World War I

The first World War began as a local war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia in 1914. It grew into a war involving 32 countries. The Allies included Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States. These countries fought against the Central Powers which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.

Archduke Ferdinand, of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by a Serb on June 28, 1914. This was the formal start of the war, although the countries had problems with each other before that. The countries of Britain, France and Germany had all grown strong and had large armies. They all wanted to sell their products to foreign countries. Several times Britain and France had been in strong arguments with Germany over markets in Africa. Europe was divided into two groups who were hostile to each other.

After the assassination, Austria declared war on Serbia. A few days later, Germany declared war on Russia, then on France. As the war progressed, other countries took sides and declared war. Finally the United States entered the war against Germany on April 6, 1917.

At first, the USA was neutral (NOO trul). But the Germans were sinking ships in an area around Britain (to prevent food and supplies from reaching Britain). The Germans sank a passenger ship named the Lusitania without warning, killing many people onboard, including 128 Americans. Later they sank a French ship, also killing some Americans. The Germans promised to stop sinking ships without warnings and trying to save lives. They kept their promise until January 1917. In April, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war.

The Germans thought they would defeat the British by using submarines. But the British used fleets of ships to protect the goods on supply ships and planes to spot the submarines. Also, when America joined the war, they built so many new ships that the Germans couldn't destroy enough ships. The submarines did not win the war for them, as the Germans hoped.

Germany tried to defeat Britain by bombing their cities, especially London. They hoped they would destroy the British people's economy and morale (more AL). They did not succeed. There were many fights between planes and groups of planes in this war. After the Americans joined the war, Germany's air force was greatly outnumbered. By July of 1918, the Allies were winning the war. Germany was trying to reach Paris, France, but the Allies defeated Germany at the famous Argonne Forest Battle. Finally, the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (vur SIGH).

President Wilson wanted to keep the world at peace. He helped to create the League of Nations. He wanted countries to be able to talk about their problems and never go to war. Sadly, this was not what happened.

True and False Questions

1. The Allies fought against the Central Powers in World War I.


2. Britain was one of the Central Powers.


3. The United States joined the fighting in 1914.


4. Germany used submarines to sink ships.


5. The League of Nations solved all the world's problems.


6. The Treaty of Paris was signed at the end of the war.


7. More than 30 countries were fighting during World War I.


8. A Serbian man was assassinated, starting the war.


9. President Wilson helped create the League of Nations.


10. Many airplanes were used in this war.