Growth of International Tensions

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  • Created on: 27-04-13 14:28

Motivations for Franco-Russian Alliance 1894

A Decline In Russo-German Relations:

  • The pro-Austrian settlement at the 1878 congress of Berlin had angered the Russians and weakened ties with Germany
  • Ties were futher weakened by Bismarcks decision in 1879 to impose protective tariffs on foreign goods. This hit Russian wheat exports particularly hard. 
  • The German government also refused loans to the Russian government
  • In 1890 the decision was made by Caprivi and Wilhelm II to not renew the Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia. It was incompatible with Germanys agreement with Austria.

Improvement in Russo-France Relations:

  • France stepped into to offer Russia loans that Germany had refused to do. 
  • France was left isolated by Bismarcks foreign policy they were keen for an ally to protect them against German attack. It was France who pushed for an alluance with Russia
  • France was also worried about Britain moving closer to the Triple Alliance. In 1887 Britain had signed the Mediterranean Ageement with Austria-Hungary
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Franco-Russian Alliance 1894


  • Russia would support France if she was attacked by Germany and/or Italy
  • Frane would support Russia if attackeed by Germany and/or Austria

Alliance was secret but by 1895 all of Europe was aware of the terms


  • Initially Russo-German relations did not decline. The Emperors personally got on well and there was talk of a treaty. However in the long term the Franco-Russian alliance led to Germanys feeling of encirclement and a decline in relations.
  • The feeling of encirclement in Germany led to the creation of the Schlieffen Plan in order to fight a war on two fronts. This suggests Germany thought a war was possible.
  • The alliance increased Britains isolation within Europe. The British were deeply suspicious of the agreement and they was a feeling that it might be better to abadon "Splendid Isolation" Britain was suspicious of both France and Germany so it was unclear to who Britain would turn.
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Anglo-French and Anglo-Russian

Anglo-French Entente 1904

  • Britain and France settled their own disputed, the French recognized Britains occupation of Egypt and Britain agreed not to oppose French interest in Morocco.
  • Both Powers agreed to help against outside powers interfering in their Empire interests (Egypt and Morocco)
  • Regular consoltation on Military and Naval matters.
  • It was not a military alliance but was to grow stronger in the years up to 1914

Anglo-Russian Agreement 1907

  • After the Russo-Japanse War, peace had formed between the two countries and they agreed over other Eastern issues. This moved Britain and Russia closer together as Britain was no longer threatened by Russian Expansion in the Far East.
  • This and the Moroccan Crisis led to Britain and Russia moving closer together and signed an agreement in 1907.
  • Agreement was reached over Afghan-Indian border, Britain and Russia agreed to equal trading rights. Russia given control of Northern Persia while Britain controlled the south.
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Why did the Triple Entente form 1904-1907

  • Britain didn't sign an alliance with Germany - Rejected by Germany 3 times. Britain didn't want an alliance with Austria and risk war in the Balkans. 
  • Britain threatened by Germany - Weltpolitik -Germany began naval and empire expansion both a challange to Britain - felt isolated.  threatenes Britains power. Makes Britain feel isolated and driven into alliances, starts to question "Splendid Isolation"
  • No alliance between Russia and Germany - a non renewal of reinsurance treaty. Russia feels isolated, Congress of Berlin shows Germany as pro-Austrian
  • Franco - Russian Alliance - formed an alliance because of the mutual fear of Germany
  • Anglo-French Entente - Britain and france had settled their own disputes and signed an agreement, not a military alliance but would grow stronger
  • Russo-Japanese War - Led to Russo-Japanese agreements, brought Britain and Russia closer as Britain no longer worried about Russian expansion in the east
  • Anglo- Russian Agreement - Britain no longer concerned with Russias aims in the east, Britain had an alliance with Japan,trade connections with China, and India in her Empire so didn't want a threat from Russia. The Moroccan crisis also brought Russia and Britain closer, and later signed an alliance.
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Significance of Triple Entente

  • The Triple Entente was aa loose grouping rather than an alliance.
  • Britain was not obliged to go to war for France or Russia.
  • However the three powers became united in their hatred for Germany. 
  • It posed a slight danger to peace, encouraged preperation of mobilisation. 
  • Europe was now divided into two armed camps, Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente
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Alliance System - A Cause of War?

