WWI

Article

November 28, 2021

The First World War was a conflict that involved the main powers and many of the minor ones between July 28, 1914 and November 11, 1918. Initially called by contemporaries "European war", with the subsequent involvement of the colonies of the British Empire and of other non-European countries, including the United States of America and the Japanese Empire, took the name of World War or Great War: it was in fact the largest armed conflict ever fought until the subsequent Second World War. The conflict began on 28 July 1914 with the declaration of war by the Austro-Hungarian Empire against the Kingdom of Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Francesco Ferdinando, which took place on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo at the hands of Gavrilo Princip. Due to the interplay of alliances formed in the last decades of the nineteenth century, the war saw the major world powers and their respective colonies deploy in two opposing blocs: on the one hand the Central Empires (German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire ), on the other the Allies, represented mainly by France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Empire, the Japanese Empire and, since 1915, Italy. Over 70 million men were mobilized around the world (60 million in Europe alone), of which over 9 million never returned home; There were also about 7 million civilian victims, not only due to the direct effects of war operations, but also due to the consequent famines and epidemics. The first military operations of the conflict saw the lightning advance of the German army in Belgium and northern France, an action stopped by the Anglo-French during the first battle of the Marne in September 1914; the simultaneous attack by the Russians from the east shattered German hopes for a short and successful war, and the conflict degenerated into a grueling trench warfare that was repeated on all fronts and lasted until the end of hostilities. As it progressed, the war reached a world scale with the participation of many other nations, such as Bulgaria, Persia, Romania, Portugal, Brazil, China, Siam and Greece; decisive for the final outcome was, in 1917, the entry into the war of the United States of America alongside the Allies. The war ended definitively on 11 November 1918 when Germany, the last of the Central Powers to lay down its arms, signed the armistice imposed by the Allies. Some of the largest existing empires in the world - German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and Russian - died out, spawning several nation states that completely redesigned the political geography of Europe.

Origins of the war

The outbreak of war in 1914 marked the end of a long period of peace and economic development in European history, known as the Belle Époque, and also ended a longer period of European political stability: which began in 1815 with the definitive defeat of France. Napoleonic and continued throughout the nineteenth century, only limited conflicts took place which, however, ended up gradually undermining and aggravating diplomatic relations between the European powers and the related games of alliances. To identify the fundamental causes of the conflict, it is necessary to go back first of all to the preponderant role of Prussia in the creation of the German Empire, to the political conceptions of Otto von Bismarck, to the philosophical tendencies prevailing in Germany and to its economic situation; a set of heterogeneous factors that concurred to transform Germany's desire to secure commercial outlets in the world. The ethnic problems within the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the independence ambitions of some peoples who were part of it were linked to them, the fear that Russia generated across the border especially in the Germans, the fear that tormented France since 1870 of a new aggression that had left a strong animosity towards Germany and infi

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