French soldiers in a trench during World War I, 1917World War I broke out when Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by a Serbian protester in 1914. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, prompting Russia to send troops to defend her ally. Soon, Germany, France, Britain, and later the USA, were drawn into the “Great War”, which later became known as World War I. Around 70 million people fought or worked on the battlefield. About 10 million of them were killed, plus about 7 million civilians. The war ended with the defeat of Germany, who agreed to an armistice (an agreement to stop fighting) on 11th November 1918.
Military alliances in 1914 at the outbreak of warThe beginning of the 20th century was a time of increasing rivalry between the European nations. Some nations joined together to form alliances, promising to help each other if they were attacked. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance (later, without Italy, known as the Central Powers). Britain, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente (later known as the Allies). Britain and Germany became locked in an arms race, in which each country strove to outdo the other in the production of better and better ships, weapons and military equipment.
Germany lost 15% of its active male population in World War I.
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