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Chapter 28: Causes of the Great War. Pages 671-681 Primary Sources: Popular Art and Memoirs of an Incomplete Soldier, pgs. 372-381. Europe in 1911. Things to Know:. 1914-1918 First known as “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars” Fought on two fronts: Western Front and Eastern Front

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chapter 28 causes of the great war

Chapter 28: Causes of the Great War

Pages 671-681

Primary Sources: Popular Art and Memoirs of an Incomplete Soldier, pgs. 372-381

things to know
Things to Know:
  • 1914-1918
  • First known as “The Great War” or “The War to End All Wars”
  • Fought on two fronts: Western Front and Eastern Front
  • Sides:
    • Triple Entente (Allies): Britain, France, Russia
    • Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire
  • Fighting around the world: Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia
  • New modern weaponry and technology is used.

Causes of World War I

  • M
  • A
  • N
  • I
  • A
  • ilitarism
  • lliances
  • ationalism
  • mperialism
  • ssassination

Causes of World War I

  • Imperialism
  • Despite the Berlin Conference (1884-85) at which European leaders set rules for the colonization of Africa, imperialism still caused friction among the European states.
  • Great Britain had territories on five continents—Canada, Australia, large parts of Africa, India, spheres of influence in China; France had large colonial holdings in Africa as well as controlling French Indochina
  • Germany, who had entered into the land rush later due to internal issues (Germany was not a united nation-state until 1871), was left with smaller claims in Africa

Causes of World War I

  • Militarism
  • When Otto von Bismarck was named Prime Minister of Prussia in 1862, he set out to create a “German” empire
  • Much of this involved military expansion; Bismarck created a modern military machine that easily defeated Austria and France in the 1860s-1870s.
  • But then Germany started building a navy to rival that of Great Britain, the undisputed ruler of the seas at the time.
  • This led to an arms race between the two countries (Germany and Great Britain) and to strained relations.

Causes of World War I

  • Nationalism
  • In particular, this means Slavic nationalism. Since the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire had controlled much of the Balkan peninsula, but their hold had slowly been eroding.
  • 1908 – Austria-Hungary annexes former Ottoman-held Bosnia; this upsets Serbia (and many in Bosnia) who feel that a Slavic state (like Serbia) should control Bosnia instead of the German-speaking Austria
  • 1912-13 – The Balkan Wars; once again, the people of the Balkans reclaim territory from the Ottoman Empire and once again, Austria-Hungary steps in to assert control

Causes of World War I

  • Alliances
  • After completing the creation of the German Empire, Bismarck started making alliances with other countries to ensure the stability of the new Germany.
  • This led to a wave of alliances signed by different states between the years 1873 and 1914; the importance of these alliances were that some states had no option but to declare war if one of their allies entered into war first.
main causes of wwi
MAIN Causes of WWI
  • Militarism
    • Naval rivalry increases, Germany builds navy to rival Great Britain
    • Military cooperation between Britain, France, Russia
    • Biggest arm race at this point in history
    • Armies grow in size and firepower
  • Alliances
    • Worried European nations form Alliances as nations grow in power
  • Imperialism
    • Competition for colonies
    • By 1900, most areas are colonized by one of the major powers. This increases competition for the few that remain
    • Military success could distract from problems (strikes, labor unrest) at home
  • Nationalism
    • Rivalries to colonize heighten nationalist sentiments (warlike) in each country

Assassination in SarajevoEurope had reached its breaking point when on June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist (GavriloPrincip) belonging to an organization known as The Black Hand. Immediately following the assassination Germany pledged its full support (blank check) to Austria-Hungary, pressuring them to declare war on Serbia, while France strengthened its backing of Russia. Convinced that the Serbian government had conspired against them, Austria-Hungary issued Serbia an unacceptable ultimatum, to which Serbia consented almost entirely.




Gavrilo Princip


Falling DominoesUnsatisfied, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914. On July 29, Russia ordered a partial mobilization only against Austria-Hungary in support of Serbia, which escalated into a general mobilization.

The Germans threatened war on July 31 if the Russians did not demobilize. Upon being asked by Germany what it would do in the event of a Russo-German War, France responded that it would act in its own interests and mobilized.

On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia, and two days later, on France. The German invasion of Belgium to attack France, which violated Belgium's official neutrality, prompted Britain to declare war on Germany. World War I had begun.


the war in europe
The War in Europe
  • Germany’s plan for a quick victory over France fails
    • German leaders confident that railways and size of army would allow them to overwhelm the Belgians and defeat the French before they could mobilize
    • French launch offensives at Alsace-Lorraine but fail
  • Obstacles
    • Belgium resisted and slowed the Germans
    • British get involved
    • Germans tired, running low on supplies by the time they reach Northern France
    • French retreat, reorganize in Paris
    • Battle of Marne: 5 day battle, stop Germans and push them back
trench warfare
Trench Warfare
  • Troops along the Western Front begin to dig into the ground
  • Miles and miles of trenches along the Western front
  • “No Man’s Land”- area between the trenches, high casualties, assaults almost suicidal
  • Leads to stalemate in war on Western Front, difficult to gain ground
  • Terrible Conditions: rats, disease, lice
  • Exposed to weather: cold, rain (Trench foot)
british machine guns
British Machine Guns

