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Origins of WW1 Revision There are four MAIN causes that led to the start of world War One. Militarism Alliances Imperialism Nationalism • Militarism • This is not just an arms race, but also a government's attitude of mind, seeing war as a valid means of foreign policy. All the nations of Europe were militaristic, but the governments of Germany and Austria-Hungary were especially so. All the countries of Europe built up their armies and navies. In 1914, their armed forces stood like this: • Germany: 2,200,000 soldiers, 97 warships • Austria-Hungary: 810,000 soldiers, 28 warships. • Italy: 750,000 soldiers, 36 warships • France: 1,125,000 soldiers, 62 warships • Russia: 1,200,000 soldiers, 30 warships • Great Britain: 711,000 soldiers, 185 warships • • • • • • • • • • • As one country increased its armies, so all the others felt obliged to increase their armed forces to keep the ‘balance of power’. Germany and Britain clashed over the size of their navies In 1900 Kaiser Wilhelm began to build up the German navy, announcing that he wanted Germans to sail all over the world and take for Germany 'a place in the sun'. Britain built the large 'Dreadnought‘ battleships, which were more powerful than any other ship. Britain tried to keep a ‘Two Power Standard’, where their navy was bigger than the next two biggest combined. Alliances As well as seeking protection in the size of their armies, the countries of Europe sought protection by forming alliances. At first, Bismarck had kept Germany friendly with Russia. Kaiser Wilhelm overturned this, and concentrated instead on the Dual Alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary - which became the Triple Alliance when Italy joined in 1882. Alarmed by this strong central bloc: a. France in 1894 made an alliance with Russia, and b. In 1904 France made an agreement with Britain called the Entente Cordiale (= ‘Friendly Relationship’ – not a formal alliance, but a promise to work together). c. In 1907, Britain made an entente with Russia, thus forming the Triple Entente (France, Russia, Great Britain). d. In 1902 Britain made a naval treaty with Japan. • The Triple Entente alarmed Germany, which felt itself surrounded by the France-Russia alliance. The countries of Europe thought that the alliance system would act as a deterrent to war; in fact it tied the countries together so that, when one country went to war, the others felt themselves obliged to follow. Imperialism • Countries who believed that they were superior thought it was alright to conquer and rule others – particularly if they were inhabited by races they thought were inferior. This is why countries like Britain, France, Belgium and Italy thought it was OK to colonise vast areas of Africa in the 19th century. In 1900, the British Empire covered 25% of the earth. a) This led to clashes between imperialist powers. Britain was trying to conquer Africa from Cairo (in the north) to Cape Town (in South Africa). France was trying to conquer Africa from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. b) The Austrians feared Serbia / Russia in the Balkans. c) Most of all, it led to HUGE tension when Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany decided that HE wanted some colonies too! Pre 1914 crises • • Morocco: 1905-06 Both Germany and France wanted Morocco. France was given a free hand in Morocco because of the entente with Britain in 1904. Kaiser William II, angry at France's influence and at Germany’s exclusion, decided to intervene. The German government followed this up by demanding an international conference to clarify the status of Morocco. At the Algeciras Conference Morocco was preserved as an independent state whose trade was to be open to all nations; but in fact France was given special privileges. • • Morocco: 1911 France wanted to have complete control of the country. After 1906 they had increased their influence in the country. In 1908, the French installed a pro-French Sultan. In May 1911, the French forces occupied Fez, the capital of Morocco, in order to suppress a rising against the pro-French Sultan. The Germans responded by sending a gunboat Panther to Agadir. Britain protested against Germany and backed up France to fight against Germany. Because of British support of France, Germany gave in • Pre 1914 crises • Bosnia 1908-09 • Austria annexed (took control of) Bosnia on October 6th. Austria had strengthened their position in the Balkans without giving the Russians any compensation. Serbia had wanted to create a Greater Serbia which should include Serbia and all neighbouring kindred people. The Austrian annexation dashed this dream. • This led to the formation of the Black Hand… Nationalism • EVERYONE was nationalist in those days, and this helped cause war in two ways: • a. It made the people of countries like Britain, Germany and France more bellicose (warlike) – the British sang: ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, and the Germans sang: ‘Deutschland uber alles’. French politicians like Clemenceau and Poincare (who had been around in 1870) HATED the Germans. People were enraged when someone insulted their country. • b. It made the races ruled by Turkey (such as the Romanians and the Bulgarians) and by Austria-Hungary (such as the Serbs) want to be free to rule themselves. In the Balkans this was called ‘Panslavism’ because the people who wanted to be free were all Slav races. The most nationalistic of all were the Serbs – Serbia had become an independent country by the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, but in 1900 many Serbs were still ruled by Turkey and Austria-Hungary, and Serbia was determined to rule over them all. This led to rebellions and terrorism which destabilised the Balkans. Black Hand and Assassination • This group was a secret society aimed at uniting all Serbs in a Greater Serbia. The stated aim of the Black Hand was ‘To realise the national ideal, the unification of all Serbs. This organisation prefers terrorist action to cultural activities; it will therefore remain secret.’ They planned to achieve their aims through spreading anti-Austrian propaganda, training saboteurs, acts of violence, political murders, the planned the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Assassination • 28th June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria visits Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia. The Black Hand terrorists attack the Archduke. A bomb attempt fails in morning, but Gavrilo Princip shoots the Archduke and wife in the afternoon. Austrians blame Serbia for supporting terrorists. • Austria, supported by Germany, sends Serbia a tough ultimatum. Serbia agrees to all but two terms of the ultimatum. Russia mobilises her troops to support Serbia, causing Germany to demand that Russia stands her armies down. When Russia do not Germany declares war on Russia. Schlieffen Plan • Germany’s military plan to defeat France and Russia. • First a “Knockout blow” aimed at France, avoiding French defences by invasion of Belgium. Then when that was achieved troops would be transferred to attack Russia. • Germans thought Britain would not intervene. • Britain upheld an old treaty that had been signed with Belgium (“Scrap of Paper”) and went to war against Germany. Exam Practice • Which was the more important reason for Great Britain joining the First World War in 1914: • • the Naval Race with Germany, 1906–1914 • • the Schlieffen Plan? • You must refer to both reasons when explaining your answer.