Origins, outbreak and conclusions

In July-August 1914 a local war quickly escalated into one incorporating most of Europe and substantial parts of the world. After four years of fighting and millions dead, the conclusion of the conflict resulted in the dramatic restructuring of European and international boundaries. How did this conflict begin? Why did it escalate and what was the impact of both war and peace on the countries involved?

 

War news on wagon in Copenhagen (detail)

Europe before 1914

Article by:
David Stevenson

Considering factors such as globalization and military advancement, Professor David Stevenson examines the political and diplomatic landscape of Europe before the outbreak of World War One.

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Map of Europe in 1914 (detail)

Origins and outbreak

Article by:
David Stevenson

How did World War One break out? Professor David Stevenson closely examines the three stages that led to war being declared between Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Germany, Russia, France, and Britain.

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Allegory of the United States of America

Neutrality and intervention

Article by:
David Stevenson

In 1914 five European Great Powers went to war. How did this escalate into a 'world war' involving nearly all European countries and many internationally?

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Danish syndicalist Thørger Thørgersen speaking at a demonstration in Copenhagen (Grønttorvet)

Making and breaking nations

Article by:
David Stevenson

World War One resulted in radical changes to national boundaries. Professor David Stevenson explains the changes that took place in Europe's political geography.

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French refugees in the north

Aftermath of World War One

Article by:
David Stevenson

Professor David Stevenson explains how the Treaty of Versailles, the Treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon and the Treaties of Neuilly and Sèvres re-drew Europe's post-war boundaries.

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Cupidity

The debate on the origins of World War One

Article by:
Annika Mombauer

Beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Dr Annika Mombauer explores the opposing debates about the origins of World War One. Is it possible for historians to arrive at a consensus?

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Further Themes

The war machine

How were the 65 million men who fought in WWI recruited, armed and organised?

Life as a soldier

What was life like for the millions of professional, conscripted or recruited soldiers?

Race, empire and colonial troops

Over four million non-white men served in WWI. Explore more about their lives and responsibilities.

Civilians

What was life like for civilians, women, children and those displaced by the fighting?

Propaganda

How was propaganda used to inspire patriotism, dehumanise the enemy and change opinions?

Representation and memory

In addition to poetry, what were the other creative responses to the War? How have these affected our memory and understanding?

Historical debates

How have the views of historians and our understanding of World War One changed over time?