Notes on World War I

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The Origins of War – September 9, 2012
-Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (AXIS POWERS)
-Great Britain, France, (pre-revolutionary Russia) (TRIPLE ENTENTE) -Alliances are put in place to act as guarantors of peace
-At the end of the 19th c., (Edwardian period in BR history) despite the alliance systems, much talk about impending war oEveryone saying war is inevitable
oLots of war talk
-Nature of a European war not understood at all
-Colonial wars seen, which were quick (guns vs. spears)
-For people at home, war was distant
-Ongoing enmity between Germany and France
-1871 (conclusion of Franco Prussian War) territory taken from France (Alsace, Lorraine) oNo “cleansing” effect from this war
oBismarck had proclaimed Imperial Germany in the palace of Versailles oInsulting France
oGerman economy exploding
oExpanding naval power
-Since 1805, Britain has been major naval power
-End of 19th c., Germany is intentionally catching up
-Germany trying to extend power (proclaimed an Empire)
-“war is a biological necessity”
-Franco-Prussian war had been the last war between the European powers oFairly high casualties
oBattle of Sedan – 3000 soldiers killed
oCivil strife ensued
oWars known to be costly in human life and unpredictable but still rather small -Each European country had its own saga of war
-Examples in the American Civil War were ignored
oFace of warfare
oChurchill: “the wars of the peoples will be worse than those of kings” -Loss of Alsace and Lorraine rankled the French
oThink of it always, speak of it never
-War, if it came, would be an irresistible opportunity to avenge hatred -Germany resented close relationship between France and Russia (East and West) -In 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Constantinople in Turkey (Ottoman Empire) and Jerusalem -Action announced to the world that Germany was a kind of friend with these -Anglo-Russian Entente 1907

oBritain constantly trying to keep Russia at bay
oRussia constantly pushing
oEntente determines how far each can push
-Germany watches with suspicion
oFurther proof of encirclement
oBritain and Russia trying not to give that impression but that’s what Germany sees oGermans begin to push back a bit
oBuilds railway from Berlin to Bagdad
oWay to Mediterranean
-1909 – Alfred Von Schlieffen wrote an article on the future and what a war of the future would be like -Jingoists – wanted to go to war, nationalists
-Desire by the Kaiser to match or exceed Britain in naval strength -Naval jealousy, arms race
-British seemed much more justifiable in their expansion
-1912 – Germany navy is every bit as large as the British, almost larger oRussians expanding as well (BR didn’t mind)
-1912 – Serbia defeated Turkey in the first Balkan War
oThe fact that they could beat this ancient empire surprised everyone oAppealed to Russia (victory for Slavic nationalism)
oProvocative for Germans – Slavic victory right up against their borders oTeuton vs. Slavic
-Kaiser said if Russia were to support the Serbs, war would be inevitable oBritain would be pulled in
-Churchill suggested a pause in naval expansion
-1913 – Germany’s army had gone up by over 100 000 men in the last 100 years oMuch more than Britain
-Newspaper the main vehicle for reflecting and stimulating public opinion -Governments used newspapers in this way to gain support
-Rivalries became further inflamed between diplomatic cores, militaries, and peoples in general -Territorial greed
-Early 1914 – Britain negotiated a predominant share of the now-emergent oil fields -The modern navy would run on oil (transitional period)
-Germany didn’t like this
-Britain was ever more a presence in the middle east when Germany saw itself as the main power there -Objected, couldn’t do much more
-Admiral Tirpitz
-Social movements play a part in rapid expansion of European socialism -Capitalist predisposition for war
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