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  • It was called the war to end all wars.

  • Unfortunately, World War I didn't deliver on that promise.

  • It was however the first time in the history of planet Earth that nations from around the

  • world fought in a single war.

  • It started with an assassination and a series of questionable decisions.

  • We can point fingers and play the blame game, but really there is no single person or country

  • that holds all of the responsibility.

  • Could the war that killed millions have been prevented?

  • Most definitely.

  • Let's take a look at what caused the Great War, explore how it could have been prevented,

  • and learn how to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

  • World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918 and included countries in Europe, Russia, the United States,

  • and countries in the Middle East.

  • The two main sides of the war were the Central Powers which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary,

  • Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria, who fought against the Allied Powers of France,

  • Britain, Russia, Portugal and Japan.

  • Later in the war the United States would also join the side of the Allies.

  • But what happened?

  • Why did all of these nations get involved in one of the most disastrous wars in history?

  • Let's explore the mechanisms and missteps that led to the first World War.

  • Although there were many players in World War 1, the conflict started with Serbia and

  • Austria-Hungary.

  • The Serbian government was eager to claim more territory for the nation.

  • Serbia was already in a state of aggression due to the Balkan Wars that ended just a year

  • before the start of World War I.

  • After the Balkan War, Serbian nationalists wanted to liberate the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary,

  • thus unifying the Slavic peoples under one nation.

  • This extreme nationalism led to the assissnation of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand who was heir

  • to the Astro-Hungarian Empire.

  • At 11:15 AM on June 28, 1914 Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, duchess of Hohenberg,

  • were shot to death in Sarajevo, Bosnia by Gavrilo Princip.

  • Princip was a Serbian extremist who had connections to a secret society called the Black Hand.

  • The assaisnation was the match that ignited the first world war, however, there were many

  • other factors that led to the powderkeg that would explode.

  • Should the assassination of Franz Ferdinand have led to an all out War?

  • Probably not.

  • There is more to the story here.

  • In the shadows lurked Kaiser Wilhelm II, who may be as much to blame as Gavrilo Princip

  • in starting World War I. Wilhelm II was the leader of Germany and he was diabolical.

  • Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted a strong Germany that dominated Europe both economically and

  • militarily in strength.

  • He did not want Russia or Great Britain to have more influence and power than he did.

  • Therefore, Wilhelm II allied himself, and Germany, with Austria-Hungary.

  • He knew that if Austria-Hungary went to war with Serbia, then Russia would come to Serbia's

  • aid.

  • This would drag Russia's ally France into the conflict.

  • We will examine later why Wilhelm wanted this war to happen so badly.

  • Kaiser Wilhelm II secretly funded Austria-Hungary in their endeavor to suppress Serbia.

  • He allowed Germany to give Austria-Hungary a carte blanche, orblank check.”

  • Basically Germany would fund the war effort using their wealthy economy to ensure Austria-Hungary

  • came out on top.

  • With the assassination of their heir, and the backing of Germany, Austria-Hungary felt

  • empowered to start their war with Serbia.

  • They sent Serbia an ultimatum with such harsh terms that it was impossible to accept.

  • There was only one alternative.

  • War.

  • But there was more to the story.

  • The decisions of Austria-Hungary and Germany were clearly geared towards war.

  • It is undeniable that World War I started because of these aggressive decisions.

  • But could the whole conflict have been avoided if other countries had made better decisions?

  • Were there strings being pulled behind the scenes by the countries on both sides of the

  • war?

  • Let's find out.

  • First let's take a look at the Triple Entente nations, which consisted of a secret pact

  • between Great Britain, France, and Russia.

  • Could any of these nations have secretly wanted a world war to heighten their power?

  • Could there have been a secret plot by the Allies to set up a war they would eventually

  • win?

  • Russia is, and always has been, a large, powerful nation.

  • What could Russia gain from a war against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary,

  • and Italy?

  • At first glance Russia's role in World War I seems to be based around supporting their

  • ally of Serbia.

