The Causes of World War 1
by Zoe R.
There were three main reasons for the Great War. The alliances that formed because increased discontent among nations, alliances which were caused by this discontent, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
There was lots of between nations that participated in the colonization of Africa. France and Britain dominated this colonization, which upset Germany, because they wanted to have their glorious moment and get in on colonization.
Britain and Germany had some naval conflict, because both nations realized that the key to being a strong nation was having control of the sea. With this knowledge, Germany released plans to build a fleet of war ships. In response to this, Britain built their own fleet of dreadnoughts (a powerful war ship). This caused tensions among the nations, because they both wanted to be better than the other (like I just discussed with Germany and African colonialism). This deals with the College Board theme of development and interactions of cultures, because of the expansion/ increase of technology. Although no real new technology was produced, there was an increase (a huge increase) in the development of that technology. (Bentley- Traditions and Encounters)
There was two alliances among major European powers that set the stage for the war. These were the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente.
The Triple Alliance was formed between Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy. It was originally just between Austria-Hungary and Germany (first signed in 1879), but in 1882 Germany added Italy. The alliance was a defensive pact, and promised that if any of the nations involved in the pact were attacked, then the other nations would either offer assistance or remain neutral- which was the case with Italy towards Austria-Hungary. Italy and Austria-Hungary didn't really like each other because of colonization in North Africa (both wanted to colonize in the same regions), and this strained the alliance because if two countries involved don't have relations then they are less likely to be supportive in times of war. In the renewal of the alliance in 1887, Otto von Bismark had to bribe Italy into resigning by giving the promise that they would support them in North Africa. (Woodbridge- "Origin and Impact"). The one thing that these three nations had in common was their hatred/fear of France
The Triple Entente was formed in response to the Triple Alliance, and was formed between England, France, and Russia. Russia entered into an alliance with Italy because they were both militarily weak, and faced problems from members of the Triple Alliance (issues in the Balkans between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and issues between France and Germany). Britain first signed the Entente Cordiale with France, which put an end to their conflicts, because the German heir Wilhelm II was anti-British and extremely militaristic which made him a threat to the nation- it basically put the thought that if you put those two things together, then Wilhelm II might come for Britain. The Triple Entente had the same purpose as the Triple Alliance, and in 1902, Italy and France signed an agreement that said that Italy would remain neutral if France was attacked, which essentially put Italy on two sides. (Gale- "Tangled European Alliances")
The map above from the BBC shows the powers in the alliance, red being the Triple Alliance, blue the Triple Entente, and yellow the neutral countries (those not involved in the alliances).The Triple Alliance is surrounded by the Triple Entente- essentially their enemies, means that if they face a war, they'd be surrounded and so less likely to win because they're facing a war on all fronts instead of just one. This is why the German strategist Alfred Graf von Schlieffen developed the Schlieffen Plan which said that if they faced a war on two fronts, then they would quickly wipe out France and then focus on Russia and the Eastern Front (Woodbridge- "Origin and Impact").
The thing that really set off the war was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. He was the archduke of Austria, and visited Sarajevo where he met his death.
There was lots of Serbian nationalists, including an extremist group called the Black Hand who wanted to create a Pan Islamic state. These nationalists opposed the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy (to which Ferdinand was involved), because they thought this monarchy prevented the unification of Serbians. These nationalists knew Ferdinand was going to be in Sarajevo, and so waited for him, and fired two shots which killed Ferdinand and his wife. (Stock- "The Assassination...")
Austria already resented and was involved with lots in lots of conflicts with Serbia, and this gave them the means to declare war on Serbia. The Austrian government accused Serbia of funding the Black Hand, because a lot of the members were in or had been in the Serbian military, and the Serbian chief of intelligence was a member. This deals with the College Board theme of State Building, Expansion & Conflict, because there was a deep sense of nationalism, and that nationalism was so great that members killed a man and an innocent woman.
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