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World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a
global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newsp ...
that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. It involved much of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered ...

Europe
, as well as
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and ...

Turkey
, and was also fought in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
and parts of
Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area of , about 30% of Earth's total lan ...

Asia
. One of the deadliest conflicts in history, an estimated 9 million were killed in combat, while over 5 million civilians died from occupation, bombardment, hunger or disease. The
genocides Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic group, ethnic, nationality, national, race (classification of humans), racial, or religion, religious group—in whole or in part. A term coined by Raphael L ...
perpetrated by the Ottomans and the 1918
Spanish flu Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza epidemic or the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an exceptionally deadly global influenza pandemic An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads across a large region ...
pandemic spread by the movement of combatants during the war caused many millions of additional deaths worldwide. In 1914, the Great Powers were divided into two opposing alliances, the
Triple Entente The Triple Entente (from French ''Entente (type of alliance), entente'' meaning "friendship, understanding, agreement") describes the informal understanding between the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic and the United Kingdom of Great B ...

Triple Entente
, consisting of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Ame ...
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
, and
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
, and the Triple Alliance, made up of
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...
,
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exe ...

Austria-Hungary
, and
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...
. Tensions in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
came to a head on 28 June 1914 following the
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, occurred on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo Sarajevo ( ; , ; ''see Names of European cities ...
, the Austro-Hungarian heir, by
Gavrilo Princip Gavrilo Princip ( sr-Cyrl, Гаврило Принцип, ; 25 July 189428 April 1918) was a Bosnian Serb The Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina ( sr-cyr, Срби у Босни и Херцеговини, Srbi u Bosni i Hercegovini) are one of t ...
, a
Bosnian Serb The Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina ( sr-cyr, Срби у Босни и Херцеговини, Srbi u Bosni i Hercegovini) are one of the three constitutive nations (state-forming nations) of the country, predominantly residing in the politica ...
. Austria-Hungary blamed
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refe ...
and the interlocking alliances involved the Powers in a series of diplomatic exchanges known as the
July Crisis The July Crisis, a series of interrelated diplomatic and military escalations among the major powers of Europe in the summer of 1914, led to the outbreak of World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1 ...
. On 28 July, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia; Russia came to Serbia's defence and by 4 August, the conflict had expanded to include Germany, France and Britain, along with their respective colonial empires. In November, the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
, Germany and Austria formed the
Central Powers The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought World W ...
, while in April 1915, Italy joined Britain, France, Russia and Serbia as the Allied Powers. Facing a war on two fronts, German strategy in 1914 was to defeat France, then shift its forces to the East and knock out Russia, commonly known as the
Schlieffen Plan The Schlieffen Plan (german: Schlieffen-Plan, ) was a name given after the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that began on 28 July ...

Schlieffen Plan
. This failed when their advance into France was halted at the Marne; by the end of 1914, the two sides faced each other along the
Western FrontWestern Front or West Front may refer to: Military frontiers *Western Front (World War I), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (World War II), a military frontier to the west of Germany *Western Front (Russian Empire), a major ...

Western Front
, a continuous series of
trench lines
trench lines
stretching from the
Channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...

Channel
to
Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial system, directorial republic , leader_title1 = Fe ...

Switzerland
that changed little until 1917. By contrast, the
Eastern FrontEastern Front may refer to: * Eastern Front (World War I) * Eastern Front (World War II) * Eastern Front (Turkey), of the Turkish War of Independence ** Turkish–Armenian War, often referred to by itself as the Eastern Front * Eastern Front (Sudan) ...

Eastern Front
was far more fluid, with Austria-Hungary and Russia gaining, then losing large swathes of territory. Other significant theatres included the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...
, the
Alpine Front
Alpine Front
and the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...
, bringing
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...
and
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...
into the war. Shortages caused by the Allied naval blockade led Germany to initiate unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, bringing the previously neutral
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
into the war on 6April 1917. In Russia, the
Bolsheviks The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...
seized power in the 1917
October Revolution The October Revolution,. officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution. under the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence ...

October Revolution
and made peace in the March 1918
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (also known as the Peace of Brest in Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and depende ...
, freeing up large numbers of German troops. By transferring these to the Western Front, the
German General Staff The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff (german: Großer Generalstab), was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army (German Empire), German Army, resp ...
hoped to win a decisive victory before American reinforcements could impact the war, and launched the March 1918
German spring offensive The German spring offensive, or '' Kaiserschlacht'' ("Kaiser's Battle"), also known as the Ludendorff offensive, was a series of German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citize ...
. Despite initial success, it was soon halted by heavy casualties and ferocious defence; in August, the Allies launched the
Hundred Days Offensive The Hundred Days Offensive (8 August to 11 November 1918) often considered one of the deadliest battles of WW1 was a series of massive Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined to ...
and although the German army continued to fight hard, it could no longer halt their advance. The Central Powers began to collapse; Bulgaria signed an
Armistice An armistice is a formal agreement Agreement or concord (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) happens when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making ...

Armistice
on 29 September, followed by the Ottomans on 31 October, then Austria-Hungary on 3 November. Isolated, facing
revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, suc ...
at home and an army on the verge of mutiny, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9November and the new German government signed the
Armistice of 11 November 1918 The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne Compiègne (; pcd, Compiène) is a commune in the Oise department in northern France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link= ...
, bringing the fighting to a close. The 1919 Paris Peace Conference imposed various settlements on the defeated powers, the best known being the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
. The dissolution of the Russian, German, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires led to numerous uprisings and the creation of independent states, including
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
,
Czechoslovakia , , yi, טשעכאסלאוואקיי, , common_name = Czechoslovakia , life_span = 1918–19391945–1992 , p1 = Austria-Hungary , image_p1 = , s1 = Czech Rep ...

Czechoslovakia
and
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
. For reasons that are still debated, failure to manage the instability that resulted from this upheaval during the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the Interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months and 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as t ...
ended with the outbreak of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
in 1939.


Names

The term ''world war'' was first coined in September 1914 by German biologist and philosopher
Ernst Haeckel Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German zoologist Zoology ()The pronunciation of zoology as is typically regarded as nonstandard, though it is not uncommon. is the branch of biology that stu ...

Ernst Haeckel
. He claimed that "there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War' ... will become the first ''world war'' in the full sense of the word," citing a wire service report in ''
The Indianapolis Star ''The Indianapolis Star'' is a morning daily newspaper that began publishing on June 6, 1903, in Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. It has been the only major daily paper in the city since 1999, when the ''Indianapolis News'' cease ...
'' on 20 September 1914. Prior to
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the events of 1914–1918 were generally known as the Great War or simply the World War. In October 1914, the Canadian magazine ''
Maclean's ''Maclean's'' is a Canadian news magazine '' 2512'', a monthly news magazine published in Réunion. A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published magazine, radio or television program, usually published weekly, consisting of articles ab ...
'' wrote, "Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War." Contemporary Europeans also referred to it as "
the war to end war "The war to end war" (also called "The war to end all wars"; originally from the 1914 book '' The War That Will End War'' by H. G. Wells Herbert George Wells

Background


Political and military alliances

For much of the 19th century, the major European powers maintained a tenuous
balance of power among themselves, known as the
Concert of Europe The Concert of Europe refers to a general consensus among the Great Powers of 19th Century Europe to maintain the European balance of power and the integrity of territorial boundaries. Never a consensus, and subject to disputes and jockeying fo ...
. After 1848, this was challenged by a variety of factors, including Britain's withdrawal into so-called splendid isolation, the
decline of the Ottoman Empire In the late eighteenth century, the () faced numerous enemies. In response to these threats, the empire initiated a period of internal reform which came to be known as the , which succeeded in significantly strengthening the Ottoman central stat ...
and the rise of
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...
under
Otto von Bismarck Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (german: Otto Fürst von Bismarck, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, Herzog zu Lauenburg ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a c ...

Otto von Bismarck
. The 1866
Austro-Prussian War The Austro-Prussian War or Seven Weeks' War, known in Germany as ("German War") and by a variety of other names, was fought in 1866 between the Austrian Empire The Austrian Empire (german: Kaiserthum Oesterreich, modern spelling ') was ...
established Prussian hegemony in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
, while victory in the 1870–1871
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire (later the Third French Republic) and the North German Confeder ...
allowed Bismarck to consolidate the German states into a
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
under Prussian leadership. Avenging the defeat of 1871, or
revanchism Revanchism (french: Revanchisme, from ''revanche'', "revenge") is the political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. As a term, revanchism originated in 1870s Fran ...
, and recovering the provinces of
Alsace-Lorraine The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (german: Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen or ; gsw-als, 's Rìchslànd Elsàss-Lothrìnga; Moselle Franconian __NOTOC__ Moselle Franconian (German ''Moselfränkisch'') is a West Central German language, ...

Alsace-Lorraine
became the principal objects of French policy for the next forty years. In order to isolate France and avoid a war on two fronts, Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: ''Dreikaiserbund'') between
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exe ...

Austria-Hungary
,
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...
and Germany. After Russian victory in the 1877–1878
Russo-Turkish War The Russo-Turkish wars (or Ottoman–Russian wars) were a series of twelve wars fought between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and 20th centuries. It was one of the longest series of military conflicts in History of Europe ...

Russo-Turkish War
, the League was dissolved due to Austrian concerns over Russian influence in the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather ...

Balkans
, an area they considered of vital strategic interest. Germany and Austria-Hungary then formed the 1879 Dual Alliance, which became the Triple Alliance when Italy joined in 1882. For Bismarck, the purpose of these agreements was to isolate France by ensuring the three Empires resolved any disputes between themselves; when this was threatened in 1880 by British and French attempts to negotiate directly with Russia, he reformed the League in 1881, which was renewed in 1883 and 1885. After the agreement lapsed in 1887, he replaced it with the
Reinsurance Treaty The Reinsurance Treaty, was a diplomatic agreement between the German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as ...
, a secret agreement between Germany and Russia to remain neutral if either were attacked by France or Austria-Hungary. Bismarck viewed peace with Russia as the foundation of German foreign policy but after becoming
Kaiser ''Kaiser'' is the German word for "emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, m ...

Kaiser
in 1890,
Wilhelm II en, Frederick William Victor Albert , house = Hohenzollern , father = Frederick III, German Emperor Frederick III (german: Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl; 18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888) was German Emperor and King of Prussia betwee ...
forced him to retire and was persuaded not to renew the Reinsurance Treaty by
Leo von Caprivi Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli (English language, English: ''Count George Leo of Caprivi, Caprera, and Montecuccoli''), born Georg Leo von Caprivi, (24 February 1831 – 6 February 1899) was a German general and statesman w ...

Leo von Caprivi
, his new
Chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ' of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the ''cancelli'' or lattice work screens of ...
. This provided France an opportunity to counteract the Triple Alliance, by signing the
Franco-Russian Alliance The Franco-Russian Alliance (french: Alliance Franco-Russe, russian: Франко-Русский Альянс, translit=Franko-Russkiy Al'yans), or Russo-French Rapprochement (''Rapprochement Russo-Français'', Руссо-Французское ...
in 1894, followed by the 1904 '' Entente Cordiale'' with Britain, and the
Triple Entente The Triple Entente (from French ''Entente (type of alliance), entente'' meaning "friendship, understanding, agreement") describes the informal understanding between the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic and the United Kingdom of Great B ...

Triple Entente
was completed by the 1907
Anglo-Russian Convention The Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 (russian: Англо-Русская Конвенция 1907 г., translit=Anglo-Russkaya Konventsiya 1907 g.), or Convention between the United Kingdom and Russia relating to Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet (К ...
. While these were not formal alliances, by settling long-standing colonial disputes in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
and
Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia covers an area of , about 30% of Earth's total lan ...
, British entry into any future conflict involving France or Russia became a possibility. British and Russian support for France against Germany during the
Agadir Crisis The Agadir Crisis, Agadir Incident or Second Moroccan Crisis (also known as the ''Panthersprung'' in German) was a brief international crisis sparked by the deployment of a substantial force of French troops in the interior of Morocco ) , ...
in 1911 reinforced their relationship and increased Anglo-German estrangement, deepening the divisions that would erupt in 1914.


Arms race

Creation of a unified Reich, along with indemnity payments imposed on France and the acquisition of important coal and iron deposits in the annexed provinces of
Alsace-Lorraine The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (german: Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen or ; gsw-als, 's Rìchslànd Elsàss-Lothrìnga; Moselle Franconian __NOTOC__ Moselle Franconian (German ''Moselfränkisch'') is a West Central German language, ...

Alsace-Lorraine
, fuelled an economic boom and huge increase in German industrial strength. With the backing of Wilhelm II, after 1890 Admiral
Alfred von Tirpitz Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz (19 March 1849 – 6 March 1930) was a German ''Grand Admiral'', Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussi ...

Alfred von Tirpitz
sought to exploit this growth to create a ''Kaiserliche Marine'', or
Imperial German Navy The Imperial German Navy is the common English term for the Imperial Navy () of the . It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small (from 1867 the ), which was mainly for coast defence. greatly expanded the navy. The key leader wa ...
, able to compete with the British
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
for world naval supremacy. He was greatly influenced by US naval strategist
Alfred Thayer Mahan Alfred Thayer Mahan (; September 27, 1840 – December 1, 1914) was a United States naval officer and historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A ...
, who argued possession of a
blue-water navy A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating globally, essentially across the deep waters of open oceans. While definitions of what actually constitutes such a force vary, there is a requirement for the ability to exercise sea cont ...
was vital for global power projection; Tirpitz had his books translated into German, while Wilhelm made them required reading for his advisors and senior military personnel. However, it was also an emotional decision, driven by Wilhelm's simultaneous admiration for the Royal Navy and his desire to outdo it. Bismarck stressed the need to avoid antagonising Britain, a policy made easier by his opposition to acquiring colonies, but this challenge could not be ignored and resulted in the
Anglo-German naval arms race The arms race between Great Britain and German Empire, Germany that occurred from the last decade of the nineteenth century until the advent of World War I in 1914 was one of the intertwined causes of World War I, causes of that conflict. While base ...
. The launch of in 1906 gave the British a technological advantage over their German rival which they never lost. Ultimately, the race diverted huge resources to creating a German navy large enough to antagonise Britain, but not defeat it; in 1911, Chancellor
Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg Theobald Theodor Friedrich Alfred von Bethmann-Hollweg (29 November 1856 – 1 January 1921) was a German politician who was the Chancellor of the German Empire The chancellor of Germany, officially the federal chancellor of the Federal Repub ...

Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
acknowledged defeat, leading to the ''Rüstungswende'' or ‘armaments turning point', when he switched expenditure from the navy to the army. This was driven by concern over Russia's recovery from defeat in the 1905
Russo-Japanese War The Russo-Japanese War (russian: Ру́сско-япóнская войнá, Rússko-yapónskaya voyná; ja, 日露戦争, Nichiro sensō, Japanese-Russian War) was fought between the Empire of Japan The was a historical nation ...
and the subsequent
revolution In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, suc ...
. Economic reforms backed by French funding led to a significant post-1908 expansion of railways and infrastructure, particularly in its western border regions. Germany and Austria-Hungary relied on faster mobilisation to compensate for fewer numbers and it was the potential threat posed by the closing of this gap that led to the end of the naval race, rather than a reduction in tensions. When Germany expanded its standing army by 170,000 men in 1913, France extended compulsory military service from two to three years; similar measures taken by the and Italy, which led to increased expenditure by the
Ottomans The Ottoman Turks or Osmanlı Turks ( tr, Osmanlı Türkleri), were the Turkic people The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethnic groups of Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, North Asia, North and West Asia as well as parts of Europe and ...
and Austria-Hungary. Absolute figures are hard to calculate due to differences in categorising expenditure, since they often omit civilian infrastructure projects with a military use, such as railways. However, from 1908 to 1913, defence spending by the six major European powers increased by over 50% in real terms.


Conflicts in the Balkans

The years before 1914 were marked by a series of crises in the Balkans as other powers sought to benefit from Ottoman decline. While
Pan-Slavic#REDIRECT Pan-Slavism Pan-Slavism, a movement which crystallized in the mid-19th century, is the political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some prop ...

Pan-Slavic
and
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
Russia considered itself the protector of
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refe ...
and other
Slav Slavs are a European ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nat ...

Slav
states, the strategic importance of the
Bosporus File:Bosphorus aerial view.jpg, Aerial view of the Bosporus taken from its northern end near the Black Sea (bottom), looking south (top) toward the Marmara Sea, with the city center of Istanbul visible along the strait's hilly banks. The Bosp ...

