Underlying Causes Of Wwi Essay

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Underlying Causes of World War I
It may seem like wars start abruptly, with little cause, but usually there is a bigger story. New policies, lack of equality, military influence, and too much government involvement usually stir up the peace initially. These turn the country or area into a ‘powder keg’, ready to explode into war at the smallest spark. Although the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the spark of World War I, policies at the time like nationalism and militarism were the underlying causes of the war.
Nationalism influenced people’s thoughts about war, twisting their minds to believe that their government and military was supreme and would win a war quickly. Because “most European countries, with the…show more content…

With a strong military always at hand, European countries were prepared to jump into war at any time. The newly-popular belief was that a country’s power was measured by its ability to wage war against another, which started the militarism system in most European countries. Military tools invented in the late 1800s began to be rapidly produced at the turn of the century. Hence, European spending on military forces skyrocketed from 1900-1914, the time leading up to World War I. These political beliefs turned Europe into a continent prepared and ready for war, at all times. But this war would introduce new weapons and strategies that no one had ever seen before, catching militaries unprepared. Chemical warfare, developed in Germany, would be introduced, killing thousands on both sides in the war and trench warfare would be instated, taking over the borders of countries. With new technologies and countries eager to use them, at the slightest mishap, such as the killing of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, a major war could begin like World War I. Even by themselves, nationalism and militarism could stir up pro-war thoughts. But combine the two, and war becomes almost certain. With pride in both their nation and their military, countries and their people became over-confident in their abilities. World War I was started by European countries who thought they were well-prepared and would win quickly, when in reality,

Causes of World War I Essay


There were many causes to World War I (1914 - 1918). The issue of which country was to blame of causing this great war is very controversial. No one country was to blame. The four main causes of World War I was militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism.

Militarism is the glorification of the military. This was a romantic view of the war. Germany and Great Britain were in great competition. Both countries were increasing their naval spending. This arms race, or the build up of armies and navies, caused fear and suspicion. Germany had challenged Britain as the number one naval power. This led to a hostile relationship.

Alliances were agreements among nations to aid each other if attacked. By 1907, Europe was divided. Great Britain, France, and Russia all formed the Allies while Germany, Austria- Hungary, and Italy formed the Central Powers. As seen in Document 4, the position of Germany might have led to an early declaration of was because it was surrounded by the allied powers.


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Imperialism, competition for trade and colonies, resulted in tense relationships between European nations. Britain and France formed alliances against Germany as a result of competition for colonies. Germany wanted to expand and take over Europe, as seen in Document 1.

Nationalism was pride and devotion to one’s country. This led people to support their government even if it meant war. France, whose pride had been hurt after the Franco-Prussian war, wanted revenge against Germany and regain Alsace and Lorraine. This seen in Document 3. Ethnic minorities, such as the Slavic people, wanted unity and independence. Russia felt obligated to defend all Slavs because they all shared a common nationality. By 1914, ethnic tensions in the Balkans were increasing, making it the “powder keg” of Europe.

The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Frances Ferdinand of Austria Hungary in 1914. He was assassinated by Gavilo Princep, a member of the Black Hand (a Serbian nationalist group). This event is depicted in Document 7. Austria-Hungary wanted to punished Serbia. They issued an ultimatum, or a final set of demands. An excerpt of these Austrian demands can be seen in Document 8.

World War I had many causes to it. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism were the four main causes. Most of the European countries were all in somewhere responsible for the outbreak of war. There was no one country to blame.

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