Running head: America and the Great War
America and the Great War – The Back Story
World War I began in central Europe in June 1914. A great many factors, over the course of forty years, contributed to the start of this War, including nationalism, imperialism, militarism, as well as territorial and economic conflicts amongst various European powers. The culminating factor was the assassination of the Archduke of Austria Hungary, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie, at the hands of Gavrilo Princip, a Serb. Princip became a member of Major Tankosic's Black Hand partisan academy in 1912, but health issues kept him off-duty until June 28, 1914, ...view middle of the document...
According to Joep Leerssen, in his book Imagology: The Cultural Construction and Literary Representation of National Characters, creation of a Pan-Slavism culture was leading to the ultimate goal of transforming itself into a “political, separatist movement that would free the Slavic lands under Germanic rule” (Weninger, 2009).
Tensions were high amongst the Great Powers (Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Russia, and the Austria-Hungarian Empire), due to diplomatic skirmishes during the past decade, all leading to the events of 1914. Tension over who was going to control territory in the Balkans became a central influence preceding war, as Serbia and Russia competed with Austria-Hungary, resulting in the other Great Powers becoming involved.
In the late 1870s and early 1880s, German nationalists came to believe their nation was the strongest in Europe, and therefore could conquer Europe. Their reasoning was that Germany was the most populace (outside of Russia), and that millions of German-speaking people, who lived in and around neighboring territories, should join their Reich. As Germany occupies the central part of Europe, nationalists believe it maintains a strategic dominance over all of Europe, as well as portions of Africa and Asia (Von Mises).
Nationalists believed their first action was the reincorporation of all Germans presently outside of their borders, including Czechs and Slovenes, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the German speaking Baltic provinces. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had defeated Austria (1866), and France (1870), which paved the way for the formation of a German Empire under rule of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1871. Citizens were represented in a parliament that had very limited power over the Kaiser. Eventually, the fragile balance of European power Bismarck created broke down in 1914. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended the Great War, marked the end of the German Empire (Global, 2014).
The Alliance System – Rivalry between the Powers
Prior to 1914, the primary powers of Europe were predominantly divided into two armed camps, defined by a series of alliances. The first of the alliances was the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungry, and Italy, established in 1881, with the second alliance being the Triple Alliance of Britain, Russia, and France in, established in 1907.
One of the principle aims of the Triple Alliance was to prevent Italy from declaring war against Austria-Hungary, as the Italians were involved in a territorial dispute with Austria-Hungary at the time. Unbeknownst to Germany and Austria-Hungary, Italy had entered into a secret agreement with France, in which Italy promised to remain neutral if Germany went to war with France. Italy remained true to this secret treaty when Germany eventually attacked France, which left Germany with only Austria-Hungary as an ally.
There were three principle rivalries at work between the various primary powers. ...