Bosporus
straits meant they preferred these be controlled by a weak Ottoman government, rather than an ambitious power like
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...
. Balancing these competing objectives required simultaneously backing their clients while limiting their territorial gains, dividing Russian policy makers and adding to the instability of this region. At the same time, many Austrian statesmen considered the Balkans essential for the continued existence of their Empire and Serbian expansion as a direct threat to it. The 1908-1909 Bosnian Crisis began when Austria annexed the former Ottoman territory of
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north a ...
, which it had occupied since 1878. Timed to coincide with the
Bulgarian Declaration of Independence The ''de jure In law and government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally cons ...
from the Ottoman Empire, this unilateral action was denounced by all the Great Powers; unable to reverse it, they amended the 1878 Treaty of Berlin and accepted Austrian annexation. Some historians see this as a significant escalation, ending any chance of Russia and Austria co-operating in the Balkans, while damaging Austrian relations with Serbia and Italy, who had their own expansionist ambitions in the area. Tensions were further heightened by the 1911 to 1912
Italo-Turkish War The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War ( tr, Trablusgarp Savaşı, "Tripolitanian War", it, Guerra di Libia, "War of Libya") was fought between the and the from 29 September 1911, to 18 October 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy capture ...
, which demonstrated the apparent inability of the Ottomans to retain their empire and led to the formation of the
Balkan League . The League of Balkans was a quadruple alliance formed by a series of bilateral treaties concluded in 1912 between the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox kingdoms of Kingdom of Greece, Greece, Kingdom of Bulgaria, Bulgaria, Kingdom of Serbia ...
. An alliance of Serbia, Bulgaria,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in . It is located on the and is a part of the , sharing borders with to the northeast, to the north and west, to the east, to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea and to the ...
, and
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...
, the League over-ran most of European Turkey in the 1912 to 1913
First Balkan War The First Balkan War ( bg, Балканска война; el, Αʹ Βαλκανικός πόλεμος; sr, Први балкански рат, ''Prvi Balkanski rat''; tr, Birinci Balkan Savaşı) lasted from October 1912 to May 1913 and invo ...

First Balkan War
. Despite its decline, the Great Powers had assumed the Ottoman army was powerful enough to defeat the League and its collapse took them by surprise. The Serbian capture of ports on the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...
resulted in partial Austrian mobilisation on 21 November 1912, including units along the Russian border in
Galicia Galicia may refer to: Geographic regions * Galicia (Spain), a region and autonomous community of northwestern Spain ** Gallaecia, a Roman province ** The post-Roman Kingdom of the Suebi, also called the Kingdom of Gallaecia ** The medieval Kingdom ...
. When the
Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire The Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire was the highest executive authority of the Russian Empire, created in a new form by the Emperor of All Russia, highest decree of October 19, 1905 for the general "management and unification of the ac ...
met to consider their response next day, they decided not to mobilise, fearing Germany would do the same and start a European war for which they were not yet prepared. The Great Powers sought to re-assert control through the 1913 Treaty of London, which created an independent
Albania Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It is located on the Adriatic Sea, Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Medite ...

Albania
, while enlarging the territories of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. However, disputes between the victors sparked the 33-day
Second Balkan War The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a coun ...

Second Balkan War
, when Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece on 16 June 1913; it was defeated, losing most of
Macedonia Macedonia most commonly refers to: * North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia until February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe. It gained independence in ...
to Serbia and Greece, and
Southern Dobruja Map of Romania and Bulgaria with Southern Dobrudja or Cadrilater highlighted in yellow. Northern Dobruja is highlighted in orange. Southern Dobruja or South Dobruja ( Bulgarian: Южна Добруджа, ''Yuzhna Dobrudzha'' or simply Добруд ...
to Romania. The result was that even countries which benefited from the Balkan Wars, such as Serbia and Greece, felt cheated of their "rightful gains", while for Austria it demonstrated the apparent indifference with which other powers viewed their concerns, including Germany. This complex mix of resentment, nationalism and insecurity help explain why the pre-1914 Balkans became known as the " powder keg of Europe".


Prelude


Sarajevo assassination

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Franz Joseph, visited Sarajevo, capital of the recently annexed provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Six assassins from the movement known as Young Bosnia, or ''Mlada Bosna'', took up positions along the route taken by the Archduke's motorcade, with the intention of assassinating him. Supplied with arms by extremists within the Serbian Black Hand (Serbia), Black Hand intelligence organisation, they hoped his death would free Bosnia from Austrian rule, although there was little agreement on what would replace it. Nedeljko Čabrinović threw a grenade at the Archduke's car and injured two of his aides, who were taken to hospital while the convoy carried on. The other assassins were also unsuccessful but an hour later, as Ferdinand was returning from visiting the injured officers, his car took a wrong turn into a street where
Gavrilo Princip Gavrilo Princip ( sr-Cyrl, Гаврило Принцип, ; 25 July 189428 April 1918) was a Bosnian Serb The Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina ( sr-cyr, Срби у Босни и Херцеговини, Srbi u Bosni i Hercegovini) are one of t ...
was standing. He stepped forward and fired two pistol shots, fatally wounding Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, Sophie, who both died shortly thereafter. Although Emperor Franz Joseph was shocked by the incident, political and personal differences meant the two men were not close; allegedly, his first reported comment was "A higher power has re-established the order which I, alas, could not preserve". According to historian Zbyněk Zeman, his reaction was reflected more broadly in Vienna, where "the event almost failed to make any impression whatsoever. On Sunday 28 June and Monday 29th, the crowds listened to music and drank wine, as if nothing had happened." Nevertheless, the impact of the murder of the heir to the throne was significant, and has been described by historian Christopher Clark as a "September 11 attacks#Effects, 9/11 effect, a terrorist event charged with historic meaning, transforming the political chemistry in Vienna".


Expansion of violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Austro-Hungarian authorities encouraged the subsequent anti-Serb riots in Sarajevo, in which Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks killed two Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnian Serbs and damaged numerous Serb-owned buildings. Violent actions against ethnic Serbs were also organised outside Sarajevo, in other cities in Austro-Hungarian-controlled Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. Austro-Hungarian authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina imprisoned and extradited approximately 5,500 prominent Serbs, 700 to 2,200 of whom died in prison. A further 460 Serbs were sentenced to death. A predominantly Bosniak special militia known as the ''Schutzkorps'' was established and carried out the persecution of Serbs.


July Crisis

The assassination initiated the
July Crisis The July Crisis, a series of interrelated diplomatic and military escalations among the major powers of Europe in the summer of 1914, led to the outbreak of World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1 ...
, a month of diplomatic manoeuvring between Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France and Britain. Correctly believing intelligence officials from the Black Hand were involved in the plot to murder the Archduke, Austria wanted to end Serbian interference in Bosnia and believed war was the best way to achieve this. However, the Austrian-Hungarian Foreign Ministry of Austria-Hungary, Foreign Ministry had no proof of Serbian involvement, and a dossier belatedly compiled to make its case was riddled with errors. On 23July, Austria delivered an July Crisis#Austro-Hungarian ultimatum (23 July), ultimatum to Serbia, listing ten demands made intentionally unacceptable to provide an excuse for starting hostilities. Serbia ordered general mobilisation on 25July, but accepted all the terms, except for those empowering Austrian representatives to suppress "subversive elements" inside Serbia, and take part in the investigation and trial of Serbians linked to the assassination. Claiming this amounted to a wholesale rejection, Austria broke off diplomatic relations and ordered partial mobilisation the next day; on 28 July, they declared war on Serbia and started shelling Belgrade. Having initiated war preparations on 25 July, Russia now ordered general mobilisation in support of Serbia on 30th. Anxious to ensure backing from the Social Democratic Party of Germany, SDP political opposition by presenting Russia as the aggressor, Bethmann-Hollweg delayed commencement of war preparations until 31 July. That afternoon the Russian government was given an ultimatum, requiring they "cease all war measures against Germany and Austria-Hungary" within 12 hours. Germany also demanded assurances France would remain neutral; the French refused and ordered general mobilisation but delayed declaring war. In reality, the
German General Staff The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff (german: Großer Generalstab), was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army (German Empire), German Army, resp ...
had long assumed a war on two fronts; originally completed in 1905, the
Schlieffen Plan The Schlieffen Plan (german: Schlieffen-Plan, ) was a name given after the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that began on 28 July ...

Schlieffen Plan
envisaged the bulk of the army would be used to defeat France in four weeks, before doing the same to Russia. In accordance with this, mobilisation orders were issued that afternoon. At a meeting on 29 July, the British cabinet had narrowly decided its obligations to Belgium under the 1839 Treaty of London (1839), Treaty of London did not require it to oppose a German invasion with military force. However, this was largely driven by Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, Asquith's desire to maintain unity; he and his senior Cabinet ministers were already committed to support France, the Royal Navy had been mobilised and public opinion was strongly in favour of intervention. On 31 July, Britain sent notes to Germany and France, asking them to respect Belgian neutrality; France pledged to do so, Germany did not reply. Once the German ultimatum to Russia expired on the morning of 1 August, the two countries were at war. Later the same day, Wilhelm was informed by his Ambassador in London, Karl Max, Prince Lichnowsky, Prince Lichnowsky, that Britain would remain neutral if France was not attacked, and in any case might be stayed by a Home Rule Crisis, crisis in Ireland. Jubilant at this news, he ordered General Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, Moltke, the German chief of staff, to "march the whole of the... army to the East". Moltke protested that "it cannot be done. The deployment of millions cannot be improvised." Lichnowsky, in any case, quickly realised he was mistaken. Although Wilhelm insisted on waiting for a telegram from his cousin George V, once received, it confirmed there had been a misunderstanding and he told Moltke "Now do what you want." French intelligence was well aware of German plans to attack through Belgium, and their Commander-in-Chief, General Joseph Joffre, asked that his troops be allowed to cross the border to pre-empt such a move. This was rejected by the French government, in part to avoid antagonising the British, and Joffre was told any advance into Belgium could come only after a German invasion. On 2 August, German occupation of Luxembourg during World War I, Germany occupied Luxembourg and exchanged fire with French units; on 3August, they declared war on France and demanded the Belgians allow them unimpeded right of way, which was refused. Early on the morning of 4August, the Germans invaded; Albert I of Belgium ordered his army to resist and called for assistance under the Treaty of London. Britain sent Germany an ultimatum demanding they respect Belgian neutrality and withdraw, which expired at midnight without a response, leaving the two countries at war.


Progress of the war


Opening hostilities


Confusion among the Central Powers

The strategy of the Central Powers suffered from miscommunication. Germany had promised to support Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia, but interpretations of what this meant differed. Previously tested deployment plans had been replaced early in 1914, but those had never been tested in exercises. Austro-Hungarian leaders believed Germany would cover its northern flank against Russia. Germany, however, envisioned Austria-Hungary directing most of its troops against Russia, while Germany dealt with France. This confusion forced the Austro-Hungarian Army to divide its forces between the Russian and Serbian fronts.


Serbian campaign

Beginning on 12 August, the Austrian and Serbs clashed at the battles of the Battle of Cer, Cer and Battle of Kolubara, Kolubara; over the next two weeks, Austrian attacks were repulsed with heavy losses, dashing their hopes of a swift victory and marking the first major Allied victories of the war. As a result, Austria had to keep sizeable forces on the Serbian front, weakening its efforts against Russia. Serbia's defeat of the 1914 invasion has been called one of the major upset victories of the twentieth century. In spring 1915, the campaign saw the first use of anti-aircraft warfare after an Austrian plane was shot down with Surface-to-air missile, ground-to-air fire, as well as the first medical evacuation by the Serbian army in autumn 1915.


German Offensive in Belgium and France

When the war began, the German Army order of battle (1914), German Order of Battle placed 80% of the army in the West, with the remainder acting as a screening force in the East. The plan was to quickly knock France out of the war, then redeploy to the East and do the same to Russia. The German offensive in the West was officially titled ''Aufmarsch II West,'' but is better known as the Schlieffen Plan, after its original creator. Alfred von Schlieffen, Schlieffen deliberately kept the German left (i.e. its positions in
Alsace-Lorraine The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (german: Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen or ; gsw-als, 's Rìchslànd Elsàss-Lothrìnga; Moselle Franconian __NOTOC__ Moselle Franconian (German ''Moselfränkisch'') is a West Central German language, ...

Alsace-Lorraine
) weak to lure the French into attacking there, while the majority were allocated to the German right, so as to sweep through Belgium, encircle Paris and trap the French armies against the Swiss border. This strategy was actually helped by the French themselves, since their Plan XVII envisaged a major offensive into the "lost provinces" of Alsace-Lorraine. However, Schlieffen's successor Moltke grew concerned that the French might push too hard on his left flank. Consequently, as the German Army increased in size in the years leading up to the war, he changed the allocation of forces between the German right and left wings from 85:15 to 70:30. Ultimately, Moltke's changes meant insufficient forces to achieve decisive success and thus unrealistic goals and timings. The initial German advance in the West was very successful: by the end of August the Allied left, which included the British Expeditionary Force (World War I), British Expeditionary Force (BEF), was in Great Retreat, full retreat; French casualties in the first month exceeded 260,000, including 27,000 killed on 22 August during the Battle of the Frontiers. German planning provided broad strategic instructions, while allowing army commanders considerable freedom in carrying them out at the front; this worked well in 1866 and 1870 but in 1914, Alexander von Kluck, von Kluck used this freedom to disobey orders, opening a gap between the German armies as they closed on Paris. The French and British exploited this gap to halt the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne from 5to 12 September and push the German forces back some . In 1911, the Russian Stavka had agreed with the French to attack Germany within 15 days of mobilisation; this was unrealistic and the two Russian armies that entered East Prussia on 17 August did so without many of their support elements. The 2nd Army (Russian Empire), Russian Second Army was effectively destroyed at the Battle of Tannenberg on 26–30 August but the Russian advance caused the Germans to re-route their 8th Army (German Empire), 8th Field Army from France to East Prussia, a factor in Allied victory on the Marne. By the end of 1914, German troops held strong defensive positions inside France, controlled the bulk of France's domestic coalfields and had inflicted 230,000 more casualties than it lost itself. However, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance of a decisive outcome, while it had failed to achieve the primary objective of avoiding a long, two-front war. As was apparent to a number of German leaders, this amounted to a strategic defeat; shortly after the Marne, Wilhelm, German Crown Prince, Crown Prince Wilhelm told an American reporter; "We have lost the war. It will go on for a long time but lost it is already."


Asia and the Pacific

On 30 August 1914, New Zealand Occupation of German Samoa, occupied German Samoa, now the independent state of Samoa. On 11 September, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landed on the island of New Britain, then part of German New Guinea. On 28 October, the German cruiser sank the Russian cruiser Zhemchug in the Battle of Penang. Japan declared war on Germany prior to seizing territories in the Pacific which later became the South Seas Mandate, as well as German Treaty ports on the Chinese Shandong peninsula at Siege of Tsingtao, Tsingtao. After Vienna refused to withdraw its cruiser from Tsingtao, Japan declared war on Austria-Hungary as well, and the ship was sunk at Tsingtao in November 1914. Within a few months, Allied forces had seized all German territories in the Pacific, leaving only isolated commerce raiders and a few holdouts in New Guinea.


African campaigns

Some of the first clashes of the war involved British, French, and German colonial forces in Africa. On 6–7 August, French and British troops invaded the German protectorate of Togoland and Kamerun. On 10 August, German forces in German South West Africa, South-West Africa attacked South Africa; sporadic and fierce fighting continued for the rest of the war. The German colonial forces in German East Africa, led by Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, fought a guerrilla warfare campaign during World WarI and only surrendered two weeks after the armistice took effect in Europe.


Indian support for the Allies

Germany attempted to use Indian nationalism and pan-Islamism to its advantage, Hindu–German Conspiracy, instigating uprisings in India, and Niedermayer–Hentig Expedition, sending a mission that urged Afghanistan to join the war on the side of Central Powers. However, contrary to British fears of a revolt in India, the outbreak of the war saw an unprecedented outpouring of loyalty and goodwill towards Britain. Indian political leaders from the Indian National Congress and other groups were eager to support the British war effort since they believed that strong support for the war effort would further the cause of Indian Home Rule movement, Indian Home Rule. The British Indian Army, Indian Army in fact outnumbered the British Army at the beginning of the war; about 1.3 million Indian soldiers and labourers served in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, while the central government and the princely states sent large supplies of food, money, and ammunition. In all, 140,000 men served on the Western Front and nearly 700,000 in the Middle East. Casualties of Indian soldiers totalled 47,746 killed and 65,126 wounded during World WarI. The suffering engendered by the war, as well as the failure of the British government to grant self-government to India after the end of hostilities, bred disillusionment and fuelled Indian independence movement, the campaign for full independence that would be led by Mahatma Gandhi, Mohandas K. Gandhi and others.


Western Front 1914 to 1916


Trench warfare begins

Pre-war military tactics that emphasised open warfare and the individual rifleman proved obsolete when confronted with conditions prevailing in 1914. Technological advances allowed the creation of strong defensive systems largely impervious to massed infantry advances, such as barbed wire, machine guns and above all far more powerful artillery, which dominated the battlefield and made crossing open ground extremely difficult. Both sides struggled to develop tactics for breaching entrenched positions without suffering heavy casualties. In time, however, technology began to produce new offensive weapons, such as Chemical weapons in World War I, gas warfare and the Tanks in World War I, tank. After the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914, Allied and German forces unsuccessfully tried to outflank each other, a series of manoeuvres later known as the "Race to the Sea". By the end of 1914, the opposing forces confronted each other along an uninterrupted line of entrenched positions from the
Channel Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * Channel Country, region of outback Austr ...

Channel
to the Swiss border. Since the Germans were normally able to choose where to stand, they generally held the high ground; in addition, their trenches tended to be better built, since Anglo-French trenches were initially intended as "temporary," and would only be needed until the breaking of German defences. Both sides tried to break the stalemate using scientific and technological advances. On 22 April 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans (violating the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, Hague Convention) used chlorine gas for the first time on the Western Front. Several types of gas soon became widely used by both sides, and though it never proved a decisive, battle-winning weapon, poison gas became one of the most-feared and best-remembered horrors of the war.


