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Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

Having solved so many crises since 1905, why were

the Great Powers unable to solve the crisis of 1914?

From the assassination until the war break-out (last weeks before war declaration)


In 1914, Europe was dominating the world, even though European States had different political
and economical systems. We will focus about what we can call the long 19th century , from
1789 to 1914. This period covers major changes in Europe such as the Industrial Revolution as
well as the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars. The first gathering of the European
statesmen happened during the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The objective of the Congress
was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe. After the reorganization of the politics of
Europe in 1915, some major changes happened in Europe. For example the Ottoman Empire
declined while the nationalism rose, as well at the Russian Empire. Moreover, the peak of the
British Empire happened at the same time. Another point which cant be forget is the rise of the
German and Austro Hungarian empire.
During this long 19th century Great powers have been able to solve many crisis such as the
Moroccos Crisis or the Balkans.
World War I happened quite unexpectedly in 1914. Alliances and militarism played a major role
in the outbreak of the war, as well as imperialism and ethnic nationalism.
The causes of World War I remain a hard and debated subject. The war started on July 28 1914
and ended November 1918 leaving 17 million dead or injured. We might wonder how did this
War happen. Why the Great Powers were able to solve the previous crisis but not the one of
1914 ? To try to answer this question, we will first explain the building of the tensions from the
beginning of the 20th century, then we will talk about the assassination Franz Ferdinand. We
will then explain how the alliances reacted to the assassination before ending with the last steps
that led to the declaration of war.
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

Development :

During the last years of the 19th century Germany moved from a policy
of maintaining the status quo of Europe, after the Congress of Vienna, to
a more aggressive stance.There still are controversies about the
inevitability of the war, although, according to Paul W. Schroeder, the
Central Powers isolated themselves diplomatically. This thesis is
supported by the decision of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who did not renew the
peace treaty with Russia, effectively opting for the Austrian alliance. As a
response to this, the two neighbours of Germany, France and Russia,
signed an alliance in 1894, since they were both feared by the policy that Austria and Germany
acted . In 1898, Germany began to build up its navy, a clear message to the world's most
powerful maritime nation, Britain, that soon abandoned the policy of holding aloof from
entanglements with continental powers. Germany and Britain were racing to be the worlds
greatest naval force, and tensions augmented when Germany started sending more ships to the
Mediterranean Sea, under the control of the Royal Navy. This act was seen as an attempt of
destroying the British naval supremacy. Within ten years, Britain had concluded agreements
with the two major powers in continental Europe, France and Russia. This alliances brought to
tensions between the two parties, the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy)
and the Entente Powers (Britain, France and Russia), creating a domino effect. Tensions broke
out into minor disagreements between single Nations, and grew even more because of conflicts
of interest between Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans, regarding the hostile position of
Serbia, allied with Russia. The lasting result was bitter enmity between Austria-Hungary on one
side and Serbia and Russia on the other. So the Central Powers adopted an aggressive
defense in foreign policy: annexation of Bosnia in 1908, the subsequent humiliation of Russia in
1909, its refusal to reach reasonable compromises with Serbia, Montenegro, and Italy during
the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, the hopeless attempt in 1913-14 to create a viable new Balkan
satellite in Albania. Tensions broke out in the summer of 1914. With the growth of Pan-Slavism
or the unification of all Slavic peoples, protected by Russia, the areas around Serbia became
very unstable. The Serbians were prepared to create their own independent Slavic state
supported by the Russians. This will lead to what we call the Balkan Powder Keg or an area in
the Balkans that would only take a minor issue to explode into full on war.
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

2) Assassination of Ferdinand SARAJEVO (28th of June 1914) (Chlo)

With the growth of Pan-Slavism or the unification of all Slavic

peoples, protected by Russia, the areas around Serbia became
very unstable. The Serbians were prepared to create their own
independent Slavic state supported by the Russians. This will
lead to what we call the Balkan Powder Keg or an area in the
Balkans that would only take a minor issue to explode into full
on war.
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife is considered by historians as the starting
point of World war I. It occurred on june 28th 1914 in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. It is the
province that had been annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908.

Franz Ferdinand was heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. He traveled to Bosnia on that day to
inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
These territories wanted to be independent from Austria and believed they should become part
of the Serbian nation. June 28th was a special day in Serbia, especially to Serbian nationalists.
They were celebrating the anniversary of the first battle of Kosovo in 1839 (in which Serbia was
defeated by the Turks). In other words, Franz Ferdinand knew that his visit could create trouble
but it didn't stop him. This special day was also the heir of Austria's wedding anniversary.
The trouble started on his way along the main road in Sarajevo. 7 young Bosnians had planned
the assassination and they first threw a bomb at his car. The bomb injured an Austrian officer
but didn't touch the Austrian couple. However, Franz Ferdinand wanted to show the power of
his family and his country and continued his dangerous tour of Sarajevo. The murder of the
couple was a huge coincidence. Right after the bomb, the heir asked his driver to change the
way to go visit the injured officer at the hospital. Unfortunately, his driver took the wrong
direction. As a result, one of the 7 bosnians involved in the assassination, Gavrilo Princip
happened to be there at the same time. Seeing his opportunity, Gavrilo Princip took his gun and
shot Franz and his wife.

