Questions tagged [world-war-one]

Questions on World War I, events that caused it, strategy and tactics employed by the battling sides and the consequences of this war.

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79
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7answers
20k views

Why bother to attack in trench warfare?

At least on the western front, trenches were heavily defended. Any charge was just suicidal, with heavy losses for the attacker and much smaller losses for the defender. As there is a big strategic ...
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Is there any evidence to support the claim that the United States was “suckered into WW1” by Zionists, made by Benjamin Freedman in his 1961 speech?

In the comments to another question another user of History:SE made a remarkable, if unbelievable, claim: Actually, Germany was shocked when the US declared war and entered on the side of Great ...
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5answers
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How did such a relatively minor event as the assassination of an archduke start World War I?

The assassination of the Austrian archduke was, considered in the context of all Europe's near-explosive politics, a relatively minor event. So how did it cause such a major war?
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7answers
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Was WW1 generally foreseen?

I am looking for information on the general perception of the educated population in the decade leading up to WW1. I would like to know to what extent a tragedy of the scale of WW1 was foreseen. Was ...
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Why was World War I ended on Nov 11 11:00, rather than immediately upon signing the armistice?

The First World War ended on 11th Nov at 11:00. But my question is why? If peace has been agreed (The armistice was signed at 5:00), why not stop the fighting with immediate effect rather than have ...
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5answers
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How was Germany able to hold itself together, while Austria-Hungary could not?

After defeat in WWI, the monarchies of the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire rapidly crumbled, and their outlying provinces took the opportunity to declare independence and sovereignty. ...
44
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6answers
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Why did Germany officially acknowledge the contents of the Zimmerman telegram?

The Zimmerman telegram was a diplomatic message from officials in Germany to the Mexican president, sent in 1917. After being intercepted and decoded by Britain's intelligence community, its contents ...
38
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2answers
8k views

In the “Christmas truce” of 1914 were there any football (soccer) matches between British and German troops?

British and German troops meeting in no man's land during the unofficial truce. Source: Wikipedia As the holiday season is upon us again this year, I am reminded of the 1914 Christmas truce (German: ...
34
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6answers
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Why did Italy abandon its alliance with Germany in WW1 and join the Allied side?

Before WW1 Italy was part of an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, yet it didn't join them when the war started and it even joined the Allied side later during the war. Why did Italy do this? ...
34
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2answers
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Did the Germans purposefully arrange to send Lenin to Russia to start a revolution?

A recent documentary, The World Wars, on the History Channel suggested, strongly, that the Imperial German government secretly arranged safe-passage for Vladimir Lenin to return to Moscow from ...
33
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6answers
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Was World War I a war of liberals against authoritarians?

An essay by Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, March 14, 2019, argues for rethinking the big theme of 20th-century history as a struggle between liberalism and authoritarianism, and for an ...
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Why was the Treaty of Versailles so harsh?

When Germany signed the armistice in the first world war, they were still (technically) in a decent bargaining position. Germany still had troops in France and Belgium There were no enemy forces in ...
30
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4answers
7k views

Why didn't the British Grand Fleet force an engagement with the German Imperial Navy in WW1?

I'm watching the channel The Great War on YouTube, which documents the goings on of the First World War week by week (careful, it's addictive and there are literally hundreds of episodes). It is my ...
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3answers
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Why are the French and Indian Wars / Seven Years' War not considered WW 1?

The French and Indian Wars, which began in 1754, led to the Seven Years War beginning two years later in 1756; both ended in 1763. Why is this not considered World War 1? It was a world conflict, was ...
29
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7answers
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Did Germany's role in WW2 affect the historical perception of its role in WW1?

In the recent Wonder Woman movie (which I know is not an historical essay) I understand that the Germans are treated as the bad guys, almost like nazis although I am pretty sure that Germans in WW1 ...
28
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Why did trench warfare accept deadlocks?

