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T he bullets that started the First World War – the greatest armed conflict which up to that time the world had seen – were fired by a young nationalist from Serbia, once a separate country but now a part of Yugoslavia. The bullets killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungary, and his wife. The date was June 28, 1914. Exactly one month later, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the First World War began. By the time it ended, about 8,500,000 people had been killed.

F or many years before the war started, there had been problems among the nations of Europe. The new factories that were multiplying in Europe created a competition among the nations for additional world markets and for sources of raw materials. The competition of colonies caused troubles, too. France and Britain’s share of Africa caused great anger in Germany. Austro-Hungary was trying to get a port on the Aegean Sea, but Serbia and Montenegro stood in the way. All of the larger nations of Europe built up their armies.

W ithin a few days of Austro-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia, other nations of Europe jumped into the war on one side or the other. The line-up of major nations had Austro-Hungary, Germany, Turkey and Bulgaria on one side. On the other side were the Allies: Great Britain and the Commonwealth, France, Russia, Belgium and Japan.

G ermany dominated the fighting in the early days of the war. German troops marched through Belgium and invaded France. They got to within a few kilometres of Paris before they were stopped by both France and Britain. In the east, Germany and Austro-Hungary pushed through Poland and advanced into Russia. Italy entered the war in 1915 on the side of the Allies. Italy’s entry forced the Central Powers to fight on the southern front.

A fter some early victories, Germany’s armies were halted in the west. The land fighting settled down to the horrors and futility of trench warfare. Mons 1914, Verdun 1916, and the Somme 1916, were some of the most terrible battles. In the east, the German defeat of Russia made possible the Russian Revolution, and the Bolsheviks made peace with Germany.

A t sea, Great Britain’s navy was in command. German warships did not venture beyond the North Sea. Finally, however, the Germans turned to submarines. They believed that if the submarines could prevent supplies from reaching Britain and France, the Allies would be forced to surrender. After a number of American ships had been sunk by German submarines, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies on April 6, 1917.

W ithin a year, German, Austrian and Turkish armies were in retreat throughout Europe. An agreement ending the fight was signed on November 11, 1918, in a railway carriage in Northern France – the same carriage in which the French had signed the surrender in 1870. It was ‘Armistice Day’. The formal Peace Treaty was signed at Versailles on June 28, 1919.

T he First World War greatly changed the map of Europe, but it solved almost none of the problems which had caused the war. Germany, Austria and Turkey lost their empires. New countries were born, among them Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and a reunited Poland. Above all, the Russian Empire had become the USSR. The League of Nations was created in the hopes of preventing future wars.

A. Answer the questions.

  1. What was the immediate cause of the First World War?
  2. What was the main cause of the First World War?
  3. What were the results of the First World War?

B. Complete the chart.

winners of the First World War

losers of the First World War

 

 

 

 

C. Complete the sentences.

  1. The United States of America entered the First World War after …
  2. The ‘Versailles Peace Treaty’ symbolizes … over their enemies.

D. Match the numbers and the letters so as to get meaningful collocations.

  1. Serbian a. declaration
  2. Bolsheviks b. troops
  3. war c. nationalist
  4. armed d. Revolution

E. Complete the two sentences with the suitable collocations from exercise ‘D’.

  1. A ________________ fired his bullets and killed the Archduke, Franz Ferdinand and killed him.
  2. The ________________ was due to Russia’s defeat in the First World War.

Key

Exercise A

  1. The immediate cause of the First World War was the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
  2. The main cause of the First World War was the competition among European countries for the worldwide markets, raw materials and colonies.
  3. The results of the First World War were:
  • the defeat of Austria, Turkey and Germany in the war and consequently, they lost their empires
  • the birth of some new countries such as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
  • the creation of the League of Nations

Exercise B

winners of the First World War

losers of the First World War

Britain , Commonwealth countries, France, Russia, Belgium, Italy and the USA

Germany , Austro-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria

 

Exercise C

  1. The USA entered the First World War after they had lost many ships in the worldwide conflict.
  2. The ‘Versailles Peace Treaty’ symbolizes the victory of the Allies over their enemies.

Exercise D

  • Serbian nationalist
  • Bolsheviks Revolution
  • war declaration
  • armed troops

Exercise E

  1. Serbian nationalist
  2. Bolsheviks Revolution