First World War (jul 28, 1914 – nov 11, 1918)
By the early 20th Century, Germany had grown from a confederation of sates to a fairly powerful empire. After improving it's industry and economy, the German Empire began to make political alliances with neighbouring nations, particularly the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Italy. These three countries were known as the "Triple Alliance".
At this point, Britain had become concerned over Germany's growing power, especially it's Navy. This caused them to ally themselves with France and Russia, resulting in these three countries to be known as the "Triple Entente".
With these two powerful coalitions established in Europe, almost any severe action could result in a war. As it happened, the Austro-Hungarian Empire took control of a small country called Bosnia and Herzegovina; this in turn lead to a young Bosnian-Serb named Gravilo Princip to shoot and kill the heir to the Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The assassination took place on 28th June 1914 and immediately resulted in Austria declaring war on Serbia.
Because Serbia had political ties with Russia, the German Empire declared war on both Russia and France in an attempt to help their Austrian allies. To attack France however, Germany needed to cross the country of Belgium which had been neutral to the whole affair. To protect Belgium's neutrality, it was the British that then declared war on Germany in the August, meaning that now seven different nations were involved in a war that had not even been going for two months. As more countries were pulled into the conflict over time due to overseas colonies and other allied nations, it became clear that Princip's actions had started the First World War.
Because Britain had signed a treaty with Japan some years earlier, the Japanese Empire began to seize German colonies in China and in the Pacific. This was what caused the war to be an international affair and soon the various nations were using their colonies and territories to help in the fight. Britain for their part began using resources and soldiers from across their empire, from their various territories in Africa and India, to the major dominions such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. On the other side of the war, now known as the Central Powers, the Ottoman Empire and the country of Bulgaria had agreed to help Germany with their fight against the Triple Entente, now known as the Allied Powers.
Many of the weapons and military tactics used during the First World War had never been utilized before on the battlefield. Airships and planes began to be used initially for reconnaissance but soon were being equipped with the ability to drop bombs on major cities as well as engage in aerial dogfights. Germany also began using submarines for the first time, sinking any ships they encountered in British waters, and both sides were quick to use toxic gases in the trenches which killed thousands.
Despite being part of the original Central Powers, the nation of Italy had stayed out of the fighting by 1915. Eventually however, Italy changed sides in the April by declaring war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the hopes of getting more territory.
As the war continued on across the globe, it began to take it's toll on a number of governments, but most significantly on Russia. By 1917 over 3 million Russians had died, soldiers were being sent to fight without guns, food was scarce, and wages had dropped. The Tsar of Russia Nicholas II was being blamed for much of the government's failure, eventually prompting the general public to begin a revolution in March 1917. By the following November, the Russian royal family had been overthrown, the empire was no more, and the government was now made up of a communist party.
As Russia dropped out of the war, another country was just joining. Due to the stalemate that had occurred between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers in northern Europe, German submarines, known as U-boats, began to head across the Atlantic and destroy any ships coming from North America, whether they were commercial or otherwise. This blockade quickly affected the United States who subsequently declared war on Germany in April 1917, joining the Allies. In the end, around 32 individual nations across the Earth, as well as their colonies, territories, and states were involved in the Great War, divided between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers.
It was then finally, after four years, three months, and two weeks, that the First World War came to it's end on 11th November 1918. The victory went to the Allies after a series of decisive battles and the subsequent signing of many treaties. The most significant of these treaties was made seven months later in the French city of Versailles. It was here where the Allied Powers, lead by Britain, America, France, Italy, and Japan, decided that the Central Powers and their allies were solely responsible for the war damages and must pay heavy compensation.
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