What was the most significant cause of World War One? (WW1)
World War one started on the 28th of July 1914 between two sides; triple alliance and the triple entente. It ended on the 11th of November 1918. Difference in policies were to blame, although the immediate cause of World War one was the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The war started mainly because of four aspects: Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism. This is because big armies become potential threats to other countries, other countries started forcing alliances in order to secure land. Imperialism was a cause because building an empire needs manpower such as an army and a navy to conquer and keep the land that they colonised. The alliances system meant that a local conflict could easily result into an intimidating global one. The overall cause of World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Nationalism was a great cause of World War one because of countries being greedy and not negotiating. Nationalism shows you are proud of your country and want it to be the best. A lot of causes all linked back to countries all wanted to be better than each other. Nationalist groups in Austria-Hungary and Serbia wanted independence. France wanted Alsace Lorraine back from Germany who was lost in 1871 Franco-Prussian war. The use of Nationalism gave nations false hope and aggressive to win the war. Even if they weren’t able to win a war due to their strength and understanding of plans and leaders. This leads to Imperialism. As you can see Nationalism had made a big dent in Countries understanding and strength of war. Also how different countries wanted land to help their plan succeed in winning the war.
One of the most significant causes of World War one was Imperialism, which is where a system where powerful nation rules and exploits one or more colonies. There are two main crisis’s that occurred in Morocco in 1905 and 1911. In 1905, Kaiser visited Morocco in North Africa, where Germany was building up its own Empire. An international conference was held in 1906. At the conference Kaiser was humiliated, this made him fill with rage because he wanted to be seen as Major power in Africa. Instead, he was treated as if he had no right in speaking at the conference that was made global news. In 1911 France tried to take over Morocco again. Britain feared that Kaiser wanted to set up a naval base in Agadir. Another conference was held and the British and French stood up against Germany once again. France took control of Morocco and Germany was given land in central Africa as an act of compensation. These two events lead directly to Militarism. This was a significant cause of World War one because Kaiser was humiliated and could have felt determined to fight Britain and France earlier as an act of Revenge. Also, at the time he would have been more hostile.
Militarism could have cause the war due to the naval and arms race. The main event of Militarism causing World War one was the naval rivalry which was made after 1900. Britain had the most powerful navy in the world. The new Keiser Wilhelm announced his intention to build a bigger German navy than Britain. Britain felt very threatened by this. Germany’s navy was much smaller than Britain’s navy but the British army was put all over its colonies so they can be protected. Germany didn’t have a big Empire like Britain but most people agreed, at the time, they were the best trained and the most powerful. The Kaiser felt he needed a bigger navy than Britain to protect its country.
While Britain and Germany built up their navies, the major powers on mainland Europe were also building up their armies. The problem for Germany was that if the war broke out they would have to fight both Russia and France at the same time. The Germans then came up with the Schlieffen Plan.
On the other hand, Russia could put millions onto the fields and France had a plan of attack which was to change across the frontier and attack deep into Germany, forcing surrender. Britain and France were working closely together with commanders which meant their military plans were designed to achieve quick victory. The British navy knew the cost of the war would lead to an economic collapse on the enemy. Overall, if countries have a big army, enough resources and a great navy they would be ready for conflict. By Germany, Britain and France participating in the naval and army race, they were able to build their navies to their top standard, this lead to the next stage which was Alliances, also their navy’s strength, significance in the war and how it would help them win the war.
Alliances showed a great dent in World War one. In 1914 the six most powerful countries in Europe divided into two opposing Alliances (sides/teams). The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy which was formed in 1882. The Triple Entente included Britain, France and Russia which was formed in 1907. Each country was heavily armed and each one had reasons for distrusting each other’s countries in Europe. In the nineteenth century, Britain had tried to not get involved in European Politics. It’s attitude towards this decision became known as ‘splendid isolation’ as it concentrated on its huge oversea colonies.
Britain had regarded France and Russia as its most dangerous rivals at the time. Meanwhile, Britain’s real ally was Japan at the time. Britain was very worried about Germany to have an Empire and a strong navy, which Britain saw as a serious threat to its own Empire and Navy. The central powers alliance was a collection of small independent states of which Prussia was the most powerful. In 1870 the Prussian statesman Bismarck won a war against France, after which he united the many German states into a new and powerful German empire. This all leads to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This shows how the use of creating Alliances was an advantaged and disadvantaged idea between the global nations.
