Causes of World War One World War One or 'The Great War' as it became known, occurred due to many

causes , some of which still remain unexposed today. The obvious trigger for the war wa s the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Archduke Fra nz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on 28th June 1914. The assassination occurred d uring the Archduke's visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. T he Archduke was targeted due to the general feeling amongst Serbians that, once appointed to the throne, Ferdinand would continue the persecution of Serbs livin g within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Just moments after the two had been shot; authorities arrested the culprit, Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian stud ent, who was believed to have been linked to the Serbian terrorist organization, The Black Hand. Causes of the war also dealt with such ideologies as Nationalism, Imperialism an d militarism along with the prominent alliance systems in Europe all strongly af fected the outbreak of the war. All of these factors where established in many o f Europe's 'Great Powers' which consisted of Great Britain, France, Germany, Aus tria-Hungary and Russia. During the late nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, Nationalism was a p rominent movement that had spread itself across Europe. All major powers had str ong feelings toward the concepts of supporting their own nation. Nationalists be lieved that their own nation's needs must be met before that of other nations. T hese strong beliefs sometimes became obsessive as nationalists became so proud o f their nation that they strived for it to become richer and more powerful than any other. This wave of national pride became a major problem for the Austro-Hungarian Empi re as they attempted to maintain a form of order and control within the annexed area of Bosnia. This power was placed under threat due to the Slavonic peoples d islike of their Austro-Hungarian superiors and there desire to attach themselves to Serbia and create an independent state to be known as Yugoslavia, or 'The La nd of the South Slavs.' This was seen as the reason for the assassination of Fer dinand and his wife. The assassination gave Austria-Hungary the ideal excuse to declare war against S erbia. An ultimatum was issued to Serbia stating that it must agree to all terms described in the ultimatum in order to avoid war. Austria-Hungary gave Serbia 4 8 hours to reply and clearly stated that all terms must be met and complied with . Serbia agreed to all terms of the ultimatum bar one. This concerned Austro-Hun garian officials entering Serbia to perform an investigation into the assassinat ion of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. As the Serbians denied this request, it is believed by some historians that the young operatives sent to kill Ferdinand wer e not only nationalistic students but also as scapegoats used by the Serbian gov ernment to carry out their dirty work. Imperialism was present in Europe for some time before the war broke out, as eac h of the great powers aimed to expand theirs boundaries into new areas in order to exploit the opportunities that the new land held. Just as England had done fo r centuries, it had become desirable to seek out new land to rule under the laws and cultural beliefs of the 'mother' country. The numerous conflicts raging within the confines of the Balkans since March 191 2 had many historians, such as Remak, believing that the First World War was sim ply the Balkan War that had raged out of control and spread across Europe. The B alkans had been a problem in Europe for over a century as it was ruled by the Tu rkish 'Ottoman Empire.' This empire had become so dilapidated that the many diff erent ethnic groups within the area wanted to break away becoming free of Turkis h rule, and create their own independent nations.

