History Essay- The Causes Of Wwi
History Essay- The Causes of WWI
Wars have immensely contributed to human history for thousands of years, becoming highly destructive usually for the means of gain. The First World War, also known as ‘the Great War’ was a truly global war centred in Europe. The causes of one of the most destructive wars in human history are still debated to this day. Some historians have come up with a list of multiple causes of the war. However, experts have identified some of the primary causes of the war, including the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, militarism, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. The causes of the truly deadly war, sending ripples of shock throughout Europe and the world, can be summarised into four points, and the start of the war pinpointed to one bullet from a young Serbians gun.
The world war had drawn in all of the world’s greatest political and economic powers of the century as a result of several reasons, as suggested by historians. Historians have weighed in over the past century, providing examples of causes for ‘the Great War’, for example; previous relationships and tensions, a lack of international laws, corrupt governments, etc.
One cause of the war, as suggested by historians, was the previous relationships and tensions amongst countries, especially Serbia and Austro-Hungary. The tension between these nations dates back to 1815 when the Serbs successfully rebelled against the Ottoman Empire (to which at this point, the Serbs were ruled by) and declared themselves an independent state by 1878. In 1908, the Austro-Hungarian empire had annexed Bosnia, which Serbia had openly claimed to take over to create a ‘Greater Serbia’ as there were many Slavic people living in Bosnia. This event raised the tensions between the countries, especially when Serbia felt defeat after Austro-Hungary was supported by the strongest army of the time, Germany. During the second Balkan war of 1913, the Balkan nations had attacked amongst themselves for power. Serbia came out on top, posing a threat to Austro-Hungary, as Serbia had proclaimed that the Austro-Hungarian empire was its next target. This worried the empire as their opponents were clearly growing in strength and could now challenge the empire. These events didn’t directly cause the war; however, they did help trigger the war by building the tensions between nations.
An additional link to the war was the lack of international laws. Though this perhaps isn’t a cause of the war, it could’ve prevented the war. The lack of international laws put Europe into chaos, as there were no laws to put unjustifiable aggression into check. Despite the development of a truly global economy in the 19th century, there was no real system of international law that might be used to restrain one state from using violence against another state. There were institutions, like the Peace Palace, which were intended to serve as opportunities for adjudication of international disputes, but these had no power to enforce their decisions, bringing chaos to Europe.
The corrupt governments also played a part in leading to the war. Many governments in Europe had been run by autocracies. Many historians believe that Kaiser Wilhelm II was mentally unstable, but he wasn’t as irrational as Austrian Chief of Staff General Hötzendorf who had asked to go to war with Serbia more than 25 in the eight years after the pig war of 1906 (when Serbia was trying to reduce its independence on Austro-Hungary by building trade links with other countries). In fact, the Kaiser tried his best to avert the war, but one of his most foolish moves was giving Austria-Hungary the “blank check,” promising unconditional support for whatever measures Vienna proposed to take against Serbia.
Other proposals for the causes of the war include nationalism, imperialistic desires, militarism, and alliances. These may have not directly caused the first global war, but they did play a part in building up tension that ultimately led to the war.
The roots of the war have been identified by historians and these causes traced back to the same trigger event, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The killing of the heir to the Austro- Hungarian throne by a young Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, had set off a terrible chain of events and in turn contributed to the deaths of over 17 million people. The death of the hated heir to the throne didn’t come as a surprise as assassinations were pretty common in the empire, especially in the Balkans. The Archduke had strong opinions on two things, saying repeatedly that he would do anything in his power to prevent a war with the growing Russia and desired to calm past tensions by forming a tripartite state with Austria, Hungary and the Slavic peoples. Gavrilo Princip effectively killed the only person in the empire who was determined to and able to prevent the war. Although this may have not directly started the war, it did give Austria-Hungary an opportunity to regain Serbia, sending a series of ultimatums, which were created to be rejected. The government believed that it was the Serbian government that planned this attack, however after an investigation by the Austro-Hungarian government, Friedrich von Wiesner, an official of the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office, reported back to Foreign Minister Leopold von Berchtold on the 13th of June, the findings of the investigation saying “There is nothing to prove or even suppose that the Serbian government is accessory to the inducement for the crime, its preparation, or the furnishing of weapons. On the contrary, there are reasons to believe that this is altogether out of the question.” Berchtold realised that he would have had to go ahead without any evidence of Serbia’s guilt, so he decided not to tell Franz Joseph, while his office was still writing up the ultimatum. So, although there was no evidence to prove that the Serbian government had anything to do with the murder, Austria-Hungary still wrote up a practically impossible to accept ultimatum that eventually led to the outbreak of the war.
One of the major causes of the war, as identified by historians is the web of alliances that brought in some of the world’s greatest nations into a war. An alliance is military or political agreement between two or more nations to provide support in case of a war. To help countries keep the power that they had, they tried to establish special friendships or alliances with other countries. Each country sought to keep the balance of power so no one would be in a position of power and start a war. However, these alliances actually set up a condition that is war was to start between two countries, all the other countries would be drawn into it. There were two alliances formed before the first war, the triple entente (Russia, France, and Britain), and the triple alliance (Italy, Germany and Austria-Hungary). Russia also had agreements with smaller Slavic nations which ultimately helped cause the war. What was meant to be a regional war between Austro-Hungary became an international catastrophe as a result of the alliance agreements. When Austro-Hungary was given the blank cheque by Germany, they felt invincible in taking on Serbia, thus sending them an impractical ultimatum, to which they disagreed to. When Austria-Hungary was about to go to war with Serbia, Serbia’s allies, Russia, came in, bringing in their allies, creating a full-fledged war. So, although these alliances were defensive in nature, they meant that any conflict between one country from each alliance was bound to involve the other countries Therefore, the war broke out as a result of a chain of alliances and couldn’t have happened to the scale at which it did due to them.
Another cause for the international battle was the