World War 1

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Before World War I, many European nations grew their military powers and produced new military technology dramatically as a result of direct competition over potential colonies. Countries such as Germany and Britain engaged in a race to produce the most powerful armies through invention and mass production of weapons. This arms race is often cited as a leading cause for World War I.

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  • How many people died in World War I?

    Q: How many people died in World War I?

    A: Although there is some debate about the true number of World War I casualties, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that a total of 5,142,631 souls perished during the war. Russia lost the highest number of people, with 1.7 million people or 76.3 percent of its armed forces killed, while 116,516 American lives were lost.
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  • Who won World War I?

    Q: Who won World War I?

    A: The Allies won World War I. The primary members of the Allies were the British Empire, France, Italy (after 1915) and the Russian Empire, although Russia pulled out before the end of the war. Japan, Greece, Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and several other nations contributed to the Allied cause. The United States fought alongside Allied troops but never formally entered the alliance.
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  • How did World War I lead to World War II?

    Q: How did World War I lead to World War II?

    A: The terms on which World War I ended set the stage for World War II, which began just 20 years later, by negatively impacting the belligerent countries politically, economically and socially. The Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended World War I in 1919, was an instrument of vengeance against the Central Powers, and dissatisfaction over its terms left the defeated nations vulnerable to extremist movements promising revenge.
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  • Why was WWI called the "war to end all wars"?

    Q: Why was WWI called the "war to end all wars"?

    A: After it was over, World War I was called "the war to end all wars" because it was so destructive that the nations of the world wanted to prevent such slaughter from ever happening again. This prompted prolonged negotiations over proposed solutions like the League of Nations. Unfortunately, rather than end war, the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 set the stage for World War II.
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  • What was the convoy system in World War I?

    Q: What was the convoy system in World War I?

    A: The convoy system in World War I involved organizing ships into large groups under the protection of armed naval vessels to provide better defense and countermeasures against German U-boat attacks. The ships protected were usually civilian merchant vessels, military supply ships and troop transports. Warships, such as destroyers, cruisers and torpedo boats, were used for convoy protection. They also sometimes deployed aerial reconnaissance to spot potential underwater U-boat movement.
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  • How did the Treaty of Versailles change the world map?

    Q: How did the Treaty of Versailles change the world map?

    A: The Treaty of Versailles radically reorganized the map of Europe, to the detriment of the German Empire, and restructured many of Germany's former overseas colonies. In every case, Central Power nations lost territory, and Allied nations gained territory, although some colonies were transferred to international control, and a number of European countries became independent.
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  • Why did Great Britain get involved in World War I?

    Q: Why did Great Britain get involved in World War I?

    A: When Britain entered World War I, it was primarily in reaction to Germany invading Belgium. Britain promised to defend Belgium in perpetuity under the Treaty of London, which it entered into in 1839. A secondary reason the country joined the war was too ensure that no European country became significantly larger or more powerful than the others.
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  • What was the Arms Race during WW1?

    Q: What was the Arms Race during WW1?

    A: Before World War I, many European nations grew their military powers and produced new military technology dramatically as a result of direct competition over potential colonies. Countries such as Germany and Britain engaged in a race to produce the most powerful armies through invention and mass production of weapons. This arms race is often cited as a leading cause for World War I.
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  • How was poison gas used in World War I?

    Q: How was poison gas used in World War I?

    A: During WWI, poison gas was used as a type of chemical warfare to attack large armies. The gas was delivered either by using the wind to carry the poisonous gas to the enemy's front line or by placing the gas into artillery and aerial bombs and firing them at the enemy's front lines.
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  • What caused the U.S. entry into WWI?

    Q: What caused the U.S. entry into WWI?

    A: On April 6, 1917, the United States officially declared war against Germany after the country repeatedly attacked armed and unarmed vessels traveling to Britain, resulting in American casualties. In 1915, Germany had enacted a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare against any ships that entered the British war zone. President Woodrow Wilson maintained neutrality until Germany ignored an agreement to ensure passenger safety before destroying enemy ships.
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  • What is the definition of the alliance system?

