Causes of WW1



The Causes of World War I What exactly were the causes of World War I? Sure, it sounds like a pretty simple question, but it’s most definitely not a simple answer! There was whole lot more to the start of the war than an Austrian prince being murdered in Serbia, as is what most people think was the whole cause of World War I. Besides, the effects of the war weren’t just concentrated to a “post-war era” lasting for a whole generation of Westerners. Nope! The effects of the war were widespread throughout the world and can be traced for generations after the war! Its not very rare that when a person is asked what caused World War I, that they’d answer saying: an Austrian Prince being shot in Serbia. However… the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie , in Sarajevo was not the main cause of the Great War. It was really the breaking point for Austria in dealing with Serbia. The truth of the whole matter is that several factors played a role in the “outbreak” of the catastrophic war that took over the nations of Europe for over four years. World War I was truly the result of building hostility throughout the countries of Europe, which was backed by the rise of nationalism. To add to the disastrous “soup of war”, if you will, there was also huge, almost threatening competition plus the fear of military alliances and an arms race. More and more ingredients were being added to this “soup” and tension was growing by leaps and bounds, something was going to snap. The 1st world war now seemed inevitable! (Encarta Encyclopedia, 2000) Military alliances were definitely a big issue. Two of the major opposing alliances developed by the Bismarckian diplomacy after the Franco- Prussian War was one of the major causes of the war. In order to inconspicuously cut off France, Bismarck came up with the Three Emperor’s League in 1872, which was basically an alliance between Germany, Russia, and Austria/Hungary. Then in 1882, Bismarck took advantage of Italy’s hatred for France and formed the Triple Alliance between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungry. In 1890 Bismarck was kicked out of office and France took the opportunity to gain an ally, so, in 1891 the Franco- Russian Entente was created and then in 1904 Britain and France put their conflicts aside, and formed the Entente Cordiale alliance. The effect of all of this was the Triple Entente, a coalition between Great Britain, France, and Russia, was a close counter for the Triple Alliance. Now Europe was divided up into two armed camps. (World Book Encyclopedia, WXYZ, pg. 367) Nationalism did nothing but tighten the tension in Europe even more; it had been causing trouble ever since the Congress of Vienna in 1815! In that settlement the preferment of peace was chosen over nationalism, which basically left Germany and Italy as divided states, though they did combine in the future. The Franco- Prussian War in 1871 caused France to lose the province of Alasce- Lorraine to Germany, and the French looked forward to getting their lands back. Then there was also Austria- Hungary, they controlled many lands including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy wanted the Trentino and Trieste regions, and the Czechs and Slovaks just wanted their independence from Austria- Hungary. There was also Russia, which had their own problems within its borders; Russia had many different nationalities that were also seeking independence in the name of nationalism. (World Book Encyclopedia, WXYZ, pg. 366) Another major conflict that caused the outbreak of the Great War is what was called the arms race. With the totally unreceptive divisions of the nations of Europe, came expansions of armies and navies. Then, the great powers came right in and copied Germany’s military style and techniques, which called for worldwide registration for military duty, large reserves, and detailed planning. A lot of effort was made toward universal disarmament, but the " international rivalry caused the arms race to continue to feed on itself. " (Karpilovsky, World Wide Web) Imperial competition was also a big part in the act of Increasing the ever-growing tensions among the divided countries of Europe. It started with two crises in Morocco, Africa. The first time, in