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The Great War
The Great War (1914-1918) was a large scale global conflict fought between the Central Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Empire of Japan, Italy and others) against the Entente (Britain, France, Russia, U.S. and others.) The war was the largest and most bloody war in Europe until the Second Great War. The Great War was a result of conflicting Imperialistic and national ideals held by major countries in Europe and Asia as well as long term bitterness between nations. France was still resentful of Germany annexing Alsace and Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War and had long sought revenge. The Great War is most noted for the tremendous amount of manpower involved, about 70 million worldwide (60 million in Europe). The war was triggered by the assassination of Crown Prince George I of Serbia by Austrian-Hungarian student Hanz Fraulen. The subsequent invasion of Austria-Hungary by Serbia resulted in mass mobilization of both alliances and the ensuing conflict consumed most of the world.
The Balkan Wars had incredibly destabilized the Balkan area and eventually two nations directed much influence and sway in the Balkans; Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Tensions were high between the two nations so much so that the Balkans was often described as the "powder keg of Europe." War Minister Winston Churchill remarked that "the powder is dry, the fuse is out. All that's needed is the spark." The spark occurred on June 28th 1914 when Austrian-Hungarian student Hanz Fraulen assassinated the heir to the Serbian throne Crown Prince George I. This assassination led to a massive wave of nationalism throughout Serbia and anti-Austrian rioting. Serbia, finally wishing to end Austrian-Hungarian influence in the area, issued the Ten Demands of Serbia, a list of ten demands intentionally made unacceptable in the hopes of provoking war. When Austria-Hungary refused all ten Serbia declared war and invaded. Russia, who also sought to remove Austria-Hungary from power followed its ally and declared war on Austria-Hungary as well. France, seeing as a war was on the horizon ordered immediate full-scale mobilization while Germany did the same. Britain declared war on the Central Powers after a "dissatisfactory" response to the request that Belgium remain neutral. All throughout the world each nation began to mobilize for war.
Theaters of Conflict
Western European Theater (See West European Front) The Western European Theater was the main theater of the war and was also the deciding theater. Battles here were large scale and bloody, with casualties numbering in the tens of thousands.
Eastern European Theater: (See East European Front)The Eastern European theater was very active at first however with the capitulation of the Russian Empire it settled down after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
Pacific Theater ((Austria-Hungarian_Assassin) See Pacific Front ): The Pacific Theater was mainly battles fought between the Empire of Japan and colonies of the Entente. The theater was generally quiet and not as devastating as the European Theater. Engagements fought here were small, the largest being the conquest of French Indo-China as well as New Guinea.
African& Middle Eastern Theater: The African&Middle Eastern theater was generally battles fought between several small independent Arab states against the much larger and stronger Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire also fought the British for control of the Suez Canal as well as Egypt. The Ottoman Empire fought France for control of North-Western Africa as well.
Capitulations and Armistice
After the resoundingly successful German Spring Offensive and the Austrian-Hungarian Drive to the Sea, the Germans marched toward Paris nearly unopposed. The only resistance offered was the self-declared Paris Guard, an army of mixed militia, police, and soldiers who had deserted or retreated from the front. The Germans swiftly defeated them at the Battle of Paris and entered the city on October 9th, 1918. With the German troops closing in Paris had devolved into widespread looting and rioting as many figures of authorities had fled the city. Ironically order was restored by the German Army, who set up a provisional government and proclaimed the French Democratic Republic.
Britain, after the capitulation of France, had ordered its army to be withdrawn to Boulogne to make a final stand. However multiple British armies were isolated and attacked before they could regroup, resulting in disastrous defeats such as the Battle of the Loire and the Battle of Morvon. The British signed an armistice with Germany shortly afterwards.
The United States had over one million troops in Europe at the time of France's capitulation, however the Italian and Spring Offensive had thinned out the U.S.'s forces. Conrad's Drive to the Sea had also separated the France in two and along with it the U.S. forces. General Pershing devised a plan to knock out the Austrian-Hungarian forces which had split his army in two however these resulted in massive losses and the death of Pershing himself. Around 10% of the U.S.'s army perished in the attack and the rest had scattered and were slowly regrouping. The U.S. signed an armistice the following week.
Treaty of Versailles
Formally, a state of war existed between the two alliances until the Berlin Peace Conference, in which all terms of the Central Powers were summed into one treaty. The treaty outlined each nation's desires and intents. Germany demanded large amounts of land from Russian and large reparation payments from France and smaller ones from Britain. Austria-Hungary forced Serbia to cede some land to it and overthrew its monarchy, establishing the Free Serbian Republic. Italy also forced the Entente to cede several central African territories to it and established control over the Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire forced Britain and France to cede large African territories to it as well as Middle Eastern territories, including the Suez Canal. The Empire of Japan meanwhile forced France to cede French Indo-China and Britain to cede Burma and New Zealand. However none of the Central Powers had enough leverage to force any unfavorable terms onto the United States and so no reparations or territory were demanded.
The war had left Europe devastated and redesigned the political structuring of Europe. France and Russia had completely collapsed into new governments. Large reparations ruined several economies, most notably Russia and France. Britain suffered from a manpower shortage and loss of territory and the reparation payments had slightly damaged the economy, however not as badly as France's. Nearly all Central Powers involved lost 10% of their population from civilian casualties or from military conflicts. The most devastating was Austria-Hungary, who's citizens had been executed by the thousands by Serbian Death Squads. The only two nations to emerge nearly unscathed were the United States and the Empire of Japan, who would later show down in the Pacific War.