Timeline of World War I

What started as a war between two nations after the assassination of Francis Ferdinand, spread across Europe and many other countries. It lasted for four years and was known as the Great War or World War. When another war ensued in 1939, this war was called World War I.

1914
June 28th Assassination of Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo
July 5th Germany’s Kaiser William II declares support for Austria
July 28th Declaration of war on Serbia by Austria
August 1st Germany’s declaration of war on Russia
August 3rd Invasion of Belgium and declaration of war on France by Germany. Germany forced to execute Schlieffen Plan.
August 4th Britain also enters with its declaration of war on Germany
August 23rd France is invaded by Germany. Retreat of BEF from Mons.
August 26th Defeat of the Russian troops at Tannenburg and Masurian Lakes.
September 6th Day one of the Battle of the Marne
October 18th First Battle of Ypres
October 29th Turkey Joins Germany. Domination of the trench war especially in the Western Front.

By the end of the first year most of the European countries had joined the war and were fighting together or against each other. Russia was also pulled into the war to fight against Germany. Very early in 1915 the Zeppelin raid took place in Britain which saw more attacks from Britain.

1915
January 19th Turkish forts in Dardanelles bombarded by Britain
February 19th Landing of Allied troops in Gallipoli
April 25th Sinking of “Lusitania” by a German U-boat
May 7th Italy joins by declaring war on Austria and Germany
May 23rd Warsaw captured by the Germans captured from the Russians
August 5th Beginning of Battle of Loos
September 25th Commencement of the evacuation of Gallipoli by the Allies

1916 saw one of the bloodiest and longest battles. Battle of Verdun that started in January went on till December.

1916 Conscription introduced in Britain

January 27th Battle of Verdun- the longest battle started
February 21st Surrender of British forces at Kut in Mesopotamia to Turkish forces
April 29th Battle of Jutland starts
May 31st Brusilov Offensive starts
June 4th The British and French offensive Battle of the Somme starts
July 1st Brusilov Offensive comes to an end
August 10th Tanks used en masse for the first time at the Somme
September 15th Lloyd George becomes British Prime Minister

1917 saw USA joining the war and also signs of the war coming to an end.

1917 Submarine warfare of Germany started without any restrictions

February 1st USA enters with its declaration of war on Germany
April 6th Unsuccessful offensive on the Western Front by France
April 16th Third Battle at Ypres begins
July 31st The Italian Army faces heavy defeat in the Battle of Caporetto
October 24th Major offensive by the British on the Western Front
November 6th Victory at Cambrai by the British with tank power
November 20th Germany and Russia sign armistice
December 5th Turks defeated by British who capture Jerusalem

The war came to an end this year. Heavy losses on both sides, mutinies and outbreak of influenza were the main reasons for the war coming to an end. The famous Treaty of Versailles was signed.

1918 Russia and Germany sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

March 3rd Somme break through for Germany
March 21st Marshall Foch becomes the Commander for the Allies on the Western Front
March 29th Flanders offensive started by Germany
April 9th Beginning of Second Battle of the Marne. German Army collapse starts.
July 15th Successful advance of the Allies
August 8th At Megiddo Turkish forces collapse
September 19th Germany request Allies for peace agreement
October 4th Mutiny in Germany’s navy
October 29th Turkey makes peace
October 30th Austria makes peace
November 3rd Abdication by Kaiser William II
November 9th Official announcement of the end of war. Armistice signed between Germany and the Allies

Post-war – 1919

January 4th German naval fleet which surrendered at Scapa Flow ruined.
June 21st The famous Treaty of Versailles signed by the Germans.

What Kind Of A Nation Was Germany Before World War I?

Germany was not politically controlled before World War I. It had autocratic governance before World War I. The emperor had absolute power and could appoint or fire the chancellor (prime minister).The emperor was the head of the country but it was actually controlled by the General Staff of the army. They were the most important people or the ‘central brains’ of the army. So we can say that Germany was imperialistic and militaristic. Just 50 years before the war Germany had unified all the German speaking states and had become very patriotic. It was the brilliant Otto Von Bismarck who played a key role in the unification of Germany.

