The History of World War I

In this episode from Perfect English Podcast, you will listen to a brief history of World War I as one of the events that changed the world. There are a lot of details and things to learn from this episode, so get ready and after you finish listening to the episode, check your understanding by taking a short quiz.

Perfect English Podcast Episode 29 Audio

Perfect English Podcast Episode 29 Quiz

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Which of the following weapons were used in WWI?

Please select 4 correct answers

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Why didn't the Germans benefit a lot from the Russian's withdrawal from the war?

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Approximately, how many people died in WWI?

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Which of the following parts of the War proved to be not up to the military task at hand?

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At the beginning of the war, who did the German fight first in their two-front war?

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Why did the Russians withdraw from the war in 1917?

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Choose the countries that were among the so-called victors of WWI?

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Which empires/kingdoms/states did WWI mark the end of?

Please select 3 correct answers

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Which event was the direct reason to start WWI?

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When did World War I start and finish?

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Perfect English Podcast Episode 29 - History: The History of World War I Quiz
Perfect English Podcast Episode 29 - History: The History of World War I Quiz

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Episode Transcript

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Welcome to Episode 29 from perfect English podcast. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the history of World War One. It is a brief history of course, but there are a lot of details that you should know about. And don’t forget, by the end of this listening, you can always click the link and take the short quiz to check your understanding of the things you listen to in this episode. But now, let’s get to it. The history of World War One One of the events that changed the history of the world. In 1914, Europe stumbled into a catastrophic war that lasted for more than four years, and claimed the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. The causes of World War One are complex and multifaceted. They have stirred debate among historians and laymen alike ever since the war ground to a halt in 1918. seems clear, however, that the outbreak of the war was an unintended consequence of an extremely tense international order in which the great powers of Europe it each other with varying degrees of hatred, envy, fear and suspicion. The event that detonated this powder keg was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria Hungary at Sarajevo on June 28 1914. This act of political terror infuriated Austria, which concluded that Serbia a small Balkan country was behind the assassination. When Austria threatened Serbia, the Serb government appealed for protection to its ally, Russia. Meanwhile, Austria received strong encouragement for its confrontational stance from its ally, Germany as the crisis deepened. Russia consulted with its ally, France and France In turn, entered into discussion with its friend Great Britain, when Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia and the antiquated Russian Army began to mobilize, the dominoes fell by early August 1914, World War One had begun. In light of the terrible destruction that followed. It is interesting to note that not only the European governments but also their population went to war with great enthusiasm. Huge crowds filled the streets of Europe’s capital cities wildly cheering the declarations of war. Not only was this first gen war since Napoleon’s campaigns of 100 years earlier, greeted with enthusiasm. There was also a universal conviction that the word would be a short one, and that the boys would be home by Christmas. As the war progressed, more and more countries became involved. At the start, however, the major combatants were on one side Germany and Austria Hungary, which together with their allies would be known as that The Central Powers and on the other side, Great Britain, France and Russia, which together with their allies would be known as the Allied powers or allies. From the start, the Central Powers found themselves fighting a two front war. That is, they were forced to fight simultaneously in both the west and the east. aware of the grave dangers inherent in a two front war, the German general staff had grown up the schlieffen plan, which called for Germany in the event of war to mass the bulk of its army in the West in order to deliver a quick and devastating knockout blow to the French. After defeating the French the German army could turn its attention to the east and destroy the Russian army at its leisure employing the Slaven plan. The Germans came very close to capturing Paris in the first month of the war. They were barely stopped at the First Battle of the Marne when the French took advantage of gaps in the German law. caused by the transfer of some German units from the Western Front to the Eastern Front where the Russians had unexpectedly mounted and offensive. Ironically, these German troops were not crucial to the outcome in the east. Although the Russians under General Alexander Samsonov and paml running camp had moved westward into the German territory of East Prussia. Their attack was so confused and poorly coordinated that a smaller German force defeated both Russian armies at the twin battles of tannenberg and the missourian Lakes. These huge German victories in the East focused spotlight on generals, Eric luden, Dorf, and Paul von Hindenburg, two of the most effective military commanders in a war notable for undistinguished if not abominable, military leadership, the failure of the German offensive in the West and of the Russian offensive in the east, shattered all illusions about the war being a short one Instead, both sides settled in for a protracted struggle featuring trench warfare. trench warfare called for each side to concentrate great numbers of men in a series of parallel fortify ditches or trenches, and to attack and mask formations in the hope of breaching the enemy’s lines. Those on the defensive would exploit their dug in positions to repel the offensive. The nature of trench warfare with its mass assaults into the teeth of trench defensive positions resulted in truly appalling casualty figures. World War One quickly became a war of attrition, in which each side readily sacrificed incredible numbers of its own men in order to exhaust the