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Causes of World War I
Transcript of Causes of World War I
World War I
Imperialism: The policy of one country expanding its
territories to make an empire.
The big European powers like Britain, Spain, France and Portugal had colonized most of the world. Britain, France and Germany were still colonizing
at the start of the 20th century with a focus on Africa.
This last wave of imperialism is known as the 'race' for Africa. Germany was a relatively new country by this point and their ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm wanted colonies for his country.
Germany attempted to block further expansion of France and twice sent troops to take control of French Colonies in Africa. Both times France, together with Britain, took back control of their colonies.
Militarism: The act of expanding a nation or empires' military.
At the start of the 20th Century the European powers were building up their military with guns, ammunition, soldiers, submarines and battleships.
There was an 'arms race' between Germany and Britain. Kaiser Wilhelm was trying to establish Germany as a dominant world power and put a lot of the country's resources towards building up their army.
Britain had the largest navy of the two but continued to spend millions to match the military development of Germany.
Despite talks of peace it was evident Europe was preparing for a war.
Nationalism: The belief that ones country is superior to all others.
Nationalism: The start of the 20th century saw an intense sense of nationalism from the powers in Europe.
* In Germany there was a strong desire for the country to become a leading world power.
* In France there was a desire for revenge over the loss of the regions of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany.
* The British had a strong confidence in the power of their empire.
* All these country's supported a war movement, their people confident in their respective country's ability to win a war quickly.
* The announcement of war was met with cheering crowds in Berlin, Vienna and Paris.
Importance of the Alliances:
* The alliances purpose was supposed to be defensive, however it meant that any conflict between countries in opposite alliances would impact on all six.
The main rivalries were:
- France and Germany over Alsace-Lorraine
- Russian and Austria over the Balkans
- Britain and Germany over their navies and economic power
* Italy had a secret treaty with France that they would remain neutral if Germany attacked.
Leadership's role in WWI:
Assassination of Franz Ferdinand:
* 28th June 1914 Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated.
* The assassin was Bosnian-Slav terrorist Gavrilo Princip.
* Germany declared to Austria it would support any decision it made about its reaction to this, known as the 'blank cheque' offer.
* Austria's resulting demands of Serbia were not met and Austria declared war on Serbia on the 28th July 1914.
* Russia was allied loosely with Serbia and was therefore drawn into the conflict, Germany sided with Austria and Britain and France were pulled in due to their alliance with Russia.
Another contributing cause of World War I was poor leadership.
* For example while many of the initial declarations of war were taking place the French President and Prime Minister were on a boat returning from St Petersburg and were oblivious to the events unfolding.
* The Russian Foreign Minister called for a partial mobilisation of Russia's army, unaware that there was no such military plans available and the only option was full mobilisation.
* Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was also very heavy handed with his dreams of expanding the German empire, attempting to take control of some France's colonies.