WW1 was one of the most gruesome wars ever, with a death toll of over 16 million people. In grade 8 there are 13 key questions that you will need to know the answers for. Below are the questions and answers for you to study.

  1. Who was the most powerful country by 1914?

The most powerful country by 1914 can be decided upon in different ways and each will give you a different result. Here we are going to look at a general aspect. The winner for the best overall power is Britain. Britain had the largest empire, they had the largest navy, they were the richest and most powerful economy and they had the best positioning for war because they are a island.

2. What went wrong in Sarajevo (assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand)?

The assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand is actually a trigger to WW1. There was great tension in the Balkans and there were Slav nationalists who wanted to be united as one state and they also wanted freedom from Austria. There was a military group called the Black Hand who were really passionate about this and they wanted to kill the Austrian leader - Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand. On the 28 of June 1914 they did just that. A person called Gavrilo Princip who was part of the Black Hand assassinated him as they were driving in their car. The assassination caused the Austrians to declare war on Serbia and Serbia then declared war on Austria. Both these countries were part of different allied groups so this caused a World War.

3. What were the long term causes of WW1?


  • When a country increases their power and wealth by bringing in additional territories under their control.
  • Before World War I, Africa and Asia were targeted by European powers for the raw materials. The European countries competed for the so badly that the different Powers already began to quarrel.


  • Countries were fighting for military superiority by 1914 and the two greatest countries that were in competition were Germany and Britain. Germany felt as if the only way they could be a stronger military state than Britain was to destroy them. 


  • Alliances affected the start of WW1 because when Austria-Hungry and Serbia got into a war with each other, they were both part of separate groups of Allies, specifically the Central and the Allied Powers. When Austria-Hungry declared war all the allies got involved and it started a World War.


  • Nationalism is where people of the country have passion for their country. 
  • This started a war because when people see other countries abusing and taking over their country it makes them upset and causes them to enlist in the army and want war.  

4. What was the most significant cause of WW1?

Militarism (the arms and naval race) was the most significant contributing factor due to it being a massive role in the tensions between the different sets of allies. The arms race began before 1914 and European nations were beginning to grow their armies. A nation that was particularly militaristic was Germany, they were very jealous of Britain’s navy and they felt as if the only way to be the most powerful was to destroy all competitors. It also made other countries uneasy because they felt as if they could be overpowered easily.

5. Why did so many people rush to join the army in 1914?


  • Propaganda influenced the decisions of men because countries often advertised a one-sided argument where they influenced peoples emotions to make them believe or do something.


  • Soldiers were often paid a lot more than when they worked on their farms. A soldier named Oliver Hopkins joined due to wages being $5 a day compared to 15$ a week.


  • Soldiers often joined because all of their friends were going.


  • Soldiers that joined were often very proud and loyal about and to their country which made them motivated to stand on the front line for their country.

Peer Pressure

  • If you didn’t join the army you were known as a coward and life was made very hard for you. This made you unpopular if you didn’t fight.

6. How and why did people resist conscription?

People resisted conscription by just not going and not wanting to go and fight. There are 3 reasons to which men did not go and fight.

  • Religious
  • Pacifistic
  • They did not want to fight but were willing to help
  • Political

People who did not fight worked as stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers. People who objected conscription faced a special trial known as a Military Tribunal. If they could not persuade the court then they were sent to prison or labour camps where life was really rough.

7. How and why did the Schlieffen plan fail?

The S Plan was made to prevent Germany for being attacked from both sides in a war. German troops were meant to go through Belgium and into France and attack Paris while another set of German troops went to Russia, the Russians were expected to take 6 weeks to mobilise their troops but they did it in 10 days. The plan went wrong in Belgium, the Germans expected an easy fight but the Belgians put great effort in and slowed the plan down by 2 weeks. By this time France was organised and General Von Kluck failed to do the plan and had to attack Paris head on. The British had also mobilised their troops much faster than expected and got to the aid of France.


8. Why wasn’t the war over by Christmas? 

Credits - Historyonthenet.com

It wasn’t over by Christmas due to a stalemate between the two nations in the trenches. Trenches were the most horrific battle and many soldiers died due to failed tactics.


9. Why has the Battle of Somme been so well remembered?


It has been so well remembered because it was the largest British death ever and it killed the most people. The trench battles there were long and tedious. It was one of the roughest wars ever where soldiers were involved. It also highlights a key fault in the British tactics of that battle. It killed 620 000 allied soldiers and 500 000 German soldiers.


10. To what extent is the failure at Somme Haig’s fault?


It is his fault because he was ignorant when his soldiers got obliterated on foot. He just carried on using the same technique, thinking that people will win against a very evolved set of artillery and machine guns.


11. What was South Africa’s involvement in WW1?


South Africa was involved in WW1 in the Battle of Delville Wood. South Africans fought in the battle with bad weapons and got slaughtered - 3153 soldiers went into battle but only 755 survived. There was also the sinking of the Mendi which was carrying South African non-combatants to the battles on the Western front - 650 men died.


12. What role did women play in WW1?


Before WW1 women were housewives and basically did chores like cleaning and cooking. In WW1 there was a shortage of employees and women went to work on farms and in factories - they took up the jobs the men left behind. After the war many women went back to being housewives but some till wanted a job for their independence. These were widowed, single women who had no husbands.


13. Why did the Allies win WW1?


1) The failure of Germany to bring a quick end to the war in 1914, leading to a war on two fronts and stalemate. Germany had a huge army and so could hold out, but in a long war she was ultimately bound to lose against the combined economies of Britain, France, USA etc. 


2) The Allied Naval blockade of Germany led to shortages and unrest on the home front. However this didn't really start to bite until the final period of the war. 


3) After 1914 Germany largely gave up the initiative to the Allies on the Western front. Apart from a few battles such as Verdun and the March 1918 offensive, she stayed largely on the defensive, which cost the Allies dear but the war could never be won this way. 


4) The allies made huge mistakes at massive loss of life but ultimately they learned from their mistakes and got their act together in 1918. The Germans had no answer to the new tactics and the combined use of tanks and aircraft. Germany never put much effort into developing tanks, only a few ever came into service. 


5) Once the USA entered the war the writing was on the wall. It was like a boxing match where after 10 rounds of slugging and with both boxers knackered, a new one stepped in fresh as a daisy. Germany's troops were at the end of their tether by 1918, and they squandered their last reserves on the March 1918 offensive. After that it was backs to the wall until the end of the war.