Causes of the First World War

Published 13 Mar 2017

The world has experienced serious warfare in a number of occasions. One of the major warfare that involved almost all countries in the world occurred between 1914 and 1918.I t is commonly referred to as the First World War. It was the first war whose effects were felt allover the world .The war was between two opposing sides ,the allies which included such countries as Britain France among others while on the other side Germany lead the so called triple alliance with Italy and Austria in her side. (Kishlansky et al 1996)

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The killing Austria’s prince Ferdinand was the point when the point where the war started. The Serbs who were part of the Austria controlled Balkans region wanted to have an independent state, the saw the assassination of a member of the royal family as something that will prove a point to the authorities and grant them independence. After this assassination which was carried out by the Serbs, Austria put very heavy demands on Serbia. The other countries that wanted a part of this region Turkey and Russia saw this as an opportune moment to extend their course. Russia supported Serbia in this diplomatic conflict that later turned out to be the beginning of the First World War. Countries had entered into treaties promising to help one another or not take sides in the conflict. When Russia started mobilizing her troops this move was seen as an act of war further heightening the tension among the nations. (Kishlansky et al 1996)

During the last years of the 19th centuries Europeans powers were competing for Africa. Every other country wanted to take those countries that were endowed with resources or seemed strategically placed. This was taking place between the early 1890s and at the beginning of the world war in 1914.these nations wanted to have control over many colonies in Africa. There are several conflicts that arose during this process, for example over the control of Egypt and Morocco; German had a conflict with France and Britain. This conflict escalated and as the war ended Germany lost most of her colonies in Africa.

A dispute had arose between France and Germany over the regions of Alsace and Lorrainne.Germany had seized these region from France after the Franco Prussian conflict .France was not happy with this ,she wanted her land back. After the war between these countries where France was defeated, the suspicion heightened leading to the two countries stepping up their defenses in preparation of any eventuality. They increased their soldiers and a weapon in preparation for the war.This was a build up and lead to the First World War. (Kishlansky et al 1996)

The conflict between turkey and Russia on one hand and turkey and Austria on the other hand heightened tensions in the whole of Europe.Ausrtia had the control of the Balkan area but turkey and Russia wanted to have some control of some regions of the Balkans as they had some strong ties with them. The conflict escalated to the levels that other countries had to intervene through taking sides leading to a full scale war in Europe.

Germany had an ambition of being the mighty nation as far as military was concerned. She made weapons to advance this cause something that made Britain nervous as she had the strongest army by then. The two countries started competing by strengthening of their navy forces as this was a key defense point. The race of arms between the two countries continued, this only fuelled the already existing tension between the two countries such that a small provocation could have led to a full scale war

Alliances that were being formed by different countries prior to this Great War have been pointed as the catalyst of the conflict in Europe and world at large. These alliances were largely formed to protect interests which to some extent created suspicions among nation and this is what culminated in to a full scale war in Europe and beyond. When countries declared war between themselves the colonies and dominion had an obligation to join the war and fight to protect the interest of the mother countries.Britain,Russia,Japan France and Serbia were fighting on one side as allies where as Germany, Italy Austria-Hungary were one unit.(Kishlansky et al 1996)

The war lasted up to November 1918 the date which marked the actual fighing, the parties continued with negotiation which ended on July 1919 with the signing of the Versailles treaty which was describe as a peace treaty. In the treaty Germany and its allies were supposed to take responsibility of starting the war and compensate for the loss that occurred. They were to disarm, reduce their military might to some limited numbers, and pay reparations to those countries which suffered eminence loss. According to the treaty Germany was also required to return some land it has taken from France, Czechoslovakia Belgium and Lithuania. The same treaty gave birth to the League of the Nations, an organization which as supposed to prevent another war, a task that it performed badly. Its inability to control the member states led to violation of the treaty leading to further conflicts which ended with another major war that was started by the Germans again. The treaty was seen by some quarters to be to harsh for Germany as some nations such as Britain and France wanted to weaken Germany completely.

This has been described as the factor that may have lead to Nazism and the rise of Hitler who caused suffering to many especially the Jews. The treaty faced some opposition with United States declining to ratify it and refusing to join the League of Nations. (Kishlansky et al 1996)

Germany violated the treaty agreements one by one but the League of the Nations was too weak to tame it. The member countries that could have put pressure on Germany such as France and Britain were experiencing numerous problems such that they just watched hoping that this unprecedented move by Germany will come to an end but they were wrong
The First World War caused great suffering to the people as lives were lost and property destroyed. A body that was formed to bring peace was a toothless dog as it failed to tame nations that arrogantly violated the treaty something that culminated to a war of greater magnitude than the First World War. If all the concerned parties came into an agreement and supported the treaty perhaps we could have avoided another major war.


Kashlansky, M.Gery, P and O’Brien, P (1996 ) Civilizations in the west since 1555 Vol. 2 6th edition. Longman.

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