  • But as we look closer it seems that Russia's alliance only played a superficial role in

  • their decisions to go to war.

  • In fact Russia barely even tried to find a diplomatic solution to prevent this conflict.

  • Instead, they immediately started to deploy troops and ramp up military production once

  • Austria-Hungary showed aggression towards Serbia.

  • It would seem Russia had no intentions on working out the conflict diplomatically.

  • History shows it was Russia, not Germany, that mobilized its military first.

  • Russia may have wanted war to claim more territory and power for the nation.

  • But there was another player on the Triple Entente side who may have played a behind

  • the scenes role of starting World War I. France did not make any outwardly aggressive moves

  • in the months that led to the outbreak of war, but they were making secret strategic

  • moves.

  • France may be the only reason that Russia prepared for war in the first place.

  • During talks of what was to be done about the Central Powers, France offered Russia

  • its own blank cheque.

  • The stipulation was that Russia would help Europeanise the Austrian-Hungry Empire.

  • France had an idea of what this part of the world should look like, and rather than entering

  • directly into conflict, they funded the Russian military to start a war that they could benefit

  • from.

  • France encouraged Russia's aggression towards Austria-Hungary and Germany.

  • French leaders seemed not to like the idea of having the powerful nation of Germany right

  • next door.

  • If Germany was focused on fighting Russia on the Eastern front, it would provide France

  • with the opportunity to either protect itself, or launch an uncontested invasion into Germany

  • from the western front.

  • It would seem that things did not play out exactly as France predicted because of Germany's

  • deployment of troops to fight on both the Russian and French fronts simultaneously.

  • If the shady actions of France leading up to the start of World War I surprised you

  • then what Great Britain did may shock you even more.

  • Britain was a dominant force in colonization and had control of the seas with their powerful

  • Navy.

  • Would they benefit from an all out war in Europe?

  • Germany was becoming powerful, both economically and militarily.

  • Britain knew that this was a threat to their empire.

  • In the eyes of Great Britain's leaders the world wasn't big enough for both a German

  • empire and British empire.

  • If Germany continued on the path it was headed, Britain's global dominance of the seas and

  • financial system would be threatened, and perhaps lost.

  • This was unacceptable to the leaders of Great Britain.

  • These notions of loss of dominance may have driven Great Britain to stay out of diplomatic

  • talks, and instead encourage Russian aggression.

  • It would seem that at the time Great Britain had an inferiority complex when it came to

  • Germany.

  • They had failed to meditate during the Balkan Wars and they refused to meditate during the

  • lead up to World War I.

  • The thought process may have been that the more conflicts Germany was a part of, the

  • more likely they were to be weakened.

  • Great Britain had clearly won the naval arm race by 1910, it just seemed that it wasn't

  • enough.

  • They were still living in fear of Germany's threats.

  • And it would appear rightfully so as history showed over the next several decades.

  • It needs to be said that if Great Britain wanted to prevent war, they should have contributed

  • to the mediation discussions.

  • The fact that they actively avoided the mediations shows Britain may have had other motives.

  • Especially if war meant a weakened Germany.

  • History is written by the victors.

  • Therefore, history textbooks tend to attribute most of, if not all of, the blame for World

  • War I to Austria-Hungary and Germany.

  • You have to wonder who would be blamed if the outcome of the war was reversed.

  • We discussed how the nations of the Triple Entente were by no means free of blame for

  • the start of this conflict.

  • But let's take a closer look at the motives and actions of the Triple Alliance, which

  • was the secret pact between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.

  • Let's find out if they really are to blame like so many textbooks say.

  • Other than retaliation, what was Austria-Hungary after?

  • In a word, territory.

  • Austria-Hungary wanted to add more land and people to its already large empire.

  • More land equals more resources, and more men for their military.

  • Austria-Hungary had its sights set on Serbia for a while.

  • The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand allowed them the perfect opportunity to make

  • their dreams of taking over Serbian lands a reality.

