World War I

World War I

What caused one of the deadliest wars in the history?

 

When it comes to family, putting up with eccentricities and egos is expected. But sometimes even family relationships can’t prevent disputes. This was case with three cousins at the centre of World War I.

In the early 1900s much of the world was split into Empires: the British, French, Russians, Germans, and Austro-Hungarians all had theirs. Each Empire had friendships and alliances with other Empires, which in wartime triggered off a domino effect, drawing in country after country.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

The spark that set war off was the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire by rebels who wanted to break free from the Empire. The assassin was Serbian, which pitted the Austro-Hungarian Empire against the Kingdom of Serbia. Serbia sought help from its ally, the Russian Empire, led by Tsar Nicholas II. And so the domino effect began.

Nicholas’ cousin, leader of the German Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was an ally of Austro-Hungary and told Nicholas to back down. Nicholas refused, so Wilhelm joined the war on the opposing side. Nicholas turned to his allies, the French and British Empires. And so the third cousin, leader of the British Empire King George V, got involved, being both cousin to Nicholas and Wilhelm.

The destroyed Belgian city of Ypres

More dominoes began to fall, drawing in the Ottoman Empire, siding with Wilhelm, and the Italian Empire, siding with Nicholas and George. Countries from further afield were pulled in, including Japan, China, and the USA. The result was over 40 million casualties, almost half of which were fatal.

Wilhelm and his allies eventually admitted defeat. But Nicholas didn’t fare well either. The Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian Empires all fell. Revolution in Russia saw the execution of Nicholas before the war ended, while Wilhelm was exiled to the Netherlands. The last cousin left standing with an Empire was George.

 

A simple explanation by Lux Fatimathas

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