Outbreak of World War One in 1914

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/war-reenactment-battle-soldiers-1822769/
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/war-reenactment-battle-soldiers-1822769/

The year 1914 was a pivotal year for the world. It was the year that World War One began, and it would change the course of history forever. In this article, we will take a look at some of the key events that took place during 1914.

The shot heard around the world

The first event that we will look at is the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This event is widely considered to be the trigger for the start of World War One. On June 28th, 1914, Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo in Bosnia. He was there to inspect Austro-Hungarian troops, but he was also seen as a symbol of Habsburg power.

 

 

During his visit, Franz Ferdinand was shot by a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip. This act set off a chain of events that would lead to war. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assassination and declared war on them on July 28th. This act ultimately led to a domino effect where other countries began declaring war on each other.

Declarations of war

Following the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand, the first country to declare war was Austria-Hungary. They did this on July 28th, 1914, just a month after the assassination took place. Serbia was their main target, but they also had tensions with Russia.

 

Russia began to mobilise its troops in response to the declaration of war from Austria-Hungary. This act led France to start mobilising its troops as well. At this point, there were already four countries that were preparing for war: Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Russia, and France.


The Schlieffen Plan

The United Kingdom was not far behind. On August fourth, they declared war on Germany. The reason for this was because Germany implemented what they called the 'Schlieffen Plan'. The plan had been created in 1905, but it was never put into action until 1914. The Schlieffen Plan was a German military strategy that called for a rapid invasion of France through Belgium. The goal was to avoid fighting a war on two fronts: both against France and Russia. 

 

The theory was that if Germany could defeat France in a quick war, then they would be able to focus their efforts on Russia. However, Britain saw the invasion of Belgium, which was a neutral country, as a violation of their alliance with Belgium, and decided to intervene. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) landed in France on the seventh of August.

The Battle of Tannenberg

As the German army invaded France through Belgium, they also invaded Russia through East Prussia. This led to the Battle of Tannenberg, which was one of the first major battles of World War One. The Russians had been planning to invade Germany through East Prussia, but the Germans were able to intercept them at Tannenberg. The battle took place between August 26th and September second and was fought between Russia and Germany. It ended in a crushing defeat for the Russians. 

 

This victory gave the Germans a much-needed boost of confidence, and it also showed the world that they were a force to be reckoned with. The Battle of Tannenberg was one of the first major battles of World War One, and it set the stage for many more to come.

The Rape of Belgium

As the German army invaded Belgium, they committed numerous atrocities against the Belgian people. This included the murder of civilians, the destruction of homes and businesses, and even the violent treatment of women and children. These acts came to be known as 'The Rape of Belgium'. The German army was widely condemned for their actions, and it led to a further deterioration of relations between Belgium and Germany.

 

However, Germany's armies had successfully followed the Schlieffen Plan and had entered France by September 1914. They quickly advanced towards Paris and it looked like they were going to steal an early victory in the war.


The First Battle of the Marne

The French and British armies were not doing as well in their fight against the Germans. However, they were able to stop the German advance at the First Battle of the Marne. This battle was fought between September sixth and ninth and ended in a draw, but it was considered to be a victory for the Allies because they were able to stop the German advance into France.

The Race to the Sea

After the First Battle of the Marne, both sides realized that they were not going to be able to win a quick victory. The German armies began retreating back towards Belgium while trying to fight off the advancing allied forces. Germany was looking for a natural defensive line which they could hold against their attackers. However, this essentially resulted in both sides realising that they had to move quickly to capture the most important towns, especially the coastal port cities.

 

This led to a series of battles known as the 'Race to the Sea'. These battles were fought between October and November 1914 and were an attempt by both sides to outflank each other. However, neither side was successful, and it resulted in a stalemate.

The First Battle of Ypres

The Race to the Sea during 1914 culminated in the First Battle of Ypres. This battle was fought between October nineteenth and November twenty-second. It was a very bloody battle, with both sides taking heavy casualties. The Allies were ultimately able to drive back the German advance, but at great cost. 

 

This battle is famous because it saw the end of the period of the war where vast armies moved in rapid advances across open ground. The sheer death toll that resulted from new industrial weapons, like machineguns and artillery, showed both sides that leaving armies without defences was foolhardy, and that they had to find a way to protect their forces.


The Start of Trench Warfare

Trench warfare is a type of fighting where both sides dug trenches in order to protect themselves from enemy attack. This type of warfare was first used in the First Battle of Ypres, and it quickly became the norm for the rest of the war. Trench warfare resulted in very high casualties, because soldiers were often stuck in one place and unable to move.

 

The use of trench warfare meant that both sides had to find a way to break through the enemy lines, which often resulted in even bloodier battles. Over time, both sides developed new technologies and tactics in order to try and break through the enemy lines, but this only resulted in higher casualties.

The Christmas Truce

One of the most famous events of World War One is the 'Christmas Truce'. This occurred on December twenty-fourth, 1914, when British and German soldiers decided to stop fighting and instead celebrate Christmas together.

 

The truce was only meant to last for that one day, but it eventually lasted for several days. During this time, the soldiers exchanged gifts, played football together, and even sang carols. However, the truce eventually ended and the fighting resumed.

The End of 1914

By the end of 1914, the situation in Europe had changed dramatically. Fourteen million people had been drafted into the armies, and over four million had been killed or wounded. The war was no longer a short conflict that would be over by Christmas. Instead, it had become a long, grinding battle where both sides were fully committed to fighting.

 

It would take another four years of fighting, and millions more casualties, before the war finally came to an end. 1914 was only the beginning of one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.