Video:Overview of WWIwith David Wilson
World War I, or The Great War, was fought between 1914 and 1918, with serious repercussions for the whole world. Learn about this brutal and wide-spread war in this history video from About.com.See Transcript
Transcript:Overview of WWI
Hi, my name is David Wilson. I'm an historian and a teacher of U.S. and World History, here today for About.com, and today we're going to be taking a look at an overview of World War I, referred to by many as The Great War.
What Were the Causes of World War I?
World War I was the result of several circumstances, which collided together on June 28, 1914, with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Ferdinand was assassinated by a member of the Black Hand, which was a Serbian Nationalist secret society.
The first World War was due, in large part, to the treaty system of defense that was in place in Europe at this time, and an incredible ignorance of what devastation modern weapons would have on the battlefield.
The Central Powers vs The Allied Powers
The combatants in what would be called The Great War, or the war to end all wars, were identified in one of two groups: the Central Powers, which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire, against the Allied Powers, which were Great Britain, France, Russia, Japan, and later, Italy.
The defense treaty system pulled most of Europe into a war that would cost an estimated ten million deaths and 20 million wounded. The introduction of chemical weapons, machine guns, tanks, barbed wire, new artillery, aircraft, etc., turned the jingoistic fever of August 1914 into a horrific protracted stalemate of battle lines all across the European continent.
The United States' Involvement in World War I
The United States was staunchly neutral as this war raged in Europe. President Wilson was a known Pacifist. What eventually drew the United States into the war was the unrelenting sinking of American merchant ships delivering goods and services to Europe by the Germans.
The United States remained neutral until April 6, 1917, when it declared war on Germany following the sinking of the Lusitania, a passenger ship which had Americans on board.
The End of World War I
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice, which officially ended the fighting in Europe. What would follow was political fighting, whereby the Central Powers were forced to admit sole fault for the conflict of World War I and the reparations system was set up to punish them for all of the costs that the war had incurred for all of the Allied Powers. This situation would inexplicably lead to the causation of World War II due to the fact that it plunged Germany into a politically unstable environment, which led to the formation of the Nazi Party.
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