World War I Technology

Technology during World War 1 reflected a trend toward industrialism and the application of mass production methods to weapons and to the technology of warfare in general. This trend started fifty years prior to World War I during the U.S. Civil War, and continued through many smaller conflicts in which new weapons were tested.

August 1914 marked the end of a relatively peaceful century in Europe with unprecedented invention and new science. The 19th-century vision of a peaceful future fed by ever-increasing prosperity through technology was largely shattered by the war's and, after the technological escalation during World War II, it was apparent that whatever the gains in prosperity and comfort due to technology applied to civilian uses, these benefits would always be under the shadow of the horrors of technology applied to warfare.

The earlier years of the First World War can be characterized as a clash of 20th-century technology with 19th-century warfare in the form of ineffectual battles with huge numbers of casualties on both sides. It was not until the final year of the war that the major armies made effective steps in revolutionizing matters of command and control and tactics to adapt to the modern battlefield, and started to harness the myriad new technologies to effective military purposes. Tactical reorganizations (such as shifting the focus of command from the 100+ man company to the 10+ man squad) went hand-in-hand with armored cars, the first submachine guns, and automatic rifles that could be carried and used by one man.

Trench warfare

The new metallurgical and chemical industries, and many innovative mechanical inventions, had created new firepower that made defense almost invincible and attack almost impossible. These innovations included bolt-action infantry rifles, rifled artillery and hydraulic recoil mechanisms, zigzag trenches and machine guns, and their application had the effect of making it difficult or nearly impossible to cross defended ground. The hand grenade, already in existence —though crude—developed rapidly as an aid to attacking trenches. Probably the most important was the introduction of high explosive shells, which dramatically increased the lethality of artillery over the 19th-century equivalents.

Trench warfare led to the development of the concrete pill box, a hardened blockhouse that could be used to deliver machine gun fire. They could be placed across a battlefield with interlocking fields of fire.

Because attacking an entrenched enemy was so difficult, tunneling underneath enemy lines became one of the major efforts during the war. Once enemy positions were undermined, huge amounts of explosives would be planted and detonated as part of the preparation for an overland charge. Sensitive listening devices that could detect the sounds of digging were a crucial method of defense against these underground incursions. The British proved especially adept at these tactics, thanks to the skill of their tunnel-digging "sappers" and the sophistication of their listening devices.

World War I Artillery Technology

Of all the types of weapons in existence in 1914, artillery underwent the most revolutionary and scientific advances. At the beginning of the war, artillery was often sited in the front line to fire over open sights at enemy infantry. During the war, the following improvements were made:

  • the first "box barrage" in history was fired at Neuve Chapelle in 1915; this was the use of a three- or four-sided curtain of shell-fire to prevent the movement of enemy infantry
  • the wire-cutting No. 106 fuze was developed, specifically designed to explode on contact with barbed wire, or the ground before the shell buried itself in mud, and equally effective as an anti-personnel weapon
  • the first anti-aircraft guns were designed out of necessity
  • indirect counter-battery fire was developed for the first time in history
  • flash spotting and sound ranging were invented, for the location and eventual destruction of enemy batteries
  • the creeping barrage was perfected
  • factors such as weather, air temperature, and barrel wear could for the first time be accurately measured and taken into account when firing indirectly
  • forward observers were used to direct artillery positioned out of direct line of sight from the targets, and sophisticated communications and fire plans were developed

The majority of casualties inflicted during the war were the result of artillery fire.

World War I Poison gas

At the beginning of the war, Germany had the most advanced chemical industry in the world, accounting for more than 80% of the world's dye and chemical production. Although the use of poison gas had been banned in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, Germany turned to this industry for what it hoped would be a decisive weapon to break the deadlock of trench warfare. Chlorine gas was first used on the battlefield in April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. The unknown gas appeared to be a simple smoke screen, used to hide attacking soldiers, and Allied troops were ordered to the front trenches to repel the expected attack. The gas had a devastating effect, killing many defenders. Later, mustard gas, phosgene and other gases were used. Britain and France soon followed suit with their own gas weapons. The first defenses against gas were makeshift, mainly rags soaked in water or urine. Later, relatively effective gas masks were developed, and these greatly reduced the effectiveness of gas as a weapon. Although it sometimes resulted in brief tactical advantages and probably caused over 1,000,000 casualties, gas seemed to have had no significant effect on the course of the war.

Military Command and control

In the early days of the war, generals tried to direct tactics from headquarters many miles from the front, with messages being carried back and forth by couriers on motorcycles. It was soon realized that more immediate methods of communication were needed.

Radio sets of the period were too heavy to carry into battle, and phone lines laid were quickly broken. Runners, flashing lights, and mirrors were often used instead; dogs were also used, though they were only used occasionally as troops tended to adopt them as pets and men would volunteer to go as runners in the dog's place. There were also aircraft (called "contact patrols") that could carry messages between headquarters and forward positions, sometimes dropping their messages without landing.

The new long-range artillery developed just before the war now had to fire at positions it could not see. Typical tactics were to pound the enemy front lines and then stop to let infantry move forward, hoping that the enemy line was broken, though it rarely was. The lifting and then the creeping barrage were developed to keep artillery fire landing directly in front of the infantry "as it advanced". Communications being impossible, the danger was that the barrage would move too fast — losing the protection — or too slowly — holding up the advance.

There were also countermeasures to these artillery tactics: by aiming a counter barrage directly behind an enemy's creeping barrage, one could target the infantry that was following the creeping barrage. Microphones (Sound ranging) were used to triangulate the position of enemy guns and engage in counter-battery fire. Muzzle flashes of guns could also be spotted and used to target enemy artillery.


Railways dominated in this war as in no other. Through railways, men and material could be moved to the front at an unprecedented rate, but they were very vulnerable at the front itself. Thus, advancing armies could only move forward at the pace that they could build or rebuild a railway, e.g. the British advance across Sinai. Motorized transport did feature in World War I, but only rarely. After the railhead, troops moved on foot and guns were drawn by horses. The German strategy was known beforehand by the Allies simply because of the vast marshaling yards on the Belgian border that had no other purpose than to deliver the mobilized German army to its start point. The German mobilization plan was little more than a vast detailed railway timetable. Railways lacked the flexibility of motor transport and this lack of flexibility percolated through into the conduct of the war.

