Causes Of World War 1

What are the causes of World War I, a war that embroiled the world in turmoil that had never before been seen.

In 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie were touring the city of Sarajevo. The date was June 28. The occasion? The anniversary of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo were the Serbians were defeated by the Ottoman Turks, ending their existence as a nation. Hoping to further the cause of Serbian nationalism, Gavrilo Princip, member of the Black Hand, fired two pistol shots. The first instantly killed Sophie. The second caused the death of the Archduke just moments after its firing.

Now let's step back and observe the political climate of Europe in the early nineteen-teens. Serbia and Russia have always had close relations due to their common ethnic heritage. Germany and Austro-Hungary were strong allies with powerful militaries looking to expand. Serbia was being repressed and persecuted. France and Germany were historic enemies. France and Russia had a treaty of alliance with Russia. England had a treaty with Belgium. What existed were two hostile systems of alliances, and this is, in reality, the reason for war. The German and Austro-Hungarian alliance combined armies of such might that if tipped the European balance of power and forced a system of defensive alliances. Remember, too, that the Triple Alliance (Germany and Austro-Hungary) wanted war. All that was needed was an excuse.

Austro-Hungary presented an ultimatum to Serbia. Thirty demands (calculated so that Serbia wouldn't accept them) were presented and 48 hours were allotted for their answering. Serbia agreed to all but one""Austrian investigation of the assassination plot. That was enough. Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany declared war on Russia (who had allied with Serbia). Two days later, Germany declared war on France and swept its armies through Belgium, violating its neutrality. Because of this, England declared war on Germany. Austro-Hungary declared war on England. You get the picture.



We see, then, that the desire of Austro-Hungary and Germany for conquest kept them from negotiating the situation. Hoping to preempt a Russian military build-up, those two powers declared war immediately. Little did anyone think the war would sweep across Europe. And so the hostile system of alliances toppled the European peace, and left a mark on the world that would never be forgotten.

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