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Watch the above BBC documentary on the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 + complete the qs in the Word doc

World War I began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and lasted until 1918. During the conflict, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers and allies) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States (the Triple Entente and allies).


Thanks to new military technologies and the horrors of trench warfare, World War I saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction. By the time the war was over and the Allied Powers claimed victory, more than 16 million people—soldiers and civilians alike—were dead.  In its immediate aftermath, a global pandemic which came to be labelled Spanish flu (despite starting in Philadelphia, USA) killed another 20 million with many of those victims coming from nations whose population had been severely weakened by war, starvation etc..

The War to End All Wars, or Great War, as it was referred to at the time in fact did nothing of the sort.  The effects of the 1917 Russian Revolutions and the Paris Peace Treaties can be seen as key contributors to the outbreak of World War Two some 20 years later, which in turn segued immediately into the superpower standoff of the Cold War.

How did war become World War?  Who and what can be seen to be responsible for the outbreak and aftermath of this conflict?  Why did it act as a watershed between the 'long 19thC' and its values, and the modern era that followed?  How did it change both warfare and the world in which we live?

Using the Crash Course World History episode above as an introduction, complete the question sheet attached.....

Causes of World War One

europe-satirical-map wwi.jpg

The Causes of World War One is one of the subjects in modern history that has been written about and written about and then written about some more.  Historians were still more interested in writing about WWI causes than the causes of WW2 in the years after the Second World War as they thought it still needed their attention.  As you can imagine therefore the question 'Why did WWI start?`is a complicated question!

To look at causes of events in history, it is often helpful to divide them into chronological categories - ie; organise them according to when they happened.  One way to manage this is using labels such as long term; short term; immediate.  Long term causes tend to be about forces that build up over a long time.  Short term causes tend to be about actions taken by governments and individuals that have an effect on events.  Immediate causes are usually those that are closest to the event and so are usually seen as the spark to ignite the event, and so much a cause in its own right.


We use these categories to group causes, and see which category has the most important causes in your opinion.  This then allows us to make a judgement about the most important causes of WWI for example, and what type of causes they are - are they to do with LT forces for instance; or ST actions by governments or individuals?  The choice, as always with history, is yours - your task as historians is to make your argument as strong as it can be by presenting both sides of the debate and using evidence to back up the points you make.

Using the digital resources above and below, research the causes of WWI and write down a list of the causes you can find, along with a piece of evidence that shows that cause in action....


Having completed the source exercise on Walsh pgs 12-13, your job now in PreIB is to independently research one of the topics in the news over the last 7 days and find trustworthy and untrustworthy sources.

- why are some trustworthy?

- why are some untrustworthy?

Use your research and answers to fill in this googledoc  on the left by clicking on the book icon


The Kaiser & the paperweight : How Cecil Rhodes + New Imperialism inspired WWI

Life on the Western Front


Having seen war break out across Europe and the trench systems spreading out from the Battle of Marne, the Western Front became the epitome of WWI.  What were the trenches like?  How did the soldiers live?  How did they fight?

Your research task is to use the links and information in this section to create a number of information summary sheets which are to be printed out and brought to class.  These will then be used to create public information posters - keep your summaries short and snappy and arrive with some ideas about how to catch the eye!

Watch the video 3.00-5.45 for ideas on life in trenches

Combat on the Western Front


Case study: Battle of the Somme 1916


The Battle of the Somme is seen by many as representing everything that was wrong about WWI was being fought - primitive outdated tactics, huge loss of life, minimal territorial gain, uncaring leadership.  However, despite the horrific losses (60 000 British casualties on the first day alone still stands as the worst day in British military history), more modern perspectives have argued that it was here that the war moved towards its endgame and the slaughter could stop.  Your task is to use the documentary evidence in the BBC production above to compile evidence that supports both sides using the summary sheet provided...

Why was WWI a 'total war'?

Total war was a term that evolved out of the 20thC.  It was a term that described how war had evolved away from traditional battlefield confrontation with a limited number of professional soldiers.  War was now unlimited conflict with huge untrained armies using industrial technology that could kill and maim on an unprecedented level both on the battlefield and away from it - civilian casualties became increasingly common.  How did World War One contribute to this development?

Click on the PDF button on the slide to the left and make a copy of the mind-map on an A3 sheet of paper - your job now is to read the content and complete the mind-map with as much information as you can.  Once finished, choose 2 ways in which WWI changed warfare and then with a partner argue about WWI's greatest impact on 20thC war...

How was WWI won on the Western Front?


