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World War 1

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Brigitta Sliwinski

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Causes of World War 1

The First World War occurred between July 1914, and November 11, 1918. The official starting date of the War is listed as the 4th of August 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany. The War ended with Germany signing the Treaty of Versailles, a peace treaty that acknowledged Germany as the main perpetrator of the War. The end of the War would see over seventeen million people killed, including over sixty-­‐two thousand Australian soldiers. The main reasons as to why war erupted is a very complex matter much more complicated than just a simple list of causes. Although there was a chain of events that directly and inevitably led to the fighting itself, the actual original causes of the War are much more profound, and are still a part of continued debates and discussions today. The First World War saw causes such as imperialism, nationalism, mutual defence alliances, militarism, and, of course, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

According to the Oxford Dictionary (3rd edition, 2010), imperialism is defined as when a country has increased both their power and wealth by brining in additional territories under their control and influence. Before the First World War, Africa, and parts of Asia, were the main points of dispute amongst the European nations. This was exceptionally true, due to the raw materials of war (regarding area and weapons) that these countries could provide. This increasing antagonism and a desire for greater empires eventually led to rises in confrontation that helped shove the world into the First World War.

Nationalism is considered to be another causing factor of the First World War. Much of the roots of the War were based on the aspiration of the Slavic nationalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina in south-­‐eastern Europe. The country no longer wanted to be a part of Austria-­‐Hungary, due to further political reasons, and had a desire to become a part of Serbia, instead. In this way, nationalism led inevitably directly to the War. However, generally speaking, the nationalism of the numerous countries all throughout Europe subsidised not only to the inauguration, but also to the addition of the war in Europe. Each country, both in and outside of Europe, who were involved in the First World War, had attempted to prove their dominance, wealth, and power.

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Before the beginning of the First World War, there were mutual defence alliances that dragged countries into the War itself. Over time, countries throughout Europe made mutual defence agreements that would have an influence in wars, and battle. These sorts of treaties were designed to mean that, if one of those countries was attacked, then the allied countries were bound to defend them. Before the First World War, the following alliances existed:

• Russia and Serbia • Germany and Austria-­‐Hungary • France and Russia • Britain, France and Belgium • Japan and Britain

Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, Austria-­‐Hungary had declared war on Serbia, meaning that Russia stepped in in order to defend Serbia. Germany, seeing the Russian Army being assembled, declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914. France was then forced to join the War against Germany, and Austria-­‐Hungary, due to its alliance with Russia on August 3, 1914. Germany had attacked France through Belgium, meaning that, through alliances, Britain was to then enter the War on August 4, 1914, which then forced Japan into battle, and also Canada, South Africa, the West Indies, and Australia. On May 23, 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-­‐Hungary, but not on Germany. The Italians signed the Treaty of London, thus showing commitment to entering the First World War on April 26, 1915, on the side of the allies. On April 6, 1917, the United States Army joined its allies -­‐ France, Russia, and Britain-­‐ to fight in the First World War. Due to the commands and influences of Major General John J. Pershing, the battlefields in France saw over two million U.S. soldiers fighting.

As the world arrived into the twentieth century, a weaponries race had begun. By 1914, Germany saw an impressive military build-­‐up, in regards to both weaponry and soldier recruitment. Both Germany and Great Britain had increased their naval armies during this time period. Furthermore, in Russia and Germany in particular, this military establishment started to see a much greater influence on public policy. This particular increase in militarism helped see these countries become involved in the First World War.

The immediate cause of the First World War that makes the above-­‐mentioned items of discussion come into play was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-­‐Hungary, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenburg. On June 28, 1914, a Serbian nationalist terrorist group, named the Black Hand, directed groups to assassinate the Archduke. Their first attempt was unsuccessful, as a neutral driver on the street avoided the grenade that was thrown at their car. Nevertheless, later that day, a Serbian nationalist by the name of Gavrilo Princip murdered both the Archduke, and his wife in Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, at the time, was a part of Austria-­‐Hungary. This was the result of a protest to Austria-­‐Hungary having complete control of this

Brigitta Sliwinski

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region. Serbia desired to take control over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Consequently, this assassination led to Austria-­‐Hungary declaring war on Serbia. Due to its alliance with Serbia, the Russian Army began to assemble. As a result, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914, and thus instigated the development of the War to include all those involved in the mutual defence alliances.

The First World War saw many changes in combat, from the close-­‐range style of older wars, to the addition of weapons that expended equipment and detached the individual from close combat. The First World War had extremely high casualties, with over seventeen million killed, and approximately twenty million injured. As of November 11, 1918, the First World War had come to an end, and the face of warfare had changed forever.…...

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