The Causes of World War One
Some people believe that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was the primary cause of World War I, but it was just one event that triggered the conflict. Many other events and political beliefs combined to lead thirty-two nations into war. Resentments from earlier wars, advances in technology and military strength and a chain of alliances all contributed to the first "Great War" of the Twentieth Century. The United States tried to remain neutral, but it was pulled into the Great War, and changed America forever.
In the years before the war, Europe was very unstable. Nationalism, the belief that loyalty to a person's nation and its political and economic goals come first, was growing. People of the same heritage, language, culture and political beliefs wanted to form their own independent nations or states. During the 1800's many groups were separated and angry. The Congress of Vienna had caused Germany to be divided into many parts. Italy was also divided with some parts under foreign control and the Belgians were under Dutch rule. Belgium won its independence in 1830, Italy became unified in 1861 and Germany united in 1871. This led Germany and Italy to become two great world powers.
But in the early 1900's, the Balkan Peninsula was the "Powder Keg of Europe." Many different groups were under the control of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, and they wanted to be independent. In 1912 and 1913 the Balkan Wars took place. In the first war, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro took control away from the Turks. In the second war, Serbia, Greece, Romania and Turkey forced Bulgaria to give up a large part of Macedonia to the other four countries ("Army"). These wars made Serbia even more determined to take over the parts of Austria-Hungary where many Serbian people lived. At the same time, both Bulgaria and Turkey, who lost land in the Balkan Wars, wanted revenge.
Meanwhile, other countries of Europe were busy building military strength. The nations of Europe did not trust each other. Some people believe that Germany was most responsible for World War I, because it wanted to become the strongest power in Europe (Ruggenberg). By the early 1900's Germany had the best army in the world and was building a strong navy. This made other nations nervous, and the British developed the Dreadnought, the first modern battleship. Germany began building ships to defeat the Dreadnought and developed submarines (U-boats). France worked to build a stronger army and increased the time people had to serve in the military from two to three years. All the other nations of Europe began to spend much more money to make their armies extremely powerful. During the four years between 1910 and 1914, Germany and Austria both doubled the amount of money they spent on their militaries (Craig, 484). Technology made it possible to develop new weapons such as the machine...