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How the Alliance System Led to WWI

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Luciana Machado IB History 25.08.03 How the Alliance System Led to WWI The alliance system was started by Bismarck, the German Chancellor from 1871 to 1890. After the Franco-Prussian War, Bismarck held that Germany was a "satisfied state" which should give up ideas of further conquest. Thus Bismarck organized a system of alliances designed to maintain Germany's control on the European continent. France was determined to challenge the supremacy of Germany because France had been defeated by Germany in 1871 and had been forced to give up two provinces (Alsace-Lorraine) to Germany. Bismarck tried to befriend Austria, Russia, Italy and Britain in order to isolate France. Unable to maintain friendly relations with both Austria and Russia, Bismarck chose Austria to be his ally because firstly, Germany preferred a weaker partner which could be more easily controlled, secondly Austria had "cultural" ties with Germany; thirdly such an alliance would enable Germany to exercise influence in the Balkans, and ...read more.


Bismarck's alliances were harmless and kept Europe at peace. His follower, Kaiser Wilhelm was ambitious, but ended up being an hopeless ruler. He rejected the idea that Germany was a "fulfilled state", and wanted to make Germany not only a European power but a world power. To follow his ambitions, he often adopted threats and other unpopular methods. Meanwhile, Britain was awaking to the coming out of Germany as a great European power and also a great colonial power. Wilhelm proved far more ambitious in establishing "a place in the sun" for Germany. With the effective dismissal of Bismarck the new Kaiser was determined to establish Germany as a great colonial power. After Germany and Austria-Hungary concluded their agreement (as allies), Italy was brought in the situation with the signing of the Triple Alliance. Under the terms of this treaty, Germany and Austria-Hungary promised to assist Italy if she were attacked by France, and vice versa: Italy was bound to aid Germany or Austria-Hungary if France declared war against either. ...read more.


Following this, Austria Hungary sent an ultimatum to Serbia with demands such as to hold back all Pan-Slavic movements and also to allow officers from Austria-Hungary to enter Serbia and investigate the Sarajevo murders. Austria Hungary actually wanted Serbia to deny the ultimatum and thus begin a war, so it decided that Serbia's reply was unsatisfactory. Each country had its allies and according to the military doomsday machine, it didn't matter who attacked, but instead, who mobilized first. The alliances were made in secret and so produced much distrust and suspicion among the European powers. Because of this suspicion, it prevented the diplomats to come up with an appropriate solution to many of the crises preceding the war. Also, since the European powers had made mobilization agreements, any small disputes concerning one power might lead to a war involving all powers, thus generating a World War. Maybe if these powers hadn't had an Alliance System, then war would have been more restricted to some places only, not even proceeding to WWII. ...read more.

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