The Causes of the Outbreak of World War One
The first world war was caused by a combination of these two factors
and no-one reason can be assigned full responsibility because of the
heavy linkage between the two.
The Balkans have been at the head of most European problems, even
today there is still conflict in the region. During the run up to the
1st world war were again the key focus of world attention.
Austrian mismanagement was probably the most prominent in the summer
of 1914 by reacting too strongly to the assassination of Franz
Ferdinand. It was an insensitive move in the first place to send the
heir to the Hapsburg empire through Sarajevo as many Pan-Slavist
groups existed in the city such as Gavrillo Princip and the Black Hand
Gang. The day of the assassination was also Serbia's national day
which meant parading through the city on this day with many
Pan-Slavists in the city was clearly a dangerous idea.
However following the assassinations Austria gave themselves time to
react to the situation by waiting a month after the shootings to issue
their ultimatum to Serbia. They clearly were gauging support from the
Kaiser during this period and therefore can be said they mismanaged
the Balkan crisis as if they had attacked Serbia on their own it was
unlikely to lead to a Pan-European war because without German
intervention it is unlikely that Russia and therefore France and
Britain would have joined the escalating conflict. The Austrians also
gave Serbia a ridiculously short time of 48 hours to respond to their
ultimatum - a longer time would perhaps have allowed for some
negotiation between the two South European states.
The historian Graham Darby supports this argument of Austrian
mismanagement by stating, 'it looked as if the conflict might blow
over' when referring to the delay in the Austrian response to the
assassinations, this shows he believed that war would not have
occurred if Austria had let the matter lie or at least issue
acceptable demands to Serbia.
German mismanagement during this time was also crucial, indeed the
historian Fischer comments, 'from the time of the 2nd Moroccan crisis
German leadership pursued an antagonistic approach to all foreign
affairs,' this quote is particularly pertinent the lead up to World
One as it gives a clear peace of evidence to show that Germany was not
following the just cause concerning the Balkans, merely one which
suited her own interests.
The issuing of the 'blank cheque' to Austria by the Kaiser shows that
Germany severely mismanaged this crisis as Austria may not have gone
to war without this total unrelenting support because Austria was very
split of the need for war, chief of staff Conrad urged war whereas the
Hungarian minister Tisza strongly objected to it, without the Kaisers
support war may never...