The Causes of World War I



The First World War had many causes; the historians probably have not

yet discovered and discussed all of them so there might be more causes

than what we know now. The spark of the Great War was the

assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of

Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian nationalist on the morning

of June 28, 1914, while traveling in a motorcade through Sarajevo, the

capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Archduke was chosen as a

target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne,

he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the

Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Serbian terrorist organization, the Black

Hand, had trained a small group of teenage operatives to infiltrate

Bosnia and carry out the assassination of the Archduke. It is unclear

how officially active the Serbian government was in the plot. However,

it was uncovered years later that the leader of the Black Hand was

also the head of Serbian military intelligence. In order to underezd

the complexity of the causes of the war, it is very helpful to know

what was the opinion of the contemporaries about the causes of the

Great War. In the reprint of the article "What Started the War", from

August 17, 1915 issue of The Clock magazine published on the Internet

the author writes: "It is thought that this war that is been ongoing

for over a year, began with the assassination of the Archduke Francis

Ferdinand. However, many other reasons led to this war, some occurring

as far back the late 1800's. Nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and

the system of alliances were four main factors that pressed the great

powers towards this explosive war."



According to the article above, the author stresses that the

nationalism was one of the primary causes of the war. In the ninetieth

and twentieth centuries, especially after the French Revolution

nationalism was becoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had

the same culture, language wanted their own country. And that was the

problem for the government of Austria-Hungary that did not want to

lose their power and control. The Slavs in the southern part of the

empire were their main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.

Militarism is the second cause according to the article above, which

comes after the nationalism. To underezd what the author means by

militarism one should be familiar with the situation of the world in

the beginning of the century, which was the result of both industrial

and democratic revolutions. Britain at that time was the largest

empire in the world, and it also had the largest navy. The navy was so

big and strong because the Britons needed to protect their empire and

maintain the sea routes between the different colonies. The Kaiser

William II of Germany hated and envied Britain for having a stronger

navy than his. He increased the German navy and built many warships.

Britain responded with building more ships and increasing its navy

too. This started a race for building more and better warships and it

created tension and competition between those two countries.

Imperialism and the system of alliances are the last two major causes

of the War. There was a quarrel between France and Germany about

controlling the colonies, and especially Morocco, which leads to a

greater conflict, the Great War. Europe at that time was divided into

two rival alliance systems: Triple Entente that included Great

Britain, France, and Russia and the Triple Alliance, which included

the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and eventually the

Ottoman Turkish Empire.



Austria-Hungary must take a large proportion of any blame for the

outbreak of war in 1914. The reason for Germany's part in the causes

involves Germany's "blank Check" policy. Before sending its ultimatum

to Serbia, Austria needed to be sure of the support of its ally,

Germany. Such support was forthcoming in the form of a telegram to the

Emperor Franz Joseph on 6 July 1914. The telegram has become known to

history as the "Blank Check". In order to balance the power, France

and Russia signed an alliance. Russia saw itself as the 'protector of

Slavs' in the war, and immediately mobilized. When the war began, the

German decision that if they were going to have to fight Russia and

France, they would strike at France