World War I

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World War I

World War I was a time of struggle for Europe. Many factors lead to great tensions in Europe, sparking the need for a war. This war, otherwise known as “The Great War”, occurred in 1914 until 1918. It had many famous battles, such as the battle of The Somme, a battle of many casualties, especially for the British. The war was mainly fought between the members of The Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the members of The Triple Entente (Great Britain, France, and Russia). Eventually, countries such as the USA joined in 1917. Rivalries between countries, arguments over empires, and an arm race are the causes of the European tensions that lead to the war.

A cause thought to of sparked the war was the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, next in line to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Serbian terrorist in Bosnia. This caused 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. Militarism was the glorification of the military. This was as romantic view of the war. Germany and Great Britain were in great competition. Both countries were increasing their naval spending. This arm race, or the buildup of armies and navies, caused fear and suspicion. Germany had challenged Britain as the number one naval power. This led to a hostile relationship.

Alliances were agreements among nations to aid each other if attacked. By 1907, Europe was divided. Great Britain, France, and Russia all formed the Allies while Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy formed the central powers. Imperialism was the competition for trade and colonies, resulted in tense relationships between European nations. Britain and France formed alliances against Germany as a result of competition for colonies. Germany wanted to expand and take over Europe. Nationalism was pride and devotion to one’s country. This led people to support their government even if it meant war. France, whose pride had been hurt after the Franco-Prussian war, wanted revenge against Germany and regain Alsace and Lorraine. Ethnic minorities, such as the Slavic people, wanted unity and independence. Russia felt obligated to defend all slaves because they all shared a common nationality. By 1914, ethnic tensions in the Balkans were increasing, making it the “powder keg” of Europe.

The World War I left 9,906,000 soldiers dead, 21,219,000 soldiers wounded and 7,750,000 soldiers missing. This terrible conflict lasted over 4 years, involved over 30 nations, and claimed lives of both military and civilian. It cost billions of dollars, destroyed Europe, crumbled empires, and sowed seeds of World War II. There were also others causes that led up to World War I. Over time, countries in Europe made mutual defense agreements that would pull them into battle. If one country was attacked, allied countries were bound to defend them.

Before World War I, the following alliances existed: Russia and Serbia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, Britain and France and Belgium, and Japan and Britain. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (July 28, 1914), Russia got involved to defend Serbia. Germany seeing Russia mobilizing, declared war on Russia (august 1, 1914). France was then drawn in against Germany and Austria-Hungary (august 3, 1914). Germany attacked France through Belgium pulling Britain into war (August 4, 1914). This eventually split the continent into two hostile sides. The Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, later joined by Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire), and the Allies (Great Britain, France, Russia, later joined by Japan, Italy, and the United States). In the fall of 1914, a serious of battles occurred in the region of northern France known as the Western Front. During this time a German general, named Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, had drawn up a plan, and called the Schlieffen Plan, which called for...
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