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The Alliance System and the Causes of the First World War

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Introduction

1. i) In 1879, Germany and Austria signed a formal alliance, by which each was required to defend the other against an attack from Russia or from any other power with the aid of Russia. In 1882 Italy joined this alliance, because Italians wanted Germany's support in case France would ally with the pope to recover Rome. This alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy was called the Triple Alliance, which was renewed in 1907 and 1912. ii) After the fall of Bismarck, the German government did not renew the Reinsurance Treaty. As a consequence of this, Russia made a military alliance with France. According to this alliance, France and Russia would defend each other against an attack from Germany. In 1904, France and Britain reached an agreement over their colonial problems. This was called the Entente Cordiale. So this meant that France had made alliances with Russia and Britain but Russia and Britain had not yet solved their problems. However, in 1907 Russia and Britain settled their colonial matters. Once this was completed Russia, Britain and France formed the Triple Entente. iii) In June 1914, the heir to the throne of the Habsburg monarchy-Archduke Franz Ferdinand- made an official visit at the Bosnian town of Sarajevo. During this visit Ferdinand was shot to death with his wife by a member of the Serbian terrorist organisation called the 'Black Hand'. This assassination is known as the Sarajevo crisis. 2. Sources E and G indicate that Germany and Austria-Hungary had a strong alliance. ...read more.

Middle

Source A is a part of the Franco-Russian alliance, which was a military alliance made against Germany. Although this source might not seem relevant to state that France was Germany's greatest enemy, it indicates that Germany was right to declare France as its enemy. Source A also indicates that France was not Germany's only enemy; Russia was also an enemy of Germany. This source clearly shows that all eyes were focused on Germany, so it was certain that if a war broke out in Europe Germany would definitely be attacked. If we are to consider our own knowledge, it was true that Germany regarded France as its greatest enemy. German policy since Bismarck was to isolate France. Bismarck feared France might begin a war in order to recover Alsace-Lorraine. Although France could not win such a war single-handed, there were two other great powers along Germany's borders-Austria and Russia-, which could join France. Because of this Germany's ultimate goal was to prevent a 'war on two fronts' by keeping good relations with any power likely to be an ally of France. This was the reason why the Emperor's League, which consisted of Austria, Russia, and Germany was created. So Russia was Germany's ally, however when Bismarck left the office, Germany did not keep good relations with Russia and Russia signed a military alliance with France. As a conclusion, historically it would not be wrong to say that Germany regarded France as its greatest enemy and sources A, D and F together help to argue that this was true. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sources D, G, and H suggest that the German militarism created the tension, which created the First World War. Source D and G indicate that Germany was 'preparing for a war for years'. Moreover source D indicates the aggressive attitude of Germany. It is stated in source D (ii) that Germany 'must throw itself upon the enemy'. Because no reason is stated for this Germany is portrayed as the aggressor who wanted to destroy all of its enemies rather than establishing good relations. Source G also shows that Germany was prepared for war. Source H suggests that 'war came not because of the alliance system, but because the behaviour of Germany made it unavoidable'. Source K can be used to prove this statement. When war broke out as source K shows Germany got what it 'wished so much': a war. Although source K suggests that Germany was forced into a war to defend itself, their fight was not only defensive; in fact they wanted to expand their territory. The German naval expansion, colonial ambitions and outspoken diplomacy made the war inevitable. It would not be correct to put all the blame on Germany's shoulders. The other powers also played important roles in causing the First World War. The alliance system and the growing militarism together increased the tension in Europe, which then led to the First World War. The First World War was a lesson to be learned by every statesman or citizen of the world, that peace cannot be kept by force but it only can be achieved through understanding. IGCSE History Project THE ALLIANCE SYSTEM AND THE CAUSES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR Prepared by: Mehmet Tuncer ...read more.

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