The First World War began in Europe in 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. This trigger action caused the involvement of Germany, Russia, Serbia and Austria-Hungary. However, the war itself was caused by nationalism, alliances and Germany’s fear of encirclement.
Nationalism was the central cause of World War One because, due to the nationalism of the Slavs, the Balkan states became a powder keg. Austria-Hungary made the Serbs fear annexation while the Slavs inside the country wanted a Pan-Slavic State. The assassination of the Archduke occurred due to the Serbs nationalism, to warn Austria-Hungary to stay away from Serbia. However, it had the completely opposite effect because Austria-Hungary now had a valid reason to give Serbia an Ultimatum that would allow them to attack the country. Austrians did not only do this because they wanted Serbia but also because they realised that the Slavic nationalism could cause another loss of their land as they had experienced in the Second Balkan War in 1913. There was also a significant number of Slave living inside the borders of Austria-Hungary who’s wish for a Pan-Slavic State could not be ignored and so they needed to be shown their limits. The nationalistic Slavs were a serious threat to Austria-Hungary and it was clear that this nationalism would result in a war.
The alliances on the other hand, should not be left unspoken of due to the fact that they delocalized the war and caused distrust between countries. The Triple Entente (France, Russia, Britain) on one side and the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy) on the other made it impossible for Austria-Hungary’s conflict with Serbia to stay local. An especially important aspect of the Triple Alliance was that it only lasted from 1882 until 1914, because at the start of World War One Italy switched sides and went to the Allied Powers. This only contributed to... [continues]
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