The three main causes of WW1
World war one, also known as the Great War, began in 1914 due to feuds between European countries. It was one of the worst wars of its time and had a huge effect on the people of the world. There are many different reasons argued for the cause of world war one and whilst there were many different reasons that contributed to the outbreak of the war, such as significant individuals or militarism, there were 3 main reasons for the start of World War 1, these reasons were, imperialism, the process of a country gathering colonies and making them its own, Nationalism, the thought that a persons country and policies were superior to any other, and alliances, a country’s agreement to one or more countries that they will protect each other if ever in need, for example in the case that there was an outbreak of war. Each of these reasons is what led to the Great War in 1914.
Imperialism was a large reason for the outbreak of World War one. It caused jealousy of countries that had a lot of colonies from the countries that did not have many at all. The industrialised nations believed they had to have many colonies to keep up and do well in the new industrialised world. They also felt to be a great, superior power they must obtain many colonies. Another reason for needing colonies was to source raw materials and to use as a market to sell their manufactured products to.
Italy and Germany were quite late in on imperialism and by the time they each had one colony all the best ones were taken by the British, French, Belgians and Dutch, this caused great feuds between these countries. Germany was especially jealous of the British Empire as by this time the British Empire owned over 25% of the earths surface and Germany was not happy about this as they wanted to be the worlds most powerful Empire, Britain feared Germany in Africa as they knew how powerful they could become, as historian Joachim Remak states “Britain saw German expansion as a threat.”
1France, great Britain and Germany were all territorial over Africa and were fighting over what belonged to who as Africa was a superior colony to have because there was lots of good raw materials that could make a lot of money, and also the market was high there. All of these factors of imperialism caused great conflict between the major Empires. They all wanted the most land and resources as to them that is what made a great Empire. This was one of the three main reasons for the outbreak of World War 1 as the conflict became so much that they decided they would have to fight to gain there colonies, which they were all willing to do.
Nationalism was another significant factor contributing to the cause of World War 1. Each of Europe’s great powers developed a firm belief that its own culture, economy and military was far more superior to any others out there. Each country wanted to have the ultimate power over every country and believed that everything should be done the way they do it. Not only was nationalism about each Countries belief of their own superiority, it was also about gaining independence from other Countries, like the Slavs, who were living in Bosnia and Herzegovina wanted to be free from the Austrian rule and instead be apart of Serbia, they wanted power and independence instead of being under Austria’s policies. This lead to great conflict between Serbia and Austria-Hungary and they believed the problems were only going to be sorted by having War.
Due to all of this the fighting Countries lost sight of what was important and also began to just compete for superiority, with no thought to what was really important, historian Gerhard Ritter’s quote “Fatalism and belief in importance of strong national prestige led to political blindness”2shows how each country lost sight of what was important to gain selfish wants rather than taking care of there countries and working together, this lead to great feuds and competition between Countries and was a huge factor contributing to World War 1 as each country wanted to prove its superiority to the other countries.
Alliances were the third main cause of World War 1. By 1914 all the major powers of Europe were linked together by a system of alliances, some of these alliances were; 1879 – The dual alliance; Germany and Austria-Hungary make an alliance to protect each other from Russia. 1881 – Austro-Serbia alliance; Austria Hungary and Serbia make an alliance to prevent Russia gaining control of Serbia. 1907 – The triple Entente;
These are example of some alliances that were made between powerful countries to gain protection from other large powerful countries. As each country started to make more and more alliances they were each locked in to backing up each other up in any case of conflict. The alliances that were made would pull them into battle. Therefore, if one country was attacked, allied countries were bound to defend them.
The alliances came to be a huge part of the great war as the reason for there being so many powerful countries was because they were defending the countries that were really fighting for something, this happened when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia got involved to defend Serbia. Germany seeing Russia mobilizing, declared war on Russia. France was then drawn in against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany attacked France through Belgium pulling Britain into war. Then Japan entered the war, and later, Italy.
A lot of the time Countries did not even want a war they were just worried about keeping there alliances with larger, more powerful Countries so they too could be powerful, Historian Sidney Bradshaw Fay agrees with this stating “Germany was more concerned with supporting all Austria than starting a major war” 3 Alliances were a major cause of World War 1 as they were each trying to keep a good relationship with their allies. They wanted to have there own protection and were willing to do anything to gain it. When things started getting tense between countries everyone jumped in and that is was caused the massacre, which was The Great War.
World War 1 was a huge War that greatly impacted the world, it lead to massive changes and many losses. There are many different reasons for the beginning of the war but the three main factors contributing to the start of the war were Imperialism, Nationalism and alliances, as they were all 3 huge, linking issues that each country were doing. These three things had huge impact on the war and caused great conflict between the most powerful Countries not only of Europe but also at the time, of the world, which inevitably lead to what was The Great War.