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A complex series of events led to the first World War.

The most influential factors were militarism, nationalism, imperialism, and the alliance system. These issues compounded on each other until the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. These five components together are what caused the war to break out and what caused it to escalate into a worldwide conflict. Militarism as a cause of World War I involves the rise in military expenditure, the increase in influence on civilian government, and the increase in military rivalry. From 1900 to 1914, France increased its military budget by 10%, Britain by 13%, Russia by 39%, and Germany by 73%. This increase in expenditure was caused by the increasing tension between nations and was in preparation for war. After 1907, Germanys army was often called a state within the state because Parliament had little say over the military. In 1914, Russian generals forced the Czar to accept full mobilization of the army using threats. This influence of the military over government as opposed to the government controlling the military is evidence of structural changes of these nations during this time period. Military rivalries were also a major component of militarism. Conscription began in European powers as early as 1868 and as late as 1874 in all nations except Great Britain. Directly before the outbreak of the war, Germanys forces increased to 170,000 men, Frances period of service increased from two to three years, and Russias period of service increased from three to three and a half years. The willingness of a nation to demand military service of its citizens reflects the atmosphere of desperation. England had, for hundreds of years, been the only naval military power. Germany began to rival it and a naval race ensued. Germanys Navy Law of 1889 allowed for the nations 9 battleships to be increased to 12. By 1900, that number had doubled. Britain soon produced its first Dreadnought, an extremely large, fast battleship equipped with more advanced weaponry that rendered previous battleships obsolete. Between 1909 and 1911, Germany built 9 Dreadnoughts and

Britain built 18. This military competition and expansion not only prepared these nations for war, it increased tension and competition between countries (Militarism). Between 1870 and 1914, two kinds of nationalism emerged. One was ethnic nationalism, a group of racially homogenous people trying to free themselves from another group. The other was imperial nationalism. Ethnic nationalism was most evident in the Balkans where the Austrian-Hungarian Empire asserted the will of ethnically German and Hungarian peoples over Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats, Romanians, and Poles. These groups continually rebelled and were encouraged by Serbia and Russia because each of those nations desired to gain territory by seizing the land. This ethnic nationalism caused instability in the area and led to Russian and Austrian-Hungarian imperial nationalism because they desired prestige and notoriety in Europe. Russia demonstrated this desire by breaking the Treaty of Paris and launching failed attempts to invade the Balkans and gain warm water ports. Germany became the leader in nationalistic developments as it tried to build its influence throughout the world with a strategy called Weltpolitik. Italy had a corrupt government and little industrialization but had fierce nationalistic pride and attempted to take over the ethnically Italian territories of Italia Irredenta, alienating Austria-Hungary in the process. Britains nationalism manifested itself in separation from the rest of Europe. Their sole desire to maintain territory and trade allowed them to avoid alliances and enemies until 1902. Frances nationalism was kickstarted by Napoleon but was quenched in 1871 when they were defeated in the Franco-Prussian war. They maintained bitterness towards Germany that continued in years to come (Nationalism). A main consequence of nationalism was imperialism and colonialism because it caused a desire for prestige and mercantilism. In 1870, European nations began squabbling over colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. Every major power other than Austria-Hungary and Russia had colonies in Africa. France and Italy clashed over the north African nation of Tunis. This

