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Pre-WWI Timeline 1871-1914
Transcript of Pre-WWI Timeline 1871-1914
French VS Germany in Franco-Prussian War where France lost.
French loss of Alsace-Loraine territory to Germany
Unification of German empire
Wilhelm I became 1st German Kaiser (King) while Otto von Bismark became Chancellor of Germany (Prime Minister)
Ended the "Balance of Power" system.
Wilhelm I's son, Frederick III, married Queen Victoria of England.
The only direct German-British relation of recent times before World War I.
Also, it has to be noted that Wilhelm I himself initially did not want the marriage and only went with it due to his wife's desire for German-Britain relations.
Strained Franco-German relations. Spurred French desire to regain back power.
Bismark started the first form of Alliance System and forged careful alliances.
The Bismark Alliance System was aimed at isolating France as Bismark knew that France resented loss and wanted to challenge the status quo- a threat to Germany.
Used Realpolitik to maintain peace through alliances in Europe.
But Bismark made sure to never cross the British as well.
He chose not to engage in naval expansion to let Britain maintain its position as top navy of Europe.
Bismark also made sure Belgium, Britain's main eastern trade route through the Suez Canal, was left untouched by any power.
Alliance signed between Germany and Austria- Hungary.
A military alliance ensuring each other's aid in the case of a Russian attack.
Part of Bismark's
Realpolitik and Alliance System
to establish ties with other European powers for the safety of Germany.
Congress of Berlin in 1978
, Bismark convinced Austria- Hungary that he was an ally.
The Triple Alliance
Italy joined Germans and the Austria- Hungarians, forming the Triple Alliance.
Further establish German grounds in parts of Europe
to guarantee peace.
Bismark made use of Franco-Italian friction over Tunis to convince Italy to join their side against their common enemy, France.
Furthered isolation of France.
The Reinsurance Treaty
Assured each other's neutrality in the case of a third-party invasion. i.e. Russia would remain neutral if France invaded Germany, and Germany would remain neutral if Italy or Austria invaded Russia.
prevent the formation of a Franco-Russian alliance
which Bismark feared; he did not want to be vulnerable from both sides of Germany, and he needed to further isolate the vengeful France.
intimidating Russia with its newly formed Triple Alliance,
Russians felt threatened as a combined attack on the Eastern front of Russia would be devastating. This convinced Russia to sign a treaty to seek assurance.
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Son of Wilhelm I, Frederick III, succeeded Wilhelm I after his death in March but died months after in June, hence the throne of Kaiser went to grandson of Wilhelm I,
Bismark's dismissal and Russia's Treaty
March & June 1890
Bismark dismissed as Chancellor in March by Kaiser Wilhelm II
Kaiser refused Russia's offers for a Reinsurance Treaty renewal which has expired.
The Kaiser believed his own personal relationship with Tzar Alexander III of Russia would be sufficient to ensure friendly diplomatic ties.
The Kaiser feared that having a close public relation with Russia would prevent Germany from allying itself with Britain.
Both Russia and Britain expressed interest in the Middle East and the Balkans, and their relations at that time were relatively strained.
Bismark and the Kaiser disagreed politically- Bismarck wanted to concentrate on keeping Germany as a purely continental power, and believed building up a colonial empire would antagonize Britain. On the other hand, he Kaiser wanted to build a big navy and establish overseas colonies.
By making use of his position as the Kaiser- who had absolute command and say in Germany. Also by refusing further public German-Russian relations.
Led to Russia's growing feelings of being abandoned and isolated by Germany.
Allowed Russia to be open to other Alliances.
Bismark being dismissed meant that the previous system of
Realpolitik would be abolished
Foreign policies replaced instead by Kaiser Wilhelm II's
, "world politics".
Weltpolitik was aimed largely at building up German power through
diplomacy, extension of empire by colonization, and development of
a large navy
Such aggression would later on prove to be a mistake as it
alarmed and threatened the other Great Powers, especially Britain.
Pre-World War I Timeline: 1871-1914
Treaty between France and Russia signed:
The alliance was to
remain in place as long as the Triple Alliance existed.
The secret treaty between France and Russia stipulated that if one of the countries of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) attacked France or Russia, its ally would attack the aggressor in question.
If a Triple Alliance country mobilized its army, France and Russia would mobilize.
France would engage 1.300.000 troops and Russia 700.000 - 800.000.
France jumped at a chance of being
freed from its isolation
and signed a treaty with Russia. The treaty was a strategic one aimed at countering the rising power of Germany; it also relieved Russia's sense of isolation after German rejection of their offer to renew the Reinsurance Treaty.
Germany cut off official relations with Russia
, it was open to other Alliances, allowing France to sign a treaty with Russia.
This treaty was a big step towards
World War I
The treaty was a military treaty aimed at fighting back against Germany, allowing the easy trigger for war.
Laid the foundations for the domino effect
that would ensue after a local conflict.
It acted as the counterpart to the Austrian- German Dual Alliance of 1979 in that
now both Germany and Russia are vulnerable to an attack from two countries.
However, in truth, the Tzar Alexander III of Russia had always resented Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Tzar Nicholas II
Previous Tzar, Alexander III died and his eldest son Nicholas II became Tzar of Russia.
Nicholas II was Kaiser Wilhelm II's cousin, but even so he, too, disliked him.
Admiral Tirpitz's Navy Law
Germany passes its first law to build large numbers of warships. This
challenges Britain’s long-standing naval supremacy,
naval arms race
between the two countries.
Part of the Kaiser's aggressive diplomacy to establish Germany's physical power in Europe by showing military supremacy. The Kaiser also wanted to colonize and expand into the Pacific and Africa and thus felt the necessity of a well equipped Navy.
Kaiser Wilhelm II recklessly decided to expand its navy out of the Kaiser's desire to assure Germany of what he called
"a place in the sun".
Britain and Japan signed an alliance treaty, ending Britain's years of
Britain and France finally manage to put aside their long-standing differences to form a
As Russo-Japanese relations turned sour and the Russo-Japanese War was on the verge of erupting, their allies France and Britain, respectively, came forward to help settle the issues to prevent war.
To prevent the outbreak of a Russo-Japanese War (although it failed). It was also out of French desire to regain power and British
fear of Germany's rising power in Europe which threatened the Balance of Power.
February 1904-September 1905
War between Russia and Japan over national interests in Korea and Manchuria- Japan won and
Russia suffered a humiliating defeat.
First time an Asian country managed to defeat an European country.
weakened Russian power:
Economically- much economy was channeled into the war
Russia lost much of its prestige
after losing to an Asian country which was supposed to be weak.
Militarily- Russia's army was crushed and it went through much military reform after the war.
Spurred internal political unrest by further fueling Russian discontent with the Tzar.
Negotiations failed and Russia and Japan failed to reach a compromise.
1905 Russian Revolution
Russian citizens protested and staged an uprising against Tzar but was simply crushed by the military and resulted in little political reform.
Civilian unrest over the poor leadership of the Tzar led to the eventual eruption of an uprising. Moreover, they were further antagonized by the economic impact brought about by channeling most of Russian economy to the military during the Russo-Japanese War.
Through a series of work protests and uprisings, and finally during Bloody Sunday when the revolution officially erupted.
1st Moroccan Crisis (Tangier Crisis)
March 1905- May 1906
The Kaiser declared he had come to support the sovereignty of the Sultan—this
challenged French influence and interests in Africa.
A conference was then held by the Sultan and Kaiser in Algericas, Spain (Jan 1906)
The British, fearing Germany's Weltpolitik, did not want the Kaiser to gain political dominance in Africa
as well and hence strongly supported France in the conference along with Russia, Italy and Spain.
The Kaiser mistook the newly formed Anglo-France Entente Cordiale to be meaningless and thought Britain would not side with France since they had a long history of hostility.
This worsened Germany's relations with Britain and France while
strengthening Anglo-France relations, ensuring the success of the Entente Cordiale
which was initially still of much ambiguity (seeing how it failed during the Russo-Japanese War).
France got to control Moroccan bank and police
- considered to be a political victory for them.
Anglo-Russian Entente & Triple Entente
August 31, 1907
Kaiser was doubtful of the Entente Cordiale
and did not believe there was true alliance between the two hostile countries and hence wanted to test it.
Germany made use of France interests in Morocco to bring Anglo-France relations to the test where Britain had to choose between siding with Germany, whom they previously had genial relations with, or France, their newly established ally.
Rising political aggression and imperialism from Germany threatened the interests of Russia and Britain, coercing them to join forces to curb German power.
Both Britain and Russia had national interests in mind, but felt an alliance was necessary to contain German imperialism in the North Sea and Balkans.
Britain launches the revolutionary navy ship, the Dreadnought, which was much stronger than any type of existing battleship.
To counter Germany's naval buildup as a part of the
naval arms race
between the two powers.
German's army was already the predominant one in Europe;
Britain feared that Germany would surpass Britain in their navy as well,
and was spurred to build a stronger navy to maintain Britain's position as the strongest European navy.
Since there was a Franco-Russian alliance and the Entente Cordiale between France and Britian that was secured after the Tangier Crisis, allying mutual allies Britain and Russia was the next natural step.
To match up and counter the Triple Alliance consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy- in order to maintain the balance of power in Europe through alliances.
Russia and Britain formed an alliance, leading to the natural formation of the Triple Entente.
The Triple Entente completed the Alliance System in Europe before WWI and allowed the dominoes to be set in place.
October 1908- April 1909
When a revolution broke out in Turkey, Austria-Hungary seized control and
announced annexation of Bosnia,
an area under Turkish control in the Balkans.
The annexation of Bosnia meant that Serbia would be unable to enlarge its territory--
Serbs were enraged.
The Serbs and Russians thus tried calling for an international conference, however,
Germany offered unequivocal support to Austria-Hungary, and would provide military backup if Serbia and Austria went to war, i.e. the
France was eager to avoid a confrontation with Germany when its Russian ally was so weak
The British wanted to avoid a breach with Germany, so only a note of disapproval was dispatched to Austria-Hungary.
Russia, seeing its allies had little support for Serbia, knew it could not do anything at its post-war weakened state and hence allowed the annexation to occur.
Serbia remained bitterly hostile to Austria, and this
was the eventual trigger to World War I.
Russians were humiliated for its weakness and thus
embarked on a massive military
build up to avoid further humiliations.
valued their only Balkan alliance
with Serbia and was determined to be prepared the next time Serbia needed help.
World War I
The Naval Arms Race
By the end of 1911, Britain had already built 8 of their powerful Dreadnoughts while Germany only had half that number, 4 of them- Britain had a clear upper hand.
Situation at end of 1911
2nd Morocco Crisis (Agadir Crisis)
French troops occupied Fez, the capital of Morocco to put down a rebellion against the Sultan
However,this alarmed Germany who thought France was about to annex Morocco.
Germany thus sent a gunboat, the Panther, to Agadir:
Germany was aimed at testing the relationship between Britain and France and possibly intimidating Britain into an alliance with Germany
Germany wanted to ask for "compensation" of the French Congo region and the safeguarding of her economic interests in Morocco in return for allowing French protectorate in Morocco.
France stood firm and refused to compensate while
Britain helped France by warning the Germans that they would not be taken advantage of where 'her interests were vitally affected'.
Germany eventually removed their gunship.
Led to growing anti-British sentiments in Germany
Growing military and political triumphs and advantage of the Triple Entente threatened Germany and furthered Germany's hostility towards Britain.
July 1914- December 1918
The First Balkan War
October 1912- May 1913
A war between Turkey (Ottoman Empire) and the Balkans.
Ended with the
Treaty of London:
German and Britain
out of British desire to
show that the two powers can still cooperate.
As Turkey lost the war, some of its territories will be divided among the Balkan states
Serbia was unhappy with her gains
as they did not get their desired Albania, a sea outlet,
due to Austrian intervention
and insistence that Albania remains independent.
Britain did not want Anglo-German relations to be strained further and saw this as an opportunity for patching up.
Germany's anti-British sentiments became increasingly obvious and spurred British foreign minister to make a diplomatic move to prevent it from exacerbating.
Second Balkan War
Bulgaria was also unhappy
with their war gains as they did not receive their desired Macedonia.
who got Macedonia instead.
This shows that while German and British are willing to cooperate, it is
difficult to do so effectively in Europe due to having to balance the desires of the Balkans and the Great Powers, whilst maintaining the Balance of Power.
June 1913-August 1913
The Bulgarians tried to take Macedonia by force from Serbia by attacking Serbia.
Bulgarians unhappy with the results of the London Peace Treaty and resorted to hard power in an attempt to take back Macedonia from Serbia.
Bulgaria's plan to attack Serbia failed as Greece, Romania and Turkey rallied to support Serbia in the war.
and war settled with the Treaty of Bucharest:
Bulgaria forfeited most of its war gains from the 1st Balkan War
Austria initially wanted to join Bulgaria and invade Serbia (due to their long-standing rivalry) but was stopped by Anglo-German influence.
Serbia had been strengthened and was determined to stir up trouble with long-standing rival, Austria-Hungary.
Austrians' determination to curb Serbian power also heightened--
Serbian-Austria relations were at its peak tension.
Germany misinterpreted Britain
foreign minister, Sir Edward Grey's cooperation as a
sign of alliance with Germany
and detachment from the Triple Entente.
Assassination & Trigger
28 June 1914
In Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia,
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip.
Princip was sent by the Black Hand, a terrorist organization in Serbia.
Austria- Hungary hence sent a harsh ultimatum to Serbia,
blaming them for the Archduke's death.
Although Serbia accepted the terms for peace,
Austria was determined to go to war
and declared war on Serbia on 28 July, 1914.
Germany's Blank Cheque, the promise of definite military support,
since the Bosnia Crisis, greatly fueled Serbian ambition and caused them to be greedy for war so as to crush the Serbs once and for all.
On the other hand, Austria-Hungary and Serbia continuously came at political loggerheads where
their interests and power threatened each other.
The rising power of Serbia from the two Balkan Wars served to further aggravate Austria's intentions to attack Serbia.
Russia changed what was initially just a local war between Serbia and Austria-Hungary by mobilizing to support Serbia.
In response the Germans asked for Russians to stand down.
However, the Russians, ever since the Bosnia Crisis, vowed not to let down the Serbians again, and was thus determined to fight for Serbia at all costs.
Following Russian's refusal to cancel mobilization, Germany mobilized as well.
Germany acted out the
Germans were to swiftly
and swiftly take down France from Belgium frontier.
Then they would move all forces to the Russian front, whose mobilization was expected to be slow.
As a result of the
Treaty of London,
Britain had to protect Belgium neutrality.
When Germany invaded Belgium, Britain was forced to mobilize against the Germans.
Germany was previously convinced
, from their cooperation during the two Balkan Wars,
that Britain would not side with France and Belgium in the case of a German breach of neutrality.
Germany's issuing of the
to Austria-Hungary made it obliged to mobilize against Serbia and Russia. Germany
misjudged much of its enemies and assumed France would eventually mobilize
, causing it to use the rigid Schlieffen Plan
instead of the other military tactics available.
Russia did not want to let Serbia down
and lose its only Balkan ally, a matter of politcal pride.
After numerous humiliations for failing to aid Serbia, Russia was spurred to make military reforms, and was determined to show off her power after times of weakness
(Russo-Japanese War and Bosnia Crisis).