enemy, bleed them white and thus achieve history. During 1915. The war on the Western Front witnessed wave after wave of British French and German soldiers attacking across barren no man’s land into the face of entrenched machines. Machine Gun nests. Although the casualty figures skyrocketed, the front barely moved. Much of the military action in that year took place on the Eastern Front. Having failed to destroy France in 1914. The Central Powers in 1915 sought to drive Russia from the war. In a series of coordinated attacks, the Central Powers regained, Galicia expelled Russia from Poland and Lithuania and invaded Russia proper, however, victory proved elusive. Although the Russian army was poorly LED, poorly equipped, poorly fed and beaten on the battlefield, it nevertheless relied on its seemingly unlimited supply of men, and the vast expanses of the Russian countryside to remain in the field as a viable foe. During the first month of hostilities in the east. It became obvious that Austria Hungary was not up to the military task at hand. Austria Hungary is offensives even against tiny Serbia failed and often German. had to come to its rescue when the Russians pummeled its army. Consequently, by 1916, Austria Hungary had virtually surrendered its freedom of action to Germany, and it was relegated to this inferior position until the end of the war. In 1915, the Western Allies France and Great Britain invaded Turkey, which had entered the war on the side of the Central Powers in October 1914. This attack known as the Gallipoli campaign, and fought chiefly by soldiers from the British Empire, ended in defeat for the allies. Nevertheless, the ally is now determined to destroy the Ottoman Empire. By virtue of a secret treaty concluded in 1915. Russia was granted the right to fulfill its long standing desire to annex Constantinople and thereby gain control over the straits leading from the Black Sea to the GNC and the Mediterranean. Subsequently, the British led by Colonel T. Lawrence, Fully incited the Turkish Empire’s Arab populations. In 1917. The British issued the Balfour Declaration, pledging themselves to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. As the British were becoming bogged down in Gallipoli, Italy having been promised territorial gains at the expense of Austria Hungary, entered the war on the side of the allies in May 1915. Also during the early stages of the war, the Allies especially Great Britain, moved against Germany’s African colonies. Japan, Britain’s Pacific ally grab Germany’s colonies in Asia and the South Pacific in 1916, while the armies of the central power slowly chewed up the fading Russian Army, the military spotlight shifted to the west once again, in particular to battles on the Western Front that here came to symbolize the futility and mindless bloodletting that were hallmarks of World War One in February. The German launched a massive attack against French position in and around the fortress town of Verdun. The objective was to bleed the French and hasten their surrender. However, the French determined to hang on and under the tenacious leadership of general Henry Felipe Patel, whose pledge they shall not past lifted French morale. France withstood the German attack, but at a terrible price. By the end of the battle, the Germans and the French had each lost 350,000 men. Later that same year, the British launched a massive attack against German positions along the Somme River. After several weeks of intense combat, the Allies had gained a mere 15 square miles at the cost of 410,000 British dead and 190,000 French dead, the Germans lost 500,000 men. The staggering number of casualties can be attributed not only to incredible Stupid strategic planning and leadership but also to the perfection of already existing weapons of mass destruction and the introduction of new ones. During World War One, the machine gun and heavy artillery were employed with devastating effect. weapons used for the first time included aircraft tanks, poison gas, and submarines. Their effect was no less devastating. In particular, the submarine and its effects transcend the battlefield. at the onset of the war, both sets of belligerents declared a blockade in the belief that they could starve their opponents into submission. While the Allies rely chiefly on Britain’s fleet to maintain their blockades the central power place their hopes in Germany submarines, the German submarines were quite effective, but the type of campaign they waged was flawed because unlike surface vessels, they could not stop and board their intended target. Rather, they could only start Their targets in an indiscriminate fashion, demonstrated quite dramatically in May 1915. With the sinking of the passenger ship Lucy Tanya, with the loss of 1200 lives, including 111 Americans, the United States and neutral country that had protested the blockade actions of both belligerents erupted in anger at the sinking of the Lusitania, the United States threatened war against Germany, a prospect that caused German leaders to modify their submarine campaign. However, at the start of 1917, Germany once again decided to wage unrestricted submarine warfare. This decision played an important part in the American determination to enter the war on the side of the allies in April 1917. The only major conventional clash at sea occurred in spring 1916 when the German fleet ventured from its harbors and fought the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland. was essentially an accidental one. And although the German fleet probably gained a slight victory, as the German guns proved better than the English ones, and the Germans sank twice the tonnage that the British did, it retreated to port and never again sallied forth to challenge the British while millions of men slaughtered each other at the front, important changes occurred at home. World War One introduced the 20th century to the concept of total war, subjected to the requirements of a war effort of unprecedented scope and size. Each villager and government eventually adopted policies that interfere profoundly with normal civilian activity in order to marshal all available human and material resources. Perhaps the best example of this development is found in the policy of national conscription that placed all able bodied young and middle aged men at the state’s disposal. The now regimented populations. Were also the target of incessant campaigns of state sponsored but often distorted propaganda designed to boost civilian morale and generate support for the war. Meanwhile, the war effort drained the financial resources of the state and eventually bankrupted almost every belligerent standards of living also declined, and each state struggled to find substitutes for items that were no longer available, including labor as women performed here to 40 exclusively male tasks. Germany under the organizational genius Walter Rath no practice Total War most effectively. rifles successfully