The Russian army had 1.4 million men it was considered the largest in Europe. Although the French and German armies were not far behind, with 900,00 each. The British and Italian, and Austro-Hungarian armies had between 2500.,00 and 500,00 soldiers each.
The growth of armies after 1900 heighten the existing tensions in Europe. The large size of the armies showed that if there was a war it would be highly destructive.
National desires were not the only source of internal strife at the beginning of the twentieth century. Sine the Industrialization, society changed.
In 1914 Serbia,supported Russia, was determined to create a large independent Slavic state in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary had its own Slavic minorities to contend with, they were equally determined to prevent that from happening.
Russians were determined to have Serbia's back. On July 28 Czar Nicholas II ordered partial mobilization of the Russian army against Austria-Hungary. Since mobilization is concirede war in the 1914, some of the leaders of the Russian army informed Czar that they only wanted to fight Austria-Hungary not Germany, since Germany would consider this an act of war.
On June 28, 1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophia visited Sarajevo in Bosnia. A group of Conspirators that were members of the Black Hand. a Serbian terrorist organization waited for them in the streets. They want Bosnia free from Austria-Hungary. They attempted to kill both, a 19 year old Bosnia Serb succeeded in shooting both the Archduke and his wife.
After the assassination of the Archduke and his wife Austria-Hungary didn't exactly know whether or not the Serbian government had been directly involved. Austrian leaders wanted to attack Serbia but feared Russian intervention on Serbia's behalf. Emperor William II of the Germany and his chancellor responded to Austria-Hungary with a " blank check", saying they could rely on Germanys help. On July 28 they declared war on Serbia.
Germany reacted quickly, their government warned Russia that they must stop their mobilization within 12 hours. Russia ignored their warning, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1st. Both Russia and Germany had plans but under the guidance of General Alfred Von Schlieffen. So it was known as the Schliffen Plan, it called for a two-year war with France and Russia who formed a military alliance in 1894. Germany would conduct a small holding action against Russia while most of German army would carry out a rapid invasion of France. Invading France meant by moving quickly along the costal area through Belgium. Once France was defeated they would move to the east part of Russia.
For Germany the with the with-drawl of the Russians offered new hope for a successful end to the war. Germany was now free to concentrate entirely on the Western Front. The German attack was launched in March 1918.Erich Von Ludendorff guided Germany in the West to break military stalemate.By April German troops were within about 50 miles of Paris. Ludendorff's gamble failed. Ludendorff told Germany that the war was lost, he demanded peace at once.
On November 3, sailors in the town Kiel, in northern Germany, mutinied. William II gave in to public pressure and left the country on November 9.The Social Demorats under Friedrich Ebert then announced the creation of a democratic republic. on Novemeber 11,1918 this government signed armistice - a truce or an agreement to stop the fighting.
The War was over, but the revolutionary forces it had set in motion were not over yet. A group of radical socialists formed the German Communist Part in December 1918. A month later they tried to seize power in Berlin.
World War I shattered the liberal, rational society that had existed in the late nineteenth and early twentiet century. The dealth of almost 10 million people as well as the incredible destruction caused by the war, undermined the whole idea of progress.
As a result of the war, the Treaty of Versailles, and the separate peace treaties made with the other Central Powers- Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey- the map of eastern Europe was largely redrawn. Both Russian Empires and Germany lost much territory in eastern Europe.
Delegates met in early 1919 in Paris to declare the peace settlement. Secret treaties and agreements that had been mad before the war had raised the hopes European nations for territorial gains.
Before the war ended Wilson outlined "Fourteen Points" to the United States Congress his basis fir a peace settlement that could justify the military struggle being waged. Wilson's proposals for a just and lasting peace included reaching the peace agreements openly rather than through a secret diplomacy; reducing armaments or military forces to a " point consistent with domestic safety". Wilson portrayed World War I as a peoples war against "absolutism and militarism". The two enemies could only be eliminated by creating democratic governments and a "general association of nations." This association would guarantee " political independence and territorial integrity to great small states alike."
The Final peace settlement of Paris consisted of five separate treaties with the defeated nations- Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The Treaty of Versailles with Germany, signed at Versailles near Paris o June 28 1919, it was by far the most important. The Germans considered it a harsh peace. They were unhappy with Article 231 the so-called War Guilt Clause, which declared that Germany and Austria were responsible for starting the war.