Assess Critically Three Causes of World War One BY 155 Assess critically three causes of the First World War The First World War began in Europe in 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. This trigger action caused the involvement of Germany, Russia, Serbia and Austria-Hungary. However, the war itself was caused by nationalism, alliances and Germanys fear of encirclement. Nationalism was the central cause of World War One because, due to the nationalism of the Slavs, the Balkan states became a powder keg.
Austria-Hungary ade the Serbs fear annexation while the Slavs inside the country wanted a Pan- Slavic State. The assassination of the Archduke occurred due to the Serbs nationalism, to warn Austria-Hungary to stay away from Serbia. However, it had the completely opposite effect because Austria-Hungary now had a valid reason to give Serbia an Ultimatum that would allow them to attack the country. Austrians did not only do this because they wanted Serbia but also because they realised that the Slavic nationalism could cause another loss of their land as they had experienced in he Second Balkan War in 1913.
There was also a significant number of Slave living inside the borders of Austria-Hungary who’s wish for a Pan-Slavic State could not be ignored and so they needed to be shown their limits. The nationalistic Slavs were a serious threat to Austria-Hungary and it was clear that this nationalism would result in a war. The alliances on the other hand, should not be left unspoken of due to the fact that they delocalized the war and caused distrust between countries. The Triple Entente (France, Russia, Britain) on one side and the Triple Alliance (Germany,
Austria-Hungary, Italy) on the other made it impossible for Austria-Hungarys conflict with Serbia to stay local. An especially important aspect of the Triple Alliance was that it only lasted from 1882 until 1914, because at the start of World War One Italy switched sides and went to the Allied Powers. This only contributed to the growing distrust that the alliances caused amongst the European powers because each country feared to be attacked. However, the alliances would never have become relevant if the Slavs nationalism in Austria-Hungary hadn’t made a war inevitable hat soon made the alliances come into effect.
Germany rushed to Austria-Hungarys aid and Russia came to help Serbia so soon most countries in Europe had to assist their allies. A last cause that is very significant is Germanys fear of encirclement and the other countries fear of Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II feared encirclement by Russia and France for a very long time because, not only did France want revenge for the land losses in the Franco-Prussian War but they were also allied with Russia. This meant that Germany faced the serious risk of a two front war. Yet, what Germany didn’t now, was that the other European countries feared it Just as much or even more than it feared them.
Germany had the biggest army and a lot of economic power during the time Just before the war. These fears helped cause the war because they state of war preparation. However, these fears were tightly connected to nationalism because if all these countries hadn’t been nationalistic and wanted territory and, in France’s case, revenge, the war would probably not have started out the way it did. Considering these three causes it is clear to see that nationalism was the main ause but the alliances and Germanys fear played a major role in the outbreak of World War One.
Many historians such as Fritz Fischer believe that Germany was the only one to blame due to it’s apparently obvious wish for war, but it is clear that the nationalism in the Balkan states was the most significant cause. The alliances caused the war to be on a larger scale but this could ultimately only happen because of the trigger event in the Balkans. Though there are many plausible and arguable causes for World War One, nationalism is definitely the most important one.
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