War of attrition

All countries involved in the war applied the full force of industrial mass-production to the manufacture of weapons and ammunition, especially artillery shells. Women on the home-front played a crucial role in this by working in munitions factories. This complete mobilization of a nation's resources, or "total war" meant that not only the armies, but also the economies of the warring nations were in competition.

For a time, in 1914-1915, some hoped that the war could be won through an attrition of materiel--that the enemy's supply of artillery shells could be exhausted in futile exchanges. But production was ramped up on both sides and hopes proved futile. In Britain the Shell Crisis of 1915 brought down the British government, and led to the building of HM Factory, Gretna, a huge munitions factory on the English-Scottish border.

The war of attrition then focused on another resource: human lives. In the battle of Verdun in particular, German Chief of Staff Erich Von Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white" through repeated attacks on this French city.

In the end, the war ended through a combination of attrition (of men and material), advances on the battlefield, and a breakdown of morale and productivity on the German home-front due to an effective naval blockade of her seaports.

World War I Air Warfare Technology

As with most other technologies, the aircraft underwent many improvements during World War I. Early war aircraft were not much different in design from the original Wright Flyer, which made its first flight over a decade earlier.

While early air spotters were unarmed, they soon began firing at each other with handheld weapons and even throwing spears. An arms race commenced, quickly leading to increasingly agile planes equipped with machine guns. A key innovation was the interrupter gear, a German invention that allowed a machine gun to be mounted behind the propeller so the pilot could fire directly ahead, along the plane's flight path.

As the stalemate developed on the ground, with both sides unable to advance even a few miles without a major battle and thousands of casualties, planes became greatly valued for their role gathering intelligence on enemy positions and bombing the enemy's supplies behind the trench lines. Large planes with a pilot and an observer were used to reconnoiter enemy positions and bomb their supply bases. Because they were large and slow, these planes made easy targets for enemy fighter planes. As a result, both sides used fighter aircraft to both attack the enemy's observer planes and protect their own.

Germany led the world in the design of Zeppelins, and used these airships to make occasional bombing raids on military targets, London and other British cities, without any great effect. Later in the war, Germany began attacking English cities with long range strategic bombers. As with the Zeppelin attacks, Germany's strategic bombing of England had limited tactical value, but it was demoralizing and showed the British they could not be completely immune from the effects of the war in their own country. It also forced the British air forces to maintain squadrons of fighters in England to defend against air attack, depriving the British Expeditionary Force of planes, equipment, and personnel badly needed on the Western front.

Manned observation balloons floating high above the trenches were used as stationary reconnaissance points on the front lines, reporting enemy troop positions and directing artillery fire. Balloons commonly had a crew of two, each equipped with parachutes: upon an enemy air attack on the flammable balloon, the crew would jump to safety. At the time, parachutes were too heavy to be used by pilots in aircraft, and smaller versions would not be developed until the end of the war. (In the British case, there arose concerns that they might undermine morale, effectively encouraging cowardice.) Recognized for their value as observer platforms, observation balloons were important targets of enemy aircraft. To defend against air attack, they were heavily protected by large concentrations of antiaircraft guns and patrolled by friendly aircraft.

By inhibiting the enemy's ability to move in secrecy, aerial reconnaissance over the front can be blamed to some degree for the stalemate of trench warfare.

World War I Tanks Technology

Although the concept of the tank had been suggested as early as the 1890s, few authorities showed interest in them until the trench stalemate of World War I caused serious contemplation of unending war and ever escalating casualties. In Britain, a Landships Committee was formed, and teamed with the Inventions Committee, set out to develop a practical weapon.

Based on the caterpillar track (first invented in 1770 and perfected in the early 1900s) and the four-stroke gasoline powered Internal combustion engine (refined in the 1870s), early tanks were fitted with Maxim type guns or Lewis guns, armor plating, and their caterpillar tracks were configured to allow crossing of an 8-foot-wide (2.4 m) trench.

Early tanks were unreliable, breaking down often. Though they first terrified the Germans, their use in 1917 engagements provided more opportunities for development than actual battle successes. It was also realized that new tactics had to be developed to make best use of this weapon. In particular, planners learned that tanks needed infantry support and massed formations to be effective. Once tanks could be fielded in the hundreds, such as they were at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, they began to show their potential. Still, reliability was the achilles heel of tanks throughout the remainder of the war. In the Battle of Amiens, a major Entente counteroffensive near the end of the war, British forces went to field with 534 tanks. After several days, only a few were still in commission, those that suffered mechanical difficulties outnumbering those disabled by enemy fire.

Regardless of their effects on World War I, tank technology and mechanized warfare had been launched and grew increasingly sophisticated in the years following the war. By World War II, the tank had evolved to a fearsome weapon which made the trench obsolete, just as the trench and the machine gun had made horse-mounted cavalry obsolete.

World War I Naval Warfare Technology

The years leading up to the war saw the use of improved metallurgical and mechanical techniques to produce larger ships with larger guns and, in reaction, more armor. The launching of HMS Dreadnought (1906) revolutionized battleship construction, leaving many ships obsolete before they were completed. Consequently, at the start of the war, many navies comprised newer ships and obsolete older ones. The advantage was in long-range gunnery, and naval battles took place at far greater distances than before. The Battle of Jutland (1916) was the only full-scale battle between fleets in the war.

Having the largest surface fleet, the United Kingdom sought to press its advantage. British ships blockaded German ports, hunted down German and Austro-Hungarian ships wherever they might be on the high seas, and supported actions against German colonies. The German surface fleet was largely kept in the North Sea. This situation pushed Germany, in particular, to direct its resources to a new form of naval power: submarines.

World War I Submarines Technology

World War I was the first conflict in which submarines were a serious weapon of war. In the years shortly before the war, the relatively sophisticated propulsion system of diesel power while surfaced and battery power while submerged was introduced.

The United Kingdom relied heavily on imports to feed its population and supply its war industry, and the German navy hoped to blockade and starve Britain using U-boats to attack merchant ships in unrestricted submarine warfare. This struggle between German submarines and British counter measures became known as the First Battle of the Atlantic. As German submarines became more numerous and effective, the British sought ways to protect their merchant ships. "Q-ships," attack vessels disguised as civilian ships, were one early strategy.

