First World War


The First World War, also known as the Great War , was an armed conflict in which thousands of men lost their lives and that occurred in Europe when Germany accepted the conditions proposed by the armistice and that ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany.

  • When was it:  07/28/1914 – 11/11/1918
  • Where did it go:  Europe, the Middle East, China, America, Africa and on the islands of the Pacific Ocean

First World War

The First World War was a warlike event that arose from the friction that had been caused by the imperialism of the great powers of Europe , which began on this continent but spread to different colonial territories.


What was the First World War

The First World War consisted of a bellicose process that occurred between various powers of the world, whose origin was in the European continent , in 1914. It was a war that for the first time involved distant nations and that transformed society forever. The First World War marked an important period between the 19th and 20th centuries, a time when the world changed history and where a particular social system was accentuated.


Historic context

At the end of the 19th century, England was the power that dominated the world technologically , financially , economically and politically . Germany and the United States were fighting for industrial and commercial dominance. In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Africa and South Asia were divided .

The United States and Russia controlled their territories, and England and France , faced each other in 1898 and 1899 in the so-called Faschoda incident in Sudan. Germany, which had colonies in Cameroon, Namibia, East Africa, some Pacific islands, and trading enclaves in China , began to want more.

France wanted revenge in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. The Germans had proclaimed the Empire or Second Reich at the Palace of Versailles , which was an offense to the French. The Balkan countries liberated from the Ottoman Empire were the subject of rivalry between the great powers.


The First World War is considered one of the greatest war conflicts in history. It began on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918 and faced the main powers of the time: the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.  The main cause was imperialism , which implied the desire of the countries to expand and conquer territories, but the real trigger for the war was the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Francisco Fernando.

The crime was carried out by a Serbian nationalist group known as “Mano Negra” , in response to the expansionist policies of Austria-Hungary in the Balkans. This situation caused a diplomatic conflict that ended in an official declaration of war by the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Serbia, causing a chain reaction.

Five years after the war began, the Treaty of Versailles was signed , which forced Germany and Austria-Hungary to assume moral and material responsibility for the war, to disarm themselves militarily and to make territorial and economic transfers to the bloc that had won the war.

Characteristics of the First World War

The main characteristics of the First World War were the following:

  • The competing powers allied themselves into two camps
  • Its starting point was the assassination of Archduke Francisco Fernando of Austria.
  • It is estimated that approximately nine million combatants lost their lives.
  • The war tank and toxic gases were invented .
  • Different revolutions occurred .
  • The Treaty of Versailles was created which ended the war.
  • There was an important geographical extension.
  • There were innovations in weaponry .
  • There was an economic war .

Countries that participated

The following countries participated in the First World War: Austria, Germany, Russia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Great Britain, Turkey, France, Hungary, Serbia, the United States, Poland and Lithuania.


There were two sides that fought in the First World War and they were, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente . The Triple Alliance was formed by the union of different countries and initially it was formed by the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire

The Triple Entente that was the second side of the First World War was formed by the coalition of the three countries that were France, Russia and the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 20th century, countries that united to face the warlike conflict before Europe , which resulted in the First World War.


  • Western Front:  on this front the German army opened the western front by invading Belgium and Luxembourg , attacking the city of Liege , and gaining military control of industrial regions located east of France , defeating the French army at the Battle of Lorraine, the Battle of Charleroi and in the Battle of Maubeuge.
  • Eastern Front : formed by Germany , who fought against the Russian Empire in East Prussia, as well as the Austro-Hungarian Empire .
  • Balkan Front : there were military campaigns in the Balkans between the Central Powers and the allies who tried to help the Serbs but the expedition arrived late and with little force. Romania went to war against the Central Powers, which turned out badly as an offensive between the Germans , Austro-Hungarians , Bulgarians and Ottomans conquered two-thirds of the country.
  • Middle East Front : the allies failed to penetrate the Ottoman Empire and failed in successive offensives.
  • Italian Front : Italy joined the Allies and attacks Austria .


Some important characters from the First War are mentioned below:

  • Edmund henry hynman
  • Haig, Douglas
  • Thomas woodrow
  • Raymond Poincaré
  • Tsar Nicholas II of Russia
  • Lawrence of Arabia


The main causes that originated the First World War were the following:

  • Militarism : this situation occurred because the military had more and more power and was introduced into politics.
  • Imperialism : there were clashes between Europe and the territories of Africa and Asia.
  • Nationalism : both of nations and of ethnic groups that considered themselves as nations.
  • Policy of alliances : several countries signed agreements to defend each other, such as The Triple Entente that was formed by Russia, Great Britain-Ireland and France and The Triple Alliance formed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany and Italy.
  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand : In Vienna, the Austro-Hungarian capital, Serbia was accused of being behind the assassination.

Consequences of the First World War

Some of the most important consequences of the First World War were the following:

  • There was a great deal of death and destruction .
  • Great economic consequences with the increase in taxes .
  • It is money printed to buy weapons and supplies, resulting in inflation .
  • There were restrictions on trade .
  • New ideological currents appeared and the revolutionary socialists managed to increase power.
  • The end of the monarchies was given .
  • New countries appeared and divided into independent states.
  • Social changes occurred , the birth rate dropped, and thousands of young men died.
  • The rights of women began to increase.
  • The middle and lower classes began to fight for their rights after the war.

Effects on the economy

It is important to mention that before the First World War, the states that participated in it had an orthodox capitalist system based on economic liberalism . When the war started, there was a change in the economy and in international trade relations.

Great Britain multiplied its income by the arms industry, the railway and merchant marine sector were nationalized and basic necessities were controlled . Germany made efforts to give its army what it needed for war. The quantity of raw material that reached the production sectors, the quantities of the final product, the distribution and the consumption were controlled . The United States created a War Industries Board to carry out this task.

The levels of production in the industries were enormous and there was production . As a consequence after the war, a great fall in world prices was generated in the primary market that caused the ruin of the agriculture of the countries that supplied them. The war caused greater costs to the participating countries.

The European countries had to make international loans , emitted paper money and sold bonds , producing a strong inflation and rising taxes widespread. Salaried workers , civil servants and savers lowered their standard of living and there was a lot of unemployment . The inflation of prices, depreciating currencies and the abandonment of parity of gold led to major changes in the European economy.


During World War I, military agencies found suitable personnel who managed to start a technical revolution on the battlefields. The “invented camouflage ” which became an art because of the need to hide, and she even managed to hide observatories . The flamethrower began to be used and the first tank appeared .

Different resources were used to attack from the sky, for example, airships began to be used to bomb cities, hydroplanes and airplanes were deployed . German submarines also appeared and poison gas was used , thus introducing the use of chemical weapons .

Great strides were also made in medicine , he perfected surgical anesthesia and special appliances were created for surgeries , new were introduced antiseptics and the Red Cross made its first bring in the fields of battle, became transfusion of blood and installed operating rooms on the boats . X-rays also emerged , even mobile ones.


After the First World War the European empires fell and the form of government of Absolute Monarchies ended, giving way to a new political order. A great development of the instruments and techniques of war was generated . The artillery multiplied the calibers, increased the range and improved the correction methods. The motorized transport became widespread. The United States became a world power and without it there would have been no World War II , nor would National Socialism or Stalinism have arisen .

World War I in popular culture

Currently, we find a series of films that can help us understand the First World War, among them we mention:

  • War house
  • Gallipoli
  • A Very Long Engagement
  • The African Queen
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Paths of Glory
  • Joyeux Noel

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