World War I – summary of the “Great War”


100 years ago ended a war whose intensity and scale the world had never before seen. A war that involved more than 60 million soldiers
around the globe. In this video, we retrace the origins, events
and consequences of World War I. To understand the origins of World War I,
we start in 1871 at the end of the Franco-German war between
the French Empire and the Confederation of North Germany, allied
with the German states of the south. After 6 months of fighting, France is defeated
and the victors unite to form the German Empire. Alsace and Moselle are annexed to the new
empire, frustrating the French side. In the following years, Germany would greatly
advance its industry and economy. The country also builds alliances, first with
the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then with Italy, which is frustrated by
France colonizing Tunisia. The three form the Triplice or Triple Alliance. Growing in power and status,
Germany begins colonizing African territories. For its part, France allies with the Russian
Empire and signs a secret pact of non-aggression with Italy, thus avoiding a second front in
case of war. The British Empire fears the rise of the German
army, more specifically of its navy. Britain comes out of isolation, moves closer
to France, and then to Russia. Together, they form the Triple Entente. In the Balkans, the Austro-Hungarian Empire
annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, much to the displeasure of neighboring Serbia which dreamed of one day uniting the South Slav people. This project appeals to Russia, which diplomatically
allies itself with Serbia. On June 29, 1914, a young Serbian nationalist from Bosnia murders the heir to the throne of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary accuses Serbia of having organized
the attack and despite Russian threats declares war the following month. In a few days, the conflict spreads between the countries of the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. Only Italy remains neutral for the moment. The German plan is to overcome the French
army, concentrated in the East, by planning an attack from the north. To achieve this, Germany invades Luxembourg and Belgium, in violation of their neutrality in the conflicts. The French, British and Belgian armies are
forced to retreat. Fearing the capture of Paris, the French government
moves to Bordeaux. But the German army turns away from the city
to continue surrounding the French army. They are then attacked on the flanks by the
army of Paris which forces them to retreat further north, marking the failure of the
Schlieffen plan. The new German objective is to takeover the strategic ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne to cut British supplies. The inferior Belgian army cannot resist the
German advance. In the plain of Yser, the choice is then made
to open lock gates to flood the polders. With the German army stopped in their tracks, the frontline is etched out with the construction of 700 km of trenches, stretching from the
North Sea to Switzerland. With the war frontlines stabilized in the
west, Germany sends its troops to the east to fight against a Russian offensive, which
puts pressure on Austria-Hungary. After some hesitation, the Ottoman Empire
decides to support Germany in the war. This creates several new fronts: one in the
Caucasus, another in the Sinai against the British protectorate in Egypt with the goal
of controlling the Suez Canal; and finally a third front in the British protectorate of Kuwait over the issue of oil resources. To weaken the Ottoman Empire, Britain supports an Arab rebellion by promising them independence in liberated lands. Finally, Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary
with the hope of gaining new territory. In Asia, Japan went to war against Germany
and seized its colonies in the Pacific and China. In Africa, German colonies are stormed by
French, British and Belgian forces. Many people from colonized territories are
enlisted in European armies. France mobilizes nearly 800,000 people, a
large proportion of whom are sent to Europe. The British Empire, for its part, enlists
2.7 million men from its dominions and colonies. More than half come from British India. In the Balkans, Bulgaria goes back to war
alongside the Central Empires. The country has a great territorial appetite
and wants to expand in all directions. Serbia is attacked on two fronts and is quickly invaded. In the West, Germany continues with military innovations. It becomes the first to organize aerial bombardments
carried out by zeppelin airships. London and Paris are regularly attacked. The air force is initially used for tracking
and reconnaissance, but planes are quickly fitted out with machine guns, resulting in the first aerial battles. In another first, Germany launches submarine
wars in British territorial waters, sinking ships it encounters. Finally, in the trenches, both sides use toxic
gases that cause many casualties. Despite some attempts to find breakthroughs,
the frontline of war remains fixed, at great human cost. In the trenches, soldiers who survived the
fighting are forced to live in harsh conditions. Mud, vermin, rats and the smell of decaying
corpses put their nerves to the test. In the spring, the French side begins mutinies
that would be suppressed. Germany also tires of the stalemate. The country is now focused on war on the economic
front and sends its submarines to the Atlantic to sink all kinds of ships, even commercial
ones, heading to the United Kingdom. Exhausted by war, Russia suffers more than
1.7 million military casualties. Morale is at its lowest point on the frontlines
and among the public. Then takes place a short revolution that brings
down the regime of the Tsars. At the same time, the United States of America finds itself becoming a victim of the commercial blockade in the Atlantic. They decide to go to war alongside the Allies. In Russia, a second revolution allows the
Bolsheviks to come to power, who immediately sign a ceasefire with the Central Empires. With the Russian front under control, Germany
concentrates its troops on the west. The country succeeds in a breakthrough in
the trenches and approaches Paris, which it bombards. But the German army moves too fast to the south. The French army counterattacks and disintegrates
German defenses. In panic, German soldiers retreat to the north. From this moment, the Allies lead on all fronts. In Germany, mutinies and a revolutionary wave
forced the emperor to abdicate and allows the signing of the Armistice, marking the
end of the “Great War” that kills more than 18 million people. On June 28, 1919, a peace treaty is signed
at Versailles. German representatives are not invited and the country is forced to accept all demands of the victors. Germany and its allies are held solely responsible
for war damages and must pay heavy compensation. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman empires are
dismantled, making way for new countries or colonies. Germany, meanwhile, finds itself humiliated
and indebted. Its army is disbanded and colonies shared
among the Allies. The country cedes roughly 15 percent of its territory to France, Belgium, Denmark and Poland, which is recreated. The only consolation is Germany remains largely
intact due to no fighting on its territory, and its industry is still standing. The humiliation imposed upon Germany already
leaves it with a desire for revenge.

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