Today's Article: World War I

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Start of the War

World War I began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. This seemingly small conflict between two countries spread rapidly: soon, Germany, Russia, Great Britain, and France were all drawn into the war, largely because they were involved in treaties that obligated them to defend certain other nations. Western and eastern fronts quickly opened along the borders of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The Western and Eastern Fronts

The first month of combat consisted of bold attacks and rapid troop movements on both fronts. In the west, Germany attacked first Belgium and then France. In the east, Russia attacked both Germany and Austria-Hungary. In the south, Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. Following the Battle of the Marne (September 5–9, 1914), the western front became entrenched in central France and remained that way for the rest of the war. The fronts in the east also gradually locked into place.

The Ottoman Empire

Late in 1914, the Ottoman Empire was brought into the fray as well, after Germany tricked Russia into thinking that Turkey had attacked it. As a result, much of 1915 was dominated by Allied actions against the Ottomans in the Mediterranean. First, Britain and France launched a failed attack on the Dardanelles. This campaign was followed by the British invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Britain also launched a separate campaign against the Turks in Mesopotamia. Although the British had some successes in Mesopotamia, the Gallipoli campaign and the attacks on the Dardanelles resulted in British defeats.

Trench Warfare
The middle part of the war, 1916 and 1917, was dominated by continued trench warfare in both the east and the west. Soldiers fought from dug-in positions, striking at each other with machine guns, heavy artillery, and chemical weapons. Though soldiers died by the millions in brutal conditions, neither side had any substantive success or gained any advantage.

The United States’ Entrance and Russia’s Exit

Despite the stalemate on both fronts in Europe, two important developments in the war occurred in 1917. In early April, the United States, angered by attacks upon its ships in the Atlantic, declared war on Germany. Then, in November, the Bolshevik Revolution prompted Russia to pull out of the war.

The End of the War and Armistice

Although both sides launched renewed offensives in 1918 in an all-or-nothing effort to win the war, both efforts failed. The fighting between exhausted, demoralized troops continued to plod along until the Germans lost a number of individual battles and very gradually began to fall back. A deadly outbreak of influenza, meanwhile, took heavy tolls on soldiers of both sides. Eventually, the governments of both Germany and Austria-Hungary began to lose control as both countries experienced multiple mutinies from within their military structures.

The war ended in the late fall of 1918, after the member countries of the Central Powers signed armistice agreements one by one. Germany was the last, signing its armistice on November 11, 1918. As a result of these agreements, Austria-Hungary was broken up into several smaller countries. Germany, under the Treaty of Versailles, was severely punished with hefty economic reparations, territorial losses, and strict limits on its rights to develop militarily.



Germany After the War

Many historians, in hindsight, believe that the Allies were excessive in their punishment of Germany and that the harsh Treaty of Versailles actually planted the seeds of World War II, rather than foster peace. The treaty’s declaration that Germany was entirely to blame for the war was a blatant untruth that humiliated the German people. Furthermore, the treaty imposed steep war reparations payments on Germany, meant to force the country to bear the financial burden of the war. Although Germany ended up paying only a small percentage of the reparations it was supposed to make, it was already stretched financially thin by the war, and the additional economic burden caused enormous resentment. Ultimately, extremist groups, such as the Nazi Party, were able to exploit this humiliation and resentment and take political control of the country in the decades following.

So what do you think guys? Was this an unnecessary war? Did you know 4.2 million russians died during WWI and only 100,000 Americans died?

50 comments:

Quotey said...

An excellent book about the months leading up to WWI, and just how crazy the politics go, if you ever want to read it is called July 1914. It's a small, somewhat dense book, but it's absolutely riveting. I had to read it a few years ago for history class, and it shows just how avoidable war can be, and often is.

parasites said...

This is an awesome read (i love history). Thank you

gekomaster said...

Great story!

Patti D. said...

great read, let's hope it doesn't happen again.

JMchief said...

This was definitely an unnecessary war, no country seemed to have a cause or goal and lives were just wasted.

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EpitomeofStrange said...

Thanks for the share. I hate war but find history interesting. So many great books have been written because of war. So out of the bad comes some good!

Kim Anders said...

love stories about the war :)

Ono Mock-O said...

I studied this in great depths as well. The question of whether or not it was an unneccessary war, is always 'yes'. Circumstances lead to circumstances and eventually lead the war. Change the circumstances and there won't be a war.

Filipe Ferreira said...

