World War 1 in exactly 500 words

An overview of the first global conflict.

If you have a sibling, you'll know what it’s like to annoy each other for hours until it leads to a fistfight that ends in at least one bruised ego. World War 1 was similar. Except, instead of a fistfight, 20 million people died.

The Build-Up

In 1870, France loses a war against Germany.

Germany then goes through a golden period. Its industry booms. It forms alliances with Austria-Hungary and Italy. And like a post-pubescent bully who suddenly recognizes his power - it begins colonizing African countries.

The French fear Germany’s rise and start looking for allies. Russia seems friendly, and they join forces. Britain also starts worrying about Germany and joins Team France.


The Trigger

In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina.

This annoys Serbia because they had their eyes on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbia decides to find friends who hate Austria-Hungary as much as they do. Luckily, Russia fits the bill.

In 1914, a Serbian living in Bosnia-Herzegovina kills the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife.

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

Then, all hell breaks loose.


The War

As with any fight involving gangs, everybody gets involved.

Germany attacks France, but the French stave them off.

Germany also tries capturing Belgian ports that supply stuff to Britain. The Belgians flood the place so the Germans can't advance. Belgium:1 Germany:0.

The Russians attack Austria-Hungary, and Germany steps in to help.

The Ottoman Empire joins the war as part of Team Germany. This creates war fronts near the Suez Canal and in Kuwait (because everybody loves oil). To mess with the Ottoman Empire, Britain supports an Arab rebellion (trust white folks to fund rebellions in brown countries).

Meanwhile, the relatively uninvolved Italians have finished their post-lunch Macchiato and decide to switch sides. They declare war on Austria-Hungary in the hope of gaining new territory.

For some reason, Japan is throwing a fit in Asia. They join the war and annex German colonies in the Pacific and China.

The US is sitting on the sidelines doing what it does best - selling stuff to everyone fighting the war. Germany then starts sinking American ships for fun. Then the British intercept a telegram from Germany promising to help Mexico invade the US. America is pissed and decides to distribute some democracy. It declares war on Germany.

Sensing that the bully is getting bullied, the French, British, and Belgians start storming German colonies in Africa.


Everyone’s had enough

By 1917 everyone’s tired.

A Russian revolt brings down the Czars. Soon after, the Bolshevik Revolution results in Russia pulling out of the war.

The German economy has taken a beating. After another failed attack on France, the Germans mutiny, and a revolution results in the German emperor abdicating the throne and signing an armistice.

In 1919, a peace treaty is signed in Versailles. The Germans are humiliated, blamed for everything, and made to pay compensation.

The bully’s ego is hurt.

He’ll be back for revenge in about 20 years.

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