The Western Front was eventually won by the Entente Powers with the late entry of the USA providing crucial material and military support from 1917 on.  The development of technology and tactics had by 1918 seen the defensive technology of the previous 4 years now being overcome by the positive developments achieved since the Somme.  How did the Western Front fall to the Allies?  The answers can best be seen by looking at one of the key battles of 1918 - the Battle of Amiens.  Watch the documentary above and use the attached sheet to take notes.  When completed, finish your research by reading about Amiens in mored depth by clicking on the icon above right....

In addition, WWI was being fought on the Eastern Front, in the Middle East + Balkans, as well as at sea and in the air (details Walsh 38-49) - the battle for the Italian Front was also being waged - more information available on this arena of warfare via the book icon next to the title.....

How was the peace negotiated?

With the retreat of the German army to the Rhine valley and their own border came realisation within the Second Reich that defeat was imminent.  Their population were starving with a British naval blockade effectively sealing their ports and their land borders either battlefields or shared with other powers in a worse situation than themselves.  With the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, came the establishment of a new democratic government, the Weimar Republic who had the unenviable task of negotiating peace as a surrendering power.  They faced a Peace Conference open to the public being held in the capital city of their avowed enemy and chaired by the French, British and US leaders.

Using the video on the left, complete the qs about how this conference unfolded and what demands were made....

National WWI Museum - video lectures

World War I in colour series (8 eps)


I) Causes of 1WW

Road to war

Arms race - ww1 causes diag

II) Practice

Somme live footage

Somme battle film clip - French POV - Battle of Verdun 1916 *

The Christmas Truce


         iGCSE Depth Study - IWW electronic copy

Matu wider reading

Crash Course World History - What started WWI? episodes I & II

40 maps that explain WWI


National WWI Museum - video lectures

 The First World War - 10 episode documentary series 

History of Modern Britain - BBC series - ep3 - The Great War

The Great War - BBC documentary series (26 eps!!)

World War I in colour series (8 eps)

- "Blackadder goes Forth" & the Big Push





I) Causes of 1WW

Road to war

Arms race

Crises in Morocco 1905 + 1911

Balkan Wars 1912-1913


BBC "Days that shook the world" - Assassination of Franz Ferdinand


Long term causes of the world - summary sheet


Causes of the First World War - role of militarism research question


Causes of First World War Prezi Overview - ww1 causes diag - vienna 1913




II) Practice of Western Front

Life in a trench

Somme live footage

Somme battle film clip - French POV -

"All Quiet on the Western Front" 1930 - pt 1 of.....
Maps of the key battlegrounds of WW1 - Western Front on the sidebar top right of the page - 2nd Battle of Ypres 1915 - Battle of Verdun 1916 * - 3rd Battle of Ypres 1917 (Passchendale) - Battle of Cambrai 1917 - 2nd Battle of Marne 1918 - Amiens 1918


"Battle of the Somme 1916 - From Defeat to Victory" BBC documentary



"20th Century Battlefields" - BBC documentary - Battle of Amiens 1918$

 - New technologies harnessed 

ww1 hell in trenches 

creeping barrage demo

The Christmas Truce




III) Effects of WW1 in the Middle East 


Background to the Treaty of Sevres and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire interactive map on Ottoman Empire before WW1


Israel - 20C maps charting modern history of Israel


Iraq - Iraq 2003-2013 - BBC journalist John Simpson`s article on Iraq of 21stC



- "History of Syria" BBC Dan Snow documentary on current conflict

What happened in Armenia in WWI?




Summary of World War One



  • Germany invades Belgium.

  • Britain declares war on Germany.

  • Japan joins the Allied forces: Ottoman Empire soon joins the Central Powers.

  • War spreads to the seas.


On 28 June, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip (a Slav nationalist) assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the killing and because Europe was linked by a series of diplomatic alliances - Austria-Hungary/Germany/Italy (Central Powers) and Britain/France/Russia (Triple Entente/Allied forces) - the affair escalated into full-scale war.

On 4 August, Britain declared war after Germany invaded neutral Belgium (Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary on 12 August). The British government had previously promised to defend Belgium and felt that German troops directly across the Channel were too close for comfort. On 7 August, four divisions making up a British Expeditionary Force crossed to France to attempt to halt the German advance. With French forces, they were successful in achieving their objective at the Battle of Mons (August) and the Battle of the Marne (September). As each side tried to outflank the other, a 'race to the sea' developed and this meant that huge trench systems took shape from the Swiss border through all of northern France. With these trench systems and weapons such as the machine gun, defending was considerably easier than attacking, and so within months of beginning, the war was already showing signs of stagnating.

