World War I

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World War I (WWI) is also called the Great War. It lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. The war was fought between the allied powers and central powers.

France, Russia, and Britain were the prominent members of the allied powers. Post 1917, the United States also fought on the side of the allies. 

The prominent members of the central powers were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. 



Emperor Wilhelm II decided to make Germany a world power in 1890. The move was considered a threat by other countries. 

Emperor Wilhelm II decided to make Germany a world power in 1890. The move was considered a threat by other countries. 

According to the mutual defense alliances made by the European countries, if one country was attacked, allied countries were responsible to defend them. 

The triple alliance was signed in 1882 linking Germany with Austria-Hungary and Italy. On the other hand, Britain, France, and Russia formed the triple entente, these were the major rival groups in Europe. 

Before world war I, European countries fought amongst themselves for gaining control over resources in Africa and parts of Asia. The rising conflicts pushed the world into world war I.

An arms race had begun by the 20th century. By 1914, Germany had considerably increased their military strength. Both Britain and Germany strengthened their navy forces during this time period. 

Nationalism led to world war I. Slavic peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina no longer wanted to be part of Austria Hungary, they wanted to be part of Serbia instead. 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary was shot in June 1914 while visiting Sarajevo in Bosnia. He was killed by a Serbian person who thought Serbia should be in control of Bosnia. Following the incident, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Russia had to get involved as it had an alliance with Serbia. Germans had to fight against Russia as they had an alliance with Austria-Hungary. 

Meanwhile, Britain had signed agreements for protection of Belgium and France. They had to declare war on Germany because of its invasion of Belgium.

Major battles during world war I include the First Battle of the Marne, Battle of the Somme, Battle of Tannenberg, Battle of Gallipoli, and the Battle of Verdun.

Phases of World War I

The conflict was spread over several fronts in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Germans confronted Britain, France on the western front. Post 1917, they had to fight the Americans as well. On the eastern front, the Russians fought against Germans and Austro-Hungarians.

Germany made a brief advance in 1914. The western front was finally stabilized. The long and brutal trench warfare on the western front was called the war of attrition. Meanwhile, the Germans made a slight advance on the eastern front as well.

The two major events in 1917 changed the course of the devastating war. The United States joined the allied powers. Post Russian revolution, the country abandoned the conflict and signed a separate peace agreement.

Following the German offensive in the spring of 1918, the counterattack of the allied forces forced the German army to retreat. The defeat of its allies and the revolution in the country which dethroned emperor Wilhem II, forced Germany to sign the armistice on November 11, 1918. Finally, the horrific war was over!


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Economic consequences: World War I put the participating countries under a lot of economic stress. Countries like Germany and Great Britain spent 60 percent of their money on the war. To compensate for the expenses, the countries had to raise taxes and borrow money from their citizens. Post war, there was widespread inflation as the countries had printed a lot of money for buying weapons and other materials for war. 

Political Consequences: World War I brought an end to the reign of 4 monarchs: Czar Nicholas II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Emperor Charles of Austria and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The devastating war forced them to abdicate their thrones.

Old empires were divided to form new countries. Austria-Hungary was split into a number of Independent states. While Russia and Germany gave land to Poland, the middle east countries were controlled by Great Britain and France. Turkey too came into existence. 

Social consequences: World war changed societies dramatically. As millions of young men died, birth rates decreased considerably. Civilians who lost their land fled to other countries.

The role of women in society also changed drastically. Post war, they replaced men in factories and offices. Several countries granted more rights to women after the war had ended, including the right to vote.

By then, the upper class had lost their leading role in society. After world war, the young, middle and lower class men and women demanded a say in forming their countries.

With the signing of the treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, world war I came to an end. The treaty of Versailles was signed to prevent the world from going into another war.

Post world war I, the U.S. became the first world power. The triumph of the Soviet Revolution inspired workers across the globe to protest against exploitation. Fear of communist revolution, created a hotbed of fascist movements as well. 

After world war I, a diplomatic group called the League of Nations was formed for resolving disputes between countries.

India and WWI

  • Being a British colony, the Indian army sent a lot of soldiers to participate in world war I. 
  • More than 70 thousand Indian soldiers lost their lives serving the British in world war I.
  • 100 million British Pounds was given by India to Britain to meet their war expenses. India was expecting dominion status and home rule in return.
  • During that period, large supplies of food, cash, and ammunition were collected via British taxation policies. The British had even made the broken promise of awarding self-rule to India in return!
  • But, Germany’s economic ruin and political humiliation provided fertile ground for World War II.


Read more:William Shakespeare

Check your knowledge

Answer) 28 July, 1914.

Answer) France, Russia, and Britain were the prominent members of the allied powers.

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