- from World War I
World War I was called the Great War, but the only thing great about it was its size.
Fought on three continents, it killed more than 8 million people in just over four years. Millions more were wounded. Meanwhile, 5 million civilians died from bombs, disease, and hunger.
The war started in 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. He was the heir to the empire of Austria and Hungary. However, the roots of the war were deeper than that. European nations had been wrestling with one another for money, colonies, and military power for years. Britain felt threatened by Germany’s growing navy. Meanwhile, the empires of Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey were afraid that the countries they controlled would rebel against them.
Countries were so afraid of being attacked that they formed alliances. If an attack came, the allied countries agreed to fight on the same side. By the summer of 1914, Germany and Austria-Hungary had an alliance. So did France and Russia, and Britain was friendly with them. That’s how one small event pulled Europe’s five most powerful countries into a huge war.