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Causes of World War I

Updated on May 29, 2013

In 1914 a new war broke out which destroying Europe and the world and killing 9 million people all over the world for four long years. This war was the beginning of a new era and was a new kind of war, because tactics changed and technology became more important than the number of troops. This war was called the First World War. Europe at the early 1900s was bound by a system of alliances which was probably the main reason why a couple of little conflicts resulted in a big, worldly war.

            In the beginning of the year 1871 a new nation formed in Western Europe. Prussia was joined by a couple of northern Germanic states, forming the North German Confederation. This newly formed country, after a series of quick wars, soon became the leading power in Europe. Its army was considered one of the, if not the very best. This new Germany and France became major enemies. Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany, tried to isolate France as much as possible. He could do this by signing treaties and allying with Russia and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. This was called the Three Emperor’s League of 1872. But, in 1878 he had to organize a conference where Russia quit the alliance. Since Russia wanted the Balkan states to be independent, and Austria-Hungary didn’t, they had a quarrel and Bismarck had to choose between the two. He chose Austria-Hungary, forming the Dual alliance. This was really bad for Germany, because thus he couldn’t isolate France completely. To compensate for this little failure, he signed the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia which said that both Russia and Germany are neutral in each others problems unless either Germany attacks France or Russia attacks Austria-Hungary. In 1882 Italy joined the Dual alliance making it the Triple Alliance.

            In 1889 Bismarck was succeeded by William II. He had a crippled arm and always wanted to dominate others. He was not very cautious and basicly turned everybody against Germany, except Austria-Hungary. By building a really strong navy he turned England which was neutral up until this time, against Germany too. In fact England was so scared from naval superiority that she signed a treaty with France, her traditional enemy, called Entente Cordiale in 1904. Next year the Algeciras Conference led to additional secret talks between them about 100,000british troops aiding France in case it is attacked.

            In 1908 events started to speed up in the Balkans too. In the very underdeveloped Ottoman Empire a free parliament was formed called the Committee fo Union and Progress, or as most people know it , the Young Turks. They wanted to reform and modernize the government. Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia, because there lived 6 million serbs within the empire’s territory, and a free Bosnian state increased the chance that Serbian minorities would uprise. Russia, the Ottoman Empire, France, and Serbia didn’t like it.

            Like the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire had lots of different nationalities within its territory. Since it was a muslim country, and didn’t treat the Christians very nice there, these minorities uprised against it in October 1912. They united and formed the so called Balkan League which declared war on Turkey. Since it was more organized and large, it was able to beat Turkey in only three weeks. This was called the First Balkan War. Next year the Second Balkan War occurred. Bulgaria started it when it attacked its former ally, Greece, because it wanted the port of Salonika. Bulgaria lost really bad. Romania gained a strip of land along the Black Sea.

            The main reason the First World War started occurred because of a Serbian terrorist who shut the heir, and his wife, to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand and Countess Sophia, called Gavrilo Princip which was the reason why Serbia was attacked. Serbia was helped by Russia, which caused Germany to attack Russia, causing France and England to be involved too.

            The World War I had many causes, but mainly it was because of Germany and Austria-Hungary.


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    • Raj kamal profile image

      Raj kamal 8 years ago from Guntur, A.P., India

      very informative hub.