As someone who has never studied military history or strategy I find it very hard to understand how and why both sides got locked into relatively short lines of heavily defended trench warfare with ...
28
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4answers
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How unfavorable were the terms of Germany's “surrender” in WW1?

The First World War ended when an armistice was signed between the Germans and the Allies. At that point, while Germany had no realistic hopes of winning the war, they had no enemies within their ...
27
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10answers
12k views

Are tanks the only reason for the abandonment of trench warfare?

The First World War in the West was for 4 years restricted to trench warfare. Gaining enemy territory cost many human lives for both sides. The main (or maybe most spectacular) battles were Verdun and ...
27
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3answers
17k views

Why was Switzerland not attacked during the two World Wars?

Why in WW1 or WW2 or ever nobody invaded Switzerland? All other countries was in some wars. How Switzerland do it and should we learn from them? I hear that many people with power have money in swiss ...
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3answers
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Last death caused by World War I

Today, I heard about seven deaths attributed to an explosion of a bomb from World War 2: Seven dead as war bomb explodes in Bangkok scrap yard Hopefully, the last death or deaths that can be ...
25
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5answers
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How did ships acquire targets beyond the horizon in WWI?

From "The World Crisis, 1911-1928" (Winston Churchill): ... the 5th Battle Squadron had begun to fire, at the long range of 17,000 yards, upon Admiral von Hipper's last two ships. If the horizon ...
24
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2answers
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Why were the Irish exempt from conscription during WWI?

During the first world war all of Ireland was within the United Kingdom. In C. S. Lewis's autobiographical book Surprised by Joy he says that as an Irishman (from Belfast) he was exempt from ...
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3answers
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During World War 1, were any policies in place to handle large scale troop mutiny?

From what I understand, the rank and file didn't really want to be there after the fighting got started (this could be incorrect). During the Christmas Truce, both sides stopped fighting and ...
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Why did the United States enter World War I?

The topic of World War I came up last night with a few strangers, at a bar, of course. One seemingly knowledgeable gentleman, who happened to have Howard Zinn's A Peoples' History of the United States ...
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Why was the Western Front so static in World War I?

Once the German advance was halted, neither side could seriously advance for two years. This seems like an extraordinarily long time. Why didn't anyone succeed at going around the trenches or striking ...
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World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

In World War 1, because war broke out between the triple entente and the central powers (and they happened to have a lot of foreign colonies), the allies made posters to recruit soldiers from all ...
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2answers
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Was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 captured on film?

I have a memory of reading about how Franz Ferdinand's assassination in 1914 was captured on film and watching it, but for the life of me I cannot find this and am beginning to think I fabricated it. ...
20
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1answer
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The WWI Christmas truce of 1914 resulted in no consequences, in spite of clear warnings against such beforehand - why were there no courts-martial?

British and German Soldiers photographed together during 1914 Christmas Truce. Source: The Daily Mirror, Friday January 8, 1915. Question What factors led to no courts-martial charges being pursued ...
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4answers
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WW1 tunneling - bypassing the front line?

During the first world war both sides engaged in tunnel warfare, the primary purpose of which (as far as I can tell) was to place large amounts of explosives under enemy lines and then detonate them ...
19
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6answers
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Why was Germany held accountable for WW1?

The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept all responsibility for the war. If the war was initially due to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins, why did the Treaty of ...
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7answers
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Bow shape of WW1 warships

As ship's bow is designed to break the waves, the physics (something like hydrokinetics) makes it should look like a wedge. And it really is, if we look from above. This should be also kept if look ...
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3answers
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A German immigrant ancestor has a “Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy” on file. What does that mean exactly?

While researching genealogy, I discovered that one of my ancestors had a "Registration Affidavit of Alien Enemy" document on file. It is dated 1 January 1918 and includes his fingerprints, immigration ...
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1answer
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Did Emanuel Lasker write a book declaring that Germany had to win World War I if civilization were to be saved?

Emanuel Lasker, the second chess world champion, was a very interesting person. I read here that During World War I, Lasker […] invested all of his money in German war bonds. At the end of ...
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2answers
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Is that armistice wagon photograph authentic?

