First World Combat, also referred to as World War I (WW1) or the Great War, encompassed the entire world, but it was concerted in Europe. The war began July 28, 1914 and concluded on November 1, 1918. This war fetched in the world’s prominent powers that molded two contradicting alliances, for example, the Allies or Entente and the Central Powers, entailing Germany and Australia-Hungary (the Habsburg Empire). The Allies’ coalition comprised of the Russian Empire, the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, Italy Japan, the USA, and France. The central powers were later joined by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and Bulgaria. In the beginning, this war was just known as the world war, but later in the 1930s and 40s when there emerged another war, this war was named the First World War. The objective of the current paper is to evaluate the background, causes, and consequences of World War I.
World War I inaugurated on July 28, 1914 when Australia-Hungary declared war on Serbia (Cawood and McKinnon-Bell 14). In the beginning, the war between the two countries seemed like a minute conflict but it later spread and drew other countries into the conflict. Germany, Russia, Great Britain, and France joined the war, following the treaties they had signed that obligated them to defend other nations. Later, the western and eastern fronts were opened along the borders of Germany and Australia-Hungary where other smaller countries joined the war as a part of either the Allies or the Central powers coalition (Strachan 114). Germany’s martial leaders were ready when the news on war assertions was initiated across Europe. Their plan was to hold the Russians in the east and push France out of the war via a ploy called the Schlieffen plan (formed in 1905 by General Count Alfred Von Schlieffen) and then have their force alongside Australia-Hungary’s against the Russians.
This plan was originally designed to invade Belgium and Luxembourg to get a through pass to the north for the powerful battlements along the French border (Carlisle 111). The plan worked well until the German Commander in Chief, General Helmuth von Moltke, sent his militaries east of Paris to attack the overpowered French army; this uncovered his right flank to counterattack by the French and a British Expeditionary force. This prompted to the first battle of the Marne on September 6-10, 1914. The Marne war served as an example on how the rest of the war was going to be tussled (Regan and Goemans 59).
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The first month of the battle involved bold attacks and troop mobility on the eastern and western fronts. In the east, Russia attacked Germany and Australia-Hungary while in the west, Germany attacked Belgium first and then France (Howard 68). In the late 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the war as the result of Germany deceiving Russia into thinking that Turkey had attacked it. In 1916 and 1917, the trench warfare subjugated the war in both east and west. During this time, soldiers fought from dug-in locations attacking one another with mortal technological encroachments such as machine guns, poison gas, hefty armaments, and chemical munitions (Strachan 123). The United States later joined the Allies in early April 1917 after being angered by attacks on its ships in the Atlantic and it subsequently declared war on Germany. The Bolshevik Revolution impelled Russia to exit the war in November 1917. There was also war in the mountains where Serbia was attacked by Australia-Hungary and later Romania and Italy retaliated in defense of Serbia (Keegan 57). The Allies and the Central Powers launched renewed offensives in 1918 in all or nothing effort to win the war where both efforts failed. The combat went on between the shattered, disheartened troops until Germany lost a number of individual battles and progressively started to fall back.
A noxious epidemic of influenza took substantial toll on combatants of both coalitions. Eventually, the governments of Germany and Australia-Hungary started to lose control as they began experiencing manifold insubordinations from inside their soldierly arrangements. In 1918, a series of peace treaties were signed between the battling countries (Keegan 62). The Treaty of Versailles and armistice agreements were the most significant treaties signed on July 28, 1919 and November 11, 1918 respectively. Germany hoped that Woodrow Wilson would favor them for more generous terms but the other nations that had lost their young soldiers to the weapons of the Central Powers could not hear of it. The signing of the various treaties occasioned to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, Australia-Hungary was broken into individual nations and was obligated to relinquish lands to beneficiary states such as Czechoslovakia (Howard 73).
Causes of World War I
The Prime minister of Germany Otto von Bismarck had portended that when there was war against Europe, it could be “over of some damn foolish thing in the Balkans” (“World War I” para. 6). True to his prophecy, on June 28, 1914, a Serb assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Habsburg throne of Australia-Hungary and his wife Sophie; this started the wrangles between the two nations (Allan 231). On the other hand, the outburst of war among the European countries was stimulated by the following factors - apprehension over the nation’s martial enlargement prompting to an artilleries contest and enmeshing pacts. This was evident when Russia was revolutionizing and reconstructing its armed forces alongside starting an industrialization program (Ziff 203). Germany and Australia-Hungary saw a threat posed by Russia’s large population and its ability to raise a massive army, and they designed an association for self-protection contrary to the Russian bear (Eley 33).
