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The First World War was the result of a badly mis-managed Balkan crisis in the summer of 1914 rather than the product of long standing rivalries between the great powers. Assess the truth of this opinion in the causes of the outbreak of World War One.

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Introduction

The First World War was the result of a badly mis-managed Balkan crisis in the summer of 1914 rather than the product of long standing rivalries between the great powers. Assess the truth of this opinion in the causes of the outbreak of World War One. The reasons for the Great War 1914-1918 can be seen in terms of long term causes and short term causes. Historians must seek to establish whether the Balkan crisis and the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand were more of a detrmining factor to going to war than long standing rivalries between the Great powers. The war should have been more localized between Austria-Hungary and Serbia but became a European war as predicted by Bismarck in 1880. The Bismarckian alliance system created by Otto von Bismarck the German chancellor sought to keep the peace in Europe. Bismarck kept his friends close and his enemies even closer, he courted Russia into the Dreikaiserbund (three emperors treaty) with Austria-Hungary in 1881. This move succeeded in isolating France, However this alliance was very short lived and only lasted five years. After the collapse of the Dreikaiserbund Germany felt threatened by Russia who were not happy about how things were going in the Balkans due to the second Balkan crisis. ...read more.

Middle

This was a bad move as Russia began to draw closer to France, by borrowing money and buying guns from France. The Kaiser started his foreign policy of Welpolitik (world policy) which aimed to make Germany a strong colonial power. Germany started flexing her muscles in world affairs by sending the Kruger Telegram to the Boers in South Africa, congratulating them after they defeated the British in the Jameson raids. This was to turn out to be a badly mis managed descision, as Germany made enemies of the British, which led to the British signing the Entente Cordiale with France in 1906. This in time became known as the triple entente when Russia joined. Kaiser Wilhelm II had succeeded in undoing all Bismarcks hard work, as by 1907 Germany was surrounded by Britain, France and Russia who became allies. The alliance between France and Russia opened the opportunity for Russia to be attacked from two fronts. This influenced Germanys war strategy and led their military generals to develop the Schleffen Plan which aimed to defeat France in six weeks. Germany would then move her troops in order to defeat Russia. The Anglo-German naval race started in 1906 when Britain launched their greatest warship ever, the Dreadnought. ...read more.

Conclusion

By 1914 Europe had maintained a fragile peace, however the events of June 28th were about to send Europe into a Great War. Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austrian Hungarian throne was assassinated in Sarajevo by the Black hand a Serbian nationalist group. This caused outrage from the Austrian government who accused the Serbs of assisting in the assassination. Austria Hungary asked for the assassin to be brought to justice or there would be war. Austria-Hungary was feeling quite confident because the Kaiser who had pledged his support had given them a blank cheque. War was declared on Serbia a month after the assassination, Russia mobilized the next day, Germany put their Schlieffen plan into action which brought France and Britain into the war. By August 6th this mis-managed Balkan crisis had turned into a fully blown World War. Historian Fritz Fischer argued that this was a result Germany trying to become a world power plus Germany encouraged Austria Hungary to start a war with Serbia. Moreover Germany had clear aims which had already been planned before to gain large territorial gains in Europe. The first world war was a result of long standing rivalries between the great powers. Germany and Austria-Hungary were always natural allies as were Britain, France and Russia during the period 1878 and 1914. ...read more.

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