The Reasons For The Start Of The First World War

2366 words - 9 pages

The Reasons for the Start of the First World War
To be able to understand why the events of summer 1914 took place we
have to look back at situation in Europe before 1914. The situation
consisted of long term (long standing rivalries) and short- term
(badly mismanaged crisis) factors. From the 19th century to the early
20th century Britain was the greatest power in the world, France and
Russia were also strong except the once formidable power, Austria-
Hungary were declining in strength. But then a new power, ‘United
Germany’ was created which in the future could rival that of any
other. This struck fear into Britain, as it would upset their
philosophy: ‘balance of power’. I am of the opinion put forward by
such historians as Geiss who believe that WW1 was the result of long
standing rivalries and the Balkan crisis was just the trigger point of
an inevitable war. I feel that the war was foreseeable and even if
the Balkans dispute did not take place, another dispute later on would
have caused a war. Leading up to war the alliances brought about
tension, causing hostility and uncertainty making war a certain
possibility. Countries felt obliged to enter war, because if an ally
did they would also have to, after all they did swear to protect them
when alliances were signed with one another. The July crisis of 1914
was simply ‘mismanaged ‘, but not to the point where it would have
been the main reason for a war to outbreak. But other historians such
as Remak contradict this opinion.

To be able to distinguish how and why long-term rivalries contributed
to the causes of World War 1 we have to look at each rivalry and the
tensions that occurred during this time. Because of this the alliance
systems were brought into effect so that the powers could see who
would help them if in danger.

The Austro- Hungary and Serbian rivalry was the main reason for the
outbreak of war. The rivalry began after 1878 when Serbia was formed.
At the time Austria wanted an influence in the Balkans to expand its
empire. It failed many times. This also increased its desire to unite
fellow Slavs something, which Russia had also longed to do for a long
time. Serbia wanted to extend its power in the Balkans and south- east
Europe (to unite all slavs and for a ‘Greater Serbia’), in areas where
Austria Hungary ruled. By doing so Austria felt threatened as it could
affect the unity of their empire. This was because part of their
government was made up of Slavs and it was possible they may leave
making Slav people leave the empire and forming a breakaway Slav
state. This could break up the structure of the Austrian- Hungarian
empire. The desire for land in the Balkans caused rivalry and built up
tensions between the two nations. In the forty years...

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