outbreak of world war 1

outbreak of world war 1


  • The July Crisis(1)
  • aggressive foreign policy(2)
  • war as a method to solve internal problems(3)
  • fear of encirclement- the first Moroccan crisis 1905-1906(4)
  • fear of encirclement- the second Moroccan crisis 1911(5)
  • fear of encirclement- the balkans(6)
  • fear of encirclement- the Balkans war 1912(7)
  • decisions made by the German military(8)


  • (1) 28 June 1914- heir to the Austrian throne was shot (archduke Franz Ferdinand) by Gavril Princip. he was a member of the Serbian terrorist organisation, black hand. Austria seeked Germany's help for action against serbia- they offered unconditional support which was later known as the blank cheque. Russia and France supported Serbia. Austria declared war on Serbia. Germany could not convince Britain into neutrality and could not convince Russia not to mobilise. the schlieffen plan was put into action. Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France. Britain declared war on Germany in protection of Belgium.Austria declared war on Russia
  • (2) in march 1890 Wilhelm II refused to renew the reassurance treaty between Germany and Russia that agreed they would not attack each other. instead they signaled a warmer relationship with Vienna while whilst schlieffen (chief of the general staff of the army) began to work on a plan which would mean Germany could fight a war on two fronts, by defeating France before Russia could mobilise. it was expected that France would fall in six weeks and once they had done so the German forces could transfer the forces to the Eastern Front. in 1896 the kaiser antagonised the British by sending a telegram to President Kruger of the South African Republic congratulating him for the defeat of British raiders. after this a series of navy laws were a direct challenge to British naval supremacy, this led to a naval race. In 1901, Britain hinted that they wanted an alliance but this was disregarded as they would not commit to the triple alliance and it was thought that it was believed that they would not have any other alliances however Britain allied with Japan and formed an entente with France and Russia by 1907. this left Germany over reliant on Austria-Hungary. there was a demand for a more aggressive foreign policy but they had not achieved their 'place in the sun'
  • (3) the destructive impact of industrialisation caused tensions in Germany's social and economic structure, including the tensions for constitutional change and social change. these tensions were diverted outwards in order to maintain the status quo.
  • (4) failure in this crisis combined with the forming of the entente caused this fear of encirclement. The kaiser visited Tangier which was in the French sphere of influence. The Germans demanded an international conference to discuss the future of Morocco, hoping to drive a wedge between Britain and France. At the Algeciras conference Morocco was confirmed in the French sphere of influence. Germany also tried to prise the Russians away from their treaty with France but this measure failed due to the opposition from the French foreign office- the entente had been strengthened. This was humiliating for Germany and the head of the political office at the foreign ministry was forced to resign. the fear of encirclement of Germany was now very real
  • (5) in February 1909 the french and Germans signed an agreement to respect each others interests in Morocco. in April 1911 there were disturbances in Fez and this led to the intervention of the french military. Germany claimed that this was against the Algeciras act and they sent a gunboat. Germany attempted to bully France in giving her the French Congo in return for Germany giving up all interests in Morocco- this was another attempt to prise the entente apart. David Lloyd George who was the future prime minister warned Germany against further aggression. In the end Germany gained two strips of land in the Congo and had to accept that Morocco was under French control
  • (6) following the decline of the Ottoman Empire both Russia and Austria-Hungary tried to stake a claim for dominance in the region. It also allowed nationalities like the Serbs to demand independence.The Serbs were allied with the Russians and the Austrians feared that a strong Serbia would lead to unrest and the break up of her empire. In 1906 a trade agreement was not renewed and this lead to the trade war known as the Pig war. The new foreign minister of Austria-Hungary believed that the best way to deal with the Serbs was to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina which they did in October 1908. The Serbs and the Russian government were furious. Austria-Hungary forced Serbia and Russia to recognise the annexation and it did so by threatening war on Serbia. Germany offered their full support to Austria-Hungary
  • (7) A Balkan League was set up (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro) with the purpose of seizing land from the declining Ottoman Empire. In October 1912 they launched their attack and Serbia invaded Albania. The Austrians were horrified as this would allow them to have access to the sea. Austrians demanded an independent Albania, which the Serbs, Russians and Germans ignored. The Treaty Of London 1913 ended the conflict. Germany became more obsessed that they were being encircled. Slav threat provided the context for the following policy. The Army Bill 1913 increased the size of their army and this led to France and Russia doing the same.1913 the Serbs entered Albania again and Germany supported the Austrian government in another ultimatum. Germany began to feel as though the Entente countries were catching up with the size of their armies and so the best time for war was the present
  • (8) Schlieffen (chief of the General Staff of the army) began to work on a plan which would mean Germany could fight a war on two fronts. The 1912 War Council insisted that Austria Hungary should be supported in her war against Serbia, that it was not a problem if Russia decided to fight, that war with Russia was inevitable but the navy needed a year to prepare. This council was between the Kaiser and his top military advisors.

Overall summary

Germany made a few mistakes- the war council can be used to show that Germany was Planning for war, the internal problems they faced can indicate that they thought war would be able to fix it and the fear of encirclement played a big part in the Moroccon crises which ended in the outbreak of war


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