  • Alliances were limited in nature and defensive in purpose
  • In some ways prevented peace - balance of power
  • They all contained limitations and conditions there was no reason they had to lead to war in 1914
  • No powers were actually allied to Serbia (power who would cause the spark of war) although Russia did feel responsibility towards Slavs
  • Alliance systems left plenty of room for manoeurve, in 1914 powers simply chose not to use the loop holes within their Alliances.
  • Treaties did pose a danger, they created loyalties, reinforced economic links, led to military talks, plans for mobilisation. The alliances assumed the teams for war were settled.
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Reasons for Weltpolitik

  • Germany was the most powerful indutrial nation in Europe. However the demands of industrialisaion meant that it needed to acquire more raw materials and expand into new markets. Colonies and trade would help to develop this. 
  • Pressure from right-wing groups within Germany. Groups like the Pan-German League claimed Germany should seek an exmpire in order to achieve Great Power Status.
  • Personality of Kaiser Wilhelm II drove forward Weltpolitik. His love for the military his appointment of Empire. Additionally his paranoia of Germany encirclement convinced him fot the need of expansion. 
  • Politicaly necessity and the need to combat the growth of socialism saw Weltpolitik as part of Sammlunspolitik. Expansion of Empire would develop German nationalism among the population and unite them behind the government.
  • Bismarck had started German expansion into Africa, Weltpolitik can be seen as a more agressive continuation of this. 
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Acquisition of colonies - German desire to become a world power developed. Colonies gained in Africa, Pacific Islands, Middle East, Germany often interfered in other countries affairs which showed her as agressive.

Construction of a Navy - First Naval Bill in 1898 specified a large fleet including 19 battleships and 30 light cruisers. The British development of the dreadnough in 1906 made the First Naval Law obselte. By redenering all other battelsips obselete it gave the Germans hope they could challange the British navy, sparked the naval race. 

Results of Weltpolitik:

  • By 1914 Germany's empire was still small. It was scattered and indefensible. There was little German investment in her colonies and little economic benefit.
  • The attempt to build a German fleet was an expensive failure, they didnt manage to catch up with Britain. Led to a deteriation of Anglo-German relations. Britain saw it as a direct threat to their fleet and security as an island nation. 
  • Move towards Weltpolitik provoked negativ feeling amongst other Powers. It completed the destruction of Bismarcks alliance system and contributed to German encirclement and isolation
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Militarism and the Image of War

War was seen as a glorious adventure. This view was carried by the press and novels of the time. It was seen as developing the best qualities in man, encouraged by the fact that after 1871 the experience of war was largely forgotten. 

School children were taught it was glorious to die for your country.

War created patriotism and nationalism within countries.

No doubt that this growth in militarism would have been known by the governments of European counties. However not every person was influenced as can be seen in the numbers of pacifists. Futhermore war was declared by individuals in government influenced by European events. 

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Arms Building

After 1907 there was an increase in the influence of the military in all European countries

  • Th armed forces became increasingly autonomous especially in Germany and Russia which allowed them to get an increase in milkitary spending.
  • The growth in industry encouraged the development in weaponry. 
  • Sizes of armies also increased as all mainland European powers relied on conscription and compulsary military service. Germany built its army up to 5million men
  • There was a huge upsurge in military spending by all powers
  • More detailed military planning in the event of war also occured. Many plans such as the German Schlieffen plan were very specific and set mobilisation targets
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Anglo-German Naval Race


  • Britain were protective of their navy due to their Empire, trade routes and their island nation status. They developed the Two-Power standard. 
  • Kaiser was strongly in favour of a navy. A keen sailor and admirer of the British navy
  • Powerful navy required to follow a policy of Weltpoilitik, colonies needed protection
  • Navy construction would help industry
  • Invention of the Dreadnought meant all other ships were void, Germany believed she could now catch Britain

Led to a decline in Anglo-German relations:

  • Caused Britain to be futher suspicious of Germanys aims. She interfered in Britains Empire and was now threatening Britains naval superiority
  • Caught the attention of both countries medias and public. British public opinion turned anti-German due to fear of German invasion.
  • Britains security was at risk. Germany had a huge army, she would diminate Europe if she had a large navy to challange Britains.
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Signficance of Militarism and Arms Race

  • Created distrust amongst major powers. National pride meant no powers could back down.
  • Increased military spending lef to the belief that war would come. Weapons being stockpiled would have to be usd. Increased countries confidence in their military
  • French and Russia military expansion did much to futhr convince Germany that she was being encircled and should act fast
  • Increased cooperation between the countries of the armed camps. 
  • Growth of militarism called Generals to have an increased say in government
  • Military plans in place pursuaded countries they could win an armed conflict. 
  • Stockpilig of weapons did not necessarily mean they were going to be used. Can be argued they were a deterant - Countries were equally strong so no one could win. 
  • Events and leaders decided the outbreak of war, not the size of the army.
  • Apart from Germany countries were not fully ready for war. Russia still needed time to rearm and Austro-hungary saw peace as a way of stablizing her Empire.
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First Moroccan Crisis 1905


  • German motivation to test the Entente-Cordiale. Breaking this agreement would break the encirclement of Germany
  • Germany worried about the economic effects and threat to German trade in Africa if France gained more influence in Morocco.
  • Germany wanted more say in affairs outside of Europe - Weltpolitik

Events :In 1905- Kaiser visited Morocco and made a speech encouraging Morocco to stay independant, France agreed to attend international conference to decide the future of Morocco, conference held in Algeciras (Spain).Britain and Russia supported France. Only Austria-Hungary supported Germany - forced to back down.


