We will observe in what ways WWI matters.
• What was the political situation that made WWI that was so easily started.
• Hobsbawm says that the situation on the eve of the war... Germany and Britain were
engaged in an intense "one man up". They were competing in both economic and political
• Germany seemed to be positioned to over-take Britain. German goods were out-selling
German goods worldwide. The British government were worried about it's declining
• On the eve of WWI the competition is between Germany and the UK. France was
somewhat left out of this battle. Unlike it's neighbors France wasn't in a position to confront
this position. There was also a strong socialist movement that proned pacific measures. But,
there was a different movement in France. The Franco-Prusian war is fresh in their lives and
the loss of territory to Germany.
• Even though they're in a "weak" position France is still "envious" of Germany.
• Germany has been able to make allegiances with other europeans. On the eve of WWI
Germany has ties with theAustro-Hungarian Empire, Russia and Italy. Their were fears
about how loyal the Russian Empire could be trusted in this allegiance because of Russia's
own territorial desires. These fears were confirmed when Russia ended up siding with the
• While these ties are happening Britain is unconnected to the decisions being made. The
UK was not allied with anyone. However, the UK becoming concerned with germany ends
up making a formal and informal agreements with other powers. They have informal
agreements with France and Russia whom become formal afterwards.
• Once the ground-work is laid out we have a serious of incidents that test these ties. Many
of these incidents take place in the colonies and now in Europe itself. These struggles are
being faugh all over the world.
o Morocco in 1905 the German Kaiser travels. In a visit that's designed to show the
UK and France that they disagree with the way Morocco has been divided. This visit
sparks military discussions; how will the UK and France respond to this event? The UK
says it's willing to support it vs the German's in this dispute.
o In 1908 we have an incident in Europe.Austria annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina
as part of theAustro-Hungarian Empire formally. This unilateral movement makes
sparks against the Ottoman Empire which is an Empire on the decline.
• These are some flash points. NorthAfrica and the Balkan areas.
• Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece place themselves against the Ottoman Empire. The
Hungarian and Russian Empire also become somewhat involved because they have a
specific interest in this area. • All of these conflicts are taking place abroad or in Europe itself.And then we have the
assassination of June 28 1914. The spark that sets WWI in motion. The Habsburg Heir of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire in Sarajevo provokes the war.
• This assasination allowsAustria tofinally go in and intervene. TheAustrian's were able to
try and get rid of the Serbian Nationalism threat.
• TheAustrian's accused the Serbian's of playing a role in this assasination. They issued a
series of demands to the authorities to allow theAustrian's to come in and do the
investigations themselves. The conditions placed by theAustrian authorities were designed
so the Serbian's would reject them. TheAustrian's were looking for an excuse to crush
Serbian nationalism.Austria declared war on July 28th 1914. Because of this initial pact
Germany supportedAustria. Meanwhile Russia started to mobilize it's own forces.
• Germany insisted Russia stopped mobilizing it's forces which it did not so Germany
declared war to Russia and then France was obliged to go to war with Germany.
• From this initial moment things began to move quickly in terms of military strategy.
Because Germany knew the West and the East would go to war. They wanted to make quick
work of France. Germany begins to move through Belgium to access France.
• The German's had reached the English Channel in France when the UK declared war on
Germany. The UK declared war because the German's breached Belgian autonomy.
• Hobsbawn asks why wasn't it possible to find a diplomatic solution to these diplomatic
problems. The answers is that these were not diplomatic problems. This was a war that was
waged as a zero sum game with unlimited ends. Unlike earlier wars whom had objectives
(get this territory or achieve this) their was a concrete objectives. Unlike these earlier
conflicts WWI had not one objective. it was a struggle for Global Domination. This
domination was both economic and political.
• According to him WWI couldn't be solved diplomatically was because Germany and the
UK wanted a conflict which would let one of the two powers to emerge as the winner and
"ruler" in the world. It would give this country a global conflict.
• France was unable to fight this war against the UK of Germany. But it was concerned
about Germany and it had resentment towards Germany. It was eager to see Germany loose
this conflict. They don't want to dominate but wants to see Germany loose it's power and the
menace that it represents for France.
• In 1914 when the war begins the sides are Germany,Austro-Hungarian Empire vs Russia,
France, UK and Serbia. Quickly other countries become involved in the conflict. Ottoman
Empire joigns the German and Austrians.
• One major super-power remains outside of this conflict : USA. The US remains un-
involved until 1917. This refusal to engage in a European Conflict because of a strong
isolationism policy and because the US was an economic beneficiary of the war. The UK and France purchased a lot of goods from the US. On the other hand US popular opinion
was anti-european. Reports of attrocities made the US Citizens upset with the gov. lack of
involvement. The involvemenet of the US is made by the sinking of a ship.
• The other reason for joigning the war is an economic reason. The US had loaned a
significant ammount of money to the UK and France. It's economic interest wasn't to stay
out but rather to make sure the war went it's way.
Type of war being faught
• WWI as a war it's important to see how new this conflict was.
• Their are a few ways the war was different is that it had been a century which had
involved so many different major world powers.Another, the first time in recent memory
that european powers were fighting each other very far from their own homes.
• The biggest thing is that this was a "Total War".According to Hobsbawn the entire
country not only the soldiers are involved on the military effort. The entire economy is
devoted to the war effort, production of arms, uniform and other material necessary. Labor is
devoted to the war effor