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World War I: American Legacy (2006)

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Narrated by David Carradine, this poignant film reveals the true cost of World War I. The forgotten soldiers whose graves were never marked, the expense of human life and the immense suffering of those who did survive (for every man who was killed, three men were maimed, injured or driven mad). World War I sucked up millions of dollars and swamped many governments in debt. Estimates of cost amount to a staggering $190 billion dollars. But how did this diabolical destruction commence? How did the 'Great War' come to the front doorstep of the United States?


It began with two pivotal murders. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife Sophie were murdered publicly by activists in the city of Sarajevo. The Austro-Hungarians declared war when the Serbians refused to allow their officials to investigate the murders. The situation escalated when the surrounding allied countries became involved. Russia came to the aid of the Serbians and the Germans supported the Austro-Hungarians. On Aug 1 1914, the Germans declared war on Russia. As the British would not tolerate a mobilized German army so close to them across the English Channel, the Great British Empire declared war after the German army invaded Belgium on Aug 4 1914. Thus starts the 'war to end all wars'.


The Americans stayed out of the war, but provided ammunition and finance. At sea, Germany declared that any ship carrying war supplies to Britain or France would be targeted and destroyed. German submarines subsequently attacked and sunk many American cargo ships. When British code breakers intercepted a German message to the Mexican government, it was given directly to the Americans. This message contained the potential threat of a secret alliance between the Germans and Mexicans. The United States of America is then compelled to declare war against Germany on 6 April 1917.


14 million people lost their lives during the 'The Great War' and a generation of young men had been wiped out. This 'war to end all wars' was so awful; that it was believed it could never again be repeated. Although World War I hasn't had as much attention as other wars, (such as World War II or the Vietnam War), it has still left a profound impact on the lives of Americans to this day.




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