organized Germany’s productive capacity and directed German scientists in the production of many assets or artificial items that serve to mitigate the effects of the Allied blockade. Such steps enabled a resource strapped Germany to fight effectively for more than four years, those countries He’s successful in waging Total War, like Russia and Austria Hungary found their chances for success, even survival rapidly diminishing. In fact, the failure to shoulder the crushing burdens of Modern Warfare led to the collapse of Russia in 1917. In March of that year revolution broke out in the Capitol San Petersburg, which had been renamed Petrograd at the beginning of the war. Nicholas the second the Russian Tsar or Emperor quickly abdicated, but the chaos intensified. While the situation at home continued to deteriorate. The Russian army mounted a summer offensive under General Alexis brucey love, as had been the case in 1916. When Bruce love launched a similar campaign he was defeated with Brazil of defeat, the Russian Army began to disintegrate. At home, a power struggle was underway to see who would fill the vacuum created by the collapse of the tourists. date in November 1917, the Bolsheviks a small radical group, espousing Marxism and led by Lenin ceased power. Believing in the inevitability of a global working class Revolution, the Bolsheviks sought to withdraw Russia from the war, negotiation ensued during which the Germans drove a very hard bargain. These negotiations resulted in the march 319 18 Treaty of breastplate offs, which validated the German victory in the east, the Germans could now devote their full attention to the Western Front. Therefore, however, circumstances had changed dramatically. Russia’s departure from the war roughly coincided with the US entry into the war in the early 1970s. And increasingly desperate Germany now fully under the control of generals luden, Dorf and Hindenburg decided to resume unrestricted submarine warfare in an effort to starve Great Britain into submission one And for all this decision infuriated the United States, which declared war on Germany on April 6 1917. Several months later, in January 1918, US President Woodrow Wilson issued the 14 points which for the first time clearly set out allied war aims both the American entry into the war and the 14 points following closely upon the triumph of Bolshevism in Russia gave the Allies a huge boost in morale. Moreover, the prospect of unlimited American men money and material seem to ensure that the Allies would eventually win the stalemated conflict. However, the United States would take about a year to move to a war footing, and the bloodletting on the Western Front continued unabated throughout 1917. The French under a new commander, General Robert nivo, determined to continue the failed tactic of the mass assault. This time, however, French troops mutiny refusing to go on the offense. ffensive unbeknownst to the Germans, the French army was on the verge of collapse. That catastrophe was avoided when Putin the hero Verdana replaced Novell and restored discipline in order to save his army, but then abandoned the doctrine of attack and took up a defensive posture awaiting the arrival of the Americans. The British, however, continued to press forward fighting in Flanders Fields at Bashan Dale and April, the British Army observed staggering casualties at the hands of dug in German forces. In October the southern front flared when the Austrians routed the Italian Army at COP Loretto, approximately 300,000 Italian surrendered, while more than 400,000 deserted the failures of 1917 might have been enough to break the Allies had it not been for the entry of the United States into the war and the coming to power of George Clayman. So in France, and David Lloyd George in Britain, these hearts knows leaders who sometimes rode roughshod over both their political opponents and prevailing legal standards were determined to achieve victory. Their determination proved helpful as the war reaches climax in 1918. freed of major military responsibilities in the east, the Germans now transferred the bulk of their forces to the Western Front, as they prepared for an all out onslaught against the British and the French before the Americans could arrive to tip the scales in favor of the Allies launching their massive attack in March 1918. The Germans came perilously close to success until they were defeated in July at the gates of Paris in the Second Battle of the mourn the failure of the German offensive foreshadowed the end of the war. with American troops pouring into France at the rate of 250,000 a month, the German armies lost all chance of victory. In September 19 18th, the German generals informed a shark case William the second that Germany was defeated and dumped further responsibility for the conduct of the war in his lab in Austria Hungary the Empire itself was disintegrating as each of its component national parts started to go its own way. On November 11 1918, an armistice took effect. After more than four years of the bloodiest fighting the world had ever seen. The gun stopped firing in January 1919. peace negotiations opened at Paris, the Paris Peace Conference, as the negotiations were called, try to deal with the many consequences of the war. However, Soviet Russia already a pariah among nations, was not invited to the conference and defeated Germany was effectively barred from participating in the discussions. As for the victorious allies, they tended to squabble among themselves and could never agree on whether to impose a truly draconian piece or a generous piece. The main product of This flawed effort to bring peace to Europe was the Treaty of Versailles signed on June 28 1919, five years to the day after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo. I hope you enjoyed the story of the First World War. Of course, the events were not enjoyable. But I like the lessons we learn from history. And hopefully, we don’t have to go through those hard times ever again. Although the world went through World War Two again, and a lot of wars and the wars that are happening all around the world, people still learn nothing, that nobody wins. In the end, all these people dead, all these resources wasted, and they still wage war every day. Anyway, there’s no need to be so dramatic. That brings us to the end of this episode. I hope you’ve learned a lot about World War One. And more importantly, you have listened carefully to all those new words that you Mike learn in this episode from perfect English. Don’t forget to take the quiz. The link is in the description of this episode. Take the quiz to check that you’ve understood the things we talked about in this episode. Thank you very much for listening, and I will see you next time with new episodes that will take your English a step further to perfect English. That was your host Danny saying bye for now. I’ll see you next time.

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