The First World War


The First World War was a terrible event in history, and it spanned a period of 4 years and involved many European countries and the United States. Many factors led to the increased tensions that eventually led to the global conflict. Hungary desired to force its will with military force onto the Balkans. The Germans desired more economic power and international influence at any cost. Britain and Germany started a naval arms race for control of the oceans. France was bitter with Germany over a lost battle from the 1870s. Finally, Russia wanted to reestablish its military might after getting pounded from the Japanese. All of these factors contributed to the proverbial ticking time bomb that ultimately led to World War 1. 

June 28, 1914

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, from Austro-Hungary, is the event that started the war. Archduke Ferdinand was invited to watch a military exercise in Sarajevo where he was killed by an assassin at close range. The assassin was hired by the Black Hand, which was a radical group of Serbians who wanted Serbia to become its own, independent state.  

July 28, 1914

The Austrian government assumed that Serbian government was responsible for the murders of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, so they declared war on Serbia. Germany was an ally of Austria and they mobilized their military because Russia and France were preparing for military action as well. Both countries were allied with Serbia. 

August 1, 1914

A series of war declarations were made from this point forward, starting with Germany declaring war on Russia. Two days later Germany also declared war on France. With the fear that this event may happen, France has 3.5 million troops prepared and ready to get involved in the action. Britain warned Germany that if they invaded Belgium, they would go to war as well. The Germans march into Belgium anyway and Great Britain declared war on Germany.

August 7, 1914

On this day in August, the president of Portugal declared his support for the Allied powers. In November, the Germans and the Portuguese were involved in frequent skirmishes because of their conflicts in interest and confrontations in East Africa. Two years later, Portugal seized the German ships in their harbors. Germany saw this as an act of war and declared war against them immediately.  The Portuguese eventually fought along side the Allies against the Germans. 

August 13, 1914

Japan declared war on Germany on this date. Japan, like many other countries in the war, was forced into it because of alliances. In this case Japan was honoring a 1902 alliance with Great Britain, who was already involved in the war. 

November 2, 1914

Turkey assisted Germany when they invaded Russia, honoring an alliance that they had with each other. As a result of those actions, on November 2, 1914 Russia declared war on Turkey. A few days later, Britain and France also declared war on Turkey, in response to the decision to support the Germans.

April 6, 1917

The United States had increased the country’s economic output by a very large margin, because they were supplying Britain and France with supplies and arms. This angered the Germans a great deal and they decided to make their own rules and announced “unrestricted submarine warfare.” In 1915, A German submarine sunk the US passenger ship, Lusitania, and this increased the tension between the US and Germany. Finally, on April 6, 1917 The United States of America declared war on the German government. 

October 30, 1918

The allies were successful in pushing the Turkish army back into their own territory. Turkey took such a severe beating that they asked for a cease fire with the allies while they discussed terms of peace. 

November 9, 1918

Kaiser Wilhelm II, of Germany, was sent into exile because of the popular perception of the war propaganda that was against him. He was the symbol of the Germans in World War One. Wilhelm later described the experience as “the most disgusting shame experienced by anyone in history.”

November 11, 1918

In the late morning on November 11, 1918 the Armistice was signed by the Allies and the Central Powers that brought the war to an end. This took place in the French town of Redonthes and marked the end of the First World War.  

January 12, 1919

The Paris Peace Conference was an organization of meetings in and around Paris that were held for a period of 8 days, to straighten out all of the damage done by war. The major powers that controlled both the tempo and the direction of the meetings included the United States, Italy, Britain, Japan, and France. These countries defeated the Central Powers of Europe and detailed the beaten countries financial losses and well as their territory losses. The Versailles Treaty was one of several to emerge from the talks and it specifically pertained to Germany. It imposed fines, restrictions, and rules that Germany agreed to follow, based on the fact that they eventually signed it. 

World War 1 was a period in time when a majority of the civilized world was involved in a classic, good versus evil battle. The greed of the Central Powers caused unthinkable casualties and also caused them to fall to the Allied Powers. This was supposed to be the “war to end all wars,” but as history now knows, this was not the case.