World War I
World War I, also known as the First World War, the Great War, the War of the Nations and the War to End All Wars, was a world conflict lasting from 1914 to 1919, with the fighting lasting until 1918. The label World War I or First World War did not come into general use until after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and until then it was known as the Great War or the World War. The war was fought by the Allied Powers on one side, and the Central Powers on the other. No previous conflict had mobilized so many soldiers or involved so many in the field of battle. By its end, the war had become the bloodiest war in recorded history.
More than 9 million died on the war's battlefields, and nearly that many more on the home fronts because of food shortages and genocide committed under the cover of various civil wars and internal conflicts (e.g. the Armenian genocide). In World War I about 5% of the casualties (directly caused by the war) were civilian - in World War II, this figure was 50%.
World War I proved to be the decisive break with the old world order. The concept of "national self-determination" arose and four empires were shattered: the German, the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman, and the Russian. Their four dynasties, the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburgs, the Ottomans, and the Romanovs, who had roots of power back to the days of the Crusades, all fell during the war. The French Empire survived with little change; the British Empire saw the semi-independence of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
Some historians have argued that upheaval of war led to the rise of Communism in Russia, Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany. In the east, the demise of the Ottoman Empire paved the way for a modern democratic successor state, Turkey. In Central Europe, new states such as Czechoslovakia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Yugoslavia were born and Austria, Hungary and Poland were re-created.
- 1 Causes
- 2 Outbreak of war
- 3 End of the war
- 4 References
- 5 Causes and Diplomacy
- 6 External links
On June 28, 1914, Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb student. He was part of a group of fifteen assassins, acting with support from the Black Hand, a secret society founded by pan-Serbian nationalists, with links to the Serbian military. The assassination sparked little initial concern in Europe. The Archduke himself was not popular, least of all in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While there were riots in Sarajevo following the Archduke's death, these were largely aimed at the Serbian minority. Though this assassination has been linked as the direct trigger for World War I, the war's real origins lie further back, in the complex web of alliances and counterbalances that developed between the various European powers after the defeat of France and formation of the German state under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck in 1871.
Outbreak of war
Austria–Hungary was created in the Ausgleich of 1867 after Austria was defeated by Prussia. As agreed in 1867, the Habsburgs were the Emperors of the Austrian Empire. With the formation of the Dual Monarchy, Franz Josef became leader of a nation with sixteen ethnic groups and five major religions speaking no fewer than nine languages.
In large measure because of the vast disparities that existed within the Empire, Austrians and Hungarians always viewed growing Slavic nationalism with deep suspicion and concern. Thus the Austro-Hungarian government grew worried with the near-doubling in size of neighbouring Serbia's territory as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913. Serbia, for its part, made no qualms about the fact that it viewed all of Southern Austria–Hungary as part of a future Great South Slavic Union. This view had also garnered considerable support in Russia. Many in the Austrian leadership, not least Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph and Conrad von Hötzendorf, worried that Serbian nationalist agitation in the southern provinces of the Empire would lead to further unrest among the Austro-Hungarian Empire's other disparate ethnic groups. The Austro-Hungarian government worried that a nationalist Russia would back Serbia to annex Slavic areas of Austria–Hungary. The feeling was that it was better to destroy Serbia before they were given the opportunity to launch a campaign.
After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip and nearly a month of debate the government of Austria–Hungary sent a 10-point ultimatum to Serbia (July 23, 1914) — the so called July Ultimatum — to be unconditionally accepted within 48 hours. The ultimatum was the first of a series of diplomatic events known as the July Crisis which set off a chain reaction and a general war in Europe.
The Serbian government agreed to all but one of the demands in the ultimatum, noting that participation in its judicial proceedings by a foreign power would violate its constitution. Austria–Hungary nonetheless broke off diplomatic relations (July 25) and declared war (July 28) through a telegram sent to the Serbian government.
