The growth of nationalism and national identity was believed to be one of the major causes of World War I. Strong patriotic sentiments among countries in pre-war Europe resulted in the competition for national supremacy. This rivalry later started the war. The Role of Nationalism and National Identity in World War I The growth of nationalism and national identity was believed to be one of the major causes of World War I. Strong patriotic sentiments among countries in pre-war Europe resulted in the competition for national supremacy.
They waged war with each other over Africa, China and other protectorates across the world. This antagonism culminated in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, prompting the start of World War I (Essortment. com, 2002). Nationalism in 19th-Century Europe By the 19th century, the specter of nationalism was already throughout Europe. During this period, it manifested itself to the continent in two forms – the desire of occupied nations for sovereignty and the aspiration of independent countries for prestige and dominance.
These goals inevitably turned European countries against each other. Their rivalries eventually led to World War I (TheCorner. org, 2007). It would be fair to say that education contributed to the growth of their enthusiasm. Pro-independence parties of subject countries obtained sympathy for their cause by spreading propaganda that argued that their respective nations have a distinct national identity and therefore deserve sovereignty. Leaders of autonomous countries, meanwhile, indoctrinated into their respective citizens that their countries were supposed to establish hegemony overseas (TheCorner. org, 2007).
Nationalism in Germany The Franco-Prussian War resulted in the unification of Germany in 1871. This amalgamation, in turn, led to the country’s emergence as Europe’s strongest economic and military power. Germany attempted to preserve its hegemony in Europe by forging several peaceful ties with other powers from 1871 to 1890. By 1891, however, Germany began to pursue an aggressive foreign policy that sought to expand its influence in other parts of the world.
Consequently, Germany was involved in serious conflicts with almost every major European power except for Austria-Hungary from 1890 to 1914 (TheCorner. org, 2007). Nationalism in Italy Despite Italy’s unification in 1870, its corrupt parliamentary system and slow industrial progress hindered it from becoming a major European power. These limitations, however, did not dampen Italy’s lofty territorial ambitions. It wanted Tunis and Tripoli in northern Africa – a desire that would result in conflicts with France (Tunis was adjacent to the French colony Algeria).
Italy’s aspiration to acquire Trieste, Trentio and Tyrol, meanwhile, got it into serious disagreements with Austria-Hungary (these regions were under the rule of the Dual Monarchy (TheCorner. org, 2007). Nationalism in Austria-Hungary As Austria-Hungary was composed of several nationalities, it was established as the Dual Monarchy in 1867. But it was only the Hungarians and the Austrians that had the right to rule the empire. As a result, Austria-Hungary’s other ethnic groups – Slovaks, Czechs, Croats, Serbs, Poles and Romanians – resented what they perceived as the loss of their political freedom.
This resentment escalated when the Dual Monarchy suppressed the movements that they have formed in order to attain political independence. The main opponent of Austria-Hungary was Serbia, as the latter sought to form a large Serbian state by uniting itself with the Serbs in Austria-Hungary (TheCorner. org, 2007). Conclusion World War I was mainly a result of the diverging ideas of nationalism that developed among occupied nations and independent countries in Europe in the 19th century.
The occupied nations believed that they have a distinct national identity and therefore deserve sovereignty. The independent countries, on the other hand, felt that they were supposed to establish hegemony overseas. Given these differences, war was indeed inevitable. References Essortment. com. (2002). Causes of World War I. Retrieved December 16, 2008, from http://www. essortment. com/all/worldwaricaus_nbk. htm TheCorner. org. (2007). Nationalist Rivalries: Two Kinds of Nationalism. Retrieved December 16, 2008, from http://www. thecorner. org/hist/wwi/national. htm
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