  • Austria-Hungary's desires were made clear when they offered an obscene ultimatum to

  • Serbia.

  • The ultimatum itself was delivered on July 23, 1914.

  • It required Serbia to accept an Austro-Hungarian inquiry into the assassination of Archduke

  • Ferdinand.

  • The inquiry would be conducted solely by Austria-Hungarian investigators.

  • Serbia also needed to suppress all anti-Austrian propaganda and eliminate any terrorist or

  • extremist organizations within its borders.

  • The leaders of Austria-Hungary demanded that an answer to the ultimatum be sent within

  • 48 hours.

  • However, the ambassador to Serbia delivered the ultimatum and immediately left the country

  • to return back to Austria-Hungary.

  • He already knew what was going to happen next.

  • There was no way that Serbia would accept the ultimatum.

  • This meant war.

  • The ultimatum served one purpose.

  • Austria-Hungary knew Serbia would never accept their terms, but they also knew if they attacked

  • without warning it would make Serbia look like the victim.

  • By sending the ultimatum it pushed the burden of avoiding war onto the Serbian government.

  • This way Austria-Hungary created the illusion of giving Serbia a chance to stop the war.

  • When they didn't, Serbia would look like the bad guy.

  • But the ridiculous ultimatum did not stand up to the test of history, and Austria-Hungary

  • is still seen as the aggressors.

  • Really what it came down to was that Austria-Hungary wanted to control more territory in the Balkan

  • region.

  • They needed a reason to go to war with Serbia to secure that land and they found it in the

  • assassination of their Archduke.

  • Was the assassination a reason to conduct an all out war?

  • Probably not, but it was sufficient enough reason for the Austria-Hungary government

  • at the time.

  • However, none of this would have been possible without one key player.

  • I am sure you can guess what is coming next.

  • Germany.

  • In the eyes of many historians Germany is to blame for the first world war.

  • Why was Germany considered the most responsible in a conflict that they did not directly start?

  • It is mostly because they alone had the power to stop the war between Austria-Hungary and

  • Serbia.

  • All they needed to do was withdraw their blank cheque, and Austria-Hungary would not have

  • had the financial ability to support a war with Serbia.

  • This would have kept Austria-Hungary in check and they would never have issued their ultimatum.

  • Germany also knew that if Austria-Hungary went to war with Serbia, Russia and France

  • would both get pulled in.

  • It was almost as if Germany needed to find a way to declare war on their competitors

  • in the region without doing it themselves.

  • Germany could never just outright declare war on the other nations or they would risk

  • unifying the entire continent of Europe against them.

  • But by strategically destabilizing the Balkans they could gode Russia, and therefore France,

  • into a war with their ally, thus allowing Germany to start a war to suit their needs.

  • The other reason that Germany wanted war was because it had peaked as a nation.

  • If Germany allowed the rest of Europe to catch up they would lose power and prestige.

  • This upset no one more than Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was an angry militaristic autocrat.

  • He believed that he was predestined by God to lead his country to greatness.

  • He hated diplomats and maintained that the only way to ensure Germany's spot of power

  • was through war.

  • He knew it was now or never if Germany was going to become the predominant world power.

  • When a power hungry autocrat is in charge of one of the world's most wealthy and armed

  • nations there is only one outcome.

  • War.

  • In the end World War I was caused by many different factors and countries.

  • There is not just one person or nation to blame.

  • However, some are more responsible than others.

  • If the leaders of Europe were less hungry for power, and more willing to sit down and

  • negotiate, the war could have been avoided.

  • Make no mistake, World War I was not unavoidable.

  • But the leaders in charge saw war as a desirable outcome, or were forced into it by allies.

  • A situation that would repeat itself again 21 years later.

  • If you are interested in more World War I information check out 50 Insane World War

  • 1 Facts That Will Shock You!

  • Or if you want to know how World War I and World War II stack up watch World War 1 VS

  • World War 2 - How Do They Compare?

It was called the war to end all wars.

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How Did World War 1 Start?

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/07
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