Social_Studies_11A_files/The Causes of WWI

The Causes of WWI
Ingredients for War
Lack of Fear
Arms Race
All ethnic groups in Europe were nationalistic (extremely proud of
their culture and heritage).
France wanted to start a war with Germany because it had lost two
provinces (Alsace and Lorraine) in its last war against Germany.
Ethnic groups living within crumbling empires wanted to break
away and form their own countries.
Austria-Hungary was ethnically and religiously divided – all these
groups wanted independence.
Germany had taken Alsace and Lorraine from France after a war in 1871.
Ethnic Groups living in Austria-Hungary
Imperialism (Colonization)
The Great Powers (Britain, France, Germany...) wanted to
acquire as many colonies as possible.
Colonies would ensure access to resources and a market for
all the goods produced in the home country.
Result: There was increasing competition for colonies in
Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Problem: Germany had had the most powerful military and
economy, but very few colonies!
Colonial Empires in 1900
European powers had been divided into two allied camps:
The Triple Alliance
(Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary)
The Triple Entente
(Britain, France, Russia)
This made war more likely because now they all knew that they
had “backup”.
Alliances in Europe - 1914
Lack of Fear
In 1914, most people were not afraid of war.
Most believed that a war would be short, and
that victory for their side was a certainty.
Arms Race (Militarism)
The division into two allied camps led to an arms race.
All Great Powers adopted universal conscription, creating large reserves
of manpower.
Armies and navies had been expanded tremendously.
Both sides were expanding their armed forces in order to maintain the
balance of power.
Example: The French and German armies doubled in size between
1871 and 1914.
Example: There was a naval competition between Britain and
Germany as a result of the building of the first Dreadnought. This
type of ship was so powerful that it made all older ships obsolete.
The Dreadnought
So how did WWI actually begin?
In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed a region named Bosnia. This
was a problem because Bosnia was populated by Slavs, including
many Serbs.
Result: The Russians and the Serbs were very upset.
A terrorist organization called “The Black Hand” was formed .
Its goal was to cause a war so that Bosnia could be taken over by
In 1914, the Austrian Archduke (heir to the throne), Franz
Ferdinand, decided to tour the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, with his
The members of the Black Hand decided that this was the time
to act. They planned to assassinate the Archduke during his tour of
Bosnia: Right between Serbia and Austria-Hungary
The arrest of Gavrilo Princip
Causes of WWI - Summary
Imperialism (Colonization)
Lack of fear
Arms race (Militarism)
Finally, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

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