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“World War One” and “Great War” redirect here. For other uses, see World War One (disambiguation) and Great War (disambiguation).
“WW1” and “WWI” redirect here. For the album by White Whale, see WWI (album).
World War I
Clockwise from the top: The aftermath of shelling during the Battle of the Somme, Mark V tanks cross the Hindenburg Line, HMS Irresistible sinks after hitting a mine in the Dardanelles, a British Vickers machine gun crew wears gas masks during the Battle of the Somme, Albatros D.III fighters of Jagdstaffel 11
Date28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918
(4 years, 3 months and 2 weeks)
Treaty of Versailles
Signed 28 June 1919
(4 years and 11 months)[a]
Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Signed 10 September 1919
(5 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days)
Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine
Signed 27 November 1919
(4 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days)[b]
Treaty of Trianon
Signed 4 June 1920
(5 years, 10 months and 1 week)
Treaty of Sèvres
Signed 10 August 1920
(6 years, 1 week and 6 days)[c]
United States–Austria Peace Treaty
Signed 24 August 1921
(3 years, 8 months, 2 weeks and 3 days)[d][e]
United States–Germany Peace Treaty
Signed 25 August 1921
(4 years, 4 months, 2 weeks and 5 days)[f]
United States–Hungary Peace Treaty
Signed 29 August 1921
(3 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 1 day)[g]
Treaty of Lausanne
Signed 24 July 1923
(8 years, 8 months, 3 weeks and 4 days)[h]
LocationEurope, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, China and off the coast of South and North America
End of the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires
Formation of new countries in Europe and the Middle East
Transfer of German colonies and regions of the former Ottoman Empire to other powers
Establishment of the League of Nations. (more…)
United States (1917–18)
Commanders and leaders
H. H. Asquith
David Lloyd George
Victor Emmanuel III
John J. Pershing
Central Powers leaders Wilhelm II
Paul von Hindenburg
Erich von Falkenhayn
Helmuth von Moltke
Franz Joseph I
Conrad von Hötzendorf
Arz von Straußenburg
Casualties and losses
22,477,500 KIA, WIA or MIA
…further details.Military dead:
16,403,000 KIA, WIA or MIA
Events leading to World War I
Anglo-German naval arms race1898–1912
Assassination of Franz Ferdinand1914
v t e
World War I (WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents’ technological and industrial sophistication, and tactical stalemate. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, paving the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved.
The war drew in all the world’s economic great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Although Italy had also been a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, it did not join the Central Powers, as Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive against the terms of the alliance. These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, and the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria the Central Powers. Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history.
The immediate trigger for war was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and entangled international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.
On 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia and subsequently invaded. As Russia mobilised in support of Serbia, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading Britain to declare war on Germany. After the German march on Paris was halted, what became known as the Western Front settled into a battle of attrition, with a trench line that would change little until 1917. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front, the Russian army was successful against the Austro-Hungarians, but was stopped in its invasion of East Prussia by the Germans. In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers, opening fronts in the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and the Sinai. Italy joined the Allies in 1915 and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in the same year, while Romania joined the Allies in 1916, and the United States joined the Allies in 1917.
The Russian government collapsed in March 1917, and a subsequent revolution in November brought the Russians to terms with the Central Powers via the Treaty of Brest Litovsk, which constituted a massive German victory until nullified by the 1918 victory of the Western allies. After a stunning Spring 1918 German offensive along the Western Front, the Allies rallied and drove back the Germans in a series of successful offensives. On 4 November 1918, the Austro-Hungarian empire agreed to an armistice, and Germany, which had its own trouble with revolutionaries, agreed to an armistice on 11 November 1918, ending the war in victory for the Allies.
By the end of the war, four major imperial powers—the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires—ceased to exist. The successor states of the former two lost substantial territory, while the latter two were dismantled. The maps of Europe and Southwest Asia were redrawn, with several independent nations restored or created. During the Paris Peace conference, The Big Four imposed their terms in a series of treaties. The League of Nations was formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such an appalling conflict. This aim, however, failed with weakened states, economic depression, renewed European nationalism, and the German feeling of humiliation contributing to the rise of nazism. These conditions eventually contributed to World War II.