Causes for 1st World War - Politics | PoFo

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The First World War (1914-1918).
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By Zel
Reading quite some forum discussions and after some chats Id like to know how do English, French, Russians and Amercans see it. This is not to start a flamewar but earnest interst in the topic of different teachings and historical perception.
By 1917
The war started mainly because it became impossible not to have a war, Germany wanted to take it's place as a superpower comparable to Britian, France, America and Russia, who all had vast territories they ruled over.

Germany and Britian had been in a naval arms race for many years and Germany already had a vast land army, so when the heir to the Austrian throne (a German ally) was killed by a Serbian it triggered the horrible network of alliances that draged Russia and France into the war, and when the Germans marched through neutral Belgium to attack France we felt duty bound to defend Belgium.

So, all in all, in my view it was mearly a imperialistic war, it was the inevitable end to about 60 years of German unification and it wanting to be a equal partner in World affairs.
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By Ombrageux
It seems to me war occured mainly as a blunder. One can see lots of double-handed behaviour by the German and especially the Austrian foreign ministers - with their own superiors - at this time. Had the leaders of Germany and Austria tried harder to have peace, there is no doubt in my mind that they could have reigned the hawks in.

Why didn't they push more actively for peace? My only answer is that they did not yet know the price of mechanized and industrialized war. They had 19th Century conceptions of war as glorious affair trampling natives to short victorious as in all Prussia's wars Denmark/Austria/France.

I would blame it on 19th Century conceptions of war that simply did not mix well with the 20th Century industrialisation of war.
By Einherjar
I believe the war was somewhat natural.
Many historians call it the ottoman empire war of succession. The decline of the ottoman empire, which controlled the region for centuries, brought about lots of tensions.
There were other factors mainly:
Germany's sheer size and innovational power coulnd't not enable her to be a superpower. Just balance of power.
German threat to british naval and innovational supremacy.
Russia's pan-slavism. Russia had hopes of conquering the slavic nations up to constantinople.
Austria's short-sightedness in wanting to annex serbia at all costs.

The worst thing of the war was actually its end.
It was inevitable that another war would arise simply because the new division of europe was not right.
By Nikita
I believe WW1 was caused due to the strange doctrines of which many nations within Europe adopted, such as the one which Russia adopted, which stated that the only way to achieve victory was to attack first, and destroy them in a first strike. Thus, this most likely created great tension between many of the nations of Eastern Europe/Germany. And of course, the secret diplomatics could also be the cause.

Most people tend to agree with the Fischer-Geise theory, which is rather flawed, with the fact that it basically says that Germany was the number one reason for WW1.

[The arms race too, gave reason for many of the nations to engage in battle with one another, to stop the build up of arms.]
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By Todd D.
Two words: Alliance Treaties.

Had Europe not royally fooked itself with person a defending person b who hated person c who was defending person a, then the simple matter of a Serbian killing Ferdinand would have simply been an internal matter for Austria-Hungary to deal with. Instead, shit hits fan. Kinda sucks too, without WW1 there's no WW2, Holocaust, Nuclear proliferation, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so on, son. (Arguably many of these would have happened anyways, but certainly not on the same time table)
By jpyy
Biggest reasons in my opinion are, the German-Franco war of 1870-71 because of the way the Germans treated the French after that war, the arms race was a big factor, the fact that many head of states were military people and of course the alliance treaties were to blame.

In my opinion you could almost sum up the years 1870-1945 as one big conflict in Europe with only a few years of still in weapons in between. Because these conflicts all have something in common with them.
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By Red_Army
Money. The Germans wanted a piece of the world economy, Britain and France didn't want to share, the USA came to the aid of their Imperialist allies. The Balkan wars might have triggered some things too.
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By Paradigm
Todd D. wrote:Kinda sucks too, without WW1 there's no WW2, Holocaust, Nuclear proliferation, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so on, son. (Arguably many of these would have happened anyways, but certainly not on the same time table)

I'm actually pretty convinced that Hitler simply could not have gotten elected chancellor, or at least could not have brought down the Weimar Republic, without the Versailles Treaty. It was only in the desperation of living under such an oppressive treaty that he was able to rise to power.
By Tharos
M- Militarism
A- Alliances
N- Nationalism
I- Imperealism
A- Arms Race
Last edited by Tharos on 02 Apr 2005 01:02, edited 2 times in total.
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By Ombrageux
What the heck is mainia??

By Tharos
That's my forgetting English. :(
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By The Immortal Goon
Money. The Germans had finally become a formal nation and wanted their peice of the pie, the English and French didn't want to give it.

