World History

















































World War I

World War I was fought mostly in Europe.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Europe’s competing nations were as quarrelsome as ever. Nationalism and imperialism increased tensions and conflict among the Great Powers of Europe as they competed for military power and colonial possessions. European countries strengthened their armies and navies and formed alliances so they would have friends in case of war. These entangling alliances meant that a quarrel between any two nations could drag more countries into the conflict. Europe was a powder keg waiting to explode.

entangling alliances = an alliance (friendship) with another country that could lead to trouble because you might feel obligated to come to their aid in a time of crisis.

The spark that ignited World War I came from the Balkans, a region of many cultures and ethnic groups north of Greece that included the nation of Serbia. In August 1914, a young Serbian nationalist, hoping to trigger an uprising of Serbs living in Austria, assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Austria blamed Serbia for the attack and declared war on Serbia.

World War I = a major war in Europe between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers that lasted from 1914 to 1918.

Balkans = the countries of southeast Europe, located on the Balkan Peninsula.

Serbia = a country on the Balkan Peninsula. Its capital city is Belgrade. After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist in 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, sparking World War I.

Austria-Hungary (Austro-Hungarian Empire) = an empire that existed in Central Europe for just more than 50 years, from 1867 to 1918. It was the countries of Austria and Hungary ruled by a single monarch.

Serbia’s friend Russia declared war on Austria, and the system of entangling alliances kicked in trapping Europe in an unstoppable chain of events. Six weeks after the assassination, much of Europe was at war. The alliance led by Russia, France, and Britain, was known as the Allied Powers; the alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Turkish Ottoman Empire was called the Central Powers. With enemies on both sides, the Central Powers had to fight a war on two fronts. The fighting in Belgium and France was the Western Front; the war in Russia was the Eastern Front. Patriotic young men from both sides eagerly enlisted for the fight. They expected it to be all over by Christmas.

Allied Powers = the alliance of Great Britain, France, Russia, and a number of other countries in World War I. They fought against the Central Powers, headed by Germany. The U.S. entered the war in 1917 on the side of the Allied Powers, helping achieve victory in 1918.

Central Powers = the alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), and a number of other countries in World War One. They were defeated by the Allied Powers.