There are a number of situations and key events that heightened tensions at the beginning of the twentieth century and heavily contributed to the outbreak of World War One. These include the ideals of militarism which saw a new uprise of military power and competitiveness between nations as well as the formation of alliances which served to unease European nations at the time. In addition to this the implementation of imperialism helped to amplify tensions across Europe and the great sense of national pride through the ideas of nationalism was also seen as a contributing factor to the outbreak of WWI.
Militarism heavily contributed to the outbreak of WWI and in the process heightened tensions across Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century as there was a new common goal across Europe to gain superiority. Militarism refers to the belief and/or the desire that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively if needed. Germany at the turn of the century was competing with Britain in terms of military spending and production. Previously, Britain had superiority in terms of naval advancements and size, but due to the new technology available, Germany were able to ascertain resources to catch Britain in this ‘arms race.’ The impact here is that Germany and Britain attempted to ‘out compete’ each other in terms of producing the new ‘Dreadnaughts,’ and this is turn exacerbated tensions throughout Europe as it was crucial at the time to attain the largest military. In addition, the ‘arms race,’ was seen as a sign that a potentially larger conflict was arising. The situation that arose was seen as particularly beneficial for all the European powers, but in particular Germany. They had an opportunity to catch Britain in terms of military production as well as asserting themselves as a world super power. On the other hand, this was seen as an overall negative for Britain. A nation which had once dominated militarism was now being closely followed.
The formation of alliances served to bolster defence and relations between nations, and in turn exacerbated tensions across Europe and strongly contributed to the outbreak of WWI. Alliances were formal agreements between nations, often fighting together to achieve a common goal. The alliances during this period included; the Dual alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary, the Triple alliance which now included Italy, the Franco-Russian alliance between France and Russia, the Entente Cordiale which included Britain and France, and finally the Triple Entente which now included Russia. The formation of these alliances served to unease many of the nations within Europe as they saw it necessary to form an alliance in order to survive the approaching conflict. The impact of this was brought about because many of the European powers, especially Germany, felt the Entente Cordiale was an alliance directly against Germany. This served to heighten tensions all across Europe as Germany began to direct their anger towards France and Britain. These alliances, were particularly seen as a benefit towards the nations involved in the Triple Entente (Britain, Russia and France). Germany, now being territorially surrounded, with Britain/France on one side and Russia on the other, began to worry about a potential for a ‘two-front’ assault and this was highly beneficial for the triple entente. In addition to this, Britain and Russia, in order to form the Triple Entente, had to settle past disputes and in doing so strengthened their alliance which only worried Germany.
The ideals and implementation of Imperialism served to strengthen nation’s dominance and, in doing so heightened tensions across Europe and heavily contributed to the outbreak of WWI. Imperialism, was the idea of expanding colonies into other parts of the