World War I

World War I
Clockwise from the top: The aftermath of shelling during the Battle of the Somme, Mark V tanks cross the Hindenburg Line, HMS Irresistible sinks after hitting a mine in the Dardanelles, a British Vickers machine gun crew wears gas masks during the Battle of the Somme, Albatros D.III fighters of Jagdstaffel 11
Date28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918 (1914-07-28 – 1918-11-11)
(4 years, 3 months and 2 weeks)
LocationEurope, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, China, Indian Ocean, North and South Atlantic Ocean

Allied Powers victory

  • Formation of new countries in Europe and the Middle East
  • Transfer of German colonies and territories, regions of the former Ottoman Empire, regions of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and Soviet Union territories to other countries
  • Belligerents
    Allied Powers:
    Central Powers:
    Commanders and leaders
    Allied Powers leaders:Central Powers leaders:
    • Russian Empire 12,000,000
    • British Empire 8,841,541[1][2]
    • French Third Republic 8,660,000[3]
    • Kingdom of Italy 5,615,140
    • United States 4,743,826
    • Kingdom of Romania 1,234,000
    • Empire of Japan 800,000
    • Kingdom of Serbia 707,343
    • Belgium 380,000
    • Kingdom of Greece 250,000
    • First Portuguese Republic 80,000
    • Kingdom of Montenegro 50,000
    Total: 42,959,850[4]
    • German Empire 13,250,000
    • Austria-Hungary 7,800,000
    • Ottoman Empire 2,998,321
    • Kingdom of Bulgaria 1,200,000
    Total: 25,248,321[4]
    Casualties and losses
    • Military dead: 5,525,000
    • Military wounded: 12,831,500
    • Total: 18,356,500 KIA, WIA and MIA
    • Civilian dead: 4,000,000

    ...further details.

    French Third Republic 1,397,800 killed[5]
    British Empire 1,114,914 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Italy 651,000 killed[5]
    Russian Empire 1,811,000 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Romania 250,000[5]-335,000 killed[6]
    Empire of Japan 415 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Serbia 275,000 killed[5]
    Belgium 58,637[5]-87,500 killed[6]
    United States 116,708 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Greece 26,000 killed[5]
    First Portuguese Republic 7,222 killed[5]

    Kingdom of Montenegro 3,000 killed[5]
    • Military dead: 4,386,000
    • Military wounded: 8,388,000
    • Total: 12,774,000 KIA, WIA and MIA
    • Civilian dead: 3,700,000

    ...further details.

    German Empire 2,050,897 killed[5]
    Austria-Hungary 1,200,000 killed[6]
    Ottoman Empire 771,844 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Bulgaria 87,500 killed[5]
    World War 1 - Mobilized forces per total population (in %)

    World War I (often abbreviated as WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe 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] An estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a direct result of the war, and it also contributed to later genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic, which caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide.[10] Military losses were exacerbated by new technological and industrial developments and the tactical stalemate caused by gruelling trench warfare. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and precipitated major political changes, including the Revolutions of 1917–1923, in many of the nations involved. Unresolved rivalries at the end of the conflict contributed to the start of World War II about twenty years later.[11]

    On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis.[12][13] In response, on 23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. 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 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—consisting of France, Russia and Britain—and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (the Triple Alliance was primarily defensive in nature, allowing Italy to stay out of the war in 1914).[14] Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia, on 25 July issuing orders for the 'period preparatory to war', and after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved of the military districts nearest to Austria.[15] General Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; on the 31st, Austria-Hungary and Germany did the same, while Germany demanded Russia demobilise within 12 hours.[16] When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August.[17]

    German strategy for a war on two fronts against France and Russia was to concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within four weeks, then shift forces to the East before Russia could fully mobilise; this was later known as the Schlieffen Plan.[18] On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France.[19] When this was refused, German forces entered Belgium early on the morning of 3 August and declared war with France the same day; the Belgian government invoked the 1839 Treaty of London and in compliance with its obligations under this, Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August.[20][21] On 12 August, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary; on the 23rd, Japan sided with the Entente, seizing the opportunity to expand its sphere of influence by capturing German possessions in China and the Pacific. The war was fought in and drew upon each powers' colonial empires as well, spreading the conflict across the globe. The Entente and its allies would eventually become known as the Allied Powers, while the grouping of Austria-Hungary and Germany would become known as the Central Powers.

