The First World War/Facts, History, Maps

Although World War I started in the heart of Europe, it was named as World War with the participation of colonial countries as well as countries from all over the world. The reason for the start of the first world war began after the assassination of a young Serbian boy to the prince of the Austro-Hungarian kingdom. World War I started on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918.

Reason for the Beginning of World War I

The First World War/Facts, History, Maps 1

After the Balkan war, some of the Balkan countries were in control of the Austro-Hungarian countries after the signatures agreed with some countries, but the states living in the Balkans did not want to accept this.

Franz Ferdinand and his wife visited Serbia, where he was repeatedly assassinated. When Franz Ferdinand went to visit his wife one day, he was assassinated by 4 people. They wanted to make this assassination by throwing a bomb, but they couldn’t make it and they immediately ran away Franz Ferdinand survived. 3 Serbs and one Bosniak were involved in the assassination and were part of the MladaBosna, the young Bosnian organization.

Gavrilo Princip, who caused the start of the world war after the assassination, came to a restaurant in the city center because he was hungry, and at that moment Arsiduk Franz Ferdinand was standing in front of the restaurant where Princip had eaten his car fired. Franz Ferdinand’s throat, stuck in his neck, went out into the nape of Arsiduk’s wife, and both died at the scene. Gavrilo Princip, who tried to escape immediately after killing Franz Ferdinand, was captured by the people around him and handed over to the state.

Princip and a few of his friends were caught after the incident, but the Bosniak young man who was with them managed to escape. The Austrian-Hungarian state, which considers Serbia to be behind the incident, found that the guns were given to them by Serbia. Meanwhile, the captured members of the MladaBosna organization, whose court was seen, survived the death because they were under the laws of that day, but one of them was 23 years old and was executed.

After the events, the Austro-Hungarian Empire exerted pressure on Serbia and asked them to accept the agreements they wanted. Serbia, on the other hand, accepted the agreements because they thought they would lose in any war, but upon the rejection of a final agreement, the Austro-Hungarian Empire started a war against Serbia with the support it received from Germany.

Beginning of War

World War I (1914) Map
World War I (1914)

Austria began bombing Belgrade on July 28, 1914 and declared war on Serbia.

After Austria’s war declaration, Russia declared general mobilization on 31 July. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 and declared war on France on August 3. Germany, in accordance with the Schlieffen Plan he had prepared in peacetime, immediately crushed France and wanted to return to Russia, which was trying to complete its mobilization, and wanted to pass its army through the Flanders Plain, which was the easiest way during the attack on France. For this, he applied to Belgium for the ‘Right to Harmless Pass’.

Belgium, a neutral country, rejected Germany’s proposal after consulting England and Germany attacked Belgium on August 4, 1914. Britain also waged war against Germany. Thus, by August 4, 1914, the war had begun on three fronts: the German-French Front, the German-Russian Front, and the Austria-Serbia Front.

The Formation of the Allied and Central Powers and the Purpose of States in Entering the War

During World War I, there were two separate war blocs, the Central, and the Alliance.

Central Powers and Allied Powers
Central Powers and Allied Powers

Allied Powers

The Entente States, the Treaty States or the Allied States were originally a war bloc consisting of the British Empire, France and Russia. In World War I, the Allies fought against the Central States group led by Germany.

Italy was formerly part of the Central group but entered the war alongside the Allied States in 1915 (1915 was the year Italy entered the war and never fought in the ranks of the Central States). Later in the war, the United States joined the Allied States. After the 1917 Revolution, Russia left the Allied group and withdrew from the war. During the war, the Allies group expanded with new participation. The Allies ended World War I as the victor and partially occupied the lands of the defeated Alliance.