This particular theory is supported by the fact that all of the Great Powers in Europe had a vested interest in this area of Europe. Within the Balkans, the Sla vic people were rising up against Austria-Hungary who had annexed Serbia and not allowed the independent state that the Slavs desired. Russia, who also consiste d of Slavs, was involved due to its ethnic ties to the Slavs residing in the Bal kans. Britain and Germany both developed interest in the area for the same reaso ns. At the time, Britain held the bulk of trade from Europe to distant markets s uch as the Middle East and Asia. Germany saw the Balkans as an ideal prospect to gain, as it was adjoined to their ally, Austria-Hungary and was in an ideal pos ition to establish a trade headquarters, dealing to the same markets as the Brit ish. After its embarrassment at the hands of Bismarck and the Germans in 1871, F rance had held a bitter grudge and looked to gain control of the Balkans simply to frustrate and achieve revenge against Germany. Austria-Hungary was willing to go to war with Serbia as long as they could be as sured of Germanys support in the matter. The Germany Kaiser, Wilhelm II, provide d this support for their neighbouring ally through a telegram to Emperor Franz J oseph II. This telegram is known today as the "Blank Cheque." It was this reassu rance that prompted Austria to declare war on Serbia, which set off a chain reac tion of conflicts. This theory is what another historian, Gilbert, believes prov oked war, saying that "The Austrian foreign minister was 'fired up' for war agai nst Serbia, but needed Germanys support. In the early part of the twentieth century, militarism was as prominent as ever, with the recent industrial revolution being the main factor. As materials for w eaponry and other war structures could be produced with less effort and in great er volume, countries were attempting to increase their stocks of weaponry and ot her instruments of warfare. Two nations that were pitted against each other in a head-to-head situation were Britain and Germany. At the turn of the century, Britain controlled the largest empire on earth and also had the largest and most powerful navy on earth. It wa s required that Britain have such a large and powerful navy in order to protect their overseas territories and also to maintain sea routes between their various territories and colonies. The German Kaiser was extremely envious of Britain for having a larger navy than that of Germany's and ordered the production of new Dreadnought-class battleshi ps. Britain responded to the Germans attempt to equal its navy by creating a nav y so large and powerful that no other nation's navy would ever contemplate an at tack. This head-to-head production period was known as the "Arms Race" and creat ed more tension between the two nations. Within Europe during the early years of the twentieth century, a system of milit ary alliances was formed to provide European powers with a sense of security bef ore the commencement of the war. Two rivalling alliance systems where establishe d. The Triple Alliance consisted of the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary that had existed since 1879 when Bismarck had befriended the Austro-Hungarian E mpire. In the agreement, both countries pledged that they would go to the aid of the other if attacked by Russia. This was done to ensure that Germany would alw ays have an allied nation on its border if war were to occur. Italy later joined this alliance in 1882, which remained in tact until the beginning of World War I. The conditions of the alliance changed after Italy was added and stated that countries would aid any other that was under attack from two or more countries. The other alliance: The Triple Entente, was made up of Great Britain, France and Russia. As a result of Germanys build-up in naval resources, Great Britain was forced to abandon its isolation policy and adopt allies. France joined Great Bri

tain in 1904. Unlike the Triple alliance, this agreement contained no promises o f military support, although the two powers began to talk of joint military plan s. The Triple Entente was completed when Russia joined in 1907. A country hoped to discourage an attack from its enemies by entering into a mili tary agreement with one or more other countries. In case of an attack, such an a greement guaranteed that other members of the alliance would come to the country 's aid or at least remain neutral. The alliance system has been attributed by numerous historians as the defining c ause of the war's outbreak and spread throughout Europe. As the two key alliance s strengthened, a potentially disastrous situation was created whereby if any si ngle country was to provoke or be involved in any conflict, allied nations of bo th sides would come into the conflict to assist any allied nation and would even tually cause mass war. Fritz Fischer, a German historian, believes that Germany was looking to provoke war by making the assumption that Russia had not mobilise d, and allowed Austria to invade Serbia with the belief that no retaliation woul d come from Russia. Of the belief that Russia was not mobilised and therefore, were unprepared for w ar, Austria declared war on Serbia on 28th July 1914, exactly a month after the murder of Franz Ferdinand and his wife. Russia responded to this attack by partially mobilising and going to war against Austria-Hungary in order to protect their Slavic relatives, which was followed by Germany's demand that Russia demobilise immediately. The Russians refused Ger many's demand and the Kaiser declared war on Russia and France. The Germans were sticking to a prior plan known as the Shlieffen plan. which inv olved Germany going to war with France and Russia. In the plan, German was to us e two arms of their army in order to trap the French forces. One small arm would defend along Germanys border and the much larger right side would encircle Fren ch forces by invading Belgium. The German army proceeded to invade Belgium and b y August, Belgium was almost completely under German dictatorship. This invasion complicated matters further as Great Britain were brought into the war due to a prior treaty being signed with Belgium that included the defence of the country if it was invaded. Just as predicted, the war that initially began due to an assassination on an Au strian leader grew into a colossal battle that enveloped the entirety of Europe. Alliance systems drew nations into the conflict that, had it not been for past agreements, would have steered clear. The Balkans proved to be the lynchpin in regards to the outbreak of the First Wo rld War. From the minor conflicts in the region, violence and warfare spread ove r four years of fighting and resulted in the death of some ten million people. I t could be said that Gavrilo Princip, the young Bosnian student who assassinated Franz Ferdinand was responsible for the mayhem and despair that occupied the fo ur years to follow in Europe, for had he not assassinated Ferdinand and provided the initial spark for conflict, the events from 1914 to 1918 may have been vast ly different. Otto von Bismarck, leader of Germany during the unification period of the 1870's , some forty years before the outbreak of World War One, summed up the future of Europe when he said, "The Balkans will be the cause of the next great war" He couldn't have been closer to the truth.