Although the war in Europe was the main focus - as with the first battle of Ypres (October) - the conflict soon truly became a 'world war': Japan was allied to the Entente forces and the Ottoman Empire soon joined the Central Powers. Conflict between the imperial forces of these competing power-blocs in Africa and South America aggravated the situation.

Like previous continental wars, confrontation was not confined to land. Prior to the outbreak of war, there had been an arms race orientated towards the building of the most up-to-date battleships. Although the British fleet was still by far the largest in the world, the German fleet was new and well equipped. By December, German warships were regularly bombarding the English coast. Only after a naval skirmish at Dogger Bank (January 1915) did further German coastal bombardments cease.



  • Women take up men's jobs.

  • Stalemate continues on the Western Front.

  • The Lusitania passenger liner is sunk, with 1,200 lives lost.

  • London attacked from the air by German Zeppelins.


Many had assumed that 'it will all be over by Christmas', but as the year turned, competing countries increasingly came to realise that the conflict was going to be drawn-out. They had to prepare for such a prospect and, in Britain, this was done by an extension to the Defence of the Realm Act in March 1915 and by the negotiation of loans from the United States. The DORA gave the government emergency powers to censor the press, requisition property and control workers' jobs, pay and conditions. The government was not really prepared for war and complaints from the army that they had insufficient supplies led to the formation of a coalition government in May (thus ending the last ever Liberal government in the UK). By October, women were being recruited to undertake traditional 'men's work' at home, such as working on trains and buses.

On the Western Front the stalemate continued and although innovations were introduced to warfare - such as the use of poison gas by both sides at the second Battle of Ypres (April) - little was achieved except the killing of more men. Throughout the year, battles such as Loos (September) were indecisive and led to little movement in the lines of trenches. In the east, Austria-Hungary was joined as a Central Power by Bulgaria and attacks continued on Serbia and Russia. Italy, however, changed sides and from April 1915 fought with the Allied forces. Late in April, French and British imperial forces attempted to open a new front in Turkey at Gallipoli. Although the Gallipoli campaign continued for nine months, little was achieved and, in January 1916, the battered and bloody Allied forces (largely Australian and New Zealand troops, or ANZACs) withdrew.

At sea, Britain used its superior fleet to impose a blockade on the German ports. Germany suffered shortages and, by the end of the war, food riots had occurred in a number of German towns. In response to the blockade, the German fleet embarked on a concentrated period of submarine warfare. On 7 May, the Lusitania, a luxury passenger liner travelling from the United States, was sunk off the south coast of Ireland. Almost 1,200 civilians were drowned, including over 100 Americans. The German fleet withdrew to port, fearful that a continued campaign might bring the neutral Americans (with their massive resources and manpower) into the war on the side of the Allies.

World War One was truly the first 'total war' - not only was warfare conducted on land and sea but, on 31 May, London witnessed its first attack from the air as bombs were dropped from the great German Zeppelin airships. During the course of the war, over 2,000 civilians were killed or injured as a result of such raids.



  • Conscription for men aged between 18 and 41.

  • A million casualties in ten months: Germany aims to 'bleed France white'.

  • At sea the Battle of Jutland takes place.

  • Armed uprisings in Dublin: the Irish Republic is proclaimed.




Somme - More than 20,000 British soldiers died on the first day of the battle  


 As warfare on all fronts looked like grinding to a halt, the British decided that the solution to the problem was to create a mass popular army. Previous appeals by the war minister, Lord Kitchener ('Your country needs you') had raised over a million volunteers but, on 9 February, conscription began for men aged between 18 and 41. During the course of the war, over 4.5 million Britons served in arms (in addition to over three million troops from the British Empire).

The German solution to the stalemate was to undertake a huge offensive at Verdun (February). The German intention was a war of attrition which would 'bleed France white'. Indeed, between the two armies, during the next ten months, over a million casualties occurred. In an attempt to relieve the pressure on the front at Verdun, the British and French undertook a push at the Somme and, on the first day of the battle (1 July), 20,000 Britons were killed and a further 40,000 injured. Even further innovations, such as the use of tanks (15 July) proved of little effect.

At sea, both the British and German High Seas fleet continued to strive for mastery. The one nearly decisive sea battle took place in the North Sea at Jutland on 31 May 1916. Although German battlecruisers initially caused considerable damage to their British counterparts, the engagement of the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe caught the Germans at a disadvantage and inflicted significant damage. Although the British lost more ships and men in the battle, the German fleet was more heavily damaged and spent most of the rest of the war in its home ports. This allowed the British fleet to effectively control the seas, meaning imperial troops and supplies could reach Europe with much greater ease.

