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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 mobilisation 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, and it also contributed to later genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic, which caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide. 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.

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. 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). 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. 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 in support of Austria-Hungary, with Austria-Hungary following suit on 6th; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August.

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 invaded 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, 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. Bulgaria was the first Central Power to sign an armistice—the Armistice of Salonica on 29 September 1918. On 30 October, the Ottoman Empire capitulated, signing the Armistice of Mudros. On 4 November, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to the Armistice of Villa Giusti. With its allies defeated, 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.

World War I was a significant turning point in the political, cultural, economic, and social climate of the world. As a result of the war, the Russian Empire, the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist. Revolutions and uprisings in the aftermath of the war became widespread, being mainly socialist or anti-colonial in nature. The Big Four (Britain, France, the United States 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 rise of the Nazi Party and their central role in World War II led to a focus on how the Treaty of Versailles affected Germany, but the peace treaties in addition to various secret agreements during the war also transformed borders throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with repercussions that still echo to this day.

Selected event

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The Battle of Gallipoli (sometimes referred to as the first D-Day) took place on the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli from April 1915 to January 1916 during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted in order to eventually capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.

In Turkey the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaşları, after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli, and in France, Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland it is usually known as the "Gallipoli Campaign".

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Selected equipment

Model1917 knuckle duster.jpg

Trench knives are either purpose-made weapons, or are made from cut-down (shortened) bayonets or swords, and intended for close-quarter fighting, the design originating in the trench warfare of the First World War. They were particularly useful for trench raiding operations, along with other mêlée weapons.

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Selected quote

The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Edward Grey, July 1914

Selected image

Slawa.jpg

The Russian battleship Slawa, crippled by German gunfire and sinking off Ösel, Baltic Sea, October 1917.

Photo credit: Image taken from Der Weltkrieg in seiner rauen Wirklichkeit. Original photographer unknown.

Selected biography

Brusilov Aleksei in 1917.jpg
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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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)

Things you can do

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

Attention needed
...to referencing and citation  • ...to coverage and accuracy  • ...to structure  • ...to grammar  • ...to supporting materials 
Popular pages
Full list
Cleanup needed
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 for Baby 700Battle 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 IsonzoThird 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 deSecond attack on Anzac Cove
Images needed
Add an article here!
Merging needed
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 BairLanding at Suvla BayBattle of Gully RavineBattle of Kumkale
Translation needed 
de:Schlacht in den Karpaten (Large battle in the Carpathians) • fr:Mémorial Interallié

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