Central Powers

The Treaty States or Central States are initially a group of states consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Its origins are based on the Treaty of the Triple Alliance, established in 1882. Italy remained neutral for almost a year when World War I began, and then entered the war on May 23, 1915, passing through the Entente States. Firstly, the Ottoman Empire, which fulfilled the requirements of the August 2 Ottoman-German Covenant, joined Central states, and a year later, Bulgaria, after the Dardanelles Victory, thought that the Germans would win the war.

In World War I, the Central Powers fought against a group of Allied States (41 countries and a total of 42 million troops together with the colonies) and were defeated in 1918. As a result of this war, the Entente States reduced the German Empire, dissolved the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and partially shared the Ottoman Empire.


Britain was the world’s greatest power in the 20th century. It was able to provide this power in military and political terms through colonies, maritime domination and global corporations. From 1871 onwards, he regarded the German Empire as the most important threat to its own activity. Because a strong Germany will be the biggest threat to England.

Since the defeat of France in 1871, the hostility towards the German Empire has been the decisive factor in its partnership with France. Likewise, the alliance with Russia before World War I was based on the opposition of Russia’s Panslavism policy and Germany’s Pan-German policy in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Since Britain was an island country, its defense strategy was based on the fact that the Netherlands and Belgium were resistant to Germany. The fact that the German Empire became an economic and political threat for Britain was an indisputable cause of war for Britain. At the same time, strategies for the protection of colonies, the control of maritime control, the dominance of global corporations and, most importantly, the ownership of the Middle East Energy Corridor were in conflict with the interests of the German Empire.


France existed as a colonial state from the 17th century to the 1960s. The colonial lands acquired throughout the world in the 19th and 20th centuries made France the second largest colonial empire after England. France and Germany have seen each other as a threat since 1871. For France, the Alsace-Lorraine region, which it lost, was of great economic and military importance. On the other hand, bridges on the Rhine and Belgium’s strong defense were two other military strategy elements for France.

For France, the German Empire was a major threat to its colonies as well as to Central Europe. Because the basis of French military-economic-political power was based on colonies.

Russian Empire

In the nineteenth century, Russia basically pursued four goals.
1. To gain dominance in Balkans and Eastern Europe with Panslavism Policy in the West. Thus, the control of the peoples of Slavic origin would be seized.
2. To gain dominance over the Ottoman Empire and Iran in the south.
3. Maintain dominance obtained by seizing most of Central Asia in the 19th century.
4. To keep the balance of power between Japan-Russia-England-USA in the east.

The German Empire’s policy of Pan-Germanicism in the West, the wars that lasted for more than a hundred years with the Ottoman Empire in the south, solidarity with the United States against Britain in the Pacific and so on. Russia was included in the side of the Entente States because of the strategies.


Between 1871 when the German National Union was founded and 1914 when the First World War broke out, the unchanging element of European History is the enmity between Germany and France. The German defeat of France in 1871 was the most important factor in this enmity. At the same time, the disappearance of Alsace-Lorraine was influenced by the economic and military importance of the two countries. Because the most important defense points between the two countries, Alsace-Lorraine and Rhine River Bridges were important to have.

In 1914, the German Empire did not have a strong ally in Europe, except for its alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Perhaps at the beginning of the war, this was the greatest deficiency of the German strategy on the loss of war in the events that would determine the outcome of the war. Because it seemed almost certain that the Austro-Hungarian Empire would not last long. Even Adolf Hitler said that if the Reich had listened to Schoenerer’s warnings about the Habsburgs, Germany would not have suffered a catastrophe by waging war against the whole world.

Austro-Hungarian Empire

The biggest threat to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was Russia and Russia’s Pan-Slavism Policy. Russia wanted to expand its field of power towards Eastern Europe and the Balkans. To this end, he gave open support to all ethnic elements (especially Slavs) both within the Ottoman Empire and within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In addition, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which consolidated its alliance with Germany to ensure the security of the western wing, wanted to destroy Russian activity on the other side.

In fact, the situation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no different from that of the Ottoman Empire. Both empires linked their futures to a victory at the end of the war. In other words, the war was a life-and-death struggle.


