Causes of World War 1
Length: 1133 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)
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The Causes of World War I The murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on the 28th of June caused the lead up to World War I. The Archduke heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated in his car during a drive in Sarajevo. The assassination was the work of a terrorist group known as the Black Hand. This caused Austria-Hungary to call on Germany as an ally and discuss how far Germany would support them. The result of this meeting was the `Blank Cheque' which gave Austria Germany's full support. Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia asking for `complete surrender' on 23rd July and Serbia agreed 99%. Austria declared war on Serbia on the 28th of July, which created a war that would split Europe in two. War plans and war strategies a crucial to win a war so they must be planned to perfection with no flaws. In World War I Germany believed they had a perfect war plan were as if Russia mobilizes then Germany would have forty days to destroy and invade France (Russia's Ally) this flawless plan was known as the Schlieffen. The Schlieffen plan was created by Count Alfred von Schlieffen and was created to protect Germany from fighting a war on two fronts. After Schlieffen died his successor was a man named Helmuth von Moltke and he modified the plan slightly by not invading so much neutral territory. During the war the plan was an absolute failure and Germany had to fight a war on two fronts and lost. The plan was a failure because it had to many flaws e.g. Britain was not brought into the equation, France was stronger than expected. In this war plan trains with strict timetables were used to create an army of 4,000,000 to march into Paris. Once Germany mobilizes the trains would not stop or change route for anybody. When the Kaiser asked Moltke to stop the trains going to France, Moltke's reply was: "That we can't do! The whole army would be thrown into confusion. We would lose any chance of victory." Moltke This proves that the Kaiser was not in control after mobilization has started. It also proves that the trains could not be stopped by anyone after they have started without complete chaos occurring and defeat enviable. The alliances in Europe created a tension, which would snap, and a major war would occur that would split Europe in two.
Alliances during the fifty years before the war created much tension in Central Europe. In 1879 the powerful Germany were joined in an alliance to Austria-Hungary. Three years later had gained another ally in Italy. These three allies were known as the "Central powers" or the "Triple alliance". This formation of three powerful Europe empires began to be feared by Russia, France and Ultimately Britain. This created the French and Russian governments to form an alliance in 1892. This left Britain no choice but to become "ententes" with France and Russia. Other then these main alliances there were some smaller alliances of neutrality. Historian Taylor claims: They were supposed to make Powers secure, they dragged them into danger." Taylor This proves that some alliances were not worth having because they caused more bad then good. After the Archduke was assassinated Austria-Hungary met with Germany to negotiate how far Germany would back Austria. The end result of this meeting was the `Blank Cheque' (would back Austria totally), which gave Austria all the power. Austria used the power against Serbia in July the, which made Russia mobilize which forced Germany to mobilize and put the Schlieffen plan into action. After Germany invaded Belgium to get to France, Great Britain joined to `defend' Belgium war was upon Europe.
The arms race between all the major powers in Europe created much tension as weapons were developing. Between 1870 and 1914, military spending by the European powers increased by 300% this caused a massive increase in armaments. Most of the funds went into building armaments but over 1/3 of the money went to research to create more destructive weapons. Many leaders of the nation believed that victory would come to the country with the most shells, machine guns, barbed wire, trucks, locomotives, mines, grenades, mortars. Apart from this great armament build up the Germans believed that the key to defeating Britain was her navy. This began the naval race between the Germans (inland country) and Great Britain with the amount as well as the efficiency of these great ships. The Kaiser claimed that: "Only those powers that have great navies will be listened to with respect..." Kaiser The Kaiser believes here that the country with the biggest, strongest navy will demand the most respect. Germany began to challenge Britain into the naval race with many ships being built on the German front. The Britain navy created a battleship, which was superior to any other battleship created by Germany or any other country, they called it HMS Dreadnought. This ship scared Germany because of a British surprise attack destroying their fleet. Germany believed that if they started to create dreadnoughts they could cut the naval lead down from the British. Germany widened the Kiel Canal to release these dreadnoughts into the ocean; a full-scale naval race had begun. After many attempts by the British to stop the naval race it still went on. In 1914 the naval race had finished with Britain had winning with a staggering 29 Dreadnought class ships to Germany's 17. It appeared that Britain could not be overtaken.
The historians have many different viewpoints on the causes of the `Great War'. Volker Berghahn believes that the reasons for the war occurring were Germany started the war to stop trade unions from striking. Another historian named Tuchman claims that the railways were the key because once they started they were not going to be able to stop. Taylor also agreed with Tuchman that the trains and timetables would not stop after Germany mobilized. Taylor claims that: "All the mobilization plans have been timed to the minute, months or even years before and they would not be changed. A change in one direction would ruin them in every other direction." Taylor This shows that if the trains were stopped and/or changed it would destroy the plans. Once set in motion these railways could not be stopped even by the Kaiser. The last historian Joachin Remak claims that the blame cannot be placed on one man or country, he believed that: "All were sinners, all were sinned against." Remak The point of view that is most persuasive is Remak's because the blame cannot be blamed on one country because there are many causes of the war that have been brought up by many different countries.