World War I (1914-1919)
World War one is a term particularly pronounced in American English. In other places such as Britain and the Commonwealth countries, it is mostly referred to as the First World War. Charles a Court Repington was the first to coin the term in 1920 as the title of his book. However, not much attention was given to this until World War II. The 2 terms (World War One and Two) first appeared in Time magazine in 1938. During and the post-conflict period it was commonly referred to as the Great War, especially in British media, in US it was simply called the World War. It was also referred to as the War to End All Wars ( Fraser, Thomas 256).
World War I, which began in 1914, was a conflict of militaries centered mainly on Europe. The fighting went on till late 1918. This was a conflict involving basically what would be considered the world's great powers. By definition, a great power is a nation or state possessing significant ability to demonstrate its influence on global issues. Great powers are characterized by economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural power, which may influence the underdog nations to consider the position of great powers before they can take their own stand.( Fromkin, David 12).
These great powers grouped themselves into two opposing alliances: these were the Allies and the Central Powers. The Central Powers, also known as the Triple Alliance that took part in the First World War consisted of German: Hungarian: Turkish: Bulgarian. The Allies also known as Allied powers were centred on the so-called triple Entente consisted of the Empire of German, United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire. Other countries that were allied with Entente included Belgium, Serbia, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania.
During the conflict, more than 70million military officers, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilized into what was later to be one of the biggest wars in human history. About 9million combatants lost their lives, due largely to great technological advancements that led to manufacture of deadly weapons. World war 1 is believed to have been triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary on 28 June 1914. However, long-term causes, such as the Europe’s great powers (German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France, and Italy) imperial foreign policies, contributed greatly. The assassination of Ferdinand's assassination by a Yugoslav nationalist led to a Habsburg ultimatum against the Kingdom of Serbia. This initiated formation of several alliances and few weeks later the major powers were at war. Since all the involved powers had colonies, the conflict spread around the world within no time.
The invasion of Serbia by the Austro-Hungarian on 28 July opened the conflict. This was followed by an invasion of Belgium Luxembourg and France by Germany. Later Russia launched an attack on Germany. The Ottoman Empire joined the conflict in 1914, Italy and Bulgaria in 1915 and Romania in 1916.
The war saw the collapse of Russian Empire in 1917, and the following year, after the October Revolution Russia left the war. The defeat by US forces, Germany agreed to a cease fire on 11 November 1918, later known as Armistice Day. By the end of the conflict, the four key imperial powers—the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires—had been conceded both militarily and politically defeat (Gelvin, James, 23). This also marked the end of the last two. This led to the emergence of revolutionized Soviet Union from the Russian Empire, central Europe was completely sub-divided into numerous smaller states The ‘Nation’s League’ was formed in the aim of preventing a similar conflict. The European nationalism injured d by the conflict and the break-up of empires, and the consequences of Germany's defeat and the Treaty of Versailles led to the beginning of World War II in 1939.
World War 2(1939-1945)
The genesis of world war in Europe, is closely linked to the rise of fascism, particularly in Nazi Germany. (Fromkin, David 7). The beginning of World War 2 can be traced back to the First World War (1914-1918). During the First World War, Germany and its allies had been defeated by combined forces of the United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia and others. Germany, under Kaiser was the first to effectively launch an attack on France through Belgium. France, which earlier suffered defeat from Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, wanted revenge for its financial loss and humiliation. (Fromkin, David 9). The present world is still in the process of recovering from the aftermath of World War 2, considered as the most titanic conflict in human history. The invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1st 1939, without any warning, triggered the beginning of World War Two. Two days later, Britain and France were at war with Germany. Within a span of one week, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa were drawn in the conflict. (Gibbs, Phillip 119).
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The event plunged the whole world into six long and bloody years of total war. The conflict stretched from the Hedgerows of Normandy to the roads of Stalingrad, the icy mountains of Norway to the sweltering deserts of Libya, the insect infested jungles of Burma to the coral reefs of the pacific islands. On land, sea and in the air, Poland engaged Germans, Italians battled with Americans and Japanese were at war with Australians in a conflict which was eventually settled with the use of nuclear weapons. World War 2 involved all the world’s greatest powers in a conflict for global domination which in the end saw the death of at least 60 million people and destruction most parts of Europe Asia. (Gibbs, Phillip 121).
United States and Russian forces linked-up at the Elbe River, On April 25, 1945 cutting Germany in two: an area of Soviet control, which became East Germany, and an area of joint British/French/American control, which became West Germany.