Continuation of trench warfare

Neither side proved able to deliver a decisive blow for the next two years. Throughout 1915–17, the British Empire and France suffered more casualties than Germany, because of both the strategic and tactical stances chosen by the sides. Strategically, while the Germans mounted only one major offensive, the Allies made several attempts to break through the German lines. In February 1916 the Germans attacked French defensive positions at the Battle of Verdun, lasting until December 1916. The Germans made initial gains, before French counter-attacks returned matters to near their starting point. Casualties were greater for the French, but the Germans bled heavily as well, with anywhere from 700,000 to 975,000 casualties suffered between the two combatants. Verdun became a symbol of French determination and self-sacrifice. The Battle of the Somme was an Anglo-French offensive of July to November 1916. The first day on the Somme, opening day of the offensive (1 July 1916) was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army, suffering 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. The entire Somme offensive cost the British Army some 420,000 casualties. The French suffered another estimated 200,000 casualties and the Germans an estimated 500,000. Gun fire was not the only factor taking lives; the diseases that emerged in the trenches were a major killer on both sides. The living conditions made it so that countless diseases and infections occurred, such as trench foot, shell shock, blindness/burns from mustard gas, louse, lice, trench fever, "cooties" (body louse, body lice) and the '
Spanish flu Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza epidemic or the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an exceptionally deadly global influenza pandemic An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads across a large region ...
'.


Naval war

At the start of the war, the German Empire had cruisers scattered across the globe, some of which were subsequently used to attack Allied maritime transport, merchant shipping. The British Royal Navy systematically hunted them down, though not without some embarrassment from its inability to protect Allied shipping. Before the beginning of the war, it was widely understood that Britain held the position of strongest, most influential navy in the world. The publishing of the book ''The Influence of Sea Power upon History'' by Alfred Thayer Mahan in 1890 was intended to encourage the United States to increase its naval power. Instead, this book made it to Germany and inspired its readers to try to over-power the British Royal Navy. For example, the German detached light cruiser , part of the East Asia Squadron stationed at Qingdao, seized or destroyed 15 merchantmen, as well as sinking a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer. However, most of the East Asia Squadron, German East-Asia squadron—consisting of the armoured cruisers and , light cruisers and and two transport ships—did not have orders to raid shipping and was instead underway to Germany when it met British warships. The German flotilla and sank two armoured cruisers at the Battle of Coronel, but was virtually destroyed at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December 1914, with only ''Dresden'' and a few auxiliaries escaping, but after the Battle of Más a Tierra these too had been destroyed or interned. Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Britain began a naval blockade of Germany. The strategy proved effective, cutting off vital military and civilian supplies, although this blockade violated accepted international law codified by several international agreements of the past two centuries. Britain mined international waters to prevent any ships from entering entire sections of ocean, causing danger to even neutral ships. Since there was limited response to this tactic of the British, Germany expected a similar response to its unrestricted submarine warfare. The Battle of Jutland (German: ''Skagerrakschlacht'', or "Battle of the Skagerrak") in May/June 1916 developed into the largest naval battle of the war. It was the only full-scale clash of battleships during the war, and one of the largest in history. The Kaiserliche Marine's High Seas Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, fought the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, led by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, John Jellicoe. The engagement was a stand off, as the Germans were outmanoeuvred by the larger British fleet, but managed to escape and inflicted more damage to the British fleet than they received. Strategically, however, the British asserted their control of the sea, and the bulk of the German surface fleet remained confined to port for the duration of the war. German U-boats attempted to cut the supply lines between North America and Britain. The nature of submarine warfare meant that attacks often came without warning, giving the crews of the merchant ships little hope of survival. The United States launched a protest, and Germany changed its rules of engagement. After the sinking of the passenger ship RMS Lusitania, RMS ''Lusitania'' in 1915, Germany promised not to target passenger liners, while Britain armed its merchant ships, placing them beyond the protection of the "Prize (law), cruiser rules", which demanded warning and movement of crews to "a place of safety" (a standard that lifeboats did not meet). Finally, in early 1917, Germany adopted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, realising the Americans would eventually enter the war. Germany sought to strangle Allied sea lanes before the United States could transport a large army overseas, but after initial successes eventually failed to do so. The U-boat threat lessened in 1917, when merchant ships began travelling in Convoys in World War I, convoys, escorted by destroyers. This tactic made it difficult for U-boats to find targets, which significantly lessened losses; after the hydrophone and depth charges were introduced, accompanying destroyers could attack a submerged submarine with some hope of success. Convoys slowed the flow of supplies since ships had to wait as convoys were assembled. The solution to the delays was an extensive program of building new freighters. Troopships were too fast for the submarines and did not travel the North Atlantic in convoys. The U-boats had sunk more than 5,000 Allied ships, at a cost of 199 submarines. World War I also saw the first use of aircraft carriers in combat, with launching Sopwith Camels in a successful raid against the Zeppelin hangars at Tondern raid, Tondern in July 1918, as well as blimps for antisubmarine patrol.


Southern theatres


War in the Balkans

Faced with Russia in the east, Austria-Hungary could spare only one-third of its army to attack Serbia. After suffering heavy losses, the Austrians briefly occupied the Serbian capital, Belgrade. A Serbian counter-attack in the Battle of Kolubara succeeded in driving them from the country by the end of 1914. For the first ten months of 1915, Austria-Hungary used most of its military reserves to fight Italy. German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats, however, scored a coup by persuading Bulgaria to join the attack on Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian provinces of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia (region), Bosnia provided troops for Austria-Hungary in the fight with Serbia, Russia and Italy. Montenegro allied itself with Serbia. Bulgaria declared war on Serbia on 12 October 1915 and joined in the attack by the Austro-Hungarian army under Mackensen's army of 250,000 that was already underway. Serbia was conquered in a little more than a month, as the Central Powers, now including Bulgaria, sent in 600,000 troops total. The Serbian army, fighting on two fronts and facing certain defeat, retreated into northern Principality of Albania, Albania. The Serbs suffered defeat in the Kosovo offensive (1915), Battle of Kosovo. Montenegro covered the Serbian retreat towards the Adriatic coast in the Battle of Mojkovac in 6–7 January 1916, but ultimately the Austrians also conquered Montenegro. The surviving Serbian soldiers were evacuated by ship to Greece. After conquest, Serbia was divided between Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria. In late 1915, a Franco-British force landed at Thessaloniki, Salonica in Greece to offer assistance and to pressure its government to declare war against the Central Powers. However, the pro-German Constantine I of Greece, King Constantine I dismissed the pro-Allied government of Eleftherios Venizelos before the Allied expeditionary force arrived. The friction between the King of Greece and the Allies continued to accumulate with the National Schism, which effectively divided Greece between regions still loyal to the king and the new provisional government of Venizelos in Salonica. After intense negotiations and an armed confrontation in Athens between Allied and royalist forces (an incident known as Noemvriana), the King of Greece resigned and his second son Alexander of Greece, Alexander took his place; Greece officially joined the war on the side of the Allies in June 1917. The Macedonian front was initially mostly static. French and Serbian forces retook limited areas of Macedonia by recapturing Bitola on 19 November 1916 following the costly Monastir offensive, which brought stabilisation of the front. Serbian and French troops finally made a breakthrough in September 1918 in the Vardar offensive, after most of the German and Austro-Hungarian troops had been withdrawn. The Bulgarians were defeated at the Battle of Dobro Pole, and by 25 September British and French troops had crossed the border into Bulgaria proper as the Bulgarian army collapsed. Bulgaria capitulated four days later, on 29 September 1918. The German high command responded by despatching troops to hold the line, but these forces were far too weak to re-establish a front. The disappearance of the Macedonian front meant that the road to Budapest and Vienna was now opened to Allied forces. Hindenburg and Ludendorff concluded that the strategic and operational balance had now shifted decidedly against the
Central Powers The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought World W ...
and, a day after the Bulgarian collapse, insisted on an immediate peace settlement.


Ottoman Empire

The Ottomans threatened Russia's Caucasus, Caucasian territories and Britain's communications with India via the Suez Canal. As the conflict progressed, the Ottoman Empire took advantage of the European powers' preoccupation with the war and conducted large-scale ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenians, Armenian, Greeks, Greek, and Assyrian people, Assyrian Christian populations, known as the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide, and Sayfo, Assyrian genocide. The British and French opened overseas fronts with the Gallipoli campaign, Gallipoli (1915) and Mesopotamian campaigns (1914). In Gallipoli, the Ottoman Empire successfully repelled the British, French, and Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs). In Mesopotamia, by contrast, after the defeat of the British defenders in the Siege of Kut by the Ottomans (1915–16), British Imperial forces reorganised and captured Baghdad in March 1917. The British were aided in Mesopotamia by local Arab and Assyrian tribesmen, while the Ottomans employed local Kurdish and Turcoman tribes. Further to the west, the Suez Canal was defended from Ottoman attacks in 1915 and 1916; in August, a German and Ottoman force was defeated at the Battle of Romani by the ANZAC Mounted Division and the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division. Following this victory, an Egyptian Expeditionary Force advanced across the Sinai Peninsula, pushing Ottoman forces back in the Battle of Magdhaba in December and the Battle of Rafa on the border between the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, Sinai and Ottoman Palestine in January 1917. Russian armies generally had success in the Caucasus campaign. Enver Pasha, supreme commander of the Ottoman armed forces, was ambitious and dreamed of re-conquering central Asia and areas that had been lost to Russia previously. He was, however, a poor commander. He launched an offensive against the Russians in the Caucasus in December 1914 with 100,000 troops, insisting on a frontal attack against mountainous Russian positions in winter. He lost 86% of his force at the Battle of Sarikamish. The Ottoman Empire, with German support, invaded Persia (modern Iran) in December 1914 in an effort to cut off British and Russian access to petroleum reservoirs around Baku near the Caspian Sea. Persia, ostensibly neutral, had long been under the spheres of British and Russian influence. The Ottomans and Germans were aided by Kurds, Kurdish and Azerbaijanis, Azeri forces, together with a large number of major Iranian tribes, such as the Qashqai people, Qashqai, Tangestan County, Tangistanis, Lurs, and Khamseh, while the Russians and British had the support of Armenian and Assyrian forces. The Persian campaign (World War I), Persian campaign was to last until 1918 and end in failure for the Ottomans and their allies. However, the Russian withdrawal from the war in 1917 led to Armenian and Assyrian forces, who had hitherto inflicted a series of defeats upon the forces of the Ottomans and their allies, being cut off from supply lines, outnumbered, outgunned and isolated, forcing them to fight and flee towards British lines in northern Mesopotamia. General Nikolai Yudenich, Yudenich, the Russian commander from 1915 to 1916, drove the Turks out of most of the southern Caucasus with a string of victories. During the 1916 campaign, the Russians defeated the Turks in the Erzurum offensive, also Trebizond Campaign, occupying Trabzon. In 1917, Russian Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1856–1929), Grand Duke Nicholas assumed command of the Caucasus front. Nicholas planned a railway from Georgia within the Russian Empire, Russian Georgia to the conquered territories so that fresh supplies could be brought up for a new offensive in 1917. However, in March 1917 (February in the pre-revolutionary Russian calendar), the Tsar abdicated in the course of the February Revolution, and the Caucasus Army (Russian Empire, 1914–1917), Russian Caucasus Army began to fall apart. The Arab Revolt, instigated by the Arab bureau of the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Foreign Office, started June 1916 with the Battle of Mecca (1916), Battle of Mecca, led by Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, Sharif Hussein of Mecca, and ended with the Ottoman surrender of Damascus. Fakhri Pasha, the Ottoman commander of Medina, resisted for more than two and half years during the Siege of Medina before surrendering in January 1919. The Senusiyya, Senussi tribe, along the border of Italian Libya and British Egypt, incited and armed by the Turks, waged a small-scale guerrilla war against Allied troops. The British were forced to dispatch 12,000 troops to oppose them in the Senussi campaign. Their rebellion was finally crushed in mid-1916. Total Allied casualties on the Ottoman fronts amounted 650,000 men. Total Ottoman casualties were 725,000 (325,000 dead and 400,000 wounded).


Italian participation

Italy had been allied with the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires since 1882 as part of the Triple Alliance. However, the nation had its own designs on Austro-Hungarian territory in Trentino, the Austrian Littoral, Rijeka, Fiume (Rijeka) and Dalmatia. Rome had a secret 1902 pact with France, effectively nullifying its part in the Triple Alliance; Italy secretly agreed with France to remain neutral if the latter was attacked by Germany.At the start of hostilities, Italy refused to commit troops, arguing that the Triple Alliance was defensive and that Austria-Hungary was an aggressor. The Austro-Hungarian government began negotiations to secure Italian neutrality, offering the French colony of Tunisia in return. The Allies made a counter-offer in which Italy would receive the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Southern Tyrol, Austrian Littoral and territory on the Dalmatian coast after the defeat of Austria-Hungary. This was formalised by the Treaty of London (1915), Treaty of London. Further encouraged by the Allied invasion of Turkey in April 1915, Italy joined the Triple Entente and declared war on Austria-Hungary on 23 May. Fifteen months later, Italy declared war on Germany. The Italians had numerical superiority, but this advantage was lost, not only because of the difficult terrain in which the fighting took place, but also because of the strategies and tactics employed. Field marshal, Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna, a staunch proponent of the frontal assault, had dreams of breaking into the Slovenian plateau, taking Ljubljana and threatening Vienna. On the Trentino front, the Austro-Hungarians took advantage of the mountainous terrain, which favoured the defender. After an initial strategic retreat, the front remained largely unchanged, while Austro-Hungarian Kaiserjäger, Kaiserschützen and Standschützen engaged Italian Alpini in bitter hand-to-hand combat throughout the summer. In the Alpine and Dolomite fronts, the main battle line led through rock and ice and often to an altitude of over 3000m. The soldiers were threatened not only by the enemy but especially in winter by the forces of nature and the difficult supply. The fighting led to the formation of special units with mountain guides and new combat tactics. The Austro-Hungarians counterattacked in the Asiago, Altopiano of Asiago, towards Verona and Padua, in the spring of 1916 (''Battle of Asiago, Strafexpedition''), but made little progress and were defeated by the Italians. Beginning in 1915, the Italians under Cadorna mounted eleven offensives on the Battles of the Isonzo, Isonzo front along the Soča, Isonzo (Soča) River, northeast of Trieste. Of these eleven offensives, five were won by Italy, three remained inconclusive, and the other three were repelled by the Austro-Hungarians, who held the higher ground. In the summer of 1916, after the Battle of Doberdò, the Italians captured the town of Gorizia. After this victory, the front remained static for over a year, despite several Italian offensives, centred on the Banjšice Plateau, Banjšice and Karst Plateau east of Gorizia. The Central Powers launched a crushing offensive on 26 October 1917, spearheaded by the Germans, and achieved a victory at Battle of Caporetto, Caporetto (Kobarid). The Italian Army was routed and retreated more than to reorganise. The new Italian chief of staff, Armando Diaz, ordered the Army to stop their retreat and defend the First Battle of Monte Grappa, Monte Grappa summit, where fortified defences were constructed; the Italians repelled the Austro-Hungarian and German Army, and stabilised the front at the Second Battle of the Piave River, Piave River. Since the Italian Army had suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Caporetto, the Italian Government ordered conscription of the so-called ''99 Boys'' (''Ragazzi del '99''): all males born in 1899 and prior, who were 18 years old or older. In 1918, the Austro-Hungarians failed to break through in a series of battles on the Piave and were finally decisively defeated in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in October. On 1November, the Italian Navy destroyed much of the Austro-Hungarian fleet stationed in Pula, preventing it from being handed over to the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. On 3November, the Italians invaded Trieste from the sea. On the same day, the Armistice of Villa Giusti was signed. By mid-November 1918, the Italian military occupied the entire former Austrian Littoral and had seized control of the portion of Dalmatia that had been guaranteed to Italy by the London Pact. By the end of hostilities in November 1918, Admiral Enrico Millo declared himself Italy's Governor of Dalmatia. Austria-Hungary surrendered on 11 November 1918.


Romanian participation

Romania had been allied with the Central Powers since 1882. When the war began, however, it declared its neutrality, arguing that because Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia, Romania was under no obligation to join the war. On 4August 1916, Romania and the Entente signed the Political Treaty and Military Convention, that established the parameters of Romania's participation in the war. In return, it received the Allies' formal sanction for Transylvania, Banat and other territories of Austria-Hungary to be annexed to Romania. The action had large popular support. On 27 August 1916, the Romanian Army Battle of Transylvania, launched an attack against Austria-Hungary, with limited Russian support. The Romanian offensive was initially successful in Transylvania, but a Central Powers counterattack drove them back. As a result of the Battle of Bucharest, the Central Powers occupied Bucharest on 6December 1916. Fighting in Moldova Romania in World War I#Course of the Romanian campaign, continued in 1917, but Russian withdrawal from the war in late 1917 as a result of the
October Revolution The October Revolution,. officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution. under the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence ...

