World War 1 |1914-18|History, causes, Explanation & Facts

World war 1 broke out on July 28, 1914. When Austria declared war against Serbia. That war spread to the whole of Europe within very little time, and the war between the two countries very soon converted into World War 1.

Till 1914 the wars were limited with respect to duration, countries, investment, losses, etc. But the war, which broke out in 1914 was named World War 1 because it culminated from mini to superpower. 

Almost all the Europe was involved in that war, the losses were greater than the gains. It was actually a multi-dimensional war.

First world war

CAUSE OF THE WORLD WAR 1:

As far as the causes of world war 1 are concerned, there are two causes, “either because the nations were not free or they were too free”. 

All the causes of world war 1 are based on these two reasons, which are described under the following headings:

NATIONALISM:

Nationalism is one of the major causes of world war 1. It further paved the way for world war 1. Actually, in world war 1 no country was an aggressor, all were defending themselves and their allies, e.g., Russia came for the help of Serbia, Germany came for Austria, and Britain had to come toward France to save itself from German attack.

SECRET ALLIANCES:

Secret alliances were actually the brain-child of Bismarck, which had some benefits, but all the massacre brought in world war 1, was almost due to those alliances. The whole of Europe was divided into two blocks.

Germany, Austria, and Italy had a dual alliance in 1879, which became Tripple alliance in 1882. On the other hand, France and Russia had an alliance in 1894 and Great Britain and France had in 1904. In 1907 came the Entente Cordial. So in wartime, those two blocks came into direct conflict with each other.

ARMS RACE:

The arms race also became the reason for world war 1, as every country in Europe was trying to strengthen its army. Germany was trying its “place in the sun” it was trying to establish its arm navy for obtaining colonies. It was like a competition between Great Britain and Germany, and both of them were trying their level best to establish a navy for obtaining colonies.

For every ship built by Germany, Great Britain built 2 ships. Both Germany and France had 3.5 million troops and Russia had 4 million troops. That arms race continued even during the war, as poison gas and submarines were invented during the war in 1915.

LACK OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION:

Another major cause of the outbreak of world war 1 was the lack of international organization, which could stop nationalism or military competitions during that period. 

international organization meeting

International law existed but there was no such particular force to implement that law. So that also caused the first anarchy in the world and paved the way for world war 1.

BOSNIA CRISIS (1908 ):

Bosnia crisis also heightened the tension. Austrian taking advantage of a revolution in Turkey annexed the Serbia province of Bosnia. It annoyed Serbia as it was also hoping to acquire Bosnia and Herzegovina having 3 million Serbs. 

The Serbs appealed to their fellow Slavs, the Russians, who called for a European Conference, expecting France and British support. But having the fear of Germany’s supporting Austria, both countries avoided any risk. So Bosnia and Herzegovina remained part of Austria.

IMPERIALISM OR COLONIAL RIVALRY:

In those days ambition to get colonies increased. Germany threatened the centuries-old supremacy of Great Britain in respect of colonies. There were four main colonial rivalries.

-Between Great Britain and France on Egypt.

-Between France and Italy on Morocco.

-Between Russia and Germany on Persia.

-Between Great Britain and Germany on Africa.

ALSACE AND LORAINE:

Alsace and Loraine also provide roots for the outbreak of world war1.

There was a conflict between Germany and France on the issue of these cities.  Newspapers were fanning nationalism, so Alsace and Loraine were anxious to go into the hands of France.

ECONOMIC RIVALRY:

It had been argued that the desire for an economic master of the world caused German businessmen and capitalists to want war with Britain, who still owned about half of the world’s tonnage merchant ships in 1912. There isn’t much evidence to support this theory. Germany was already on the way to victory in that area, as one leading German industrialist remarked in 1913: 

“Give us three of four more years of peace and Germany will be the unchallenged economic master of Europe”.

LENIN’S IDEOLOGY:

According to Lenin, the cause of world war 1 was the “spread of capitalism.” He says that the essence of capitalism is constant expansion. Profits must be reinvested to produce more profit or the system collapses. So the capitalist countries had found a new outlet for their surplus capital in investment increases.

LENIN

At first, it worked, giving capitalism a respite, but by 1914 all the unclaimed areas of the world had been divided into colonies. The countries that were left out, particularly Germany, wanted to see the world redivided for their benefit. As Lenin put it, the war was to decide whether the British or Germans group of financial marauders was to receive the lion’s share.

DEATH OF ARCHDUICE FRANZ FERDINAND:

The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the event that sparked the war. The Archduke, nephew and heir of Emperor Franz Josef was paying an official visit to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, when he and his wife were shot dead by a Serb terrorist, on June 28, 1914, who was a member of the Serbian secret organization “Blackhand”.

On 23rd July 1914, Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia, comprising three clauses.

-All the secret organizations working against Austria should be suppressed.

-Serbia was to dismiss all the officials to whom Austria objected.

-Austrian team would visit Serbia to see whether the two demands were carried out or not.

The first two demands were carried out but the third demand was totally violation of the sovereignty of Serbia. When Serbia denied working according to these demands, Austria declared war against Serbia on 28th July 1914. The Russians anxious not to let the Serbs down again ordered a general mobilization on 29th July. The German government demanded that this should be canceled and when the Russians failed to comply, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August and on France on 3rd August.

When German troops entered Belgium, Britain came to defend it and entered world war 1 on 4th August. The escalation was completed when Austria and Hungary declared war on Russia on 6th August 1914.

CONCLUSION:

So all these reasons were responsible for the outbreak of world war 1, which lasted for 4 years and 3 months, and involved 30 sovereign states, taking 10 million lives on the battlefield, but unfortunately, the world was quite unable to gain any lesson from the world war 1, as in 1939, the second world war started, bringing much more destruction to the world.

What started World War 1?

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the main cause behind the outbreak of world war 1. A Serb terrorist shot down the Archduke and his wife on June 28, 1914. That event actually paved the way for world war 1.

Who won World War 1?

The winner of world war 1 was the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Italy, and was called the Allies. And the loser of this Great world war 1 was imperial Germany, Austro-Hungary Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, which were called the central power during that time period.

How did World War 1 end?

The Allied countries were strong. They had more sophisticated weapons to defeat central power countries. On June 28, 1919, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary Empire, and the Ottoman Empire) and the Allied countries ( including the USA, Britain, France, Italy, and Russia) signed the treaty of Versailles formally ended world war 1.