Europe was divided in 1914, split between the Triple Entente and Alliance. Austria-Hungary was part of the Alliance, and their declaration of war against Serbia brought all of Europe into war.

  • The Great War Begins

    Russia was allies with Serbia, and Russian troops quickly approached the Austrian border. Russia also sent troops to the German border because they anticipated that the Germans would help Austria. Germans saw this as a declaration of war and declared war on Russia.

    France tried to join the war against Germany, but Germany acted first. Once Germany declared war on France, Britain declared war on Germany.

    • Nations Take Sides
      • In 1914, Germany and Austria-Hungary were the Central Powers. They were located in the middle of Europe, and Bulgaria and the Ottomans soon joined in.
      • Britain, France, and Russia were the Allied Powers, attracting nations such as Japan and Italy. Italy had been on the other side until they left after accusing Austria of starting the war unjustly.
      • In late 1914, millions of soldiers were at war, expecting a quick victory.
  • A Bloody Stalemate

    Edward Grey predicted that the war would be long. This prediction came true as they were locked into a stalemate in France. This region was called the Western Front.

    • The Conflict Grinds Along
      • Germany had a war on two fronts – France in the west and Russia in the east. Their plan was to quickly beat France and then rush to fight Russia. This Schlieffen Plan needed a quick victory over France.
      • Germany seemed to be winning at first. However, the Allies regrouped and forced the Germans into retreat after 4 days.
      • While this was the first major fight, the First Battle of the Marne was the most important. It ruined the Schlieffen Plan, making victory in the west (France) impossible. Russia had already started to invade Germany. The German leaders moved troops from France to fight Russia, allowing the war on the Western Front to settle into a stalemate.
    • War in the Trenches
      • In 1915, the war moved to the trenches. This type of warfare was extremely deadly and had small gains.
      • Trenches were miserable, swarming with rats and lacking food.
      • The space between trenches was a now mans land, where soldiers would go to try and fight. However, machine-guns would cut them down. Artillery fire hit the trenches along the 500 miles of the western front.
      • Military strategies made war long and deadly, killing more people. By the Battle of Somme, over a half a million people were dead.
      • The Germans gained 4 miles, the British gained 5.
  • The Battle on the Eastern Front

    While the stalemate was killing people on the Western Front, more men were sent to the Eastern Front. Along this German-Russian border, Russians and Serbs fought the Germans and Austrians.

    • Early Fighting
      • Russia was winning at first, but Germany counterattacked. In Tannenberg, the Germans destroyed the Russian army and forced them to retreat in four days.
      • Russians still did better than Austrians, invading deep into Austria. In December, 1914, did Austria finally push the Russians out.
    • Russia Struggles
      • Because they were not industrialized, the Russian army did not have enough supplies. By 1916, they were about to collapse. However, the Russians had huge numbers to keep fighting, tying up German troops and keeping them from fighting the west.
      • As the war dragged on, it spread to Africa and Asia, becoming a world war.