German nationalism rallied around language, culture, race and power. It had decisive leaders, good economy and was forerunner in technological developments. The most prized development was its advanced army and navy. This was the gift from its latest member state Prussia. It had a first class education system which was adapted in many other countries. They made outstanding contributions in research and foreign scholars had to learn German to keep abreast with the developments in Germany. The autocratic rule was its bane as the rulers became very ambitious seeing their progress in other fields. They wanted to extend their power to other parts of Europe.

The Ambitious Nature Of Bismarck And The Kaiser (Germany)

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Otto Von Bismarck can be called the architect of unified Germany. The Kaiser of Germany was vested with all powers and he could appoint or dismiss his ministers including the chancellor. But Wilhelm I the Kaiser during this period gave full powers to Bismarck and it was Bismarck autocratic rule that was seen in Germany for seventeen years. Bismarck was a competent statesman and had a clear understanding of European politics. He maintained good diplomatic ties with the European countries and Russia to avoid war. At the same time he strengthened his army and naval forces. Bismarck did not allow democracy to take roots and he also discriminated the minority groups very strongly.

When Wilhelm II was crowned the new emperor or Kaiser of Germany, Bismarck realized he was on his way out. The new Kaiser was highly ambitious and wanted to spread the German stronghold. He did not believe in the foreign policies followed by Bismarck. When the period of peace with Russia ended, he did not renew the peace agreement. Within two years after Wilhelm’s II enthronement Bismarck was edged out of the chancellor’s post. Though there was rapid progress in many areas within the country, the ambitious foreign policy of the Kaiser was to bring about war that was the first of its kind the world had ever seen.

What Kind Of A Nation Was Austria Before World War I?

Before World War I Austria was ruled by Francis Ferdinand who wanted to bring in some progressive reforms in the country. Earlier in the Austro-Prussian War of 1886, Austria lost to Prussia. Austria was evicted from the German Confederation and the Confederation was now led by Prussia and its brilliant statesman Otto Von Bismarck. Austria was forced to admit equal status to Hungary, a partner of the empire. They allied with Germany for they feared the attack from the Russian side, which was their main enemy. Austria – Hungary Empire was built and formed on compromise in the year 1867. It was known as the ‘dual monarchy’.

This kind of ruling was unheard of but there were some factors that kept the empire together. One was the loyalty to the Francis Joseph who was the emperor. He was popular and since he knew many languages, most of the people could relate to him. Religion was another factor and most of the people on the Austrian and Hungarian side were Catholics. There was a domination of Germans in civil and army in both the halves of the country. There was a decline in power after Prussian defeat, however the ties with Germany strengthened.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand was born on December 18th 1863 in Graz, Austria. He became the Archduke and was the natural choice for the throne after the death of emperor’s son, Prince Rudolf. He was a proud man, not very cultured and short tempered. None of these qualities qualified him to be the king, yet he became the king. He was married to Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg , much against the wishes of Franz Josef, the Emperor. As a family man he was good husband and a responsible father. He was assassinated on June 28th 1914.

Before the war it was Franz Ferdinand who held the helm of affairs though there was dual monarchy. Some of his policies were unpopular and brash. He wanted to replace the dual monarchy with ‘Trialism’ where he wanted the Slav’s to have equal voice like the Germans and Magyars. To prevent the Austria – Hungary empire’s fall he wanted to form a federation of the states but this was not welcomed by the elite group. Bosnia and Herzegovina which was under Austria’s administration was annexed in 1908. This move did not find any followers and the aspirants for Greater Serbia were enraged. The plan to assassinate was set into motion and he was killed in 1914 and this formed the immediate cause for the World War I.

What Kind Of A Nation Was Italy Before World War I?

Italian history dates back to 9th century BC and over many centuries Italy dominated the European continent especially in art, culture, religion and philosophy. The Renaissance which started in Tuscany slowly spread to other parts of Italy. Great rulers and great heroic stories have emerged from Italy. The Mediterranean and Western Europe was dominated by the Roman Empire. The cause for the fall of the Roman Empire and the destruction of many of its cities is still not clear. Napoleon Bonaparte captured many parts of Italy and ruled it as a part of the French empire.

