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Causes of WW1

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Introduction

Why did WW1 break out in 1914? World War One was a war between the major powers of Europe that can not be said to have had one specific cause. Throughout the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century countries were in constant conflict. Tensions between the major powers and Germany, quickly advancing and becoming a larger power in Europe, were always on a knife edge. Different historians from different times all have different views on what was the main cause of the First World War. Some historians, particularly Marxists, believe that the cause of the war was Imperialism. Others think it was one or a combination of all three (four including Imperialism) other reasons; Militarism, Nationalism and the formation of the Alliance systems between major countries. It can be argued that all of these played a major part in the break out of war in 1914; however you must consider that the war may not have broken out without the trigger. Most people believe the shooting of Franz Ferdinand is the trigger that shot the world into war. Imperialism during the 19th century and into the early 20th century was viewed as one of the major long term causes of the First World War. Having a colony at that time was the thing to have. Because it was such a sought after entity, it caused many tensions between the major imperialistic powers in Europe. ...read more.

Middle

It is also thought that a World War might not have been possible had it not have been for the expansions of the armies. Without armies it is hard to fight a war, also without armies the tension between countries may well have been much reduced. Nationalism caused much unrest in places such as the Balkans and in Austria-Hungary. The trigger of the war, the shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand could have been viewed as a direct result of nationalism. Nationalism was especially high in Austria-Hungary. Inside Austria-Hungary there were up to 11 different nationalities. All these nationalities had viewed Serbia gaining their independence and were starting to feel jealous. This caused many uprisings against the Dual Monarchy that ruled over Austria-Hungary. It can also be said that nationalism caused the Serbian rebel group, the Black Hand, to shoot and kill the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Nationalism was also a reason for long term tensions between France and Germany. When Germany unified as one country they were determined to show their strength and try to prove themselves as a great power in Europe. To prove themselves they attacked France, won and gained the land of Alsace-Lorraine. This greatly angered the French and huge tensions were felt between the countries. Nationalism also helped cause Russia to enter the war in defence of Serbia. Pan Slavism was a theory of the Russians that they were the protectors of the Slavs. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is what originally started the war, then other factors, such as the alliance system "kicked in" and Russia, France, Germany and Britain were drawn into the war. This made it a large scale war in Europe rather than being a localised war that was purely in the Balkans. Along with the causes of the war, the 'isms' and the alliance system, many people have also placed the blame on different countries in Europe. Geiss Fisher claimed that "Germany only wanted a war, prepared for it, and ultimately provoked it in 1914 in order to advance Germany's position in the world." Many historians would agree with this statement. The whole idea of the Schlieffen Plan would also support the fact that Germany wanted war. However there are people who also believe that everyone has to take a share of the blame of causing the war. Schroeder, a historian, said that "War was the logical outcome of tensions leading up to 1914 and no individual country should be held responsible." This is also true and connects and supports well the four main causes of the First World War. The First World War, was largely down to the three 'isms' and the Alliance System. They all worked together to create large amounts of tension among the countries in Europe. This tension mounted from 1870 until finally it was too much, the trigger went off and Europe released the steam it had been building up. War was brought to Europe. ...read more.

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