How did World War 1 start?

  • Before World War 1 started, a series of defence alliances existed between many European countries. If one country declared war against another, other countries would be forced, by treaty, to enter the conflict.
  • France, Britain and Ireland, and Russia formed an alliance known as the Triple Entente. Germany was allied with Austria-Hungry. They were known as the Central Powers.

  • When Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, it triggered a chain of events that resulted in World War 1.
  • Following the assassination, Austria-Hungary, who blamed Serbia for the death of the Archduke, threatened war unless they agreed to a set of harsh demands. Germany sided with Austria-Hungary, and Russia backed Serbia. Europe was on the brink of war.
  • On 28th July, one month after the Archduke’s assassination, Austria-Hungary (supported by Germany) declared war on Serbia. On 1st August, Germany declared war on Russia, and on 3rd August Germany declared war on France.
  • On 4th August, German troops marched on France, taking a route through Belgium. Britain had agreed to guarantee Belgium’s neutrality, and immediately declared war on Germany.
  • British and German forces clashed on 23rd August at the Battle of Mons, which took place in Belgium. This was the first battle between the British and the Germans on the Western Front.

What next? Discover some more facts about World War 1.

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