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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