World War 1
World War I, also known as the Great War, was immediately caused by the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist in 1914. Another prominent cause of the war was the entangling alliances between the countries of Europe.
The war was thought to be the war to end all wars because it was the bloodiest war the world had seen yet. The war was supposed to end by the Christmas of 1914, but it lasted four long years. The fighting finally stopped on November 11, 1918, when the Allied and German delegates signed an armistice on terms established by the Allies. Political leaders then took up the task of trying to transform the military armistice into a durable peace.
The Germans and the Allies signed the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. It was negotiated during the Paris Peace Conference held in Versailles beginning January 18, 1919.
Represented were the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The German Republic, which had replaced the imperial German government at the end of the war, was excluded. The treaty was more like a punishment for Germany than a peace treaty. For damage incurred by the Allied powers during the war, Germany was required to make extensive financial reparation. In addition to money, payment was made in the form of ships, trains, livestock, and valuable natural resources.
After World War I, the German, Austria-Hungarian, and Russian empires ceased to exist, and the Ottoman empire soon followed them. New nations emerged, borders were radically shifted, and ethnic conflicts erupted. Victors and losers alike faced an enormous recovery challenge after four years of financial loss, economic deprivation, and material destruction.