was supposed to avoid a difficult war on two fronts.
The number of casualties is often disputed, most numbers are given by the BBC here.
Battle of Verdun: February to December 1916.
Battle of the Somme: July to November 1916.
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When did the USA enter the war?

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The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
Reasons for entering the war included:
- unrestricted German submarine warfare (for example, the Lusitania was sunk)
- British naval blockade prevented free trade

The Eastern Front and Colonies

The German colonies
quickly, although guerilla warfare took place till 1918.
After initial Russian successes Germany, Germany won the Battle of
In April 1917 Germany allowed
and other revolutionaries to go to Russia. This eventually helped the
. The new Russian leaders agreed to the Treaty of
in March 1918, ending the war on the Eastern Front.
October Revolution
Brest Litovsk
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Warfare and technological advances

In 1914 most people in the countries involved
expected a quick traditional war.

Technological advances
the living conditions in the countries involved deteriorated.

Because of the great need of supplies at the front
led to trench warfare and a War of Attrition.

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The End of the War

In late
the German High Command had the Kaiser give more power to the German parliament to let it negotiate an
, as the war clearly couldn't be won. After a mutiny in the navy the
broke out and the Kaiser lost his position. On
1918 the Armistice Document was signed at Compiegne.
The German parliament was dominated by Social Democrats. It had passed a
in July 1917 and in early 1918 strike broke out among German workers. This formed the basis of the "
" legend that claimed that the German army was brought down not by the Allies but by left-wing conspiracy. This could seem plausible at the time, as German propaganda had not prepared Germans for defeat.
November 11
Peace Resolution
stab in the back
September 1918
November Revolution
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The Treay of Versailles

While Germany wasn't occupied
responsibility for the war and made it pay reparations.

Germans expected a mild peace treaty
as suggested by US President Wilson

Both the Allies and the Central Powers
was signed in June 1919.

Wilson lost elections
it experienced territorial losses.

The treaty gave Germany
were involved in the negotiation of the treaty.

No german deputies
had expected the cost of the war to be recouped from the losers.

The treaty of Versailles
in November 1918.

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Woodrow Wilson's ideas for peace from January 1918 are called the Fourteen Points.
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