By: Renee Y., Laura M., & Austin W.

      Before WWI, around the late 1800s, Europe was in a peaceful state. However, competition for resources, territory, and colonies (which lead to immperialism) caused Europe's Great Powers to fiercely compete against each other. These Great Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, and France. With competition comes the increase in military weapons and armies. Militarism, the policy of glorifying military power, was the key factor that caused the intense arms race. The arms race caused two things; nationalism (as countries with better armies were very proud) and fear (each country feared that other countries were becoming more advanced, which caused these countries to only increase their weapon supply and army).

      Otto Von Bismark, a Prussian prime minister, used war as an excuse to unify Germany. Because of his power and status, he decided to use his power to "keep the peace" within Europe. He saw France as a threat however, believing they wanted revenge from the Franco-Prussia War, where Prussia stole land from France. To weaken the French military, he wanted to isolate them, and made alliances with Austria-Hungary and Italy. This alliance system became known as the Triple Alliance. Russia joined also but stayed for only a short time.

     A new leader of Germany took over, and forced Otto Von Bismark to resign. His name was Kaiser Wilhelm II, an eager leader who wanted to show the world Germany's power. Kaiser caused Germany's alliance with Russia to weaken, thus allowing Russia to ally with France instead, which was Otto Von Bismark's greatest fear. Kaiser also wanted to increase th German navy, thus competing against Great Britain's famous navy. This caused Great Britain to ally with France. This new alliance system became known as the Triple Entente, consisting of France, Russia, and Britain. As tensions between the two rivals grew, violence would later erupt.

     The Balkan Peninsula was in an unrestful state. Since the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire, new countries evolved from nationalism. Each ethnic group wanted to form their own independent country. Serbia was one of them. Because of the vast Slavic population, Serbia wanted to increase in size, reaching all areas that had a Salvic population. Because Russia also had a Slavic population, Russia was in support of Serbia. Austria-Hungary however, opposed of this action and captured Serbia's neighboring countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This outraged Serbia, and created deep hatred between the two countries.

     Then on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were visiting Bosnia when a Serbian man shot them to death. This outraged Austria-Hungary, and they demanded certain demands from Serbia. If these demands were not met, then Serbia would suffer great consequences. Serbia offered international conferences with Austria-Hungary, but on July 28, Austria declared war on Serbia anyways. Russia, backing up Serbia, then declared war on Austria-Hungary. While the other countries tried to have the two countries negotiate, it was already too late.



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