Consolidating merchant ships into convoys protected by one or more armed navy vessels was adopted later in the war. There was initially a great deal of debate about this approach, out of fear that it would just provide German U-boats with a wealth of convenient targets. Thanks to the development of active and passive sonar devices, coupled with increasingly deadly anti-submarine weapons, the convoy system reduced British losses to U-boats to a small fraction of their former level. Lieutenant Otto Weddigen remarked of the first submarine attack of the Great War:

How much they feared our submarines and how wide was the agitation caused by good little U-9 is shown by the English reports that a whole flotilla of German submarines had attacked the cruisers and that this flotilla had approached under cover of the flag of Holland. These reports were absolutely untrue. U-9 was the only submarine on deck, and she flew the flag she still flies -- the German naval ensign.


Between late 1914 and early 1918, the Western Front hardly moved. Ironically, the beginning of the end for Germany started with a huge German advance. In 1917, when Russia surrendered after the October Revolution, Germany was able to move many troops to the Western Front. Using new stormtrooper tactics developed by Oskar von Hutier, the Germans pushed forward some tens of kilometers from March to July 1918. These offensives showed that machine guns, barbed wire and trenches were not the only obstacle to mobile warfare.

In the Battle of Amiens of August 1918, the Entente forces began a counter attack that would be called the Hundred Days Offensive. The Australian and Canadian divisions that spearheaded the attack managed to advance 13 kilometers on the first day alone. These battles marked the end of trench warfare on the Western Front and a return to mobile warfare. The sort of unit that now began to emerge combined cyclist infantry and machine guns mounted on motor cycle sidecars. These motor machine gun units had originated in 1915.

The Hindenburg Line fell to the Allies and the Canal du Nord was crossed. In Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm was told Germany had lost, and must now surrender. Advances continued but political developments inside Germany compelled Germany to sign an Armistice on November 11, 1918.

The war was over, but a new mobility-driven form of warfare was beginning to emerge; one that would be mastered by the defeated Germans and deployed in 1939 as their blitzkrieg, or lightning warfare, embodying all they had learned in 1918.

World War I Small Arms Technology

The machine gun directly impacted the organization of the infantry in 1914, and, by the middle of 1917, put an end to the tactic of company sized waves. Platoons and squads of men became important; hand in hand with that organization was the use of light automatic weapons. The Lewis Gun was the first true light machine gun that could in theory be operated by one man, though in practice the bulky ammo pans required an entire section of men to keep the gun operating (Postwar research would show that its ingenious, but heavy and intricate, air cooling ducts were entirely unnecessary.[4]). The Browning Automatic Rifle was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1918; adapters on cartridge belts allowed the BAR man to walk and fire the gun at the same time. Early sub-machine guns were also developed in this period. While in use, these guns would often overheat - which led to the development of several cooling methods.

World War I Flame Throwers Technology

The Imperial German Army deployed flame throwers (Flammenwerfer) on the West Front attempting to flush out French or British soldiers from their trenches. Introduced in 1915, it was used with greatest effect during the Hooge battle of the Western Front on 30 July 1915. The German Army had two main types of flame throwers during the Great War: a small single person version called the Kleinflammenwerfer and a larger multiple person configuration called the Grossflammenwerfer. In the latter, one soldier carried the fuel tank while another aimed the nozzle. Both the large and small versions of the flame-thrower were of limited use because their short range left the operator(s) exposed to small arms fire.

World War I Timeline

World War I Timeline 1914-1918 and aftermath timeline.

World War I Timeline 1914

Dates Events
June 28 Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, who is killed in Sarajevo along with his wife, Duchess Sophie.
July 23 Austria-Hungary sends an ultimatum to Serbia. The Serbian response is seen as unsatisfactory.
July 28 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia mobilizes. The Great War begins.
July 31 Germany enjoins Russia to stop mobilizing. Russia says mobilization is against Austria-Hungary only.
August 1 Germany declares war on France.
Italy declares its neutrality.
Germany and the Ottoman Empire sign a secret alliance treaty.
August 2 Germany invades Luxembourg.
August 4 Germany invades Belgium[1] to outflank the French army.
Britain protests the violation of Belgian neutrality, guaranteed by a treaty;
German Chancellor replies that the treaty is just a chiffon de papier (a scrap of paper).
The United Kingdom declares war on Germany.
August 5 Montenegro declares war on Austria-Hungary.
The Ottoman Empire closes the Dardanelles.
August 5–August 16 The Germans besiege and then capture the fortresses of Liège, Belgium.
August 6 Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia.
Serbia declares war on Germany.
August 7 The British Expeditionary Force arrives in France.
August 9 Montenegro declares war on Germany.
August 11 France declares war on Austria-Hungary.
August 12 The United Kingdom declares war on Austria-Hungary.
August 14–August 24 Battle of the Frontiers. The Germans obtain a victory against the British Expeditionary Force and France's Fifth Army.
August 16–August 19 The Serbs defeat the Austro-Hungarians at the Battle of Cer.
August 17 The Russian army enters East Prussia. Battle of Stalluponen.
August 20 The Germans attack the Russians in East Prussia. The attack is a failure in addition to being a violation of the Schlieffen Plan.
August 17–September 2 Battle of Tannenberg: the Russian army undergoes a heavy defeat by the Germans.
August 20 The Germans occupy Brussels.
August 22 Austria-Hungary declares war on Belgium.
August 23 Japan declares war on Germany.
August 23–August 25 Battle of Kraśnik. The Austro-Hungarian First Army defeats the Russian Fourth Army
August 24–September 7 The Germans siege and capture the Maubeuge Fortress.
August 25 Japan declares war on Austria-Hungary.
August 26 British and French forces invade Togoland, a German protectorate in West Africa.
August 26–August 27 Battle of Le Cateau. Allied retreat.
August 26–September 11 Battle of Lemberg. The Russians capture Lviv.
August 27–November 7 Battle of Tsingtao: British and Japanese forces capture the German-controlled port of Tsingtao in China.
August 28 The Royal Navy wins the First Battle of Heligoland Bight, North Sea.
August 29–August 30 Battle of Saint Quentin, aka Battle of Guise. Orderly Allied retreat.
August 30 New Zealand occupies German Samoa (later Western Samoa).
September 3–September 11 Austro-Hungarian defeat at the Battle of Rava Russka.
September 5–September 12 First Battle of the Marne. The German advance on Paris is halted, marking the failure of the Schlieffen Plan.
September 7–September 14 First Battle of the Masurian Lakes: The Russian Army of the Neman withdraws from East Prussia with heavy casualties.
September 8–September 17 Second Austro-Hungarian attempt at invading Serbia fails.
September 9 Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg lays out Germany's war aims.
September 11–September 21 Australian forces occupy German New Guinea.
September 13 Troops from South Africa begin invading German South-West Africa.
September 13–September 28 The First Battle of the Aisne ends in a substantial draw. The Race to the Sea begins.
September 14 Erich von Falkenhayn replaces Helmuth von Moltke the Younger as German Chief of Staff.
September 17 The Siege of Przemyśl begins
September 28–October 10 The Germans siege and capture Antwerp, Belgium.
September 29–October 31 Battle of the Vistula, aka Battle of Warsaw.
October 16–October 31 Battle of the Yser. French and Belgian forces secure the coastline of Belgium.
October 19–November 22 The First Battle of Ypres ends the Race to the Sea. The Germans are prevented from reaching Calais and Dunkirk.
November 1 Russia declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
Battle of Coronel. Von Spee's German cruiser squadron defeats a Royal Navy squadron under Christopher Cradock.
November 2 The United Kingdom begins the naval blockade of Germany.
November 3 Montenegro declares war on the Ottoman Empire.
November 3–November 5 Von Lettow-Vorbeck's German colonial forces defeat the British at the Battle of Tanga, German East Africa.
November 5 France and the United Kingdom declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
November 6 The Austro-Hungarians enter Belgrade.
November 9 Battle of Cocos, northeast Indian Ocean. The Australian cruiser Sydney destroys the German cruiser Emden.
November 11–December 6 Battle of Łódź
November 11 Sultan Mehmed V declares Jihad on the Allies.
December 8 Battle of the Falklands. Von Spee's German cruiser squadron is defeated by the Royal Navy.|
December 16 The German fleet shells Scarborough and Hartlepool, England.
December 24-December 25 An unofficial Christmas truce is declared between large numbers of German and French forces.
December 29–January 2, 1915 The Russians win the Battle of Sarikamis, Caucasia.