The Russian government, which had pledged in 1909 to uphold Serbian independence in return for Serbia's acceptance of the Bosnia annexation, mobilised its military reserves on July 30 following a breakdown in crucial telegram communications between Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II, who was under pressure by his military staff to prepare for war. Germany demanded (July 31) that Russia stand down its forces, but the Russian government persisted, as demobilization would have made it impossible to re-activate its military schedule in the short term. Germany declared war against Russia on August 1 and, two days later, against the latter's ally France.
The outbreak of the conflict is often attributed to the alliances established over the previous decades — Germany-Austria-Italy vs France-Russia; Britain and Serbia being aligned with the latter. In fact, none of the alliances were activated in the initial outbreak, though Russian general mobilization and Germany's declaration of war against France were motivated by fear of the opposing alliance being brought into play.
Britain declared war against Germany on August 4. This was ostensibly provoked by Germany's invasion of Belgium on August 4 1914, whose independence Britain had guaranteed to uphold in the Treaty of London of 1839, and which stood astride the planned German route for invasion of Russia's ally France. Unofficially, it was already generally accepted in government that Britain could not remain neutral, since without the co-operation of France and Russia its colonies in Africa and India would be under threat, while German occupation of the French Atlantic ports would be an even larger threat to British trade as a whole.
Greece and World War I
After repelling three Austrian invasions in August-December 1914, Serbia fell to combined German, Austrian and Bulgarian invasion in October 1915. The Serbian army retreated into Albania and Greece. In late 1915, a Franco-British force landed at Salonica in Greece to offer assistance and to pressure the Greek government into war against the Central Powers. Unfortunately for the Allies, the pro-allied government of Eleftherios Venizelos fell before the allied expeditionary force even arrived, and the pro-German king, Constantine, prevented Greek entry into the war though a portion of his realm was already under Bulgarian occupation.
The First World War caused a great divide in Greek politics pitting the adherents of Venizelos' Liberal Party against the conservative Popular Party followers. King Constantine I ended any pretense of being a monarch above politics, siding decisively with the anti-war faction. Finally, officers loyal to Venizelos established the "National Defence" government in Salonica, inviting Venizelos to take power. Greece was split in two with rival governments and the Allies finally took action forcing the King into exile. Greece participated in the war with 11 infantry divisions and its Air Force. Through victory at the Battle of Skra, the Greeks and the Allies were able to make a breakthrough in the Macedonian front, leading to Bulgaria's signing an armistice on September 29, 1918. This was the first front to collapse in World War I, significant in that it left the South side of the Central Powers unprotected.
End of the war
Bulgaria was the first of the Central Powers to sign an armistice (September 29, 1918). Germany requested a ceasefire on October 3 1918. On October 30, the Ottoman Empire capitulated. On November 3 Austria-Hungary sent a flag of truce to the Italian Commander to ask an Armistice and terms of peace. The terms having been arranged by telegraph with the Entente Authorities in Paris, were communicated to the Austrian Commander, and were accepted. The Armistice with Austria was granted to take effect at three o'clock on the afternoon of November 4. Austria and Hungary had signed separate armistices following the overthrow of the Habsburg monarchy.
On November 11, an armistice with Germany was signed in a railroad carriage at Compiègne in France. At 1100 hours that day, a ceasefire came into effect and the opposing armies began to withdraw from their positions. The state of war between the two sides persisted for another seven months until it was finally ended by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 with Germany and the following treaties with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and The Ottoman Empire signed at St. Germain, Trianon, Neuilly and Sèvres. However, the latter treaty with the Ottoman Empire was followed by the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and a revised peace treaty was signed by the Allied Powers and Turkey, at Lausanne on July 24, 1923.
The total death toll (military and civilian) of World War I was at least 16 million, of which about 9 million were military and about 7 million civilian. The Entente Powers lost more than 5 million soldiers and the Central Powers more than 3 million.
