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IAS Mains General Studies 1 Notes: First World War (1914-1918)

Last Updated - December 29, 2016

World War I also known as the First World War or the Great War originated in Europe on July 28, 1914 and lasted till November 11, 1918. It is one of the largest wars in the history of world in which more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million European people, were mobilised. The war costed lives of  over 9 million combatants and  7 million civilians.

The war was  one of the most brutal and  deadliest conflicts that happened  in the  history of the world. The war changed the political scenario of the world and paved way for number of revolutions in many of the involved nations .The war was between the two groups: Allies and Central Powers. The Allies included Triple Entente: Britain, France and Russia whereas the Central Power included Germany and Austria-Hungary

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The main causes of the First World War

There were 4 main causes of the World War I namely militarism, imperialism, alliances and nationalism. The World War I was a direct consequence of these 4 causes, however, it was triggered by when the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Bosnian revolutionary “Gavrilo Princip”.

The two were assassinated on June 28, 1914 and the world war I began immediately after this event on August 1914. The main causes are elaborated below:

Militarism: It is one of the main causes of the war .The World War 1 was an "arms race" of Britain, France and Germany. The countries were competing die hard to build the largest armies and navies. The “arms race” was taken so seriously that between the year 1870 and 1914, the size of the army was more than double in all of the major powers, besides the United States of America and Great Britain.

Alliances:  Many other countries that were not affected originally were compelled to join the war. As the alliances of each country added up, the war grew to overshadow the entire world.

Imperialism: Imperialism refers to the gathering of colonies. In 1890s, many of the countries that did not many colonies started to make more colonies. This led to the worldwide competition for land. There was a great conflict between the old Imperialist countries (Britain and France) and the newly formed imperialist countries (Ger many).This conflict paved way for the war.

Nationalism: Nationalism refers to having pride in one's own. The nationalists believe that their nation is better than other countries. The spirit of nationalism was used as a fuel the war by the involved powers.

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The Course of the War

There were two groups involved in the war.  Group 1 were the Allies comprising the nations Serbia, Britain, Russia, France, Belgium, USA, Portugal, Romania etc. Group 2 were the Central Powers involving the countries: Austria-Hungary, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria etc.

  1. The war on the Western Side was named as Battle of Marne.
  2. The war on the Eastern Side was named as Battle of Dannenberg. In this battle Russia was defeated.
  3. The war on the Sea was named as Batter of Dogger Bank .In this war Germany was defeated. But in the Battle of Jutland, Germany retreated.
  4. USA joined the war in 1917.
  5. The Russia stepped back from the war in the year 1917 after the October Revolution.

Treaty of Versailles, Paris

On June 28, 1919 Germany signed a treaty with its Allies i.e. the Triple Entente) at Versailles, near Paris. The treaty concluded 14 points.

The Leaders involved in this treaty were

  1. Clemenceau from France
  2.  Woodrow Wilson from  USA
  3.  Lloyd George from  Britain
  4.  Orlando from Italy.

Treaties signed after World War I

Following treaties were signed after the WWI: -

  1. Treaty of Paris signed with Germany.
  2. Treaty of Trianon signed with Hungary.
  3. Treaty of St .Germaine  signed  with Austria.
  4. Treaty of  Severes  signed with Turkey.
  5. Treaty of Neuilly  signed with Bulgaria.

The major consequences of the First World War are given below

  1. End of King Rule in Germany: In November 1918 Germany became a republic the German Emperor named Kaiser William II had to flee to Holland.
  2. Majority of the people faced unemployment
  3. The famine was one of the major consequence of the war
  4. USA emerged as a super power.
  5. Japan emerged as a powerful country of the Asia.
  6. Formation of USSR in 1922  was the outcome of the WWI. Emergence of USA as a super power.
  7. The European supremacy started to end.
  8. Yugoslavia, Poland and Czechoslovakia  attained independence.
  9. In Turkey the rule of Ottamans ended.
  10. The boundary lines for  Austria, Germany & Turkey were redrawn.  
  11. The independence movements were strengthened in the various occupied countries of Asia and Africa.
  12. The Baltic countries ( Estonia, Latvia and Lithvania) also became independent countries.
  13. “League of Nations” came into existence.
  14. The colonies under Germany were shared.
  15. Germany returned  Alsace-Loraine to France.
  16. Germany had to give  up the  Saar coal field.
  17. Germany gave independence to city of Danzig by giving  up the  Polish Corridor.
  18. Abolishment of the Monarchy in  Germany, Turkey , Russia Austria and Hungary,.
  19. Treaty of Versailles gave very harsh and unbiased clauses which finally paved way for the World War II.

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