- from World War I
People called World War I the Great War, but the only thing great about it was its size.
It was fought on three continents. In just over four years, more than 8 million died. Millions more were wounded. Five million civilians died from bombs, disease, and hunger.
The war began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. But the road to war had begun earlier. European nations had been competing for money, colonies, and military power for years. Germany’s growing navy threatened Britain. Plus, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Turkey empires were afraid of uprisings in countries they ruled.
Fearing attacks, countries formed alliances. That means they would fight on the same side. By 1914, Germany and Austria-Hungary had an alliance. So did France and Russia, and Britain was their ally. That’s how one small event pulled Europe’s five most powerful countries into a huge war.