Another Great Article. Good Job!

Matt said...

Great job paring it all down to 8 paragraphs! As far as wondering if it was unnecessary (like any war is *really* necessary), sometimes I think of WWI and WWII working in concert to get us from a bunch of imperialist/colonial nation-states to thinking more globally.

Siphil said...

Yes this war was unnecessary. It was about profit and personal gain, like most modern wars.

uid0owl said...

Looks like germans have a short memory, 20 years and they forgot everything.

Hombre720 said...

War... war never changes.

tetcrh said...

Will have to check out July 1914. Always thought the treaty of Versailles was taking the piss a bit.

Didn't know that about the Russian casualties!!

antwuanthedon said...

trench warfare is the craziest shit i swear.

ebm93 said...

This whole chapter in History has always interested me a lot. I always thought it was a bit unfair how Germany took all the blame for WWI in Versailles.

Aaron M. Gipson said...

I have to say that one of the reasons we don't hear very many glorious tales from this war is because there weren't very many. Often times it was months of stalemate and trench warfare of poison gas and people dying of diseases that we hadn't seen since the Middle Ages.

But I had no idea that Turkey was brought into the fray because of a false flag from Germany. It's good to learn something new every day!

Tracerz said...

Wow this is a really nice blog! Sadly I have the same sort of mental block on history that people often have on math. =/ I would really like to know more history though. That is crazy how many Russians died!

Bulk Up Baba said...

My nation lost a lot in this War .
For this reason I guess , we didnt participated ww2 .
Do you know who we are ?

Mr. Storyteller said...

@Bulk Up Baba
I guess the Ottoman Empire?
I don't know, I'm very curious.

Eric P said...

Well I don't think we can deny that the reparations forced on Germany were too harsh. They provided a focal point around which Hitler rallied his people. Of course we now have the benefit of hindsight, which they did not have back then, when they merely wanted their damages to be compensated.

metaphysicalfarms said...

The history channel would be proud! good review

ScottD said...

great post. Really dont hear enough about wwI

Dj DeKu said...

I love this kind of history. I'll be following you.

Joefiss said...

Stealing this for my homework, haha :D

Blog_Master_Flex said...

Great Article! Of course it was an necessary war. Any war involving a nation is not right because usually the lower class suffers while the upper class flourishes off the war

Dwrek said...

You have a great site with some awesome content.

Last summer I read a few books about this exact event.

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2nd_lawl said...

great stuff, you learn so little about WW1 in highschool

Fourra said...

very well documented, thanks for the info,
keep on

Marc said...

I heard after that the person responsible for the war fled to The Netherlands and stayed there until he died while hating Hitler

KUSHtunes said...

great read. found out a few things i'd never heard about.

mac-and-me said...

awesome article about a war that can be considered as the first "modern war"

Salman A said...

WWI is definitely an important part of history. Thank you for writing such a good post about it!

Killy said...

Awesome. Keep Posting. I think it was necessary

The tech talk blog said...

It's amazing how there is massive bloodshed, yet some humans send out armies of robots following their commands.

All for their personal views...

zabuzar said...

my Great Grandfather was in the World War 1.
Died in the German fronts

tcrosso said...

World wars are unavoidable.
its a shame though, all these lives lost, just for another war to occur 20 years later

Smokingtons said...

Beautifully written well done!

Linksss said...

this war seems to be overlooked compared to WWII

-_vinyl_- said...

great read...

diego said...

The war...what a waste could have been handled diplomatically...Thanks for the good stuff here

Piepants said...

Damn, very interesting read. I'm an engineering student but history has always interested me. I remember listening to a podcast, it was called "hardcore history" IIRC and it was talking about the amount of russians that were killed. Freaking insane amounts of casualties in the past (even as recent as this) compared to "wars" today. Again, thanks for the read, sir.

topcat said...

very good read

hype_insane said...

It was such a waste of millions of lives.Interesting post anyway

borshevsky said...

enjoyed the read. will keep checking in on this blog

Thatoneguy said...

good to know this stuff. Learn something new everyday.

Lendo Khar said...

Great post, story was my favorite subject on school. Actually I still have two books with only anecdotes about WWII.

Joe Somebody said...

I wonder when the wwIII article is going to hit the new stands.

Edge said...

Woo, you definitely know your stuff. My sister is a history major and I bet she doesn't even know this much.

Jesse Brooks said...

I love reading about WWI. Thanks for the great post.

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