Was World War I Inevitable?

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Europe had been on the brink of war for many years before 1914. The rise of nationalism meant that no country was willing to yield their opinion on who should be the dominating power. Nationalism has both positive and negative definitions. It can refer to the sense of pride and unity felt by a populace of people. Nationalism can also be explained negatively as the way in which people or governments tend to put their own countries interests first. As the rise of nationalism between 1870 and 1914 led the people of Europe to be less open to the rule of a detached monarch, the traditional hierarchal world of the pre-World War I era began to crumble and the outbreak of war became inevitable. The Franco-Prussian war of 1871became the first step towards World War I, with France being humiliatingly defeated. The reversion of Bismarck’s diplomatic policies placed Europe in turmoil and alliances were lost where they should have been gained. Finally, the Austro-Hungarian overreaction to the Serbian assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the final straw which quickly determined the outbreak of World War I. France’s embarrassing defeat in the Franco-Prussian War only led to even further hostility between France and the newly formed Germany. From 1870 onwards, the aim of German diplomatic policy was to protect Germany from any revengeful attack that France might undertake. They sought to place France in diplomatic isolation and to ensure that out of the five great powers in Europe, Germany was in a grouping of at least three. As Britain wanted to remain free from entanglement in European diplomatic policies, Germany sought an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Russia, which would diplomatically isolate France and protect Germany from an attack from the East. Germany’s increasing nationalism meant that they had an inflated sense of self-importance which led them to believe that they could “walk all over” France without it having any long term consequences. This rivalry...
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