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Causes of the First World War

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1 Causes of the First World War
Although the world seemed at peace in the early 1900s, powerful forces were pushing Europe toward war. These forces included nationalism, militarism, imperial rivalries, alliance systems, and the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

2 Imperialism: competition for colonies &influence
“Race” to Colonize Africa Colonization in Asia

3 Causes of WW1 Militarism – During the late 1800s, militarism arose in many nations in Europe. This development lead to fear and suspicion as nations became more willing to use military force to achieve national goals. Arms Race – During the late 1800s and early 1900s a massive arms race took place in Europe, as each of the major powers tried to out do one another in terms of building weapons. One of the fiercest rivalries was between Great Britain and Germany over their navies.

4 Causes of WW1 Alliances – Increased tensions and suspicions led nations to form alliances. These alliances were agreements between many nations to defend each other in the case of an attacks. By 1914, there were several major alliances, but there were two that became very strong. Triple Entente – Great Britain, France, and Russia. Triple Alliance – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.


6 Causes of WW1 Nationalism – As we have learned, nationalism can bring people together. However, it can also be a source of conflict. In Europe in the early 1900s, aggressive nationalism was a source of tension. Germany and France – Nationalism was strong in both Germany and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Germany, now unified, was proud of its growing military and industrial strength. France, meanwhile, wanted to take back its position as a leading European power. After losing the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, many French people wanted revenge against the Germans.

7 Causes of WW1 Nationalism The Balkans –
Nationalism was a source of conflict in the Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe. In the 1800s, the Ottoman Empire still ruled much of the area, which was home to many ethnic groups. Among these were Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Greeks, Bulgarians, and Romanians. During the 1800s, nationalist groups in the Balkans rebelled against Ottoman rule. The other nations of Europe viewed the Ottoman Empire as “the sick man of Europe,” a nation in extreme decline. Because of this, they hoped to gain territory from it.

8 Causes of WW1 Nationalism
Pan-Slavism – Russia had encouraged a form of nationalism in Eastern Europe called Pan-Slavism. This movement tried to draw together all Slavic peoples. Russia was the largest Slavic country, and it was ready to defend other Slavic nation in Europe. One such Slavic nation in Europe was Serbia. The Powder Keg of Europe – In the early 1900s, crisis after crisis broke out on the Balkan peninsula because of these problems. By 1914, the Balkans were called “the powder keg of Europe” because of all the tensions in the region. The keg would finally explode in 1914 with the beginning of World War 1.

9 Causes of WW1 Imperialism – Britain, France, Germany, and other nations competed for colonies, and economic power throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Colonies – France and Germany competed especially for colonies in Africa. Economy – Germany and Great Britain competed industrially. Germany had industrialized rapidly, and the British felt threatened by this. Because of their competition with Germany, the old enemies Britain and France started to form a closer relationship with one another.

10 The Balkan Crisis Not surprisingly, World War 1 began in the Balkans.
Although many Serbs lived in Bosnia, it was ruled by Austria-Hungary. Fueled by the ideas of Pan-Slavism, Serbs believed that Bosnia should be a part of Serbia, instead of Austria-Hungary. Many organizations were created, with the goal of someday freeing Bosnia from the Austro-Hungarians, and making it a part of Serbia. One of these was the Serbian terrorist group known as the Black Hand.

11 The Balkan Crisis By 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the Austrian throne. On June 28th, 1914, the archduke and his wife were traveling through the city of Sarajevo, which is the capital of Bosnia. The Black Hand planned a bombing to kill the archduke and his wife, but when their car route changed, Gavrilo Princip sprung in to action, heading off the cars and shooting and killing the archduke and his wife.

12 The Chain Reaction After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the major nations of Europe responded. Each hostile action led to another reaction. Like dominos, the countries of Europe fell into war. 1.) Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the murders and made harsh demands on Serbia. 2.) Serbia refused to comply with the demands. 3.) Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28th. 4.) Russia, a Slavic nation and friend of Serbia, mobilized its military in preparation for war.

13 The Chain Reaction 5.) Germany, an ally of Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia. 6.) Germany declared war on France, an ally of Russia. 7.) Germany invaded Belgium on August 3rd, 1914, so that German forces could enter France more easily. 8.) Great Britain declared war on Germany. The Major Powers of Europe were at War The two alliances from before the war, the Triple Entente and Triple Alliance, changed and gained new members. Their names also changed as they became the Central Powers and the Allied Powers.


15 The Two Sides Allied Powers (Entente) Central Powers (Alliance) Russia
France Great Britain Belgium Serbia Rumania Greece Albania Italy Portugal Ireland Later, The United States Central Powers (Alliance) Germany Austria-Hungary Ottoman Empire Bulgaria

16 Who Was to Blame? Germany – Felt that it must stand behind its ally, Austria Hungary Austria-Hungary – Blamed Serbia for terrorism. They also wanted to crush Serbian nationalism Russia – Supported Slavic peoples and feared Austria-Hungary wanted to rule over Slavic peoples. Great Britain – Felt a duty to protect Belgium and feared German aggression. France – Backed up ally Russia and wanted revenge against the Germans.





21 Total population (millions)
1890 1900 1910 1913 Russia 116.8 135.6 159.3 175.1 US 62.6 75.9 91.9 97.3 Germany 49.2 56.0 64.5 66.9 Austria 42.6 46.7 50.8 52.1 France 38.3 38.9 39.5 39.7 Britain 37.4 41.1 44.9 45.6

22 Relative shares of world manufacturing output (percentages)
1880 1900 1913 Russia 7.6% 8.8 % 8.2 % US 14.7% 23.6 % 32 % Germany 8.5 % 13.2 % 14.8 % Austria 4.4 % 4.7 % France 7.8 % 6.8 % 6.1 % Britain 22.9 % 18.5 % 13.6 %

23 Military and Naval Personnel
1880 1900 1914 Russia 791,000 1,162,000 1,352,000 US 34,000 96,000 164,000 Germany 426,000 524,000 891,000 Austria 246,000 385,000 444,000 France 543,000 715,000 910,000 Britain 367,000 624,000 532,000

24 Warship Tonnage 1880 1900 1914 Russia 200,000 383,000 679,000 US
169,000 333,000 985,000 Germany 88,000 285,000 1,305,000 Austria 60,000 87,000 372,000 France 271,000 499,000 900,000 Britain 650,000 1,065,000 2,714,000

25 Quiz List the 4 MAIN causes of World War I Define each term
Explain briefly how each helped cause the conflict

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