It was 100 years ago this week that all hell broke loose in Europe. To commemorate the onset of the Great War, YouTuber Emperor Tigerstar has painstakingly put together a timelapse video chronicling every single day of the four year conflict.
After creating similar timelapse videos for the Second World War, Emperor Tigerstar has turned his attention to the Great War. The conflict — which officially got started on July 28, 1914 with the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia — would last well over 1,566 days, ending on November 11, 1918.
"What makes an animated map great is that you really see how far people went both literally and figuratively just to avenge something or to acquire land," Emperor Tigerstar told io9. "The fact that 13.5 million people died or got wounded on the Western Front alone — which barely moved the entire four years of the war — shows the horrors of how far nationalism and patriotism can go. The fact that it looks like that the Central Powers are winning in terms of conquered land by the end but lose within seconds (figuratively speaking) shows how fragile the war made these countries by bleeding themselves dry."
Here are some things to watch out for in the video:
- This timelapse beautifully illustrates how incredibly static and narrow the Western Front truly was. Even when Allied offensives broke through in 1917 and the Germans in 1918, we're still not talking about a lot of real estate. Though it looks like nothing's happening, millions of lives were being lost. Take 1916, for example, a year that saw both Verdun and the Somme – massive engagements that, when seen from this perspective, are all but invisible.
- Despite popular conceptions, the Eastern Front was the pivotal area of operations. Major developments there included the initial push-back against Russian forces from September to October 1914, and then again in May 1915. The Russian Brusilov Offensive in 1916 represented the greatest crisis for Austria-Hungary during the entire war. But things were not to be for the Russians, who collapsed under the weight of the war and the ensuing Revolution in late 1917.
- You can watch Serbia get routed badly in 1915 by both Austria and Bulgaria, with the army fleeing eastwards.
- At the right of the video, you can see the action in non-European theatres, including Africa. The Germans, mired in Europe, felt they could hurt the Allies by threatening their colonies.
- Austria called it quits on November 3, 1918.
- Watch for Turkey's ebbing and flowing fronts, especially along the Russia border and in the Middle East. Turkey made peace on October 30, 1918.
- The timelapse even shows German forces fighting in Southern Finland during the Finnish Civil War, and the Allies in Archangelsk on account of the Russian Civil War which, technically speaking, started before the end of the Great War. It wouldn't end until 1922 — a conflict that claimed 2.7 million casualties.
Here's what we don't see in the video: the battle in the seas (including unrestricted submarine warfare), the efforts of the homefronts, the tremendous economic strain on the various combatants, and all the political wrangling that went on.