History: The origins of the First World War

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  • Created by: katewells
  • Created on: 26-09-15 14:43

Long term cause: The rise of Germnay

  • Until the middle of the nineteenth century, Germany was divided into seperate states.
  • The most singificant state was called Prussia, whos leaders in 1860's wanted to unite Germany.
  • France was not happy about this and went to war gainst Prussia from 1870-71. France was Beaten and the Prussian goverment was able to set up a new German empire.
  • Wilhelm 1, King of Prussia was declared Kaiser of Germany and his chief minister, Bismarck, became the powerful Chancellor of Germany.
  • Between 1871-1914 the economy of the new German state was strong. It was based on the industrial revolution and by 1914 the output of German factories had succeeded the British.
  • After 1871 he stopped the German goverment from getting involved in any wars.
  • Being sworn enemies Bismarck made sure that France remained isolated.
  • When he was in charge of the German foreign policy there was no danger of Germany going to war against Russia or Britian.
  • This changed when Wilhelm 2 became new Kaiser and Bismarck lost chancellorship.
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Long term cause: The new Kaiser and world power

  • Now Germany was the equal of Britian in terms of wealth and idustry, some German people felt their country should have a worldwide empire like Britain.
  • One german who belived this was Kaiser Wilhelm 2 who came into power 1888.
  • Wilhelm wanted new, more aggressive apporach to the rest of the world.
  • He ended the relationship that Bismarck had encouraged between Germany and Russia.
  • As a result other countries saw Germany as a threat.
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Long term cause: The arms race

  • After 1897 the German goverment started builidng up an enormous navy that could challenge the British. The Germas knew that a worldwide empire would have to be defended by a worldwide navy.
  • The german goverment passed a law in 1900 ordering a new fleet of 41 battleships and 60 cruisers to be built.
  • British responded by increasing there navy.
  • British created a new battleship called a 'Dreadnought' in 1906.
  • Germans responded by building similar ships.
  • The British then upgraded to a more substantial 'Super dreadnoughts'.
  • Other countries took part in the arms race.
  • For example the French increased their forces. The Russians spent a fortune in military railways to take troops to fight Germnay and Austria-Hungary.
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Long term cause: The two alliances

  • Germany signed a treaty of alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879.
  • At frist the only likely enemy of this alliance was France.
  • Wilhelms policy encouraged Russia to join forces with France: they agreed to an alliance in 1892 that if either country was attcked by Germany the other state would got to war.
  • Britian thought of an alliance with Germany aainst France and Russia, but the German policy under the Kaiser was so badly managed Britain was froced to look at France and Russia.  
  • Britain established relations with France in 1904 and Russia in 1907. This was not an official alliance but an entente.
  • The triple entente consisting of Britain, Russia and France was an anti-Geran group.
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Short term cause: The killing of Sarajevo

  • The city of Sarajevo in Bosnia was centre of attention in June 1914
  • Bosnia was part of Austria-Hungary but many of its people were Serbs who wanted to be ruled by Serbia.
  • 28th June 1914 Gavrilo Princip shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the thron and his wife.
  • The killing was an excuse for Austria-Hungary to go to war aginst Serbia.
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Short term cause: The german decsion for war

  • 1913 there had been another argument between Austria-Hungary and Serbia and Russia about how the land taken from Turkey should be divided.
  • This almost led to war between the alliances but did not because German goverment refused to support Austria-Hungary.
  • 5th July 1914 the Kaiser gave his full backing for an Austiran attack on Serbia.
  • The Germans knew that there was a good chance that Russia would go to war on the side of Serbia and that the result would be ageneral war.
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Short term cause: Confusion about the british posi

  • The Germans were not sure whether the British would fight.
  • If Britiain made clear their determination to fight, the German leaders might have thought again about the war.
  • Although Britain had links with France and Russia there was no official alliance. Legally Britiain was not bound to go to war on the side of France and Russia.
  • Senior civil servants urged the british foreign secretary (Sir Edward Grey) to say that Britain would definiltey side with France and Russia.
  • They hoped that an announcement would frighten the Germans into stepping back from war, Grey disagreed.
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