he bullets that started the
First World War – the greatest armed conflict which up to that time the
world had seen – were fired by a young nationalist from Serbia, once a
separate country but now a part of Yugoslavia. The bullets killed
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungary, and
his wife. The date was June28, 1914. Exactly one month later,
Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the First World War began.
By the time it ended, about 8,500,000 people had been killed. F
or many years before the war
started, there had been problems among the nations of Europe. The new
factories that were multiplying in Europe created a competition among
the nations for additional world markets and for sources of raw
materials. The competition of colonies caused troubles, too. France and
Britain’s share of Africa caused great anger in Germany.
Austro-Hungary was trying to get a port on the Aegean Sea, but Serbia
and Montenegro stood in the way. All of the larger nations of Europe
built up their armies. W
ithin a few days of Austro-Hungary’s
declaration of war on Serbia, other nations of Europe jumped into the
war on one side or the other. The line-up of major nations had
Austro-Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Bulgaria on one side. On the
other side were the Allies: Great Britain and the Commonwealth, France,
Russia, Belgium and Japan. G
ermany dominated the fighting in the
early days of the war. German troops marched through Belgium and
invaded France. They got to within a few kilometres of Paris before
they were stopped by both France and Britain. In the east, Germany and
Austro-Hungary pushed through Poland and advanced into Russia. Italy
entered the war in 1915 on the side of the Allies. Italy’s entry forced
the Central Powers to fight on the southern front. A
fter some early victories, Germany’s
armies were halted in the west. The land fighting settled down to the
horrors and futility of trench warfare. Mons 1914, Verdun 1916, and
the Somme 1916, were some of the most terrible battles. In the east,
the German defeat of Russia made possible the Russian Revolution, and
the Bolsheviks made peace with Germany. A
t sea, Great Britain’s navy was in
command. German warships did not venture beyond the North Sea.
Finally, however, the Germans turned to submarines. They believed that
if the submarines could prevent supplies from reaching Britain and
France, the Allies would be forced to surrender. After a number of
American ships had been sunk by German submarines, the United States
entered the war on the side of the Allies on April 6, 1917. W
ithin a year, German, Austrian and
Turkish armies were in retreat throughout Europe. An agreement ending
the fight was signed on November 11, 1918, in a railway carriage in
Northern France – the same carriage in which the French had signed the
surrender in 1870. It was ‘Armistice Day’. The formal Peace Treaty was
signed at Versailles on June 28, 1919. T
he First World War greatly changed
the map of Europe, but it solved almost none of the problems which had
caused the war. Germany, Austria and Turkey lost their empires. New
countries were born, among them Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and a
reunited Poland. Above all, the Russian Empire had become the USSR. The
League of Nations was created in the hopes of preventing future wars.
A. Answer the questions
- What was the immediate of the First World War?
- What were the main causes of the First World War?
- What were the results of the First World War?
B. Complete the chart
C. Complete the sentences
- The United States of America entered the First World War after …
- The ‘Versailles Peace Treaty’ symbolizes … over their enemies.
D. Match ‘A’ with ‘B’ so as to get meaningful collocations
- Serbian a. declaration
- Bolsheviks b. troops
- war c. nationalist
- armed d. Revolution
E. Complete the two sentences with the suitable collocations from exercise ‘D’
- A ________________ fired his bullets towards the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand and killed him.
- The ________________ was due to Russia’s defeat in the First World War.