Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Essay on Causes of World War I

Causes of World War I Essay


There were many causes to World War I (1914 - 1918). The issue of which country was to blame of causing this great war is very controversial. No one country was to blame. The four main causes of World War I was militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism.

Militarism is the glorification of the military. This was a romantic view of the war. Germany and Great Britain were in great competition. Both countries were increasing their naval spending. This arms race, or the build up of armies and navies, caused fear and suspicion. Germany had challenged Britain as the number one naval power. This led to a hostile relationship.

Alliances were agreements among nations to aid each other if attacked. By 1907, Europe was divided. Great Britain, France, and Russia all formed the Allies while Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy formed the Central Powers. As seen in Document 4, the position of Germany might have led to an early declaration of was because it was surrounded by the allied powers.

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Imperialism, competition for trade and colonies, resulted in tense relationships between European nations. Britain and France formed alliances against Germany as a result of competition for colonies. Germany wanted to expand and take over Europe, as seen in Document 1.

Nationalism was pride and devotion to one’s country. This led people to support their government even if it meant war. France, whose pride had been hurt after the Franco-Prussian war, wanted revenge against Germany and regain Alsace and Lorraine. This seen in Document 3. Ethnic minorities, such as the Slavic people, wanted unity and independence. Russia felt obligated to defend all Slavs because they all shared a common nationality. By 1914, ethnic tensions in the Balkans were increasing, making it the “powder keg” of Europe.

The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Frances Ferdinand of Austria Hungary in 1914. He was assassinated by Gavilo Princep, a member of the Black Hand (a Serbian nationalist group). This event is depicted in Document 7. Austria-Hungary wanted to punished Serbia. They issued an ultimatum, or a final set of demands. An excerpt of these Austrian demands can be seen in Document 8.

World War I had many causes to it. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism were the four main causes. Most of the European countries were all in somewhere responsible for the outbreak of war. There was no one country to blame.

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