Hey guys! So I was watching a Friends episode, ‘The one with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding’, and Joey had landed a role in an upcoming war film with Gary Oldman. However, no one knew who fought in World War I. I was surprised that I actually didn’t know either, I’d studied WWII in high school, but the details of WWI escaped me!
So, what did happen?
World War I, or the Great War, was a conflict between the major powers of the time from 1914 to 1918. For me, one of the most interesting parts is to see who’s fighting alongside whom, so that I can look at their relationship today and compare.
Basically, it was Allies vs Central Powers.
The Allies consisted of something called a Triple Entente – UK, France and the Russian Empire. Italy joined later, along with some other minor members. The U.S. declared war on Germany, and entered the war as an ‘associated power’ rather than a formal ally, to avoid obligations, pacts etc.
The Central Powers consisted of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria.
How it started is really long and complicated, so I’ll try to make it as simple as possible whilst retaining as much accuracy as I can. Basically, Europe is huge and has a lot of kingdoms and such, and at the time there was a lot of balancing out of powers. This resulted in a lot of alliances and stuff being thrown around until you have a complicated network of pacts, alliances and promises.
For four decades prior to the war, there were tensions between the great powers, because Germany was growing steadily and there were territorial conflicts concerning the Balkans. Austria and Serbia were butting heads over it, and through the alliances, they brought bigger people into the conflict.
The immediate cause of the war, the catalyst of it all, was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, by a Serbian fellow called Gavrilo Princip. This led to the July Crisis which in turn started the war.
Fair enough, too many big fish in one tank.
Hope you learned something here as I did! I don’t think I’ll remember it all, but at least I know who fought whom in WWI!
Thanks for reading!