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The Main Long Term Causes of World War One



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    The main Long term causes of World War ONE (1914-1918) There was no single cause for the outbreak of the First World War. The causes are much more complex than those of the Second World War and include short, intermediate and long term factors that all culminated to cause the July Days in 1914. These factors include militarism, nationalism, imperialism, the alliance system, and industrialization as the long term causes. The intermediate causes included the crises in the Balkans and the short-term trigger for the war was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the Sarajevo, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary.

    Militarism in the 19th and early 20th centuries involving the great powers of Europe was definitely a key factor in the beginning of World War 1. Militarism is the ideology that a country’s power politically, socially and economically depends on their ability to use both for offence and defence when necessary. Among the great powers during this time, militarism was becoming more and more prevalent with the common belief that the nation with the biggest armies and navies would increase their country’s influence and prestige throughout the whole world.

    This build up and competition between the major powers developed into the arms race, which for many years built tension between Britain and Germany. Britain had the largest navy in the world in 1871; Germany wanted to show the rest of the world that it had a navy that would rival that of Britain’s. This rivalry among the nations was one of the many major causes of World War 1 and linked quit closely with the alliance system that had developed in this era.

    The alliance system was positively one of the long term causes of the First World War and this was mainly because of that fact that it divided Europe into two sides, both with highly developed military capacity. On one side, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy were allies due to the Triple Alliance, which was formed in 1882. On the other side, Britain, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente formed in 1882. On the other side, Britain, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente formed in 1907 in response to the Triple Alliance.

    These two sides constantly became more and more hostile toward each other therefore increasing the already building tension, fear and suspicious among the great powers. As a result of the alliances system, if two of these nations went to war, the whole of Europe and in turn the rest of the world would become involved as they had committed themselves to their allies in times of war. It is evident that this is true because after Austria-Hungary became involved in the conflict; Germany and Italy were dragged in therefore bringing the rival camp into the equation as well.

    This system made it clear that the whole of Europe was ready for a war and it was almost as if the great powers were waiting for the trigger of the assassination. Nationalism among the great powers of Europe during the 19th century became one of the significant causes of the First World War. Nationalism is an ideology that the needs of someone’s own nation were most important than the needs of other nations. These strong feelings that many nations built up aggression ultimately was released as the First World War.

    Nation such as Germany and Italy had united in the 19th century under the beliefs of nationalism and a created national pride, which was extremely important to them. Although the Alliance system was in place, this did not mean that the great powers could not have nationalistic beliefs and an example of this is that Germany was well-known for its nationalistic pride and the fact that they were a wealthy country with a strong military and overseas colonies added to the prestige of the German culture and race.

    Imperialism is the political doctrine most prevalent in the 19th century that was characterized by the desire of nations to own colonies therefore forming an empire. Every great power during this time had this common desire and this was a major causes of World War 1 not because what was happening in Europe itself, but what was happening in the other colonies of the great powers. As countries like Germany became united and more established, they decided that to gain more international power and influence, imperialism was the key so in the late 19th century in particular, there was what was called the scramble for Africa.

    This occurred because Africa was the only continent on the earth that hadn’t been heavily colonized so every major power in Europe decided to try and grab any land that was left for their nation. One aspect of colonialism of that directly linked with the reason why the war became a World War was because the colonies of the great powers were committed to helping the motherland in times of war therefore creating warfare outside of Europe as well Although the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand wasn’t the greatest cause of the First World War it would be ncorrect to rule this event out of this list of causes. As tension was growing in Europe and especially the Balkans, it emerged that there was an intense hatred between Austria-Hungary and Serbia because of what had occurred after the Balkan Wars. A secret terrorist group known as the ‘Black Hand’ formed in Serbia and significant to the Serbians as it was their National Day when an Anti-Austrian feeling was heightened.

    Also the main reason that this assassination occurred was because the Archduke was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Serbia’s enemy. This event made the world involved because Austria-Hungary was angry therefore Germany and Italy felt they had to support their ally in any decision they made on this matter. This event was a cause of the War as it not only intensified the Balkans situation but also some somewhat gave the great powers the reasoning they needed to release the tension that had been growing for many years between the two main camps.

    It is evident that there was no one cause of the First World War and that it was definitely a culmination of events and ideas that had been emerging in Europe since the 19th century. It could argue by historians that World War 1 was result of the change that was occurring in the world at that time politically, socially and economically assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Despite this it is clear that all the causes mentioned played their specific part in the War and were all equally fundamental to the events that followed the assassination and the invasion of Belgrade.

    The Main Long Term Causes of World War One. (2017, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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