World War I Timeline 1915

Dates Events
January 2 The Russian offensive in the Carpathians begins. It will continue until April 12.
January 19 First Zeppelin raid on Great Britain.
January 24 Battle of Dogger Bank between squadrons of the British Grand Fleet and the German Hochseeflotte.
January 28–February 3 The Ottomans fail to capture the Suez Canal.
February 4 Germany begins submarine warfare against merchant vessels.
February 7–February 22 Second Battle of the Masurian Lakes. The Russian X Army is defeated.
February 19 British and French naval attack on the Dardanelles. The Gallipoli Campaign begins.
March 10–March 13 Battle of Neuve Chapelle. After an initial success, a British offensive is halted.
March 22 The Siege of Przemyśl ends. The Russians capture the fortress.
April 22–May 25 At the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans use chemical weapons (gas) for the first time.
April 25 Allied forces land on Gallipoli.
London Pact between the Entente and Italy.
April 28 First Battle of Krithia. The Allied advance is repelled.
May 1–May 3 Battle of Gorlice-Tarnów: the German troops under General Mackensen break through the Russian lines in Galicia.
May 6–May 8 Second Battle of Krithia. The Allied attempts at advancing are thwarted again.
May 7 The British liner Lusitania is sunk by a German U-boat.
May 10 Troops from Hungary rout the Russians at Jarosław. Lviv is again in Austrian hands.
May 12 Windhoek, capital of German South-West Africa, is occupied by South African troops.
May 23 Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.
June 4 Third Battle of Krithia. Yet another Allied failure.
The Russians leave Przemyśl.
June 22 Mackensen breaks again through the Russian lines in the Lviv area.
June 23–July 7 First Battle of the Isonzo.
June 27 The Austro-Hungarians re-enter Lviv.
June 28–July 5 The British win the Battle of Gully Ravine.
July 9 The German forces in South-West Africa surrender.
July 18–August 3 Second Battle of the Isonzo.
August 5 The Germans occupy Warsaw.
August 6–August 29 Battle of Sari Bair, aka the August Offensive. Last and unsuccessful attempt by the British to seize the Gallipoli peninsula.
September 1 Germany suspends unrestricted submarine warfare.
September 8 Nicholas II removes Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, personally taking that position.
September 19 The Germans occupy Vilnius. The Gorlice-Tarnów Offensive ends.
September 25–September 28 Battle of Loos. A major British offensive fails.
October 6 Serbia is invaded by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.
October 14 Bulgaria declares war on Serbia
October 15 The United Kingdom declares war on Bulgaria.
October 16 France declares war on Bulgaria.
October 18–November 4 Third Battle of the Isonzo
October 19 Italy and Russia declare war on Bulgaria.
October 27 A French army lands in Salonika and, with the help of British and Italian troops, sets up a Balkan Front.
November 10–December 2 Fourth Battle of the Isonzo
November 22–November 25 Battle of Ctesiphon, in present-day Iraq.
November 27 The Serbian army collapses. It will retreat to the Adriatic Sea and be evacuated by the Italian and French Navies.
December 7 The Siege of Kut, Mesopotamia, by the Ottomans begins.
December 19 Douglas Haig replaces John French as commander of the British Expeditionary Force.

