Origins of WW1

Revsion for the origins of the first world war, GCSE modern aqa history

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  • Created by: Louise
  • Created on: 06-06-12 15:21

Alliance System

Triple Alliance


  • Germany and Austria-Hungary signed a defensive alliance in 1879.
  • Italy later joined to become the Triple Alliance

Triple Entente


  • 1894- France and Russia signed a defensive alliance (France wanted revenge on Germany {1871 defeat} and Russia needed a loan)
  • 1904- France and Britain sign Entente Cordiale- an agreement (France wanted revenge on Germany and Britain had rivalry with Germany because of her increasing empire and navy.
  • 1907 - Anglo-Russian Entene - an agreement
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Kaiser Wilhelm II - Aims in foreign policy

Britain- Increased rivalry between Britain and Germany:

  • The Kaiser had a policy of Welt Politik, he wanted to expand his empire which threatened Britains interests in the Turkish Empire, Africa and the Far East.
  • The Kaiser wanted to build up the German Navy ewhich threatened Britains naval supremacy

France- Tension between France and Germany:

  • The kaiser wanted to test the entente cordiale by interfering with Frech interests in Morocco
  • France and Germany were old enemies, Germany had defeated French in 1871

Russia- Tension between Russia and Germany:

  • The Kaiser supported interests of Austria-Hungary in the Balkins
  • This infuriated Russia as she saw herself as "The Protector of Serbs"
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1st Moroccan Crisis 1905-6

France wanted to add morocco to her empire

Germany wanted to test the entente cordiale


  • 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


  • Showed the Entente Cordiale was strong
  • Britain and France began secret military talks 
  • Anglo-German rivalry increased
  • Germany humiliated - attempt to destroy Entente Cordiale backfired
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Bosnian Crisis 1908

Austria-Hungary was worried about serbias aim- to unite other balkin states under one rule- Greater Serbia. Races who live in Austria-Hungary may revolt in order to join greater serbia.


  • Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia
  • The annexation of Bosnia annoyed Serbia who appealed to Russia to help
  • Russia called for an international conference
  • Austria-Hungary backed by germany refused
  • 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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2nd Moroccan Crisis 1911


  • In 1911 France occupied Fez in Morocco
  • Kaiser sent "Panther" Gunboat to the port in Agadir, Morocco
  • This was in order to pursuade France to agree to compensation  (the congo in africa) rather than Morocco
  • Germany's actions backfired, Britain was determined to support France
  • Lloyd George warned Germany that Britain would back the France by war if necessary
  • Germany backed down


  • Increased tension in Europe
  • Strengthened Anglo-French relations
  • Increased Anglo-German rivalry
  • Kaiser was again humiliated- unlikely to back down again
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Arms Race


  • Every major power had introduced conscription which lead to huge armies, spending on armed forces doubled.
  • This brought war nearer as it increased tension between the major powers, more likely to use an army they had built up
  • However it also acted as a deterent because all powers armies were strong, so they would not want to fight a strong army


  • Britain needed the strongest navy in Europe to trade and protect its Empire. They had their navy on a two-power standard.
  • Germany started building up her navy
  • A new battle ship which could sink any other ship was invented by the British
  • Germany thought they could build more Dreadnoughts
  • However as Britain sped up building, Germany pulled out of the race realizing they could not match Britains navy
  • This increased British and German rivalry
  • Was not a direct cause of war, race died down in 1911
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Rivalry of Austria-Hungary and Serbia

This played a part in the outbreak of war

Austria-Hungary- Felt increasingly threatened by serbian nationalism. Concerened that population of serbs within Austria-Hungary would revolt in order to join a greater serbia which would lead to the break down of Austria-Hungary. Supported by Germany, Austria Hungary wanted to crush Serbia

Serbia- Serbia wanted all serbs to unite into an enlarged state of Greater Serbia. Serbia was supported by Russia (protector of the serbs)

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Assination 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.
  • Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia
  • Recieving full backing from Germany, Austria-Hungary sent an ultimatum to Serbia which Austria-Hungary knew Serbia would reject
  • Serbia accepted all points but one
  • Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28th July 1914
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Role of Alliances

28th July - Austria declares war on Serbia

30th July- Russia moves its armed forces to help Serbia, Germany warns Russia to stop.

1st August- Germany declares war on Russia and warns France to remain neutral. Italy declares it will remain neutral

2nd August- France begins to mobilize its army

3rd August- Germany declares war on France

4th August- Germany invades Belgium, Britain declares war on Germany

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Schlieffen Plan

Because of the alliance system Germany would have to fight a war on two fronts, to avoid this the Schlieffen Plan was created

  • German army would first sweep through belgium and defeat France
  • This would allow germany to move to the Eastern front and defeat Russia

Germany invaded Belgium on 4th August which provided an ideal reason for Britain to declare war on Germany

Britain claimed to be honouring the treaty of london, it may however have been an excuse to get invloved before Germany had easy access to Britain across the chanel.

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Countries Responsible

France - Determined to get revenge on Germany, wanted to expand in Morocco

Russia - Tsar supported serbia

Britain - Supported France in Morocco, took part in naval race, declared war on Germany

Germany - Welt politik, built up army and navy, challanged France and supported Austria-Hungary

Austria-Hungary - Determined to crush serbia, sent ultimatum, declared war

Serbia - Determined to create a Greater Serbia, challanged annexation of Bosnia, Black hand gang- a serbian nationalist group

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Causes of ww1

Moroccan Crises:

  • strengthens Entente Cordiale
  • Humiliates germany

Bosnian Crisis:

  • Russia Humiliated
  • Strengthens German-Austro Relations

Alliance System:

  • Drags the major powers into war

Arms and Naval Race

  • Greated tension

Schlieffen Plan

  • Brought Britain into war

Assisnation- The spark that started the war

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really useful thanks :) 

Miss E

This detailed but also well laid out presentation deals with the complex issues around the beginning of WWI and explains long term and short term causes in a brief and accessible way. Good use of bullet points, colour and a summary at the end. A great starting point for revision.


gud defo getin my btec pe now

Luke M Barker



Very Helpful and useful. Well summed up. However there are a lot of grammar mistakes


does anyone know the exam board this part is based on?



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