High School > History > World War 1
From 1914 to 1918, the world saw four years of unholy levels of death and destruction. This was when the world’s great powers fought each other in the first ever World War. Ten nations participated: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire (the Central States) battled against Great Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Romania, and Japan (the Allied States). At the end of the war, over 16 million people, soldiers and civilians alike, lost their lives.
The key incident was when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated. A chain of events then led to the ten nations lining up against each other, and World War I began.
Some people refer to it as “The Great War” due to a scale never before seen in previous conflicts. Nearly 60 million troops were mobilized to join the fight, and the numbers of those who died were unthinkable at the time. The weapons used for World War I were also massively destructive and deadly.
Soldiers at this time used a tactic called trench warfare, where they would dig trenches 3 meters deep to hide from enemies. The other important thing trenches do is it keeps troops away from the line of fire of machine guns, which were very popular at the time for defense. Machine guns produced huge, continuous waves of bullets that would instantly mow down any troops advancing to take an enemy position. To keep themselves alive, soldiers stayed in those trenches for days, weeks, even months on end. At the end of the war, historians estimate that nearly 2,500 kilometers of trenches were built.
By 1918, after four years of heavy fighting, the Central States were losing on all sides. The Ottoman Empire was destroyed, the empire of Austria-Hungary was dissolved, and Germany’s resources were running out. By November 11, 1918, the war was over.