The Causes of World War One

Topics: World War I, German Empire, Schlieffen Plan Pages: 5 (1993 words) Published: May 29, 2009

World War One or ‘The Great War’ and its causes are still a hotly debated subject till today. There are many important causes and reasons for the war, some more important than others. Not only did the war cause a lot of disruption, chaos and death, it also set the scene for other wars to take place, which is one main reason why it was so significant in History. Many of the causes link and relate to each other and have different relative importance, when compared, to contributing to the outbreak of a war. One of the first and long-term and extremely important cause to the outbreak of World War One starts back in 1870 with the Franco-Prussian War. During the long and pressuring Franco-Prussian war, France lost to Germany which led to France gaining a mutual hate and lust for revenge against Germany, for grabbing a great stretch of French land ‘Alsace-Lorrain’. Once the war was over it lead to the forming of the triple Alliance which was one of the main alliances during the First World War. The Triple alliance was made up of the countries - Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and it was first formed because Germany needed help to guard Alsace-Lorrain from France as France wanted to get it back. This alliance caused and led to a lot of tension and pressure between neighbouring countries, splitting Europe apart and resulting in the eventual formation of the Triple Entente, the joining of Britain, France and Russia as major allies. The second long-term origin of World War One was Weltpolitik. Weltpolitik was a policy invented by Kaiser Wilhelm the second, who believed that Germany had a right to become a global imperial power and should develop an army and navy to support its colonial objectives. Kaiser Wilhelm's personality and his policy of Weltpolitik were seen as greatly contributing to international tensions. This policy led Germany to construct a huge navy which in turn caused domestic problems as the navy cost substantial amounts of public spending. It also may have contributed to starting of the Boer wars and the Moroccan Crisis. In a way, Weltpolitik could have arguably been the founder of the German need for Economic Imperialism, German Nationalism, the Alliances and even the arms race. All the core causes of the war, in a way stemmed from Weltpolitik. One Historian even commented that the Germans who believed that Weltpoitik could be achieved were living in a ‘dream world’. Also, because of the belief that they should be the superior ruling country in Europe and beyond, Germany looked to other regions of the world, such as Africa, where it believed it had rights to take over land and resources. There was also a sense of unfairness and jealousy between Germany and countries such as France and Britain, as they had already seized most of the land in Africa. Therefore, this also led to extremely strong nationalistic pride among the people of Germany, and would have driven the tensions between European countries so much, that it would have made war an inevitable fact and reality. Many Historians have said, 'Weltpolitik was only a half-hearted policy' (Paul Schroeder), and that it was only inviting the other countries to go to war. However, a well-known historian Fritz Fischer, on the contrary, argued that 'Germany provoked war and ensured that compromise was impossible in order to achieve Weltpolitik, to economically dominate central Europe, to create a colonial empire and to solve its own internal political and economic problems'. Fischer was a historian that strongly believed that much of the responsibility for starting the war lied with Germany - though his view may have been a bit biased. A third reason to World War One breaking out was the Moroccan Crisis of 1905 and 1911. During the crisis of 1905, the Kaiser went to Morocco and tactically and daringly suggested that he wanted Morocco to be independent. In obvious retaliation, the French were furious that he should suggest such a course as they went to a...
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