  • Germany left humiliated. Convinced Wilhelm of Germanys encirclement
  • Brought together Britain and Russia - led to Anglo-Russian agreement. Strengthened Entente Cordiale. But the Entente Cordiale was still not a military alliance.
  • Britain and France had a futher hatred for Germany
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Second Moroccan Crisis


  • French sent troops to Moroccan capital to put down a  rebellion against the pro-French sultan. Germany claimed that French breached previous agreements. 

Events: Germany reacted by sending Panther gunboad to protect German interests, it seemed the Germans were seeking greater infuence in Morocco. The British alarmed by German presence in the med (potential threat to gibralta) and promised to support France. The Germans backed down and recieved a small part of the French Congo as compensation.


  • There was a futher weakening of Anglo-German relations. The naval race was stepped up by both nations.
  • The French became futher anti-Geman and this led to the election a more nationalist aggressive government which was keen to avenge 1871
  • Lead to a futher strengthening of Anglo-French relations. In 1912 military conventions took place and a naval agreement was signed. The Entente was strengthening
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Bosnian Crisis 1908

Causes: Rebellion within the Turkish Emipre, Emperor forced to accept a parliment. This sparked Austrias fear of a resurgence of turkish power which would threaten their ambition to gain Bosnia. Austria hoped action towards Bosnia would remove Serbian ambition of gaining Bosnia and may provoke war, an oppurtunity to crush Serbia. Austria was granted Russia approval for the annexation in exchange for black sea straits agreement.

Events: Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia with no futher refrence to Russia. The annexation of Bosnia annoyed Serbia who appealed to Russia to help. Russia condemed Austria action. Call for a conferance but Austria refused backed by Germany. Russia, too weak to fight was forced to back down


  • Austria-Hungary and Germany grew closer
  • Italy did not want Austria-Hungary expanding into the balkins, weakened triple alliance
  • Russia humiliated- unlikely to back down again
  • Serbia and Russia grew closer
  • Britain, Russia and France united in hatred for Germany
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Background on the Balkans

In 1897, when the Ottoman Empire was strong Russia and Austria-Hungary had signed an agreement: Neither power would attempt to alter the balance of power within the balkans.

Russian Concerns - Saw herself as the "protector of the slavs" Panslavism became a powerful influence within Russia. Serbia was strongly pro-Russian

Austrian Concerns - Saw the growth of Serbian nationalism as a threat to their empire. Particularly concerned about Serbias ambitions for Bosnia which the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself was hoping to incorperate 

Growth of Serbian Nationalism - Serbs wanted to form a united slav state Greater Serbia. This would threaten Austro-Hungarian Empire

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Balkan Wars

First Balkan War:

Balkan League was formed (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro) Aim to drive Turkey out of balkans. They assaulted Turkey when Turks were unable to control Albanian riots in 1912. Balkan League were victorious. Ottoman Empire were in the hands of the Balkan League. Results: (Treaty of London signed in 1913)

  • Greece recieved Crete. Bulgaria allowed to keep Thrace, Serbia recieved parts of Macedonia. Albania was given independance. Bulgaria was unhappy with its gains and Serbia was angered by an independant Albania, prevented Serb expansion.

Second Balkan War:

Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece, Bulgaria were soon outnumbered and crushed. Results: (Treat of Bucharest)

  • Bulgaria reduced in size and humiliated, Serbia virtually doubled in size. 

The Serbs caused another cisis by invading Albania. Germany warned Serbia to withdraw and this time Serbia was not supported by Russia

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Impact of the Balkan Wars

  • Serbia had been greatly strengthened. Doubled in size, gained confidence of the victory which led to futher development of Serbian Nationalism.
  • Wars worsened relations between Austro-Hungary and Serbia. Serbia was angered by the Austrian insistenced of an independant Albania. 
  • Austro-Hungary became more convinced of the need to crush Serbia
  • Germany became convinced of the need to strike against Serbia to stop their growth
  • Austro-German relations futher improved over the Balkans. Kaiser announced his support
  • France sought closer military relations with Russia and they showed less interest in restraining their ally.
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Assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand


  • On 28th June 1914- Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assisnated by Gavrilo Princip- member of the black hand gang ( a serbian nationalist terrorist organisation) during a state visit to Sarajevo.
  • Whether or not Serbian government were involved or aware of the plans they had failed to prevent the actions of the Black hand gang. 
  • Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia and it gave them an oppurtunity to try and crush Serbia
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July Crisis 1914