World War I Timeline 1916

Dates Events
January 8–January 16 Austro-Hungarian offensive against Montenegro, which capitulates.
January 9 The Gallipoli Campaign ends in an Allied defeat and an Ottoman victory.
January 11 Corfu occupied by the Allies.
January 24 Reinhard Scheer is appointed commander of Germany's Hochseeflotte.
January 27 Conscription introduced in the United Kingdom by the Military Service Act.
February 13–February 16 Battle of Erzurum.
February 21 The Battle of Verdun begins.
February 28 German Kamerun (Cameroon) surrenders.
March 1 Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.
March 1–March 15 Fifth Battle of the Isonzo.
March 8 Battle of Dujaila: a British attempt to relieve Kut fails.
March 18–April Lake Naroch Offensive.
April 23 Easter Rising by Irish rebels against the United Kingdom.
April 29 The British forces under siege at Kut surrender to the Ottomans.
May 10 Germany suspends unrestricted submarine warfare.
May 15–June 10 Austro-Hungarian Strafexpedition in Trentino.
May 31–June 1 Battle of Jutland between Britain's Grand Fleet and Germany's Hochseeflotte.
June 4 The Brusilov Offensive begins.
June 5 The Arab Revolt in Hejaz begins.
The HMS Hampshire is sunk off the Orkney Islands; Lord Kitchener dies.
June 10 Italy: Paolo Boselli succeeds Antonio Salandra as Prime Minister.
July 1 The Battle of the Somme begins.
July 2 Battle of Erzincan.
July 14 Battles for Longueval and Delville Wood (Initial phase of the Battle of the Somme)
Battle of Bazentin Ridge (Initial phase of the Battle of the Somme)
July 23–August 7 Battle of Pozières (Initial phase of the Battle of the Somme)
August 3–August 5 Battle of Romani. Ottoman attack on the British in the Sinai peninsula fails.
August 3–August 17 Sixth Battle of the Isonzo. The Italians capture Gorizia (August 9).
August 18–September 5 Battle of Guillemont (intermediate phase of the Battle of the Somme)
August 27 Italy declares war on Germany.
Romania enters the war on the Entente's side. Her army is defeated in a few weeks.
August 29 Paul von Hindenburg replaces Erich von Falkenhayn as German Chief of Staff.
September 6 The Central Powers create a unified command.
September 9 Battle of Ginchy (intermediate phase of the Battle of the Somme)
September 10–November 19 Allied offensive on the Salonika Front.
September 14–September 17 Seventh Battle of the Isonzo
September 15 Battle of Flers-Courcelette (last offensive of the Battle of the Somme). The British use armored tanks for the first time in history.
September 20 The Brusilov Offensive ends with a substantial Russian success.
September 25 Battle of Morval (part of the final stages of the Battle of the Somme)
September 26–September 28 Battle of Thiepval Ridge (part of the final stages of the Battle of the Somme)
October 1–November 5 Battle of Le Transloy (part of the final stages of the Battle of the Somme)
October 9–October 12 Eighth Battle of the Isonzo.
October 24 The French recapture Fort Douaumont near Verdun.
November 1–November 4 Ninth Battle of the Isonzo.
November 13–November 15 Battle of the Ancre (closing phase of the Battle of the Somme)
November 18 The Battle of the Somme ends with enormous casualties and no winner.
November 21 HMHS Britannic sinks after hitting a German mine
Francis Joseph I, Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, dies and is succeeded by Charles I.
November 25 David Beatty replaces John Jellicoe as commander of the Grand Fleet. Jellicoe becomes First Lord of the Sea.
December 5–December 7 United Kingdom: Prime Minister Henry Asquith resigns and is succeeded by David Lloyd George.
December 6 The Germans occupy Bucharest. The capital of Romania moved to Iaşi.
December 13 Robert Nivelle replaces Joseph Joffre as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army.
December 23 Battle of Magdhaba in the Sinai peninsula.
December 27 Togoland is divided into British and French administrative zones.
December 29 Grigori Rasputin, Russia's éminence grise, is assassinated.

World War I Timeline 1917

Dates Events
January 9 Battle of Roof. The British drive the Ottomans out of Sinai.
January 16 The German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann sends a telegram to his ambassador in Mexico, instructing him to propose the Mexican government an alliance against the United States.
February 1 Germany resumes unrestricted submarine warfare.
February 23 Second Battle of Kut. The British recapture the city.
February 23–April 5 The Germans withdraw to the Hindenburg Line.
March 1 Arz von Straussenberg replaces Conrad von Hötzendorf as Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff.
March 8–March 11 The British capture Baghdad.
March 15 Russia: Czar Nicholas II abdicates. A provisional government is appointed.
March 26 First Battle of Gaza. The British attempt to capture the city fails.
April 6 The United States of America declares war on Germany.
April 9–April 12 The Canadians obtain a significant victory in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
April 16–May 9 The Second Battle of the Aisne (aka Nivelle Offensive) ends in disaster for both the French army and its commander Robert Nivelle.
April 19 Second Battle of Gaza. The Ottoman lines resist a British attack.
April 29–May 20 Series of mutinies in the French army.
May 5–May 15 Allied offensive on the Salonika Front.
May 9–May 16 Battle of Arras. The British attack a heavily fortified German line without obtaining any strategic breakthrough.
May 12–June 6 Tenth Battle of the Isonzo.
May 15 Philippe Pétain replaces Robert Nivelle as Commander-in-Chief of the French Army.
May 23 Battle of Mount Hermada in the Karst.
June 7–June 8 The British recapture Messines Ridge.
June 10–June 29 Battle of Mount Ortigara.
June 12 Greece: King Constantine I abdicates.
June 25 First American troops land in France.
July 1–July 19 The Kerensky Offensive fails. It is the last Russian initiative in the war.
July 6 Arab rebels led by Lawrence of Arabia seize the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
July 20 Corfu Declaration about the future Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
July 31 The Battle of Passchendaele (aka Third Battle of Ypres) begins.
August 6–August 20 Battle of Mărăşeşti.
August 18–August 28 Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo.
September 8 Russia: General Kornilov's coup attempt fails.
September 27–September 28 Battle of Ramadi, Mesopotamia.
October 24–November 4 Battle of Caporetto. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans break through the Italian lines. The Italian army is defeated and falls back on the Piave River.
October 30 Italy: Vittorio Emanuele Orlando succeeds Paolo Boselli as Prime Minister.
October 31–November 7 Third Battle of Gaza. The British break through the Ottoman lines.
November 2 Balfour Declaration: the British government supports plans for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine.
November 5 The Allies agree to establish a Supreme War Council at Versailles.
November 7 The October Revolution begins in Russia. The Bolsheviks seize power.
November 8 Armando Diaz replaces Luigi Cadorna as Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Army.
November 9–December 28 First Battle of the Piave: the Austro-Hungarians and Germans try unsuccessfully to cross the river.
November 10 The Battle of Passchendaele (aka Third Battle of Ypres) ends in a stalemate.
November 13 France: Paul Painlevé is replaced by Georges Clemenceau as Prime Minister.
November 17 Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, North Sea.
November 20–December 3 Battle of Cambrai. A British attack fails and the battle results in a stalemate.
December 7 The United States declares war on Austria-Hungary.
December 8–December 26 Battle of Jerusalem. The British enter the city (December 11)
December 23 Russia signs an armistice with Germany.

