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Portal:World War I

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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", more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. Over nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the war (including the victims of a number of genocides), a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and the tactical stalemate caused by gruelling trench warfare. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and precipitated major political change, 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 the Second World War twenty-one years later.

The war drew in all the world's economic great powers, assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) versus the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.

The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia and, as a result, entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks the major powers were at war, and the conflict soon spread around the world.

Russia was the first to order a partial mobilisation of its armies on 24–25 July, and when on 28 July Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia declared general mobilisation on 30 July. Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia to demobilise, and when this was refused, declared war on Russia on 1 August. Being outnumbered on the Eastern Front, Russia urged its Triple Entente ally France to open up a second front in the west.

Japan entered the war on the side of the Allies on 23 August 1914, seizing the opportunity of Germany's distraction with the European War to expand its sphere of influence in China and the Pacific.

Over forty years earlier in 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had ended the Second French Empire and France had ceded the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine to a unified Germany. Bitterness over that defeat and the determination to retake Alsace-Lorraine made the acceptance of Russia's plea for help an easy choice, so France began full mobilisation on 1 August and, on 3 August, Germany declared war on France. The border between France and Germany was heavily fortified on both sides so, according to the Schlieffen Plan, Germany then invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France from the north, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany on 4 August due to their violation of Belgian neutrality.

After the German march on Paris was halted in the Battle of the Marne, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that changed little until 1917. On the Eastern Front, the Russian army led a successful campaign against the Austro-Hungarians, but the Germans stopped its invasion of East Prussia in the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. 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 Allies and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers. Romania joined the Allies in 1916. After the sinking of seven US merchant ships by German submarines, and the revelation that the Germans were trying to get Mexico to make war on the United States, the US declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917.

The Russian government collapsed in March 1917 with the February Revolution, and the October Revolution followed by a further military defeat brought the Russians to terms with the Central Powers via the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which granted the Germans a significant victory. After the stunning German Spring Offensive along the Western Front in the spring of 1918, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in the successful Hundred Days Offensive. On 4 November 1918, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti, and Germany, which had its own trouble with revolutionaries, agreed to an armistice on 11 November 1918, ending the war in victory for the Allies.

By the end of the war or soon after, the German Empire, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. National borders were redrawn, with nine independent nations restored or created, and Germany's colonies were parcelled out among the victors. During the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the Big Four powers (Britain, France, the United States and Italy) imposed their terms in a series of treaties. The League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict. This effort failed, and economic depression, renewed nationalism, weakened successor states, and feelings of humiliation (particularly in Germany) eventually contributed to the start of World War II.

Selected event

Treaty of Versailles, English version.jpg

The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Central Powers and the German Empire. After six months of negotiations, which took place at the Paris Peace Conference, the treaty was signed as a follow-up to the armistice signed on November 11th, 1918 in the Compiègne Forest (which had put an end to the actual fighting). Although there were many provisions in the treaty, one of the more important and recognized provisions required Germany to accept full responsibility for causing the war and, under the terms of articles 231-247, make reparations to certain countries that had formed the Allies.

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Selected equipment

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The Webley Revolver (also known/referred to as the Webley Break-Top Revolver or Webley Self-Extracting Revolver) was, in various marks, the standard issue service pistol for the armed forces of the United Kingdom, the British Empire, and the Commonwealth from 1887 until 1963.

The Webley service revolver was most notably used in World War I (as the Webley Mk VI), although it had actually been adopted in 1887 (as the Webley Mk I) and risen to prominence during the Boer War of 1899-1902 (as the Webley Mk IV), and were of the "top-break" variety (breaking open much like a double-barrel shotgun to be reloaded), with the advantage of also being self-extracting—the act of breaking the revolver open also operated the extractor, removing the spent cartridges from the cylinder.

Firing the hard-hitting .455 Webley cartridge, the Webley service revolvers are the most powerful of the top-break revolvers ever produced. Although the .455 calibre Webley is no longer in military service, the .38/200 Webley Mk IV variant is still sporadically in use as a police sidearm in a number of countries.

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Selected quote

"Our life here is truly hellish. Fortunately, my soldiers are very brave and tougher than the enemy. What is more, their private beliefs make it easier to carry out orders which send them to their death. They see only two supernatural outcomes: victory for the faith or martyrdom. Do you know what the second means? It is to go straight to heaven. There, the houris, God's most beautiful women, will meet them and will satisfy their desires for all eternity. What great happiness!"
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 20 July 1917

Selected picture

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German troops pose with a captured British Mark II tank, April 1917.

Photo credit: Personal photograph, source unknown.

Selected biography

Armando Diaz.jpg
Armando Diaz (December 5, 1861–February 29, 1928) was an Italian general and a Marshal of Italy. On the outbreak of the World War I, he was assigned to the high command as head of the unit's operations under General Luigi Cadorna. He was promoted to 2-star general in June, 1916, and assumed the command of the 49th division and then the 23rd army corps. The Battle of Caporetto, in October 1917, was disastrous to the army, and on November 8, 1917, he was called to succeed Cadorna as chief of general staff. Recovered what remained of the army, he organized the resistance on Mount Grappa and at the Battle of the Piave River. In 1918 he led the Italian troops in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, and in his famous bollettino della Vittoria (Victory Address) he communicated the rout of the Austrian army and success of the Italians.

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Did you know...?

  • ...that the Lake Tanganyika passenger ferry MV Liemba began its life as a German warship in World War I, spent eight years on the bottom of the lake, and later portrayed the Empress Luisa in the film The African Queen?