October Revolution
meant that Romania was forced to sign an armistice with the Central Powers on 9December 1917. In January 1918, Romanian forces established control over Bessarabia as the Russian Army abandoned the province. Although a treaty was signed by the Romanian and Bolsheviks, Bolshevik Russian governments following talks between 5and 9March 1918 on the withdrawal of Romanian forces from Bessarabia within two months, on 27 March 1918 Romania formally attached Bessarabia, inhabited by a Romanian majority, to its territory, based on a resolution passed by the local assembly of that territory on its unification with Romania. Romania officially made peace with the Central Powers by signing the Treaty of Bucharest (1918), Treaty of Bucharest on 7May 1918. Under the treaty, Romania was obliged to end the war with the Central Powers and make small territorial concessions to Austria-Hungary, ceding control of some passes in the Carpathian Mountains, and to grant oil concessions to Germany. In exchange, the Central Powers recognised the sovereignty of Romania over Bessarabia. The treaty was renounced in October 1918 by the Alexandru Marghiloman government, and Romania nominally re-entered the war on 10 November 1918 against the Central Powers. The next day, the Treaty of Bucharest was nullified by the terms of the Armistice of Compiègne. Total Romanian deaths from 1914 to 1918, military and civilian, within contemporary borders, were estimated at 748,000.


Eastern Front


Initial actions

Russian plans for the start of the war called for simultaneous invasions of Austrian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, Galicia and East Prussia. Although Russia's initial Battle of Galicia, advance into Galicia was largely successful, it was driven back from East Prussia by Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, Ludendorff at the battles of Tannenberg and the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes, Masurian Lakes in August and September 1914. Russia's less developed industrial base and ineffective military leadership were instrumental in the events that unfolded. By the spring of 1915, the Russians had retreated from Galicia, and, in May, the Central Powers achieved a remarkable breakthrough on Poland's southern frontiers with their Gorlice–Tarnów offensive. On 5August, they captured Warsaw and forced the Russians to withdraw from Poland. Despite Russia's success in the June 1916 Brusilov offensive against the Austrians in eastern Galicia, the offensive was undermined by the reluctance of other Russian generals to commit their forces to support the victory. Allied and Russian forces were revived only briefly by Romania in World War I, Romania's entry into the war on 27 August, as Romania was rapidly defeated by a Central Powers offensive. Meanwhile, unrest grew in Russia as Nicholas II of Russia, the Tsar remained at the front. The increasingly incompetent rule of Alexandra Feodorovna (Alix of Hesse), Empress Alexandra drew protests and resulted in the murder of her favourite, Grigori Rasputin, Rasputin, at the end of 1916.


Central Powers peace overtures

On 12 December 1916, after ten brutal months of the Battle of Verdun and a Romania in World War I#The counteroffensive of the Central Powers, successful offensive against Romania, Germany attempted to negotiate a peace with the Allies. However, this attempt was rejected out of hand as a "duplicitous war ruse". Soon after, the US president, Woodrow Wilson, attempted to intervene as a peacemaker, asking in a note for both sides to state their demands. David Lloyd George, Lloyd George's War Cabinet considered the German offer to be a ploy to create divisions amongst the Allies. After initial outrage and much deliberation, they took Wilson's note as a separate effort, signalling that the United States was on the verge of entering the war against Germany following the "submarine outrages". While the Allies debated a response to Wilson's offer, the Germans chose to rebuff it in favour of "a direct exchange of views". Learning of the German response, the Allied governments were free to make clear demands in their response of 14 January. They sought restoration of damages, the evacuation of occupied territories, reparations for France, Russia and Romania, and a recognition of the principle of nationalities. This included the liberation of Italians, Slavs, Romanians, Czecho-Slovaks, and the creation of a "free and united Poland". On the question of security, the Allies sought guarantees that would prevent or limit future wars, complete with sanctions, as a condition of any peace settlement. The negotiations failed and the Entente powers rejected the German offer on the grounds that Germany had not put forward any specific proposals.


1917; Timeline of Major Developments


March to November 1917; Russian Revolution

By the end of 1916, Russian casualties totalled nearly five million killed, wounded or captured, with major urban areas affected by food shortages and high prices. In March 1917, Tsar Nicholas ordered the military to forcibly suppress a wave of strikes in Saint Petersburg, Petrograd but the troops refused to fire on the crowds. Revolutionaries set up the Petrograd Soviet and fearing a left-wing takeover, the State Duma forced Nicholas to abdicate and established the Russian Provisional Government, which confirmed Russia's willingness to continue the war. However, the Petrograd Soviet refused to disband, creating Dual power, competing power centres and caused confusion and chaos, with frontline soldiers becoming increasingly demoralised and unwilling to fight on. Following the Tsar's abdication, Vladimir Lenin—with the help of the German government—was ushered by train from Switzerland into Russia 16 April 1917. Discontent and the weaknesses of the Provisional Government led to a rise in the popularity of the Bolshevik Party, led by Lenin, which demanded an immediate end to the war. The Revolution of November was followed in December by an armistice and negotiations with Germany. At first, the Bolsheviks refused the German terms, but when German troops began marching across Ukraine unopposed, the new government acceded to the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (also known as the Peace of Brest in Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and depende ...
on 3March 1918. The treaty ceded vast territories, including Finland, the Baltic states, Baltic provinces, parts of Poland and Ukraine to the Central Powers. Despite this enormous German success, the manpower required by the Germ


April 1917: the United States enters the war

The United States was a major supplier of war materiel to the Allies but remained neutral in 1914; many opposed the idea of involvement in "foreign wars", while German Americans made up over 10% of the total population in 1913. On 7May 1915, the British passenger liner Sinking of the RMS Lusitania, RMS ''Lusitania'' was sunk by a German SM U-20 (Germany), submarine, killing nearly 1,200, including 128 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson demanded an apology and warned the United States would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare but refused to be drawn into the war. When more Americans died after the sinking of SS Arabic (1902), SS Arabic in August, Bethman-Hollweg ordered an end to such attacks and the affair blew over. It led to a wider discussion over the morality of neutrality, a position summarised by former president Theodore Roosevelt, who denounced the idea of "setting a spiritual example [to others] by sitting idle, uttering cheap platitudes and picking up their trade". However, this remained a minority view and Wilson was narrowly re-elected as president in 1916 United States presidential election, 1916, campaigning on the slogan "he kept us out of war". By the end of 1916, the British naval blockade was causing serious shortages in Germany and Wilhelm approved the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917. While the German government recognised this action was likely to bring America into the war, the navy claimed they could starve Britain into submission in less than six months. The military position also appeared stable, at least for the foreseeable future. Despite heavy losses at Verdun and the Somme during 1916, withdrawal to the newly created Hindenburg Line would enable the ''Westheer'' to conserve its troops, while it was clear Russia was on the brink of revolution. The combination meant Germany was willing to gamble it could force the Allies to make peace before the US could intervene in any meaningful way. Although Wilson responded by severing diplomatic relations on 2 February, he was reluctant to start hostilities without overwhelming public support and delayed any military response. On 24 February, he was presented with the Zimmermann Telegram; drafted in January by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, it was intercepted and decoded by British intelligence, who shared it with their American counterparts. Already financing Russian
Bolsheviks The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...
and anti-British Sinn Féin, Irish nationalists, Zimmermann hoped to exploit nationalist feelings in Mexico caused by American incursions during the Pancho Villa Expedition. He promised President Venustiano Carranza, Carranza support for a war against the United States and help in recovering Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, although this offer was promptly rejected. Publication of the telegram on 1 March caused an upsurge in support for war, but did not eliminate opposition to it, while public fury quickly subsided. The most significant factor in creating the overwhelming majority Wilson needed was the German submarine offensive, which not only cost American lives, but paralysed trade as ships were reluctant to put to sea. This caused food shortages in cities along the East Coast of the United States, East Coast and on 22 March, United States Congress, Congress approved the arming of merchant ships. Now committed to war, in his speech to Congress on 2 April, Wilson presented it as a crusade "against human greed and folly, against Germany, and for justice, peace and civilisation". On 6 April, Congress United States declaration of war on Germany (1917), declared war on Germany, although it did so as an "Associated Power", rather than a formal ally. The US also remained outside the Treaty of London (1915), Pact of London and was at war with Germany, not the other Central Powers. The United States Navy sent a United States Battleship Division Nine (World War I), battleship group to Scapa Flow to join the Grand Fleet, as well providing convoy escorts. In April 1917, the United States Army had fewer than 300,000 men, including Army National Guard, National Guard units, compared to British and French armies of 4.1 and 8.3 million respectively. The Selective Service Act of 1917 drafted 2.8 million men, although training and equipping such numbers was a huge logistical challenge. By June 1918, over 667,000 members of the American Expeditionary Forces, or AEF, had been transported to France, a figure which reached 2 million by the end of November. However, their arrival exposed weaknesses in American tactical doctrine, which was based on pre-1914 principles, a world away from the Combined arms approach used by the French and British in 1918. US commanders were initially slow to accept such ideas, limiting their effectiveness and leading to heavy casualties; it was not until the last month of the war that these failings were rectified. Despite his conviction Germany must be defeated, Wilson went to war primarily to ensure the US would play a leading role in shaping the peace. This meant preserving independence of action and required the AEF to operate as a separate military force, rather than being absorbed into British or French units as his Allies wanted. He was strongly supported in this by AEF commander General John J. Pershing, a proponent of pre-1914 "open warfare" who considered the French and British emphasis on artillery as misguided and incompatible with American "offensive spirit". Much to the frustration of his Allies, who had suffered heavy losses in 1917, he insisted on retaining control of American troops and refused to commit them to the front line until able to operate as independent units. As a result, the first significant US involvement was the Meuse–Argonne offensive in late September 1918.


April to June; Nivelle Offensive and French Army mutinies

Verdun cost the French nearly 400,000 casualties, while the horrific conditions severely impacted morale, leading to a number of incidents of indiscipline. Although relatively minor, they reflected a belief among the rank and file that their sacrifices were not appreciated by their government or senior officers. Combatants on both sides claimed the battle was the most psychologically exhausting of the entire war; recognising this, Philippe Pétain frequently rotated divisions, a process known as the noria system. While this ensured units were withdrawn before their ability to fight was significantly eroded, it meant a high proportion of the French army was affected by the battle. By the beginning of 1917, morale was brittle, even in divisions with good combat records. In December 1916, Robert Nivelle replaced Pétain as commander of French armies on the Western Front and began planning a Nivelle offensive, spring attack in Champagne, part of a joint Franco-British operation. Nivelle claimed the capture of his main objective, the Chemin des Dames, would achieve a massive breakthrough and cost no more than 15,000 casualties. Poor security meant German intelligence was well informed on tactics and timetables, but despite this, when the attack began on 16 April the French made substantial gains, before being brought to a halt by the newly built and extremely strong defences of the Hindenburg Line. Nivelle persisted with frontal assaults and by 25 April the French had suffered nearly 135,000 casualties, including 30,000 dead, most incurred in the first two days. Concurrent British attacks at Battle of Arras (1917), Arras were more successful, although ultimately of little strategic value. Operating as a separate unit for the first time, the Canadian Corps capture of Battle of Vimy Ridge, Vimy Ridge during the battle is viewed by many Canadians as a defining moment in creating a sense of national identity. Although Nivelle continued the offensive, on 3 May the 21st Infantry Division (France), 21st Division, which had been involved in some of the heaviest fighting at Verdun, refused orders to go into battle, initiating the 1917 French Army mutinies, French Army mutinies; within days, acts of "collective indiscipline" had spread to 54 divisions, while over 20,000 deserted. Unrest was almost entirely confined to the infantry, whose demands were largely non-political, including better economic support for families at home, and regular periods of leave, which Nivelle had ended. Although the vast majority remained willing to defend their own lines, they refused to participate in offensive action, reflecting a complete breakdown of trust in the army leadership. Nivelle was removed from command on 15 May and replaced by Pétain, who resisted demands for drastic punishment and set about restoring morale by improving conditions. While exact figures are still debated, only 27 men were actually executed, with another 3,000 sentenced to periods of imprisonment; however, the psychological effects were long-lasting, one veteran commenting "Pétain has purified the unhealthy atmosphere...but they have ruined the heart of the French soldier". The last large-scale offensive of this period was a British attack (with French support) at Battle of Passchendaele, Passchendaele (July–November 1917). This offensive opened with great promise for the Allies, before bogging down in the October mud. Casualties, though disputed, were roughly equal, at some 200,000–400,000 per side. The victory of the Central Powers at the Battle of Caporetto led the Allies to convene the Rapallo and Peschiera conferences, Rapallo conference at which they formed the Supreme War Council to co-ordinate planning. Previously, British and French armies had operated under separate commands. In December, the Central Powers signed an armistice with Russia, thus freeing large numbers of German troops for use in the west. With German reinforcements and new American troops pouring in, the outcome was to be decided on the Western Front. The Central Powers knew that they could not win a protracted war, but they held high hopes for success based on a final quick offensive. Furthermore, both sides became increasingly fearful of social unrest and revolution in Europe. Thus, both sides urgently sought a decisive victory. In 1917, Emperor Charles I of Austria secretly attempted separate peace negotiations with Clemenceau, through his wife's brother Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma, Sixtus in Belgium as an intermediary, without the knowledge of Germany. Italy opposed the proposals. When the negotiations failed, his attempt was revealed to Germany, resulting in a diplomatic catastrophe.


Ottoman Empire conflict, 1917–1918

In March and April 1917, at the First Battle of Gaza, First and Second Battle of Gaza, Second Battles of Gaza, German and Ottoman forces stopped the advance of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, which had begun in August 1916 at the Battle of Romani. At the end of October, the Sinai and Palestine campaign resumed, when General Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, Edmund Allenby's XX Corps (United Kingdom), XXth Corps, XXI Corps (United Kingdom), XXI Corps and Desert Mounted Corps won the Battle of Beersheba (1917), Battle of Beersheba. Two Ottoman armies were defeated a few weeks later at the Battle of Mughar Ridge and, early in December, Jerusalem was captured following another Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Jerusalem. About this time, Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein was relieved of his duties as the Eighth Army's commander, replaced by Cevat Çobanlı, Djevad Pasha, and a few months later the commander of the Military of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Army in Palestine, Erich von Falkenhayn, was replaced by Otto Liman von Sanders. In early 1918, the front line was Capture of Jericho, extended and the British occupation of the Jordan Valley, Jordan Valley was occupied, following the First Transjordan attack on Amman, First Transjordan and the Second Transjordan attack on Shunet Nimrin and Es Salt, Second Transjordan attacks by British Empire forces in March and April 1918. In March, most of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force's British infantry and Yeomanry cavalry were sent to the Western Front as a consequence of the Spring Offensive. They were replaced by Indian Army units. During several months of reorganisation and training of the summer, a Sinai and Palestine campaign#Jordan Valley operations, number of attacks were carried out on sections of the Ottoman front line. These pushed the front line north to more advantageous positions for the Entente in preparation for an attack and to acclimatise the newly arrived Indian Army infantry. It was not until the middle of September that the integrated force was ready for large-scale operations. The reorganised Egyptian Expeditionary Force, with an additional mounted division, broke Ottoman forces at the Battle of Megiddo (1918), Battle of Megiddo in September 1918. In two days the British and Indian infantry, supported by a creeping barrage, broke the Ottoman front line and captured the headquarters of the Eighth Army (Ottoman Empire) at Battle of Tulkarm, Tulkarm, the continuous trench lines at Battle of Tabsor, Tabsor, Battle of Arara, Arara, and the Seventh Army (Ottoman Empire) headquarters at Battle of Nablus (1918), Nablus. The Desert Mounted Corps rode through the break in the front line created by the infantry. During virtually continuous operations by Australian Light Horse, British mounted Yeomanry, Indian Lancers, and New Zealand Mounted infantry, Mounted Rifle brigades in the Jezreel Valley, they captured Battle of Nazareth, Nazareth, Capture of Afulah and Beisan, Afulah and Beisan, Capture of Jenin, Jenin, along with Battle of Haifa (1918), Haifa on the Mediterranean coast and Daraa east of the Jordan River on the Hejaz railway. Battle of Samakh, Samakh and Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee were captured on the way northwards to Damascus. Meanwhile, Third Transjordan attack, Chaytor's Force of Australian light horse, New Zealand mounted rifles, Indian, British West Indies and Jewish infantry captured the crossings of the Jordan River, Al-Salt, Es Salt, Amman and at Ziza most of the Fourth Army (Ottoman Empire). The Armistice of Mudros, signed at the end of October, ended hostilities with the Ottoman Empire when fighting was continuing north of Aleppo.


15 August 1917: Peace offer by the Pope

On or shortly before 15 August 1917 Pope Benedict XV made a peace proposal suggesting: * No annexations * No indemnities, except to compensate for severe war damage in Belgium and parts of France and of Serbia * A solution to the problems of
Alsace-Lorraine The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine (german: Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen or ; gsw-als, 's Rìchslànd Elsàss-Lothrìnga; Moselle Franconian __NOTOC__ Moselle Franconian (German ''Moselfränkisch'') is a West Central German language, ...

Alsace-Lorraine
, Trentino and Trieste * Restoration of the Congress Poland, Kingdom of Poland * Germany to pull out of Belgium and France * Germany's overseas colonies to be returned to Germany * General disarmament * A Supreme Court of arbitration to settle future disputes between nations * The freedom of the seas * Abolish all retaliatory economic conflicts * No point in ordering reparations, because so much damage had been caused to all belligerents


July to November; British offensive at Passchendaele

Section to be continued.


