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EAL Nexus resource
Events leading to World War I
Discussion work
Subject:
History
Age groups:
12–14, 15–16, 17–18
Topic:
World War I
Licence information | This resource is free to use for educational purposes. ©British Council 2014
Source | This resource was originally developed by Sabine Matzak and has been adapted by EAL Nexus.
Who is to blame for WWI?
The chain of friendship
If Austria attacks Serbia, Russia will fall upon Austria,
Germany upon Russia, and France and England upon
Germany.
If, if, if, …
This cartoon was published in a US American newspaper in July 1914,
around the time when Austria declared war on Serbia. People then did
not know if there would be a world war. Can you finish the sentences
for each country? Underline all the verb phrases.
Conditional clause (if-clause)
(simple present)
Main clause
(will- future: will [’ll] +
infinitive)
Serbia: If you touch me,
I’ll …
Austria: If you make a move,
I’ll …
Russia: If you hit that little feller [fellow], I’ll …
Germany: If you strike my friend,
I’ll …
France: If you hit him,
I’ll …
Britain: Hi there, if you don’t …,
I’ll …
hit you hard.
get out, I’ll have to go against you.
attack you.
hit you.
ask my powerful friend to help me.
help him.
ANSWER KEY If, if, if, …
This cartoon was published in a US American newspaper in July 1914,
around the time when Austria declared war on Serbia. People then
did not know if there would be a world war. Can you finish the
sentences for each country? Underline all the verb phrases.
Conditional clause (if-clause)
(simple present)
Main clause
(will- future: will [’ll] + infinitive)
Serbia: If you touch me,
I’ll ask my powerful friend to help
me.
Austria: If you make a move,
I’ll hit you hard.
Russia: If you hit that little feller
[fellow],
I’ll attack you.
Germany: If you strike my friend,
I’ll help him.
France: If you hit him,
I’ll hit you.
Britain: Hi there, if you don’t get
out,
I’ll have to go against you.
How to argue
Make sure that you give reasons for your opinion. In order to do this, you
need to go back to the events.
How to start your arguments
There is no doubt that _________ started WW I because …
The country that should be blamed for starting WW I is in my opinion
_______, because …
I think __________ is guilty of starting WW I because …
To my mind ___________ and ____________ are both to be blamed for WW I
because …
I think it is fair to say that _____________ should take all the blame/some of
the blame for starting WW I because …
Looking at all the reasons for WW I, I come to the conclusion that
__________ should take the blame because …
If, if, if, …
Things cannot be changed 100 years later. However, we can imagine that
things might have been different if certain conditions had been different.
Match the conditional clause and the main clause and underline the verb
phrases.
Conditional clause (if-clause)
(past perfect: had + past participle)
Main clause
(conditional perfect: would/could/
might + have + past participle)
If Austria-Hungary had not declared
war on Serbia,
Britain might not have entered the
war.
If Germany had taken a different
route into France,
it would not have asked Germany to
withdraw from Belgium.
If Britain had not had a treaty with
Belgium,
it might have had enough raw
materials.
If Germany had had more colonies,
they would not have been able to
support Russia.
If France had not prepared their
army,
Russia might not have backed
Serbia.
ANSWER KEY If, if, if, …
Things cannot be changed 100 years later. However, we can imagine that
things might have been different if certain conditions had been different.
Match the conditional clause and the main clause and underline the verb
phrases.
Conditional clause (if-clause)
Main clause
(past perfect: had + past participle)
(conditional perfect: would/could/
might + have + past participle)
If Austria-Hungary had not declared
war on Serbia,
Russia might not have backed Serbia.
If Germany had taken a different
route into France,
Britain might not have entered the
war.
If Britain had not had a treaty with
Belgium,
it would not have asked Germany to
withdraw from Belgium.
If Germany had had more colonies,
it might have had enough raw
materials.
If France had not prepared their army,
they would not have been able to
support Russia.
If chain
If Germany had had
colonies,
If Germany had not
had to back Austria,
it would have had
enough raw materials.
Austria might not have
declared war on
Serbia.
If Germany had had
enough raw materials,
If Germany had not
been in the Triple
Alliance,
it might not have
been in the Triple
Alliance.
it would not have had
to back Austria.
Help for your if-sentences
if-clause
main clause
had had /
had not had
would have had /
would not have had
NAME OF had become /
A
had not become
COUNTRY
had competed /
had not competed
had been /
had not been
would have become /
would not have become
would have competed /
would not have competed
would have been /
would not have been
Examples:
If the Austrian successor to the throne had not been murdered,
Austria would not have declared war on Serbia.
If Austria had had peace with Serbia,
Russia would not have had to help Serbia.
The following slides are
substitutions for slides 8–11 if
there are problems with the
copyright of any of the pictures.
The real causes for WWI
Germany became a successful industrial power.
Germany needed raw materials and wanted power. It competed for
colonies with Britain, France and other colonial powers.
The Kaiser was envious of the British fleet and started to build battleships.
An arms race began.
Europe split up in alliances.
The events leading to WWI (1)
28th
June
1914
28th
July
1914
*
• The Austrian heir to the throne,
Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was
murdered by Serbian terrorists in
Sarajevo (Bosnia).
• Austria-Hungary declared war on
Serbia.
•Germany backed Austria-Hungary.
•Russia backed Serbia.
The events leading to WWI (2)
1st
August
1914
*
3rd
August
1914
• Germany declared war on Russia.
• France prepared its army to support
Russia.
• Germany declared war on France.
• German troops invaded Belgium on
their way to France.
The events leading to WWI (3)
*
*
4th
August
1914
• Britain, who had a treaty with
Belgium, set Germany an ultimatum
to withdraw from Belgium.
• Germany did not withdraw its
troops.
• Britain declared war on Germany.

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