World War One Shreya Singh

Why Did War Break Out In 1914?

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

On the 28th of June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and coincidentally his wife, had been targeted by the terrorist group of South Slav Nationalists called Black Hand. This attack had been planned for a long time by the secret society the Black Hand, and when it had been announced that Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Black Hand had sent 7 men to assassinate the Archduke. Gavrilo Princip, Nedjelko Čabrinović, Trifko Grabež, had all been suffering from tuberculosis were more likely to have been willing to sacrifice their lives.

On the day itself, while Franz Ferdinand and his wife were parading around the place, when they had arrived to the place where all 7 of the men had spread out, Nedjelko Čabrinović took the oppurtunity and through a grenade at the Archduke's car as they passed by, unfortunately for him the bomb had bounced off the metal and instead exploded on the street, proceeding that he had attempted to commit suicide from drinking cyanide, and jumping into water, sadly the cyanide had not killed him as it was expired and the water happened to be only 4 inches deep, and he had been arrested. Only a short time after the Archduke's driver had taken a wrong turn and appeared right in front of Gavrilo Princip. Taking advantage of this situation he had shot both Franz Ferdinand and his wife, and he to tried attempting suicide with the same cyanide and also shooting himself, but before he could the police had already arrested him. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand had triggered Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, followed by Russia declaring war on Austria-Hungary. Eventually more allied forces and more countries had declared war. This was only the beginning of what we now know as the First World War.

Long Term Causes of World War One

France & Germany


France had been defeated by Germany in 1871, due to this they had lost quite a lot of their land, Alsace-Lorraine. Having lost this war, France had been extremely angry, infuriated, and frustrated about this, which is why they sought for revenge and ways to gain back Alsace-Lorraine. Already having face one defeat to Germany, France had been afraid to lose to Germany once again , especially without having stronger allies. Due to this France was aiming to keep her empire as large as possible, this is referring to lands in Africa and Asia which had belonged to France.

Russia & Austria-Hungary


Russia had a large empire in Asia and other places, but they had wanted to have more influence over South-East Europe, as this influence would have given Russia access to essential supplies via the Mediterranean Sea. At that time Austria-Hungary had been a great force in South-East Europe, along with Germany. In that period of time Russia was in a bad position and the Tsar was not popular. As the Russians had a lot in common with the Serbs, the Tsar had believed that supporting the Serbs against Austria-Hungary would benefit him in being liked. Austria-Hungary's empire had consisted of 11 different nationalities and had slowly begun to once again fall apart, as each of these nations had started to protest for their own independence, the Serbs being one of them. The Austrian's were afraid that Russia would gain a great influence over South-East Europe because of their close relationship with the Serbs, etc. Russia supporting the Serbs and the fear of Russia gaining control over South-East Europe, had been the main sources of tension in between Russia and Austria-Hungary.

Britain & Germany


In that time period Britain had been the most advanced and wealthy country in Europe, she was the first nation to have an industrial revolution. Britain had the largest empire in Europe, including countries around the world some being India, Africa, Australia and Canada. While Germany had only existed as a nation starting from 1871, they had proven to have the strongest and most powerful army among the nations, they had managed to conquer a large amount of land from France and other places. As Britain had been much more wealthier and also had a more powerful navy than the Germans, Germany became determined to catch-up with Britain. In order to do so, Germany had started to build a large amounts of factories and starting from the 1900's, they had also built many battleships. Tension between the two countries was caused Britain's concern regarding German's growing strength, the expansion of Germany's empire, the German's navy being almost as big as Britain's etc.

The Alliance System

Central Powers Alliance

The European countries not only relied on their military forces and how powerful they were, for protection, they also sought for alliance between the countries. At first Otto von Bismarck had been keeping it so that Germany was friendly with Russia, but Kaiser Wilhelm -- the current emperor (1888)-- had overturned this friendship and instead concentrated on the Dual Alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary. This had soon been changed to what is known as the Triple Alliance or Central Powers Alliance, when Italy joined the Dual Alliance in 1882.

