High School History: World War I Causes

World War I Causes

1862 - Bismarck becomes Prussia's prime minister
1870 - Prussian and German allies overwhelmed France
1871 - January - German empire proclaimed, with King Wilhelm I as kaiser and Bismarck became chancellor of a united Germany
1882 - Bismarck (Germany) formed an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance
- they agreed to come to one another=s aid if one were attacked
(this agreement would play a central role in events leading to WWI)
1893 - France makes military agreement with Russia
1905 - German emperor declared that sultan of Morocco must remain an independent ruler
1906 - powerful world nations meet in Spain - agreed Morocco was independent, but France could have police power there
Austria and Hungary supported Germany;
Great Britain, Russia, and Italy sided with France
1907 - Great Britain joined Russia and France to form an alliance known as Triple Entente
They promised to help one another if one of them were attacked by Germany.

1908 - Austria-Hungary tried to take over Bosnia-Herzegovina
Russia helps Serbia; Germany helps Austria-Hungary - everyone backs down

1911 - France sent army to Morocco;
- Germans sent warship to Agadir;
- preparation for war begins
- Great Britain and Italy support France;
- Germany backs down - (Agadir Affair)

1912, 1913 - Two wars fought in the Balkans (Serbia trying to get access to the Adriatic Sea)

1914 - June 28 - Archduke Francis Ferdinand (next king of Austria-Hungary)
- shot and killed in Sarajevo, Bosnia
- (assassin was from Serbia, so Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, with Germany's support; Russia backs Serbia)

World War I started for many reasons:

Alliances were one factor. In 1882, Bismarck (Germany) formed an alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy, which was called the Triple Alliance. The three nations agreed to come to one another=s aid if one were attacked.

France made a military agreement with Russia and France in 1893. In 1907 Great Britain joined Russia and France to form an alliance known as the Triple Entente. These nations promised to help one another if one of them were attacked by Germany.

Italy did not live up to its agreement with Germany and Austria-Hungary. They made a secret agreement with the Triple Entente and joined with Great Britain and France when war broke out. Many of the smaller countries of Europe also had secret agreements.

Nationalism was another factor that helped bring on WWI. While Germany and France disputed control of Morocco, Austria-Hungary and Russia argued over the Balkans. Russia felt it should protect the Slavic peoples living there who had languages and customs similar to their own. Russia decided to help Serbia get a needed seaport. Austria-Hungary, however, opposed Serbian expansion.

Imperialism helped cause the war by pushing the major European nations into a race for colonies. Japan was trying to become a dominant power in Asia; Germany and Italy wanted to become dominant in European affairs and in building colonial empires. The growth of Germany upset the balance of power among the European nations. Germany hoped to equal, or outdo, Great Britain in power and wealth. Germany's growing economic power and military might made other nations uneasy.

Both France and Germany wanted Morocco in northern Africa. In 1905, the German emperor declared that Morocco must remain independent. The powerful world nations met in 1906 in Spain. They agreed that Morocco was to be independent, but that France could have police power there. In 1911, France sent an army to Morocco. The German=s answered by sending a warship to the Moroccan port city of Agadir, and preparations for war began.

Great Britain and Italy again came to the support of France, and Germany backed down. The crisis became known as the Agadir Affair.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary tried to add the states of Bosnia and Herzegovena to its territory. The Slavs violently opposed.the efforts of Austria-Hungary. Russia came to help Serbia; Germany came to help Austria-Hungary. Fighting did not break out because the Serbians gave in.

In 1912 and 1913, two wars were fought in the Balkans in which Serbia tried to get outlets to the Adriatic Sea. Austria-Hungary prevented Serbia from getting territory on the coast. Again, Serbia backed down.

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, who would have been the next kingof Austria-Hungary, was shot and killed (along with his wife Sophie) in Sarajevo, a city in Bosnia. Because the assassin had been a Serbian nationalist, Austria-Hungary=s leaders decided to declare war on Serbia. Hungary asked Germany for help and Serbia looked to Russia. When Serbia refused to accept harsh penalties for the crime, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.