World war 1 is one of the historical wars that has been documented and well remembered by many people. Its history has attracted attention from the present historians.
The war began because of a small conflict after Australia-Hungary declared to wage war on Serbia. The war began on 28 July 1914 and lasted for 5years ending in 1919. This was after the refusal of Serbia to accept the harsh penalties imposed to them by Austria-Hungary after the shooting of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife.
Francis was to become the next king of Austria-Hungary. He was killed in Sarajevo in Bosnia and assassins were thought to be Serbian nationalist (Aaron 2006, 50). This conflict draw attention to other nations like Russia, Germany, Great Britain and France because of their prior involvement in making of treaties which had obliged them to defend some nations of their interest.
A number of events contributed to the war. Some of these events include the assassination of the incumbent king of Austria-Hungary by the Serbian nationalist, formation of alliances, military agreement between France and Russia, nationalism, imperialism, fight or interests in Morocco in northern Africa by both France and Germany, attempts by Austria-Hungary to annex Herzegovina and Bosnia on its territory amongst others.
Before the actual break of the war, events happened demonstrating the break of a great war, which was breezing. Alliances were formed early even before the war broke up. The purpose of these alliances was to ensure support and unity in case of an attack or an invasion by alien nations. For instance, in 1882, Bismarck of Germany) went into an alliance with Italy and Austria-Hungary. This alliance, otherwise referred to as the ‘triple alliance’ was meant to ensure that every nation was to come to rescue of on another in times of attacks.
In 1893, a military agreement was made between France and Russia. This alliance was joined by the Great Britain in 1907 in alliance called the triple entente. Similar to the triple alliance, this alliance was also formed with intention of protecting each other in the cause of an attack.
These nations signed a memorandum, which they could supplement or intervene in the event of war or conflict by supplying weapons and even military personalities. Some of the agreements were broken for instance, when the war broke up, Italy, which had entered into agreement with Germany, and Austria-Hungary broke the agreement and entered in a secret agreement with the Great Britain and France in the Triple entente agreement. Many other secret agreements were entered into by other small European nations.
Nationalism was also one of the factors that led to the break of the WW1. Russia and Hungary argued over the control of the Balkan while on the other side France and the Germans were opposed to who was to control Morocco. “The Russians felt the need to protect the people of Slavic who were living there since their languages and traditions, customs were similar to theirs” (Mulligan 2011, 23).
Therefore, Russian decided to help the Serbians in getting the seaport a move that was opposed by the Austria-Hungary. This move also contributed to the start of the conflict and eventually to the war.
Imperialism was also as one of the major factor or event, which led to the world war one. In Asia for instance, Japan was trying to become dominant. On the other side, “Italy and Germany wanted to be the most powerful in affairs of European and in the process of building colonial empires there” (Mulligan 2011, 15).
This growth of Germany was not received well by the balance of power among the nations of Europe. The hope of the German nation was to try its best level to have equal or to outdo the Great Britain in terms of wealth and power. Its growth in military and economic powers also contributed to creation of uneasiness among its fellow nations. This plan of becoming imperial also accounted to one of the events that led to the rise of conflict as every nation wanted to be recognized commanding power and wealth.
The fight or interests in question were also a contributor to the world war. The two nations France and Germany belong to different alliances and this caused the war. As Mulligan (2011, 18) points out, “In 1905, Germany emperor declaration that Morocco was to remain independent was not received well by France”.
Despite meeting of powerful nations in 1906 in Spain and an agreement that Morocco are independent, police powers presence from France remained in Morocco. To make the situation even worse, in 1911, the army from France was sent to Morocco, which aggravated Germany. “They also send warships to the airport of Moroccan port in the city of Agadir, which set the preparations of war” (Mulligan 2011, 14). This crisis was known as Agadir Affair, which saw, Frances supported by Italy and Great Britain.
