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WWI. To what extent can it be argued that the First World War was caused by nationalism?

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The Complex War, Causes of WWI To what extent can it be argued that the First World War was caused by nationalism? Jack Tomlinson 29/09/09 IB History HLII The Great War or later renamed World War I was one of the bloodiest wars in the history of mankind that lasted for four years, starting July 28th 1914 and finishing November 11th 1918. The body count of this war totaled over more than eight million people. A body count of this magnitude was due to the implementation of new war technologies, such as the development of the machine gun, submarines, anti-aircraft weaponry and poison gas, which decimated the opposition. "World War I broke out against a background of rivalry between the world's great powers. These powers were, in the top rank, Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, and the U.S. Austria-Hungary, Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Japan were in the second rank. The U.S, for example, had the most dynamic economy, Britain the most powerful navy, and Germany the most effective army. From the 1870s onward, these powers formed alliances for greater security. The system began in central Europe and gradually spread farther afield. By 1914 the U.S was the only power not connected to the international web of military agreements. When two great powers went to war, the alliances had a "domino" effect, bringing others into the conflict." (Ross, 10) By the time the war ended the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria) ...read more.


Having for centuries regarded France as their main adversary, they looked on Germany a potential ally." (Ross, 22) Bismarck believed that if France and Russia were to join forces it would be devastating to Germany if they were to go to war. He thought that it would be nearly impossible for Germany to fight enemies from the west and the east and hence attempted to isolate France. He did so by creating the League of the Three Emperors. "This was an expression of friendship between the hereditary emperors of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. More importantly, in 1879 Bismarck made the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary. Bismarck persuaded Italy to join the Alliance in 1882, making it a Triple Alliance. He calmed Russian fears by renewing the League of the Three Emperors and drawing up a Reassurance Treaty (1887), by which Germany and Russia promised not to go to war with one another. (Parkinson, 27) However this reassurance was destroyed once Kaiser Wilhelm II came into power and Russia began searching for another ally, the opportunity that France had been looking for. France and Russia shared a common idea that the combined forces of Austria-Hungary and Germany would create an empire that would stretch from the Baltic all the way to Baghdad. At the time the Russians thought of themselves as the protectors of the Slavs, particularly the Slavs in the Balkans. This idea called Pan-Slavism brought Austria-Hungary and Russia into conflicts. ...read more.


Germany's increase in industrial production meant a "stiff competition for Britain in overseas markets. Britain was able to retain her economic predominance in her own colonies, but in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Far East, she lost heavily to the aggressive German businessmen." (Dudley, 46) Due to the French treaty with Russia, France had helped Russia's economy and it had advanced at a phenomenal rate, even surpassing France's. Germany thought of Russia as quite an imposing threat if it were to continue like it was for a few years, as it had nearly double its population and an immense storage of natural resources and began to feel encircled. Due to these complex rivalries and the resulting tension, the stability of the alliances was weakened to the point that war was imminent. All that was needed was a triggering event; such would be the assassination of the Archduke. The Great War or later renamed World War I was one of the bloodiest wars in the history of mankind that lasted for four years, starting July 28th 1914 and finishing November 11th 1918. The body count totaled more than eight million people. The war was caused by competition for the world's resources, both in terms of imperialism and commercial interests, the alliances that intertwined the great powers, and the nationalistic pride of the minorities. The First World War was to a certain extent, caused by nationalism considering that there were other prominent causes that accompanied nationalism, such as the complex web of alliances and the commercial and imperialistic rivalries. ...read more.

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