Who fought on three sides in World War II?

First World War

The First World War began in the summer of 1914 and lasted four years. Around 70 million soldiers were deployed during the war. It was the first war in which such gigantic armies fought against each other. Almost the whole world was affected by the war, which is why the war is also called 'World War'. For the first time, the soldiers fought with modern weapons such as machine guns, poison gas and aerial bombs, which caused great damage and killed many people.

Why did the war come about?

Back then, the world map looked a little different because there were fewer countries in Europe, but larger countries than there are today. And each of these big countries like the German Empire, Great Britain, France or Austria-Hungary wanted to be bigger, more powerful and more influential than the others. There was a real power struggle and the Germans in particular felt encircled and threatened by their neighboring countries. The mood in the world was like a powder keg.

During this tense time an assassination attempt happened: On June 28, 1914, the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand was shot by a Serbian student in the city of Sarajevo, which at that time belonged to Austria-Hungary. That was the spark that made the powder keg explode. The attack was a welcome pretext for Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia. The German Reich had encouraged Austria-Hungary to take this step.

Who fought against whom?

At first, only European nations fought against each other in the First World War. Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, from which Turkey later emerged, formed the so-called Central Powers. They fought together against the allies - that means something like 'the allies'. The Allies - that was France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy and later the USA. In the course of the war, more and more countries sided with the Allies. The First World War fought particularly hard on the Eastern Front and the Western Front.

In war, a front is the border between the opponents. There the soldiers meet and fight each other. The Eastern Front near the border with Russia stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. There the Germans and the Russians faced each other. The western front ran on Belgian and French soil. Here German soldiers fought against a mixed group of Allies, mostly French and British.

Looking forward to the war?

Some people initially looked forward to the war: Young men, such as high school students, volunteered as soldiers and went to war full of anticipation. For them, the First World War was an adventure. The residents of the few big cities like Berlin or Munich shouted 'Hurray!' when the soldiers went to war from there.

But in the smaller towns and villages where most Germans lived before 1914, many people were afraid of the war. The peasants didn't want to go to war. Who should take care of the harvest when they fought as soldiers in war? People still thought in the summer of 1914 that World War I would be a short war. If people had known what would happen in the trenches during the course of the war, this war might not have existed. Most people had no idea what modern weapons would do on the battlefield.

Famine during the World War

The First World War was a tough time for the children too. Many did not go to school during the war. Instead, they had to help with the harvest at home, for example, since their fathers - the farmers - were at war. In some years the harvests were poor and food was no longer available from abroad. The British set up the so-called 'sea blockade' and no longer allowed ships with raw materials and food to enter Germany. As a result, there was too little to eat and people went hungry, especially in the cities.

They had to stand in line for the little groceries and it was precisely determined who got how much. Bread, butter, potatoes and a lot of groceries were soon no longer available. Instead, there were turnips that people tried to survive with. But a total of over 700,000 people died of hunger and malnutrition in Germany during the war - many of them were children and young people.

Status: 07.11.2018, 10:39