What were the causes of World War 1?
In 1914, Europe was divided into two, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. A catastrophic war broke out between these two European powers due to many factors which resulted in great amounts of tension. It proved to be one of the most brutal and horrific wars the world will ever fight, with an estimated thirteen million deaths. The four main reasons why WW1 broke out were The Alliance System, Imperialism, The Arms Race and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Overall, the most important cause was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. One cause of WW1 was the alliance system, which involved two main forces: The Triple Entente, consisting of Britain, France and Russia and The Triple Alliance consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Each member of an alliance promised to help its allies if they were attacked by another country. Each nation supported the others in its alliance to create a more balanced and powerful force. For example if one nation had a weak navy but a strong army then it could ally with a nation that had a strong navy but a weak army; the two would balance out. This led to the outbreak of war because it created it atmosphere of fear, suspicion and mistrust. Many secret arrangements were made between allies, which resulted in small-scale crises. The Moroccan Crisis in 1904 is an example where Germany, in fear of secret arrangements being made by Britain and France, made a secret alliance with Morocco, promising to defend them if France invaded. In this instance, Germany was pushing for conflict to test out the loyalties of France. The result was great amounts of friction between the two alliances. Germany was very afraid of the hostile countries surrounding it on its eastern and western borders, even though the Kaiser desired Germany to become a worldwide power. Austria-Hungary, a nation struggling to contain rebellions was bordering with Russia, who supported these rebels. By doing this the relations between Russia and Austria-Hungary were fragile. Countries had no way of knowing what their rival alliance was planning which increased levels of mistrust and suspicion. Furthermore, the Alliance system made countries feel much safer and confident than they had any right to be. This led to war because countries felt encouraged to start a fight when they had two powerful allies supporting them, whereas they would never have contemplated attacking if they stood alone. Austria-Hungary is a good example who irrationally attacked Serbia after the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary had Germany and Italy as allies and did not think that Russia would bother to defend Serbia, risking a war. The Alliance system also led to the outbreak of a world war because it was more likely that a local dispute would become an international issue. Each of the six dominant countries in Europe belonged to an alliance if war was to break out. It meant that if just two of those countries were having a dispute, then the world was on the edge of a world war. This would cause a chain-reaction or domino effect. The Bosnian crisis is an example where Austria-Hungary and Russia were at a disagreement and were in conflict with each other. Without the Alliance system, the war would have been contained to two countries fighting. Instead Germany, compelled by necessity, had to get involved, declaring war on Russia. This plunged both alliances into a war, soon to be known as the ‘The Great War. Another cause of WW1 was the arms race. This was competition between nations to build the biggest armed forces through both quality and quantity. Each nation began to recruit soldiers and build warships and submarines just for the sake of looking powerful. An example of the arms race is the Anglo-German naval race, where Britain and Germany were in competition for naval domination. This created an intense atmosphere of tension that pressured other nations to do the same because they would be...
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