"The FirstWorld War was the result of a Badly Mismanaged Balkan Crisis In The Summer of1914 rather than the product of Long-Standing

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Amrik Sekhon                                                                                  History Coursework

“The First World War was the result of a Badly Mismanaged Balkan Crisis In The Summer of 1914 rather than the product of Long-Standing

Rivalries between The Great Powers”

To be able to understand why the events of summer 1914 took place we have to look back at situation in Europe before 1914. The situation consisted of long term (long standing rivalries) and short- term (badly mismanaged crisis) factors. From the 19th century to the early 20th century Britain was the greatest power in the world, France and Russia were also strong except the once formidable power, Austria- Hungary were declining in strength. But then a new power, ‘United Germany’ was created which in the future could rival that of any other. This struck fear into Britain, as it would upset their philosophy: ‘balance of power’. I am of the opinion put forward by such historians as Geiss who believe that WW1 was the result of long standing rivalries and the Balkan crisis was just the trigger point of an inevitable war.  I feel that the war was foreseeable and even if the Balkans dispute did not take place, another dispute later on would have caused a war. Leading up to war the alliances brought about tension, causing hostility and uncertainty making war a certain possibility. Countries felt obliged to enter war, because if an ally did they would also have to, after all they did swear to protect them when alliances were signed with one another. The July crisis of 1914 was simply ‘mismanaged ‘, but not to the point where it would have been the main reason for a war to outbreak. But other historians such as Remak contradict this opinion.

To be able to distinguish how and why long-term rivalries contributed to the causes of World War 1 we have to look at each rivalry and the tensions that occurred during this time. Because of this the alliance systems were brought into effect so that the powers could see who would help them if in danger.

 The Austro- Hungary and Serbian rivalry was the main reason for the outbreak of war. The rivalry began after 1878 when Serbia was formed. At the time Austria wanted an influence in the Balkans to expand its empire. It failed many times.  This also increased its desire to unite fellow Slavs something, which Russia had also longed to do for a long time. Serbia wanted to extend its power in the Balkans and south- east Europe (to unite all slavs and for a ‘Greater Serbia’), in areas where Austria Hungary ruled. By doing so Austria felt threatened as it could affect the unity of their empire. This was because part of their government was made up of Slavs and it was possible they may leave making Slav people leave the empire and forming a breakaway Slav state. This could break up the structure of the Austrian- Hungarian empire. The desire for land in the Balkans caused rivalry and built up tensions between the two nations. In the forty years building up to World War 1 it could be seen that there was now way back for these countries in finding peace with one another and sooner or later these countries would meet again on a head on collision making war certain prospect.

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Austria, Hungary didn’t just have Serbia as a rival but also Russia. This rivalry existed on desire to unite Slavs, something the Austria- Hungary emperor did not to see. But both still had desire for influence in the Balkans. By 1900 it was hard to believe that just over 50 years ago these two had once been allies. In 1699 the Russian empire had expanded so much that that it was within touching distance with the Austrian empire. But in 1812, Russia seized the port of Odessa in the Black sea and the region surrounding it. At the time ...

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