1918; Timeline of Major Developments


German Spring Offensive

Ludendorff drew up plans (Code name, codenamed Operation Michael) for the 1918 offensive on the Western Front. The Spring Offensive sought to divide the British and French forces with a series of feints and advances. The German leadership hoped to end the war before significant US forces arrived. The operation commenced on 21 March 1918 with an attack on British forces near Saint-Quentin, Aisne, Saint-Quentin. German forces achieved an unprecedented advance of . British and French trenches were penetrated using novel infiltration tactics, also named ''Hutier'' tactics after General Oskar von Hutier, by specially trained units called Stormtroopers (Imperial Germany), stormtroopers. Previously, attacks had been characterised by long artillery bombardments and massed assaults. In the Spring Offensive of 1918, however, Ludendorff used artillery only briefly and infiltrated small groups of infantry at weak points. They attacked command and logistics areas and bypassed points of serious resistance. More heavily armed infantry then destroyed these isolated positions. This German success relied greatly on the element of surprise. The front moved to within of Paris. Three heavy Krupp railway guns fired 183 shells on the capital, causing many Parisians to flee. The initial offensive was so successful that Kaiser Wilhelm II declared 24 March a Public holiday, national holiday. Many Germans thought victory was near. After heavy fighting, however, the offensive was halted. Lacking tanks or Self-propelled artillery, motorised artillery, the Germans were unable to consolidate their gains. The problems of re-supply were also exacerbated by increasing distances that now stretched over terrain that was shell-torn and often impassable to traffic. Following Operation Michael, Germany launched Battle of the Lys (1918), Operation Georgette against the northern English Channel ports. The Allies halted the drive after limited territorial gains by Germany. The German Army to the south then conducted Third Battle of the Aisne, Operations Blücher and Yorck, pushing broadly towards Paris. Germany launched Operation Marne (Second Battle of the Marne) on 15 July, in an attempt to encircle Reims. The resulting counter-attack, which started the
Hundred Days Offensive The Hundred Days Offensive (8 August to 11 November 1918) often considered one of the deadliest battles of WW1 was a series of massive Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined to ...
, marked the first successful Allied offensive of the war. By 20 July, the Germans had retreated across the Marne to their starting lines, having achieved little, and the German Army never regained the initiative. German casualties between March and April 1918 were 270,000, including many highly trained stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Germany was falling apart at home. Anti-war movement, Anti-war marches became frequent and morale in the army fell. Industrial output was half the 1913 levels.


Hundred Days Offensive

The Allied counteroffensive, known as the
Hundred Days Offensive The Hundred Days Offensive (8 August to 11 November 1918) often considered one of the deadliest battles of WW1 was a series of massive Allied An alliance is a relationship among people, groups, or sovereign state, states that have joined to ...
, began on 8August 1918, with the Battle of Amiens (1918), Battle of Amiens. The battle involved over 400 tanks and 120,000 British, Dominion, and French troops, and by the end of its first day a gap long had been created in the German lines. The defenders displayed a marked collapse in morale, causing Ludendorff to refer to this day as the "Black Day of the German army". After an advance as far as , German resistance stiffened, and the battle was concluded on 12 August. Rather than continuing the Amiens battle past the point of initial success, as had been done so many times in the past, the Allies shifted attention elsewhere. Allied leaders had now realised that to continue an attack after resistance had hardened was a waste of lives, and it was better to turn a line than to try to roll over it. They began to undertake attacks in quick order to take advantage of successful advances on the flanks, then broke them off when each attack lost its initial impetus. The day after the Offensive began, Ludendorff said: "We cannot win the war any more, but we must not lose it either." On 11 August he offered his resignation to the Kaiser, who refused it, replying, "I see that we must strike a balance. We have nearly reached the limit of our powers of resistance. The war must be ended." On 13 August, at Spa, Belgium, Spa, Hindenburg, Ludendorff, the Chancellor, and Foreign Minister Hintz agreed that the war could not be ended militarily and, on the following day, the German Crown Council decided that victory in the field was now most improbable. Austria and Hungary warned that they could continue the war only until December, and Ludendorff recommended immediate peace negotiations. Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, Prince Rupprecht warned Prince Maximilian of Baden: "Our military situation has deteriorated so rapidly that I no longer believe we can hold out over the winter; it is even possible that a catastrophe will come earlier."


Battle of Albert

British and Dominion forces launched the next phase of the campaign with the Battle of Albert (1918), Battle of Albert on 21 August. The assault was widened by French and then further British forces in the following days. During the last week of August, the Allied pressure along a front against the enemy was heavy and unrelenting. From German accounts, "Each day was spent in bloody fighting against an ever and again on-storming enemy, and nights passed without sleep in retirements to new lines." Faced with these advances, on 2 September the German ''Oberste Heeresleitung'' ("Supreme Army Command") issued orders to withdraw in the south to the Hindenburg Line. This ceded without a fight the Salient (military), salient seized the previous April. According to Ludendorff, "We had to admit the necessity ... to withdraw the entire front from the Scarpe to the Vesle." In nearly four weeks of fighting beginning on 8August, over 100,000 German prisoners were taken. The German High Command realised that the war was lost and made attempts to reach a satisfactory end. On 10 September Hindenburg urged peace moves to Emperor Charles of Austria, and Germany appealed to the Netherlands for mediation. On 14 September Austria sent a note to all belligerents and neutrals suggesting a meeting for peace talks on neutral soil, and on 15 September Germany made a peace offer to Belgium. Both peace offers were rejected.


Allied advance to the Hindenburg Line

In September the Allies Hundred Days Offensive#Advance to the Hindenburg Line, advanced to the Hindenburg Line in the north and centre. The Germans continued to fight strong rear-guard actions and launched numerous counterattacks, but positions and outposts of the Line continued to fall, with the BEF alone taking 30,441 prisoners in the last week of September. On 24 September an assault by both the British and French came within of St. Quentin. The Germans had now retreated to positions along or behind the Hindenburg Line. That same day, Supreme Army Command informed the leaders in Berlin that armistice talks were inevitable. The Hundred Days Offensive#Battles of the Hindenburg Line, final assault on the Hindenburg Line began with the Meuse-Argonne offensive, launched by French and American troops on 26 September. The following week, co-operating French and American units broke through in Champagne (province), Champagne at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, forcing the Germans off the commanding heights, and closing towards the Belgian frontier. On 8October the line was pierced again by British and Dominion troops at the Battle of Cambrai (1918), Battle of Cambrai. The German army had to shorten its front and use the Dutch frontier as an anchor to fight rear-guard actions as it fell back towards Germany. When Bulgaria signed a separate armistice on 29 September, Ludendorff, having been under great stress for months, suffered something similar to a breakdown. It was evident that Germany could no longer mount a successful defence. The collapse of the Balkans meant that Germany was about to lose its main supplies of oil and food. Its reserves had been used up, even as US troops kept arriving at the rate of 10,000 per day. The Americans supplied more than 80% of Allied oil during the war, and there was no shortage.


German Revolution 1918–1919

News of Germany's impending military defeat spread throughout the German armed forces. The threat of mutiny was rife. Admiral Reinhard Scheer and Ludendorff decided to launch a last attempt to restore the "valour" of the German Navy. In northern Germany, the German Revolution of 1918–1919 began at the end of October 1918. Units of the German Navy refused to set sail for a last, large-scale operation in a war they believed to be as good as lost, initiating the uprising. The Kiel mutiny, sailors' revolt, which then ensued in the naval ports of Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, spread across the whole country within days and led to the proclamation of a republic on 9November 1918, shortly thereafter to the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and to German surrender.


New German government surrenders

With the military faltering and with widespread loss of confidence in the Kaiser leading to his abdication and fleeing of the country, Germany moved towards surrender. Prince Maximilian of Baden took charge of a new government on 3October as Chancellor of Germany to negotiate with the Allies. Negotiations with President Wilson began immediately, in the hope that he would offer better terms than the British and French. Wilson demanded a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary control over the German military. There was no resistance when the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann on 9November declared Germany to be a republic. The Kaiser, kings and other hereditary rulers all were removed from power and Wilhelm fled to exile in the Netherlands. It was the end of Imperial Germany; a new Germany had been born as the Weimar Republic.


Armistices and capitulations

The collapse of the Central Powers came swiftly. Bulgaria was the first to sign an armistice, the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. German Emperor
Wilhelm II en, Frederick William Victor Albert , house = Hohenzollern , father = Frederick III, German Emperor Frederick III (german: Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl; 18 October 1831 – 15 June 1888) was German Emperor and King of Prussia betwee ...
in his telegram to Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand I described situation: "Disgraceful! 62,000 Serbs decided the war!". On the same day, the Oberste Heeresleitung, German Supreme Army Command informed Wilhelm II, German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Chancellor of Germany#Chancellor of the German Empire (1871–1918), Imperial Chancellor Count Georg von Hertling, that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless. On 24 October, the Italians began a push that rapidly recovered territory lost after the Battle of Caporetto. This culminated in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian Army as an effective fighting force. The offensive also triggered the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. During the last week of October, declarations of independence were made in Budapest, Prague, and Zagreb. On 29 October, the imperial authorities asked Italy for an armistice, but the Italians continued advancing, reaching Trento, Udine, and Trieste. On 3November, Austria-Hungary sent a White flag, flag of truce to ask for an armistice (Armistice of Villa Giusti). The terms, arranged by telegraph with the Allied Authorities in Paris, were communicated to the Austrian commander and accepted. The Armistice with Austria was signed in the Villa Giusti, near Padua, on 3November. Austria and Hungary signed separate armistices following the overthrow of the Habsburg Monarchy. In the following days, the Italian Army occupied Innsbruck and all Tyrol with over 20,000 soldiers. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated, signing the Armistice of Mudros. On 11 November, at 5:00 am, an Armistice of 11 November 1918, armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiègne. At 11 am on 11 November 1918—"the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month"—a ceasefire came into effect. During the six hours between the signing of the armistice and its taking effect, opposing armies on the Western Front began to withdraw from their positions, but fighting continued along many areas of the front, as commanders wanted to capture territory before the war ended. The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces. In November 1918, the Allies had ample supplies of men and materiel to invade Germany. Yet at the time of the armistice, no Allied force had crossed the German frontier, the Western Front was still some from Berlin, and the Kaiser's armies had retreated from the battlefield in good order. These factors enabled Hindenburg and other senior German leaders to spread the story that their armies had not really been defeated. This resulted in the stab-in-the-back myth, which attributed Germany's defeat not to its inability to continue fighting (even though up to a million soldiers were suffering from the Spanish flu, 1918 flu pandemic and unfit to fight), but to the public's failure to respond to its "patriotic calling" and the supposed intentional sabotage of the war effort, particularly by Jews, Socialists, and Bolsheviks. The Allies had much more potential wealth they could spend on the war. One estimate (using 1913 US dollars) is that the Allies spent $58 billion on the war and the Central Powers only $25 billion. Among the Allies, the UK spent $21 billion and the US$17 billion; among the Central Powers Germany spent $20 billion.


Aftermath

In the aftermath of the war, four empires disappeared: the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian. Numerous nations regained their former independence, and new ones were created. Four dynasties, together with their ancillary aristocracies, fell as a result of the war: the House of Romanov, Romanovs, the House of Hohenzollern, Hohenzollerns, the House of Habsburg, Habsburgs, and the Ottoman dynasty, Ottomans. Belgium and Serbia were badly damaged, as was France, with 1.4 million soldiers dead, not counting other casualties. Germany and Russia were similarly affected.


Formal end of the war

A formal state of war between the two sides persisted for another seven months, until the signing of the
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
with Germany on 28 June 1919. The United States Senate did not ratify the treaty despite public support for it, and did not formally end its involvement in the war until the Knox–Porter Resolution was signed on 2July 1921 by President Warren G. Harding. For the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the state of war ceased under the provisions of the ''Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918'' with respect to: :* Germany on 10 January 1920. :* Austria on 16 July 1920. :* Bulgaria on 9 August 1920. :* Hungary on 26 July 1921. :* Turkey on 6 August 1924. After the Treaty of Versailles, treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire were signed. The Ottoman Empire disintegrated, with much of its Levant territory awarded to various Allied powers as protectorates. The Turkish core in Anatolia was reorganised as the Turkey, Republic of Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was to be partitioned by the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920. This treaty was never ratified by the Sultan and was rejected by the Turkish National Movement, leading to the victorious Turkish War of Independence and the much less stringent 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Some war memorials date the end of the war as being when the Versailles Treaty was signed in 1919, which was when many of the troops serving abroad finally returned home; by contrast, most commemorations of the war's end concentrate on the armistice of 11 November 1918. Legally, the formal peace treaties were not complete until the last, the Treaty of Lausanne, was signed. Under its terms, the Allied forces left Istanbul, Constantinople on 23 August 1923.


Peace treaties and national boundaries

After the war, there grew a certain amount of academic focus on the causes of war and on the elements that could make peace flourish. In part, these led to the institutionalization of peace and conflict studies, security studies and International Relations (IR) in general. The Paris Peace Conference imposed a series of peace treaties on the Central Powers officially ending the war. The 1919
Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles (french: Traité de Versailles; german: Versailler Vertrag, ) was the most important of the peace treaties A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or government ...
dealt with Germany and, building on Fourteen Points, Wilson's 14th point, brought into being the League of Nations on 28 June 1919. The Central Powers had to acknowledge responsibility for "all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by" their aggression. In the Treaty of Versailles, this statement was Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, Article 231. This article became known as the War Guilt clause as the majority of Germans felt humiliated and resentful. Overall the Germans felt they had been unjustly dealt with by what they called the "diktat of Versailles". German historian Hagen Schulze said the Treaty placed Germany "under legal sanctions, deprived of military power, economically ruined, and politically humiliated." Belgian historian Laurence Van Ypersele emphasises the central role played by memory of the war and the Versailles Treaty in German politics in the 1920s and 1930s:
Active denial of war guilt in Germany and German resentment at both reparations and continued Allied occupation of the Rhineland made widespread revision of the meaning and memory of the war problematic. The legend of the "Stab-in-the-back myth, stab in the back" and the wish to revise the "Versailles diktat", and the belief in an international threat aimed at the elimination of the German nation persisted at the heart of German politics. Even a man of peace such as [Gustav Stresemann, Gustav] Stresemann publicly rejected German guilt. As for the Nazis, they waved the banners of domestic treason and international conspiracy in an attempt to galvanise the German nation into a spirit of revenge. Like a Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany sought to redirect the memory of the war to the benefit of its own policies.
Meanwhile, new nations liberated from German rule viewed the treaty as recognition of wrongs committed against small nations by much larger aggressive neighbours. The Peace Conference required all the defeated powers to pay World War I reparations, reparations for all the damage done to civilians. However, owing to economic difficulties and Germany being the only defeated power with an intact economy, the burden fell largely on Germany. Austria-Hungary was partitioned into several successor states, including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, largely but not entirely along ethnic lines. Transylvania was shifted from Hungary to Greater Romania. The details were contained in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919), Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the Treaty of Trianon. As a result of the Treaty of Trianon, 3.3 million Hungarians came under foreign rule. Although the Hungarians made up approximately 54% of the population of the pre-war Kingdom of Hungary (according to the Ethnic and religious composition of Austria-Hungary#Transleithanian states, 1910 census), only 32% of its territory was left to Hungary. Between 1920 and 1924, 354,000 Hungarians fled former Hungarian territories attached to Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. The Russian Empire, which had withdrawn from the war in 1917 after the October Revolution, lost much of its western frontier as the newly independent nations of History of Estonia#Road to the republic, Estonia, History of Finland#Independence and Civil War, Finland, History of Latvia#Independence, Latvia, History of Lithuania#Independent Lithuania (1918–40), Lithuania, and Second Polish Republic, Poland were carved from it. Romania took control of Bessarabia in April 1918.


National identities

After 123 years, Poland re-emerged as an independent country. The Kingdom of Serbia and its dynasty, as a "minor Entente nation" and the country with the most casualties per capita, became the backbone of a new multinational state, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia, combining the Kingdom of Bohemia with parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, became a new nation. Russia became the Soviet Union and lost Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, which became independent countries. The
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
was soon replaced by Turkey and several other countries in the Middle East. In the British Empire, the war unleashed new forms of nationalism. In Australia and New Zealand, the Battle of Gallipoli became known as those nations' "Baptism of Fire". It was the first major war in which the newly established countries fought, and it was one of the first times that Australian troops fought as Australians, not just subjects of the The Crown, British Crown. Anzac Day, commemorating the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), celebrates this defining moment. After the Battle of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian divisions fought together for the first time as a single corps, Canadians began to refer to their country as a nation "forged from fire". Having succeeded on the same battleground where the "mother countries" had previously faltered, they were for the first time respected internationally for their own accomplishments. Canada entered the war as a Dominion of the British Empire and remained so, although it emerged with a greater measure of independence. When Britain declared war in 1914, the dominions were automatically at war; at the conclusion, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa were individual signatories of the Treaty of Versailles. Lobbying by Chaim Weizmann and fear that American Jews would encourage the United States to support Germany culminated in the British government's Balfour Declaration of 1917, endorsing creation of a Homeland for the Jewish people, Jewish homeland in Palestine. A total of more than 1,172,000 Jewish soldiers served in the Allied and Central Power forces in World WarI, including 275,000 in Austria-Hungary and 450,000 in Tsarist Russia. The establishment of the modern state of Israel and the roots of the continuing Israeli–Palestinian conflict are partially found in the unstable power dynamics of the Middle East that resulted from World WarI. Before the end of the war, the Ottoman Empire had maintained a modest level of peace and stability throughout the Middle East. With the fall of the Ottoman government, power vacuums developed and conflicting claims to land and nationhood began to emerge. The political boundaries drawn by the victors of World WarI were quickly imposed, sometimes after only cursory consultation with the local population. These continue to be problematic in the 21st-century struggles for national identity. While the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World WarI was pivotal in contributing to the modern political situation of the Middle East, including the Arab–Israeli conflict, Arab-Israeli conflict, the end of Ottoman rule also spawned lesser-known disputes over water and other natural resources. The prestige of Germany and German things in Latin America remained high after the war but did not recover to its pre-war levels. Indeed, in Chile the war bought an end to a period of intense scientific and cultural influence writer Eduardo de la Barra scorningly called "the German bewitchment" ( es, el embrujamiento alemán). The Czechoslovak Legion fought on the sides of the Entente, seeking to win support for an independent
Czechoslovakia , , yi, טשעכאסלאוואקיי, , common_name = Czechoslovakia , life_span = 1918–19391945–1992 , p1 = Austria-Hungary , image_p1 = , s1 = Czech Rep ...

