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Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand - this gave Austria excuse to attack Serbia after it had failed to agree terms; Schlieffen Plan - once Germany decided to mobilise, it had to attack France in order to prevent war on two fronts.

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Introduction

Short-term causes: Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand; this gave Austria excuse to attack Serbia after it had failed to agree terms; Schlieffen Plan - once Germany decided to mobilise, it had to attack France in order to prevent war on two fronts. Long term causes of World War One - open to debate, but possibly the continuing power vacuum created by the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire: this resulted in an upsurge in Serbian nationalism and territorial ambitions of Austria-Hungary Versus Russia. The second is possibly the alliance system. This meant that if one power went to war then the others would be drawn in. Matching these two causes is not difficult...and it is easy to see how a tiny spark could ignite the whole of Europe in war. Third: closely linked the alliance system, the development of massed armies - everyone seemed to be getting ready to fight. No one really expected a long war - except, strangely, Moltke, the leader of the German general staff. ...read more.

Middle

The word 'Kaiser' is simply a German word for King. Wilhelm II, was Kaiser/King, of Germany before the IstWW. Germany was a newly formed country, only set up in 1871, after several wars in the 19thC. to bring together a lot of German speaking states into one new country. So, many Germans wanted to become even greater and have an overseas Empire like the British and the French. They also felt that they needed an Empire to help trade, to get raw materials from and sell goods to, for strategic military bases and for living space for the German people. So, you are right. Kaiser Wilhelm did talk of getting Germany a 'Place in the Sun' (an overseas Empire). This did worry France and Britain as they had brought most of the world under their control and if Germany started looking for overseas land, then it seemed likely to be a threat to their empires, their trade routes and their military bases overseas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Were the main causes long-term? These could include: nationalism, arms races, competition for colonies, German fear of encirclement/French fear of German strength, German expansionism, alliance systems. Try and sort these into order of importance. For example, as all the major colonial questions were settled long before 1914 (and because some disputes pitted Britain against France!) so they could not have been the main cause of war. Would the alliances have existed if countries hadn't been very frightened of each other in the first place? Was the real problem newly-united Germany: was it too strong and too bent on grabbing land from others? But you might end up thinking that NONE of these made war likely. So you'll need to ask whether the main cause was short term. So was the First World War and accident? For example, maybe no-one wanted a big war in 1914. Did the German Schlieffen Plan make it impossible to leave France out, even though the Germans wanted to? These are just a few ideas about approaching this huge problem. Pick out one line of argument and see where it gets you! ...read more.

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