Karishma Mishra
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World War I (often abbreviated as WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars",[7] it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history.[8][9] It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history,[10] with an estimated nine million combatant deaths and 13 million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war,[11] while resulting genocides and the related 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 17–100 million deaths worldwide.

On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalistassassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis.[14][15] In response, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia on 23 July. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians, and the two moved to a war footing.

A network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis from a bilateral issue in the Balkans to one involving most of Europe. By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente, consisting of FranceRussia, and Britain; and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Alliance was only defensive in nature, allowing Italy to stay out of the war until April 1915, when it joined the Allied Powers after its relations with Austria-Hungary deteriorated.[16] Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia, and approved partial mobilisation after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on 28 July.[17] Full Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; the following day, Austria-Hungary and Germany did the same, while Germany demanded Russia demobilise within twelve hours.[18] When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, the latter following suit on 6 August; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August.[19]

Germany's strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to rapidly concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within six weeks, then shift forces to the East before Russia could fully mobilise; this was later known as the Schlieffen Plan.[20] On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France.[21] When this was refused, German forces invaded Belgium on 3 August and declared war on France the same day; the Belgian government invoked the 1839 Treaty of London and, in compliance with its obligations under this treaty, Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August. On 12 August, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary; on 23 August, Japan sided with Britain, seizing German possessions in China and the Pacific. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, opening fronts in the CaucasusMesopotamia, and the Sinai Peninsula. The war was fought in (and drew upon) each power's colonial empire also, spreading the conflict to Africa and across the globe. The Entente and its allies eventually became known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary, Germany and their allies became known as the Central Powers.


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1 World War


The term "world war" was first used in September 1914 by German biologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel, who claimed that "there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared 'European War' ... will become the first world war in the full sense of the word,"[25] citing a wire service report in The Indianapolis Star on 20 September 1914.

Prior to World War II, the events of 1914–1918 were generally known as the Great War or simply the World War.[26][27] In October 1914, the Canadian magazine Maclean's wrote, "Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War."[28] Contemporary Europeans also referred to it as "the war to end war" or "the war to end all wars" due to their perception of its then-unparalleled scale and devastation.[29] After World War II began in 1939, the terms became more standard, with British Empire historians, including Canadians, favouring "The First World War" and Americans "World War I".

War crimes

Baralong incidents

HMS Baralong

On 19 August 1915, the German submarine U-27 was sunk by the British Q-ship HMS Baralong. All German survivors were summarily executed by Baralong's crew on the orders of Lieutenant Godfrey Herbert, the captain of the ship. The shooting was reported to the media by American citizens who were on board the Nicosia, a British freighter loaded with war supplies, which was stopped by U-27 just minutes before the incident.[315]

On 24 September, Baralong destroyed U-41, which was in the process of sinking the cargo ship Urbino. According to Karl Goetz, the submarine's commander, Baralong continued to fly the US flag after firing on U-41 and then rammed the lifeboat—carrying the German survivors—sinking it.[316]

Torpedoing of HMHS Llandovery Castle

The Canadian hospital ship HMHS Llandovery Castle was torpedoed by the German submarine SM U-86 on 27 June 1918 in violation of international law. Only 24 of the 258 medical personnel, patients, and crew survived. Survivors reported that the U-boat surfaced and ran down the lifeboats, machine-gunning survivors in the water. The U-boat captain, Helmut Patzig, was charged with war crimes in Germany following the war, but escaped prosecution by going to the Free City of Danzig, beyond the jurisdiction of German courts.[317]

Blockade of Germany

After the war, the German government claimed that approximately 763,000 German civilians died from starvation and disease during the war because of the Allied blockade.[318][319] An academic study done in 1928 put the death toll at 424,000.[320] Germany protested that the Allies had used starvation as a weapon of war.[321] Sally Marks argued that the German accounts of a hunger blockade are a "myth," as Germany did not face the starvation level of Belgium and the regions of Poland and northern France that it occupied.[322] According to the British judge and legal philosopher Patrick Devlin, "The War Orders given by the Admiralty on 26 August [1914] were clear enough. All food consigned to Germany through neutral ports was to be captured and all food consigned to Rotterdam was to be presumed consigned to Germany." According to Devlin, this was a serious breach of International Law, equivalent to German minelaying.[323]

Chemical weapons in warfare

French soldiers making a gas and flame attack on German trenches in Flanders

The German army was the first to successfully deploy chemical weapons during the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April – 25 May 1915), after German scientists working under the direction of Fritz Haber at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute developed a method to weaponize chlorine.[j][324] The use of chemical weapons was sanctioned by the German High Command in an effort to force Allied soldiers out of their entrenched positions, complementing rather than supplanting more lethal conventional weapons.[324] In time, chemical weapons were deployed by all major belligerents throughout the war, inflicting approximately 1.3 million casualties, but relatively few fatalities: About 90,000 in total.[324] For example, there were an estimated 186,000 British chemical weapons casualties during the war (80% of which were the result of exposure to the vesicant sulfur mustard, introduced to the battlefield by the Germans in July 1917, which burns the skin at any point of contact and inflicts more severe lung damage than chlorine or phosgene),[324] and up to one-third of American casualties were caused by them. The Russian Army reportedly suffered roughly 500,000 chemical weapon casualties in World War I.[325] The use of chemical weapons in warfare was in direct violation of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which prohibited their use.[326][327]

