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Quick answer - the immediate cause was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This was used as an excuse to unleash the tensions that had been building up for a number of years in Europe. Militarism, nationalism and a race to acquire land for empire building were among the long term causes. A series of alliances amongst the major powers of the day ensured that countries joined the war to support their allies.
There were lots of tension between European powers, the imperialism of these great powers and the will to have more territories and colonies were creating these diplomatic tension between the big countries in Europe, UK, France, Germany/Prussia, Austria/Austria-Hungary and Russia.
When a the heir of the Austrian Empire was killed in Bosnia, Austria declared war to Serbia (wanting to conquer the Serbian territory), Russia also wanted influence in the Balkans, so they allied with Serbia and declared war to Austria.
Germany, as an Austrian ally declared war on Russia and wanting the border territory of Alsace-Lorraine, attacked France, and attack Belgium to use their territory, the UK seeing the growing belligerence of the German declare war on Germany.
At the time, there were very large European colonies in African and Asia, so the war was fought worldwide, and in 1917 the USA decided to enter in the war against Germany and Austria.
The standard propaganda usually consists of 1) entangling alliances and 2) the assassination of the archduke. On closer examination there are many other issues leading to World War I. Among these other factors contributing to the war were the rise of fascism in many parts of Europe (many nations were taking over various regions and forcing them into their empire/nation against their will such as Austria-Hungary), the mindset of trying to 'protect the world for peace', cost externalization by the US (e.g. selling weapons to the belligerents during wartime while claiming neutrality), the preference of using force rather than diplomacy to settle issues, the myth of 'global interests', and the widespread acceptance of 'manifest destiny' in England and America. Had these dangerous ideas not been in place, then the assassination would have been just another a non-event in a portion of Europe that had a long history of violence.
The combination of these factors with the smouldering issues from the previous conflicts of the Russo-Japanese War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Franco-Prussian War, and the Spanish-American War created a dangerous situation where many nations wanted payback for their losses. Other nations involved in those wars assumed that any conflict could either be settled quickly. each of these smouldering issues has many dangers associated with them.
To understand this consider a quote by Otto von Bismark, "A generation that has taken a beating is always followed by a generation that deals one".
Wars often have many contributing issues that come to a head. The same is true of World War I. When you try to identify one or two triggering events, it often leads to an oversimplification of what was going on.
Since the 1870s, the confederated principalities of German, Hungarian, Italian, and Austrian peoples had united into the Kingdom of Italy, the Empire of Germany, and the Empire of Austria-Hungary. This had all been started by Napoleon III. These three nations formed something called the Triple Alliance. The Russian Empire was a direct adversary of the German Empire and the two vied for control and influence over Eastern Europe. France and the United Kingdom had substantial colonial empires with economic interests all over the world. In order to contain Germany's own colonial expansion, they formed an alliance with the Czar of Russia, forming the Triple Entante. Simply put--Germany had become too powerful and the power-brokers in Europe did not want more competition from such a military powerhouse. The declining Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse and France and Britain dreamed of controlling the Middle East before Germany could get in on it.
Like most wars, this one began under false pretenses. In 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated supposedly by a Serbian. Hungary wanted to conquer and annex Serbia, which Russia already controlled as one of its puppet client-states. When Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia in preparation for invasion, the Russian Empire simply started mobilizing for war in the hope that Hungary would back down. Due to Russia's mobilization, the German Empire suddenly declared war on Russia as per the protocols of the Triple Alliance. This was overly-rash for Germany, but Germany obviously wanted to conquer some Russian territories. Austria-Hungary dutifully was forced to declare war on Russia as well. The German Kaiser, knowing that France and Russia were allies, foolishly declared war on France as well. So four of the six powers had declared war on one another. Italy and the UK had stayed out of it up to this point. Instead of invading France through the Upper Rhine salient, Germany chose to conquer neutral Belgium and use that country and a staging point for invasion of France. For ignoring Belgium's neutrality, the UK entered the war with plans to conquer Germany's African settlements.
At this point, World War I had begun like any other European war that had occured over that past 1,000 years--a lot of tit for tat and hopes of conquest. The problem was the weaponry was so advanced that this war would prove to be more costly than anyone had expected.
I don't know if it can be broken down to any one cause. But I would argue that this war came down to the same basic issues that cause most wars: competition between nations over land, resources, status, etc. This competition was particularly intense in the late 19th-early 20th centuries due to the colonial land grab that was taking place as nations looked for resources to import and places to sell their mass produced goods. Two sets of alliances formed in anticipation of possible future conflict, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand became the spark to set off the long developing fuse.
And by the way, if you were looking for strong evidence that the human race is not particularly intelligent, World War I is a good place to start.
by Deforest4 years ago
Another lie that we've been fed to. I've learnt like everybody that the Allies declared war to Germany because it invaded Poland on Sept 1939, the truth is different. Georges VI's speech says it all! You will notice...
by Iamsam5 years ago
What was the reason for the World War II
by sannyasinman4 years ago
The world is commemorating the "Allies" victory and the famous Normandy Landing and World War II: The Lies Grow More Audacious . . . http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-norman … us/5386028
by Deforest2 years ago
Image: Adolf Hitler in vanquished Paris, June 23 1940Nothing must be done between England and Germany which would in any way violate the prestige of Great Britain. Adolf HitlerWhen Hitler realized that his original...
by Jennifer Arnett3 years ago
Will the crisis in Ukraine escalate to World War III?
by LOT2DO6 years ago
Who had the best army in World War 2?
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