The Great War or the First World War differs significantly from the Second World War as far as geography is concerned. The First World War was an international conflict that affected the European nations between the years of 1914 and 1918. The war was mainly fought in Europe, Middle East, and the North Africa. There were mainly two camps in the war, with Germany, Turkey, and Austria-Hungary serving as the central powers while France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and later on the United States being on the opposite side. The First World War broke out when the Serbians thought of liberating their people in Austria-Hungary after emerging victorious in the Balkan Wars that happened between 1912 and 1913. The Serbs had to do something to provoke Austria-Hungary and the best chance was to assassinate the heir to throne, Franz Ferdinand. The head of Serbian intelligence, Apis, who was also the head of the secret society referred to as the Union or Death, was tasked with the role of assassinating Ferdinand who was expected to visit the troops in Bosnia.
Geographically, the First World War broke out in Serbia, following the death of the heir to the Austria-Hungarian Empire, Ferdinand. By then, Austria-Hungary was assured of Germany’s support because of the existing military pact between the two nations. Russia, on the other hand, would intervene unconditionally if Serbia were attacked because of the military pact they had. Russia and France were forced to intervene following Germany’s participation in the conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Germany had initially demanded that its troops should pass through Luxembourg and Belgium on their way to France. Belgium did not allow German soldiers to pass through its territory, something that forced Germany to declare war. Since Great Britain had a pact with Belgium, it had to declare war on Germany as well, even though it had nothing to do with Serbia, the initial aggressor. Austria-Hungary, in solidary with Germany, declared war on Russia. On the same note, Serbia declared war on Germany to show support for Russia. Great Britain and France joined the war officially against Germany and Austria-Hungary on August 10 and 12 respectively while Japan joined the war on Serbia and Russia’s side on August 23. By this date, the war had spread out to various countries across Europe and Asia, but nothing was going on in North Africa and Middle East.
Romania, even though it was running an anti-Russian campaign back home, chose not to engage in the conflict. Russia, Great Britain, and France formed a strong alliance following the Treaty of London, which was later referred to as the Entente, or simply the allied forces. The treaty prevented any of the parties from making separate peace treaties with the central powers led by Germany.
Unlike the First World War, the Second World War spread across all the nations globally, after breaking out in 1939. Unlike the WWI, WWII broke out in Germany. The major belligerents were the Axis Powers, which included Germany, Japan, and Italy. In the first war, Japan was fighting against Germany while Italy was neutral, but the two nations were now on Germany’s side. WWII broke out because of the agreements made after WWI.
While the First World War started with the killing of the Austria-Hungarian prince in Bosnia, the Second World War broke out when Germany’s dictator, Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland. France and Britain had assured Poland of their support should it be attacked by Germany.
WWI and WWI, geographically, differ in a number of ways based on the maps. The major cause of the difference is the aggressor and the military pacts that had been signed after the first war. In the WWI, Serbia was the main aggressor and its focus was to regain its lost glory. The leaders of Serbia were of the view that they would recapture their power by liberating their people residing in Austria-Hungary. For all these to happen, they had to sign a number of military pacts with the major powers in Europe, including Russia. In WWII, the aggressor was Germany and other nations, such as Japan and Italy, which were mainly dissatisfied with the type of agreements, especially the penalties handed to Germany, after WWI (Swift, and Sharpe 13).
Regarding the impacts of the two wars, a great difference exists. Following WWI, Germany had to surrender a number of colonies in Africa as part of the agreement with the victors. Second, Germany and its allies had to be stopped from manufacturing certain types of weapons because of their aggressive nature. In Eastern Europe, for instance, Germany lost all the allies to Russia. By then, Russia was flexing its muscles with the intention of establishing a communist empire. The Great Britain, France, and Russia had an easy victory against Germany and its allies during WWI. For this reason, they continued their strong presence in Europe and North Africa, especially Egypt for the case of Great Britain. However, the situation was different after WWII because France and Great Britain were declared bankrupt. The two countries, together with other nations in Europe that participated in the war, had to be bailed out by the United States through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
Additionally, they had to grand independence to quite a number of countries, including those in North Africa mainly because they were unable to sustain their operations. In Europe, France and Great Britain conceded defeat to Russia, allow it to form the USSR. Europe was never the same again because the traditional powers, including Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Belgium were no more. Most of these countries had to start from scratch because their economies were at their knees.
- Swift, Michael, and Sharpe, Mike. Historical Maps of World War II Europe. London: PRC, 2000. Print.