The Causes and Effects of World War



What were the causes and effects of World War I? The answer

to this seemingly simple question is not elementary. There was more to

the onset of the war then the event of an Austrian prince being

murdered in Serbia, as is what most people consider to be the cause of

World War I. Furthermore, the effects of the war were not just

concentrated to a post-war era lasting for a generation of Westerners.

No, the effects of the war were widespread throughout the world and

can be traced to generations after the war.

It is not a rare occasion that when a person is asked what the

causes of World War I were, that they answer with the simple comment

of an Austrian Prince being shot in Serbia. However the assignation of

the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie , in Sarajevo was

not the main cause of the Great War. Rather, it was the breaking

point for Austria in its dealings with Serbia. The truth of the matter

is that several factors played a role in the outbreak of the

catastrophic war the engulfed the nations of Europe for over four

years. World War I truly was the result of building aggressions among

the countries of Europe which was backed by the rise of nationalism.

To add to the disastrous pot, there was also imperial competition

along with the fear of war prompting military alliances and an arms

race. All of these increased the escalating tensions that lead to the

outbreak of a world war. (Mckay, pg. 904)

Two opposing alliances developed by the Bismarckian diplomacy

after the Franco- Prussian War was one of the major causes of the war.

In order to diplomatically isolate France, Bismarck formed the Three

Emperor?s League in 1872, which was an alliance between Germany,

Russia, and Austria-Hungary. Then in 1882 , Bismarck took advantage of

Italian resentment toward France and formed the Triple Alliance

between Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungry. In 1890 Bismarck was

dismissed from his office and France took the opportunity to gain an

ally, therefore , in 1891 the Franco- Russian Entente was formed. Then

in 1904 Britain and France put aside their conflicts and formed the

Entente Cordiale. As a result , the Triple Entente , a coalition

between Great Britain, France , and Russia, countered the Triple

Alliance. Now Europe was divided up into two armed camps.(World Book

Encyclopedia, WXYZ, pg. 367)

Nationalism also played a major role in developing tensions in

Europe; for it had been causing dissatisfaction since the Congress of

Vienna in 1815. In that settlement the preservment of peace was chosen

over nationalism, therefore, Germany and Italy were left as divided

states, though they did unify in the future. The Franco- Prussian War

in 1871 resulted in the France?s loss of the province of Alasce-

Lorraine to Germany, and the French looked forward to regaining their

lands. Then there was Austria- Hungary which controlled many lands

that their neighbors felt belonged to them. Serbia wanted Bosnia and

Hercegovina, Italy wanted the Trentino and Trieste regions, and the

Czechs and Solvaks wanted independence from Austria- Hungrey. There

was also Russia which had problems within it?s own boundaries; for

Russia contained many different nationalities and many were also

seeking independence in the name of nationalism. ( World Book

Encyclopedia, WXYZ, pg. 366)

Another major conflict that caused the outbreak of the Great

War was what is known as the arms race. With the hostile divisions of

the nations of Europe there came the expansion of armies and navies.

Furthermore, the great powers came to copy Germany?s military

organization and efficiency, which called for universal registration

for military duty, large reserves and detailed planning. Efforts were

made for universal disarmament, but the " international rivalry caused

the arms race to continue to feed on itself. " (Karpilovsky, World

Wide Web)

Imperial competition also played a major rule in the act of

increasing the ever growing tensions among the divided countries of

Europe. In Africa there were two crises in Morocco. The first time, in

1905, Germany full heartedly supported Morocco?s call for independence

from France, and with the British defending the French war was only

avoided because of an international conference which made Morocco a

French protectorate. The second crisis occurred in 1911, and it was in

protest to French supremacy in