Europe at War in 1914

Europe at War in 1914
The events that triggered the First World War began with an unlucky mistake. The First World War, which lasted from 1914 to 1918 known at the time as ?The Great War?. It involved more countries than any previous war. It introduced new technology into warfare, and caused destruction on an unequalled scale. It was ?total war?, involving the mobilization, not just of vast armies, but of whole nations. The human cost of the war- in terms of damaged minds and bodies, and ruined lives- was beyond calculation. In some ways, mankind has never recovered from the horrors of the First World War. Countries which got involved were Britain, Germans, Russia, France, Italy and Austria-Hungary. Alliance System This was a form of military agreement made to protect fellow allies from any invasion. From the 1870s onwards, the powers formed alliances for greater security. This caused fear in some countries and hence two alliance systems were formed. Triple Alliance was made up of Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary. While Triple Entente was made up of the Britain, France and Russia. The importance of this international web of military as thought by some European powers was that it made limited war very unlikely. When two great powers, went to war, the alliances had a domino effect, dragging others into the conflict.
Hence this made the major war inevitable thus leading to a long term cause of the First World War. Arms Race It would be argued that another reason for the war starting was the Arms Race. The German emperor Wilhelm II had a dream of being an imperial ruler. He set his sights on having an Empire to match that of the British. To do this he would need to have a large and powerful navy. In 1900 Wilhelm decided to put this dream into practice. He ordered the construction of several large and powerful boats. The British saw this as a threat and responded by building a ?Dreadnought?. This was a fast and very dangerous boat. In turn the Germans started building this type of boat. This boats and battleship cost both the Germans and the Britain a lot. A race started to have the largest navy. This race led to tension between Germany and the British. The following table below shows the number of arm force possessed by each country. Military might in1914 Nation Number of aircraft Number of airships (Zeppelins) Austria-Hungary 35 1 Britain 110 6 France 160 4 Germany 246 11 Russia 300 11 Nation Size of army in 1914 Total number of soldiers who fought during the war. Austria-Hungary 3,000,000 7,800,000 Britain 975,000 8,905,000 France 4,017,000 8,410,000 Germany 4,500,000 11,000,000 Italy 1,251,000 5,615,000 Russia 5,971,000 12,000,000 Serbia 200,000 707,000 Empire Empire was created by a country colonizing a foreign territory. Many European powers wanted to have Empires. Between 1870 and 1914 much of the empires were colonised by Britain. There came a race for the Scramble for Africa. The advantages of possessing large number of empires were that it gave the European power prestige and also created trade. This led to several arguments and conflicts between European powers. This led to competition For example the Germans and French argued about Morocco in 1906 and 1911. This meant that some of the major European powers were not very friendly towards each other. Therefore making it a long term cause of the First World War. The Assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on 28 June 1914, set in train a series of diplomatic events that led inexorably to the outbreak of war in Europe at the end of July 1914. Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were killed by Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip while on a formal visit to the troubled province of Bosnia, Sarajevo. Princip shot Ferdinand at point blank range while the latter was travelling in his car from a town hall reception, having earlier that day already survived one assassination attempt. This was the spark that caused war to be declared. Alliance System Kicked Into Action Conclusion Although Germany may have forced the hand of the European powers in the summer 1914, she didn?t ?cause? the war. However during 1920s the Germans published all their official documents to prove that they weren?t the ones who caused the war. After studying, some historians (revisionists) agreed that Germany did not start the war. One of the historians suggested that four other general factors had worked together to create a tense situation in Europe, in which war was bound to break out sooner or later. The causes he identified were: nationalism (the fanatical support of ones own nation); militarism (an arms race); imperialism (empire-building); and the system of alliances between the great powers.

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