continued strife between western European nations led to the strengthening of alliances. It also led to the intensifying of the arms race. In 1896 Dr. Earl Clifton Jameson attempted a raid on the Dutch Republic of Transvaal in South Africa. Germany was unable to go to their allys aid and realized they needed a stronger navy. Imperialism as a cause of war is also evidenced by the Moroccan crisis and the French-British rivalry over Sudan. Both of these fights over African colonies nearly led to the outbreak of war several years before World War I began. This near-war due to imperial strife demonstrates that imperialism was a major cause of World War I (Imperialism). The alliance system began largely with the German Chancellor Bismarck in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian war because he desired to retain German hegemony in Europe. He attempted to isolate France and distract them to avoid losing the previously French territory of AlsaceLorraine. The first Dreikaiserbund was formed in 1872 between Kaiser William I of Germany, Czar Alexander II of Russia, and Emperor Frances Joseph of Austria. The alliance soon collapsed due to Russian-Austrian tensions in the Balkans. In 1879, the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary emerged in its place. However, in 1881 Czar Alexander III ascended the Russian throne, allowed the Balkan territories to be split between Russia and Austria, and reinstated the Dreikaiserbund. In 1882, Germany encouraged France to take over Tunis but this angered Italy. Italy, Germany, and Austria-Hungary formed the Triple Alliance. In 1887, the Three Emperors League collapsed and Germany and Russia formed the Reinsurance Treaty so that they could avoid a two-front war against France and Austria-Hungary. Bismarck was replaced by William II who took a more aggressive approach to foreign policy, encouraging German colonization and ending the friendship with Russia. Russia turned to France as an ally. Britain, realizing that they were isolated in a continent dominated by alliances, allied themselves with Japan in 1902 after a failed attempt at allying with Germany. In 1904, they formed the

Entente Cordiale with France and Russia because France believed this connection through Britain to Japan would keep them out of a war with Austria-Hungary over Balkan territories. The alliance system caused distrust and suspicion because these deals were not publicized. These universal alliances also made the war global, when fighting broke out all world powers other than the United States were entangled (Alliance). The final straw in beginning the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, at Sarajevo. The attack took place on June 28, 1914 and was carried out by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist mobilized by the Black Hand. Franz Ferdinand was assassinated because he wanted to convert the dual monarchy into a triple monarchy by including Serbia. Serbia would gain some power in this arrangement but they would lose out on their plan of creating a united Serbian state. The previous monarch, Francis Joseph was 84 so Franz Ferdinands ideas were a serious threat to Serbian nationalism. Austrians considered the assassination an open attack because if Francis Joseph died, they would not have an heir. Austria-Hungary wanted to use the incident to destroy the Serbian threat but wouldnt face the Russians without German support. The Blank Cheque was signed by Germany stating that if there was an Austro-Serbian war, they would support Austria. Austria then sent an ultimatum to Serbia in July 1914 stating that Serbia was to suppress anti-Austrian ideas, dismiss anti-Austrian officials, and that Austrian police were to enter Serbia and investigate the Sarajevo murders. As expected, Serbia rejected the third demand and suggested the Hague Tribunal as a mediator. Germany was satisfied with the response but Austria-Hungary was not. They declared war on July 28 and began bombardment on July 29 (Assassination of Franz Ferdinand). The United States attempted to stay neutral in thought and deed for two and a half years after the outbreak of the war. In late 1914. Britain attempted to end German-American trade in the North Atlantic and seized cargo. This angered Americans but not enough to budge

their neutrality. Germany attempted the same scheme in reverse, surrounding the British isles with submarines and sinking a multitude of ships. German attacks on boats like the Falaba (British) and Gulfight (American) killed small numbers of Americans. However, the sinking of the British ship Lusitania in May 1915 killed 1,200 people total and 128 Americans (American Entry into World War I). Though the boat was transporting ammunition to England from New York, many Americans saw this attack as German warfare being overly harsh. Woodrow Wilson sent the Sussex Ultimatum to the Germans after the French ship, Sussex sunk. The Germans agreed to stop sinking unarmed vessels if the Allies would stop blockading commodities to Germany. However, this agreement never came to fruition and America broke diplomatic ties with Germany on January 21, 1917. On April 6, 1917 Congress declared the war to end all wars on Germany in order to make the world safe for democracy. They followed this statement with a declaration of war on Austria-Hungary on December 17, 1917 (US Entry into WWI). World War I was caused by increasing militarism, nationalism, imperialism, and alliances as well as the assassination of Franz Ferdindand. These factors built and developed before and during the war, shaping Europe and America into their current political climates. The ideas of nationalism and militarism as well as the concept of making the world safe for democracy continue to resonate in these nations.

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