A user on the popular website Reddit has posted a WWI GIF that may help to enlighten people as to the specific manner in which the war quickly spread throughout nearly the entire globe. With a color key that distinguishes between alliances, users are able to use the WWI GIF to gain a more thorough understanding of the speed with which the war spread, as well as the overall scope of the war’s influence.
Despite the term “world war,” maybe people think of the war chiefly in terms of its major players. Everyone is aware of the heavy involvement of nations such as Germany and England, but fewer may focus on the involvement of countries in Africa or Central America. This is one of the reasons that looking at the WWI GIF can be so startling, as it shows that well over fifty percent of the nations on Earth’s surface were involved to some degree or another. Even if certain countries may not have played particularly active roles, it is still clear that relatively few nations in general remained neutral during the conflict.
The animation also shows how and why various nations were involved. Darkly colored regions were key Central Powers or Allies, while lighter shades of those same colors are their occupied territories, colonies, and dominions. As the WWI GIF scrolls through the beginning months and subsequent years of the war, one can see the rate at which certain territories were occupied by various powers, not to mention the order in which various powers and dominions entered into the conflict. By the end of the animation, nearly all of Europe has entered the war and nearly all of Africa has been occupied, the Business Insider reports.
It is worth noting that, at the end of the animation, the bulk of the Soviet Union becomes neutral. In this manner, the animation shows not only the order in which various powers entered the conflict, but also which ones were first to exit. The WWI GIF essentially depicts the near-collapse of Russia during the First World War. This was not the only major power to collapse during the war, with the conflict also taking its toll on Prussia as well as the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.
Many are aware that the First World War was caused by a chain of alliances, but this WWI GIF demonstrates this fact with a thorough sense of clarity. It is one thing to read about the manner in which these alliances affected one another, but it is another thing entirely to see the chain laid out on an animated map. This WWI GIF may not provide any particularly new information, but it makes previous information much easier to understand through its simple illustration of how the war spread across the world.