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To what extent did Austrian-Serbian relations cause the break out of World War One

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Introduction

To what extent did Austrian-Serbian relations cause the break out of World War One? Kaiser Wilhelm II, the ruler of Germany between 1888 and 1918, wanted to expand the German empire and wanted overseas colonies due to his jealousy of the great British Empire. Britain had many overseas colonies including India, Australia, and Canada and in Africa; Egypt, Sudan and South Africa, meaning that Britain's ruler, King George V, had control over nearly one quarter of the worlds land surface. Therefore Kaiser Wilhelm took control over South West Africa, East Africa and Cameroon. This upset Britain, as King George wanted to build a railway linking Egypt to South Africa for trade. However in order to achieve this, the railway would have to pass through East Africa. Therefore Britain wanted German land. France, the second largest super power, wanted to regain Alsace and Lorraine, two valuable provinces they lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war. This loss caused widespread hatred of the Germans in France. France, like Germany, was also looking to expand overseas and wanted morocco as one of its colonies. Austria- Hungary, led by Franz Joseph II, wanted to gain the Balkans comprising of Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece. These were the neighbouring countries of Austria- Hungary. Furthermore the patchwork empire of Austria-Hungary was very weak, as it consisted of many different people of different nationalities who wanted to be independent of Austria- Hungary. However with the Balkans Austria- Hungary would be a larger, stronger empire. Tsar Nicholas II, leader of the giant Russian Empire, was also interested in the Balkans. ...read more.

Middle

Bosnia, a Balkan country, was dependent and Austria-Hungary had ruled it since 1908. Many Bosnians did not have a problem with this, however some wanted independence, whilst others wanted to be ruled by Serbia. At this time an organisation called 'The Black Hand' was in existence. It consisted of around 2000 members, whose main aim was to fight Austria-Hungary and unite the Slav countries, Serbia and Bosnia. To begin with, the members of 'The Black Hand' caused minor problems, such as smashing the windows of Austrian shops. However one member of 'The Black Hand', Ilic, moved into the deeper aspects o terrorism and got hold of some discarded Serbian weaponry. This comprised of two guns, grenades and cyanide pills, however the guns were defective and inaccurate unless fired from ten yards away. Franz Joseph, ruler of Austria, announced that Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife Sophie were to visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, on the 28th June 1914. 'The Black Hand' did not want the heir to the Austrian throne in the capital of a Slav country; hence, Ilic devised a plan to kill the Archduke when he went on a tour of the city. The day arrived and Ilic gave Serb weaponry and orders to kill the Archduke to four other Black Hand members. However, the first assassination attempts fail, one grenade was faulty and did not explode, whilst another grenade, which was thrown, blew up the car behind the Archdukes; causing complete chaos. The Archduke was drove off quickly in the confusion and despite counsel warning him to return home to Austria immediately, he decided to go to the hospital and visit those who had been injured by the grenade. ...read more.

Conclusion

This gave the implication that Germany was planning an attack on Britain, as it did not need a huge navy for defence. In reality the reason for this huge navy build up was because of Kaiser Wilhelm's hunger for power and his dream of Germany being the most powerful country. Additionally, economically Germany could not afford to have a huge army and navy, as its infrastructure would collapse. Therefore the only way to improve Germany's economy would be by going to war. On the 29th July 1914, following the bombing of Belgrade in Serbia by Austria-Hungary, Russia mobilised its army in order to stand up for its brother country, Serbia. As they are united countries, due to them both being the only countries sharing the Russian Orthodox Christian faith and were both Slav countries. So Russia's army mobilised against Austria- Hungary, but due to lack of communication and Kaiser Wilhelm's Schleiffen plan, Germany assumed that Russia was mobilised against them. Kaiser Wilhelm sent an order to king Peter of Serbia, to stop Russian troops, but Russia was protecting Serbia, so the troops marched on. On the 1st August Germany declared war on Russia, in the hope that Russia would back down. AS France WAS Russia's ally, France then mobilised its army. By the 2nd August the German army was mobilised and on the 3rd August Germany attacked France through Belgium. This led to Britain sending a telegram to Kaiser Wilhelm, telling him to back down by the 4th August, as Britain had a protective alliance with Belgium. Germany did not back down and on the 4th August Britain and its colonies joined the conflict, making a world war, which was to become the most horrific war in history. ...read more.

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