Italy was fragmented for many centuries and the unification happened in the nineteenth century. The so called Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861 and it soon became a powerful and modern kingdom with ambitious colonial plans. It set up its colonies along the Mediterranean and in many parts of Africa. However the south regions remained poor and it is from here that the Italian diaspora originated. For a long time Italy did not partake in the war and only in 1915 she joined hand with the Britain to become a part of the Allied Powers. The Allied Powers won World War I which meant victory for Italy as well.

What Kind Of A Nation Was Serbia Before World War I?

Serbia like other European countries has a past that dates back to pre historic times. There are couple of theories of how Slavs developed as a tribe. Sklavinia was formed by the Slavs in the 6th century. By the thirteenth century a kingdom and church was organised. During the middle of the 16th century the Serbian realms disappeared and this was mainly due to feudal fights and the conquest of the Ottoman Empire. After the Russo – Turkish war in 1878 Serbia became an independent country which was internationally recognised. Two dynasties ruled over Serbia and this period saw economic progress and development of art and culture.

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Serbia was against the unification of Bulgaria and launched an attack on Bulgaria. But they were defeated despite having skilled commanders and better weapons. Statehood was conferred on the Kingdom of Serbia during the latter half of the 19th century. In 1903 King Petar I occupied the throne. He was a liberal king who introduced a democratic constitution. There was political freedom in Serbia under the reign of King Petar I. The progressive thoughts and the peaceful times were interrupted by the liberation wars. It was the group in Serbia that assassinated Ferdinand which to the world war I.

The Black Hand (Rebel Group)

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria – Hungary wanted to annexe Serbia into their kingdom. Serbia which had enjoyed the status of kingdom for many years did not like this move. Though the administration was being done by Austria they did not belong to the dual monarchy group. This move by the Ferdinand brought about a lot of ill will and the plan was to kill Ferdinand on his visit to Serbia. It is recorded that a grenade was thrown at the car but it did not kill Ferdinand. When the mayor welcomed him in the city hall he is said to have interrupted the speech to show his displeasure at the incident.

The unsuspecting Archduke later fell to the bullets of gang which claimed itself to be the Black Hand, a rebel group. The officials said they were not responsible for the assassination and put the blame on Black Hand. The death of the Ferdinand is a minor incident but it set off the First World War. Austria declared war on Serbia at the insistence of Germany. The work of the Black Hand did eventually prove good for Serbia because they were given the statehood at the end of the war in 1918.

What Was The Triple Entente Signed Before World War I?

On August 31 1907 the Anglo –Russian Entente was signed and this was later called the Triple Entente. Three countries had come into a friendly agreement and they were Britain, France and Russia. They were also supported by Japan and Portugal but the main players were the first three countries. This was done to counter the Alliance made by Germany, Austria- Hungary and Italy. But Italy later on nullified this agreement and had secretly agreed to support France. This Triple Entente and Triple Alliance were giving the indications of a World War and a small incident like assassination Of Archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked off the war.

The Triple Entente united the three enemies. Unlike the Triple Alliance the Triple Entente did not want the any country to fight for them. It was a moral obligation to support them during war times. There was no scope for settling disputes through dialogues during those times .Only military supremacy was seen as means to peace times. So this agreement was to garner their military strength to be prepared against the growing power of Germany. Smaller alliances were charted out between two countries but the Triple Entente gave a boost to these alliances and it finally won them the war.

What Was The Triple Alliance Signed Before World War I?

The first major alliance between some European countries was signed in May 1882 and the countries were Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. This alliance which was called Triple Alliance was renewed regularly till World War I. Germany and Austria-Hungary were already in such an agreement from 1879. Italy joined them seeking support for her colonial extension is North Africa. France also wanted to spread its colonies in North Africa and they attacked Italy. So in this pact Germany, Austria-Hungary agreed to support Italy in case of war against but unprovoked by Italy. This meant they would not support in colonial expansion.

Italy would help if Germany was attacked by France. In case of war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Italy would abstain, but the Austrian forces posted at the Austria-Italian border would be called back for the war. When the treaty was renewed in 1887, Germany gave an empty promise of helping Italy in the colonial expansion in North Africa. Notwithstanding this treaty Italy was never comfortable with Austria-Hungary and on November 1, 1902, Italy reached an understanding with France stating that both would remain neutral in case of attack from any other country. The Triple Alliance, including Italy was renewed in 1907 and 1912 but Italy went on to support the countries of Triple Entente during World War I.

