World War One was the original World War, 21 years before the more popular sequel, World War Two. Think Batman Begins to The Dark Knight, but with more Germans.
Please bear in mind that this is a quick look at WW1, not a comprehensive guide. If you're after details, read a book. If you're after sarcastic comments and jabs at the French, you're in the right place.
Technically, if we're being picky (which we are), there were many factors to the start of the war, but the one that people always focus on is the assasination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
Look at that glorious moustache!
Obviously, it didn't just happen out of nowhere, that wouldn't make any sense. There was a buildup that took years, consisting of a major upset between Austria and Serbia. When this magnificent bastard was killed, Austria sort of went nuts and blamed Serbia, saying it was all a plot organised by Serbia. Now, as we all know from our history books, Germans were (putting it bluntly) complete dicks at this point in time. Kaiser William II promised Austria that German forces would have their back if Serbia tried any funny business in the forseeable future. Spurred on by this act of douchebaggery, Austria declared war on Serbia and Germany declared war on Russia (we imagine the Russian response went along the lines of: "WOAH, WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?")
If you listen carefully, you can hear a trombone going "Wah wah waaaaah!"
Of course, one country presents absolutely no challenge to the forces of Germany (no matter how much bigger it is than them). Disgruntled by the lack of enemies, they decided to invade Belgium and declare more war on France. At this point, Britain decided enough was enough, and declared war on Germany. There were a lot of declarations, let's put it like that. Britain felt that since Germany was invading Belgium, they'd crossed a line, after an agreement that Belgium was to be left alone. Instead of going along with this, Germany gave them a big "Fuck you!" and did it anyway.
A month has gone by since old Franz was killed, and Germany decided to invade France, which was easier than it should have been. This was the start of trench warfare, which basically meant things were about to get a whole lot shittier for anyone in the army. Seriously, trench foot wasn't the only problem. There was the constant threat of the enemy attacking suddenly or artillery attacks. No fun at all. Of course, this all brings up the question: Why didn't anyone think about digging towards the enemy? Seriously, was this not an option? You know, just digging a tunnel under no-mans land towards the other side. Surely with the right amount of people and the proper equipment, this would have been a possibility.
Look at that guy, just sitting there! Lazy!
A few minor adjustments to the above design and we have:
A much better design, don't you think?
We're hazy on the details (we weren't there), but it seems to us that it should have stayed with the name The Great War, since World War implies that EVERYONE EVER was fighting it. It was also called The War To End All Wars (and we know that's not true) and The Kaisers War, referring obviously to Kaiser Wilhelm.
His moustache isn't as spectacular
While we'd like to call it The Moustache War (seriously, how many times have we mentioned Moustaches now? Six?), no-one's going to go along with that, and since it's ancient history, there wouldn't be any point in changing the name. It'd sort of be like looking back and saying "You know what, instead of calling that movie "Die Hard", I'm going to start referring to it as "McClanes day off!" (okay, it wouldn't be exactly like that, but you get the point).
The best we could get out of our translator (read: google) was that this means "It takes a gaslight for throne". While Google may not be the most qualified, we still trust its choices, and we can't even fathom what the fuck this is meant to mean. From the look of the picture however, we reckon it was a message to the french, explaining that "Should you see Kaiser Wilhelm, shove a gaslight up his arse". Not the most patriotic advice, but clearly they had the intentions of warriors.
We're pretty sure that while this was trying to tell us that Germans were savage and brutish, it comes across more as a message saying "All germans are fucking huge gorillas with bats and women as weapons, approach with caution." Not to sound disrespectful, but this isn't the most subtle approach. Why not just depict them as cavemen or something? Why a gorilla?
Must....hold back....penis joke......