World War I Timeline 1918

Dates Events
January 8 Woodrow Wilson outlines his Fourteen Points.
February 18 Fighting resumes on the Eastern Front.
February 21 The British capture Jericho.
February 25 German troops capture Estonia.
March 3 At Brest-Litovsk, Leon Trotsky signs the peace treaty with Germany.
March 21–March 25 First phase of the Spring Offensive (Operation Michael). The Germans obtain a Pyrrhic victory.
March 23–August 7 Artillery bombardment of Paris.
March 26 French Marshall Ferdinand Foch is appointed Supreme Commander of all Allied forces.
April 1- Royal Air Force founded by combining the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.
April 4 Second phase of the Spring Offensive (Operation Georgette). The results are disappointing for the Germans.
May 7 Treaty of Bucharest between Romania and the Central Powers. It will never be ratified.
May 27–June 6 Third Battle of the Aisne (aka Operation Blücher-Yorck, third phase of the Spring Offensive). After initial gains, the German advance is halted.
June 9–June 12 Final phase of the Spring Offensive (Operation Gneiseau). Despite substantial territorial gains, the Germans do not achieve their strategic goals
June 13–June 23 Second Battle of the Piave: the Austro-Hungarian offensive is repelled.
July 15–August 5 Second Battle of the Marne and last German offensive on the Western Front, which fails when the Germans are counterattacked by the French.
August 8–August 11 Battle of Amiens, first phase of the Hundred Days Offensive.
September 12 Battle of Havrincourt, a phase of the Hundred Days Offensive.
September 15 The Allies break through the Bulgarian lines at Dobro Polje.
September 18–September 19 Battle of Doiran, The Bulgarians halt the British and Greek advance.
September 18–October 10 Battle of the Hindenburg Line, a phase of the Hundred Days Offensive. The Allies break through the German lines.
September 19–September 21 Battle of Megiddo. The British conquer Palestine.
September 26–November 11 Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the final phase of the Hundred Days Offensive and of World War I.
September 30 Bulgaria signs an armistice with the Allies.
October 1 The British enter Damascus.
October 20 Germany suspends submarine warfare.
October 24–November 4 Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The Austro-Hungarian army is routed. The Italians enter Trent and land at Triest.
October 29 Wilhelm Groener replaces Erich Ludendorff as Hindenburg's deputy.
October 29 Germany's Hochseeflotte mutinies.
October 30 The Ottoman Empire signs the Armistice of Mudros.
November 3 Austria-Hungary signs the armistice with Italy, effective November 4.
November 9 Germany: Kaiser William II abdicates; republic proclaimed.
November 10 Austria-Hungary: Kaiser Charles I abdicates.
November 11 At 6 am, Germany signs the Armistice of Compiègne. End of fighting at 11 a.m..
November 12 Austria proclaimed a republic.
November 14 Czechoslovakia proclaimed a republic.
German U-boats interned.
3 days after the armistice, fighting ends in the East African theater when General von Lettow-Vorbeck agrees a cease-fire on hearing of Germany's surrender.
November 21 Germany's Hochseeflotte surrendered to the United Kingdom.
November 22 The Germans evacuate Luxembourg.
November 23 9 days after agreeing a cease-fire, General von Lettow-Vorbeck formally surrenders his undefeated army at Abercorn in present-day Zambia.
November 27 The Germans evacuate Belgium.
December 1 Yugoslav independence proclaimed.


Dates Events
January 18 Treaty of Versailles between the Allies and Germany: the Peace Conference opens in Paris.
January 25 Proposal to create the League of Nations accepted.
June 21 German High Seas Fleet (53 ships) scuttled in Scapa Flow with nine deaths, the last casualties of the war.
June 28 Treaty of Versailles signed.
July 8 Germany ratifies the Treaty of Versailles.
July 21 The United Kingdom ratifies the Treaty of Versailles.


Dates Events
January 10 First meeting of the League of Nations held in London. Official end of World War I.
Free City of Danzig established.
January 21 The Paris Peace Conference ends.
February 10 A plebiscite returns Northern Schleswig to Denmark.
April 19–April 26 Conference of Sanremo, Italy, about League of Nations mandates in former Ottoman territories of the Middle East.
June 4 Treaty of Trianon between the Allies and Hungary.
August 10 Treaty of Sèvres between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire. The treaty is not recognized by the Turkish national movement, which consider the Istanbul government illegitimate.
September 8 Gabriele D'Annunzio proclaims in Fiume the Italian Regency of Carnaro.
November 1 League of Nations headquarters moved to Geneva, Switzerland.
November 12 Treaty of Rapallo between Italy and Yugoslavia. Zadar is annexed by Italy and the Free State of Fiume is established.
November 15 The League of Nations holds its first general assembly.


Dates Events
October 13 Treaty of Kars between Bolshevik Russia and Turkey.
February 6 Washington Naval Treaty, limiting naval tonnage, signed by France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
April 10–May 19 Genoa Conference. Representatives of 34 countries discuss economics in the wake of the Great War.
April 16 Treaty of Rapallo between Germany and Bolshevik Russia to normalize diplomatic relations.
September 11 Treaty of Kars ratified in Yerevan, Armenia.
July 24 Treaty of Lausanne between the Allies and Turkey, successor State to the Ottoman Empire. It supersedes the Treaty of Sèvres.
January 27 Treaty of Rome between Italy and Yugoslavia. Fiume is annexed by Italy and the neighboring town of Sušak is assigned to Yugoslavia.

Economic Effects of WWI

Economic Effects of World War I: One of the most dramatic effects of the war was the expansion of governmental powers and responsibilities in Britain, France, the United States, and the Dominions of the British Empire. In order to harness all the power of their societies, new government ministries and powers were created. New taxes were levied and laws enacted, all designed to bolster the war effort; many of which have lasted to this day. Similarly, the war strained the abilities of the formerly large and bureaucratized governments such as in Austria–Hungary and Germany; however, any analysis of the long-term effects were clouded by the defeat of these governments.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased for three Allies (Britain, Italy, and U.S.), but decreased in France and Russia, in neutral Netherlands, and in the main three Central Powers. The shrinkage in GDP in Austria, Russia, France, and the Ottoman Empire reached 30 to 40%. In Austria, for example, most of the pigs were slaughtered and, at war's end, there was no meat.

