First World War

GWonline Learning & Teaching Suggestions
The First World War (1914–1918)


World War I was a global conflict originating in Europe that officially lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. The war was the first highly industrialized total war conducted with huge mass armies based on universal conscription. The industrialization of warfare had multiple effects on the conduct of warfare itself and thus on the war experience of soldiers and officers, which came to resemble less and less the heroic nineteenth-century image of war. In addition, the effects of industrialized warfare had remarkable effects on the homeland because industrialized mass warfare demanded an unprecedented degree of mobilization among both soldiers and civilians. The lines between the military and civilian society became even more blurred than before by the altered demands of warfare. Civilians became systematic targets of direct warfare, not only by bombing, but also through economic warfare. One example was the British economic blockade of Germany and Austria, which led to severe starvation. In total, more than 70 million military personnel, 60 million of them Europeans, were mobilized for World War I. About 8 million men surrendered and were held in POW camps until the war ended. There were 38 states involved in the conflict. The war zone encompassed ca. four million km2 making it one of the largest conflicts in history. It was also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated number of nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war. Related genocides, like the Armenian genocide (1915–17), revolutions and civil wars, like the Russian Revolution (1917), and the subsequent civil war in Eastern Europe (1918–21), as well as the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

For basic information see the Wikipedia page on World War I.


Selected Suggestions for Learning & Teaching

Introductory Readings

Book Chapters and Journal Articles

General Literature

Literature on Gender & War

Methodological Introductions

Websites with Timelines and Maps

Websites with Primary Sources

Women's Autobiographies

Documentaries, Movies and Television Series


All linked titles of introductory readings, autobiographies, websites, documentaries and movies are connected to an entry in GWonline that provides an abstract and additional information.