• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent can it be said that the WW1 was caused by the alliance systems?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent can it be said that the WW1 was caused by the alliance systems? In 1914, when the First World War broke out, Europe was divided into two military alliance systems: the Triple Alliance including Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and the Triple Entente that included Britain, France and Russia. The intent of the alliance system was primarily to provide mutual defence in order to maintain the power balance in Europe, but the nations eventually came to rely on it for aggressive purposes. Frictions between the groups had brought Europe on the verge of war several times after 1900, and were indirectly influential in generating a world war out of the Balkan conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Although the alliance systems were intended to provide mutual defence, they encouraged war equally well by providing military support. As for Austria-Hungary, the German alliance allowed them to keep a more fierce policy in the Balkans, but the Balkan quarrels did not escalate into a European war before 1914 as the Germans were not prepared to give their ally a free hand against Serbia. ...read more.

Middle

The decisions of the general staffs often committed them to irreversible military actions if war threatened, and consequently in a crisis the freedom of action of the ministers was often more restricted than they themselves realized. Seemingly, the diplomats had been bereaved the control of affairs by the generals. The military plans and hypothetical discussions that had accompanied the treaties of alliance had suddenly become the crucial elements, and not the treaties themselves. The allies had already decided how best to combine and mobilize their forces, in order to conquer the expected attacks of the most likely enemies, and the generals proved unwilling to alter their plans although a major war could possibly have been avoided. In fact, there was nothing formally binding about the treaties, and as Italy came to prove in 1914 it was possible to avoid war within its terms. However, when the alliances did not provide the immediate diplomatic support for which the governments were hoping the participants were sometimes all the more anxious to ensure that the alliance would function more effectively next time in order to be preserved. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Russian government knew in July 1914 that they had failed to support Serbia in the previous year as eagerly as the Serbs had hoped; and failure to support Serbia again, the Russians thought, would mean the end of Russian prestige in the Balkans. With the alignment of two rival alliance systems, the winning of an additional state to their side was of great importance for the governments. To conclude, it cannot be said that the alliance systems themselves magnified the war by involving the nations since no nation had to declare war merely because of the treaties. However, they indeed encouraged war by offering military support and co-operation, and provided the framework for the creation of rigid mobilization plans, as they conditioned expectations about the form a war would take if it broke out, and about who were likely to be friends and who enemies. Lastly, the Great Powers were more or less forced into the war with their respective allies in order to maintain their diplomatic relations and prestige. By these reasons, the alliance systems in Europe constituted a major indirect cause of the First World War. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE International relations 1900-1939 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE International relations 1900-1939 essays

  1. The main cause for WW1 was naval Rivalry. To what extent do you agree ...

    28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand, The Arch-Duke of Austria-Hungary was assassinated. Franz was travelling by car from the railroad to the town hall when suddenly Gabrinovic (A member of the black hand) threw a grenade at the car but Franz and his wife were left uninjured whereas several officers riding in his attendance were injured.

  2. What where the causes of WW1

    To further what militarism is one should be familiar with the situation of the world in the beginning of the century, which was the result of both industrial and democratic revolutions. Britain at that time was the largest empire in the world, and it also had the largest navy.

  1. World War 1 - The role of the Alliance System

    Italy in fact was at more tension with its allies than its apparent enemies at this point. Italy was after some of Austria-Hungary's land, and wanted the independence of Italians in Austria-Hungary. Russia Russia was supporting Serbia in everything they did, including going to war.

  2. What Caused WW1

    At the same time, they increased the size of their navies. The naval expansion was intensely competitive. Great Britain, influenced by the expansion of the German navy begun in 1900 and by the events of the Russo-Japanese War, developed its fleet under the direction of Admiral Sir John Fisher.

  1. Cause Behind WW1

    None of the plotters were over 27 which means they were too young to remember the Ottoman Regime. Their anger over conditions in Bosnia seems directed simply at the visible characters of authority. The assassins were not advanced political thinkers; most of them were still high school students.

  2. To what extent can it be argued that World War I was caused by ...

    Germany knew about this alliance, however, not the exact terms. Further it was known that France's railway and communication systems were better than that of Russia, thus France would be able to mobilize faster than Russia. As a result, Germany developed the Schlieffen Plan in about 1882, which would prevent

  1. World War 1 - How Two Bullets Caused 20 Million Deaths

    Italy did gain a few colonies but also had its failures. Belgium had an African colony ? the Belgian Congo. Countries being proud of themselves and their culture was another one of the main causes of World War one. Nationalism means pride or devotion in one?s country.

  2. Outline the Role and Effects of Alliances in WW1

    * Canada fought mainly on the Western Front and provided 620,000 troops. Most of these were in the army but they also had the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force. They participated in the Second Ypres battle, the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Passchendale and the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work