World War 1, one of the biggest wars in history, did not begin because of one problem; it was a mixture of many different factors that eventually caused the final outcome. This war was so great because it basically included all of Europe. As we look back to the events that led up to the war, we see that one country looks like they are the cause of most of the problems; this country was Germany. Because of their great obsession with gaining power, they will make many enemies and finally fall into their own demise.
In the years before the war, around 1848-1914, the period of Nationalism began, where each country was unifying their states. These states wanted national identity, meaning similar language, mission, religion, territory, etc. The German unifier was the chancellor of Prussia, known as Otto Von Bismark. He was a very romantic nationalist and believed in the quote "might makes right", believing that you get what you want through force. He was very powerful and it showed in the three steps he took to unify the country of Germany. He won the war with Denmark in 1864, won the Autro/Prussian war in 1866, and won the war of 1871, finally unifying the country on January 18, 1871.
Western Imperialism was also going on during this time. This was actually a period of peace in Europe. The main priority of Europe was to scramble and grab overseas territory to spread their reign. There was a wave of colonization, like a "gold rush". Around 1885 an organization was set up called the Berlin Conference. Bismark, the German ruler at the time, calls the conference "mainly" between France and Germany, who is still an aspiring power. The person representing France was Jules Ferry. The main principle for this conference was "effective occupation", meaning no country can just come into another state and stick their flag there, and call it their own. There had to be recognition by other states. This conference helped to accommodate Europeans on how things were going to separate and take the land, and also avoid conflict. Bismark was also a major factor in trying to maintain peace in Europe and what a good leader he was.
During this period, also known as the Bismarkian Alliance System, he kept the peace between Austria-Hungary and Russia. In 1819, the Three Emperor's Alliance was formed. A big factor to creating this alliance was to France diplomatically isolated from other countries. The members were Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. These three countries were still ruled by monarchs, meaning they were all conservative, because they didn't want to change from the original regime. This was a conservative alliance versus radical revolutions. The commonality kept the peace between them.
In 1878, at the Congress of Berlin, the Balkin states, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, and Bulgaria, were recognized as independent states. One of the states, Bosnia, was annexed and therefore was the only one not allowed to become independent. This was set by the Congress of Vienna, and was taken possession of by Austria-Hungary. Russia was very upset that Bosnia was taken by Austria-Hungary so they left the alliance. Austria-Hungary was then afraid of getting in a war with Russia. When Russia left, Italy joined the Three Emperor's Alliance in its place, because of problems with France. Germany saw this as an advantage and brought Italy's resentment of France into the Alliance. After they joined the Three Emperor's Alliance became the Triple Alliance.
Bismark still wanted to keep some sort of peace with Russia, because if there ever was a problem, Germany would be stuck in the middle of Russia and France, who already has problems with them. Soon after Bismark made a new alliance with Russia called the German-Russian Reassurance Alliance. This act would be a neutrality act, stating that Russia cannot help France in any problems, while Germany cannot help...