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

Why did World War I start in 1914 and not earlier?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

CarolineGolec IB History S/2 Why did World War I start in 1914 and not earlier? World War I was one of the most complex and controversial wars in the 20th century. It had many profound long and short term causes, as for example the imperialism during the 19th century, the growing antipathy between the European monarchies and finally, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Although these causes had a significant impact on the outbreak of WWI and furthermore, contributed to the inevitability of a great war among the European nations, they were not the only ones which provoked WWI to finally break out in August 1914. In this essay, the reasons why WWI finally broke out in August 1914 and why these causes and the different crises before the actual eruption of the war didn't immediately lead to its outburst will be thoroughly examined in detail. The roots of World War I can be already identified in 1870, when the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck provoked a war declaration of France to Prussia with the Ems Telegram, which ultimately led to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. Before 1870, Germany was split into small country states, which were under different European leaderships, as for example Prussian and Austrian-Hungarian. After the Prussian victory over France in 1871, Wilhem I. was proclaimed Deutscher Kaiser on the 18th January 1871 in Versailles, which finally resulted into the foundation of the German Reich. Germany's unification was seen by the other European nations with very suspicious and mixed feelings, as for example by France, which had lost Alsace Loraine to the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War and therefore resented the Germans for this act. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, it also contributed to the formation of the alliance systems, which was due to the fact that countries wanted to appear stronger, having a strong ally country at their side to protect or just help them in case of war. As a result of this, the masses got also involved in politics, as their national pride, especially the Germans' as a newly united country, told them to protect and support their home country. This became clear in the propaganda the different countries used against each other in order to gain popular support from the masses. However, war didn't break out there because there was still a spark missing which would set the whole bush in fire. This finally happened due to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Austria Hungary had to defend its pride and Russia couldn't allow Austria-Hungary to punish Serbia, as it saw itself as a protector of the Slavish people. Additionally, nationalism also contributed to the spread of colonialism in Africa and Asia, which was one further cause of WWI, as the more territory a country possessed the better it was seen by other countries, and hence, this country gained a "place at the sun". The colonial rivalry, which was existing in Europe and Africa due to the imperialistic and nationalist notions between the European nations further increased the probability of a war. However, the war didn't take place before 1914 although there were several cases where this could have probably happened, as for example during the Moroccan Crises from 1905-1911, where Germany and France disputed over their colonial right over Morocco. At this time, Europe was standing at the brick of WWI because France saw Germany's actions as offensive and ultimately demanded war in order to keep their "face". ...read more.

Conclusion

In Fischer's point-of-view, Germany was pursuing an "aggressive Weltpolitik". Hence, Germany willed the war in order to realize its expansionist ambitions in Africa and to resolve an acute domestic crisis. Additionally, the fear of "Einkreisung" meant for Germany to go to war, as from a military point-of-view, "a moment so favourable might never occur again". Additionally, Germany pushed Austria-Hungary into war because of the Blank Cheque, which to some extent, put pressure on Austria-Hungary in the Serbian affair. Hence, one can conclude that if Austria-Hungary wouldn't have waited so long, Germany would have gone earlier to war, together with Austria-Hungary as its ally. But as Austria-Hungary hesitated in this issue, Germany couldn't go earlier because then it would have lacked a necessary partner in its war. On the other hand, one can argue that Fischer's theory is too theoretical, as German policies before 1914 seemed very contradictory. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the German General Staff helped expansionist aims before the "September Program", which Fischer interpreted as Germany's desire for war. In conclusion, one can say that in general, the alliance system, colonialism, nationalism and militarism significantly contributed to the outbreak of WWI in 1914, as they all literally "smoothed" the path for a war by increasing the tensions between the European powers. However, one can reason that WWI didn't actually occur earlier than 1914 because all these causes didn't really have the final stroke which should have evoked WWI earlier. The final event, which started WWI was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, and at this point of time, the factors named above all came together so that war became virtually inevitable, as no country could now pull back, as they were all "sitting in the same boat" because of the various components. 2909 words 1 1 ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Why Did The First World War Break Out in 1914?

    5 star(s)

    The Times newspaper commented on the two alliances that had been formed saying "The division of the great powers into two balanced groups will check ambition and outbreaks of race hatred," which many people agreed with. They thought peace would be kept this way because no country would risk attacking

  2. Explain the importance of the war at sea to the final outcome of WWI

    This proved a valuable asset to the Germans to start off with and it caught the British by surprise. German U-Boats initially began with destroying British warships near their ports and out at sea. This was scrapped because of the need to search for warships on the surface, as the law stated that neutral ships could not be destroyed.

  1. Why Did the Assassination in Sarajevo Lead to the Outbreak of War in 1914?

    Germany was in fact threatening to invade Belgium and to use their immense force to simply plough through Belgium, destroying anything in their path, until they came to France.

  2. Franz Ferdinand Assasination

    Firstly, the authorities had allowed the Archduke and his Duchess to travel in an opened topped car. This allowed any assasins from the black hand to shoot at them. Also the major mistake the police did was, that they published the route of the Archduke and his wife.

  1. "Tension between the countries of Europe increased in year before 1914 due to the ...

    to put pressure on France and Germany demanded the French Congo as compensation for France's occupation of Morocco. However, the policy of Weltpolitik increased tension, but wouldn't have led to war unless the other great powers felt violated or threatened.

  2. To what extent was the Alliance System responsible for the outbreak of the First ...

    During this time, countries in Europe were also in 'the Scramble for Africa', which was that each European Power wanted to have and expand their colonies in Africa so that they could trade with them and therefore increase their economy.

  1. To what extent was Austria the main obstacle to the unification of Italy in ...

    Where the revolutions had been successful the provisional governments had not cooperated, for example in Naples and Sicily where the Neapolitan provisional government tried to withdraw the independence that was declared to Sicily in 1848-1849 reinforcing personal interest ahead of cooperation and unity.

  2. Why did the First World War break out in August 1914?

    By 1914, the French had acquired new land in Morocco and the Italians had occupied Tripoli. The only country that remained completely free of occupation was Ethiopia, having defeated an Italian force at the battle of Adowa in 1896. Attaining land in Africa gave many benefits to the different countries.

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