World War I Questions
Causes of World War I:
Militarism – The arms race of the early 1900s was a key precipitating factor in the outbreak of World War I. Starting in 1870, Germany and France doubled their armies, and Germany and Britain entered into a naval arms race, each strengthening its fleet to keep up with the other. When the British Royal Navy introduced the Dreadnought in 1906, Germany introduced a number of its own battle ships in an attempt to secure supremacy in the event of a naval war. -
Alliances – A number of alliances were signed in Europe between 1979 and 1914. The Triple Entente, a pact between Britain, France, and Russia formed the backbone of the Allied Powers. These three nations garnered further support by signing alliances and pacts with Japan, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Canada, and the United States. Germany and Austria-Hungary similarly signed the Triple Alliance with Italy. Such pacts of mutual support crystallized the emergence of the Central Powers as opposed to the Allied Nations. Italy, however, fought against the Central Powers in World War I -
Nationalism – At the settlement of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the principle of nationalism was ignored in favor of preserving the peace. Germany and Italy were left as divided states, but strong nationalist movements and revolutions led to the unification of Italy in 1861 and that of Germany in 1871. Nationalism posed a problem for Austria-Hungary and the Balkans, areas comprised of many conflicting national groups. The ardent Panslavism of Serbia and Russia's willingness to support its Slavic brother conflicted with Austria-Hungary's Pangermanism. -
Imperialism – By early 1900, Britain and France had set up a number of colonies across the world. The British Empire had established profitable colonies on every continent, and France's African colonies contributed to its wealth and prosperity. Germany’s colonial conquest threatened the two nations and was the cause of a bitter rivalry. Germany, on the other hand, looked forward to invading neighboring European countries and parts of Africa. The rise of imperialism was a potent cause leading to the outbreak of World War I. -
Immediate causes – The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on June 28, 1914, triggered a diplomatic crisis in Europe. Austria-Hungary retaliated by serving Bosnia an ultimatum on July 23, 1914. Serbia failed to comply with all the terms. Austria-Hungary, assured of Germany's support, declared war on July 28. This was the start of the War. The series of events through July that precipitated the onset of World War I is referred to as the July Crisis of 1914. 2.
Life of the soldiers on the battlefield
Throughout the war millions of soldiers experienced and endured the horrors of trench warfare. Death was a constant companion to those serving in the line, even when no raid or attack was launched or defended against. In busy sectors the constant shellfire directed by the enemy brought random death. Many men died on their first day in the trenches as a consequence of a precisely aimed sniper's bullet. It has been estimated that up to one third of Allied casualties on the Western Front were actually sustained in the trenches. Aside from enemy injuries, disease wrought a heavy toll. Rats in their millions infested trenches. Gorging themselves on human remains, they could grow to the size of a cat. Men would attempt to rid the trenches of them by various methods: gunfire, with the bayonet, and even by clubbing them to death. However, it was useless, a single rat couple could produce up to 900 offspring in a year, spreading infection and contaminating food. The rat problem remained for the duration of the war. Rats were by no means the only source of infection and nuisance. Lice were a never-ending problem, breeding in the seams...
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