full color World War 1 Fact List


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World War 1 (often stylized as WWI) was a major event in world history. It began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, who had been heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The war raged on until 1918. 

Shown above, a British soldier fighting from a trench. 

Scroll down for all the basic (and often gory) facts you need to know about the first World War. 

Scroll further down for links to World War 2 facts. 



25 fast facts about world war 1

  1. Archduke Ferdinand was shot to death (along with his wife) in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28th of 1914, by Serbian Nationalist Gavrilo Princip. This was the catalyst for World War I, as it virtually forced the decision of many countries to settle the matter of Serbian Nationalism now and forever.  
  2. World War I was a conflict between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire) and the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan, and the United States). 
  3. New military technologies combined with the dangers of trench warfare led to the deaths of more than 16 million people, both soldiers and civilians among them. 
  4. The population of the entire world before and during World War 1 was well under 2 billion.  
  5. The influenza epidemic of 1918 claimed another 50 million lives. 



Above: A 1914 newspaper clipping depicting the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.

image: wikipedia.org


6.   During the first World War, Serbia was supported by Russia, while Austro-Hungarian leaders were supported by Germany. 

7.   The Serbian government quickly ordered the mobilization of the Serbian Army, and appealed to Russia for assistance. 

8.   On July 28th of 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. 

9.   In less than a week, Russia, Belgium, France, and Great Britain had joined Serbia in its fight for freedom. 

10. On August 4th of 1914, German troops crossed the border into Belgium, to fight the first battle of WWI at Liege. 



Above: An artist's rendering of the World War 1 Battle of Liege on the Western Front, from a 1914 magazine.

image: historyisnowmagazine.com



11. Germany invaded on two fronts during World War 1: They invaded France (through neutral Belgium) on the Western front, while also confronting Russia in the east. 

12. Germany successfully captured the city of Liege by August 15th. The war's first battle had lasted 11 days. 

13. German soldiers plowed through Belgium on their way to France, shooting any civilians who got in their way, including a Belgian priest. 

14. On September 6th of 1914, French and British forces finally confronted the German Army at Marne, a city in northeastern France. The battle lasted about three days, and the Germans were forced to retreat. At that point, both sides dug trenches at the Western Front, creating a virtual Hell on Earth for the soldiers involved. 

15. On Christmas Day of 1914, both sides of World War 1 called a truce on the Western Front. 



above image: qctimes.com



16.  Other major battles of World War 1 were the Battle of Verdun, the Battle of the Somme, and the Battle of Tannenberg. 

17.  Russia's participation in World War 1 ended with the Russian Revolution in 1917. In December of that year, Russia reached an Armistice with the Central Powers. 

18.  In 1915, German U-Boats sunk several commercial and passenger vessels in British waters. Some of them were US ships.  

19.  The United States was neutral until a German U-Boat sunk the Lusitania in May of 1915. The ship had been on its way from New York to Liverpool, England, with hundreds of American passengers onboard. Less than a month later, German U-Boats had sunk four more US merchant ships.

20. On April 2nd of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany. 



Above: A vintage news headline from April 2nd, 1917.

image: buffalonews.com



21.  By the end of World War 1, Allies were producing five times more aircraft than the Germans could produce. 

22.  On April 1st of 1918, the British created the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was the first Air Force to be a separate military branch, independent from the Army or the Navy. 

23.  On July 15th of 1918, German troops attacked French forces in what would later be known as the Second Battle of the Marne. It was the last German offensive of World War 1. Backed by American forces, the French were able to force the Germans to retreat. This battle turned the tide decisively toward the Allies, who would soon emerge victorious. 

24. On November 11 of 1918, Germany was forced to seek Armistice, effectively ending World War 1. 

25. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28th of 1919, in an effort to end any future conflict of such magnitude as World War 1. To see how well that worked out, see World War 2.  






related links


World War 2 Visual Fact List

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