In 1882, Germany and the Austria-Hungary Empire, forming a trilateral alliance with Italy, although neutral at the beginning of World War I, in 1915 joined the Pact with the Central Powers. Trento, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and some parts of the Ottoman Empire were promised, provided that Italy entered the war. During the war 600,000 Italian soldiers lost their lives and the Italian economy collapsed. Most of the promises made to Italy as a result of the war were not kept. With the St Germain Treaty, Italy was the victor, but only Trento, Trieste and Bolzano were able to win. This led to great discontent among Italian society.

While Italy wanted to preserve its existing colonies in the prewar period, it also aimed to increase its power in the Middle East, Balkans and Africa. He followed a policy with France until 1915 because of his old hostilities and the newly emerged situation.

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire suffered the last heavy defeat of the period of decline since the Treaty of Karlovac in 1699 with the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. In these wars, it was seen that even the small states separated from the empire could not be coped.

From the moment the government realized that the war was inevitable, it sought to reconcile with Britain and France, while trying to keep relations with Germany equally tight. In fact, there has been such an intense bilateral struggle that negotiations with both sides continued until the last minute. In the negotiations with England, the Ottoman Government’s basic expectation for the alliance, the desire to guarantee the territorial integrity after the war, was answered by the British only after the war. The government, which seems certain that it cannot achieve an alliance with Britain and France, signed a secret alliance treaty (Ottoman-German Secret Treaty) with Germany on 2 August 1914 and committed to enter the war alongside the Alliance forces.

October 29, 1914 The Ottoman Navy bombed the Russian coast. On October 30, Russia waged war against the Ottoman Empire, and a few hours later, Enver Pasha announced that the Ottoman Empire had declared war on Russia and entered the war alongside the Alliance Block. After this announcement, England and France declared war on the Ottoman Empire.


With the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the support of the Russian Empire, the national liberation movement in Bulgaria, as in the whole Balkans, was on fire. The Ottoman Empire recognized Bulgaria in 1878 as an independent principality in its internal affairs and in 1908 as a fully independent tsar.

The post-Balkan wars of the Kingdom of Bulgaria led to a jam between Greece-Serbia-Montenegro–Romania and the Ottoman Empire in the west. In the pre-war period, hostility to other Balkan states left no other option for Bulgaria than the alliance with Germany.

The Fronts of World War I

At the beginning of the war, there was almost a consensus among the parties that the duration of the war would not be too long. With the Schlieffen Plan, Germany assumed that it would deactivate France in as little as six weeks. Although he launched this plan by attacking Belgium on August 4, 1914, Germany faced the failure of the Schlieffen Plan as a result of the fact that Belgium lasted longer than expected. 6-12 September 1914 The Battle of Marne I gave the parties an idea of the fate of the war. After the Schlieffen Plan failed, Germany did not have an alternative plan and as a result of delays, Russia was about to complete its mobilization.

After Germany failed to achieve a rapid action, the Trench War, a new and decisive feature of World War I, began.

Western Front

The Western Front is the western European side, mainly covering Belgium, the Netherlands and France, namely Western Europe.

The Western Front battles began on 4 August 1914, when German armies attacked Belgium. However, the Belgian army showed an unexpected resistance. German troops were forced to seize the city of Liège, not after 24 hours as planned, but after 13 days of conflict and to advance into France. German armies advancing on the territory of France, 70 km before Paris, crossed the Marne river faced a harsh French resistance. Following the Battle of Marne, one of the bloodiest battles of World War I, on September 6-12, the lines were blocked on the Western Front. Both sides settled in the trenches and were unable to obtain a result from the repeated attacks.

