top-rated free essay

Which Factor Was Most Significant Factor in Leading to the Outbreak of the First World War?

By Jinglove Feb 13, 2013 917 Words
In 1914, the First World War broke out. It is the war which involved most of the countries in the world. The Sarajevo Assassination has triggered off the war as Austria-Hungary use it as a war excuse to declare war on Serbia. To a large extent I think that extreme nationalism is the most significant factor in leading the outbreak of the First World War. “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind”. This was said by Albert Einstein. Nationalism is the desire of people of the same race and culture to govern themselves and to keep their own way of life. In the Early 19th century, It started common belief of people’s right with liberalism. However, nationalism became more extreme and furious since 1871. People commonly believed that their country was usually right and superior to other country. They aimed to promote the national glory of their country by weakening the others. This resulted in many conflicts. Firstly, for the independence movement of the Balkan states, they aimed to get free from foreign rule and thus the Eastern Question emerged. Eastern Question means a series of problems happened in the Balkans. It had a nasty long term effect on international relationship. It was true to say that it caused by the rise of Balkan nationalism. Powers would not give way because Balkan is strategically important and most importantly, for the sake for promoting national glory.

Secondly, for the Pan-German Movement, Germany wanted to build a big German empire. She wanted to expand into the Balkans and West Asia. This alarmed the powers like Britain and Russia and increased the tension between the powers. Thirdly, for the Pan-Slav Movement, Russia wanted to unite all Slavs into a big Slav state under Russian leadership. These complicated the Eastern Questions and had conflicts with Austria-Hungary. Fourthly, for the Greater Serbia Movement, Serbia wanted to expand Serbia and united her with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania. This worsened the Austro-Serbian relationship and brought two Balkan Wars which increased Austro-Serbian hostilities. In addition, the wars made Austria-Hungary became more determined to crush Serbia. The crisis made Europe toward to the First World War and the Sarajevo Assassination made it speed up even more. As the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by Princip, the member of Black Hand. This provided Austria-Hungary had the excuse to attack Serbia. Finally, the war broke out. Fifthly, for the revenge movement led by France, she wanted to take revenge on Germany owing to her lost of Alsace-Lorraine and the humiliation suffered from the Franco-Prussian War. Bismarck started the alliance system to isolate France and avoid a two-front war against Germany. Therefore, the Three Emperor’s League was formed by Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary. But finally, the Three Emperor’s League broke up. In the First World War, The two rival alliances were Triple Alliance and Triple Entente. They agreed to assist each other if they were attacked by other powers. But this didn’t contribute a lot to the First World War, it only increased the mutual suspicion and distrust between the powers. Besides, powers formed the alliances for self-protection. Therefore, compared with extreme nationalism, it is not a significant factor. Sixthly, for the expansion, Germany, France, Britain and Russia both wanted to get national glory by building a big colonial empire by strengthening their armaments. This resulted in the colonial rivalry. Due to the saturation of the European market, powers competed with one another to acquire direct control over the colonies. When William II became the new Kaiser, Germany adopts an active colonial policy. He aimed to get more colonies to get national glory as colonies were a symbol of national strength. Some believed in the saying that colonial rivalries only worsened international relation and caused tension between powers. It is only partly true, colonial rivalries may also improve the relationship between powers when one was compromised. For example, Britain and France had conflicts in Sudan, but finally France withdrew and won British friendship. It showed that colonial rivalries can worse or improve the international relation. The expansion also resulted in militarism. Powers spend more money on military built-up. They produced powerful weapons like poison gas, tanks etc. Also, they enlarge the army and navy. Powers’ thought that strong military could defend themselves. The strong navies were needed to protect a country’s overseas colonies and their interests. Although armaments race created more suspicion and fear, it is self-defence in nature. Therefore, it is not a significant factor. Seventhly, the economic rivalries between the powers contributed to the protectionism. They increased tariffs on the imported products to protect their home markets and local industries. This increase suspicion and hostility among the powers. But when it compared with extreme nationalism, it is again not a significant factor. Eighthly, social Darwinists believed in the ideas of “ survival for the fittest” and “natural selection”. These ideas were applied in the international politics. It gave rise to the expansionism. Again, It is not the most significant factor. To sum up, the extreme nationalism is the fundamental factor. The others are the auxiliary factor. There are many forms of nationalism, include the independence movements, unification, the revenge movement and the expansion, each of them gave rise to another factor. Therefore, to a large extent, extreme nationalism is the most significant factor in leading the outbreak of First World War.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • What Was the Most Significant Reason to the Outbreak of World War 1

    ...What was the most important reason to the outbreak of World War 1? The Great War (now known as World War 1) took place for 4 years from the 28th July of 1914 to the 11th of November 1918. There were two sides to the war, The Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) and The Allied Powers (The British Empire, France, The Russian Empire, Belgi...

    Read More
  • Which Factor Was the Most Important in Causing the End of the Second World War?

    ...the factors leading to the end of the Second World War. The allies had greater resources compared to the Axis power, but Germany was dominating even before the World War had begun. Though material comparison was convincing, it was the naive form of analysing the factors. Strategically, Hitler and the rest of the World made mistakes, but some of ...

    Read More
  • What factors led to the outbreak of war in 1914?

    ...The war that broke out in 1914 was one of the worst, if not the worst, wars in human history. It had left millions dead and a scar burned into European history forever. However, if we do not identify why war broke out in 1914, stopping others wars will be impossible. Clearly, we may never know the answer to this, but many sources give many inter...

    Read More
  • What was the most significant factor for the Bolshevik victory in the civil war?

    ... What was the most significant factor for the Bolshevik victory in the civil war? The Bolshevik victory in the civil war was down to a number of factors. The first being the role of Trotsky, the geographical advantages the Red Army had and the weaknesses of the White Army. Undoubtedly, the most significant was the geographical advantages ...

    Read More
  • Were Nationalistic Beliefs Ultimately Responsible for the Outbreak of the First World War

    ...Were nationalistic beliefs ultimately responsible for the outbreak of the First World War? Can nationalism be held solely responsible for starting what is usually regarded as the most destructive war, at least in terms of human lives, the world had ever seen? The answer to this question is a solid no. Though nationalism played an important role ...

    Read More
  • The First World War (Revision)

    ...The First World War (Revision) The rise of Germany upset the balance of power in Europe The Old Balance of Power - a balance of power was established between Russia, Austria, Prussia and France, with Britain holding the scales. The rise of a unified Germany upset this balance. Germany was unified not only by ‘blood and iron’ but a...

    Read More
  • World War 1

    ... World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. More than 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died as a result of the war, a casualty rate exacerbated by the belligerents' technological and industrial sophistication, and t...

    Read More
  • How Significant Was The First World War

    ...How significant was the First World War in bringing about the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917? The abdication of the Tsar in 1917 is still talked about today; the reasons are still disputed to this day. There are three main views; the optimist view which states that Russia was on the right path but the First World War slipped Ru...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.