World War I
The First World War, War to End All Wars, the Great War and European War are the names sometimes given to what ultimately became known as World War I. The title World War I only came about, unfortunately, because several years later there was a second world war. World War I or WWI began July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918.
There were two sides during the war. The Allied Powers included France, Russia, Britain, with the United States joining after 1917. The other side was called the Central Powers and they included Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.
There were several reasons for WWI which included countries concerned about other countries having too much military strength and countries were afraid of losing economic or political position in the world. In addition, in some parts of the world, there was an increase in differences between the races. The French were upset about losing land in a previous war, and the military leaders of the countries were encouraging the conflict
The event that ignited or started the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, meaning he was in line to become its king. Following the death of the Archduke, his country declared war on Serbia.
This began a long chain reaction, including Russia coming in to defend Serbia, Germany declaring war on Russia to help protect Austria, and France declaring war on Germany to help protect Russia. All of this resulted in Germany invading Belgium to get to France, which led to Britain declaring war on Germany. It took only a few days for the Great War to begin in Europe. In all, 30 countries were a part of WWI.
It began as a European War until the United States entered the war in 1917. The two main areas of fighting took place on the western front, which was long stretch of trenches that ran from the coast of Belgium to Switzerland. Most of the fighting on this front took place in France and Belgium. The other area was called the eastern front, which included fighting between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria versus Russia and Romania.
Even though the United States entered the war, no fighting ever took place on American soil. The U.S. entered the war when a British passenger ship called the Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine killing all the passengers including 128 Americans. The people of the United States were upset and put pressure on the government to enter the war. President Woodrow Wilson eventually decided America would enter the war with the goal of restoring peace to Europe.
The U.S. was in the war for only seven and one-half months, however, 116,000 soldiers were killed in the fighting and 204,000 were wounded. The U.S. entered the war as one of the Allies and immediately the balance of power shifted to their side. The Central Powers were not strong enough to defend their positions. There was an Allied operation that became known as the Hundred Days Offensive and the enemy was forced back to the border of Germany.
With the United States and the rest of the Allies winning the war, the Central Powers were forced to begin peace negotiations. Ultimately, an agreement was reached called an armistice (cease-fire) for all fighting to end at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month and World War I ended on November 11, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 to make it official.
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