All nations had increases in the government's share of GDP, surpassing fifty percent in both Germany and France and nearly reaching fifty percent in Britain. To pay for purchases in the United States, Britain cashed in its extensive investments in American railroads and then began borrowing heavily on Wall Street. President Wilson was on the verge of cutting off the loans in late 1916, but allowed a great increase in U.S. government lending to the Allies. After 1919, the U.S. demanded repayment of these loans, which, in part, were funded by German reparations, which, in turn, were supported by American loans to Germany. This circular system collapsed in 1931 and the loans were never repaid. In 1934, Britain owed the US $4.4 billion of World War I debt.

Macro- and micro-economic consequences devolved from the war. Families were altered by the departure of many men. With the death or absence of the primary wage earner, women were forced into the workforce in unprecedented numbers. At the same time, industry needed to replace the lost labourers sent to war. This aided the struggle for voting rights for women.

In Britain, rationing was finally imposed in early 1918, limited to meat, sugar, and fats (butter and oleo), but not bread. The new system worked smoothly. From 1914 to 1918 trade union membership doubled, from a little over four million to a little over eight million. Work stoppages and strikes became frequent in 1917–1918 as the unions expressed grievances regarding prices, alcohol control, pay disputes, fatigue from overtime and working on Sundays and inadequate housing.

Britain turned to her colonies for help in obtaining essential war materials whose supply had become difficult from traditional sources. Geologists such as Albert Ernest Kitson were called upon to find new resources of precious minerals in the African colonies. Kitson discovered important new deposits of manganese, used in munitions production, in the Gold Coast.

Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles (the so-called "war guilt" clause) declared Germany and its allies responsible for all "loss and damage" suffered by the Allies during the war and provided the basis for reparations. The total reparations demanded was 132 billion gold marks which was far more than the total German gold or foreign exchange. The economic problems that the payments brought, and German resentment at their imposition, are usually cited as one of the more significant factors that led to the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. After Germany’s defeat in World War II, payment of the reparations was not resumed. There was, however, outstanding German debt that the Weimar Republic had used to pay the reparations. Germany will finish paying off the Americans in 2010 and the rest in 2020.

Aftermath of World War I

Health and economic effects of WWI

Aftermath of World War I: No other war had changed the map of Europe so dramatically — four empires disappeared: the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and the Russian. Four dynasties: the Hohenzollerns, the Habsburg, Romanovs and the Ottomans, together with their ancillary aristocracies, all fell after the war. Belgium and Serbia were badly damaged, as was France with 1.4 million soldiers dead, not counting other casualties. Germany and Russia were similarly affected.

The war had profound economic consequences. Of the 60 million European soldiers who were mobilized from 1914–1918, 8 million were killed, 7 million were permanently disabled, and 15 million were seriously injured. Germany lost 15.1% of its active male population, Austria–Hungary lost 17.1%, and France lost 10.5%. About 750,000 German civilians died from starvation caused by the British blockade during the war. By the end of the war, famine had killed approximately 100,000 people in Lebanon. The best estimates of the death toll from the Russian famine of 1921 run from 5 million to 10 million people. By 1922, there were between 4.5 million and 7 million homeless children in Russia as a result of nearly a decade of devastation from World War I, the Russian Civil War, and the subsequent famine of 1920–1922. Numerous anti-Soviet Russians fled the country after the Revolution; by the 1930s the northern Chinese city of Harbin had 100,000 Russians. Thousands more emigrated to France, England and the United States.

Diseases flourished in the chaotic wartime conditions. In 1914 alone, louse-borne epidemic typhus killed 200,000 in Serbia. From 1918 to 1922, Russia had about 25 million infections and 3 million deaths from epidemic typhus. Whereas before World War I, Russia had about 3.5 million cases of malaria, its people suffered more than 13 million cases in 1923. In addition, a major influenza epidemic spread around the world. Overall, the Spanish flu killed at least 50 million people.

Lobbying by Chaim Weizmann and fear that American Jews would encourage the USA to support Germany culminated in the British government's Balfour Declaration of 1917, endorsing creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. A total of more than 1,172,000 Jewish soldiers served in the Allied and Central Power forces in World War I, including 450,000 in Czarist Russia and 275,000 in Austria-Hungary.

The social disruption and widespread violence of the Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War sparked more than 2,000 pogroms in the former Russian Empire, mostly in the Ukraine. An estimated 60,000–200,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities.

In the aftermath of World War I, Greece fought against Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal, a war which resulted in a massive population exchange between the two countries under the Treaty of Lausanne. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Pontic Greeks died during this period.

Peace treaties and national boundaries after WWI

Aftermath of World War I: After the war, the Paris Peace Conference imposed a series of peace treaties on the Central Powers. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles officially ended the war. Building on Wilson's 14th point, the Treaty of Versailles also brought into being the League of Nations on 28 June 1919.

In signing the treaty, Germany acknowledged responsibility for the war, agreeing to pay enormous war reparations and award territory to the victors. The "Guilt Thesis" became a controversial explanation of later events among analysts in Britain and the United States. The Treaty of Versailles caused enormous bitterness in Germany, which nationalist movements, especially the Nazis, exploited with a conspiracy theory they called the Dolchstosslegende (Stab-in-the-back legend). The Weimar Republic lost the former colonial possessions and was saddled with accepting blame for the war, as well as paying punitive reparations for it. Unable to pay them with exports (a result of territorial losses and postwar recession), Germany did so by borrowing from the United States. Runaway inflation in the 1920s contributed to the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic and the reparations were suspended in 1931 following the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and the beginnings of the Great Depression worldwide.

Austria–Hungary was partitioned into several successor states, including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, largely but not entirely along ethnic lines. Transylvania was shifted from Hungary to Greater Romania. The details were contained in the Treaty of Saint-Germain and the Treaty of Trianon. As a result of the Treaty of Trianon, 3.3 million Hungarians came under foreign rule. Although the Hungarians made up 54% of the population of the pre-war Kingdom of Hungary, only 32% of its territory was left to Hungary. Between 1920 and 1924, 354,000 Hungarians fled former Hungarian territories attached to Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

The Russian Empire, which had withdrawn from the war in 1917 after the October Revolution, lost much of its western frontier as the newly independent nations of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland were carved from it. Bessarabia was re-attached to the Greater Romania, as it had been a Romanian territory for more than a thousand years.