    The German advance into France was halted at the Battle of the Marne and by the end of 1914, the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, marked by a long series of trench lines that changed little until 1917. The Eastern Front was marked by much greater exchanges of territory, but though Serbia was defeated in 1915, and Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916 only to be defeated in 1917, none of the great powers were knocked out of the war until 1918.

    In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai Peninsula. In 1915, Italy joined the Allied Powers and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers. After the sinking of seven US merchant ships by German submarines, and the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the US declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917.

    The 1917 February Revolution in Russia replaced the Tsarist autocracy with the Provisional Government, but continuing discontent at the cost of the war led to the October Revolution, the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic, and the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk by the new government, ending Russia's involvement in the war. This allowed the transfer of large numbers of German troops from the East to the Western Front, resulting in the German March 1918 Offensive. The offensive was initially successful, but the Allied Powers rallied and drove the Germans back in the Hundred Days Offensive; on 28 September, German military leaders asked for an armistice.[22] On 4 November 1918, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed the Armistice of Villa Giusti; with Revolution at home, and the military no longer willing to fight, Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November and Germany also signed an Armistice on 11 November 1918.

    As a result of the war, the Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were replaced by new states, based on nationalities. The Four Powers of Britain, France, the US and Italy, imposed their terms in a series of treaties agreed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The formation of the League of Nations was intended to prevent another world war, but for various reasons failed to do so. The central role of the Nazi Party in World War II led to a focus on how the Treaty of Versailles affected Germany, but the peace also transformed large parts of Europe and the Middle East, in ways that remain relevant today.[23]


    The term "First 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,"[24] 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.[25][26] 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.[27] 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".[28]

    In October 1914, the Canadian magazine Maclean's wrote, "Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War."[29] However, while certainly accurate in Canada, this was not so even in Britain; historian John Holland Rose's 1911 account of the 1793–1815 wars against France was titled William Pitt and the Great War.[30] This was validated by Gareth Glover's 2015 book, Waterloo in 100 Objects, in which he states: "This opening statement will cause some bewilderment to many who have grown up with the appellation of the Great War firmly applied to the 1914–18 First World War. But to anyone living before 1918, the title of the Great War was applied to the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in which Britain fought France almost continuously for twenty-two years from 1793 to 1815."[31]

    In Germany, "The Great War" was historically used for the 1618–1648 Thirty Years' War, also known as the "Great German War" or "Great Schism". One of the longest and most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities from military action, violence, famine and plague, the vast majority of them in the German states of the Holy Roman Empire.[32] In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was only surpassed by the period from January to May 1945; its enduring visibility is partly the result of 19th-century Pan-Germanism, as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and a driver in the 1871 creation of the Deutsches Kaiserreich or German Empire.[33] Regardless of terminology, the Thirty Years' War remains the single greatest war trauma in German memory, as demonstrated in debates over naming conventions during the centenary of 1914–1918.[34]

    Other Languages
    Alemannisch: Erster Weltkrieg
    беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Першая сусьветная вайна
    emiliàn e rumagnòl: Prémma guèra mundièl
    Esperanto: Unua mondmilito
    estremeñu: I Guerra Mundial
    Fiji Hindi: World War I
    Gàidhlig: An Cogadh Mòr
    客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Thi-yit-chhṳ Sṳ-kie Thai-chan
    Bahasa Indonesia: Perang Dunia I
    Basa Jawa: Perang Donya I
    къарачай-малкъар: Биринчи дуния къазауат
    Lëtzebuergesch: Éischte Weltkrich
    مازِرونی: جهونی جنگ اول
    Bahasa Melayu: Perang Dunia Pertama
    မြန်မာဘာသာ: ပထမ ကမ္ဘာစစ်
    Dorerin Naoero: Eaket Eb I
    Nedersaksies: Eerste Wealdkrieg
    नेपाल भाषा: तःहताः १
    Nordfriisk: Iarst Wäältkrich
    norsk nynorsk: Den fyrste verdskrigen
    oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Birinchi jahon urushi
    Patois: Wol Waar I
    Plattdüütsch: Eerste Weltkrieg
    qırımtatarca: Birinci Cian cenki
    Simple English: World War I
    slovenščina: Prva svetovna vojna
    Soomaaliga: Dagaalkii koowaad
    српски / srpski: Први светски рат
    srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Prvi svjetski rat
    Basa Sunda: Perang Dunya I
    Türkmençe: Birinji jahan urşy
    ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: بىرىنچى دۇنيا ئۇرۇشى
    vepsän kel’: Ezmäine mail'man voin
    Volapük: Volakrig balid
    žemaitėška: Pėrma svieta vaina