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Causes Of World War I
The World War I started in July 1914. It was mainly brought by assassination of Austria Franz Ferdinand and his wife that happened on 28th June 1914. Gavrirol Princip, a Bosnia revolutionary, killed them. Some factors triggered the war to continue for a while. Such factors as, stalemate conflicts among nation, well organized military, strong alliances among nation, imperialism, nationalism among people of the same state and state crisis (Garland, 1997)..
Over the years, the state that were considered powerhouse crushed over colonial issues. These brought tensions throughout the continent. Thus, change in balance of power in the Europe. The crises that lead to war were conflict of Austria- Hungary over Balkans territory with Serbia and Russia. This made countries that formed alliances against each other start the war.
Balkans war that was won by the Serbia lead them to increase their territories, Austria were very irritated ad said that they would wage a preventive war to weaken the Serbia or otherwise destroy them. This was meant to help Austria preserve dual monarchy, which was held by the Serbian in their Balkan territory. Serbia had made treaty with the Bulgaria after winning Balkan wars and had expanded up to Ottoman Empire and in Bulgaria (Howard, 1997). Thus, preventive war was declared in 1912 by Austria for they termed Serbia to be unfriendly state and had increased its powers unacceptably. Austria approached German for support but German refused.
Russia was humiliated by lack of ability to support Serbia in the first Balkan war in 1908 and thus announced great reconstruction of their military. In reaction to Russian move, German said that they would support Austria in its mission to fight for their power. This was announced by German foreign secretary Gotlieb Von Jagow to Reichstag on 28th of November 1912. Britain was so much irritated by that move. They said that if German helps Austria to fight Russia or France, they would not have any alternative than waging war to Reich.
The tension was heightened and it was certain that war would erupt any time. On eighth of December in Berlin, German Imperial Council converged to discuss the issue in an informal meeting. The council discussed their importance now that the German army and Navy leaders were invited.
Wilhelm II was not for the principle of British balance of power and termed it as idiocy. He urged the Austria to attack Serbia as early as possible before the German complete its arms modernization. The Austria agreed on that opinion that they termed it as professional and wanted to attack immediately.
Wilhelm II with Army leadership agreed that war was to be staged soon. However, Admiral Tirpitz disagreed with them. He sighted inefficiency in the Army due to uncompleted U-boat base and Kiel Canal as the major drawbacks yet they were very important to the army during the fight ( Howard, 1997).
He proposed the postponement of the fight for one year and a half. Though Moltke was not for this idea, he later agreed reluctantly after Wilhelm sided with Tirpitz. The completion of the canal was to be in 1914.
Russia great military program brought a lot of fear in the German army. They insisted on preventive war against Russia sooner. They feared German would become stronger and would be very difficult to deal with them. The problem was even worse because of the financial crisis that German was experiencing. German state gives Reich government low power for taxation. This means that the situation would lead to Germany being bankrupt if they engage themselves in war. Therefore, Moltke always advocated for war and the sooner the war would start the better.
Raymond Poincare was elected as French president and assumed the office in 1913. He wanted to improve the relationship with German. Nevertheless, the Reich government lacked interests and announced war to destroy France. France had disadvantage of having smaller economy and population. This made France to accept that they cannot beat Germany.
In 1914, Serbia government was torn between two leaderships. First, one was headed by Nikola Pasic and the other one by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic who was chief of Military Intelligence. It leads to Russia minister in Belgrade to intervene making Pasic government to be restored. Serbia was almost bankrupt after suffering from Balkan war calamity thus needed peace. In this political confusion, powerful members of Serbia military divide trained and armed three students from Bosnia and sent them to Austria – Hungary for assassination mission. The student went to Austria and killed Franz Ferdinand and his wife. This triggered the First World War that started in July 1914 (Lieven, 1983).
Though this assassination made the First World War to start, its origin was more than that. They involved politics of the states, economics of the country, alliances and counterbalancing of the European power. There are long-term causes that made the war to continue up to 1918.
Nationalism was one of them. This means one being strong and supports one’s country right and interest. For example, Vienna congress was held to solve problems in Europe after napoleon went to exile in Elba. Delegates from the winning allies that were Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia made a decision making a new Europe leaving Germany and Italy to fall apart. What followed was strong nationalism that reunited Italy in 1861 while German was reunited in 1871 ten years down the line. The Franco – Prussia war lead to fight between France and Germany. It came about because France was in pursuit to recover their lost territory. Different nationalist group also felt that they need freedom thus took large area of Austria – Hungary and Serbia making it their home.
Militarism was another major problem in Europe that leads to extended First World War. Army was given high profile across the whole continent. In between 1870 to 1914, the German and France army had doubled. German and Britain at the same time were competing in mastery of the sea. The Britain country made a battleship that was very effective in exploring the sea. It leads to German introducing theirs. They even planned to attack France through Belgium if Russia attacks them. It leads to continued war propagation along the European region.
Alliance was made among nation. These were agreement that united countries so that they help each other in time of need. These made ally countries to join in time of war if any of the country declares one.
Such alliances as dual alliance were made in 1881 by German and Austria – Hungary to protect them from Russia. The other one was Austria- Serbia alliance in 1882 that was meant to stop Russia from gaining control over Serbia. These alliances among others were formed and ganged against states hence continued war.
The war had to go on for a while due to imperialism. This is where by a country rules over another country and take land into its possession. This makes such country to subject the other to its rule. Britain by 1900 had a very big empire that had gone to five continents while France had great control in Africa. This was mostly triggered by rise in industrialization in those countries and they were looking for market of their products. This caused rivalry between Germany and both Britain and France. They were all scrambling for colonies thus such rivalry-fuelled war more.
There were also crises that lead to more hatred among nations. In 1904 Britain gave morocco to France to reign over it but morocco wanted their freedom in 1905. German supported morocco to gain their independence and war almost arose but a conference avoided it. It leads to France retaining its control in Morocco, while German was persuaded to get some part of France in Congo.
Bosnian crisis was another cause of heighten tension and prolonged war. In 1908, Turkish province of Bosnia was taken by Austria – Hungary. Serbia were filled with fury because they knew that the region were theirs. German allied to Austria – Hungary while Russia allied with Serbia and war was avoided when Russia stepped aside. However, the same lead to Balkan war in 1911 to 1912 when Balkan states drove Turkey out the area. These states fought over the control of the region. Austria – Hungary intervened and forced Serbia to surrender some its acquisitions. This brought a lot of tension thus prolonged war (Lieven, 1983)..
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