Essay on Pan-Slavism: the Cause of Wwi

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Pages: 6

Nationalism inspires a pride within a group of people that ignites change and strengthens unity. It is what keeps heritages and cultures of nations alive. But what happens when the people advocating Nationalism are trapped within a nation in which they do not desire to be? The Pan-Slavic movement in Eastern Europe in the early 20th Century created a tension between Austria-Hungary and Serbia that culminated in
WWI. This tension was caused by the threat Pan-Slavism posed on Austria-Hungary due to its high Slavic population and its recent annexation of Bosnia Herzegovina. Another tension-builder was that Russia, a Slavic nation and a super-power at the time, was fully supporting this movement, thereby indirectly challenging Austria-Hungary
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Austria was part of the Triple Alliance which included Germany, and Italy. They were assured of Germany’s support and therefore were not afraid of the Russian response to an attack on Serbia. It was well-known to the German government that an Austro-Hungarian attack on Serbia would almost certainly provoke Russia’s intervention on behalf of its Slavic brothers (Keylor 38). No one expected Russia to stand back and allow Austria-Hungary to annihilate its Slavic comrades in Serbia. Germany encouraged Austria to send an unfulfillable ultimatum to Serbia saying “That the Serbian Government suppress ALL anti-Austrian activities in Serbia and to dismiss all officials who foment it or else they will have no choice but to go to war” (Mitrovic 11). The lack of response to the ultimatum led to Austria’s declaration of war on July 28, 1914 (Habib). The war declaration, combined with an elaborate Alliance system, set in motion a cascade of events where Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary, followed by Germany declaring war on Russia, and then France declaring war on Germany and so on until it became WWI. In the end it was an alliance of Britain, France, Russia, and Japan, against an alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, and the Turks, with Italy switching sides halfway through (Coetzee 8-9). Austria-Hungary sought to extinguish the Pan-Slavic threat and, in doing so, brought the whole world in to the greatest war the world had ever