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, and off the coast of South and North America

Allied Powers victory

  • Formation of new countries in Europe and the Middle East
  • Transfer of German colonies and regions of the former Ottoman Empire to other powers
  • Belligerents
    Allied Powers
    Central Powers
    Commanders and leaders
    Allied leadersCentral 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
    • 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.

    British Empire 908,000 killed[5]
    French Third Republic 1,135,000 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Italy 650,000 killed[5]
    Russian Empire 1,700,000 killed[5]
    Kingdom of Romania 335,000 killed[5]
    Belgium 87,500 killed[5]
    United States 116,000 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 1,800,000 killed[5]
    Austria-Hungary 1,200,000 killed[5]
    Ottoman Empire 325,000 killed[5]

    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",[6] more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.[7][8] 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.[9]

    The war drew in all the world's economic great powers,[10] 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.[11] 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[12][13] 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.[14] 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.[15][16]

    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,[17] 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.


    From the time of its start until the approach of World War II, the First World War was called simply the World War or the Great War and thereafter the First World War or World War I.[18][19] At the time, it was also sometimes called "the war to end war" or "the war to end all wars" due to its then-unparalleled scale and devastation.[20]

    In Canada, Maclean's magazine in October 1914 wrote, "Some wars name themselves. This is the Great War."[21] During the interwar period (1918–1939), the war was most often called the World War and the Great War in English-speaking countries.

    The term "First World War" was first used in September 1914 by the 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,"[22] citing a wire service report in The Indianapolis Star on 20 September 1914. After the onset of the Second World War in 1939, the terms World War I or the First World War became standard, with British and Canadian historians favouring the First World War, and Americans World War I.[23]

    In the introduction to his book, Waterloo in 100 Objects, historian Gareth Glover 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."[24] In 1911, the historian John Holland Rose published a book titled William Pitt and the Great War.

    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