Causes of WWI

Topics: World War I, World War II, Schlieffen Plan Pages: 5 (1664 words) Published: February 2, 2014
Causes of World War I Essay
World War I broke out on the 28th June 1914 when a Serbian terrorist group, who called themselves the Black Hand, assassinated Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne. By the time the war had ended in 1918, it had taken the lives of more than nine million soldiers. Ever since, historians from all over the world have debated and discussed the reason for not only why and how the war came to pass, but the reason for the grand geographic scale of it. One way to categorise the causes is into three sectors: nationalism, imperialism and militarism. Nationalism is the belief that a nation will benefit further by acting individually, or the lusting for national independence in a country under rule from another. Imperialism is a policy by which a nation extends authority through territorial gain, and/or political establishment of superiority over another nation. Militarism is when the military is placed predominantly regarding administration of a particular state, or whereby military preparedness, and strength during a time of peace is of extreme importance to a state. World War I broke out in July 1914 primarily due to nationalism, followed by tensions exacerbated by imperialism, and lastly due to militarism.

Topic Sentence: Nationalism is the most important cause of World War I, because it was the main trigger of all major problems in the Balkans, which created huge tension in Europe from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th. An area where nationalism was creating huge tension at the time was Serbia. Serbians are part of an ethnic group called Slavs. Austria-Hungary, Serbia’s neighbour had a population that consisted of a high percentage of Slavs. The Serbians saw the Slavs in Austria as being oppressed and dreamed to unite them under one large Slavic state; the creation of this country would mean that Austria Hungary’s empire would split in two. This desire to unite all the Serbs lead to the creation of the Black Hand in 1901. They were a Serbian terrorist group who kept nationalism alive through violent measures and were against anyone who oppressed the unification of Serbdom. It was the Black Hand that assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian Hungarian throne on the 28th June 1914. This event was the main trigger that led to the outbreak of World War I. After Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia on the 23rd July 1914, which she knew Serbia would not and could not comply to. Serbia’s refusal was due to a most stressing component of the ultimatum, which was to have an Austrian delegate monitoring the movements and decisions of the Serbian government. This denial to comply with the ultimatum was the official declaration of war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. Another exemplification of nationalism outside the parameters of the Balkans is the Franco-Prussian war, which took place in 1871. Bismarck provoked the war in order to unite Germany, under a common cause. If Germany had not been unified in 1871 it is extremely unlikely that the war would have taken place as Emperor Wilhelm’s aggressive Weltpolitik, which began around 1890, only embittered existing tensions in Europe. French “élan vitale” is state of mind that means that you will win a war as long as you have the determination to do so. It led to the French only creating an offensive plan (plan XVII) against Germany, their worst enemy. The French spirit of élan vitale prevented France from creating a defensive war plan. As a result, when the war broke out in 1914 France had no structured procedure to prevent Germany from invading them.

Topic Sentence: Imperialism is the second most important cause of World War I as it led to countries not focusing on existing problems in the continent and becoming a lot more aggressive toward one another. After Wilhelm II came to power in 1890, Bismarck was deposed. This came to pass because the...
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