As time places us ever further from the event, our knowledge of (and—generally speaking—interest in World War I) has shrunk precipitously. That trend is reversing as the centennial of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination draws nigh.
It’s a good time to play catch up.
Before I started studying this game-changing catastrophic event with my young son, one of my few germane pieces of information was that a lot of soldiers lived and died in trenches dug along the Western front. Even without photos, statistics, or personal stories, this defining aspect hits home hard in Emperor Tigerstar’s animated map of the Great War’s changing front lines in Europe and the Middle East, above.
The trenches were built following the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914. Eventually they covered over 25,000 miles. Hundreds of thousands met their ghastly ends there, via bombs, illness, and poison gas attacks, but these losses resulted in very little geographic gain for one side or the other.
If you’re looking for change, keep your eye peeled for the Russian Revolution. The Western Front was a deadlock.
An animated timeline of World War II can be found here.