Czechoslovakia
. The Legion in Russia was established in September 1914, in December 1917 in France (including volunteers from America) and in April 1918 in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Italian Peninsula, a peninsula delimited by the Alps and List of islands of Italy, several islands surrounding it, whose ...
. Czechoslovak Legion troops defeated the Austria-Hungary, Austro-Hungarian army at the Ukrainian village of Battle of Zboriv (1917), Zboriv, in July 1917. After this success, the number of Czechoslovak legionaries increased, as well as Czechoslovak military power. In the Battle of Bakhmach, the Legion defeated the Germans and forced them to make a truce. In Russia, they were heavily involved in the Russian Civil War, siding with the Whites against the
Bolsheviks The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...
, at times controlling most of the Trans-Siberian Railway and conquering all the major cities of Siberia. The presence of the Czechoslovak Legion near Yekaterinburg appears to have been one of the motivations for the Bolshevik Execution of the Romanov family, execution of the Tsar and his family in July 1918. Legionaries arrived less than a week afterwards and captured the city. Because Russia's European ports were not safe, the corps was evacuated by a long detour via the port of Vladivostok. The last transport was the American ship Heffron in September 1920. In the late spring of 1918, three new states were formed in the South Caucasus: the First Republic of Armenia, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Georgia, which declared their independence from the Russian Empire. Two other minor entities were established, the Centrocaspian Dictatorship and Provisional National Government of the Southwestern Caucasus, South West Caucasian Republic (the former was liquidated by Azerbaijan in the autumn of 1918 and the latter by a joint Armenian-British task force in early 1919). With the withdrawal of the Russian armies from the Caucasus front in the winter of 1917–18, the three major republics braced for an imminent Ottoman advance, which commenced in the early months of 1918. Solidarity was briefly maintained when the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, Transcaucasian Federative Republic was created in the spring of 1918, but this collapsed in May when the Georgians Treaty of Poti, asked for and received protection from Germany and the Azerbaijanis concluded a treaty with the Ottoman Empire that was more akin to a military alliance. Armenia was left to fend for itself and struggled for five months against the threat of a full-fledged occupation by the Ottoman Turks before defeating them at the Battle of Sardarabad.


Health effects

Of the 60 million European military personnel who were mobilised from 1914 to 1918, World War I casualties, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. Germany lost 15.1% of its active male population, Austria-Hungary lost 17.1%, and France lost 10.5%. France mobilised 7.8 million men, of which 1.4 million died and 3.2 million were injured. Among the soldiers mutilated and surviving in the trenches, approximately 15,000 sustained horrific facial injuries, causing them to undergo social stigma and marginalisation; they were called the gueules cassées. In Germany, civilian deaths were 474,000 higher than in peacetime, due in large part to food shortages and malnutrition that weakened resistance to disease. These excess deaths are estimated as 271,000 in 1918, plus another 71,000 in the first half of 1919 when the blockade was still in effect. By the end of the war, starvation caused by famine had killed approximately 100,000 people in Lebanon. Between 5and 10 million people died in the Russian famine of 1921–1922, Russian famine of 1921. By 1922, there were between 4.5 million and 7million homeless children in Russia as a result of nearly a decade of devastation from World WarI, the Russian Civil War, and the subsequent famine of 1920–1922. Numerous anti-Soviet Russians fled the country after the Revolution; by the 1930s, the northern Chinese city of Harbin had 100,000 Russians. Thousands more emigrated to France, England, and the United States. The Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes, wrote to the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, "You have assured us that you cannot get better terms. I much regret it, and hope even now that some way may be found of securing agreement for demanding reparation commensurate with the tremendous sacrifices made by the British Empire and her Allies." Australia received £5,571,720 war reparations, but the direct cost of the war to Australia had been £376,993,052, and, by the mid-1930s, repatriation pensions, war gratuities, interest and sinking fund charges were £831,280,947. Of about 416,000 Australians who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 152,000 were wounded. Diseases flourished in the chaotic wartime conditions. In 1914 alone, louse-borne epidemic typhus killed 200,000 in Serbia. From 1918 to 1922, Russia had about 25 million infections and 3million deaths from epidemic typhus. In 1923, 13 million Russians contracted malaria, a sharp increase from the pre-war years. Starting in early 1918, a major influenza epidemic known as
Spanish flu Spanish flu, also known as the Great Influenza epidemic or the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an exceptionally deadly global influenza pandemic An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads across a large region ...
spread around the world, accelerated by the movement of large number of soldiers, often crammed together in camps and transport ships with poor sanitation. Overall, the Spanish flu killed at least 17 million to 25 million people, including an estimated 2.64 million Europeans and as many as 675,000 Americans. Moreover, between 1915 and 1926, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread around the world affecting nearly five million people. The social disruption and widespread violence of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War sparked more than 2,000 pogroms in the former Russian Empire, mostly in Ukraine after the Russian Revolution, Ukraine. An estimated 60,000–200,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities. In the aftermath of World War I, Greece Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), fought against Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal, a war that eventually resulted in a Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, massive population exchange between the two countries under the Treaty of Lausanne. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Greeks died during this period, which was tied in with the Greek genocide.


Technology


Ground warfare

World War I began as a clash of 20th-century technology and 19th-century military tactics, tactics, with the inevitably large ensuing casualties. By the end of 1917, however, the major armies, now numbering millions of men, had modernised and were making use of telephone, Wireless, wireless communication, Armored car (military), armoured cars, tanks (especially with the advent of the first prototype tank, Little Willie), and aircraft. Infantry formations were reorganised, so that 100-man companies were no longer the main unit of manoeuvre; instead, squads of 10 or so men, under the command of a junior NCO, were favoured. Artillery also underwent a revolution. In 1914, cannons were positioned in the front line and fired directly at their targets. By 1917, indirect fire with guns (as well as mortars and even machine guns) was commonplace, using new techniques for spotting and ranging, notably, aircraft and the often overlooked field telephone. Counter-battery fire, Counter-battery missions became commonplace, also, and sound detection was used to locate enemy batteries. Germany was far ahead of the Allies in using heavy indirect fire. The German Army employed and howitzers in 1914, when typical French and British guns were only and . The British had a 6-inch (152 mm) howitzer, but it was so heavy it had to be hauled to the field in pieces and assembled. The Germans also fielded Austrian and guns and, even at the beginning of the war, had inventories of various calibres of ''Minenwerfer'', which were ideally suited for trench warfare. On 27 June 1917 the Germans used the biggest gun in the world, Batterie Pommern, nicknamed "Lange Max Museum, Lange Max". This gun from Krupp was able to shoot 750 kg shells from Koekelare to Dunkirk, a distance of about . Much of the combat involved trench warfare, in which hundreds often died for each metre gained. Many of the deadliest battles in history occurred during World WarI. Such battles include Ypres, the Marne, Battle of Cambrai (1917), Cambrai, the Somme, Verdun, and Gallipoli. The Germans employed the Haber process of nitrogen fixation to provide their forces with a constant supply of gunpowder despite the British naval blockade. Artillery was responsible for the largest number of casualties and consumed vast quantities of explosives. The large number of head wounds caused by exploding shells and Fragmentation (weaponry), fragmentation forced the combatant nations to develop the modern steel helmet, led by the French, who introduced the Adrian helmet in 1915. It was quickly followed by the Brodie helmet, worn by British Imperial and US troops, and in 1916 by the distinctive German ''Stahlhelm'', a design, with improvements, still in use today. The widespread use of chemical warfare was a distinguishing feature of the conflict. Gases used included chlorine, mustard gas and phosgene. Relatively few war casualties were caused by gas, as effective countermeasures to gas attacks were quickly created, such as gas masks. The use of chemical warfare and small-scale Aerial bombing of cities, strategic bombing (as opposed to tactical bombing) were both outlawed by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and both proved to be of limited effectiveness, though they captured the public imagination. The most powerful land-based weapons were railway guns, weighing dozens of tons apiece. The German version were nicknamed Big Bertha (howitzer), Big Berthas, even though the namesake was not a railway gun. Germany developed the Paris Gun, able to bombard Paris from over , though shells were relatively light at 94 kilograms (210 lb). Trenches, machine guns, air reconnaissance, barbed wire, and modern artillery with fragmentation shell (projectile), shells helped bring the battle lines of World WarI to a stalemate. The British and the French sought a solution with the creation of the tank and Armoured warfare, mechanised warfare. The British British heavy tanks of World War I#Mark I, first tanks were used during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916. Mechanical reliability was an issue, but the experiment proved its worth. Within a year, the British were fielding tanks by the hundreds, and they showed their potential during the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, by breaking the Hindenburg Line, while combined arms teams captured 8,000 enemy soldiers and 100 guns. Meanwhile, the French introduced the first tanks with a rotating turret, the Renault FT, which became a decisive tool of the victory. The conflict also saw the introduction of Light machine gun, light automatic weapons and submachine guns, such as the Lewis gun, the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, and the MP 18. Another new weapon, the flamethrower, was first used by the German army and later adopted by other forces. Although not of high tactical value, the flamethrower was a powerful, demoralising weapon that caused terror on the battlefield. Trench railways evolved to supply the enormous quantities of food, water, and ammunition required to support large numbers of soldiers in areas where conventional transportation systems had been destroyed. Internal combustion engines and improved traction systems for automobiles and trucks/lorries eventually rendered trench railways obsolete.


Areas taken in major attacks

On the Western Front, neither side made impressive gains in the first three years of the war with attacks at Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele, and Cambrai—the exception was Nivelle's Offensive in which the German defence gave ground while mauling the attackers so badly that there were mutinies in the French Army. In 1918 the Germans smashed through the defence lines in three great attacks: Michael, on the Lys, and on the Aisne, which displayed the power of their new tactics. The Allies struck back at Battle of Soissons (1918), Soissons, which showed the Germans that they must return to the defensive, and at Amiens; tanks played a prominent role in both these assaults, as they had the year before at Cambrai. The areas in the East were larger. The Germans did well at the First Masurian Lakes driving the invaders from East Prussia, and at Battle of Jugla, Riga, which led the Russians to sue for peace. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans joined for a great success at Gorlice–Tarnów, which drove the Russians out of Poland. In a series of attacks along with the Bulgarians, they occupied Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and most of Romania. The Allies successes came later in Third Battle of Gaza, Palestine, the beginning of the end for the Ottomans, in Macedonia, which drove the Bulgarians out of the war, and at Vittorio Veneto, the final blow for the Austro-Hungarians. The area occupied in the East by the Central powers on 11 November 1918 was .


Naval

Germany deployed U-boats (submarines) after the war began. Alternating between restricted and unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic, the
Imperial German Navy The Imperial German Navy is the common English term for the Imperial Navy () of the . It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small (from 1867 the ), which was mainly for coast defence. greatly expanded the navy. The key leader wa ...
employed them to deprive the British Isles of vital supplies. The deaths of British merchant sailors and the seeming invulnerability of U-boats led to the development of depth charges (1916), hydrophones (Sonar#Passive sonar, sonar, 1917), blimps, Attack submarine, hunter-killer submarines (British R-class submarine, HMS ''R-1'', 1917), forward-throwing anti-submarine weapons, and dipping hydrophones (the latter two both abandoned in 1918). To extend their operations, the Germans proposed supply submarines (1916). Most of these would be forgotten in the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the Interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months and 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as t ...
until World WarII revived the need.


Aviation

Fixed-wing aircraft were first used militarily by the Italians in Libya on 23 October 1911 during the
Italo-Turkish War The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War ( tr, Trablusgarp Savaşı, "Tripolitanian War", it, Guerra di Libia, "War of Libya") was fought between the and the from 29 September 1911, to 18 October 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy capture ...
for reconnaissance, soon followed by the dropping of grenades and aerial photography the next year. By 1914, their military utility was obvious. They were initially used for reconnaissance and Close air support, ground attack. To shoot down enemy planes, Anti-aircraft warfare, anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft were developed. Strategic bombers were created, principally by the Germans and British, though the former used Zeppelins as well. Towards the end of the conflict, aircraft carriers were used for the first time, with HMS ''Furious'' launching Sopwith Camels in a raid to destroy the Zeppelin hangars at Tønder in 1918. Manned observation balloons, floating high above the trenches, were used as stationary reconnaissance platforms, reporting enemy movements and directing artillery. Balloons commonly had a crew of two, equipped with parachutes, so that if there was an enemy air attack the crew could parachute to safety. At the time, parachutes were too heavy to be used by pilots of aircraft (with their marginal power output), and smaller versions were not developed until the end of the war; they were also opposed by the British leadership, who feared they might promote cowardice. Recognised for their value as observation platforms, balloons were important targets for enemy aircraft. To defend them against air attack, they were heavily protected by anti-aircraft guns and patrolled by friendly aircraft; to attack them, unusual weapons such as air-to-air rockets were tried. Thus, the reconnaissance value of blimps and balloons contributed to the development of air-to-air combat between all types of aircraft, and to the trench stalemate, because it was impossible to move large numbers of troops undetected. The Germans conducted air raids on England during 1915 and 1916 with airships, hoping to damage British morale and cause aircraft to be diverted from the front lines, and indeed the resulting panic led to the diversion of several squadrons of fighters from France.


War crimes


Rape of Belgium

The German invaders treated any resistance—such as sabotaging rail lines—as illegal and immoral, and shot the offenders and burned buildings in retaliation. In addition, they tended to suspect that most civilians were potential ''francs-tireurs'' (Guerrilla warfare, guerrillas) and, accordingly, took and sometimes killed hostages from among the civilian population. The German army executed over 6,500 French and Belgian civilians between August and November 1914, usually in near-random large-scale shootings of civilians ordered by junior German officers. The German Army destroyed 15,000–20,000 buildings—most famously the university library at Leuven, Louvain—and generated a wave of refugees of over a million people. Over half the German regiments in Belgium were involved in major incidents. Thousands of workers were shipped to Germany to work in factories. British propaganda dramatising the Rape of Belgium attracted much attention in the United States, while Berlin said it was both lawful and necessary because of the threat of franc-tireurs like those in France in 1870. The British and French magnified the reports and disseminated them at home and in the United States, where they played a major role in dissolving support for Germany.


Austro-Hungarian war crimes in Serbia

Austria's propaganda machinery spread anti-Serb sentiment, with other things, the slogan "Serbien muss sterbien" (Serbia must die). During the war Austro-Hungarian officers in Serbia ordered troops to "exterminate and burn everything that is Serbian", and hangings and mass shootings were everyday occurrences. Austrian historian, Anton Holzer, wrote that the Austro-Hungarian army carried out “countless and systematic massacres…against the Serbian population. The soldiers invaded villages and rounded up unarmed men, women and children. They were either shot dead, bayoneted to death or hanged. The victims were locked into barns and burned alive. Women were sent up to the front lines and mass-raped. The inhabitants of whole villages were taken as hostages and humiliated and tortured.” A claim from a local spy that "traitors" were hiding in a certain house was enough to sentence the whole family to death by hanging. Priests were often hanged, under the accusation of spreading the spirit of treason among the people. Multiple source state that 30,000 Serbs, mostly civilians, were hanged by Austro-Hungarian forces in the first year of the war alone.


''Baralong'' incidents

On 19 August 1915, the German submarine SM U-27 (Germany), U-''27'' was sunk by the British Q-ship . All German survivors were Summary execution, summarily executed by ''Baralong''s crew on the orders of Lieutenant Godfrey Herbert, the captain of the ship. The shooting was reported to the media by American citizens who were on board the ''Nicosia'', a British freighter loaded with war supplies, which was stopped by ''U-27'' just minutes before the incident. On 24 September, ''Baralong'' destroyed SM U-41 (Germany), U-''41'', which was in the process of sinking the cargo ship ''Urbino''. According to Karl Goetz, the submarine's commander, ''Baralong'' continued to fly the US flag after firing on ''U-41'' and then rammed the lifeboat—carrying the German survivors, sinking it.


