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(1914 - 1918)

In the fall of 1918, the Central Powers were falling apart. Austria-Hungary reached an armistice with the Allies on November 4th, 1918. With its allies surrendering, Germany reached an armistice on November 11th, 1918, marking the end of World War 1.

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 attempted to prevent future conflicts of this scale. However, the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on June 28th, 1919, did not achieve this goal. Germany was denied entrance into the newly formed League of Nations and faced heavy reparations. The harsh terms of the treaty led to Germany harboring resentment which would ultimately be one of the causes for World War II.

Following the aggressive Schlieffen Plan, Germany fought World War I on two fronts - France to the West and Russia to the East. German troops invaded neutral Belgium to get to France, leaving destruction in their wake. German and French forces finally met at the First Battle of the Marne (September 1914). The French and British Allied forces drove the Germans back, meaning there would be no quick victory for the Germans. Both sides dug trenches, and the long, grueling war began.

The United States had initially remained neutral. However, Germany’s submarines were aggressive against neutral ships, even passenger ships. When the British ship Lusitania was sunk by a German u-boat with hundreds of Americans onboard, American public opinion shifted. The US entered World War I on April 6th, 1917.

The catalyst for World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip on June 28th, 1914. Princip, a Bosnian Serb, wanted to end the rule of the Austro-Hungary over Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, Austro-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and used it as a justification to declare war. Austria-Hungary gained support from Germany, and then officially declared war on Serbia. Due to the various alliances among European powers, Russia, Belgium, France, and Great Britain allied with Serbia against Austria-Hungary and Germany.

World War I had begun.

On the Eastern Front, Russia invaded East Prussia and Poland but were stopped by German and Austrian forces. However, Russia’s attack still forced Germany to send more soldiers to the East, causing the Germans losses on the Western front.

However, Russia faced its own problems. Defeat in war combined with scarce food and economic instability led to discontent among the workers and peasants of Russia. This hostility exploded into the Russian revolution, which halted the Russian’s participation in World War I.

Allied troops struggled to hold off the Germans after Russia dropped out of the war. On July 15th, 1918, Germans attacked French forces in the Second Battle of the Marne. The Allies pushed the Germans back, however, and then launched their own attack, forcing Germany to call off their plans for further attacks. The Second Battle of the Marne was a turning point for the Allies.

Allied Powers: France, Great Britain, Russia, Serbia, Japan, Italy, United States.

Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria.