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Western Civ 14 - The Alliance System
Transcript of Western Civ 14 - The Alliance System
As tensions build in Europe, countries seek alliances as a way to prevent war.
Ultimately, however, the Alliance system became the last long-term cause of the Great War.
The Alliance System
Political cartoon depicting the tangled web of European alliances
Bismarck views Germany as a “satiated power.” All that Germany needs is peace, which means managing France and lingering resentments from the Franco-Prussian War.
Bismarck adopts a policy of isolating France, by pursuing Realpolitik.
the preservation of peace
King George V (right) with his first cousin Tsar Nicholas II (their mothers - Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Empress Maria Fyodorovna of Russia - were sisters). Berlin, 1913
Wilhelm II advocates an expansive foreign policy and even worse, he doesn’t get along with his family.
Germany gets a new Emperor
This lasted for twenty years...
Wilhelm shakes his fist at the
Triple Entente of Britain, France,
He fires Bismarck
He launched tariffs against Russia.
He reaffirms the Triple Alliance with Italy and Austria, leaving Russia out.
France and Russia form a defensive alliance.
The British ally with Japan
Britain and France sign the Entente Cordiale, promising mutual assistance.
Britain, France, and Russia sign the Triple Entente.
Wilhelm gets aggressive
The summer of 1914 was beautiful...
Still, war was not inevitable.
It would take a spark to set it off
That spark came from the Balkans
Members of the
Black Hand – a
committed to uniting
Serbians in Boznia-
Herzegovina into a
greater Serbia without
The Archduke of Austria travels to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of of the places where anti-Austrian, nationalist sentiment is the highest. He goes to make peace, but...
He steps into a chaotic environment where Serbian nationals are committed to getting rid of Austrian rule. They are called the Black Hand.
But all is not well.
The royalty of Europe summer in the great cities....
Resolves to visit Sarajevo on June 28, 1914
to offer some autonomy to Bosnia
June 28, 1914
But it is not to be. Franz Ferdinand is assassinated.
Austria consults Germany and Wilhelm issues a “blank check” to the Austrians.
Austria then demands an apology and investigation from the Serbs. For the most part, the Serbs agree.
But the Austrians are spoiling for war, and declare war on July 28, 1914. Russia mobilizes to defend Serbia on July 29. Germany declares war on August 1. France declares war on Germany and Austria. Italy and Britain hold back.
Finally, the Germans demand passage through Belgium on their way to France. The Belgians refuse and the Germans invade anyway.
Now the Dominoes Start to Fall
and the Alliance System kicks in.
The British are mobilized by images in the press of German atrocities against the Belgians.
War is declared.
The Rape of Belgium
War is on
Cheering crowds at Buckingham Palace 1914
Many in Europe welcome the war. Why?
Relief over finally getting to settle things.
Amnesia / war fever
It is the worst war in human history
And yet everyone welcomes it...
Now Austria has been attacked by Serbia.
And Russia is Serbia's ally.
Which means that Russia has to defend Serbia from Austria.
Germany is Austria's ally, so Germany has to fight Serbia and Russia.
France and Britain are Russia's ally, so they must now fight Germany and Austria.