The causes of wwi
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The Causes of WWI. Ingredients for War. Nationalism. All ethnic groups in Europe were nationalistic ( extremely proud of their culture and heritage ). France wanted to start a war with Germany because it had lost two provinces ( Alsace and Lorraine ) in its last war against Germany.

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The Causes of WWI

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The Causes of WWI

Ingredients for War


  • All ethnic groups in Europe were nationalistic (extremely proud of their culture and heritage).

  • France wanted to start a war with Germany because it had lost two provinces (Alsace and Lorraine)in its last war against Germany.

  • Ethnic groups living within crumbling empires wanted to break away and form their own countries.

  • Austria-Hungary was ethnically and religiously divided – all these groups wanted independence.

Germany had taken Alsace and Lorraine from France after a war in 1871.

Ethnic Groups living in Austria-Hungary

Imperialism (Colonization)

  • The Great Powers (Britain, France, Germany...) wanted to acquire as many colonies as possible.

  • Colonies would ensure access to resources and a market for all the goods produced in the home country.

  • Result: There was increasing competition for colonies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

  • Problem: Germany had had the most powerful military and economy, but very few colonies!

Colonial Empires in 1900


  • European powers had been divided into two allied camps:

    • The Triple Alliance

      • (Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary)

    • The Triple Entente

    • (Britain, France, Russia)

  • This made war more likely because now they all knew that they had “backup”.

Alliances in Europe - 1914

Lack of Fear

  • In 1914, most people were not afraid of war.

  • Most believed that a war would be short, and that victory for their side was a certainty.

Arms Race (Militarism)

  • The division into two allied camps led to an arms race.

  • All Great Powers adopted universal conscription, creating large reserves of manpower.

  • Armies and navies had been expanded tremendously.

  • Both sides were expanding their armed forces in order to maintain the balance of power.

    • Example: The French and German armies doubled in size between 1871 and 1914.

    • Example: There was a naval competition between Britain and Germany as a result of the building of the first Dreadnought. This type of ship was so powerful that it made all older ships obsolete.

The Dreadnought

So how did WWI actually begin?

  • In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed a region named Bosnia. This was a problem because Bosnia was populated by Slavs, including many Serbs.

  • Result: The Russians and the Serbs were very upset.

  • A terrorist organization called “The Black Hand” was formed . Its goal was to cause a war so that Bosnia could be taken over by Serbia.

  • In 1914, the Austrian Archduke (heir to the throne), Franz Ferdinand, decided to tour the capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, with his wife.

  • The members of the Black Hand decided that this was the time to act. They planned to assassinate the Archduke during his tour of Sarajevo!

Bosnia: Right between Serbia and Austria-Hungary

The arrest of GavriloPrincip

Causes of WWI - Summary

  • Nationalism

  • Imperialism (Colonization)

  • Alliances

  • Lack of fear

  • Arms race (Militarism)

  • Finally, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

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