Erich von Falkenhayn, the Chief of General Staff of the German General Staff, who thinks that Russia’s military power is now weakened, has launched a general offensive over Verdun with the forces he has significantly reinforced. The Battle of Verdun, which began on February 21, 1916, was started with heavy bombardment from a narrow 24 km front line. Although there were signs of disintegration in the French troops at the beginning, Marshal Petain constantly supported the front in terms of ammunition by opening new roads. The continuous and effective firing of French artillery batteries made German progression difficult and ultimately played an important role in stopping it. One of the bloodiest battles of World War I, the Battle of Verdun cost a total of over 650,000 casualties.

For the Allies, the main problem of the Western Front in the early months of 1918 was to resist the forces transferred by the German forces from the Eastern Front until the American troops reached the continent. The German attack was launched on 21 March 1918. The German offensive, which achieved partial success, stopped in mid-July with counter-attacks by French troops with the support of light tanks, which soon turned into an irregular retreat.

Eastern Front

The Eastern Front was in Eastern Europe during World War I, the eastern part of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, and the western part of Russia and Romania.

While the Western Front had reached a stalemate, the war continued violently on the Eastern Front. The first Russian plans were the simultaneous occupation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire over Galicia and the German Empire over East Prussia. Russian troops have achieved great success in Galicia. But in August and September 1914, Paul von Hindenburg’s victory at Tannenberg was deported back to the East Prussian and Masurian Lakes.

Russia’s underdeveloped industry and ineffective military leadership paved the way for them to withdraw from the Eastern Front and suffer major defeats. In the spring of 1915, the Russians withdrew into Galicia. In May, the Alliance made a remarkable breakthrough on the southern borders of Poland. On August 5, the Russians captured in Warsaw were forced to retreat to the eastern parts of Poland. As a result of the October Revolution of November 7, 1917, the Russians withdrew from the war with the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.

Chronology of World War I


According to the Schlieffen Plan on the Western Front, Germany, which foresees the invasion of France in six weeks, failed as a result of Belgium’s resistance. Germany’s ‘Lightning Operation’ was hampered by the battles of Marne. War on the Western Front turned into a trench war in 1914.

The war on the Eastern Front began on August 2, 1914, when Austria attacked Serbia. Austria made its way to Belgrade via Bosnia. Austria is expected to enter Belgrade easily, but Belgrade fell only three months later. Then two weeks later, the Serbs took Belgrade back. The Austrian armies had to retreat to the north of the Danube. This is important in terms of demonstrating the weakness of Austria. After facing the French resistance on the Western Front, Germany realized that they could not trust Austria in the east.

Russia completed its mobilization sooner than expected and entered East Prussia on August 17, 1914. In the face of Russia’s advance, Hindenburg and Ludendorff took over the German armies in the east. When the German armies began to retreat against the Russian armies, Samsonov, the commander of the Russian armies, was convinced that the German armies had withdrawn in defeat. The Russian armies ceased to use the code in communications and quickly moved into Germany, weakening their connections with the supply centers. defeated and 120,000 Russian soldiers taken prisoner. Germany had won a great victory. Russia had lost its striking power.

After this, Britain and France, which wanted to ease the burden of France on the Western Front, started to form plans for the Gallipoli War in 1915 with the aim of providing emergency arms aid to Russia.

Austria, on the other hand, failed to gain an advantage over Russia in the Battle of Galicia. As a result of long and bloody battles on this front, the parties could not gain an advantage over each other.


In 1915, the Western Front consisted of long and extremely bloody battles that stretched from the Swiss border to the English Channel and did not give the parties anything tangible during the year. Thousands of people died during this period because of the bloody and far from the nature of the trench war. The losses of the Western Front in the fall of 1915 are as follows: England 60,000, France 190,000, Germany 210,000.

On the other hand, Germany began bombing England in 1915 with airships. These bombings lasted until 1916. Heavy and easy target zeppelins did not cause significant casualties and in 1916 Germany interrupted the Zeppelin Bombing. However, the impact of these bombings on the UK public opinion was great. In the island country of England for the first time in an attack faced by the people of Germany, a great hatred aroused. Daily life was disturbed by the perception of war.

