Causes of WW1- European Theatre


Ideological- Militarism

*German expansion of forces -agressive competition

                                          -Economic justification for war

                                          -Suspicion and tension from other countries

                                             (e.g. GB and France)

*Arms race - expanding navy

                 - Specifically causing tension with G.B. 

                 - Other countries suspicious

*Supported by countries nationalism and political insecurities

*1870-1914, fourfold increase on amount spent on the military amongst Great Powers of Europe

1 of 8

Ideological- Imperialism

Germany only had a few colonies in Africa and S. Pacific

    - Desire for growth

    - Wanted empire as big as G.B.

G.B. empire 1/5 of earth/ 1/4 of population

    - Desire to maintain superiority

    -Suspicious of Germany threatening control, real fear Germany would successfuly challenge

    -Only equivalent military strength would offer security

* Competition between Great Powers and escalating suspicion and hatred

    -Gave nations resources for war

    -Made war more likely but NOT inevitable, other factors

2 of 8

Ideological- Nationalism

*Great Powers competition

  -Popular nationalist support for agressive policies

  -British public demand more dreadnoughts!

*Germany's desire for 'Place in the sun'  

  -Kaiser agressive policies and determination to make Germany great

  -Refusing to back down and lose face

*Balkan independence campaigns

*Russia's use of nationalism to detract from domestic problems

  -Humiliation from Russo- Japanese war, shameful defeat.

  -Need to regain face and military strength

3 of 8


*Triple entente -France, G.B., Russia (1907)

*Triple alliance -Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (1882)

*Individual alliances

  - Russia/Serbia

  -G.B./ Japan

  -G.B/ Belgium

  -Germany/ Ottoman empire


Effectively split world in two, us and them, increased tensions.

  -Caused conflict to escalate drew other countries in

4 of 8


*Imperial competition around the world

   -'Scramble for Africa' 

      -G.B. dominant 

      -German desire for better territory, interferenca in Morocco and S. Africa

*Conflict over Balkans

   -A-H and Ottoman Empire dominant

  -Balkan nationalism/independence campaign, causing conflict

  -Russia 'protector of Slavic people', wanted access to sea, detract from failures at home.

5 of 8


*German Expansionism

  - War offers possible economic gains in territory

  - Justifies military expenditure

*British Imperial strength

  -Global economic leader, gave confidence for war

  -Justified expensive arms race with Germany

                        1914                              1914

Britain               1 Dreadnought                29 Dreadnoughts

Germany           0 Dreadnoughts               17 Dreadnoughts

6 of 8

Short-term events

*Assassination of Archduke Franz Fedinand and wife Sofia by 'Blackhand' gang, Gavrilo Princip (Serbian nationalist).

*Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, promoted by unconditional German support. (Not expected to fulfill)

  -Serbia then backed by Russia

*Russian Mobilization

  -Determined not to back down, be seen as strong.

*25 July Russia mobilizes

*28 July A-H declares war on Serbia

*Germany gives ultimatum for Russia to demobilize, refused, declare war on 1 August

*France mobilizes 1 August, Germnay declares war on 3 August

*G.B declare war on 4 August, when Belgium neutrality violated

7 of 8


*Other factors much more symptomes of ideolgical causes

  -MAIN causes- Militarism/Allainces/Imperialism/Nationalism

*Territorial factors direct result of ideology

*Economic more bonus than cause

*Short-term events more result of building up tension

  -A-H desire to maitain empire

  -Germany desire to be seen as strong

  -Russian desire to be seen as strong, and have popular nationalist support from people

  -G.B. and French desire to maintain power and dominance

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all WW1 resources »