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The Causes of World War One: a two-page summary to learn!
Key (Flash) Points
The Great Powers were flexing their muscles in the early 1900s:
 Britain with its industry, Empire and navy began to fear the growth of Germany
 Germany, under Kaiser Wilhelm II, wanted a 'place in the sun' and feared Russia/France
 France wanted revenge, having been defeated by Germany (losing Alsace-Lorraine) in 1871
 Russia, ruled by Tsar Nicholas, had the largest army, and tried to protect Slav peoples
 Austria-Hungary had a large, mainly Slav empire, and wanted to crush Serbia
 Italy was a new country (1861) which wanted to become more powerful and important
> Britain, Germany and Russia were ruled by three cousins, but did not play 'Happy Families'...
Ambitions and fears led to secretive alliances and the build-up of armed forces:
 1879 Dual Alliance (Germany/Austria-Hungary) > 1882 Triple Alliance (with Italy)
 The Triple Alliance was formed over 30 years before the outbreak of World War One
 1894 Dual Alliance (France/Russia) + 1904 Entente Cordiale (Britain/France)
 When the British signed an alliance with Russia in 1907, the Triple Entente was formed
 So, the Triple Alliance (Ger/A-H/It) v the Triple Entente (GB/Fr/Rus)
 The alliances were meant to be defensive rather than aggressive
 However, a dispute between one member of each alliance could drag in the other members...
 All the Great Powers, except GB, had large armies of conscripts (not volunteers)
 Weapons and munititions were developed, produced and stockpiled (stored)
 New weapons, such as machine guns and howitzers (large guns), took weapons to a new level
 Countries raced to match and overtake each other weapons production: an Arms Race
> Tensions grew and war became more likely as countries became more confident of success
A major part of the Arms Race was the Naval Race between Britain and Germany:
 The Navy protected trade and the British Empire and prevented invasion of Great Britain
 Germany had the world's best army, and the Kaiser wanted the best navy too
 The invention, by the British, of the Dreadnought battleship (1906) was a turning point
 Dreadnoughts (the first was called HMS...Dreadnought!) were large, fast and dangerous
 A race developed to see who could build the most, supported by most of the public
 "We've got four, we want more" & "We won't wait, we want eight" were popular demands
 1909 - GB (8) v Germany (7) 1914 - GB (29) v Germany (17) - GB still 'ruled' the waves.
 Kaiser Wilhelm told the Daily Telegraph in 1908 that he "wanted to be friends with Britain"
 However, he did not help matters by claiming the English were "Mad as March hares"p(!) and...
 "Germany must have a powerful fleet to protect her interests in even the most distant seas."
 Was this 'friendly' interview a naval challenge the British Empire overseas?
> Overall, did the (Naval) Arms Race actually make war less likely, like the Cold War in the 1940s...?
The First Moroccan Crisis took place in 1905/06:
Most of Africa was controlled by Britain and France - the Germans were envious
France controlled most of NW Africa (e.g. Algeria), and wanted to add Morocco
The German Kaiser visited Morocco (Tangiers) to support Morocco's independence
He hoped to test the Entente Cordiale, but was amazed when GB backed France
Britain also promised to defend French ports in the English Channel from German attacks
The Algeciras (Spain) Conference in 1906 went the way of France
Only Austria-Hungary supported the embarrassed Kaiser; Britain and France grew closer
> Events in Morocco increased tension; the Kaiser blamed Britain for his defeat...
The Bosnian Crisis (1908/09) was sandwiched between the two Moroccan Crises
Austria, lead by Emperor Franz Josef, wanted to add (weak Turkey's) Bosnia to its empire
The Serbs in Serbia were furious, and looked to their fellow Slavs in Russia for support
Slavs (not Slaves!) are an ethnic group based in Eastern Europe
Germany supported Austria when they rejected Russian demands for a conference
The Russians backed down; their army was larger, but no match for the German Army
Serbia wanted revenge; Russia was less likely to back down, especially if it had allies
Russia's Triple Entente (1907) with Britain and France was strengthened
Germany was confirmed a major supporter of Austria, even if this led to war
> Events in Bosnia (or the Balkans) increased tension and strengthened alliances...
The Second Moroccan (Agadir) Crisis of 1911:
French troops occupied the Moroccan city of Fez and the Kaiser reacted immediately
He protested by sending the Panther (a gunboat) to the Moroccan port of Agadir
GB's Lloyd George, known as a pacifist (supporter of peace and diplomacy), also reacted
He warned Germany that Britain would back France, even if this led to war
Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, feared any growth of German naval power
He also believed, correctly, that the Kaiser was, once again, trying to split GB and France
The Royal Navy prepared for war, but the Kaiser backed down, again
France was delighted with Britain; the Germans were not!
Kaiser Wilhelm accepted some swampland in the French Congo as a small compensation
> The Triple Entente was strengthened, but would the Kaiser back down again...?
A short-term cause (or spark) of WW1 was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo:
The Archduke paid a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, on June 28th, 1914
June 28th was the Serbian National Holiday; a day famous for assassinations!
The Serbian Black Hand 'terrorists' were probably surprised to see an open-topped car
After a failed bombing attempt and wrong turnings, the car stopped outside the Schiller Café
Gavrilo Princip, on his way home, shot Franz Ferdinand and Sophie at point-blank range
> The shocking assassination set off a chain of events which resulted in WW1...
Key dates in the build-up to Britain joining the war on August 4th, 1914:
 July 23rd - Austria blames Serbia almost a month after the assassination and makes demands
 July 24th - Serbia rejects just one (relating to Austrian police in Serbia) of the demands
 To accept all the demands (ultimatums) would have meant a total loss of independence
 July 28th - Austria, aware of German support (the 'Blank Cheque') declares war on Serbia...
 July 30th - Russia, ignoring German warnings, mobilises its vast army to defend Serbia
 August 1st - Germany declares war on Russia, but has to start the Schlieffen Plan
 The 1905 plan meant attacking France first before going back to attack Russia
 August 3rd - Germany declares war on France (who had their own plan, Plan 17)
 Invading France through neutral Belgium triggered the 1839 Treaty of London
 The 'Scrap of Paper' was honoured by Britain who also wanted to protect Channel ports
 August 4th - Britain, with its small Expeditionary Force (BEF) declares war on Germany
 There were other war plans, but the Schlieffen Plan meant a war on two Fronts
 Belgian/BEF resistance, the French army and rapid Russian mobilisation sunk the Plan
> Hopes that it would be 'over by Christmas' got stuck in the muddy trenches...
6GPs - TA v TE - A+N Races - M'05 - B'08 - M'11 - FF June 28th - A v S & Plans - WW1