Attempt by Austria-Hungary in 1908 to add Bosnia and Herzegovina to its territory also aggravated the World War 1. This decision was vehemently opposed by the Slavs, which saw Russia come to the aid of Serbia while on the other side, Germany coming to the rescue of the Austria-Hungary. At this point, war did not break up as the Serbian gave in but formed the basis of the World War I, which began after the shooting of Archduke Francis Ferdinand by a Serbia nationalist.
The peak of the war was agitated by the shooting of the incumbent Austria-Hungary king Francis by a Serbian. This shooting lend to the culmination of the war. The ultimatum that was given by the Austria- Hungary was turned down by the Serbia who in their view of the Austria-Hungary gave unsatisfied response. This agitated the Austria-Hungary side to declare war on Serbia on 28 of July the year 1914.
This saw Russia that was bound by a treaty to the Serbia nation mobilize its army to give defense to Serbia. This preparation took around six weeks to come to completion. This cause of action by the Russian caused “Germany, which was allied to Austria-Hungary by treaty lead the Russian in mobilization as a step or an act of war against Austria-Hungary, which led to scant warnings leading to Germany declaration of war on Russia on August 1st” (Seniavskii and Seniavskaia 2010, 74).
Frances who had entered a treaty to Russia found itself in war against Germany and to some extend with Austria Hungary after the Germany declaration which was done on 3 August. The Germany in a swift way invaded Paris through Belgium which was neutral and which was the shortest route to arrive at Paris. On 4 August, Britain, which, through loose word treaty, sought to protect France declaring war against Germany. Britain was obliged to protect Belgium, which was neutral. This obligation was as per the terms of 75 years treaty.
This invasion by the Germany made the Belgium king to appeal for Britain intervention. “This intervention by Britain led to her dominions and colonies abroad offer financial and military assistance, which included Canada, India, Australia, union of South Africa and New Zealand” (Seniavskii and Seniavskaia 2010, 77). Japan also declared war against Germany on August 23, 1914 after accepting a military agreement with Britain. After two days, Austria-Hungary refused the decision and responded to this by declaring war on Japan.
“Italy which was allied to both Austria –Hungary and Germany cited a clause which made them avoid entering in this fray which enabled it to evade or elude its obligation” (Seniavskii and Seniavskaia 2010, 73). Nevertheless, contrary to this it sought to defend Austria-Hungary in the event of a defensive war hence declared a policy of neutrality. This saw it join the conflict in 1915 by siding with its allies.
United States which had declared a policy of absolute neutrality signed by president Woodrow Wilson was to last only to 1917 after the Germany policy about unrestricted warfare in the submarine that was to threaten the commercial or trade ship led to their entrance into the war on April, 6, 1917. Many nations entered into the conflict, which lasted for the period 1914-1919 commonly known as the Great War or rather the World War I.
In WWI, cut and dry were not in fault as in WWII. WWII was mainly caused by various issues one being nationalist different more especially due to unresolved tensions that caused the WW1and the great depression witnessed in the 1930s. Hitler’s aim, which led to the breaking of the treaty of Versailles and the aggression of his allies that wanted communism.
Furthermore, passiveness of democratic nations like France, USA, Britain and failure of the League of Nations to keep peace lead to the Second World War. Therefore, it is imperative that World War I actually was fought on tangible reasons as opposed to the WW2. If appropriate measures were undertaken, the war could not actually occur. Therefore, in WWI cuts and dry were not in fault as in WWII.
Aaron Gillette. 2006. Why did they Fight the Great War? A Multi-Level Class Analysis of the causes of the First World War. History Teacher 40, no.1 (January/February): 45-58.
Mulligan William. 2011. The origins of the first world war. History Review 69, no. 1 (March/April): 12-17.
Seniavskii Aleksandr and Seniavskaia Elena. 2010. The Historical Memory of Twentieth-Century Wars as an Arena of Ideological, Political, and Psychological Confrontation. Russian Studies in History 49, no. 1 (September/October): 53-91.