Fronts of World War I





The western front

Germany had to fight a war on two fronts. It wanted to defeat France, Russia's ally, quickly, so that it could concentrate on the more powerful enemy in the east.

The border between France and Germany was heavily fortified. Germany tried to invade France through Belgium in the north. Belgium's army fought bravely against the Germans but could not stop them. French and British soldiers were driven back.

When the Germans reached the Marne River they were stopped by Allied soldiers. The German offensive had come to an end about 40 km before they reached Paris. There, French and German troops fought several battles.

By 1915 both sides had dug themselves into trenches along the western front, which reached from the coast of Belgium to the Swiss border. From there each side launched attacks but the fronts did not move for more than three years.


The eastern front

By August 1914 Russian soldiers had been able to move deeply inside German territory, something that the Germans had not expected. The Germans placed their soldiers between two Russian armies in Eastern Prussia. By the end of August Germany managed to drive the Russians out of Prussia. About 250,000 men of the tsar's army were killed or injured.

The other part of the eastern front was less successful for the central powers. By the end of 1914 Austria had attacked Serbia three times but was always defeated. In the meantime Russia captured a large part of Austria's territory in the east.



Wars on Other Fronts

The Italian Front

At first Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance, but it stayed out of the war in 1914 because it claimed that Austria had not been attacked and, thus, Italy did not have to support the Austrians.

In a secret agreement the Allies promised to give Italy Austrian territory if it attacked Austria-Hungary. The Allies hoped that Germany would help Austria on the Italian front and, as a result, become weaker on the Russian Front.

During 1915 and 1916 Italy fought several battles against Austria along the Isonzo River. Many Italian soldiers were killed and wounded, but the Italians did not gain any land.


The sea war

The British navy controlled most of the seas around Western Europe. It blockaded German ports and stopped ships from entering them. As time went on Germany did not get the goods and food it needed. Although the German navy was not as strong as the British it had a different weapon: U-boats. With them they blockaded British harbours and attacked vessels that were underway to the United Kingdom.
In 1915, a German U-boat sank the British passenger ship Lusitania, killing over a thousand passengers.

Although both countries had many powerful warships they did not engage in direct fighting because each country thought it would lose the war if it lost a great deal of its navy.




The air war

The air war was not as important as it later was in World War II. Both the Germans and the British developed a series of airplanes that they used, at first, for observation only.

Later on, the Germans were the first who mounted a machine gun that could fire between the revolving blades of a propeller. This invention led to battles in the air. Successful pilots became national heroes, like Germany's Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. During World War I he shot down over 80 planes, more than any other pilot.

Later on, Germany began bombing British cities with airships, called zeppelins.


World War I- Online Exercises


Related Topics



  • Allied = the countries that fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary
  • ally = friendly country
  • although = while
  • attack = to start fighting against the other side
  • baron = a man who is in the lower rank of the nobility
  • battle = single fight in a war
  • blade = flat and sharp piece of metal
  • blockade = to surround an area with ships and soldiers so that people and goods cannot get through
  • border = line between two countries
  • bravely = with a lot of courage in a dangerous situation
  • capture = take control of
  • central powers = Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy
  • claim = to say officially
  • concentrate = focus on
  • deeply = very far
  • defeat = win against
  • develop = plan, design
  • drive back = here: they had to move back from where they came
  • enemy = here: country you fight against
  • engage = get involved in
  • gain = get more
  • goods = products
  • great deal = very many
  • heavily fortified = series of walls and towers around an area to defend the space behind it
  • in the meantime = time between two events
  • invade = march into a country with an army
  • launch = start
  • manage = succeed in doing something
  • mount = put on
  • navy = the ships that belong to a country's army
  • observation = here: only to see what the enemy was doing; not attack
  • offensive = military attack
  • place = put
  • Prussia = powerful German state between the 17th and 19th century ; after World War II its land was divided between Germany , the Soviet Union and Poland
  • reach = get to
  • revolve = go round and round
  • secret agreement = a written document that not many people know about
  • several = many
  • soldiers = people who fight for a country in a war
  • successful = very good
  • support = help
  • territory = land
  • thus = that is why
  • trench = a long narrow hole dug into the ground , so that soldiers could stand there without being seen
  • Triple Alliance = an agreement that Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy signed
  • troops = soldiers
  • tsar = ruler of Russia
  • U-boats = submarines
  • vessel = ship or large boat
  • weapon = here: something very dangerous, which can hurt others
  • wound = hurt