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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", it led to the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. An estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a direct result of the war, while it is also considered a contributory factor in a number of genocides and the 1918 influenza epidemic, which caused between 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide. Military losses were exacerbated by new technological and industrial developments and the tactical stalemate caused by grueling 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 the Second World War about twenty years later.

By 1914, the European powers 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, while many of the terms of both agreements were informal and contradicted by others; for example, Italy renewed the Triple Alliance in 1902 but secretly agreed with France to remain neutral if it was attacked by Germany. As the war widened, the Entente added Italy, Japan and eventually the United States to form the Allied Powers, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined Germany and Austria to create the Central Powers.

Between 1908 and 1914, the Balkans had been destabilised by the combination of a weakened Ottoman Empire, the 1912–1913 Balkan Wars and competing Russian and Austro-Hungarian objectives. On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to a diplomatic crisis. On 23 July, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia; interlocking alliances quickly drew in all the major European powers with their respective colonial empires and the conflict rapidly spread across the globe.

On 25 July, the Russian government issued orders for the 'period preparatory to war'; after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on the 28th, partial mobilisation was approved of the military districts nearest to Austria, including Kiev, Kazan, Odessa and Moscow. 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. When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on 1 August, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August. French entry into the war stemmed from a combination of the desire to regain the provinces of Alsace-Lorraine ceded after the 1870–1871 Franco-Prussian War, concern at Germany's increasing power and military commitments agreed with Russia.

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. On 2 August, Germany demanded free passage through Belgium, an essential element in achieving a quick victory over France. 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. On 12 August, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary; on the 23rd, the Empire of Japan joined the Allied Powers, seizing the opportunity to expand its sphere of influence by capturing German possessions in China and the Pacific. On 24 August, Serbia won a major victory over the Austro-Hungarians at the Battle of Cer.

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. On the Eastern Front, two Russian armies entered East Prussia on 17 August, in compliance with their 1912 agreement with France to attack Germany within 15 days of mobilisation. The Germans were forced to divert troops from the West, but successfully repulsed this invasion by victories at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes; however, the Russians occupied the Austro-Hungarian province of Eastern Galicia.

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. Romania joined the Allied Powers in 1916. 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 and the creation of the Soviet Socialist Republic. Russian military resistance collapsed, allowing the transfer of large numbers of German troops to the Western Front and in April, 1918, Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Central Powers. The German March 1918 Offensive was initially successful but the Allies rallied and drove them back in the Hundred Days Offensive; on 28 September, German military leaders asked for an Armistice. 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 impacted Germany but it also transformed large parts of Europe and the Middle East, in ways that remain relevant today.

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The Brusilov Offensive (Russian: Брусиловский прорыв) was the greatest Russian feat of arms during World War I, and among the most lethal battles in world history. It was a major offensive against the armies of the Central Powers on the Eastern Front, launched on June 4, 1916 and lasting until early August. It took place in what today is Ukraine, in the general vicinity of the towns of Lemberg, Kovel, and Lutsk. The offensive was named after the Russian commander in charge of the Southwestern Front, Aleksei Brusilov.

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Selected equipment

The Paris Gun (German: Parisgeschütz) was the name of an artillery piece with which the Germans bombarded Paris during World War I. This oversized railway gun was used from March to August 1918. When it was used, Parisians believed they were being bombed by an airship, because neither the sound of an airplane nor of a gun could be heard. It was the largest gun used during the war, and is considered to be a supergun.

Also called the "Kaiser Wilhelm Geschütz" (Kaiser Wilhelm Gun), it is often confused with Big Bertha, the howitzer used by the Germans against the Liège forts in 1914, and indeed the French called it by this name as well. It is also confused with the smaller "Langer Max" (Long Max) cannons from which it was derived. Although the famous Krupp-family artillery makers produced all these guns, the resemblance ended there.

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"I look upon him as the greatest criminal known for having plunged the world into war."
George V of the United Kingdom, November 1918

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A Gotha G.II bomber. Only ten were built before the aircraft was withdrawn due to repeated engine failures, but it set the pattern for the Gotha G.III through G.V bombers, with 460 more built for the later marks.

Public domain photograph, original source unknown.

Selected biography

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Aleksei Alekseevich Brusilov (Russian: Алексе́й Алексе́евич Бруси́лов) (August 19, 1853–March 17, 1926) was a Russian cavalry general most noted for the development of a military offensive tactic used in the Brusilov offensive of 1916. During the planning and preparations stages Brusilov's team created innovative methods of attack that anticipated Germany's effective infiltration tactics of 1918. The Brusilov offensive by the Russian 8th Army was one of the most important Russian campaigns during World War I with Austria–Hungary losing a staggering total of 1.5 million men in its aftermath and 25,000 square kilometres of territory.

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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
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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
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Spring OffensiveHundred Days OffensiveAsian and Pacific theatre of World War I1st Canadian Tunnelling CompanyBattle of Chunuk Bair
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de:Schlacht in den Karpaten (Large battle in the Carpathians) • fr:Mémorial Interallié

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