The Causes of World War I

The First World War had many causes; the historians probably have not
yet discovered and discussed all of them so there might be more causes
than what we know now. The spark of the Great War was the
assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of
Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian nationalist on the morning
of June 28, 1914, while traveling in a motorcade through Sarajevo, the
capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Archduke was chosen as a
target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne,
he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the
Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Serbian terrorist organization, the Black
Hand, had trained a small group of teenage operatives to infiltrate
Bosnia and carry out the assassination of the Archduke. It is unclear
how officially active the Serbian government was in the plot. However,
it was uncovered years later that the leader of the Black Hand was
also the head of Serbian military intelligence. In order to underezd
the complexity of the causes of the war, it is very helpful to know
what was the opinion of the contemporaries about the causes of the
Great War. In the reprint of the article "What Started the War", from
August 17, 1915 issue of The Clock magazine published on the Internet
the author writes: "It is thought that this war that is been ongoing
for over a year, began with the assassination of the Archduke Francis
Ferdinand. However, many other reasons led to this war, some occurring
as far back the late 1800's. Nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and
the system of alliances were four main factors that pressed the great
powers towards this explosive war."

According to the article above, the author stresses that the
nationalism was one of the primary causes of the war. In the ninetieth
and twentieth centuries, especially after the French Revolution
nationalism was becoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had
the same culture, language wanted their own country. And that was the
problem for the government of Austria-Hungary that did not want to
lose their power and control. The Slavs in the southern part of the
empire were their main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.
Militarism is the second cause according to the article above, which
comes after the nationalism. To underezd what the author means by
militarism one should be familiar with the situation of the world in
the beginning of the century, which was the result of both industrial
and democratic revolutions. Britain at that time was the largest
empire in the world, and it also had the largest navy. The navy was so
big and strong because the Britons needed to protect their empire and
maintain the sea routes between the different colonies. The Kaiser
William II of Germany hated and envied Britain for having a stronger
navy than his. He increased the German navy and built many warships.
Britain responded with building more ships and increasing its navy
too. This started a race for building more and better warships and it
created tension and competition between those two countries.
Imperialism and the system of alliances are the last two major causes
of the War. There was a quarrel between France and Germany about
controlling the colonies, and especially Morocco, which leads to a
greater conflict, the Great War. Europe at that time was divided into
two rival alliance systems: Triple Entente that included Great
Britain, France, and Russia and the Triple Alliance, which included
the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and eventually the
Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Austria-Hungary must take a large proportion of any blame for the
outbreak of war in 1914. The reason for Germany's part in the causes
involves Germany's "blank Check" policy. Before sending its ultimatum
to Serbia, Austria needed to be sure of the support of its ally,
Germany. Such support was forthcoming in the form of a telegram to the
Emperor Franz Joseph on 6 July 1914. The telegram has become known to
history as the "Blank Check". In order to balance the power, France
and Russia signed an alliance. Russia saw itself as the 'protector of
Slavs' in the war, and immediately mobilized. When the war began, the
German decision that if they were going to have to fight Russia and
France, they would strike at France