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Causes Of World War One Essay

1981 words - 8 pages

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 was the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie on 28th June 1914. The assassination occurred during the Archduke's visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Archduke was targeted due to the general feeling amongst Serbians that, once appointed to the throne, Ferdinand would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Just moments after the two had been shot; authorities arrested the culprit, Gavrilo ...view middle of the document...

' This was seen as the reason for the assassination of Ferdinand and his wife.The assassination gave Austria-Hungary the ideal excuse to declare war against Serbia. 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 48 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-Hungarian officials entering Serbia to perform an investigation into the assassination 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 were not only nationalistic students but also as scapegoats used by the Serbian government to carry out their dirty work.Imperialism was present in Europe for some time before the war broke out, as each 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 for 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 1912 had many historians, such as Remak, believing that the First World War was simply the Balkan War that had raged out of control and spread across Europe. The Balkans had been a problem in Europe for over a century as it was ruled by the Turkish 'Ottoman Empire.' This empire had become so dilapidated that the many different ethnic groups within the area wanted to break away becoming free of Turkish 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 Slavic people were rising up against Austria-Hungary who had annexed Serbia and not allowed the independent state that the Slavs desired. Russia, who also consisted of Slavs, was involved due to its ethnic ties to the Slavs residing in the Balkans. Britain and Germany both developed interest in the area for the same reasons. At the time, Britain held the bulk of trade from Europe to distant markets such 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 position to establish a trade headquarters, dealing to the same markets as the British. After its embarrassment at the hands of Bismarck and the Germans in 1871, France 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 assured of Germanys support in the matter. The Germany Kaiser, Wilhelm II, provided this support for their neighbouring ally through a telegram to Emperor Franz Joseph II. This...

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