The effect of poison gas was not limited to combatants. Civilians were at risk from the gases as winds blew the poison gases through their towns, and they rarely received warnings or alerts of potential danger. In addition to absent warning systems, civilians often did not have access to effective gas masks. An estimated 100,000–260,000 civilian casualties were caused by chemical weapons during the conflict and tens of thousands more (along with military personnel) died from scarring of the lungs, skin damage, and cerebral damage in the years after the conflict ended. Many commanders on both sides knew such weapons would cause major harm to civilians but nonetheless continued to use them. British Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig wrote in his diary, "My officers and I were aware that such weapons would cause harm to women and children living in nearby towns, as strong winds were common in the battlefront. However, because the weapon was to be directed against the enemy, none of us were overly concerned at all."[328][329][330][331]

The war damaged chemistry's prestige in European societies, in particular the German variety.[332]

Genocide and ethnic cleansing

Ottoman Empire

Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918.[333]
Austro-Hungarian soldiers executing men and women in Serbia, 1916[334]

The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian population, including mass deportations and executions, during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is considered genocide.[335] The Ottomans carried out organised and systematic massacres of the Armenian population at the beginning of the war and portrayed deliberately provoked acts of Armenian resistance as rebellions to justify further extermination.[336] In early 1915, a number of Armenians volunteered to join the Russian forces and the Ottoman government used this as a pretext to issue the Tehcir Law (Law on Deportation), which authorised the deportation of Armenians from the Empire's eastern provinces to Syria between 1915 and 1918. The Armenians were intentionally marched to death and a number were attacked by Ottoman brigands.[337] While an exact number of deaths is unknown, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimates 1.5 million.[335][338] The government of Turkey has consistently denied the genocide, arguing that those who died were victims of inter-ethnic fighting, famine, or disease during World War I; these claims are rejected by most historians.

Support for the war

Poster urging women to join the British war effort, published by the Young Women's Christian Association
Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps First Contingent in Bermuda, winter 1914–1915, before joining 1 Lincolnshire Regiment in France in June, 1916. The dozen remaining after Guedecourt on 25 September 1916, merged with a Second Contingent. The two contingents suffered 75% casualties.
A company of the Public Schools Battalion prior to the Battle of the Somme. The Public Schools Battalions were Pals battalions raised as part of Kitchener's Army, originally made up exclusively of former public schoolboys.

In the Balkans, Yugoslav nationalists such as the leader, Ante Trumbić, strongly supported the war, desiring the freedom of Yugoslavs from Austria-Hungary and other foreign powers and the creation of an independent Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Committee, led by Trumbić, was formed in Paris on 30 April 1915 but shortly moved its office to London.[364] In April 1918, the Rome Congress of Oppressed Nationalities met, including CzechoslovakItalianPolishTransylvanian, and Yugoslav representatives who urged the Allies to support national self-determination for the peoples residing within Austria-Hungary.[365]

In the Middle East, Arab nationalism soared in Ottoman territories in response to the rise of Turkish nationalism during the war, with Arab nationalist leaders advocating the creation of a pan-Arab state. In 1916, the Arab Revolt began in Ottoman-controlled territories of the Middle East in an effort to achieve independence.[366]

In East Africa, Iyasu V of Ethiopia was supporting the Dervish state who were at war with the British in the Somaliland Campaign.[367] Von Syburg, the German envoy in Addis Ababa, said, "now the time has come for Ethiopia to regain the coast of the Red Sea driving the Italians home, to restore the Empire to its ancient size." The Ethiopian Empire was on the verge of entering World War I on the side of the Central Powers before Iyasu's overthrow due to Allied pressure on the Ethiopian aristocracy.[368] Iyasu was accused of converting to Islam.[369] According to Ethiopian historian Bahru Zewde, the evidence used to prove Iyasu's conversion was a doctored photo of Iyasu wearing a turban provided by the Allies.[370] Some historians claim the British spy T. E. Lawrence forged the Iyasu photo.[371]

A number of socialist parties initially supported the war when it began in August 1914.[365] But European socialists split on national lines, with the concept of class conflict held by radical socialists such as Marxists and syndicalists being overborne by their patriotic support for the war.[372] Once the war began, Austrian, British, French, German, and Russian socialists followed the rising nationalist current by supporting their countries' intervention in the war.[373]

Italian nationalism was stirred by the outbreak of the war and was initially strongly supported by a variety of political factions. One of the most prominent and popular Italian nationalist supporters of the war was Gabriele d'Annunzio, who promoted Italian irredentism and helped sway the Italian public to support intervention in the war.[374] The Italian Liberal Party, under the leadership of Paolo Boselli, promoted intervention in the war on the side of the Allies and used the Dante Alighieri Society to promote Italian nationalism.[375] Italian socialists were divided on whether to support the war or oppose it; some were militant supporters of the war, including Benito Mussolini and Leonida Bissolati.[376] However, the Italian Socialist Party decided to oppose the war after anti-militarist protestors were killed, resulting in a general strike called Red Week.[377] The Italian Socialist Party purged itself of pro-war nationalist members, including Mussolini.[377] Mussolini, a syndicalist who supported the war on grounds of irredentist claims on Italian-populated regions of Austria-Hungary, formed the pro-interventionist Il Popolo d'Italia and the Fasci Rivoluzionario d'Azione Internazionalista ("Revolutionary Fasci for International Action") in October 1914 that later developed into the Fasci di Combattimento in 1919, the origin of fascism.[378] Mussolini's nationalism enabled him to raise funds from Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create Il Popolo d'Italia to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war.


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