World War I has gone by many names down through history, and they include: the First World War, the Great War and the War to End all Wars. World War I involved the entire World and began in Europe. It started on the 28th of July, 1914 and lasted until the 11th of November, 1918. World War I is the largest war in the entire history of the world, involving at least seventy million personnel mobilized for it. Death toll was a colossal 16 million soldiers and civilians, and this number includes those who were casualties in the various genocides that occurred during the war. This death toll was worsened by the inclusion of technological sophistication during the war as well as the trench warfare that often ended in stalemates. Though one of the most catastrophic wars in the history of the world, World War I led to critical adjustments in the political eco system of the world and caused revolutions in several countries that fought in the war. However, some of the unresolved conflicts after the war accumulated to spark World War II about twenty one years later.
The World War was fought by all the economic world powers. There were two major sides in the war. These were the Allies, which included Russia, France, Britain and Ireland, against the Central Powers, which were majorly Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany and Austria-Hungary were part of a ‘Triple Alliance’ alongside Italy. Nevertheless, Italy did not fight alongside the Central Powers during World War I. As the war progressed, other nations joined the war, taking sides with the Allies or with the Central Power. Some of the nations that joined the Allies were the United States and Japan. Some of the nations that joined the Central Powers were the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.
World War I began with a diplomatic crisis following the assassination of the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary by the Yugoslavians on the 28th of June, 1914. Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and tensions and strained relationships were ramped up as alliances that had formed over the previous decades were summoned. Weeks later, the world went to war, starting in Europe and spreading round the world.
A declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia led Russia to a full mobilization of its army on the 30th of July. When the Russians refused to demobilize, in spite of the Germans’ ultimatum, Germany declared war on Russia on the 1st of August. The Russians convinced France to open a second font in the West against Germany to prevent Russia from being overwhelmed on the Easter Front. Two days after the French accepted to help Russia, Germany declared war on them. Germany took an indirect approach towards France by invading Belgium and Luxembourg who were neutral countries and then proceeding to enter France from the north. Because the Germans had invaded a neutral Belgium, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany on the 4th of August. The Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers, while Italy, Romania and the United States joined the Allies in 1915, 1916 and 1917 respectively.
The Russian government were brought to terms with the Central Powers due to its collapse in March 1917, giving the Germans a significant victory. Nevertheless, the Allies, through a series of victorious offensives, were able to pressure Austria-Hungary and Germany into an armistice in November 1918. This ended the war, making the Allies victorious. After the war, the League of Nations was created for the express purpose of preventing a reoccurrence of such wars in the world. This initiative failed as twenty one years later, World War II began majorly because of the weakness of successor nations, economic depression, and Germany’s feeling of humiliation—for Germany had to give up some of its land as a result of its loss of the war.
Before the Second World War, World War I was simply known as World War. Some referred to it as the war to end all wars because of its gigantic and unprecedented scale, especially the number of personnel involved, the death toll, and the unimaginable extent of devastation. Even though the term ‘World War I’ was used once before a Second World War, it didn’t become a standard reference until after World War II began.
A major restructuring of the world, particularly in Europe followed the end of World War I. The following empires ceased to exist: the Germany Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The war did not end at the same time for everybody. The Treaty of Versailles ended the war between the two major sides of the war seven months after the cessation the active battles. However, the United States did not formally come out of the way until then U.S President Warren G. Harding signed the Knox-Porter Resolution on the 2nd of July, 1921. The Termination of the Present War Act 1918 was the piece of document that ended the war for the United Kingdom.
Some war historians date the end of the First World War as when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, while others date is as when the armistice was agreed to on the 11th of November, 1918. Whatever the case, troops didn’t begin to return to their homes until the Treaty of Lausanne, which paved the way for Allied forces to withdraw out of Constantinople on the 23rd of August, 1923.
Some of the countries formed after the war include: Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the Republic of Turkey. Before the fall of the Ottoman Empire, there was relative peace across the whole Middle East. However, the fall of the Ottoman Empire gave life to a lot of the conflicts over land space and natural resources we see today in the Middle East. The Arab-Israel conflict is a major result of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
Thousands of World War I memorials have been erected in villages, towns and cities all over the world.