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Esami di Stato 2009 - Inglese The First World War

The First World War The main causes and the developments

By 1907, Europe was divided into two opposed blocks: the Triple Alliance (composed of Germany, Austria and Italy) and the Triple Entente (composed of Britain, France and Russia). Between 1908 and 1914, a series of events brought Europe to the brink of war: the sparkle that led to the outbreak of the war, was the assassination of the Austria’s heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, and of his wife. They was killed in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian revolutionary. Austria then declared war on Serbia, but Italy and Britain remained aloof from the European conflict. Germany decided to help his allied and in 1914, invaded Belgium. The First World War began. Britain joined the conflict at once, followed by Italy in 1915 (after the Treaty of London, a secret agreement that allowed Italy to join the war against the Triple Alliance, at the side of Triple Entente). Thousands of young men volunteered to join the army, believing that it was their patriotic duty and that the war would be an exciting adventure. Most soldiers lived in trenches dug in the ground, surrounded by barbed-wire. Between the two armies lay, there was a wasteland called “No Man’s Land”, where exploding shells created huge craters. For the first time were used the tanks, deadly weapons capable of killing hundreds of soldiers quickly.

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Esami di Stato 2009 - Inglese The First World War

Even with this type of weapons, however, neither side was able to drive the other back, so the war dragged on until the 1918. But in April 1917, the United States entered the war, brought on the battlefield a lot of soldiers. Also for this, the Germany could not continue the conflict and in the morning of 11th November 1918, was signed the armistice that put an end to the war.

The terrible Germans’ new weapon: the gas The new weapon of the Germans was the gas: with this kind of weapon, they was able to broke a four-mile gap in the Allied front. Initially, the strength of it, was especially the surprise factor: the only thing that give protection against this weapon is the anti gas mask, but the Allies didn’t have it, so try to protect them self holding wet cloths to their faces. Was a massacre: gas had some terrible effects on the soldiers, but the worst thing, was that this effects were long lasting and, in most cases, led to death. All those who came into contact with the gas, could become blind or at worst dying (even after long suffering). Fortunately the Germans were not the better even using this terrible weapon, and the war continued in favor of the Allies.

Wrong opinions A lot of people thought that the war would have ended quickly. For example the Germany, believing that it could make a “blitzkrieg”, but it was not so: the war became a trench’s war, and involved the loss of a large numbers of lives, lasting for years. Also Field Marshal Sir John French, when the Britain joined the war, believed that the war will be over for Christmas. Of course no one would have know what turn events would have taken

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Esami di Stato 2009 - Inglese The First World War

The war and the poetry

During the war, the ideals of patriotism led many poets to take part in the conflict. Several of them died fighting and the theme of their works, was especially a strong recrimination on the cruelty and futility of war. The poem of Rupert Brooke, however, was based on nostalgia for his homeland, because, like the other soldiers, was far from his home and now was living in a trench. Other poets, like Sigfried Sassoon, wrote about the horrors of the war, describing the battles and telling the story of the brave boys, who died fighting. His thinking was shared by other poets, such as Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg and Wilfred Owen.

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Inglese