Causes of World War One

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Krislynn Ghrist
The causes of world war one, which began in central Europe in July 1914, included many intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well. However, the immediate origins of the war lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the July Crisis of 1914, casus belli for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb. The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Great Britain, Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high. In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867. The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties. Technology experienced a great boost after the war, as the production of automobiles, airplanes, radios and even certain chemicals, skyrocketed. The advantages of mass production and the use of machinery to perform former human labor tasks, along with the implementation of the eight hour work day, proved to stimulate the economy, the United States' in particular. However, much of Europe suffered devastating losses of physical property and landscape as well as finances. By 1914, Europe had won the respect of the world as a reliable money-lender, yet just four years later was greatly in debt to her allies for their generous financial contributions toward the war effort, owing them as much as $10 billion. In an effort to pay back their allies, the governments of many...
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