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Why Did The First World War Break Out In August 1914? Is Any One Particular Nation Especially "Guilty" For What Happened? Or Should Responsibility Be "Shared" Among All Of The Major European Powers?

1396 words - 6 pages

The First World War broke out because of a system of two major European Alliances. These started a war due to Germany's ruthlessness, and caused a European war. Then the nations' colonies joined in, and eventually all of the world's major powers had joined in, causing the First World War.Before the main events of the war, two main alliances had been formed. Germany had defeated France in the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. 3 000 French soldiers were killed, 14 000 wounded, and about 100 000 captured. Most importantly, the Emperor Napoleon III was captured. Ever since 1871, Germans had been worried that France would attack them, so they sought alliances with the other major European nations, so ...view middle of the document...

Between then and 1905 he gradually worked out a plan of what to do in the event of war. This involved marching through Belgium and Holland to get to France, whereupon they would go in a wide circle and gain almost of half of the French territory. Six weeks was allowed for this to happen, while only ⅛ of Germany's soldiers would hold off the slow-mobilising Russian army. After six weeks, the Army in France would move to the east side of Germany where they would hold off Russian forces. This plan was designed at a time when Russia was weakened by the Russo-Japanese war, so it required that Russia is slow to mobilise, and had diminished troops. Schlieffen also admitted that his plan was "an enterprise for which we are too weak".See diagram for widest sweep of schlieffen planThen the crisis began. The Archduke of Austria, Francis Ferdinand, was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Because he married a Countess, Sophie Chotek, he was not looked on favourably. On June 28, 1914, him and his wife were assassinated in Bosnia by a Serb nationalist. The assassination was not organised by the Serb Government, however Austria felt the need for revenge.Conrad von Hotzendorf was the chief of the German General Staff, and had taken over from Alfred von Schlieffen in 1906. For years he had wanted an attack on Serbia or Italy, and this was the excuse he needed. He told the foreign minister, Count Leopold von Berchtold, that they should attack Serbia, and together they asked the Emperor and the Prime Minister to attack without declaring war, to increase the element of surprise. They suggested that retribution against Serbia through diplomatic channels.Because of a complex series of treaties, all nations were tied in together in the event of war. The Triple Alliance stated that if either Austria-Hungary or Germany found itself at war, the other would be forced to help. The Franco-Russian Military Convention stated that if France or Russia found itself at war with Austria-Hungary or Germany, the other must join in. As a result of a number of agreements, Britain would also be compelled to join. Because of these, if Russia declared war on Austria Hungary, Germany, France, and Britain would all be forced to join in.On July 6, Germany offered what has become known as the "blank cheque" to Austria-Hungary. The kaiser, Wilhelm II, offered unconditional support to Austria-Hungary, no matter what action they chose to take against Serbia. This showed that Germany was prepared to go to war with France and Russia, and maybe even Britain.On July 23, Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, with a 48 hour time limit. On July 25, Serbia responded that they could meet most, but not all of these demands. Because they couldn't accept it all, they mobilised their army. The Austrians declared war on Serbia on July 28, wondering what Russia would do in response.Unfortunately, at this time, many Austro-Hungarian politicians were not at their desks at the...

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