We all know WWII backwards and forwards, right? Thanks to all the movies and games where it’s easy to keep track of the bad guys because they’re the Nazis, WWII is fairly familiar territory. But with Battlefield 1 and the new Wonder Woman movie both taking place during that other World War, some of you might feel a bit under-educated about it. Fear not! From a former high school history teacher, here’re the crib notes you’ll need to make sense of World War I.
How it all started
There were numerous causes for WWI – German unification and eventual annexing of Alsace-Lorraine (an important coal and steel region), shifting alliances, arms race, polarization and even the “myth of the short war” have all been attributed as causes of the war. However, this isn’t a full history lesson but rather an abridged version to understand what’s going on during the entertainment of your choice. As such, the crux of the matter was that an Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Yugoslav nationalist. Due to a variety of secret alliances, major world powers were pulled into this conflict, eventually leading to the Great War.
Who was on which side?
The Triple Entente (presumably the good guys in upcoming movie and game) consisted of The British Empire, France and the Russian Empire. They were later joined by Italy, Japan and the United States. Italy is an interesting case because it was originally part of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but didn’t take their side in the war because Austria-Hungary had taken the offensive, against the terms of the alliance. In Africa, the Portuguese colonies also fought alongside the Entente powers.
The Central Powers consisted of Germany and Austria Hungary, later joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. In Africa, the Ethiopian Empire, South African Republic (not to be confused with the Union of South Africa that fell under the British Empire) and Dervish State fought alongside the Central Powers.