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Lecture

Causes of WWI


Department
History
Course Code
HISB31H3
Professor
Neville Panthaki

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Causes of WWI
x alliance systems
o from the end of the Franco-Prussian War, a system of secret alliances developed in Europe, eventually splitting the continent
o because so many different powers were involved in mutual defence agreements, when the war did happen, it involved nearly
every country of Europe, out of which many were forced to support the policies, which they didn’t really condone
o lastly, the secret alliances led to suspicion and the belief that far more secret agreements existed, then was the case
x competition
o the competition for colonies was another source of international antagonism
o the great powers sectioned off Arica among them, established spheres of influence in China and sought protectorates elsewhere
o sooner or later this rush to appropriate new treaties was bound to spark some disagreements over boundaries of control
x militarism
o all the countries within the hostile camps were building large armies and navies during the pre-war years
o as a by-product, a class of professional and powerful military officers developed and tended to dominate the civil authorities
o in addition, before the conflict happened, the militaries of each country had drawn up complete plans for mobilization
o the existence of secret battle plans stimulated espionage, which in turn aroused greater hatred and fear
x nationalistic beliefs
o strong feelings of nationalism fed fires of hatred in pre-war Europe, turning French against German and Russian against Austrian
o nationalistic speeches and writings (especially in countries like Germany) hastened the war by painting it as the best test for proof
of national superiority
x immediate cause: assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
o the immediate cause of WWI that made all the aforementioned items come into play (alliances, imperialism, militarism,
nationalism) was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary
o in June 1914, Serbian nationalist assassinated him and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia which was part of Austria-Hungary
o this assassination led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia
o when Russia began to mobilize due to its alliance with Serbia, Germany declared war on Russia
o thus began the expansion of the war to include all those involved in the mutual defence alliances
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