- Buchan, John. A History of the Great War - Vol 1 (1922); Buchan, John. A History of the Great War - Vol 2 (1922) Buchan, John. A History of the Great War - Vol 3 (1922); Buchan, John. A History of the Great War - Vol 4 (1922) semi-official British history
- Carver, Michael, Field Marshal Sir. War Lords. Boston: Little, Brown, 1976 Includes brief bios of Hamilton, Foch, Haig, von Falkenhayn
- Cruttwell, C. R. M. F. A History of the Great War, 1914-1918 (1934), excellent military history, British perspective
- Herwig, Holger H. The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 (1996)
- Hubatsch, Walther. Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914- 1918 (1963)
- Lincoln, W. Bruce. Passage Through Armageddon: The Russians in War and Revolution, 1914-1918 (1986)
- Lyons, Michael J. World War I: A Short History (2nd Edition), Prentice Hall, 1999.
- Morrow Jr., John H.. The Great War: An Imperial History (2003) British Empire
- Pope, Stephen and Wheal, Elizabeth-Anne, eds. The Macmillian Dictionary of the First World War (1995)
- Robbins, Keith. The First World War (1993); short
- Strachan, Hew ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War, a collection of chapters from various scholars
- Strachan Hew The First World War: Volume I: to arms (2004)' the major scholarly synthesis. Covers world in 1914
- Tucker, Spencer, ed. The Encyclopedia of World War I: A Political, Social, and Military History (5 vol 2005)
- Tucker, Spencer, ed. European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia (1999)
- Winter, J. M. The Experience of World War I (2nd ed 2005)
Causes and Diplomacy
- Evans, R. J. W., and Hartmut Pogge Von Strandman, eds. The Coming of the First World War (1990) essays by scholars from both sides
- Hamilton, Richard F. and Holger H. Herwig. Decisions for War, 1914-1917 (2004)
- Henig, Ruth The Origins of the First World War (2002)
- Lee, Dwight E. ed. The Outbreak of the First World War: Who Was Responsible? (1958) readings from, multiple points of view
- Stevenson, David. Cataclysm: The First World War As Political Tragedy (2004) major reinterpretation
- Stevenson, David. The First World War and International Politics (2005)
- Herwig, Holger H. Operation Michael: The "Last Card", University of Calgary, 2001
- Ponting, Clive. Thirteen Days, Chatto & Windus, London, 2002.
- Tuchman, Barbara The Guns of August, tells of the opening diplomatic and military manoeuvres.
- Gilpin, Robert. War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge University Press, New York: 1981.
- Knutsen, Torbjørn L. The Rise and Fall of World Orders. Manchester University Press, New York: 1999.
- Sheffield, G. D. Leadership in the Trenches: Officer-Man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (2000)
- Gudmundsson, Bruce I. Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918 (1989)
New Weapons: Air, Tank, Gas, Submarine
- Palazzo, Albert. Seeking Victory on the Western Front: The British Army and Chemical Warfare in World War I (2000)
- Lawson, Eric and Jane Lawson. The First Air Campaign, August 1914-November 1918 (1996)
- Kennett, Lee B. The First Air War, 1914-1918 (1992)
- Morrow, John. German Air Power in World War I. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982. Contains design and production figures, as well as economic influences.
- Winter, Denis. First of the Few. London: Allen Lane/Penguin, 1982. Coverage of the British air war, with extensive bibliographical notes.
- Gray, Edwyn A. The U-Boat War, 1914-1918 (1994)
- van der Vat, Dan. The Atlantic Campaign. Harper & Row, 1988. Connects submarine and antisubmarine operations between wars, and suggests a continuous war.
- Fuller, J.F.C. Tanks in the Great War. 1920. Used by Guderian as a basis for his 1937 book Achtung! Panzer.
- Guderian, Heinz. Achtung! Panzer. (2003 from 1937 edition) Panzer Leader (1952) is revised on the basis of wartime experience...
- Beesly, Patrick. Room 40. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1982. Covers the breaking of German codes by RN intelligence, including the Turkish bribe, Zimmermann telegram, and failure at Jutland.
- Kahn, David. The Codebreakers. Scribners, 1996. Covers the breaking of Russian codes and the victory at Tannenberg.
