World War

The first world war happened between 1914-1918. There are many reasons which leads to World war. Many historians blame Germany for the World War. So, to understand the situations and after effects of World war, we need to understand the whole story. To understand this let’s go through chronological events.

World War

The World in 1914

1. Europe Still Dominated The Rest of The World

  • Most decision shaping the world were taken in the capitals of Europe
  • Germany was the leading power in Europe followed by Britain
  • France, Belgium, Italy and Austria-Hungary were behind
  • but outside Europe, USA was clearly the world power
  • Japan and Russia too were powers to be reckoned with

2. The Political Systems of These Powers Varied Widely

  • Democracy- in USA, Britain and France. There was a parliament consisting elected representatives
  • Not so Democratic- in Germany. Real power was adult the chancellor ( sort prime minister) and the Kaiser ( Emperor)
  • Monarchy – in Italy and Japan. Also had an elected body but franchise was limited
  • Autocracy- in Russia and Austria- Hungary. Parliament existed but ruler could do exactly as he wished

3. Imperial Expansion After 1880

  • imperialism- the building of empire by seizing territory overseas
  • After 1880, Europe powers had carried out great burst of imperialism
  • Most of Africa was taken over-called Scramble for Africa
  • This was done for new markets and raw materials
  • we also saw intervention in crumbling Chinese empire
  • Europe, USA and Japan asked Chinese to grant trading concessions

4. Europe Had Divided Itself Into 2 Alliance Systems

  • The Triple Alliance- Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy
  • The Triple Entente- Britain, France, Russia
  • Friction between these 2 armed camps had brought Europe on the verge of war several times since 1900

5. Causes of Friction

  • Naval rivalry between Britain and Germany
  • French resentment against Germany at the loud of Alsace-Lorraine in 1871
  • Germany accused Britain, Russia and France to trying to encircle it
  • Russia suspected Austrian ambition in the Balkans
  • Serbian nationalism ( desire to free your nation from control of people of other nationality) was the most dangerous cause
  • Serbia wished to unite all Serbs and Croats into a South Slav Kingdom ( Yugoslavia)
  • This involved taking certain parts of Austria-Hungary and threatened to collapse the Habsburg empire which contained people of many different nationalities- Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Italians, poles, Romanians, Serbs and Croats
  • So Austria was keen to have a ‘preventive war’ to destroy Serbia.

Events Leading Up To The Outbreak Of World War

1. The Moroccan crisis 1905-06

  • France wanted to capture Morocco- one of the remaining areas of Africa
  • so it signed Anglo-France ‘ Entente Cordiale’ – it said that France would accept Britain in Egypt is Britain accepted French takeover of Morocco
  • Germany decided to help the Sultan of Morocco to keep its independence and demanded an international conference to discuss this
  • surprisingly most European powers side with France. This was a serious diplomatic defeat for Germany

2. There British Agreement with Russia 1907

  • for years Britain had seen Russia as a threat in Far East and India. But recently situation changed- Russia was defeated by Japan and this had weakened Russia and subsequently Russia was no longer seen as much of a threat by Britain.
  • Also, Russia was keen to attract British investment for industrial modernization. So, Britain signed as agreement with Russia. This highlighted German dear that Britain, France and Russia were trying to encircle it.

3. The Bosnia Crisis 1908

  • Austria annexed the Turkish province of Bosnia. This severely upset Serbia as it was hoping to take Bosnia itself- as Bosnia contained 3 million Serbs
  • This quarrel led to the outbreak of war

4. The Agadir Crisis 1911

  • This was a further development in the Moroccan situation
  • Germany sent a gunboat to the Moroccan port of Agadir- this was pressurize France into giving Germany some compensation say French Congo
  • this also upset the British who felt that if Germany captured Agadir, it could be used a naval base and disturb British trade routes
  • under as a naval base and disturb British trade routes
  • under pressure, Germany had to back off but it was left embittered

5. The 1st Balkan War 1912

  • this war began when Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria attacked Turkey, capturing it’s remaining territory in Europe
  • however peace conference was called in London
  • but Serbia and Bulgaria were not happy with their gains

6. The 2nd Balkan War 1913

  • This war began because the Bulgarians were dissatisfied with the peace settlement
  • they were hoping to get Macedonia but it was given to Serbia
  • so Bulgaria attacked Serbia but was defeated

7. The Assassination of The Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand

  • this event took place on 28th June 1914 and became the immediate cause of WWl
  • The Austrain Prince Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo, Bosnian capital
  • He and his wife were shot dead by a Serb terrorist Gavrilo princip
  • Austrians used this as excuse for war aana attacked Serbia
  • Russia (29th July) side Serbia and Germany joined in support for Austria. Germany declared war on Russia ( 1st August) and France (3rd August)
  • German troops entered Belgium on the way to invade France
  • Britain had promised to defend Belgian neutrality and declared war against Germany (4th August)
  • other countries joint later
  • this war had profound consequences • Germany displaced as master of Europe • Europe we displaced as master of world

What Causes The War And Who Was To Blame

  • The alliance system of the armed camps made war inevitable
  • This mounted suspicion among the 2 groups
  • colonial rivalry in Africa and fast East
  • the naval race between Britain and Germany
  • economy rivalry • it is argued that German capitalist and businessmen wanted war with Britain for economic mastery
  • Russia made war more likely by backing Serbia • Russia was the first one to order mobilization • Russia felt that their prestige as Slav-leader would suffer or that failed to defend Serbia
  • A tragedy of miscalculation • many historian feel that the way a tragedy of miscalculation • most of the leader were incomplete and made bad mistake • Austrians miscalculated that Russia would not support Serbia • Germany miscalculated that Russian mobilization would certainly mean war.


Majority of historians agree that Fritz Fischer’s theory is most convincing-

  • That the way deliberately provoked by German leaders.
  • This was because Germany wanted to become the dominant power in the world by defeating Britain, France and Russia
  • Germany also saw war as a way of diverting attention from domestic problems- where the Reich stag wanted more power and the Kaiser was resisting this demand.

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