World War I (1914-1919) was a global warlike conflict centered on Europe that began in the summer of 1914. The fighting ended at the end of 1918. This conflict involved all the great powers of the world, met in two opposing alliances: The Allies (around the Triple Entente) and the Central Empires. In World War I, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, mobilized in one of the greatest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants lost their lives, largely due to great technological advances in firepower. It is the second deadliest conflict in history, only surpassed by World War II.
History of World War I
From 1871 to 1914 Europe lived what has been called the ” Armed Peace “, which was extremely beneficial to the economic, cultural and scientific development of European industrial nations. However, among the great powers there was much suspicion, which induced them to arm themselves constantly. Hence the name given to this period.
Causes of the First World War
1. Tensions between the powers: the main international antagonisms were the following:
Between Germany and France for the rivalry that left the Franco-Prussian War.
Between Russia and Austria for hegemony in the Balkan peninsula.
Between England and Germany for commercial and colonial competition.
The political frictions between England, France and Russia, because of the respective colonial expansion, were also intense, but were left aside to give way to the configuration of international alliances.
Apart from the strong colonial rivalries, the industrial powers faced in the purely economic plane. They fought each other to get markets for their products and retain them by conquest.
2. Military and Political Alliances
To secure the results of his victory over France, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck conceived a system of alliances, based on the close collaboration between Germany and the Austrian Empire. This alliance was united Italy, enmity with France by the question of Tunis, and thus appeared the denominated Triple Alliance.
For its part, France sought allies to support their desires to retaliate. As Russia was an adversary of Austria in the Balkans, the Franco-Russian alliance was signed, which was later joined by England realizing the enormous power that Germany was accumulating. In this way the Triple Entente or Entente Cordiale was born.
3. The Moroccan Crisis and the Balkans (1905 – 1911)
The two antagonistic blocs practiced a policy of indirect aggression; This increased the chances of a war erupting. The first occurred on the occasion of the establishment of the French protectorate in Morocco, to which Germany opposed. The second cause of the war that broke out in the Balkans, first between Turkey, on the one hand, and Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia united on another, and then, defeated Turkey, among the victors to share the booty (1911 – 1913).