Triple Entente

Alarmed and threatened by this strong central block, because of the Triple Alliance, France had made an alliance with Russia in 1894. 10 years later in 1904, France had made an agreement with Great Britain called the Entente Cordiale-- literally meaning friendly relationship. In 1907, Great Britain had formed an Entente with Russia, forming what is known as the Triple Entente (France, Great Britain, Russia). Previously in 1902 Britain had made a naval treaty with Japan, giving the a slight upper hand. Although the Triple Alliance had a larger number of soldiers compared to the Triple Entente. The Triple Entente had alarmed Germany as they had felt surrounded by the France-Russia Alliance.

These European countries had at first though that the Alliance System, would act as a disincentive against war, but it seemed to have tied the countries together, making them feel, that if one country is in war, the alliances are obliged to follow.

Medium Term Causes of World War One

Austria-Hungary VS Bosnia

In the year 1875, Bosnian Christians had risen to revolt against the Turkish rule, with the support of Serbia, which at the time had hoped to gain control of the region. But with the approval of European Leaders, Austria-Hungary had taken temporary control over Bosnia in 1878, and in 1908 they had formally annexed the area. As Bosnia's new leaders were doing very little to address the clearly visible exploitation of Christian Serbs and Croatian underclass by the Muslim Landlords, and Bosnia's leaders favoritism toward the Catholic Croatians at the expense of the population of Orthodox Serbs, only served to aggravate the ethnic tensions in the region further. Bosnian Serbs began to agitate and protest against the Austria-Hungarian rule, and on June 28 1914 a Bosnian Serb (Gavrilo Princip) had assassinated Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo, eventually triggering a war between Serbia and Austria-Hungary that soon turned into World War I mainly because of the Alliance System.

The Balkan Wars

In 1912 and 1913 there were 2 wars in the Balkan area called the Balkan Wars. They had resulted in Serbia getting stronger and this may have encouraged the Bosnian Serbs to be more anxious for independence. The consequences of the 2 wars politically were considerable. Bulgaria, who had been frustrated in Macedonia, looked for support form Austria, while Serbia, who had been forced be Austria to give up it's Albanian conquests. The heightened tensions in the Balkans reached their climax in World War I, which had been sparked by the assassination of the Austrian- heir Franz Ferdinand by a Serb in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28, 1914.

The Trigger of World War One

The Trigger of World War The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, as mentioned before was organized and performed by a terrorist group of South Slav Nationalists/ Serbian Nationalists called the Black Hand. Austria-Hungary's government had viewed this assassination as a direct attack of their country. They believed that the Serbians were the ones to have helped support these Bosnian Terrorists in the attack. The Austria-Hungarians made extremely harsh and irrational demands form Serbia, who repeatedly rejected these offers. While this was happening Russia had been getting prepared and began to mobilize their army in order to protect Serbia. As a result of rejecting Austria-Hungary, Austria-Hungary decided to declare war on Serbia only a few days later. As allies to Austria-Hungary, Germany had declared war on Russia, after this France started to mobilize and join the war, to help it's ally Russia and with that Germany had declared war on France, and only a day later Britain had declared war on Germany. World War One had begun.


I personally think that the main reason that the whole of World War One had begun was because of the Alliance System. Without the alliance system the only war that would have occurred would have been between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The alliance system is the reason why each the allied country had felt obliged to help support the allied and joined war too, so without the alliance system the chances of one war being evolved into the Great War would have extremely low. Though the war had many other reasons as well like all the tension between the countries their would have been a series of wars sooner or later, but through the alliance system instead of multiple smaller wars to have occurred there had been just one big war, which had lost meaning and had turned into as said by Harry Patch " Nothing but legalized murder".

Also from previous research done, the Germans and their allied were much more prepared for the war compared to other countries, they had anticipated the war to last long, therefore made more comfier and larger, cleaner trenches, they had a larger amount of men fighting etc. While the Britain's were tranced in the war which had been glorified by the government, not expecting the war to last long, nor the brutality and cruel reality of the war, the preparations made by Britain for the war had been much worse than the central power alliance's. This says that the Central Powers would be slightly more powerful then the Triple Entente, but due to trench warfare, the war process had not only been slowed down, it had also been more brutalized and because of the unexpectedness of the attacks much more men had died, this also would have been because of the use of machine guns which allowed them to kill more sufficiently.

As a final conclusion, in my personal opinion I think that the key reason for the war to have occurred was the Alliance system, and the previous happening with the Assassination.

Thank You

Created By
Shreya SINGH

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