The Month that Changed the World: July 1914

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Causes of the Great War

Because Russia was allied to France and Germany was desperate to avoid invasion from the east and west, Berlin opted to attack France before it supported Russia. The German invasion went through neutral Belgium, which drew Britain into the war.

Summaries and Excerpts: July : countdown to war / Sean McMeekin.

The tragedy was that until the last moment when the ultimatums criss-crossed Europe like machine-gun bullets, some kind of negotiated settlement seemed so very close, if only a emperor here or a prime minister there had made a different decision. Sprawling and slightly disorganized, it contains much detail about the German army and the national factors that spawned it.

There were deficiencies in training, planning and leadership. The Imperial German army was not a monolithic formation, but a combination of forces from multiple states within the empire, such as the Bavarian contingent that had its own commanders.

June 28, 1914: The day that changed the World

Rather than commanders issuing detailed battle plans to their subordinates, Auftragstaktik requires commanders to merely state the overall goal of the battle and let their juniors implement the plan as they see fit. Because of Auftragstaktik and weak control by the German high command, the commanders of the two German armies advancing through Belgium and on Paris did as they pleased rather than adhering to the spirit of the Schlieffen Plan.

The result was confusion, a lack of cooperation between the two armies and ultimate doom on the Western Front.

At top, a German cavalry charge. Photo via Wikipedia.

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Gordon Martel

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here. Assesses the political, economic and social impact of the war by examining politics, diplomacy, economics, art and literature. First published in French in , now translated into English, this has been described as a savagely frank, terrifying novel-memoir. Discusses how a new humanitarian front was born from total war. A major new naval history revealing the decisive contribution of the war at sea to Allied victory.

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The Cambridge History of the First World War edited by Jay Winter Cambridge University Press, Three volumes: 1 Global War, covering military history; 2 Political history and how different political systems responded; 3 Civil Society, covering social and cultural history, shifts in gender roles, refugees, minorities, religious beliefs, etc. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

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Nearly 60 percent of those who fought died. Even more went missing or were injured. In just four years between and , World War I changed the face of modern warfare, becoming one of the deadliest conflicts in world history. World War I had a variety of causes, but its roots were in a complex web of alliances between European powers.

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The most powerful players, Great Britain, Russia, and Germany, presided over worldwide colonial empires they wanted to expand and protect. Over the course of the 19th century, they consolidated their power and protected themselves by forging alliances with other European powers. In July , tensions between the Triple Entente also known as the Allies and the Triple Alliance also known as the Central Powers ignited with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand , heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during a visit to Sarajevo.

Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the attack. Russia backed its ally, Serbia. When Austria-Serbia declared war on Serbia a month later, their allies jumped in and the continent was at war.