The Impact of World War I

world war

After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in June 1914, Europe’s leaders made a series of political and military decisions that turned a local conflict into a world war.

Nationalism was one of the main forces that widened the conflict and speeded its advance. For example, Britain and its empire feared Germany’s domination of Europe and its challenge to British industrial and imperial supremacy.

Britain was also determined to protect its global empire and its sea trade. It feared that a full-scale world war would destroy its naval shipping and the economic benefits of it.

By the time the war ended in November 1918, more than 16 million people – military and civilians – had died. This world war introduced the horrors of trench warfare and deadly new technologies like poison gas and tanks. It radically altered the world map, ending the sprawling Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires, and setting the stage for an even larger and bloodier global conflict just two years later.

World War I also impacted the lives of ordinary people, changing the way many live. Many items were scarce or unavailable – sugar, gasoline, shoes – and rationing was put into effect. People grew victory gardens to increase their food supply and scrap metal was collected for use in ammunition. Rationing caused shortages of other materials and led to the introduction of price controls. These changes in everyday life impacted families and the economy, creating significant social problems.