The causes of the First World War
Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
The beginning of the First World War started in early 90s and the causes of the war have always been considered a complicated debate subject. Several countries were engaged in military conflict and form alliance among themselves as they were hunger for power and control, forcing them to submit to harsh duty. Germany and several great power went into war which was centered in Europe due to several reason, these include the influence of Nationalism, imperialism, militarism, alliance system and several major crises and incident that happened during an inappropriate period. Some historians believed that the outbreak of the world war one was mainly responsible by the Germans as they have done several things that contributed to the beginning of the First World War such as starting the alliance system and extreme nationalism which made their desire to form alliance with Austria- Hungary successful and became a great German State.
Nationalism was one of the primary reason for causing the outbreak of World War one. Nationalism in the 19th century was a belief and the desire of groups of peoples for independence. They consider being able to structure their own nation based on their language, culture, religion and their geography landscape. One of the prime examples that have shown nationalistic tendencies was an area in Europe and that area is the empire of Austria. The Empire of Austria consisted of many nationalities include the Salvs, Slovkians and Poles. Even though the empire consisted of a lot of nationalities, the Austrian and the Hungarians held most of the power. The unification of Italy & Germany in the 1860s to 1870s, together with the nationalist group in Austria-Hungary & the Balkans were also a great example of this. According to Marvell, the primary reason for the outbreak of the First World War was a clash between the nationalism of Slav and the Austria – Hungarian empire. Nationalism had led to imperialism as many European nations in the 19th century believed that they were the superior race and have the right to take over other countries.
Another factor that was contributed to the causes of World war one was imperialism, which is the establishment of political control of other countries. Many of the countries such as France and Britain were trying to take control over countries in Asia and Africa. Countries such as France and Britain often have military conflict as they are trying to take over which led to hostility between those countries. For 200 years, Britain and France had expanded their empires and they eventually took over Africa while imprinted the possession of the people and resources. While thinking that other countries would be satisfied as French Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander once said “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.” Imperialism in Africa was dominated by France and Britain but other countries such as Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia felt unsatisfied of their share of control over Africa. This led to greater rivalries among them and led to an undisclosed alliance system.
Germany defeated France in several wars and claimed two of the French territories, Alsace and Lorraine in the 1870s. There were several reasons why France was conflicting with Germany and these are some of the examples. As Germany became in a hostile situation with France, Germany feared that their power alone will not be able to protect themselves and they decide to make alliance with other countries in Europe. They formed a triple alliance consisting of Italy, Austria Hungary and Germany themselves. To keep the power balanced in Europe, France was forced to ally with Great Britain and Russia and they were know as the Entente. Both of the alliance swore to help each other out when their countries are attacked and could not back out no matter how much they wanted to but the alliance system was flawed as any minor conflict involving the alliance will result in wars. As they were preparing for attacks, they share stock up huge amount of supplies for a massive army for each and so they could protect their country further.
Many of these European countries started to create a huge army and they constantly tried to top each other by trying to have the biggest army and most weaponry. Militarism unintentionally contributed to the First World War as some country are forced to ally with other country in order to protect their own country against a greater force. Germany tried to build a improved navy than the Great Britain which cause Britain to ally with France, this was one of many examples. By 1914, most of the countries were well equipped and had armies in millions and have the most advance weaponry equipped. Although the weapons are advance, the tactics and strategies are not as advance and resulted in millions of death. “War is a glorious thing that makes men out of boys.” Was once said by a general before the war, this highlight the way people are thinking as this shows that they are prepared to battle and will be honored to serve in the war that defends their country and will not fight against any shame toward their country’s honor. This also shows that how intense the situation is and a minor incident will ignite a start to the First World War.
There were several crises during the periods before the outbreak of the war but one particular incident made all the things mentioned before came into place. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wide while they are in Sarajevo in June 1914 by a Serbian nationalist caused Austria-Hungary to be furious and declared war on Serbia. When Russia began to send support to Serbia as they were alliance, Germany joined the war while pointing the arrow as Russia. This continues on and began the expansion of war to include all those involved in alliance system as they cannot back off no matter what.
In conclusion, the beginning of World War One was caused by series of incident and modern day historians are still arguing some of the topic on what caused the World War one as some of the things are still unclear. Nationalism, Militarism, crisis, alliance system and imperialism are the essential ideas of what happened; there are still a lot of things we might not have known or haven’t been discovered yet.
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