As the war raged on, changes continued to take place in Britain. In February, a scheme for National Savings was introduced to increase government access to funds and, on 21 May, a measure to ensure daylight saving (British summertime) was introduced to allow for greater production in the factories and munitions works of the industrial heartland. It was not all peace and quiet within the British Isles. On 24 April, an armed uprising took place in Dublin in an attempt to assert the need for Irish independence. An Irish Republic was proclaimed and the General Post Office was seized, but the rising was soon crushed by British forces and its leaders executed.



  • German Army retreats to the Hindenburg Line.

  • United States joins the war and assists the Allies.

  • Tank, submarine and gas warfare intensifies.

  • Royal family change their surname to Windsor to appear more British.


The year 1917 saw great changes in the course of the war. In February, the German Army executed a strategic retreat to pre-prepared positions, known as the Hindenburg Line. Major German successes in the east contributed to two revolutions in Russia where Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate (February/March) and a Bolshevik regime under Lenin was established in October/November. The October Revolution took Russia out of the war (an armistice was declared in December 1917 and a Russo-German peace treaty was signed at Brest-Litovsk in March 1918). This meant that German forces could concentrate more fully on the Western Front. The impact of this development was less than might have been expected for, as a result of German attempts to entice Mexico to invade the United States, on 6 April the USA declared war on Germany. This meant not only the prospect of new ships, troops, supplies and weapons assisting on the Western Front but also opened up the prospect of financial and commercial assistance to the depleted Allied nations.

The Allied forces co-ordinated a major push from the spring and, in April, the British pushed forward in the battle of Arras. In July, battle was again joined at Ypres (Passchendaele), where mustard gas was used in an attempt to break the lines and British casualties were severe in respect to the amount of territory gained. A different tactic was employed in November when, at Cambrai, a mass use of tanks was employed for the first time. Although significant ground was taken by the use of the tanks, a German counter-attack later in the month retook all that had been gained earlier.

Outside Europe, Allied forces were increasingly in control. Despite major setbacks in the first two years of the war - as the Turks attempted to gain control of the Suez Canal - by mid-1917 British forces were again in control of Baghdad and Jerusalem at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. (On 2 November, the Balfour Declaration was issued guaranteeing the establishment of a Jewish homeland.) Earlier in the year, Lawrence of Arabia had helped co-ordinate an Arab attack on Akaba and, by October 1918, the Ottoman Empire had agreed to an armistice.

At sea, submarine warfare was intensified and British food reserves ran dangerously low in the spring. Two innovations - the convoy system (where ships travelled in groups with military escort) and rationing (of meat, butter, lard, margarine and sugar) - led to the overcoming of this problem. Developments on the Home Front came with equal pace: on 28 March the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was formed, placing women into the heat of warfare in a military sense for the first time; in April 1918, the junior service (the Royal Air Force) was founded. British anti-German feeling had increased as the war had gone on and, on 17 June, the British royal family changed their surname to Windsor to appear more British.



  • Germany launches major offensive on the Western Front.

  • Allies launch successful counter-offensives at the Marne and Amiens.

  • Armistice signed on November 11, ending the war at 11am.

  • In Britain, a coalition government is elected and women over 30 succeed in gaining the vote.


German forces released from the Eastern Front launched a major offensive on the Western Front in the spring of 1918. Despite some minor initial successes, by July the Germans had failed to break the Allied lines and, in effect, this meant that the war was reaching its endgame. Allied counter-offensives at the Marne and at Amiens (August) were successful and in the early autumn a 'hundred days' of semi-mobile warfare forced the Germans back beyond the Hindenburg line and freed much of occupied France and Belgium. On 11 November, at 11am in the Forest of Compiègne, an armistice between the Allied forces and Germany was signed and fighting stopped. Other Central powers sued for peace but across the world, millions of young men were dead - 947,000 of them from the British Empire.

At home in Britain, victory was greeted with celebrations and a return to something like normality. So many things had changed, however, and in a General Election held in December (where the coalition government were returned with a massive majority), women over 30 were allowed the vote for the first time. Although an armistice was agreed in November 1918, it was not until 28 June 1919 that the Treaty of Versailles was signed between the Allied powers and Germany, thus officially ending the war 'to end all wars'. Further treaties with the other defeated Central powers followed through 1919 and, in the victorious countries, public celebrations marked the end of hostilities.

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