- Tuchman, Barbara W. The Zimmermann Telegram (1966)
USA & Canada at War
- Beaver, Daniel R. Newton D. Baker and the American War Effort, 1917-1919 (1966)
- Chambers, John W., II. To Raise an Army: The Draft Comes to Modern America (1987)
- Coffman, Edward M. The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I (1998)
- Hallas, James H. Doughboy War: The American Expeditionary Force in World War I (2000)
- Holley, I. B. Ideas and Weapons: Exploitation of the Aerial Weapon by the United States During World War I(1983)
- Howarth, Stephen. To Shining Sea: A History of the United States Navy, 1775-1991 (1991)
- Hurley, Alfred F. Billy Mitchell, Crusader for Air Power (1975)
- Kennedy, David M. Over Here: The First World War and American Society (1982), covers politics & economics & society
- Koistinen, Paul.Mobilizing for Modern War: The Political Economy of American Warfare, 1865-1919
- Milner, Marc, Prof. Canadian Military History. Toronto: Copp Clark Putnam, 1993. Includes problems of Canadian recruiting and the 1917 draft crisis (with its problems over Quebec).
- Slosson, Preston William. The Great Crusade and after, 1914-1928 (1930) USA
- Trask, David F. The United States in the Supreme War Council: American War Aims and Inter-Allied Strategy, 1917-1918 (1961)
- Venzon, Anne ed. The United States in the First World War: An Encyclopedia (1995)
- Wynn, Neil A. From Progressivism to Prosperity: World War I and American Society (1986)
Europe: Economic and Social
- Stubbs, Kevin D. Race to the Front: The Materiel Foundations of Coalition Strategy in the Great War (2002)
- Shotwell, James T. Economic and Social History of the World War (1924)
- Turner, John, ed. Britain and the First World War (1988)
- Winter, J. M. The Experience of World War I (2nd ed 2005)
- Winter, J. M. Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin, 1914-1919 (1999)
Cultural, Literary, Artistic, Memorial
- Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory (1975), Oxford University Press, Inc. A classic study.
- Mosse, George L. Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (1991)
- Raitt, Suzanne and Trudi Tateeds. Women's Fiction and the Great War (1997)
- Wood, Richard and David Culbert. Film and Propaganda in America: A Documentary History: World War I - Vol. 1 (1990)
- Robb, George. British Culture And The First World War (2002)
- Roshwald, Aviel. European Culture in the Great War : The Arts, Entertainment and Propaganda, 1914-1918 (2002)
- Silkin, Jon. ed. The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (2nd ed. 1997)
- Stallworthy Jon. Great Poets of World War I: Poetry from the Great War (2002), brief
- Verhey, Jeffrey. The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany (2000)
- Watson, Janet S. K. Fighting Different Wars : Experience, Memory, and the First World War in Britain (2004).
Popular Books & Films
- Keegan, John. The First World War (1999)
- Taylor, A. J. P. The First World War: An Illustrated History, Hamish Hamilton, 1963.
- Editors of American Heritage. History of WWI. Simon & Schuster, 1964. popular
- The Great War, television documentary by the BBC.
- Aces: A Story of the First Air War, written by George Pearson, historical advice by Brereton Greenhous and Philip Markham, NFB, 1993. Argues aircraft created trench stalemate
- A Guide to World War I Materials at the Library of Congress
- Chronology World War I World History Database
- http://www.firstworldwar.com "A multimedia history of World War One"
- The War to End All Wars on BBC
- World War I related discussions on History Forum
- "The Heritage of the Great War" with numerous pictures (many in color!)
- GenealogyBuff.com - World War I Casualty Reports for the US Army 1918
- The British Army in the Great War
- The French Army in the Great War
- World War I - Wars And Battles
- Encyclopedia of the First World War
- A "Revisionist Historian's" Account of the Cause of World War I
- Trenches on the Web
- Online World War I Records & Indexes
- World War I Document Archive
- World War I Naval Combat
- Pre-war German Army
- Wanted! 500 000 Canadians for WW I — Illustrated Historical Essay
- Memoirs of the Great War - A personal account in diary format of one mans experiences throughout the great war.
- World War One forum
- Casualties of the First World War
- Dardanelles Report 1915
- Mediatheque Autochromes - French site with many color photographs from WWI