Economic Changes - Post World War 1 (Germany)
One hundred years ago today, on August 4, 1914, German troops began pouring over the border into Belgium, starting the first major battle of World War I. The Great War killed 10 million people, redrew the map of Europe, and marked the rise of the United States as a global power. Here are 40 maps that explain the conflict — why it started, how the Allies won, and why the world has never been the same.
- Germans cross the River Dnieper in the Ukraine.
Immediately prior to the war's outbreak in 1914, Central Europe was dominated by two powerful states: Germany to the north and its weaker cousin, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to the South. The two countries formed the core of the Central Powers, also known as the Quadruple Alliance because they were joined after war began by Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey). The other major pre-war alliance was the Triple Entente, a pact between Russia, Great Britain, and France (called the Allied Powers during the war). These alliances set the stage for a massive war: any dispute between two members of these blocs could pull in all of the others, as the treaties committed these states to defending their allies. And that's exactly what happened.
The Franco-Prussian War, 40 years before World War I, birthed the unified German state. Prussia baited the French into launching a war, and then aligned with several small German states to decisively defeat France and seize the economically valuable Alsace-Lorraine province. The unified Germany that emerged from the war instantly became one of the most powerful states in Europe, overturning the continental balance of power. Germany's rising power alarmed Britain and Russia, drawing both countries into closer alignment with their long-time rival, France.
- Germans begin a drive toward Stalingrad in the USSR.
The House of Habsburg ruled Austria continuously from the 13th century through to the end of World War One. At various times, their domain included everything from Belgium to Naples to Portugal to Mexico. On the eve of the war, however, their holdings had dwindled to a diverse range of central European territories known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire (or Austria-Hungary for short). This multi-ethnic imperium wasn't well suited to the nationalistic spirit of the times. Serbia wanted to incorporate the empire's Serbian- and Croatian-speaking territories into its own kingdom, a move that Austria-Hungary saw as a fundamental challenge to their core governing ideology: Habsburg dynastic legitimacy trumps ethnic nationalism.
- Germans begin a withdrawal from the Caucasus.
Anne Frank was one of the more than one million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. She was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, to Otto and Edith Frank.
- Soviets begin an offensive against the Germans in Stalingrad.
Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It was reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004, its interior in 2005 and, after 13 years of rebuilding, the church was reconsecrated on 30 October 2005 with festive services lasting through the Protestant observance of Reformation Day on 31 October.
- Germans begin their last offensive against Kursk.
The main participants in the war mobilized over the course of about a week. First Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after Serbia refused to acceed to Vienna's extensive demands regarding Serbian support for anti-Austrian groups. Then Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary. This required Germany to go to war in defense of its ally. German war planning assumed that any war with Russia would expand to include war with France, and the operational plan called for attacking France first. Thus the main practical step Germany took to defend Austria was to launch a preemptive attack on France and Belgium, neither of whom had officially entered the war yet. The violation of Belgian neutrality brought Britain into the war and it was off to the races. But the literal timing shouldn't confuse you — it had long been French policy to support Serbia against Austria in hopes of initiating a war in which Russia would help France fight Germany, which was far too powerful for France to fight alone.