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World War One
There were several underlying causes of the First World War apart from the spark that set the war off and
brought in so many different European powers.
At the start of the war most major powers in Europe were divided into two opposing alliances...
Each country had reason to be wary of other countries in Europe.
Germany had taken Alsace Lorraine from France in 1870 causing tension so formed an alliance with
AustriaHungary and Italy as a means of protection.
The German Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted to increase his empire and navy to match those of France
and Britain. This led to an arms race between Britain and Germany which led to the people of each
country feeling a sense of competition towards the other country.
German leaders were worried about `encirclement'. Friendship between France and Russia was
seen as an attempt to surround Germany.
Many countries were building up their military forces. Germany and Britain were in the midst of an
arms race and Russia was building up its army. This meant each country felt threatened.
AustriaHungary was made up of many people of different ethnic groups some of whom wanted to
be independent. The main concern of AustriaHungary was keeping this fragmented empire
AustriaHungary shared a border with Serbia which was becoming a more powerful force in the
Balkans and AustriaHungary did not want it to gain any more power.
Italy wanted to expand its empire.
Britain mainly saw Germany as a threat as Germany was building up her armies.
France wanted AlsaceLorraine back and wanted to protect itself from Germany.
Russia, like France and Britain, was concerned about the growth of the German forces. Russia had
had a long history of rivalry with AustriaHungary.
The tensions between the countries meant that friction was likely and the alliances between countries
meant that should two countries argue with each other, many other countries would become involved.
Each country also made contingency plans in case of a war. Germany created the Schlieffen Plan in case
of a war on the two fronts of Russia and France. Germany would go through Belgium and capture Paris
while Russia mobilised. Then use all of its forces to attack Russia. They believed France would fall when
Paris was taken and then all German forces would stand a chance of taking Russia. France had Plan 17
and Russia had a huge army which was designed to overwhelm Germany. Britain had the B.E.F.
On 28 June 1914 the Archduke of AustriaHungary Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia visited Sarajevo
in Bosnia. This was Serbia's national day and Bosnia had been taken by Austria in 1908 to the outrage of
Serbia and Russia. They only relented when Germany backed Austria and they did not want to risk war.
At the time Austria was looking for a reason to weaken Serbia because they did not like its growing
power. The opportunity came when the Archduke was assassinated on 28 June 1914 by a Bosnian Serb
nationalist acting on the behalf of the Blackhand. This was following an earlier failed assassination attempt
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Gavrilo Princip saw the Archduke passing in his car afterwards and
shot him and his wife Sophia.
Austria blamed Serbia for the assassination of the Archduke and his wife though there was no evidence
that Princip was acting under the orders of the government. Austria gained backing from Germany before
giving Serbia an ultimatum that would make Serbia part of the AustriaHungary empire. The Serbs asked
for time to consider and
Austria Hungary refused.…read more
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They sometimes took up war work which did not include fighting like driving
ambulances. [Conscripted soldiers being taken to war by buses ]
Battle of the Somme 1916
The Battle of the Somme was planned by General Douglas Haig to take
pressure off the French at Verdun. The battle lasted from 1st July to 18th
November 1916. The battle resulted in more than 1.5 million casualties
and was one of the bloodiest military operations recorded.…read more
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Rations were brought in due to the unrestricted submarine warfare preventing supplies reaching Britain
and the fact that there were less farm workers as many men had gone to fight in the war. The rations
came in under the Defence Of the Realm Act in 1917. Overall, rationing was widely welcomed as a fairer
system of sharing out the available food so that the richer people were not having the majority of the food.…read more
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29th December 1893 to 29th March 1970
Brittain was an English writer, pacifist and a feminist. She studied English Literature at
Oxford before dropping out to become a V.A.D. nurse. She lost two close friends,
her brother and her fiancé during the war. Vera's political views became more
radical. She left the Liberals in favour of the Labour Party shortly before she married
in 1925 she married George Catlin, a political scientist and philosopher.…read more