First World War (1914 -1919): Causes and Result

Four long-term causes of the First World War:

1.Nationalism

  • It means love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it.

  • Often nationalism led to rivalries and conflicts between nations.

  • The love of the country demanded the hatred of another.

  • For example, love of Germany demanded the hatred of France. Likewise the French people hated the German people.

  • In Eastern Europe narrow nationalism played a greater role. The Serbians hated Austria- Hungary.

2.Imperialism

  • Imperialism means a policy of extending economic and political control over weaker nations.

  • Colonies supplied European nations with raw materials and provided markets for manufactured goods

  • Major European countries also competed for land in Africa.

3.Militarism

  • Militarism means a political orientation of a people or a government to maintain a strong military force and to defend or promote national interests.

  • The countries in Europe had been increasing their armies and navies.

  • By 1890 the strongest nation militarily in Europe was Germany.

  • In Europe, England and Germany were superior in Navy.

4.System of Alliances

  • By 1907 there were 2 major defense alliances in Europe

  • The ‘Triple Entente’ or ‘the Allies’, consisted of France, Britain, and Russia

  • The ‘Triple Alliance or ‘the Central Powers’, consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

  • The Balkan region was considered as “the power keg of Europe” due to competing interests in the area.

Immediate Cause

  • Arch Duke Francis Ferdinand (Austrian prince) and his wife were assassinated by Serbians in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on 28th June 1914.

  • Austria-Hungary was already sick of Serbia and she decided to take advantage of the new situation to crush her.

  • The murder of their crown prince and his wife resulted in a demand being sent to Serbia for immediate compliance of certain terms.

  • Serbia’s reply did not pacify Austria-Hungary. Hence, Austria-Hungary backed by Germany declared war on Serbia.

First World War begins

  • The Alliance system pulled one nation after another into the conflict first world war.

  • On August 3, 1914, Germany invaded Belgium, following a strategy known as the Schlieffen Plan

  • Turkey and Bulgaria joined the war on the side of Germany.

  • Italy left the Triple Alliance and joined the opposite camp with the idea of recovering Italian territories under Austrian control.

  • England joined the war against Germany. There was bitter fighting on the French soil.

  • The Battle of Verdun decided the fortunes of the war in favour of the Allies.

  • Germany started submarine warfare in a large scale. All the laws relating to naval warfare were thrown out.

  • Russia fought on the side of Allies up to 1917. The Bolshevik regime wanted peace with Germany. Thus the Brest-Litovsk Treaty was signed between Russia and Germany.

  • A German U-boat sank the British passenger liner killing all aboard including 128 American tourists

  • The Germans claimed the ship was carrying Allied arms.

  • Americans were outraged and public opinion turned against Germany and the Central Powers

  • In 1916 Wilson won a close election using the slogan, “He kept us out of war.

  • The Americans arrived and immediately played a major role in pushing the Germans back

  • In July and August the Americans helped the Allies win the Second Battle of the Marne

Germany collapses; The First World War ends

  • On Nov 3, 1918, Germany’s partner, Austria-Hungary, surrendered to the Allies

  • Same day, German sailors revolted against their government

  • The German Emperor Kaiser William lost all hopes of winning the war. He abdicated his throne and fled to Holland.

  • So on the 11th day of Nov of 1918, Germany signed a truce ending the first world War

New weapons

  • Machine Guns: Guns could now fire 600 rounds per minute

  • War Tank: New steel tanks ran on caterpillar treads

  • Airplanes: Early contests resembled duals, however by 1918 the British had a fleet of planes that could deliver bomb loads

  • Poison Gas: Mustard gas was used to keep down the enemy

Results of the First World War

  • In first world War about 10 million lives were lost and 20 million people have been wounded. People all over the world suffered untold miseries. There was a large scale damage to civil property.

  • It is estimated that the direct cost of the war reached just over 200 billion dollars and the indirect cost more than a 150 billion dollars.First world war map

Treaty of Versailles

  • After Germany lost WWI, the winning nations drafted a treaty to address issues such as territorial adjustments, reparations, armament restrictions, war guilt and the League of Nations.

  • The treaty punished Germany and left bitter feelings.

  • Germany was forced to accept all the blame for the war and pay millions in reparations to Britain and France.

  • Italy was disappointed that it was denied territory promised by Britain and France.

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