The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife was critical in setting off the chain of events that led to the First World War. Not only was it a bad day for the Archduke and his family, but also a bad day for Europe. Archduke Franz Ferdinand was heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. He was inspecting the army in Sarajevo with his wife Sophie. The royal couple arrived by train at 9.28am. Seven young Bosnian Serbs planned to assassinate Franz Ferdinand as he drove along the main road in Sarajevo, the Appel Quay. The first conspirator who tried to kill Franz Ferdinand threw a bomb at his car. He missed and was arrested. The Archduke escaped unhurt. He decided to abandon the visit and return home via a different route to the one planned. No one had told the driver the route had changed. On the way back, therefore, the driver turned into Franz Josef Street, following the published route and, when told of his error, stopped the car to turn around. Unfortunately, the car stopped in front of Gavrilo Princip, one of the conspirators, who was on his way home thinking he had failed. Princip pulled out a gun and shot at Franz Ferdinand, hitting him in the jugular vein. There was a tussle, during which Princip shot and killed Sophie. By 11.30am, Franz Ferdinand had bled to death.
This then led to the cold-blooded World War one. It caused the war because Austria blamed Serbia for the killing of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Then Austria declared war on Serbia, the Russian army got ready to help Serbia defend itself against the attack and Germany sends a demand to Russia ordering it to hold back from helping Serbia. Then Germany declared war on Russia. The French army is put on a war footing getting ready to fight a German invasion. After all of that Germany declares war on France and invades Belgium, Britain orders Germany to withdraw from Belgium and the Germans did not listen. As you can see the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the cause of different events which then led to the war indirectly.
I think the most significant cause of World War one was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other causes of the war was Imperliasm, Militarism, Nationalism and Alliances that were formed. These were the causes of World War One. Also, everyone wanted to be the best country, which links back to all four causes and aspects of the events.
Thanks for reading and please comment below on any further improvements or even just any more opinions.
The following article on causes of WW1 is an excerpt from H.W Crocker III’s The Yanks Are Coming! A Military History of the United States in World War I. It is available for order now from Amazonand Barnes & Noble.
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The first world war began in August 1914. It was directly triggered by the assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on 28th June 1914 by Bosnian revolutionary, Gavrilo Princip.
This event was, however, simply the trigger that set off declarations of war. The actual causes of the war are more complicated and are still debated by historians today.
Causes of WW1: Alliances
An alliance is an agreement made between two or more countries to give each other help if it is needed. When an alliance is signed, those countries become known as Allies.
A number of alliances had been signed by countries between the years 1879 and 1914. These were important because they meant that some countries had no option but to declare war if one of their allies. declared war first. (the table below reads clockwise from the top left picture)
Causes of WW1: Imperialism
Imperialism is when a country takes over new lands or countries and makes them subject to their rule. By 1900 the British Empire extended over five continents and France had control of large areas of Africa. With the rise of industrialism countries needed new markets. The amount of lands ‘owned’ by Britain and France increased the rivalry with Germany who had entered the scramble to acquire colonies late and only had small areas of Africa. Note the contrast in the map below.
Causes of WW1: Militarism
Militarism means that the army and military forces are given a high profile by the government. The growing European divide had led to an arms race between the main countries. The armies of both France and Germany had more than doubled between 1870 and 1914 and there was fierce competition between Britain and Germany for mastery of the seas. The British had introduced the ‘Dreadnought’, an effective battleship, in 1906. The Germans soon followed suit introducing their own battleships. The German, Von Schlieffen also drew up a plan of action that involved attacking France through Belgium if Russia made an attack on Germany. The map below shows how the plan was to work.
Causes of WW1: Nationalism
Nationalism means being a strong supporter of the rights and interests of one’s country. The Congress of Vienna, held after Napoleon’s exile to Elba, aimed to sort out problems in Europe. Delegates from Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia (the winning allies) decided upon a new Europe that left both Germany and Italy as divided states. Strong nationalist elements led to the re-unification of Italy in 1861 and Germany in 1871. The settlement at the end of the Franco-Prussian war left France angry at the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany and keen to regain their lost territory. Large areas of both Austria-Hungary and Serbia were home to differing nationalist groups, all of whom wanted freedom from the states in which they lived.
Causes of WW1: Crises
In 1904 Morocco had been given to France by Britain, but the Moroccans wanted their independence. In 1905, Germany announced her support for Moroccan independence. War was narrowly avoided by a conference which allowed France to retain possession of Morocco. However, in 1911, the Germans were again protesting against French possession of Morocco. Britain supported France and Germany was persuaded to back down for part of French Congo.
In 1908, Austria-Hungary took over the former Turkish province of Bosnia. This angered Serbians who felt the province should be theirs. Serbia threatened Austria-Hungary with war, Russia, allied to Serbia, mobilized its forces. Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary mobilised its forces and prepared to threaten Russia. War was avoided when Russia backed down. There was, however, war in the Balkans between 1911 and 1912 when the Balkan states drove Turkey out of the area. The states then fought each other over which area should belong to which state. Austria-Hungary then intervened and forced Serbia to give up some of its acquisitions. Tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary was high.
This article on causes of WW1 is from the book The Yanks Are Coming! A Military HIstory of the United States in World War I © 2014 by H.W Crocker III. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazonor Barnes & Noble.
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