The fright of trailing economic and ambassadorial eminence, for example, when Germany emerged the victor of the Franco-Prussian War, feared losing its supremacy of the seas; hence, it hastened its nautical project and building of its ships to be miles ahead of the Kaiser’s shipbuilding program. Stretched existence of cultural dissimilarities and escalating jingoism in the Balkans was a result of the dwindling of the Balkans, hence dividing them into groups and later forming new states (Allan 237). Another cause was the antipathy of the French regarding regional losses in the 1871 Franco-Prussian war that occurred when they lost Alsace and part of Lorraine; therefore, they made an agreement to join Russia in any war against Germany and Australia-Hungary (“Causes of World War I”). The impact wielded by army frontrunners that enjoyed seeing many states worn out to seize new lands and repossess old ones also stimulated the war.
Impacts of World War I
World War I is recognized for the widespread system channels, from which men of both alliances fought, disastrous new know-hows were unbridled; for this one time, a foremost war was battled not only on land and on sea but below the sea and in the skies too (Mintz 2). Even though World War I ended, it had left marks on the nations involved in the war and the world as a whole. Politically, this war sensationally reformed geo-political sceneries, including the annihilation of four chief domains such as the Ottoman Empire, the Australia-Hungary Empire, Turkey, and the Russian Empire. At its conclusion, new state borders were drawn and antipathies seen exclusively on the case of Germany that was left rotting in Europe. Ironically, the aftermath verdicts were the primary causes of World War II (Mintz 3). After signing the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was brutally castigated with heavy economic restitutions, territorial damages, and stringent restrictions on its privileges to advance its army (Bessel 27). Following the hefty punishment on Germany, specifically the economic affliction, triggered mammoth umbrage where it was required to make monetary payments to the Allies referred to as reparations. Finally, the revolutionary force such as the Nazi party was able to take advantage the mortification and antipathy that Germany was going through and eventually took political control of the nation in the following years (Bessel 13). The 1918-1919 Germany revolution led to the formation of the left-leaning Weimar Republic (Strachan 137).
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The Great War was by then the most disparaging military conflict until it was surpassed by its offspring the Second World War in terms of the fatalities registered. Politically, France and Great Britain controlled Saarland for 15 years jointly after the war. Other sections of Germany were prearranged to Poland and the newly sovereign Denmark. The war left an approximation of 10 million military deaths and 20 million relentlessly injured and crippled individuals. The civilian casualties were not estimated but millions died from missiles, grenades, starvation, syndromes, mishaps such as detonations in bombs, plants and some were murdered as infiltrators (“World War I” para 8). Furthermore, there were millions of bereaved children, widowed women, and refugees. Technologically, WWI brought new media of communication apart from carrier pigeons that armies relied on. There was also advancement of reservoirs, submarines, and airplane-dropped bombs, machine guns and poison gas that transmuted the nature of current combat (Ziff 189).
Economically, the war greatly interrupted the European parsimonies and gave way to the United States to become the world’s number one creditor and industrialized power since its industrial units and country sides were never harmed (“World War I” para 7). France and the United Kingdom were distressed but soon, they recuperated without difficulties except for Germany that seriously suffered following the war. The hefty reparations combined with the economic disproportions and political tension led to an economic depression. Hyperinflation and joblessness in Weimar Germany was confounding alongside the Germany currency (Reich marks) that was devalued to the point that, for instance, it took wheelbarrows filled with money to buy a loaf of bread. In the mid-1920s, Germany’s economy became stable somehow and later, the Great depression spread to Germany following the American stock market crash in 1929 (Carlisle 278).
Socially, World War I disrupted decades of social norms where it generally brought an increase in progressive thinking (Downton Abbey). In most fragments of the world, prospects for lower and middle class people improved tremendously, while the members of the aristocracy found their power vanishing at times. Immense societal impacts were felt occasioned by the mass massacres of Americans in Turkey and the outbreak of influenza epidemic that slayed over 25 million people in the world. Europe had not fought any major war for a period of 100 years and they were always looking forward to peace and prosperity; this was shattered by World War I that left them with mix-ups, misapprehension, and miscommunication amongst themselves (“Social Effects of World War I”).
World War 1 began on July 28, 1918 and lasted for 4 years until November 11, 1918. This war was fought by two coalitions, for example, the Allies coalition that comprised of the Russian empire, the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the USA, and France and the Central Powers, consisting of Germany Australia-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), and Bulgaria. The war’s effects were felt politically, economically and socially. This war left many civilians and armies’ dead, destructed properties, disabled economies of different nations but it also ministered technologic advancements. The decisions that were made after this war were the chief causes of World War II.