The armistice on November 11th, 1918, was signed between 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM, french time (which was at this time UTC+0, one hour earlier than today). Wikipedia has a photo of the event, presumably ...
19
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2answers
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Were soldiers in the World Wars paid?

There have always been professional soldiers however during the world wards there were vast conscription to encourage young men to join up for "King and Country". Presumably there was some sort of ...
18
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7answers
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Was there ever any doubt which side the USA would join?

From a British perspective in both WW1 and WW2 the USA have entered the war at a later stage and supported the allies. The decision for the US to enter the war has often been portrayed to be based on ...
17
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Why did Spain not participate in World War I?

Spain was losing influence in America for the previous 100 years, and there was a recent Spanish-American war. So how could have Spain remained neutral? Why could Spain not find a place in the ...
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7answers
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How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

The main disadvantage of bolt action is that one has to remove the right hand from the trigger which leads to slower rate of fire. Neither lever nor pump have this problem. Rate of fire was viewed as ...
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4answers
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How were the British and French armies invited into Belgium in 1914?

In August of 1914 Belgium refused entry to the German army, which then invaded Belgium. Apparently Belgium then invited the British and French armies into its territories, leading to Belgium becoming ...
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Did either of the World Wars involve South or Central America?

Were any South or Central American nations besides Brazil involved (not necessarily officially) in either of the World Wars? If any were, I'd appreciate information on their degree of involvement.
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What factors related to the Eastern Crisis contributed to the outbreak of World War 1?

What factors related to the Eastern Crisis contributed to the outbreak of World War 1? The Eastern Crisis pertains to problems posed by the decay of the Ottoman Empire. Primary among these problems ...
17
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1answer
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What was the economic impact of WW1 on USA's economy?

It's well known that WW2 had a greatly positive impact on American economy. Up to the point of certain historians being sure that, if not for WW2, FDR would have had a major economic problems on his ...
17
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1answer
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What was the first successful mass tank battle of WW1?

What was the first big scale (over 50 tanks used) battle with the use of tanks in WW1? Please note that the typical examples don't constitute good answer: Battle of Flers-Courcelette (Somme) was ...
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4answers
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Did a capital ship ever hit anything with a torpedo?

It seems WWI and inter-war ship designers went a bit torpedo mad, both in their fear of them and in their use, finally coming to their senses in the harsh realities of WWII. I've seen many examples ...
16
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5answers
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Was the Zimmerman Telegram a ruse on the US or a way of Germany to incite Mexico to declare war on the US?

Prior to America's entry into WWI the Zimmerman Telegram was one incident that helped push America to declare war against Germany and join the Allies. While Mexico never fought against the US, so was ...
16
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2answers
594 views

Was there a serious proposal to offer India territory in East Africa?

In the recent World Service series The War That Changed The World the episode dealing with India contains a rather extraordinary claim. A panel member, an Indian, says there was a notion during WW1 ...
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Besides Mexico, who was considered as a potential ally of the Central Powers?

The Zimmermann telegram to the embassy in Mexico outright suggests that German Empire is trying to court Mexico as an ally in the Great War: We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted ...
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3answers
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What changed Japanese attitude to POWs in inter-war period?

I have read this excellent answer in which @Semaphore provides sources confirming that German defenders of Tsingtao were treated very well during World War I, which even lead to some tradition in ...
16
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1answer
762 views

Did anyone face consequences (charges / court-martial) for the 1914 Christmas truce in WWI?

A copy of the Daily Mail from Dec. 31, 1914 reports on the Christmas truce. Source: The Star As a follow-up to this question about impromptu football / soccer games between troops from opposite ...
16
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1answer
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How frequently were homing pigeons used in the World Wars?

It seems that the strategic weight of specially bred pigeons is much higher than I thought at first, based on the number of pigeons used and the effort to stop them. (In WW2 Germans even trained ...