Word Count: 1090The first world war had many causes, the historiansprobably have not yet discovered and discussed all of themso there might be more causes than what we know now. Inthis essay I would discuss the main causes of the wartheones that were discussed in the textbook. In the time beforethe wars outbreak (before 1914in the beginning of thecentury) the world was separated into big empires that hadcolonies around the world (European countries ruled most ofAfrica).
There were fights and disagreements between themajor empires. Usually, when there are many argumentsbetween countries, people start fear of war and prepare forit (for example, today in Israel, after Benjamin Netanyahuwinning the elections, Israels policy towards the Arabs andthe Palestinians have changed. There is fear from war withSyria, because of threats from both sides, so both countriesarm themselves and ready for war, just in case it wouldbreak). In the beginning of the century Britain was the largestempire in the world, it also had the largest navy.Order now
The navywas so big and strong because the Britons needed to protecttheir empire and maintain the sea routes between thedifferent colonies. The Kaiser William II of Germany hatedand envied Britain for having a stronger navy than his. Heincreased the German navy and built many warships. Britainresponded with building more ships and increasing its navytoo.
This started a race for building more and betterwarships and it created tension and competition betweenthose two countries. Germany and France were rivals forcenturies and at the beginning of the century and at the endof the 19th century the rivalry increased. This happenedbecause of the war between those two countries in 1870-71when Germany defeated France. Germany took over theareas of Alsace and Lorraine and the French people wantedto revenge Germany and retrieve those lands. France couldnot start a war against Germany since Germany had moreresources and a stronger army than France. France neededallies to help it fight (the subject of alliances would bediscussed later).
There was another quarrel between Franceand Germanyabout controlling Morocco. In 1905 Francethought that it should have more influence in the westernMediterranean Sea area as it already controlled Tunisia andAlgeria, it wanted Morocco too. The Kaiser of Germanyvisited Tangier (a big city in Morocco) and said thatGermany would protect Morocco in case of a Frenchattack. In 1911 France increased its control over Moroccoand Germany sent a warship.
The Germans withdrew at lastbut the French gave them a part of Western Africa inexchange. These two incidents increased the tensionbetween France and Germany. Austria-Hungary was a bigempire in southern-eastern Europe, it included eleven mainnationalities. In the ninetieth and twentieth nationalism wasbecoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had thesame culture, language (usually), etc wanted their owncountry. This was a problem for the government ofAustria-Hungary that did not want to lose their power andcontrol. The Slavs in the southern part of the empire weretheir main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.
This, they thought, would lead to a break-up of the empire(this eventually happened after the war). In 1908Austria-Hungary have taken over Bosnia. The Serbs wantedit too, and Russia was on their side, but Germany declaredthat they would attack Russia if it would attackAustria-Hungary. This was because of the agreementsbetween Austria-Hungary and Germany and it also madethem stronger (the alliances would be discussed later). Thisalso led to the Sarajevo murder that would, too, bediscussed later. In 1912 and 1913 the Balkan countries hadfights among themselves and against the Ottoman Empire.
First, in 1912, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greeceattacked the Ottoman Empire and took large parts of landfrom it. After the war was over these countries fought oneagainst each other about the way they would share theconquered land. After the fights Serbia became a strongercountry than it was before. This increased the fears in theAustro-Hungarian government.
There were alliancesbetween different countries in Europe–when a country feelsa threat it looks for friends to help it. The alliances betweenthe strong countries were what divided Europe into twoarmed camps where the smaller countries were connected tothe alliances, but not official members. This thing created thedanger of huge armies colliding into each other and causinghuge destruction. This can happen even because of a smallincident that can make all the allies that are committed tohelp their other allies join the war (this was the case in thiswar). There were two main alliances in Europe: the TripleAlliance or the Central Powers (included Germany,Austria-Hungary and Italy) and Entente Powers or theAllies (included France, Russia and Britain). The TripleAlliance or the Central Powers were first formed asGermany and Austria-Hungary became allies in 1879 andthree years later Italy joined them.
The Entente Powers orthe Allies were formed as France became and ally ofRussia in 1892 and in 1904 and 1907 Britain entered intoententes with France and then Russia. The assassination ofthe Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914was the spark that ignited the First World War. On June 28the archduke and his wife were driving in the streets ofSarajevo. As the car suddenly stopped and reversed aSerbian student named Gavrilo Princip shot them. He wassupported by a Serbian secret society called the BlackHand.
In my opinion one cannot make a statement of onesingle most significant cause since a person cannot say thatone cause is more important than another. This is because ifone thing would not have happened, as small andunimportant as it might seem, the action would not have beenthe same. Since I was asked to put the most important causein my opinion I would put it, but it is a bit general. Thenationalism and imperialism were the most important causes,in my opinion, since empires do not let the national groups intheir countries have their own countries, as they should have.
Also, empires always want to expand and conquer othercountries so they would become stronger and morepowerful. Austria-Hungary was an empireand it collapsedinto smaller countries after the first world war, like theOttoman empire, which was divided between France andBritain. In the two decades after the Second World WarBritain and France separated from their colonies. TheUSSR, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia separated intosmaller countries in and after 1989. In this centurynationalism and the end of imperialism was happening allaround the world, it was a main cause for many wars(including the First World War).
To conclude I can say thatthere were many reasons for the outbreak of the First WorldWar and not all of them were discussed here. Only the mainand most clear causes were discussed, and not as theyshould be presented (the right way to present them in a goodresearch in my opinion is to put some evidence too, not justwrite everything down as facts).