Featured: 100 Years Since World War One

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From: ThePresident
In the run-up to 1914, Europe was unstable and volatile. Germany had formed numerous, often conflicting alliances with its neighbours, for fear of another war with France. Its ally, the Turkish Ottoman empire was in decline, after having much of its territory taken by France, Italy, Britain and Russia. And the Austro-Hungarian empire was also crumbling, with rising independence movements in satellite states such as Serbia, against the central powers - the Allies, led by France, Great Britain and Russia, but also including many other smaller countries. On June 28,1914 the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife were shot dead as they toured the streets of Bosnia's Sarajevo in an open topped car. Many Bosnians resented the Empire, which occupied the territory in 1878 and annexed it 20 years later. Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student radical, was a member of "Young Bosnia", a movement which advocated the creation of an independent state for the Slavs of southern Europe. The two bullets he fired triggered World War One. Austria's attempts to use the assassinations to take action against Serbia enraged Russia and while some German leaders were not enthusiastic for a widespread war, the country supported its Austrian ally. Fear, ultimatum, bluff, and a general belief that any conflict would be short anyway, escalated the conflict. When Russia and France made it clear that they would not tolerate the attacks on Belgrade, Germany declared war on both countries. It launched a pre-emptive strike on Luxembourg and then Belgium, drawing Great Britain into the fight. Both the Germans and the Allied forces were then rushed into the war. Old battle plans were used, and the generals, even the older ones, had no experience of a large-scale European conflict. The German army swept in a giant counter clockwise wheel through Belgium and northern France, coming within 50 kilometres of Paris. A million and a half German soldiers were in action on the western front, forcing the allies into retreat. After fierce fighting, the German army eventually was checked, first at the Battle of the Marne, then at Ypres. The retreating Germans decided to stand their ground by fighting from hastily-dug holes. Trench warfare had begun. The war of movement which had lasted for just a few months, descended into four years of stalemate, mud, disease and death . Colonial soldiers from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and India fought in their tens of thousands for the British and Allied cause. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) forces landed at Gallipoli in April 1915 as part of a British-led allied force, including French and Indian units who were trying to open up a sea route for World War One ally Russia. After a failed naval bombardment, the troops were sent ashore at Gallipoli, outgunned and facing an almost hopeless strategic position. The well-entrenched Turks had the Allies pinned on the beaches, with heat and disease adding to the toll. The eight-month campaign was a disaster. Allied and Turkish forces suffered more than 300,000 casualties, and the Allies retreated. While the Turks would ultimately lose their empire in Mesopotamia, Palestine and Syria, Gallipoli ensured the Ottoman Empire's survival - at least for another three years. The Allies' failure at Gallipoli probably extended the war, and heightened feelings among the colonials that they were poorly led - being used as little more than cannon-fodder by their British military masters
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