Shen (2003) explains that there is a varied range of opinions in regard to what or who started the Word War 1, with many historians adopting the view that no specific country started the war, while the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the WWI, believes the war was solely caused by Germany. The WWI was “an accident waiting to happen”; due to the heightened nationalism and militarism throughout Europe, which gave many countries the incentives to go to the war. Arguably, according to ESO (n.d.), nationalism and militarism is blamed on Germany since nationalist sentiments and military spending spiked after Germany in 1870 waged the Franco-Prussian War. However, nationalism and militarism became universal in Europe causing the war outbreak, which was too widespread to be blamed solely on Germany.
Particularly, militarism according to Shen (2003) transformed Europe in to a tense and hostile environment with newly industrialized warfare and millions of troops ready to mobilize the events of war. Each major nation in addition to inaugurating the conscription system to bolster standing armies, they made a detailed war strategy while amassing the necessary weapons of carrying it out. According to Karpilovsky, Fogel and Kobelt, (1996), Germany, France and Great Britain needed markets for their products where they started competing for their economic expansion in Africa, where several clash resulted to that foreshadowed war. On the other hand, nationalism during the settlement in 1815 of the Congress of Vienna was ignored in favour of restoring peace leaving Italy and Germany divided. Nationalism caused a problem for Balkkans and Austria-Hungary, areas encompassed by many conflicting groups.
Other causes of the war included the extension of the colonial empires which exacerbated the struggle for power, prestige, markets and territory among the Europeans industrial powers which intensified the territorial rivalries between the European powers. Another cause according to Alpha History (2014) is the Franco-Germany rivalry of Alsace-Lorraine which occurred since the annexation by Germany in 1870. The other cause is the rivalry between Russia and Austria-Hungary for hegemony in the Balkans which was elevated by the increased weakness of Slavic and Turkey nationalism. Psychological rivalry among peoples according to ESO (n.d.), was also another cause of the war which was encouraged by campaigns of nationalist propaganda forming hatred among the people.
Alpha History,. (2014). Imperialism as a cause of World War I. Alpha History. Retrieved from http://alphahistory.com/worldwar1/imperialism/
ESO,. The First World War 1914-1918. Geography And History – Bilingual Studies. Retrieved from http://www.historiasiglo20.org/4ESO/WWI.pdf
Karpilovsky, S., Fogel, M., & Kobelt, O. (1996). THe Great War Causes. Silvapages. Retrieved from http://ibatpv.org/projects/great_war/causes.htm
Shen, E. (2003). Causes of World War 1 (1st ed.). Retrieved from http://roundtable.menloschool.org/issue15/2_Shen_MS_Roundtable15_Summer_20132.pdf
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