Why Was Britain Threatened By Germany In The Early 1900s?

Britain over many centuries had been spreading its colonisation and had become so powerful that there was a saying “The sun never sets on the British Empire”. This was true because her empire spread from Australia to Africa and the sun was seen at some part of the empire all through the year. She was the super power of the world. Germany, meanwhile was slowly gaining power. Once Prussia was annexed their military power increased and under the able statesmanship of Otto Von Bismarck, Germany strengthened the country and its foreign policies. Britain was watching that in the wars with other countries like Denmark and France, Germany was victorious.

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A cold war developed and Britain had to fortify her military and naval forces. The colonial plans were also expanding and India was her biggest source of man power and money. During the early twentieth century Germany had colonies in Africa and was showing signs of colonising North Africa which was mostly controlled by France and Britain. Thus Britain saw Germany as a great threat to the country and also as a threat to her colonial ambitions therefore strengthened the armed forces. The country which was described as ‘Splendid Isolation’ for its sheer power was now shaken with the rapid growth of Germany.

What Was The Immediate Cause Of World War I?

Countries in Europe were working in two different directions. One was strengthening the armed forces with the latest weapons and training of the army personnel. The other was trying to get a foothold in other countries like Africa, India and other eastern countries. They perceived threats from one another and started forming alliances. Germany and Austria-Hungary was one, Russia and Serbia and so on. Serbia was one of the minor powers in this area and Austria wanted Serbia to be annexed to Austria. There were protests from the Serbians as they were highly nationalistic and wanted to have their own state.

Military empowerment in that area also was one of the reasons for the war. Britain was the super power and by early nineteenth century Germany was fast approaching the state of super power. The immediate cause was the assassination of Ferdinand. Archduke Franz Ferdinand proposed the accession of Serbia and he was assassinated by the Black Hand, a rebel group in Serbia. Austria declared war on Serbia. When Germany knew that Russia would come to the help of Serbia, she declared war on Russia supporting Austria. Then the countries which had earlier signed the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente came to the help of their member countries and it soon became a world War.

Where Was World War I Fought? (Regions And Battle Fronts)

The World War I began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the rebel group in Serbia. Austria took this opportunity to declare and then it slowly spread to different countries in Europe. The war which lasted for four years was fought in different terrains. South –west Belgium and north-east and eastern France were some of the main battle fronts. Battles happened at sea level, on mountain peaks, on sand dunes and mountain ranges. The terrains included canals, valleys, cliffs, plains, forests, swamps, sand, clay, mountains and ridges. The terrains also affected the decision in the battle and the strategy was changed according to the terrain.

The German army crossed the neutral Belgium to enter into Walloon which was dominated by the French. Antwerp, one of Belgium’s fortified ports was under siege. The sandy Belgian coast was occupied by the Germans. The battle of Yser was fought close to the English Channel. So also the battle of Ypres was fought in West-Flanders in Belgium. The Loretto Heights and the Vimy ridge gave an excellent view to the manoeuvre the army. The province of Picardy had chalk downs and River Somme was a marshy valley where the enemies fought. The city of Verdun and Marne were other important places where fierce battles were fought.

How And When Did World War I Come To An End?

Death of millions of people, mutinies and epidemics combined with empty treasury and frustration were some of the main reasons that led to the end of World War I. The country which took the offensive stance, Germany, was defeated badly after initial victories. On November 11, 1918, a proper cease fire was declared but it was seven months later that a treaty was signed between countries belonging to Triple Alliance and Triple Entente. The treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28th 1919 and this treaty dealt a heavy blow to the already depleted treasury of Germany.

Germany was delivered or rather the term of the treaty came to an end on October 3, 2010 and some say this is the date when the war came to an end. It is only now that Germany is relieved of the payment given to cover the damages of the war. There were many critics to this treat saying it was a raw deal and the critics say that it was this treaty that paved way for the Second World War. When Germany began to crumble, the Kaiser abdicated and went into exile. Then a German republic was declared and when the messages of peace were sent out, it was quickly accepted by the German Republic.