Furthermore, in England, it was partially a move by the remnants of the feudal class to reconsolidate their power after the Parliment Act shifted the balance of power to the House of Commons.
The War Office then was able to supercede the parliment. This was an almost inevitable outcome since after the Curragh mutiny the government could not depend on the armed services any more at all and everything was to be ripped assunder.

For the Tsars it was something of a Holy War, as they viewed themselves as the legitimate heirs to Rome - which would mean that it was an excuse to take Istanbol and all that crap. Most of the Russians didn't care about this, however.

I can't say for the French, I don't know enough about it - aside from a system of alliances and a historic rivalry with the Germans.

For the vast majority of Americans, at the start they wanted the Germans to win as - most of them were of German descent; the second greatest number were militantly Irish and thus anti-english; and at the time, England was America's historic foe for the Revolution, 1812, arming and advising the Confederacy, and a few other things.
However, Wilson, in addition to being something of an Anglophile, knew that much of the US dollar was invested in England. If the investments were to be paid back, England had to win. Secondly, both the US and Germany were founding new colonies and whatnot at the time and were starting to get in each other's way. Thus, Wilson worked with the English to coax the public in to the war.


But I can say this, and I think it's true:

The First World War was the Old World's Dying gasp - in all countries involved the last feudal remnants were almost powerless at best, or outright dead, by war's end. Everyone began to organize for the people's greater good.

The Second World War was the birthing pains of the New World - which system, which style, would set the standard for Earth.

-TIG :rockon:
By Stipe
German Weltpolitik, which drove Britain, France, and Russia into alliance with each other, the competition between Pan-Slav and Pan-German nationalisms, and unstoppable complete mobilization plans of the European states which made it impossible to back down even when they could have wanted to.
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By MB.
Two words: Alliance Treaties.

Not important.

Two words: Italian Empire.

They switched sides, despite their clear obligation to join the centeral powers.

Thus, the treaties were nothing more then the very "scraps of paper" they represented.

Economics, military-industrial states and political/military imperailsim were the cuases of the war, not something as benign as "treaties".
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By Thoss
The Alliances were responsible for the chain reaction, or the short term cause of the war. Scrapps of paper could not make the great powers into that war. They wanted the fight and the Alliance systems were the key to it.
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By Ombrageux
Are you saying the alliance system was just "scraps of paper" or that they were "key"?
By pugsville
The immediate causes of the war like definitely with Austria-Hungray and the German Empire.

The Austria-Hungrians because they purposely delayed their nopte to serbia, concealing the contents, this is important as to prevented diplomacy and gave the whole affair a very short timetable when the note was deleivered. They also refused a quite reasonable serbian response which meant all but one of the austrain-hungrain demands. If the Austrian-Hungarians had any reasinable intentions to resolve the affair by peaceful means you would think they could worked with a reasonable serbian response.

The Germans for aiding the Austrain Hungrians in this, denying any fore knowledge of the note, issue the Austrain-Hungrains with the "blank cheque", the holiday by officals making diplomacy unlikely and pretending crisis what crisis. While it's pretty unclear the both major powers were bent on a major war, they were both had a dislike and suscipion of diplomacy. The High commands had a yen that if it there was going to be a war, it was better sooner rather than later, and while not actively scheming they had an acceptance of war.

Once the note was delivered, all the other powers had to decide very very quickly their response, the only Real out from their was the Russsians letting the Serbians hanging, this would have been a major humiliation, which was most likely the main thrust from the Germans & Austrians, but they knew they were putting the russians in a very hard place. Any talk of the Russain mobilization as being a first strike is ludricous. The russians needed six weeks for effective mobilization.

One of the major problems in both the Austrian & German desicion making process was the lack of real clarity in the process, the Monarch, High Command & civilian ministers, none really had the black and white this is their desicion and it was their responsibilty. The civilian ministers were particularly sidelined in the general political process, they lacked the status, stature and in general competence to really stand up and be really proactive in deciding the course of events. neither monarch had a real force of personality, or grasp of the decions making either. This muddy descion making process preventing things from being throughly thought through.

If the Austrians had wanted to really punish the serbs, an immediate quick war, a fact accomplice would most likely resulted in quick short local war.

I dismiss economic factors, the Germans were doing pretty darn well economically and the place in the sun was just rhetoric (while many took it very seriously if you like at trade, manufacturing, economic factors the lack of colonies was not holding germany back in any sort of economic sense) Germany undoubtedly had the best army in europe and was rapidly improving it's economic might.

In long term trends and causes the three empires, trukish, russian and austrian hungrian were all in crisis. All would struggle to continue in their existing forms. It would be hard to see their dissolution chnage without some sort of violent conflict.
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By GandalfTheGrey
Personally I like Blackadder's explanation - basically it was too much trouble NOT to have a war

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