Causes of World War I Essay

Tensions pre 1914 and reasons for Outbreak of WW1: The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well. The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and dictators during the Crisis of 1914, casus belli for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb. 1] The phenomenen came after a short and easy series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high. In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867. [2] The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.

Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties. Tension pre 1914: Crisis Strikes In 1905 Germany decides to support an independent Morocco, an African territory given to France by Britain. They did this for no other reason than to ruffle France’s feathers and war was narrowly avoided. In 1911 Germany sent a warship to let the French know that they were hated and that Germany wanted them out.

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Britain told Germany to back off or face consequences. Germany agreed to leave them alone on the condition that the French give them part of the French Congo. Later in 1908, Serbia threatened war on Austria-Hungary over the former Turkish province of Bosnia. Russia began to mobilize, pledging support for Serbia. The mobilization sent shock waves throughout Europe, scaring Germany, who was allied with Austria-Hungary. Russia eventually backed down, but Serbia and Austria were left with bitter tastes in their mouths. Serbia ad gained some land in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, and Austria-Hungary forced them to give some of it up, which did not go over well. In June 1914, the Archduke of Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Serbia. Europe mourns for symbolism, while behind the scenes the leaders are staring at each other waiting for someone to make the first move towards war. Germany pledges its support for Austria in July by giving them a blank check to do whatever they needed. A series of ultimatums is put out by Austria against Serbia, and Serbia refuses most of them.

On July 28th, 1914, Austria declares war on Serbia. The Russians, French and Germans all scare each other into mobilization, and in August Germany declares war on Russia and France. Italy breaks it’s alliance and declares neutrality. The war had finally begun. The 3 main things that caused WW1 were: 1) The Assasination of Archduke Ferdinand Beginning of the War on June 28, 1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist named Gavrilo Princip. The Archduke’s assassination triggered the outbreak of World War 1. On July 28, Austria declared war on Serbia.

Because of Austria’s alliance with Germany, Serbia tried to get help from Russia. In 1914 Russia vowed to stand behind Serbia, but first Russia gained support from France. Germany declared war on Russia on Aug. 1, 1914, in response to Russia’s mobilization. Two days later Germany declared war on France. The German Army swept into Belgium on its way to France. The invasion of Belgium caused Britain to declare war on Germany on August. Germanys plan for a quick defeat of France while Russia slowly mobilized was called the “Schlieffen Plan”.

This plan called for two wings of the German army to crush the French army in a pincers movement. A small left wing would defend Germany along its frontier with France. A much larger right wing would invade France through Belgium, close in and capture Paris, and them move east. Belgium’s army fought bravely but held up the Germans for only a short time. By August 16,1914, the right wing of Germany could begin its pincers motion. It drove back French and British forces in southern Belgium and swept info France. But instead of swinging west around

Paris, one part of the right wing pursued retreating French troops toward the Marne River. This maneuver left the Germans exposed to attacks form the rear. Meanwhile, General Joseph Joffre, commander of all French armies, stationed his forces near the Marne River east of Paris and prepared for battle. This battle was later known as the “First Battle of the Marne”, beginning on September 6 and ending September 9 when German forces started to withdraw. The First Battle of the Marne was a key victory for the Allies because it ended Germany’s hopes to defeat France quickly.

The German army halted its retreat near the Aisne River. From there, the Germans and the Allies fought a series of battles that became known as the Race to the Sea. Germany sought to seize ports on the English Channel and cut off vital supply lines between France and Britain. But the Allies stopped the Germans in the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium. The battle lasted from mid October until mid November. By late November 1914, the war reached a deadlock along the Western Front as neither side gained much ground. The deadlock lasted nearly 3 ? years. ) The rise of Nationalism A Group of Alliances gave European power a sense of security before World War 1. They formed these alliances with each other for protection and to guarantee that other members of the alliance would come to the country’s aid if attacked. Although alliances provided protection, the system also created certain dangers. If war came, the alliance system meant that a number of nations would fight, not only the two involved in a dispute. Alliances could force a country to go to war against a nation it had no quarrel with.

In addition, the terms of many alliances were kept secret. The secrecy also increased the chances that a county might guess wrong about the consequences of its actions. The Triple Alliance was made up of 3 countries, Germany, Italy, and Austria. They all agreed to go to war if attacked by Russia. Bismarck also brought Austria and Germany into alliance with Russia. The agreement was known as the “Three Emperor’s League” and it was formed in 1881. They all agreed to remain neutral if any of them went to war with another country. In 1890 when

Bismarck left office it gave a chance for Russia and France to form an alliance. In 1894, France and Russia agreed to call up troops if any nation in the Triple Alliance mobilized. Russia and France also agreed to help each other if either were attacked be Germany. 3) The building up of the Military and Alliances Building Military strength occurred among European countries before World War 1 broke out. Nationalism encouraged public support for military buildups and for a country’s use of force to reach its goals. By the late 1800’s, Germany had the best trained army in the world.

In 1898 Germany began making a naval force that was big enough to challenge the British navy. In 1906, the British navy launched the Dreadnought, the first modern battleship. The Dreadnought had greater firepower that any other ship of its time. Germany rushed to construct on just like it. Advances in technology helped aid in making military forces stronger. Machine guns and other new weapons fired more accurately and more rapidly that earlier weapons. By the end of the 1800’s, technology enabled countries to fight longer and bear greater losses that ever before.


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