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World War 1 started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated on June 28, 1914. This was the immediate cause but there were a series of events which triggered the war. See below for more information and facts about how World War 1 started.
Over 17 million people were killed in the First World War and the impact it had on the old empires and the politics of the world was enormous, but what were the causes of WW1 and how did it start?
How Did World War 1 Start?
The immediate cause for World War 1 was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife Sophie. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the nephew of Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne of Austria and Hungary. The assassination was planned by a Serbian terrorist group, called The Black Hand and the man who shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife was a Bosnian revolutionary named Gavrilo Princip.
However, there were many other causes for the start of World War 1.
- Before WW1 was triggered, a number of defence alliances existed between the major European countries. What this meant was that if one country declared war on another, the other countries would also have to enter the conflict because it was in the treaty they agreed.
- Britain, France, Ireland and Russia were part of an alliance called the Triple Entente, while Germany aligned itself with Austria-Hungary – known as the Central Powers.
- The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, it triggered a chain of events that resulted in World War 1.
- After the assassination, Austria-Hungary threatened war on Serbia. They set out some very harsh demands that Serbia must meet. Germany sided by Austria-Hungary, while Russia sided with the Serbians. At this point, Europe was at the brink of going to war.
- One month after the Archduke’s assassination – on July 28 1914 – Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia with the backing of Germany. Germany then declared war on Russia on August 1, and on France on August 3.
- On August 4 1914, the German troops marched on France and the route they took went through Belgium. Since Britain had agreed to maintain the neutrality of Belgium, they immediately declared war on Germany.
- British and Germany forces first fought at the Battle of Mons in Belgium. This was the first of many battles between Britain and Germany on the Western Front and is when World War 1 started for Britain.
For more information about what happened when World War 1 started, discover more interesting facts about WW1.
WWI’s Beginnings Worksheets
This bundle contains 17 ready-to-use WWI worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about and understand how the Great War started including important events and those involved.
Students will also learn about the beginning of WW1 and the timeline of events, triple entente vs the central powers plus many more challenging but engaging worksheets.
Included WWI’s Beginnings worksheets:
Facts & information from the beginning of WW1. Allow students to absorb and use this information as a lesson starter.
WWI’s Beginning Timeline
What was the order of events at the start of WWI? Fill out the blanks on the timeline to refresh your memory.
Triple Entente vs Central Powers
Students will correctly identify which countries were part of the Triple Entente, and which were part of the Central Powers?
What country am i?
Clue based task where students will be challenged to guess what the countries are based on the clues?
Decode the phrase
Decoding task where students are encouraged to unscramble each of the clue words.
Interpret the quotation
Interpretation task where students are challenged to write what they believe the British Prime Minister was saying in his famous speech.
Important events at the start of WW1
Describe the important events & exactly what happened at the locations on the map.
Solve the WW1 Mystery
Mystery based task where students are challenged with rearranging tiles to form a clue.
Causes & Effects
In this activity, for each sentence, students will fill in the cause and the effect.
Become A Journalist
Roleplay based task where students are to act as a journalist and report on the beginning of the war.
WWI’s Beginning Crossword
Challenging crossword based on the start of WW1.
After completing these worksheets students will be able to:
- Have a clear understanding of the beginning of WW1.
- Define and identify both the Triple Entente & the Central Powers.
- Answer a series of challenging questions on the different countries involved.
- Interpret quotations using their own thoughts.
- Understand the important events at the start of WW1.
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.