Another technological innovation of the war is the U-Boat (Unterseeboot) used by the Germans. With the use of submarines, the Germans sunk commercial ships as well as warships, causing serious damage to all competing states, particularly the UK.

Another technological innovation of the war is the U-Boat (Unterseeboot) used by the Germans. With the use of submarines, the Germans sunk commercial ships as well as warships, causing serious damage to all competing states, particularly the UK.


The wars of 1916 did not give any advantage to their sides. This year’s most important battles on the Western Front were in the Verdun region. These wars are also the bloodiest wars of World War I. Germany, besieged by Britain with a tight blockade from the sea, knew that the prolongation of the war would cause the greatest damage. He wanted to drop Verdun, whom he planned to follow in the Schlieffen Plan, to enter Paris and at least to end the war on the Western Front. Initially successful, Germany failed to conclude with the back-front strategy, which was later implemented by French commander Marshal Petain (increasing accessibility between other parts of France and Verdun and facilitating logistics).

The Verdun Wars lasted from February to June 1916 and caused numerous losses. However, neither side has reached a conclusion. Afterward, England launched a counter-attack from the Somme region but failed. The British lost a total of 420,000 people, including 60,000 on the first day of the attack.

In 1916, the number of deaths on the Western Front reached 1,263,000. In addition, for the first time, a tank was used on this front in the history of war.

At the end of 1915 Italy joined the war. Bulgaria also joined the war in the same period. With these two contributions, the war forces were balanced for both sides. In 1916, Romania launched a war against Germany and its allies. This new route on the Eastern Front ended with the arrival of the German and Austrian armies in Bucharest in as little as four months.

Apart from this, the wars in 1916 did not give any advantage to both sides, as was the case with the Eastern Front and the Western Front.

1917 and 1918

Submarine Wars

From a military point of view, the Alliance appears to have been successful until 1917. But as the war went on, the problems for Germany began to rise. Britain and France, which easily reached the logistical support of their colonies, did not give the same chance to Germany, which they blockaded from the sea. Germany was trying to break this blockade with submarines. For this purpose, he concentrated on sea wars.

US Enter into the World War

Germany’s submarine war had a very negative impact on US foreign trade. At the same time, the German-Mexican Alliance, which Germany was trying to establish, caused a great reaction in the USA. Germany wanted Mexico to attack the US if the United States entered the war.

With these two reasons forming public opinion in the United States, the American Congress declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. The USA’s entry into the war meant that a state with the greatest economic means of the time entered the war. This had a significant impact on the fate of the war.

February Revolution and October Revolution

The Empire of Russia, which entered its final turn with the revolutions of 1905, could not recover its lost power during the Tannenberg War until the end of the war. Then the Mensheviks and the White Army made the February Revolution in the country. When the Mensheviks came to power, Russia stopped all their attacks.

Under the leadership of the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (renamed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1918), workers, peasants, and soldiers made the October Revolution of October 1917. As a result, Russia withdrew completely from the war with the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty. Thus, the Eastern Front was closed. For Germany, however, this did not lead to the victory of the war. But for the Ottomans, this event meant a return to the old eastern borders.

End of World War I

After the agreements between the two sides, the alliance states had come out of the war one by one. The first of these was the agreement with Bulgaria on 29 September 1918 in Thessaloniki, the second with the Ottoman Empire on 30 October 1918 at the port of Montrose, the third with the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 3 November 1918 at Villa Guisti, and finally with Germany on 11 November 1918 at the Rethonders.

According to official figures, the number of soldiers participating in the world war exceeded 65 million, of which there were a total of around 8 – 9 million dead, of which more than 21 million were wounded, and finally about 8 million casualties. Germany’s military losses in Alliance states were around 3,750,000.

World War I did not solve the problems between countries, and ideologies such as extreme nationalism, new fascism and national socialism that developed after the war as a result of heavy sanctions paved the way for World War II.