Thursday, July 31, 2014

How did it start?

 Image above: The Pre-World War alliances

History sites to use

BBC on this day since 1953
On this
World War 1 Encyclopedia
Australian War Memorial
Victoria Cross recipients
RSL Virtual War Memorial
Interactive documentary on the Great War sites for the class
Windows to the Great War
History and geography
Just real interesting


Causes of World War 1

There are many causes of World War 1. But the event that triggered the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, in June, 1914. During the period of Industrial Revolution, that is, from the 18th to the 19th century, Europe underwent drastic changes. The race for being the biggest and fastest economy in the world was the reason behind all the crisis and tension in Europe. The rising tensions over the Balkan region led to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.

Franz Ferdinand and Family

Gavrilo Princip image

Austria and Hungary fought over the territory with Serbia and Russia, to have greater influence in the region. The strategic geographical as well as economic position of the Balkan region was the main reason behind the fight. This fight sucked in the remaining Great Powers into the conflict through different treaties and alliances.

Important Reasons


Serbia emerged as the victor in the Balkans, and as a result, expanded its territory. It was unacceptable for Austria to see Serbia emerge as a power in Europe. Therefore, in order to curb their power, Austria threatened war on them, if they acquired the port from the Turks. Also, Austria gained support from the Germans to drive Serbia back. England, on the other hand, threatened the German embassy to pull out of the conflict. This was because the German and Austria-Hungary alliance was in itself a big threat for Great Britain. In such a manner, alliances made by the Great Powers was seen as one of the main reasons for this conflict.

A cartoon called - 'A Chain of Friendship'


During the latter half of the 19th century, it was seen that nations, like Great Britain, France, and Portugal were acquiring lots of wealth from foreign colonies, markets, etc. The major colonies for these nations included India, Africa, and Australia. Other European powers, like Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia wished to do the same, but the British policies of strategic exclusion stopped them from doing so. Thus, the tension and the fear that Great Britain was using this wealth to increase their arms power caused more friction between the nations. There was a arms race on between these European nations to acquire colonies, indulge in colonial trade, and seek new sea routes. This was another reason that led to the tensions before June 1014.

A map of Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary


Militarism (Arms Race)
All of Europe was under threat because of the rising tensions and growth of neighboring nations. This fear led to increased acquisition of military arms by nations to have a stronger defensive side. To protect their colonial possessions colonial powers rapidly increased their naval power. In response Germany was building a massive naval fleet to challenge the colonial powers.This rise in military strength produced a class of professional and powerful military officers, who actually added fuel to the war by their aggression (sabre rattling).

Important Facts

  • In response to the threats, a set of alliances were formed all over Europe. Most of them joined the alliance to save their backs in case of an attack, as everyone knew that a European war was very likely in the near future. Such a European war was also seen as likely to become a world war because the major nations involved were also colonial powers.
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary tied up to sign a treaty in 1879 forming the Dual Alliance
  • Italy joined the German and Austrian alliance in 1882, and this gave rise to the Triple Alliance
  • France and Russian Alliance was formed in 1894.
  • The Triple Entente alliance was formed between Great Britain, France, and Russia as an answer to the Triple Alliance.
  • Britian has an 'agreement' with Belgium, that if Belgium was invaded, they would come to defend them - because of the German Schleiffen Plan this agreement came into play early on 4 AUgust 1914 when Germany invaded Belgium.  

Videos to watch

From time ot time I will post on the Windows to the Past blog a list of relevant videos for you to watch. Some of these we will watch in class but the majority will be for you to watch to support your learning on the topic.  Here is a list relating to the causes of World War 1 that I would love you to watch:

Documentaries on the causes

Slide show good

July crisis

25 interesting things

Origins of World War 1

Causes and effects



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