Torpedoing of HMHS ''Llandovery Castle''

The Canadian hospital ship was torpedoed by the German submarine SM U-86 on 27 June 1918 in violation of international law. Only 24 of the 258 medical personnel, patients, and crew survived. Survivors reported that the U-boat surfaced and ran down the lifeboats, machine-gunning survivors in the water. The U-boat captain, Helmut Brümmer-Patzig, was charged with war crimes in Germany following the war, but escaped prosecution by going to the Free City of Danzig, beyond the jurisdiction of German courts.


Blockade of Germany

After the war, the German government claimed that approximately 763,000 German civilians died from starvation and disease during the war because of the Allied blockade. An academic study done in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000.Grebler, Leo (1940). ''The Cost of the World War to Germany and Austria–Hungary''. Yale University Press. p. 78 Germany protested that the Allies had used starvation as a weapon of war. Sally Marks argued that the German accounts of a hunger blockade are a "myth," as Germany did not face the starvation level of Belgium and the regions of Poland and northern France that it occupied. According to the British judge and legal philosopher Patrick Devlin, Baron Devlin, Patrick Devlin, "The War Orders given by the Admiralty on 26 August [1914] were clear enough. All food consigned to Germany through neutral ports was to be captured and all food consigned to Rotterdam was to be presumed consigned to Germany." According to Devlin, this was a serious breach of International Law, equivalent to German minelaying.


Chemical weapons in warfare

The German army was the first to successfully deploy chemical weapons during the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April – 25 May 1915), after German scientists working under the direction of Fritz Haber at the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute developed a method to weaponize chlorine. The use of chemical weapons was sanctioned by the German High Command in an effort to force Allied soldiers out of their entrenched positions, complementing rather than supplanting more lethal conventional weapons. In time, chemical weapons were deployed by all major belligerents throughout the war, inflicting approximately 1.3 million casualties, but relatively few fatalities: About 90,000 in total. For example, there were an estimated 186,000 British chemical weapons casualties during the war (80% of which were the result of exposure to the blister agent, vesicant sulfur mustard, introduced to the battlefield by the Germans in July 1917, which burns the skin at any point of contact and inflicts more severe lung damage than chlorine or phosgene), and up to one-third of American casualties were caused by them. The Russian Army reportedly suffered roughly 500,000 chemical weapon casualties in World WarI. The use of chemical weapons in warfare was in direct violation of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907#Hague Convention of 1899, 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 190#Hague Convention of 1907, 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which prohibited their use. The effect of poison gas was not limited to combatants. Civilians were at risk from the gases as winds blew the poison gases through their towns, and they rarely received warnings or alerts of potential danger. In addition to absent warning systems, civilians often did not have access to effective gas masks. An estimated 100,000–260,000 civilian casualties were caused by chemical weapons during the conflict and tens of thousands more (along with military personnel) died from scarring of the lungs, skin damage, and cerebral damage in the years after the conflict ended. Many commanders on both sides knew such weapons would cause major harm to civilians but nonetheless continued to use them. British Field marshal (United Kingdom), Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, Douglas Haig wrote in his diary, "My officers and I were aware that such weapons would cause harm to women and children living in nearby towns, as strong winds were common in the battlefront. However, because the weapon was to be directed against the enemy, none of us were overly concerned at all." The war damaged chemistry's prestige in European societies, in particular the German variety.


Genocide and ethnic cleansing


Ottoman Empire

The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian population, including mass deportations and executions, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is considered genocide. The Ottomans carried out organised and systematic massacres of the Armenian population at the beginning of the war and manipulated acts of Armenian resistance by portraying them as rebellions to justify further extermination. In early 1915, a number of Armenians volunteered to join the Russian forces and the Ottoman government used this as a pretext to issue the Temporary Law of Deportation, Tehcir Law (Law on Deportation), which authorised the deportation of Armenians from the Empire's eastern provinces to Syria between 1915 and 1918. The Armenians were intentionally Death march, marched to death and a number were attacked by Ottoman brigands. While an exact number of deaths is unknown, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimates 1.5 million. The government of Turkey has consistently Armenian genocide denial, denied the genocide, arguing that those who died were victims of inter-ethnic fighting, famine, or disease during World WarI; these claims are rejected by most historians. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greek genocide, Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination. At least 250,000 Assyrian Christians, about half of the population, and 350,000–750,000 Greeks in Turkey, Anatolian and Pontic Greeks were killed between 1915 and 1922.


Russian Empire

Many pogroms accompanied the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War. 60,000–200,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire (mostly within the Pale of Settlement in present-day Ukraine). There were an estimated 7–12 million casualties during the Russian Civil War, mostly civilians.


Soldiers' experiences

The British soldiers of the war were initially volunteers but increasingly were conscription, conscripted into service. Surviving veterans, returning home, often found they could discuss their experiences only amongst themselves. Grouping together, they formed "veterans' associations" or "Legions". A small number of personal accounts of American veterans have been collected by the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.


Prisoners of war

About eight million men surrendered and were held in Prisoner-of-war camp, POW camps during the war. All nations pledged to follow the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, Hague Conventions on fair treatment of Prisoner of war, prisoners of war, and the survival rate for POWs was generally much higher than that of combatants at the front. Individual surrenders were uncommon; large units usually surrendered ''en masse''. At the Siege of Maubeuge about 40,000 French soldiers surrendered, at the battle of Galicia Russians took about 100,000 to 120,000 Austrian captives, at the Brusilov Offensive about 325,000 to 417,000 Germans and Austrians surrendered to Russians, and at the Battle of Tannenberg, 92,000 Russians surrendered. When the besieged garrison of Kaunas surrendered in 1915, some 20,000 Russians became prisoners, at the battle near Przasnysz (February–March 1915) 14,000 Germans surrendered to Russians, and at the First Battle of the Marne about 12,000 Germans surrendered to the Allies. 25–31% of Russian losses (as a proportion of those captured, wounded, or killed) were to prisoner status; for Austria-Hungary 32%, for Italy 26%, for France 12%, for Germany 9%; for Britain 7%. Prisoners from the Allied armies totalled about 1.4 million (not including Russia, which lost 2.5–3.5 million men as prisoners). From the Central Powers about 3.3 million men became prisoners; most of them surrendered to Russians. Germany held 2.5 million prisoners; Russia held 2.2–2.9 million; while Britain and France held about 720,000. Most were captured just before the Armistice. The United States held 48,000. The most dangerous moment was the act of surrender when helpless soldiers were sometimes gunned down. Once prisoners reached a camp, conditions were, in general, satisfactory (and much better than in World WarII), thanks in part to the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross, International Red Cross and inspections by neutral nations. However, conditions were terrible in Russia: starvation was common for prisoners and civilians alike; about 15–20% of the prisoners in Russia died, and in Central Powers imprisonment 8% of Russians. In Germany, food was scarce, but only 5% died. The Ottoman Empire often treated POWs poorly. Some 11,800 British Empire soldiers, most of them Indians, became prisoners after the Siege of Kut in Mesopotamia in April 1916; 4,250 died in captivity. Although many were in a poor condition when captured, Ottoman officers forced them to march to Anatolia. A survivor said: "We were driven along like beasts; to drop out was to die." The survivors were then forced to build a railway through the Taurus Mountains. In Russia, when the prisoners from the Czechoslovak Legion of the Austro-Hungarian army were released in 1917, they re-armed themselves and briefly became a military and diplomatic force during the Russian Civil War. While the Allied prisoners of the Central Powers were quickly sent home at the end of active hostilities, the same treatment was not granted to Central Power prisoners of the Allies and Russia, many of whom served as forced labour, e.g., in France until 1920. They were released only after many approaches by the Red Cross to the Supreme War Council. German prisoners were still being held in Russia as late as 1924.


Military attachés and war correspondents

Military and civilian observers from every major power closely followed the course of the war. Many were able to report on events from a perspective somewhat akin to modern "embedded journalism, embedded" positions within the opposing land and naval forces.


Support for the war

In the Balkans, Yugoslavism, Yugoslav nationalists such as the leader, Ante Trumbić, strongly supported the war, desiring the freedom of Yugoslavs from Austria-Hungary and other foreign powers and the creation of an independent Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Committee, led by Trumbić, was formed in Paris on 30 April 1915 but shortly moved its office to London. In April 1918, the Rome Congress of Oppressed Nationalities met, including Czechoslovakism, Czechoslovak, Italians, Italian, Poles, Polish, Transylvanian, and Yugoslav representatives who urged the Allies to support national self-determination for the peoples residing within Austria-Hungary. In the Middle East, Arab nationalism soared in Ottoman territories in response to the rise of Turkish nationalism during the war, with Arab nationalist leaders advocating the creation of a Pan-Arabism, pan-Arab state. In 1916, the Arab Revolt began in Ottoman-controlled territories of the Middle East in an effort to achieve independence. In East Africa, Lij Iyasu of Ethiopia, Iyasu V of Ethiopian Empire, Ethiopia was supporting the Dervish movement (Somali), Dervish state who were at war with the British in the Somaliland campaign. Von Syburg, the German envoy in Addis Ababa, said, "now the time has come for Ethiopia to regain the coast of the Red Sea driving the Italians home, to restore the Empire to its ancient size." The Ethiopian Empire was on the verge of entering World WarI on the side of the Central Powers before Iyasu's overthrow at the Battle of Segale due to Allied pressure on the Ethiopian aristocracy. Iyasu was accused of converting to Islam. According to Ethiopian historian Bahru Zewde, the evidence used to prove Iyasu's conversion was a doctored photo of Iyasu wearing a turban provided by the Allies. Some historians claim the British spy T. E. Lawrence forged the Iyasu photo. A number of socialist parties initially supported the war when it began in August 1914. But European socialists split on national lines, with the concept of class conflict held by radical socialists such as Marxists and Syndicalism, syndicalists being overborne by their patriotic support for the war. Once the war began, Austrian, British, French, German, and Russian socialists followed the rising nationalist current by supporting their countries' intervention in the war. Italian nationalism was stirred by the outbreak of the war and was initially strongly supported by a variety of political factions. One of the most prominent and popular Italian nationalist supporters of the war was Gabriele D'Annunzio, who promoted Italian irredentism and helped sway the Italian public to support intervention in the war. The Italian Liberal Party, under the leadership of Paolo Boselli, promoted intervention in the war on the side of the Allies and used the Dante Alighieri Society to promote Italian nationalism. Italian socialists were divided on whether to support the war or oppose it; some were militant supporters of the war, including Benito Mussolini and Leonida Bissolati. However, the Italian Socialist Party decided to oppose the war after anti-militarist protestors were killed, resulting in a general strike called Red Week (Italy), Red Week. The Italian Socialist Party purged itself of pro-war nationalist members, including Mussolini. Mussolini, a syndicalist who supported the war on grounds of irredentist claims on Italian-populated regions of Austria-Hungary, formed the pro-interventionist ''Il Popolo d'Italia'' and the ''Fasci Rivoluzionario d'Azione Internazionalista'' ("Revolutionary Fascio, Fasci for International Action") in October 1914 that later developed into the ''Fasci Italiani di Combattimento'' in 1919, the origin of fascism. Mussolini's nationalism enabled him to raise funds from Gio. Ansaldo & C., Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create ''Il Popolo d'Italia'' to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war.


Opposition to the war

Once war was declared, many socialists and trade unions backed their governments. Among the exceptions were the
Bolsheviks The Bolsheviks (Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (росс ...
, the Socialist Party of America, the Italian Socialist Party, and people like Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, and their followers in Germany. Pope Benedict XV, elected to the papacy less than three months into World WarI, made the war and its consequences the main focus of his early pontificate. In stark contrast to his pope Pius X, predecessor, five days after his election he spoke of his determination to do what he could to bring peace. His first encyclical, ''Ad beatissimi Apostolorum'', given 1November 1914, was concerned with this subject. Benedict XV found his abilities and unique position as a religious emissary of peace ignored by the belligerent powers. The 1915 Treaty of London between Italy and the Triple Entente included secret provisions whereby the Allies agreed with Italy to ignore papal peace moves towards the Central Powers. Consequently, the publication of Benedict's proposed #15 August 1917: Peace offer by the Pope, seven-point Peace Note of August 1917 was roundly ignored by all parties except Austria-Hungary. In United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Britain in 1914, the Public Schools Act 1868, Public Schools Officers' Training Corps annual camp was held at Tidworth Pennings, near Salisbury Plain. Head of the British Army, Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, Lord Kitchener, was to review the cadets, but the imminence of the war prevented him. General Horace Smith-Dorrien was sent instead. He surprised the two-or-three thousand cadets by declaring (in the words of Donald Christopher Smith, a Bermuda, Bermudian cadet who was present),
that war should be avoided at almost any cost, that war would solve nothing, that the whole of Europe and more besides would be reduced to ruin, and that the loss of life would be so large that whole populations would be decimated. In our ignorance I, and many of us, felt almost ashamed of a British General who uttered such depressing and unpatriotic sentiments, but during the next four years, those of us who survived the holocaust—probably not more than one-quarter of us—learned how right the General's prognosis was and how courageous he had been to utter it.
Voicing these sentiments did not hinder Smith-Dorrien's career, or prevent him from doing his duty in World WarI to the best of his abilities. Many countries jailed those who spoke out against the conflict. These included Eugene V. Debs, Eugene Debs in the United States and Bertrand Russell in Britain. In the US, the Espionage Act of 1917 and Sedition Act of 1918 made it a federal crime to oppose military recruitment or make any statements deemed "disloyal". Publications at all critical of the government were removed from circulation by postal censors, and many served long prison sentences for statements of fact deemed unpatriotic. A number of nationalists opposed intervention, particularly within states that the nationalists were hostile to. Although the vast majority of Irish people consented to participate in the war in 1914 and 1915, a minority of advanced Irish nationalism, Irish nationalists staunchly opposed taking part. The war began amid the Home Rule crisis in Ireland that had resurfaced in 1912, and by July 1914 there was a serious possibility of an outbreak of civil war in Ireland. Irish nationalists and Marxists attempted to pursue Irish independence, culminating in the Easter Rising of 1916, with Germany sending 20,000 rifles to Ireland to stir unrest in Britain. The UK government placed Ireland under martial law in response to the Easter Rising, though once the immediate threat of revolution had dissipated, the authorities did try to make concessions to nationalist feeling. However, opposition to involvement in the war increased in Ireland, resulting in the Conscription Crisis of 1918. Other opposition came from conscientious objectors—some socialist, some religious—who refused to fight. In Britain, 16,000 people asked for conscientious objector status. Some of them, most notably prominent peace activist Stephen Hobhouse, refused both military and Alternative civilian service, alternative service. Many suffered years of prison, including solitary confinement and bread and water diets. Even after the war, in Britain many job advertisements were marked "No conscientious objectors need apply". The Central Asian revolt of 1916, Central Asian revolt started in the summer of 1916, when the Russian Empire government ended its exemption of Muslims from military service. In 1917, a series of French Army Mutinies led to dozens of soldiers being executed and many more imprisoned. On 1–4 May 1917, about 100,000 workers and soldiers of Saint Petersburg, Petrograd, and after them, the workers and soldiers of other Russian cities, led by the Bolsheviks, demonstrated under banners reading "Down with the war!" and "all power to the soviets!" The mass demonstrations resulted in a crisis for the Russian Provisional Government. In Milan, in May 1917, Bolshevik revolutionaries organised and engaged in rioting calling for an end to the war, and managed to close down factories and stop public transportation.Seton-Watson, Christopher. 1967. ''Italy from Liberalism to Fascism: 1870 to 1925''. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd. p. 471 The Italian army was forced to enter Milan with tanks and machine guns to face Bolsheviks and Anarchism, anarchists, who fought violently until 23 May when the army gained control of the city. Almost 50 people (including three Italian soldiers) were killed and over 800 people arrested. In September 1917, Russian Expeditionary Force in France, Russian soldiers in France began questioning why they were fighting for the French at all and mutinied. In Russia, opposition to the war led to soldiers also establishing their own revolutionary committees, which helped foment the
October Revolution The October Revolution,. officially known as the Great October Socialist Revolution. under the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence ...

October Revolution
of 1917, with the call going up for "bread, land, and peace". The Decree on Peace, written by Vladimir Lenin, was passed on 8November 1917, following the success of the October Revolution. The Bolsheviks agreed to a peace treaty with Germany, the
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (also known as the Peace of Brest in Russia Russia (russian: link=no, Россия, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the List of countries and depende ...
, despite its harsh conditions. The German Revolution of 1918–1919 led to the abdication of the Kaiser and German surrender.


Conscription

Conscription was common in most European countries. However, it was controversial in English-speaking countries. It was especially unpopular among minority ethnic groups—especially the Irish Catholics in Ireland and Australia, and the French Catholics in Canada.


Canada

In Canada, the issue produced Conscription Crisis of 1917, a major political crisis that permanently alienated the Francophones. It opened a political gap between French Canadians, French Canadian, who believed their true loyalty was to Canada and not to the British Empire, and members of the Anglophone majority, who saw the war as a duty to their British heritage.


