Germany was emerging as the strongest power in Europe at that time. On June 28, 1914, in the city of Sarajevo, the son of the King of Austria-Hungary, named Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. Austria-Hungary then accused Serbia of killing, but Serbia flatly denied it. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia. And within an hour, Serbia began shelling.
At the time, Nicholas II was the ruler of Russia, who promptly resolved to support Serbia and ordered the Russian army to assist. Meanwhile, Germany announced that he would support Austria-Hungary. Russia became active against Germany, and on August 1, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. So, Germany knew that fighting Russia meant fighting its allies, so Germany declared war on France too. Germany knew that this war would not be so easy, so the Germans planned to fight a war. So far, Italy, the United States and Britain have been neutral in the war at this time.
On August 4, 1914, Germany invaded Belgium, and in response to which Britain warned Germany to withdraw its troops and leave Belgium, but Germany refused and what happened next was what should have happened. Britain also jumped into the war and declared war. In the same month of August, the Germans were in high spirits, so they invaded France and occupied a large part of France. In response, both Britain and France joined forces to bring their troops to the battlefield, and in this strategy, they succeeded and pushed the Germans back to some extent.
Now that the war was in full swing, all the allies had appeared. Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire (which later became Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Transjordan) was the one side and on the other side was Britain, France, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium and Japan were companions.
Russia and Germany in-bordered, Germany invaded Russia and took a large part of Russian territory, and the other side Germany and France in-bordered. The war went on like this for three years and people kept dying but neither Germany nor its allies were ready to surrender nor Britain and its allies. Until the year 1917 came. And in Russia, the Bolsheviks (the name of the party headed by Lenin) led the revolution. Which settled in the hearts of the people, and a new and revolutionary phase began to unfold in Russia. Finally, Lenin’s government came and he declared his withdrawal from the war as soon as he came into power. On December 6, 1917, Finland also declared independence from Russia.
Germany turned attention to France
On December 9, 1917, Romania also left Russia and signed an armistice and withdrew from the war. Now that Russia was becoming isolated, six days later, on December 15, 1917, Russia also signed the Armistice. Now, this part is clear. So Germany turned its attention to France. He withdrew his troops from Russia and brought them to the French border. But here a new twist in the war began: the United States, having been neutral so far, jumped into the war and declared war on Germany. The United States had just entered the war and had more resources and youthful soldiers. But, the Germans had been fighting for nearly three and a half years and were exhausted, and their weaponry and food supplies were dwindling.
At that time, the President of the United States sent a fourteen point agreement to reconcile on the grounds. One of the points was to make a secret agreement and end the war. The other point was to organize a world level organization (e.g. today’s United Nations). But in the end, European leaders rejected the offer and continued the war.
Russia signed the Peace Treaty
Russia signed a formal “peace treaty” in March 1918 (but at that time the civil war was started in Russia to the people who were against the Bolsheviks), after which, Germany withdrew the rest of its troops and turned to the other side. And the United States sent millions of troops to France. Now Britain and its allies were getting stronger, so they stepped up their war. On the one hand, they pushed back the German forces from France and on the other hand, they also attacked Bulgaria and then Bulgaria also signed the Armistice Treaty. Now they turned their attention to the Ottoman Empire, which they attacked and occupied considerable territory. On September 26, 1918, they again launched a full-scale attack on Germany, this time they succeeded in pushed the Germans far behind.
Now, the situation of the German military was bleak. Germany was now forced to sign the Armistice Treaty. Therefore, on October 4, 1918, Germany sent a message to the President of the United States. But the President of the United States replied that the territories occupied by Germany should be vacated first. On the other hand, on October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice. And four days later, on November 3, 1918, Austria-Hungary also signed the Armistice.
Now, there was only Germany left. The rest of the countries were on the other side and thousands of German soldiers were starving and discouraged and forced to surrender. Therefore, on November 11, 1918, a German delegation also signed the Armistice, but the firing continued till the last moment until the signing took place.
End of War
The war then ended. On January 18, 1919, a “peace conference” held in Paris. In which all these countries participated. On June 28, 1919, there was an agreement between these countries which became known as the “Treaty of Versailles”. All the countries signed the agreement. In the agreement, the responsibility of war imposed on Germany. And fined for returning to them all the territories and colonies in Belgium, France, Poland, Denmark, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia and Africa, etc. etc. The agreement also calls for Germany to accept responsibility for the war according to the Treaty of Versailles as below.
Treaty of Versailles, Article 231
“… Germany accepts responsibility… for causing all damage and destruction to which the Allied and Associated Governments have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.”
After the war, Europe’s boundaries were then re-drawn. Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia were deported from Austria-Hungary. The Ottoman Empire was divided into smaller states, named after new countries, such as; Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Jordan. Some of which were incorporated into Europe and some in the Middle East.
This battle claimed the lives of approximately 40 million people, including both military and civilians. Military casualties were estimated as 9-11 million. The civilian casualties were quoted as 8 million, with 6 million residents suffering from starvation and disease.
The war lasted four years, three months and a week (1914-18).
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