WWI Essay

Submitted By aleja_colombia
Words: 1477
Pages: 6

What Were the Underlying Causes of World War I?

The causes for WWI go back to before 1914. By the end 1918, ten million soldiers had died and there were 20 million wounded. Empires that has lasted for years were destroyed and broken up. Eventually, alliances were formed between countries. The Triple Alliance was made up of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; France, Russia, and Great Britain made up the Triple Entente (Document 3). Although on the surface these alliances were supposed to aid the maintenance of balanced power, suspicions ran high. The tension between the countries soon led to causing tension within the countries themselves. Europe just needed a spark to push the entire continent into war—this event was the Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. Soon after the spark was lit, a chain reaction occurred, like dominos: Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary, then Germany on Russia, soon after France on Germany and Austria-Hungary, and then Britain joined France and Russia. There were four main underlying causes for the war: Militarism, Nationalism, Imperialism, and Alliances. However, the ones that appear to be more common are Militarism, Nationalism, and Imperialism.

WWI was not just part of an arms race, it was also the governments’ state of mind. As one country would increase the size of their armies, the other countries felt compelled to expand theirs as well to “balance the powers”; the countries were in a competition of who was the best. According to document 7, Germany was the country that spent the most money in bettering their army and navy by 1914; they spent about £90 million on the army and about £20 million on their navy. They stood with approximately 2,200,000 soldiers and 97 warships. However, the progressive growth of the amount of money spent by each country is illustrated as well. To be able to maintain the “balance of powers”, each country had to increase their military as the rest did, which also increased war cost. By 1914, the Entente Powers all together would field 2.23 million men, while Germany and Austria-Hungary alone could field 1.2 million. Each country felt that the only way they could demonstrate each their level of power would be through war. The mentality of the European countries during that time was that “ it is only warlike nations which have prospered; a nation dies as soon as it disarms” (Document 1). Zola’s main point is that war is good and it is the element that makes a country stronger; war is the school of “discipline, sacrifice, and courage” (Document 1). This idea of war could be related to Darwin’s concept of survival of the fittest because just like his ideas, Zola’s idea was that only the strongest countries would not die. The German nation especially believed in this theory; they believed that “without a strong army and a strong navy, there [could] be no welfare for [them]” (Document 8). Germany would rather strike first and with great strength than be weak and be beat; Prince Bernhard stated that the country had to struggle and fight for the place of the most economic, navy, and army power with the other countries. Germany was a fool when spending more and more money on armaments for the war (Document 9). Militarism from each country was a significant underlying cause for the war; however, German militarism was one of the main powers that lead to the war. Along militarism came the sense of nationalism. In addition to political conflicts in the war, the sense of nationalism, or pride in one’s country, was a major cause leading to the dispute. Everyone— in each country, in every city, every corner—was a nationalist; they believe that their nation and culture was superior to all other, which eventually led to the competition of the most powerful navy and army, the “arms race”. The national anthem for each country demonstrated to be a great symbol for the powers pre- war and during it. The people desired to preserve their country’s greatness and