    Q: What is the definition of the alliance system?

    A: The definition of an alliance system is a formal agreement or treaty between two or more nations to cooperate for specific purposes. An alliance system can also be defined as an agreement between individuals, families or corporations. However, the term alliance system is most often used in reference to a historical event when an agreement was reached to prevent the outbreak of war or to define territorial borders.
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  • Why did the United States reject the Treaty of Versailles?

    Q: Why did the United States reject the Treaty of Versailles?

    A: The United States rejected the Treaty of Versailles due to the opposition of a group of senators called the Irreconcilables, who believed that under the terms of the treaty, the United States would lose too much of its autonomy to the League of Nations. All of the Irreconcilables were enemies of President Woodrow Wilson, who originally advocated for the League of Nations and helped compose the details of the treaty.
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  • Why did the United States want to remain neutral in WWI?

    Q: Why did the United States want to remain neutral in WWI?

    A: The majority of Americans felt that the United States should stay out of World War I because it was not a signatory to any of the agreements that had lured the European powers into conflict across the continent, so President Woodrow Wilson declared a neutrality policy, attempting instead to broker a peace agreement. Even when a German sub sank the British ocean liner Lusitania in 1915, with 128 Americans on board, the United States demanded a stop to the destruction of passenger ships, and Germany agreed, leading to continued American neutrality.
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  • Why were the Balkans considered a powder keg?

    Q: Why were the Balkans considered a powder keg?

    A: The Western Balkans were a source of ethnic tensions primarily due to the fact that Yugoslavia was formed as a federation of distinct ethnic groups. Once the Soviet central leadership failed in Yugoslavia, many of the individual groups within the country saw no reason to remain federated.
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  • Who were the Allied Powers in World War I?

    Q: Who were the Allied Powers in World War I?

    A: The Allied powers in World War I included Great Britain, France, the United States and Italy. The Allies included 25 nations in all.
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  • Why did Russia pull out of World War I?

    Q: Why did Russia pull out of World War I?

    A: Russia pulled out of World War I because the communists wanted to focus on internal rather than external problems after they seized power in the February Revolution of 1917. Growing battlefield losses and defeats had exacerbated the discontent of the Russian populace that led to the revolution, and the Bolsheviks wanted to consolidate their power rather than continue to oppose the Central Powers with their weakened military.
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  • Q: What was the cause of World War I?

    A: Although the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is cited as the main cause that thrust the world into war, many causes and events led up to World War I. Some of the secondary causes include the mutual defense alliances in place at the time, nationalism, imperialism and militarism.
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  • Q: What age were soldiers in Word War I?

    A: While the official ages to serve in all of the countries in World War 1 ranged from about 17-45 years old, records indicate that some soldiers serving in the British army were as young as 12 years old.
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  • Q: Why did Russia drop out of World War I?

    A: According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Russia dropped out of World War I as a direct result of the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, in which the provisional government was overthrown and Lenin became leader. Years of defeat on the battlefield had weakened the Czarist regime and strengthened the Bolshevik cause, and Lenin wanted to divert resources from the war to consolidate the Bolshevik victory at home.
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  • Q: What role did Vimy Ridge play in World War I?

    A: The Battle of Vimy Ridge was Canada's biggest victory in World War I. Vimy Ridge was a strategic location situated on a ridge that gave the German's Sixth Army both the high ground and an excellent vantage point for 6 miles in all directions. Whichever side held the ridge would be able to overlook the network of trenches that both the Allies and the Germans had established for what would become the Battle of Arras.
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  • Q: Who was involved in the Battle of the Somme?

    A: Also known as the Somme Offensive, the Battle of the Somme was initiated by the French and British against the German Empire while attempting to make ground on the Western Front during World War I. The battle lasted from July to November 1916 near the Somme River in northwestern France.
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