Toward a European War. Towards a European war. The alliance system. The major powers were the European nations of Austria, Hungary , Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia. They had spent years preparing for war, though some had hoped it would occur later than it did.
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A map showing the major powers of the early twentieth century and the rival alliances they had formed by 1907. Italy declared itself neutral when war broke out in 1914. In April 1915, in the secret Treaty of London, Italy committed itself to go to war in support of the Triple Entente.
Nations formed the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente in response to growing rivalries within Europe. Rivalries existed in the areas of:
One nation’s attempts to protect its interests led others to fear its power:
Advance of troops: S Schlieffen plan
Advance of troops: P Plan 17
Area lost to Germany
Based on the idea that Germany would eventually fight France and Russia but should avoid fighting both at once.
France would expect Germany to invade from the east, so would not be prepared for invasion in the north
Germany would defeat France in 6 weeks it would then supposedly take for Russian troops to mobilise. Then Germany would attack Russia
A map showing the main features of Germany’s Schlieffen Plan and France’s Plan 17
French troops would quickly recapture Alsace and Lorraine
Troops would then move into German territory