Indian Gun Crew

german artillery
German Artillery

Allied Howitzer


French Spad

British Sopwith Camel

  • New weapons contribute to mass casualties: artillery, machine guns, poison gas (Mustard Gas)
  • Casualties on Western Front in 1916:
    • Germans: 850,000
    • French: 700,000
    • British: 400,000
the war in the east
The War in the East
  • Germans alarmed at Russia’s quick mobilization
    • Germany reorganizes with new emphasis on Russia, defeat several Russian armies, put them in retreat
    • Russian problems lead to high casualties
      • Illiterate and poorly trained peasants used
      • Commands sent in un-coded format
      • Artillery operated by upper class provides little support for peasant forces
    • Germans begin moving into provinces of Russian empire
    • Poor showing by commanders, Tsar Nicholas II takes command sparking mutinies and peasant revolts
      • Tsarist regime destroyed by revolution in 1917
  • Russia has some better success against inept generals of Austria-Hungary and mixed ethnic armies with little support for the Austrian emperor
  • Austrians crush Serbia, with the help of Germans keep Russia in check
the war in italy
The War in Italy
  • Italy breaks alliance, saying Austria-Hungary broke defensive alliance by attacking first
  • Launch offensive campaigns against Austria-Hungary with the promise of land gains from Britain.
  • Near collapse of Italian lines:
    • Incompetent and corrupt generals
    • Disgust over costly campaigns that go nowhere
    • Double dealing of politicians
    • Soldiers desert and war plunges Italy into social and political turmoil
home fronts in europe
Home Fronts in Europe
  • Soldiers resent politicians and civilians who don’t understand the realities of war, even though civilians are suffering
    • Food shortages lead to rationing
    • Industrial sectors taken over by state
    • Politicians seize power from parliaments
    • Dissent suppressed by force, newspapers and media censored
    • Governments use propaganda
  • Organization in Industry is sped up, socialists and union chiefs given recognition and allowed to serve on governing boards (negotiate improved working conditions)
  • Labor protests in opposition of leadership and war (Bolsheviks rise to power in Russia: 1917)
  • Women’s participation increases, brings about a “liberation” of women
  • Forced to give up jobs to returning men soldiers after the war, but still make gains (voting) in Britain, Germany, U.S.
the war outside of europe
The War Outside of Europe
  • Colonies drawn into the war
    • Fighting in Middle East, W & E Africa, China, islands of Pacific by 1915
    • Soldiers recruited from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa (Triple Entente)
  • 1917: US enters the war
  • Britain makes it truly global
    • Cut off Germany from colonies in Africa, China, Pacific
    • Powerful navy = effective blockade
    • Control trans-Atlantic cable
    • Japan attacks German colonies in China and Pacific
    • Canada, Australia, New Zealand (British Dominion): supply food and raw materials
  • Help from foreign troops:
    • Dominion troops help fight in Europe, Middle East (defend Suez Canal)
    • Non Settler colonies in Africa, India, SE Asia fight in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East
    • French rely on laborers from colonies in Africa to Vietnam
  • German trained African soldiers hold off British led Indian and S. African troops
  • Main outside source of help for Germans came from Ottoman Empire and Young Turk leaders
    • Turks blame Christian Armenian minorities for failures against Russia (Genocide used)
u s involvement
U.S. Involvement
  • Americans disagree over which side is right or wrong, debate involvement at all
  • American businesses profit from selling food, raw materials, eventually weapons to Triple Entente
  • Allows US to take new markets in Latin America and Asia, turns US from debtor to creditor nation and worlds strongest economy
  • Join war in 1917, declaring war on Germany
    • Pro-British (use of propaganda), Zimmerman Note, U-boats (Lusitania)
    • American President: Woodrow Wilson
    • Convoy system used to combat U-Boats
    • Early numbers of troops small, but symbolic
    • By 1918, millions recruited and trained, thousands start arriving in Europe
    • Germany realizes it must launch massive strike before full manpower and resources of US reach Europe
the return to offensive warfare
The Return to Offensive Warfare
  • March-April 1918: massive offensives launched by Germans on Western front
    • Appears Central Powers might win
    • An entire British army defeated another in retreat
    • Demoralized French falling back toward Paris
    • Russia leaves war, 1 million German soldiers transfer from Eastern Front
    • New fighting tactics and storm trooper bring them close to Paris
    • Then the advance slows (mass casualties, fatigue, tanks, fresh soldiers from US), then stalls, Germans pushed back
    • Austrian front breaks down
popular art
Popular Art
  • Why was propaganda art such an important part of WWI?
  • Who is being targeted by this popular art?
memoirs of an incomplete soldier
Memoirs of an Incomplete Soldier
  • How does Clapham’s memoirs compare to the young soldier’s recollections in the video clip?