40 Million Dead: How World War I Changed History Forever

 In Germany, GDI, Land, Air, France

Key Point: The war to end all wars…

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, vis­it­ed the city of Sarajevo and were assas­si­nat­ed by Gavrilo Princip, a 20-year-old Yugoslav nation­al­ist. The assas­si­na­tions trig­gered World War 1, which broke out a month later when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. A series of alliances result­ed in a rapid expan­sion of hos­til­i­ties as Russia hon­ored its treaty oblig­a­tion with Serbia and declared war. Germany entered the war on the side of Austria-Hungary, and France and Great Britain soon joined the con­flict as allies of Russia and Serbia.

The Triple Entente vs. the Central Powers

As the prin­ci­pal Allied Powers, also known as the Triple Entente, includ­ing Great Britain, France, and Russia, opposed the Central Powers, pri­mar­i­ly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and later the Ottoman Empire, the con­flict devel­oped in to a series of dev­as­tat­ing bat­tles on land, sea, and air and esca­lat­ed to a global scale. In the East, Germany’s great vic­to­ry at Tannenberg in 1914 helped to spark rev­o­lu­tion in Russia and took that nation out of the war in 1917 with the the sep­a­rate peace of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. On the Western Front, great bat­tles were fought along the Marne River, and at such loca­tions as Ypres, Amiens, the Somme, and in Flanders. The war on the Western Front set­tled down to a con­test of attri­tion, and the agony of trench war­fare proved costly to both sides.

American Intervention Was a Deciding Factor in the Allied Victory

The United States did not enter World War 1 until April 1917, and the arrival of American troops in the West was a decid­ing factor in the even­tu­al Allied vic­to­ry. The end of the war came on November 11, 1918, a few months after the fail­ure of a des­per­ate German offen­sive launched in the spring of that year. Nevertheless, the German Army refused to accept that it had been defeat­ed in the field. War weari­ness and a dis­tressed econ­o­my were major con­tribut­ing fac­tors in the even­tu­al German sur­ren­der. The peace was con­clud­ed with the Treaty of Versailles, which sowed the seeds of anoth­er world war a gen­er­a­tion later. The treaty forced Germany to accept blame for the war and sad­dled the nation with extreme­ly high repa­ra­tions to the Allies for the cost of the war.

By the end of hos­til­i­ties, World War 1, also known as the Great War, result­ed in more than 40 mil­lion mil­i­tary and civil­ian casu­al­ties and bil­lions of dol­lars in prop­er­ty damage. Although some observers char­ac­ter­ized the con­flict as the “War to End all Wars,” an even more dev­as­tat­ing war lay ahead.

One other notable aspect of World War 1 is the advance­ment in mil­i­tary tech­nol­o­gy that occurred with the use of the air­plane, sub­ma­rine, machine gun, and poison gas.

This arti­cle first appeared at the Warfare History Network.

Image: Wikipedia.

Source: National Interest

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