Origins of the First World War Essays

Origins of the First World War Essays

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The First World War was an international conflict which erupted in July 1914 involving various nations across the world. Many historians and those who have studied the Great War tend to give varied opinions as to what initially sparked the outbreak. However, although these opinions between researchers differ, they do all tend to revolve around the hostility between the great powers of Europe, the violent assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and the controversial pieces of German foreign policy known as Weltpolitik and Mitteleuropa, which according to political theorist Hans Debruck (1899), would not only transform Germany into a nation of great economic and military power, but also into a nation that has been regarded as a key contributing factor as to why the First World War began.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were five prominent nations within Europe known as the great powers, each of which were in constant conflict over economic and military hegemony. Russia’s dream was to harvest the abundant fuels and metals found in the uninhabitable wilderness of Siberia, however, it was never feasible to extract these due to the nation lacking in up to date technology. On the other hand, Britain was the opposite, as it was the first country to have an industrial revolution. The industrial revolution therefore enabled the British to become a very affluent nation, owning colonies on every single continent. Additionally, Britain was also able to harbour the largest navy force which brought about great status and protection to the country (Wilde, 2013). Though by the very early 1900s, the British economy and wealth began to struggle as younger nations such as Germany and Austria-Hungary had become inc...


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...t, and also the protestant north with the catholic south. Additionally, a war with Russia would have also meant further conflict with France, and when Germany invaded the neutral nation of Belgium to gain access to France, Britain supported Belgium under international law, resulting in the British also entering the war. From analysing the origins of the First World War, it is clear there were multiple factors present that contributed to the initial outbreak, and according to Mulligan (2010), the outbreak may have been avoided if Princip hadn’t assassinated Ferdinand. However, looking from an objective viewpoint rather than one of speculation, the rivalry between nations, the combination of foreign legislation, and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand were all contributing elements in their own right that eventually combined together resulting in the First World War.

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