100 years since the beginning of the First World War

It was on this day in 1914, exactly 100 years ago, that the world had witnessed its first ever great war. The empire of Austria-Hungary declared it to be in a state of war with Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austria-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Within days of the Austria-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia, Russia mobilised its forces backing Serbia and Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary, declaring war on Russia and France. The Great Britain then declared war on Germany and soon it was a full-fledged war between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) and the Allied Powers or Triple Entente (Great Britian, France and Russia). Italy ended its alliance with the Central Powers and joined the Allied Powers in 1915.

Japan, Belgium, Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, Romania and the Czechoslovak legions were secondary members of the Allied camp. The USA joined the Allied Powers in 1917 after German submarines sunk its ships. Countries like Belgium and Brazil also joined the war on the side of the Allied Powers subsequently.

The First World War had seen the death of over 37 million people

The war had gone on for four years, three months and one week and was concluded on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice with Germany. Besides the loss of lives (more than 37 million people were killed) and property, the war had left a bad impact on the world economy and revolutionary like Vladimir Lenin had found a great opportunity in realising his dreams amid the ruins of the First World War. Russian Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown before the war ended and Russia witnessed its epoch-making revolution that changed the course of world history in the later years.

It was not just Russia which was devastated by the war impact. In the USA, the New York Stock Exchange crumbled. The war saw growth being crippled across the world and it was not until the 1950s that the world had seen a serious recovery in the world's economic affairs.

Technological advancements of World War 1:

  • Trench warfare
  • Tank warfare
  • Poison gas
  • Tracer bullets
  • Interrupter gear
  • Air traffic control
  • Depth charges to counter German submarines
  • Air warfare (Use of aircraft carriers and pilotless drones)
  • Sanitary napkins to be used by nurses

Effects of the First World War besides the economic catastrophe:

  • The fall of the German, Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires and the emergence of various new countries
  • The Treaty of Versailles and the subsequent transfer of German colonies and regions of the former Ottoman Empire to other powers. This essentially sowed the seeds of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the paved way for the Second World War.
  • Establishment of the League of Nations to ensure world peace. It was formed on the basis of the Fourteen Points of the then US President Woodrow Wilson. This body was replaced by the United Nations after the Second World War.

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