World War I
The reason for the First World War, historians tell us, was the assassination of Austria’s Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie. It happened while Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The Archduke was a nephew of the emperor of Austria and the heir apparent to the throne.
The incident was initially expanded because Austria-Hungary had a treaty with Germany and Serbia had a treaty with Russia. This allowed both of the involved countries to get back-up forces from the countries with whom they had treaties. Because Russia also had a treaty with France and Great Britain, those actually involved in the war graduated to more than those involved in the original incident.
Germany began fighting the war on two fronts. They entered France through Belgium while confronting Russia to the East. The first battle of the war was fought in Liege. The city was captured by August 15, 1914. In the First Battle of the Marne, French and British forces confronted the German army and drove them back to north of the Aisne River. This defeat meant the end of the Germans plans for a quick victory in France. The war continued as a war of attrition on that front.
Meanwhile, on the Eastern front, Russian forces invaded East Prussia and German Poland but were stopped by German and Austrian forces at the Battle of Tannenberg in late August, 1914. Between the Germans being forced to move two corps from the Western to the Eastern front, and Russia’s ability to mobilize quickly, the fast German victory that was expected did not come about.
World War I was mostly a war fought from the trenches, therefore loss of manpower was great. By 1917 the Allies were running low on soldiers. The Allies were looking for help from the United States. Two major events took place that brought the United States into the war.
The first was when a German U-boat sank the Lusitania. Although the Lusitania was a British ocean liner, 159 of the passengers were Americans. The second incident was the Zimmermann Telegram. In early 1917, Germany sent Mexico a coded message promising portions of United States land to Mexico if they would join the war against the United States. On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany.
Russia was getting out of the war as the United States was entering. Russia had to turn its attention to its own internal revolution. Germany then diverted all troops to the west.
Fighting continued for another year. At the end of 1918, an armistice was agreed upon. The Versailles Treaty was the treaty that ended World War I.