The Ottoman Empire disintegrated, and much of its non-Anatolian territory was awarded as protectorates of various Allied powers. The Turkish core was reorganized as the Republic of Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was to be partitioned by the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. This treaty was never ratified by the Sultan and was rejected by the Turkish republican movement, leading to the Turkish Independence War and, ultimately, to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.

Soldier's Experiences in WWI

The soldiers of the war were initially volunteers, except for Italy, but increasingly were conscripted into service. Britain's Imperial War Museum has collected more than 2,500 recordings of soldiers' personal accounts and selected transcripts, edited by military author Max Arthur, have been published. The museum believes that historians have not taken full account of this material and accordingly has made the full archive of recordings available to authors and researchers. Surviving veterans, returning home, often found that they could only discuss their experiences amongst themselves. Grouping together, they formed "veterans' associations" or "Legions", as listed at Category:Veterans' organizations.

Prisoners of world war I

About 8 million men surrendered and were held in POW camps during the war. All nations pledged to follow the Hague Convention on fair treatment of prisoners of war. A POW's rate of survival was generally much higher than their peers at the front. Individual surrenders were uncommon. Large units usually surrendered en masse. At the Battle of Tannenberg 92,000 Russians surrendered. When the besieged garrison of Kaunas surrendered in 1915, some 20,000 Russians became prisoners. Over half of Russian losses were prisoners (as a proportion of those captured, wounded or killed); for Austria-Hungary 32%, for Italy 26%, for France 12%, for Germany 9%; for Britain 7%. Prisoners from the Allied armies totalled about 1.4 million (not including Russia, which lost 2.-3.5 million men as prisoners.) From the Central Powers about 3.3 million men became prisoners.

Germany held 2.5 million prisoners; Russia held 2.9 million; while Britain and France held about 720,000. Most were captured just prior to the Armistice. The U.S. held 48,000. The most dangerous moment was the act of surrender, when helpless soldiers were sometimes gunned down. Once prisoners reached a camp, in general, conditions were satisfactory (and much better than in World War II), thanks in part to the efforts of the International Red Cross and inspections by neutral nations. Conditions were terrible in Russia, starvation was common for prisoners and civilians alike; about 15–20% of the prisoners in Russia died. In Germany food was scarce, but only 5% died.

The Ottoman Empire often treated POWs poorly. Some 11,800 British Empire soldiers, most of them Indians, became prisoners after the Siege of Kut, in Mesopotamia, in April 1916, 4,250 died in captivity. Although many were in very bad condition when captured, Ottoman officers forced them to march 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) to Anatolia. A survivor said: "we were driven along like beasts, to drop out was to die." The survivors were then forced to build a railway through the Taurus Mountains.

In Russia, where the prisoners from the Czech Legion of the Austro-Hungarian army were released in 1917 they re-armed themselves and briefly became a military and diplomatic force during the Russian Civil War.

While the Allied prisoners of the Central Powers were quickly sent home at the end of active hostilities, the same treatment was not granted to Central Power prisoners of the Allies and Russia, many of which had to serve as forced labor, e.g. in France until 1920. They were only released after many approaches by the ICRC to the Allied Supreme Council. There were still German prisoners being held in Russia as late as 1924.

Military attachés and war correspondents

Military and civilian observers from every major power closely followed the course of the war. Many were able to report on events from a perspective somewhat akin to modern "embedded" positions within the opposing land and naval forces. These military attachés and other observers prepared voluminous first-hand accounts of the war and analytical papers.

For example, former U.S. Army Captain Granville Fortescue followed the developments of the Gallipoli campaign from an embedded perspective within the ranks of the Turkish defenders; and his report was passed through Turkish censors before being printed in London and New York. However, this observer's role was abandoned when the U.S. entered the war, as Fortescue immediately re-enlisted, sustaining wounds at Montfaucon d'Argonne in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, September 1918.

In-depth observer narratives of the war and more narrowly focused professional journal articles were written soon after the war; and these post-war reports conclusively illustrated the battlefield destructiveness of this conflict. This was not the first time the tactics of entrenched positions for infantry defended with machine guns and artillery became vitally important. The Russo-Japanese War had been closely observed by Military attachés, war correspondents and other observers; but, from a 21st Century perspective, it is now apparent that a range of tactical lessons were disregarded or not used in the preparations for war in Europe and throughout the Great War.

WWI War Crimes

Genocide and ethnic cleansing

Ottoman Empire

The ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Empire's Christian population, with the most prominent among them being the deportation and massacres of Armenians (similar policies were enacted against the Assyrians and Ottoman Greeks) during the final years of the Ottoman Empire is considered genocide. The Ottomans saw the entire Armenian population as an enemy that had chosen to side with Russia at the beginning of the war. In early 1915, a number of Armenian nationalist groups, such as the Armenakan, Dashnak and Hunchak organizations, joined the Russian forces, and the Ottoman government used this as a pretext to issue the Tehcir Law. This authorized the deportation of the Armenians from eastern Anatolia to Syria between 1915 and 1917. The exact number of deaths is unknown, although Balakian gives a range of 250,000 to 1.5 million for the deaths of Armenians, the International Association of Genocide Scholars estimates over 1 million. The government of Turkey has consistently rejected charges of genocide, arguing that those who died were victims of inter-ethnic fighting, famine or disease during the First World War.

Russian Empire

Approximately 200,000 Germans living in Volhynia and about 600,000 Jews were deported by the Russian authorities. In 1916, an order was issued to deport around 650,000 Volga Germans to the east as well, but the Russian Revolution prevented this from being carried out. Many pogroms accompanied the Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War, 60,000–200,000 civilian Jews were killed in the atrocities throughout the former Russian Empire.

Rape of Belgium

In Belgium, German troops, in fear of French and Belgian guerrilla fighters, or francs-tireurs, massacred townspeople in Andenne (211 dead), Tamines (384 dead), and Dinant (612 dead). On 25 August 1914, the Germans set fire to the town of Leuven, burned the library containing about 230,000 books, killed 209 civilians and forced 42,000 to evacuate. These actions brought worldwide condemnation.