The people
involved in the
murder were part of
the Black hand gang
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

which wanted to rid Bosnia of Austrian rule. The black hand was a secret nationalist Serbian
society of the early XXth century using terrorists methods. Their main goal was to rescue the
Serbs from Habsburg or Ottoman rule, to have a greater Serbia. They were using propaganda,
armed bands in Macedonia and organised a network of rebellions throughout Bosnia. The
leader of the black Hand called Apis was the one who decided in 1914 that Archduke Franz
Ferdinand should be assassinated.

This assassination had many consequences for Europe. Many tensions were felt especially
between Serbia and Austria which escalated into world war I.

3) How the alliances reacted to the assassination (from assassination until 23 July 1914-
Austrias ultimatum to Serbia). Last steps of the declaration of war

Well, as we already heard from Chlo the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand played a
major role. After June 28th 1914 the atmosphere was very tense. Over the weeks that followed,
Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack, hoping to use the incident as
justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism in the tumultuous Balkans region once
and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austria-Hungary declaration of war was
delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II. This
promise, the so-called 'blank cheque', came on July 5th and it said that Austria-Hungary could
rely on Germany's support if they went to war and Russia would interfere. Having this promise in
mind, the Austrian-Hungarian government sent Serbia an ultimatum on July 23rd containing 10
really tough demands. Failure to meet all of these demands, they said, would result in war. After
Serbia had received the ultimatum they sent a reply in which it agreed to everything except part
of a demand in which Austria-Hungary requested an investigation on the assassination. On July
28th, 1914 Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

As the Austrian army bombarded Belgrade (the capital of Serbia) the Serbians called up their
army and asked their ally, Russia, for help. Russia was not keen on going to war. However, the
emperor of Russia, Nicholas II. decided to mobilise his army (July 29th). At first he hoped to
mobilise only against Austria-Hungary, but he was forced to order a general mobilisation
(against Germany as well as Austria-Hungary). Therefore, Germany mobilised and declared war
on Russia on August 1st.
The Germans had a plan called the Schlieffen Plan. It basically said that if war would break out
Germany would have to fight France and Russia; on the one hand they thought that France was
weak and it wouldnt take them long to defeat them. On the other hand they believed that
Russia was strong but slow, slow is what is more important, the Germans figured that if they
only had to face Russia they could manage to win, so the plan was to defeat France as fast as
possible so that the Russians hadnt yet had time to mobilize the integrity of their army and then
face the Russians in the east. The problem was that France managed to stop the Germans from
taking Paris and so forced them to focus a lot of troops on their west front. Moreover, Russia
mobilized faster than the Germans expected so they had to fight on two fronts. That is also
why Germany declared war as soon as they knew that Russia was mobilizing.
When they declared war on France on the 3rd of August they had to go through neutral
Belgium. Britain was obliged by a treaty of 1839 to help Belgium in the event of an invasion so
on August 4th Britain joined the war as well.


As we can see, WW1 was triggered by a multitude of different factors and events. We can
classify them in three different categories depending on the time at which they occurred. First
there are the Long Term Causes of the war which are the rise in nationalist movements in the
Balkans which created very tense relationships between the different countries involved as
neither of them could find any common ground and stayed centered on their own objectives.
Furthermore, there was the very complicated alliance system that had been forged throughout
the XIXth century and that acted as a chain reaction in the end that nobody could stop. Then
there also was a Medium Term Cause of the Great War which was the clashes between
Imperialist powers such as France, Britain and Germany over Morocco which mainly served to
widen the gap between these rival countries (uniting France and Britain even more and pitching
them against Germany). The result was the creation of two different alliance blocks ; The Triple
Entente or Allies consisting mainly of France, Britain and Russia (but also of smaller powers
such as Belgium or Italy who joined right at the beginning of the war) and the Triple Alliance or
Central Powers that consisted mainly of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.
Finally, there is the Short Term Cause of WW1 which is the assassination of Sarajevo. Since
tensions were rising exponentially in the Balkans with the rise of different nationalist
movements, the assassination of the Archduke was what put the fire to the powder that started
World War 1.
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

It is the addition and superpositioning of all these factors and events that explain why the Great
Powers of the time didnt manage to deal with this crisis. Because of the complexity of the
situation countries seeked protection in trying to affirm their own goals and objectives to assert
their power. The problem was the incompatibility of these different objectives. As an example
we can take the Moroccan Crisis. Germany, being a new country was trying to affirm its power
by claiming colonies in Africa. But, since France and Britain had already claimed dominance
over the continent the task was very difficult for Germany. So when France wanted to instaure a
protectorate in Morocco it was only natural for Germany to oppose itself to it. Here we can see

how these different objectives werent compatible with each other.

To conclude we can say that WW1 is the proof that the Congress of Vienna was a
Failure as it hadnt managed to bring about peace in Europe. We could attribute this failure to
the lack of any supra-national institution that could have asserted the peace (an idea that the
winners of the war tried to put in place in 1918 with the League of Nations). Therefore it can be
said that the Great Powers of the time didnt manage to solve the crisis of 1914 because they
couldnt manage to cooperate with each other and there was no higher power that could police
Chlo Dauvillier, Anna Gehanno, Louis Declee, Luigi Oddera, Olivia Metzger

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