Stage is Set for War

Europe's continental war was started by the following factors: imperialism, nationalism, militarism and tangled alliances.

Factors Against Europe's Delicate Peace:

imperialism.jpgEurope had been quite peaceful at the turn of the 20th century. Although Europe had been keeping peace with the help of many organizations, many factors were at work against Europe, and the fragile peace it held. The main factors pushing Europe towards war were imperialism, nationalism, and militarism.

One factor was imperialism; the European nations had been fiercely competing for colonies in Africa and Asia during the 19th and 20th century. As each country raced with each other for land, bitterness and mistrust between the countries quickly boiled up. For example, France and Germany almost fought over the North African country of Morocco in 1905 and 1911. Because most of Europe supported France in the Morocco dispute, Germany gave up on Morocco. As all these European countries kept competing for territory, there was a lot of tension between the countries.

The caricature to the right shows Britain's ambitions to gain territory. **Imperialism**


external image emp-scal.gif

Above is a map of showing where European countries extended their empires.
**Map of Imperialism**

The second factor was nationalism. As Europe quickly carved up other countries they all competed to be considered as one of Europe’s great powers and to be more powerful than its neighboring countries. For example, Great Britain, the home of the industrial revolution, had been recognized as the industrial leader, but soon other European countries such as Germany were competing with Great Britain and set up many new industries. Germany soon became noticed as the fastest growing economy in the continent. The two countries rivaled eachmilitarism.gif other for industrial dominance.

The third factor that pushed Europe into war was militarism. With both nationalism and imperialism rising, European nations believed that they needed a powerful military to be "truly great". Increasing nationalism soon led Europe to a dangerous arms race. Europeans thought that in order to be powerful, you must have a strong military that is capable of sketching out detailed plans for mobilization. Being prepared to fight at all times was vital to a strong military.

The picture to the right shows group of soldiers marching.**Militarism**

The Two Alliances

Growing rivalries led to several alliances among the great powers in hopes to keep peace in Europe, but in the end the alliance system did just the opposite. Otto Von Bismarck, a chancellor was concerned about losing the peace in Europe and worked to avoid any conflict between the European countries. He thought that France was still angered about losing the Franco-Prussian war and saw France as the biggest threat to peace. His solution for his worries was to rob France of its allies. Bismarck thought that as long as France was isolated France could not impose any big threat to Europe. Bismarck therefore formed an alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary and three years later Italy joined the two, forming the Triple Alliance. A year later Bismarck added Russia to the alliance, but when Bismarck was forced to resign by a new leader, Kaiser Wilhelm, Kaiser Wilhelm wanted to take Germany on a new path and terminated the nation’s treaty with Russia.

This provoked Russia to do exactly what Bismarck was working on. Russia formed an alliance with France. Kaiser Wilhelm was also aware of the powerful navy that Great Britain had. He was envious of their naval power and decided to challenge Great Britain. In order to do this he started an enormous ship building program. Great Britain felt threatened and joined the alliance with Russia and France, forming the second alliance, the Triple Entente. Rivalry between the two alliances would most certainly draw the whole entire continent to war.
Triple Alliance Member Nations
Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy
Triple Entente Member Nations
Britain, France, Russia

Map of Triple Alliance (below left) **Triple Alliance**
Map of Triple Entente (below right) **Triple Entente**external image g2s2bg.jpg
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Tension in the Balkans:


By the 1900 the Ottoman Empire, which consisted of the Balkan regions, was in rapid decline. Many groups wanted to brake away from ottoman rule and many others had already succeeded in doing so. Those groups formed there own nations. Nationalism was a strong force in those countries and each of the nations wanted to expand its borders and become more powerful. Serbia wanted to grasp all the Slavs in the area and Russia being mostly Slavic nations highly supported the Serbian nationalism. Austria, on the other hand was afraid that the small Slavic population it had would rebel and therefore Austria felt greatly threatened by Serbia's increasing power. in 1908 Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, two Slavic nations. Serbian leaders who wanted control over those regions were infuriated, igniting the possibility of war. Russia gave full support to Serbia but this was meant little as Russia was not prepared for war and when Germany gave full support to Austria, Serbia had no other choice but to back down. By 1914 tension in the Balkans had once again stirred up. Serbia who has now conquered and won several other small conflicts felt confident again, and this time they were sure they could steal Bosnia and Herzegovina from Austria. As a response Austria swore to crush Serbia and its efforts to assert authority in the Balkans.

(left) This graph shows the relations between the European nations in the Balkans. source

The Trigger of the War

external image prinshoot.jpgJune 28th 1914--Archduke Franz Ferdinand his wife(Sophie), and the heir to the Austro Hungarian throne, took a visit to Sarajevo. This trip was to be their last. The two were assassinated by a 19 year old member of the Black Hand. The Black Hand was a secret society committed to freeing Bosnia of Austrian rule. It just so happened that the assassinator was a Serbian. Austria used the assassination as an excuse to punish Serbia. Once again, Germany stood firmly behind Austria giving Austria the power to do anything it wanted with Serbia. Austria presented Serbia with an ultimatum, a list of harsh demands. If the demands were not met, there would be harsh consequences. Serbia knew that if they rejected, they would go to war with Austria, a clearly more powerful nation. Cornered Serbia accepted the ultimatum but had wanted to negotiate a few things. Austria was in no mood to negotiate and the war had begun.

The image to the right shows Franz Ferdinand's assassination. Source

The video below is a quick overview explaining the tension build-up up and how the War began.

Following this assassination, World War I began...

Student Lectures: Causes of World War I

Michelle and Lindsay

Lisa and Youngmin

The above information was combined from **Youngmin and Lisa E Period** and **Lindsay and Michelle A Period**