From neutrality to war
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From Neutrality to War. What Caused World War I ?. Nationalism started international and domestic tensions Europeans believed that a nation should express the nationalism of a single ethnic group

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What caused world war i
What Caused World War I?

  • Nationalism started international and domestic tensions

  • Europeans believed that a nation should express the nationalism of a single ethnic group

  • For example, France longed to avenge a humiliating defeat by a collection of German states in 1871 and regain Alsace-Lorraine

  • A spread of Social Darwinism created a belief that the best nation would come out ahead

  • Nationalism destabilized old multinational empires such as Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire

  • Leading industrial nations competed for lands rich in raw materials as well as military outposts

Causes of wwi
Causes of WWI

  • Countries began to stockpile weapons, and no nation did it better than Germany

  • By 1914, Germany had a huge standing army and the largest, deadliest collection of guns in the world

  • Germany also built up its Navy to rival those of Britain and the United States

  • In the spirit of militarism, countries began to strengthen their militaries through competition, which fueled the arms race even more

  • The next major war would involve more troops and more technologically advanced weapons than ever before

Causes of wwi1
Causes of WWI

  • Machine guns, mobile artillery, tanks, submarines, and airplanes would change the nature of warfare forever

  • Alliances formed, which made nations overconfident and reckless

  • Germany/Austria-Hungary/Italy joined together in the Triple Alliance

  • France/Russia/Britain formed the Triple Entente to counter

  • Allies were obligated to fight if one country goes to war

The spark that lit the powder keg
The Spark that lit the Powder Keg

  • June 28, 1914 – Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, visited Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia)

  • Serbian mobs protested Austria-Hungary’s possession of Bosnia and conspired to kill Ferdinand and his wife Sophie

  • These murders sparked blame throughout Central Europe and ultimately lead to the Great War

Fighting begins
Fighting Begins

  • Everything was in place for a large war – nationalism, large armies, stockpiles of weapons, alliances, and military plans

  • After the assassination, Kaiser William II, the German emperor, assured Austria-Hungary that Germany would stand by their allies if war came

  • Austria-Hungary, now with Germany’s full support, sent a harsh ultimatum to Serbia demanding Serbia’s total cooperation in an investigation

  • Serbia didn’t agree with all of the demands and Austria-Hungary declared war on July 28, 1914

Countries fall into place
Countries Fall into Place

  • Russia mobilized it’s military to aid it’s ally Serbia against Austria-Hungary

  • France, Russia’s ally, quickly declared war against Germany

  • The next day, Germany declared war on neutral Belgium so it could plot an invasion of France through the tiny country

  • Immediately, Great Britain declared war on Germany because Belgium and France were their allies

  • In less than one week, the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary were at war against the Allied Powers of Britain, France, Russia, and Serbia

  • The Ottoman Empire eventually joined the Central Powers

German offensive
German Offensive

  • German Forces quickly fought through Belgium and moved toward Paris

  • In September, the French and the British counterattacked the Germans only 30 miles from Paris

  • The German forces began to take high ground, dig trenches, and fortify their positions

  • Machine guns and artillery stopped attacks from both sides

  • 450 miles of trenches stretched from Belgium to the border of Switzerland

  • The Western Front proved to be the major theater of war and would determine the victor


  • The primary reason for the length of the war was that the defensive weapons of the time war better and more devastating than the offensive ones

  • In virtually every battle on the western front, the attacking force suffered terribly

  • Poison gas didn’t even help advance troops, even though it had devastating effects

  • Ineffective offense and potent defense created a deadly stalemate

  • The stalemate led to inhumane and gruesome conditions in the trenches

In the trenches
In the Trenches

  • “Trench Foot” was developed by standing for hours in wet, muddy trenches

  • Contracted lice from the millions of rats that infested the trenches

  • Snipers could kills soldiers at any moment or surprise gas attacks might occur

  • No Man’s Land existed between enemy trenches, full of artillery barrages which killed anything that lived in the area

  • Going “over the top” of the trenches meant an attempt to attack the entrenched enemy

  • Casualties mounted into the millions, with almost 1 million French troops dead or injured in the first three months of the war

  • In two battles in 1916 – Verdun and Somme – the British, French, and German sustained more than two million casualties, and still the stalemate dragged on