First World War summary/Participants/Causes/beginning/Consequences

World War I was one of the greatest conflicts in the history of civilization. Fought especially on European territory, the war involved countries around the world and left more than 10 million dead. First World War summary

The conflict was the result of several disputes between European countries, which intensified in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The two groups that fought during the war were the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance .

Among the motivations for the conflicts were the imperialism and nationalism of European countries. The Triple Entente countries wanted to maintain their hegemony and the Triple Alliance countries wanted to increase their power.

As a result of this great war, there was a redefinition of Europe’s borders and a totally fragile political, economic and social situation, especially in the losing countries – Triple Alliance.

The devastating results of the end of the war, particularly in Germany, were one of the reasons for the Second World War, which broke out 20 years later. First World War summary

When was the First World War?

World War I began in July 1914 , after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and ended in November 1918 , with the surrender of the Triple Alliance countries.

Enhance your reading: Main causes of world war ii/German expansionism/Territory disputes etc.

Which countries led the First World War?

The countries leading the war were divided into two groups, which were the result of alliances that formed on the continent before the outbreak of the first war.

Triple Alliance

  • Germany
  • Austria-Hungary
  • Italy (later changed to the Triple Entente)
  • ottoman Turkish empire

Triple Entente (victorious group)

  • France
  • England
  • Russia

Although these are the countries in the conduct of the conflict, this was a war with the involvement of countries from all continents. First World War summary

Italy started the war on the side of the Triple Alliance. The country had made an agreement with Germany that it would officially enter the war if German territory was invaded, but as this did not happen, Italy remained in a position of neutrality.

It so happens that England, in 1915, offers Italy territories and colonies in Africa if it joins the Triple Entente. Italy accepted the proposal and changed sides in the conflict, but ended up not receiving the territories later.

Causes of World War I

The end of the 19th century in Europe became known as the Belle Époque , a period of prosperity, with numerous technological, scientific and cultural advances.

However, behind this situation of peace and progress, many conflicts were being fought between European countries, whose main motivation was imperialist disputes and nationalism.

imperialist disputes

England and France had several lands and colonies in Africa and Asia, but Germany and Italy also had an interest in increasing their imperialist power. First World War summary

Enhance your reading: Second world war started in/end of the war/Atomic Bombs in War

With the unification of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War , this nation became more powerful and posed a strong threat, especially to England, which had held the place of great power since the Industrial Revolution.


The nationalist sentiment was strengthened in several regions of Europe, the Germans were united in pan- Germanism , a movement that built an ideology to support the expansion of the German Empire.

Russia, in turn, defended Pan Slavism , which intended to create a state with all Slavic peoples and, for that, wanted to annex territories then belonging to the Ottoman-Turkish and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

Serbia supported Russia in the Pan-Slavist idea and wanted to annex Balkan territories to form Greater Serbia.

On the question of nationalism, there was also French revanchism against Germany. A few years earlier, France had lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War an important part of its territory: Alsace-Lorraine .

This loss was considered a humiliation for the French, who wanted to regain that territory again.

Faced with these imminent conflicts, countries begin to form alliances and an arms race begins . States begin to strengthen their armies and their war power due to the threat of the outbreak of war.

The beginning of the First World War

The tension between the countries was great and a war was set, it only took a trigger for the conflict to start.

That trigger was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand , the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Ferdinand was killed by a Serbian nationalist during a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.

In view of this event, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia on July 28, 1914 and World War I begins.

Building on the alliances that were already forming on the continent, Germany entered the war on the side of Austria-Hungary. Russia, France and England joined the side of Serbia. First World War summary

the conflict

By the time the conflicts started, the countries were already prepared for war, but both sides believed that the conflict would be short-lived. At the beginning of the conflict there was movement of troops, then they stagnated in trenches.

The First World War can be divided into two phases:

  • Movements: in this first phase, the armies advanced towards the borders of their respective countries, to occupy the fronts.
  • Trenches: The second phase of the conflict was the trench phase. Trenches were long underground corridors built to house troops, some trenches were hundreds of kilometers long. The soldiers stayed for about 3 years living in these trenches, where the living conditions were terrible. Inside these corridors were lice, rats and even decomposing bodies.

The technological advance of the Belle Époque allowed the use of weapons such as tanks, planes and machine guns during the conflict. The war was a very violent conflict, one of the examples of weapon used was mustard gas. First World War summary

Mustard gas is a chemical weapon that causes severe burns, cancer, and death by asphyxiation. This gas is prohibited and is classified by the Chemical Weapons Convention as Class 1 and has no other use than in chemical warfare.

The submarine was also another piece of equipment used in warfare. It was the Germans who developed submarines, they used them to sink ships that brought food into enemy territory.

In 1917, two important events took place that contributed to the end of the conflict: the withdrawal of Russia from the war and the entry of the United States into the conflict.

departure from Russia

In 1917, with its economy ruined, the Russian Revolution takes place and the implementation of communism in the country. To withdraw from the war, Russia signed an agreement with Germany.

For Germany, Russia’s departure was a relief, as the country was able to withdraw its troops from the battlefront on the border between these territories and concentrate its efforts on other fronts . First World War summary

US entry

In 1917 the United States enters the conflict with soldiers and medical troops in support of the countries of the Triple Entente – England and France. With Germany already weakened, the entry of the United States was decisive for the surrender of the Germans and the end of the war.

The End of the Conflict and the Treaty of Versailles

The war ended in 1918 with the defeat of Germany and the victory of the Triple Entente. At the end of the war, the Paris Conference was held , where the Treaty of Versailles was drawn up between Germany and the victorious countries.

The Treaty of Versailles was a peace agreement that placed Germany as the sole and total culprit for the conflict and established harsh punishments for the country.

This treaty limited war production and the German army, obliged the country to return colonies in Africa and the territory of Alsace-Lorraine to France, in addition to the obligation to pay very high indemnities to the winning countries.

These conditions were considered humiliating by the Germans, who at the time of the end of the conflict were facing serious economic problems in the country. This situation generated revolt among the population and was one of the reasons for the outbreak of World War II and Nazism.

League of Nations

After the end of the conflict, in 1919, the League of Nations was created, an international organization with the aim of establishing peace and preventing new conflicts. His goal, however, was not achieved, as 20 years after the end of the First World War, the world would once again be involved in a global conflict.

Consequences of the First World War

  • Redefinition of borders in Europe and on other continents. The Ottoman-Turkish Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia were divided into several countries;
  • More than 10 million dead and 20 million maimed and wounded;
  • Economic and social crises with unemployment, hunger and misery and destruction of cities in the countries involved;
  • With the death of many men, women began to take more important places in society and the suffragette movement strengthened;
  • Decline of Eurocentrism and the emergence of the United States as a power;
  • Rise of far-right movements such as Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy.

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