  • July 5th - Germanys "Blank Cheque" to Austria Hungary. Kaiser gave his word to Austria-Hungary that they had Germanys full support. The "Blank Cheque" implied that Germanhy would support Austria-Hungary whatever their actions.
  • July 23rd - Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia. If Serbia agreed it would be effectively the end of Serbian independance. Spurred on by Russia they accepted all but one point. Most of Europe believed Serbias conciltary response would be accepted although Serbia had begun partial defence mobilization. Russia decided to back Serbia
  • July 28th - Austria-Hungary had begun to mobilize against Serbia. They declared war on Serbia.
  • July 31st - Germany requested French Neutrality (Refused) British requested that Germany respect Belgium Neutrality (Refused) Germany sent an ultamatum to Russia demanding withdrawal of forces aimed at Germany
  • August 1st- Germany declares war on Russia and warns France to remain neutral. Italy declares it will remain neutral
  • August 2nd- France begins to mobilize its army
  • August 3rd- Germany declares war on France
  • August 4th- Germany invades Belgium, Britain declares war on Germany
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Why did Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia?

Short Term:

  • Balkan war had strengthened Serbia - encouraged nationalism
  • Assasination of Franz Ferdinand
  • Bosnian Crisis showed Austria had German support 
  • Blank Cheque - backing from Germany gave Austria confidence
  • Russia encourged Serbia to reject ultimatum

Long Term:

  • Russia had influence in the balkans - "Protector of Slavs"
  • Greater Serbia ambitions threatened Austro-Hungarian Empire
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Germany was to blame for war

  • Weltpolitk was an agressive and confrontation policy which inevitably caused resentment amongst other powers. 
  • Germany expanded its military capabilities without regard for other countries. (Navy)
  • Germany sought colonial expansion
  • Germany sought alliances which caused worries among other powers
  • Germany encouraged Austrian actions in the Balkans. (Blank Cheque, Bosnian Crisis)
  • Kaiser's personality shaped German policy. Irrational, reckless and militaristic views saw Germany interfering in other countries affairs. Wilhelm II's paranoia helped fuel the idea of encirclement
  • Kaiser belived war was a way to enhance his popularity and prestige
  • Militarism had bred confidence in the ability of Germany to win in an armed conflict (Schlieffen Plan also encouraged this)
  • Domestic issues such as the rise of socialism, the polarisation of German society and the failure of Sammlungspolitik meant that war was seen as the answer to the governments problems.
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Other powers to blame for war

Russia - Wanted to reassert itself after humiliating defeats in Crimean and Russo-Japanese War. Russia obsessed with the Balkans thanks to pan-Slavism, likely to bring her into conflict with Austro-Hungary. Russia humiliated after Bosnian Crisis, would not back down again. Russian support fot Serbia forced the alliance system into operation. Russia began to mobilize which provoked Germany

Austria-Hungary - Desire to preserve her empire, need to crush Serbian nationalism. Provoked the Bosnian Crisis which increased tensions. Behaved agressively in the July crisis, sending an unacceptable ultimatum and declared war on Serbia

Balkan States - Serbian nationalism provided the spark for war. Serbian nationalism threatened the stability of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Serbian government unable to control nationalism. Balkans overall played an important role in tensions 

Britain and France - Both countries had domestic difficulties in 1914, war was a way of uniting the population. British reaction to the German naval expansion had sparked the naval race. French desires for revenge dicated much of their foreign policy and was a large reason for much of German agression. French feelings of isolation helped create the alliance with Russia which contributed to German encirclement

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Causes of World War One

  • Alliances - Created loyalties and ties between countries. Bred fear and suspicion. Raised confidence of countries. Created(isolation and encirclement) insecurity in nations. Caused a local Balkan conflict to escalate into a European War. However alliances were not direct cause of the war, they were complex and defensive. Entente was not militant.
  • Militarism and Arms Race - Stockpiling of weapons meant they had to be used. Arms race increased confindence anf tensions. War was glorified. Military planning dictated mobilisation. However stockpiling of weapons also acted as a deterrent to war
  • Weltpolitik - Threatened other powers. Naval expansion allienated Britain. Germany meddled in foreign affairs. Created a strong sense of German frustration and insecurity. 
  • Imperialism and Nationalism - Imperialism led to nations falling out over colonies. Serb nationalism created the spark for war. Austrian nationalism made them determined to protect their empire and crush Serbia. German nationalism fuelled Welt politik
  • Balkans - Balkans a source of long runing tension between Russia and Austria. Balkan wars and Bosnian Crisis increased European Tension. Area provided a spark for war
  • Domestic Issues - Germany faced growth of SPD, war an attempt to unite nation. Kaiser belived war was a way to enhance his popularity and prestige. Tsar faced internal problems, war would unite Workers and Peasantry. All European countries faced difficulties (Strikes in GB and France)
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