Major topics

Theatres Main events Specific articles Participants See also

Prelude:
Causes
Sarajevo assassination
July Ultimatum

Main theatres:
Western Front
Eastern Front
Italian Front
Middle Eastern Theatre
Balkan Theatre
Atlantic Theatre

Other theatres:
African Theatre
Pacific Theatre

General timeline:
WWI timeline

1914:
German invasion of Belgium
Battle of Liège
Battle of Tannenberg
Invasion of Serbia
First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of Arras
Battle of Sarikamish
Battle of the Vistula River
Battle of Łódź (1914)
1915:
Mesopotamian campaign
Gallipoli Campaign
Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes
Defense of Van (1915)
Great Retreat (Russian)
Italian Campaign
Conquest of Serbia
1916:
Erzurum Offensive
Battle of Verdun
Lake Naroch Offensive
Trebizond Campaign
Battle of the Somme
Battle of Jutland
Brusilov Offensive
Conquest of Romania
Great Arab Revolt
1917:
Capture of Baghdad
Second Battle of Arras
Battle of Passchendaele
Battle of Caporetto
Conquest of Palestine
1918:
Spring Offensive
Battle of Sardarabad
Hundred Days Offensive
Meuse-Argonne Offensive
Armistice with Germany
Armistice with Ottoman Empire

Military engagements
Naval warfare
Air warfare
Cryptography
Poison gas
Railways
Technology
Trench warfare
Partition of Ottoman Empire

Civilian impact and atrocities:
Armenian Genocide
Assyrian genocide
Greek genocide

Aftermath:
Aftermath
Casualties
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Paris Peace Conference
Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of St. Germain
Treaty of Neuilly
Treaty of Trianon
Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Lausanne
League of Nations

Entente Powers
 Russian Empire
France French Third Republic
 British Empire
  » United Kingdom United Kingdom
  » Australia Australia
  » Canada Canada
  »  India
  » New Zealand New Zealand
  »  South Africa
Kingdom of Italy Italy
Kingdom of Romania Romania
 United States
Kingdom of Serbia Serbia
Portugal Portugal
Republic of China (1912–1949) Republic of China
Empire of Japan Japan
Belgium Belgium
 Montenegro
Greece Greece
Armenia Armenia
more…

Central Powers
German Empire German Empire
 Austria-Hungary
 Ottoman Empire
Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria

A war to end all wars
Female roles
Literature
Total war
Spanish flu
Veterans

Contemporaneous conflicts:
Mexican Revolution (1910-20)
First Balkan War (1912-13)
Second Balkan War (1913)
Maritz Rebellion (1914-15)
Easter Rising (1916)
Pancho Villa Expedition (1916-17)
Russian Revolution (1917)
Russian Civil War (1917–21)
Finnish Civil War (1918)
North Russia Intervention (1918–19)
Greater Poland Uprising (1918–19)
Polish–Soviet War (1919-21)
Irish War of Independence also known as the Anglo-Irish War (1919–21)
Turkish War of Independence also known as the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22)
Irish Civil War (1922–23)

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From the World War I task force of the Military history WikiProject:

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Adriatic Campaign of World War IAtlantic U-boat campaign of World War IBalkans Campaign (World War I)Battle of Belleau WoodBattle of Gully RavineBattle of PozièresBattle of Sari BairEastern Front (World War I)Italian Front (World War I)Robert NivelleSerbian Campaign of World War ISouth-West Africa CampaignLanding at Suvla BayMax von Boehn (General)Johannes von EbenNaval operations in the Dardanelles CampaignNaval warfare in the Mediterranean during World War IScottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service
Requested articles 
Bombardment of SamogneuxSrem offensive (1914)Otto von Lauenstein deGeorg Fuchs (General) deGötz von König deBlack Sea Campaign (World War I)Battle of Augustów (1914)Battle of the NeteBattle of MusallaBattle of Qasr-i-ShirinBattle of QomBattle of HamadanOccupation of TabrizAffair of Umm at TubalBattle of al-SamnBattle of NamacurraMakombe rebellionBarue uprisingEttore MambrettiPhilippe Henri Joseph d'AnselmePaul LebloisAuguste Clément GérômeHristo BurmovPanagiotis GargalidisGeorgios LeonardopoulosKonrad von HippelHermann von ZiegesarPaul von Kneussl
Expansion needed  
Battle of BehobehoBattle of Cambrai (1918)Battle of CaporettoBattle of Courtrai (1918)Battle of DodomaBattle of DutumiBattle of KaheBattle of Kiawe BridgeBattle of Kibata (1916)Battle of Kibata (1917)Battle of KidodiBattle of KilosaBattle of KimbarambaBattle of Krithia VineyardBattle of LukiguraBattle of the Lys (1918)Battle of MpotonaBattle of NambanjeBattle of MahiwaBattle of MatamondoBattle of MlaliBattle of MorogoroBattle of MkalamoBattle of Mouquet FarmBattle of NarungombeBattle of the NekBattle of NjinjoOccupation of German SamoaBattle of RumboSamarrah OffensiveBattle of Scimitar HillBattle of SharqatBattle of St. Quentin CanalBattle of UteteBattle of WamiBattle of the WazzirDemilitarisationFirst Battle of Villers-BretonneuxSecond Battle of KrithiaSecond Battle of KutSecond Battle of the IsonzoSecond Battle of MorlancourtThird Battle of KrithiaThird Battle of the IsonzoFifth Battle of the IsonzoSeventh Battle of the IsonzoNinth Battle of the IsonzoTenth Battle of the IsonzoOperation Marne-RheimsJoseph B. SanbornRobert Kosch de
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Fiction based on World War I -> World War I in popular culture
Citations needed  
Spring OffensiveHundred Days OffensiveAsian and Pacific theatre of World War I1st Canadian Tunnelling CompanyBattle of Chunuk Bair
Translation needed 
de:Schlacht in den Karpaten (Large battle in the Carpathians) • fr:Mémorial Interallié

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