Australia

Australia had a form of conscription at the outbreak of the war, as compulsory military training had been introduced in 1911. However, the ''Defence Act 1903'' provided that unexempted males could be called upon only for home defence during times of war, not overseas service. Prime Minister Billy Hughes wished to amend the legislation to require conscripts to serve overseas, and held two non-binding referendums – 1916 Australian conscription referendum, one in 1916 and 1917 Australian conscription referendum, one in 1917 – in order to secure public support. Both were defeated by narrow margins, with farmers, the Australian labour movement, labour movement, the Catholic Church, and Irish-Australians combining to campaign for the "No" vote. The issue of conscription caused the Australian Labor Party split of 1916, 1916 Australian Labor Party split. Hughes and his supporters were expelled from the party, forming the National Labor Party and then the Nationalist Party (Australia), Nationalist Party. Despite the referendum results, the Nationalists won a landslide victory at the 1917 Australian federal election, 1917 federal election.


Britain

In Britain, conscription resulted in the calling up of nearly every physically fit man in Britain—six of ten million eligible. Of these, about 750,000 lost their lives. Most deaths were those of young unmarried men; however, 160,000 wives lost husbands and 300,000 children lost fathers. Conscription during the First World War began when the British government passed the Military Service Act 1916, Military Service Act in 1916. The act specified that single men aged 18 to 40 years old were liable to be called up for military service unless they were widowed with children or ministers of a religion. There was a system of Military Service Tribunals to adjudicate upon claims for exemption upon the grounds of performing civilian work of national importance, domestic hardship, health, and conscientious objection. The law went through several changes before the war ended. Married men were exempt in the original Act, although this was changed in June 1916. The age limit was also eventually raised to 51 years old. Recognition of work of national importance also diminished, and in the last year of the war, there was some support for the conscription of clergy. Conscription lasted until mid-1919. Due to the political situation in Ireland, conscription was never applied there; only in England, Scotland and Wales.


United States

In the United States, conscription began in 1917 and was generally well received, with a few pockets of opposition in isolated rural areas. The administration decided to rely primarily on conscription, rather than voluntary enlistment, to raise military manpower after only 73,000 volunteers enlisted out of the initial 1million target in the first six weeks of the war. In 1917 10 million men were registered. This was deemed to be inadequate, so age ranges were increased and exemptions reduced, and so by the end of 1918 this increased to 24 million men that were registered with nearly 3million inducted into the military services. The draft was universal and included blacks on the same terms as whites, although they served in different units. In all 367,710 black Americans were drafted (13% of the total), compared to 2,442,586 white (87%). Forms of resistance ranged from peaceful protest to violent demonstrations and from humble letter-writing campaigns asking for mercy to radical newspapers demanding reform. The most common tactics were dodging and desertion, and many communities sheltered and defended their draft dodgers as political heroes. Many socialists were jailed for "obstructing the recruitment or enlistment service". The most famous was Eugene Debs, head of the Socialist Party of America, who ran for president in 1920 from his prison cell. In 1917 a number of radicals and anarchists challenged the new draft law in federal court, arguing that it was a direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the draft act in the Selective Draft Law Cases on 7January 1918.


Austria-Hungary

Like all the armies of mainland Europe, Austria-Hungary relied on conscription to fill its ranks. Officer recruitment, however, was voluntary. The effect of this at the start of the war was that well over a quarter of the rank and file were Slavs, while more than 75% of the officers were ethnic Germans. This was much resented. The army has been described as being "run on colonial lines" and the Slav soldiers as "disaffected". Thus conscription contributed greatly to Austria's disastrous performance on the battlefield.


Diplomacy

The non-military diplomatic and propaganda interactions among the nations were designed to build support for the cause or to undermine support for the enemy. For the most part, wartime diplomacy focused on five issues: Propaganda in World War I, propaganda campaigns; defining and redefining the war goals, which became harsher as the war went on; luring neutral nations (Italy, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria, Romania) into the coalition by offering slices of enemy territory; and encouragement by the Allies of nationalistic minority movements inside the Central Powers, especially among Czechs, Poles, and Arabs. In addition, there were multiple peace proposals coming from neutrals, or one side or the other; none of them progressed very far.


Legacy and memory

The first tentative efforts to comprehend the meaning and consequences of modern warfare began during the initial phases of the war, and this process continued throughout and after the end of hostilities, and is still underway, more than a century later. As late as 2007, signs warning visitors to keep off certain paths at battlefield sites like Verdun and Somme (department), Somme remained in place as unexploded ordnance continued to pose a danger to farmers living near former battlegrounds. In France and Belgium locals who discover caches of unexploded munitions are assisted by weapons disposal units. In some places, plant life has still not returned to normal.


Historiography

Teaching World War I has presented special challenges. When compared with World War II, the First World War is often thought to be "a wrong war fought for the wrong reasons". It lacks the metanarrative of good versus evil that characterizes the Second World War. Lacking recognizable heroes and villains, it is often taught thematically, invoking tropes like the wastefulness of war, the folly of generals and the innocence of soldiers. The complexity of the conflict is mostly obscured by these oversimplifications. Historian Heather Jones argues that the historiography has been reinvigorated by the cultural turn in recent years. Scholars have raised entirely new questions regarding military occupation, radicalisation of politics, race, medical science, gender and mental health. Furthermore, new research has revised our understanding of five major topics that historians have long debated: Why the war began, why the Allies won, whether generals were responsible for high casualty rates, how the soldiers endured the horrors of trench warfare, and to what extent the civilian homefront accepted and endorsed the war effort.


Memorials

Memorials were erected in thousands of villages and towns. Close to battlefields, those buried in improvised burial grounds were gradually moved to formal graveyards under the care of organisations such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the German War Graves Commission, and Le Souvenir français. Many of these graveyards also have central monuments to the missing or Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, unidentified dead, such as the Menin Gate, Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing and the Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. In 1915 John McCrae, a Canadian army doctor, wrote the poem ''In Flanders Fields'' as a salute to those who perished in the Great War. Published in Punch (magazine), ''Punch'' on 8December 1915, it is still recited today, especially on Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Memorial Day. National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, is a memorial dedicated to all Americans who served in World WarI. The National World War I Museum and Memorial, Liberty Memorial was dedicated on 1November 1921, when the supreme Allied commanders spoke to a crowd of more than 100,000 people. The UK Government has budgeted substantial resources to First World War centenary, the commemoration of the war during the period 2014 to 2018. The lead body is the Imperial War Museum. On 3August 2014, French President François Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck together marked Centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the centenary of Germany's declaration of war on France by laying the first stone of a memorial in Vieil Armand, known in German as Hartmannswillerkopf, for French and German soldiers killed in the war. During the Armistice Day centenary, Armistice centenary commemorations, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the site of the signing of the Armistice of Compiègne and unveiled a plaque to reconciliation.


Cultural memory

World War I had a lasting impact on collective memory. It was seen by many in Britain as signalling the end of an era of stability stretching back to the Victorian era, Victorian period, and across Europe many regarded it as a watershed. Historian Samuel Hynes explained: This has become the most common perception of World War I, perpetuated by the art, cinema, poems, and stories published subsequently. Films such as ''All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 film), All Quiet on the Western Front'', ''Paths of Glory'' and ''King and Country'' have perpetuated the idea, while war-time films including ''Camrades'', ''Poppies of Flanders'', and ''Shoulder Arms'' indicate that the most contemporary views of the war were overall far more positive. Likewise, the art of Paul Nash (artist), Paul Nash, John Nash (artist), John Nash, Christopher R. W. Nevinson, Christopher Nevinson, and Henry Tonks in Britain painted a negative view of the conflict in keeping with the growing perception, while popular war-time artists such as Muirhead Bone painted more serene and pleasant interpretations subsequently rejected as inaccurate. Several historians like John Terraine, Niall Ferguson and Gary Sheffield (historian), Gary Sheffield have challenged these interpretations as partial and polemical views:
These beliefs did not become widely shared because they offered the only accurate interpretation of wartime events. In every respect, the war was much more complicated than they suggest. In recent years, historians have argued persuasively against almost every popular cliché of World WarI. It has been pointed out that, although the losses were devastating, their greatest impact was socially and geographically limited. The many emotions other than horror experienced by soldiers in and out of the front line, including comradeship, boredom, and even enjoyment, have been recognised. The war is not now seen as a 'fight about nothing', but as a war of ideals, a struggle between aggressive militarism and more or less liberal democracy. It has been acknowledged that British generals were often capable men facing difficult challenges and that it was under their command that the British army played a major part in the defeat of the Germans in 1918: a great forgotten victory.
Though these views have been discounted as "myths", they are common. They have dynamically changed according to contemporary influences, reflecting in the 1950s perceptions of the war as "aimless" following the contrasting Second World War and emphasising conflict within the ranks during times of class conflict in the 1960s. The majority of additions to the contrary are often rejected.


Social trauma

The social trauma caused by unprecedented rates of casualties manifested itself in different ways, which have been the subject of subsequent historical debate. Over 8 million Europeans died in the war. Millions suffered permanent disabilities. The war gave birth to fascism and Bolshevism and destroyed the dynasties that had ruled the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman, Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg, Russian Empire, Russian and
German Empire The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
s. The optimism of ''Belle Époque, la belle époque'' was destroyed, and those who had fought in the war were referred to as the Lost Generation. For years afterwards, people mourned the dead, the missing, and the many disabled. Many soldiers returned with severe trauma, suffering from combat stress reaction, shell shock (also called neurasthenia, a condition related to post-traumatic stress disorder). Many more returned home with few after-effects; however, their silence about the war contributed to the conflict's growing mythological status. Though many participants did not share in the experiences of combat or spend any significant time at the front, or had positive memories of their service, the images of suffering and trauma became the widely shared perception. Such historians as Dan Todman, Paul Fussell, and Samuel Heyns have all published works since the 1990s arguing that these common perceptions of the war are factually incorrect.


Discontent in Germany and Austria

The rise of Nazism and fascism included a revival of the nationalist spirit and a rejection of many post-war changes. Similarly, the popularity of the stab-in-the-back myth, stab-in-the-back legend (German: ''Dolchstoßlegende'') was a testament to the psychological state of defeated Germany and was a rejection of responsibility for the conflict. This conspiracy theory of betrayal became common, and the German populace came to see themselves as victims. The widespread acceptance of the "stab-in-the-back" theory delegitimised the Weimar government and destabilised the system, opening it to extremes of right and left. The same occurred in Austria which did not consider itself responsible for the outbreak of the war and claimed not to have suffered a military defeat. Communist and fascist movements around Europe drew strength from this theory and enjoyed a new level of popularity. These feelings were most pronounced in areas directly or harshly affected by the war. Adolf Hitler was able to gain popularity by using German discontent with the still controversial Treaty of Versailles. World WarII was in part a continuation of the power struggle never fully resolved by World WarI. Furthermore, it was common for Germans in the 1930s to justify acts of aggression due to perceived injustices imposed by the victors of World WarI. American historian William Rubinstein wrote that:
The 'Age of Totalitarianism' included nearly all the infamous examples of genocide in modern history, headed by the Jewish Holocaust, but also comprising the mass murders and purges of the Communist world, other mass killings carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and also the Armenian Genocide of 1915. All these slaughters, it is argued here, had a common origin, the collapse of the elite structure and normal modes of government of much of central, eastern and southern Europe as a result of World WarI, without which surely neither Communism nor Fascism would have existed except in the minds of unknown agitators and crackpots.


Economic effects

One of the most dramatic effects of the war was the expansion of governmental powers and responsibilities in Britain, France, the United States, and the Dominions of the British Empire. To harness all the power of their societies, governments created new ministries and powers. New taxes were levied and laws enacted, all designed to bolster the war effort; many have lasted to the present. Similarly, the war strained the abilities of some formerly large and bureaucratised governments, such as in Austria-Hungary and Germany. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased for three Allies (Britain, Italy, and the United States), but decreased in France and Russia, in neutral Netherlands, and in the three main Central Powers. The shrinkage in GDP in Austria, Russia, France, and the Ottoman Empire ranged between 30% and 40%. In Austria, for example, most pigs were slaughtered, so at war's end there was no meat. In all nations, the government's share of GDP increased, surpassing 50% in both Germany and France and nearly reaching that level in Britain. To pay for purchases in the United States, Britain cashed in its extensive investments in American railroads and then began borrowing heavily from Wall Street. President Wilson was on the verge of cutting off the loans in late 1916 but allowed a great increase in Federal government of the United States, US government lending to the Allies. After 1919, the US demanded repayment of these loans. The repayments were, in part, funded by German reparations that, in turn, were supported by American loans to Germany. This circular system collapsed in 1931 and some loans were never repaid. Britain still owed the United States $4.4 1,000,000,000, billion of World WarI debt in 1934; the last installment was finally paid in 2015. Macro- and micro-economic consequences devolved from the war. Families were altered by the departure of many men. With the death or absence of the primary wage earner, women were forced into the workforce in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, industry needed to replace the lost labourers sent to war. This aided the struggle for suffragette, voting rights for women. World War I further compounded the gender imbalance, adding to the phenomenon of surplus women. The deaths of nearly one million men during the war in Britain increased the gender gap by almost a million: from 670,000 to 1,700,000. The number of unmarried women seeking economic means grew dramatically. In addition, demobilisation and economic decline following the war caused high unemployment. The war increased female employment; however, the return of demobilised men displaced many from the workforce, as did the closure of many of the wartime factories. In Britain, rationing was finally imposed in early 1918, limited to meat, sugar, and fats (butter and margarine), but not bread. The new system worked smoothly. From 1914 to 1918, trade union membership doubled, from a little over four million to a little over eight million. Britain turned to her colonies for help in obtaining essential war materials whose supply from traditional sources had become difficult. Geologists such as Albert Kitson were called on to find new resources of precious minerals in the African colonies. Kitson discovered important new deposits of manganese, used in munitions production, in the Gold Coast (region), Gold Coast. Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles (the so-called "war guilt" clause) stated Germany accepted responsibility for "all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies." It was worded as such to lay a legal basis for reparations, and a similar clause was inserted in the treaties with Austria and Hungary. However, neither of them interpreted it as an admission of war guilt." In 1921, the total reparation sum was placed at 132 billion gold marks. However, "Allied experts knew that Germany could not pay" this sum. The total sum was divided into three categories, with the third being "deliberately designed to be chimerical" and its "primary function was to mislead public opinion ... into believing the "total sum was being maintained." Thus, 50 billion gold marks (12.5 billion dollars) "represented the actual Allied assessment of German capacity to pay" and "therefore ... represented the total German reparations" figure that had to be paid. This figure could be paid in cash or in-kind (coal, timber, chemical dyes, etc.). In addition, some of the territory lost—via the treaty of Versailles—was credited towards the reparation figure as were other acts such as helping to restore the Library of Louvain. By 1929, the Great Depression arrived, causing political chaos throughout the world. In 1932 the payment of reparations was suspended by the international community, by which point Germany had paid only the equivalent of 20.598 billion gold marks in reparations. With the rise of Adolf Hitler, all bonds and loans that had been issued and taken out during the 1920s and early 1930s were cancelled. David A. Andelman, David Andelman notes "refusing to pay doesn't make an agreement null and void. The bonds, the agreement, still exist." Thus, following the Second World War, at the London Agreement on German External Debts, London Conference in 1953, Germany agreed to resume payment on the money borrowed. On 3October 2010, Germany made the final payment on these bonds. The war contributed to the evolution of the Watch, wristwatch from women's jewellery to a practical everyday item, replacing the Pocket watch, pocketwatch, which requires a free hand to operate. Military funding of advancements in radio contributed to the post-war popularity of the medium.


See also

* Lists of World War I topics * Outline of World War I


Footnotes


References


Bibliography


Sources

* * (translated from the German) * * , reviewed in (via Highbeam.com) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * also published by Harper as "Ludendorff's Own Story, August 1914 – November 1918: The Great War from the Siege of Liège to the Signing of the Armistice as Viewed from the Grand Headquarters of the German Army" (original title ''Meine Kriegserinnerungen, 1914–1918'') * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Deals with technical developments, including the first dipping hydrophones * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Primary sources

* * Containing Large Scale Maps of All the Battle Fronts of Europe and Asia, Together With a Military Map of the United States.


Historiography and memory

* Cornelissen, Christoph, and Arndt Weinrich, eds. ''Writing the Great War – The Historiography of World War I from 1918 to the Present'' (2020
online free
* * * * *
Excerpt
* * * *
Excerpt and text search
* * * * *
excerpt


Further reading

* * * * * Comprises the 11th edition plus three new volumes 30-31-32 that cover events since 1911 with thorough coverage of the war as well as every country and colony. ** ** commons:1922 Encyclopædia Britannica scans, scans of each page of vol 30-31-32 * * * * * * * * * cites "Cf. articles signed XXX in ''La Revue de Deux Mondes'', 1and 15 March 1920" * * * * * * *


External links


Records on the outbreak of World War I from the UK Parliamentary Collections

The Heritage of the Great War / First World War. Graphic color photos, pictures and music

A multimedia history of World War I
* European Newspapers from th
start of the First World War
and th
end of the war

WWI Films on the European Film Gateway

The British Pathé WW1 Film Archive

World War I British press photograph collection
– A sampling of images distributed by the British government during the war to diplomats overseas, from the UBC Library Digital Collections
Personal accounts of American World War I veterans
Veterans History Project, Library of Congress.


Animated maps


"Europe plunges into war"

Europe at the end of the war


Library guides


National Library of New Zealand

State Library of New South Wales



Indiana University Bloomington

New York University

University of Alberta

California State Library, California History Room. Collection: California. State Council of Defense. California War History Committee. Records of Californians who served in World War I, 1918–1922.
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