25 episodes

World War One is the watershed moment in modern history. The Western World before it was one of aristocrats, empires, colonies, and optimism for a future of unending progress. After four years of hellish trench warfare, shell fire, 10 million combat deaths, and another 10 million civilian deaths, the world that emerged in 1918 was irrevocably changed. Nation-states came out of the rubble, along with a push for universal rights. New technologies emerged, such as tanks and fighter planes. But something was lost permanently in the Great War: a sense of optimism in mankind. In this series, history professors Scott Rank and James Early look at the 10 key battles that determined the outcome of the war between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) and the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, United States).

Key Battles of World War One Parthenon

    • Society & Culture

World War One is the watershed moment in modern history. The Western World before it was one of aristocrats, empires, colonies, and optimism for a future of unending progress. After four years of hellish trench warfare, shell fire, 10 million combat deaths, and another 10 million civilian deaths, the world that emerged in 1918 was irrevocably changed. Nation-states came out of the rubble, along with a push for universal rights. New technologies emerged, such as tanks and fighter planes. But something was lost permanently in the Great War: a sense of optimism in mankind. In this series, history professors Scott Rank and James Early look at the 10 key battles that determined the outcome of the war between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) and the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, United States).

    1: Europe in 1914 Had Absolutely No Idea They Were About To Enter The Most Hellish War Ever

    1: Europe in 1914 Had Absolutely No Idea They Were About To Enter The Most Hellish War Ever

    World War One is the watershed moment in modern history. The Western World before it was one of aristocrats, empires, colonies, and optimism for a future of unending progress. After four years of hellish trench warfare, shell fire, 10 million combat deaths, and another 10 million civilian deaths, the world that emerged in 1918 was irrevocably changed. Nation-states came out of the rubble, along with a push for universal rights. New technologies emerged, such as tanks and fighter planes. But something was lost permanently in the Great War: a sense of optimism in mankind. This episode is the beginning of a 24-part series called Key Battles of World War One. In this series, history professors Scott Rank and James Early look at the 10 key battles that determined the outcome of the war between the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire) and the Allies (Britain, France, Russia, United States).

    In this first episode, Scott and James look at the state of affairs in Europe in 1914. Europe was dominated by several major powers, most of which were multinational empires. They called themselves the Great Powers. There were 5 Great Powers, as well as two other nations who desired to be, although they lacked the military and economic power of the others. Let’s go around Europe and take a look at each of these powers.

    • 52 min
    2: Europe's Pre-WW1 Alliances Were a Doomsday Machine That Pulled the Entire Continent Into War

    2: Europe's Pre-WW1 Alliances Were a Doomsday Machine That Pulled the Entire Continent Into War

    An impossibly complex web of alliances that maintained a fragile peace in Europe (and surprisingly held it together since the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815) always threatened to unravel. The 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, by Serbian nationalists, made Austria declare war on Serbia. A doomsday machine kicked into gear: Russia mobilized against Austria. Germany mobilized against Russia. France mobilized against Germany. Germany prepared long-held plans to attack France.

    • 48 min
    3: Germany So Completely Annihilated Russia At the WW1 Battle of Tannenberg That A Russian General Committed Suicide

    3: Germany So Completely Annihilated Russia At the WW1 Battle of Tannenberg That A Russian General Committed Suicide

    The Battle of Tannenberg was the first major battle of World War One, fought between Germany and Russia, who surprised everyone with its fast mobilization. This muddled the plans of Germany, which sought to quickly fight a two-front war against France and Russia, knock France out of the war, then focus its resources on Russia. The plan didn't work, but Germany issued a crushing blow against Russia, largely due to its fast rail movements that allowed it to focus on two Russian armies at once (and Russia failing to encode its messages did nothing to help). Germany named the battle after Tannenberg in order to avenge a defeat from 500 years earlier in which the proto-German Teutonic Knights were defeated by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The past was alive and well in the minds of these combatants. Commanding general Alexander Samsonov was so humiliated by the defeat he committed suicide.

    • 50 min
    4: Germany's Plans For Total French Defeat in 1914 Failed at the Battle of the Marne

    4: Germany's Plans For Total French Defeat in 1914 Failed at the Battle of the Marne

    The beginning of World War One was marked the breakdown of the western powers’ war plans. Leaders on both sides experienced surprises, shocks, and the failure of plans. The first few months saw shocking violence on a scale never experienced before, at least not in Western Europe. During the first few months of the war, an average of 15,000 lives were lost each day. (five times as much as the worst day in the Civil War). This happened at the Battle of the Marne, fought from September 6 to 12 in 1914. The Allies won a victory against the German armies in the West and ended their plans of crushing the French armies with an attack from the north through Belgium. Both sides dug in their trenches for the long war ahead.

    • 59 min
    5: The Average WW1 Soldier Was a 110-Pound Villager Who Suffered Disease, Hunger, and PTSD

    5: The Average WW1 Soldier Was a 110-Pound Villager Who Suffered Disease, Hunger, and PTSD

    • 49 min
    6: World War 1 Trenches Were A Labyrinth of Rats, Disease, Decaying Flesh, and the Omnipresent Threat of Death

    6: World War 1 Trenches Were A Labyrinth of Rats, Disease, Decaying Flesh, and the Omnipresent Threat of Death

    • 48 min

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