World War I
World War I involved more countries and caused greater destruction than any other
war, except World War II. An assassin's bullet set off the war, and a system of military
agreements plunged the main European powers into the fight. Each side expected a quick
victory; but the war lasted four years and took the lives of nearly ten million military
Military drafts raised larger armies than ever before, and extreme patriotism gave men
a cause they were willing to die for. Progaganda whipped up support for the war by
making the enemy seem villainous.
On June 28, 1914, an assassin gunned down Archduke Francis Ferdinard of
Austria-Hungary in Sarejevo, the capital of Austria-Hungary's province of Bornia. The
killer, Gavrilo Princip, had ties to a terrorist organization in Serbia. Austria-Hungary
believed that Serbia?s government was behind the assassination. It seized the
opportunity to declare war on Serbia and settle an old feud.
Austria-Hungary decided to use this assassination as an excuse to settle its fight with
Serbia. Germany backed Austria, and on July 23 Austria presented a warlike ultimatum
to Serbia. It allowed forty-eight hours for a reply. On July 28, Austria refused Serbia?s
reply and declared war on Serbia.
All nations in Europe had been expecting war and rival groups had been making
treaties and alliances for many years. Europe was divided into two camps. Germany,
Austria-Hungary, and Italy were members of the Triple Alliance, or Central Powers.
Russia, France, and England formed the rival Triple Entente Powers, which was later
called the Allies. The Balkan States sided with Serbia and the Allies. Serbia?s enemies
were on the side of the Central Powers. The alliances were brought into action when
Austria declared war. It took a week for all Europe to be at war. (Bender)
Germany won early victories in World War I on the main battlefields. The western
front hardly moved for three and a half years in spite of fierce combat. The fighting went
back and forth until 1917 when a revolution broke out in Russia which resulted in Russia
asking for a truce. (World Book Encyclopedia)
The United States remained neutral at first, but many Americans turned against the
Central Powers after Germany began sinking unarmed ships. In 1917 the United States
joined the Allies. As a result the Allies...