The First World War went down in history as one of the worst wars ever to be fought, owing to the magnitude of destruction and loss of life it left in its wake. The war started in 1914 ending in 1919, and has been described variously as the Great War, the War of Nations and the War to End All Wars. (Dwight E, 1966)
It was fought by many nations around the world, with Europeans being the main players, and is very significant for the way it shaped the continents years after it ended. Many explanations for the possible causes of the war have been given, some of which have been accepted while others have been disputed. The war was fought in a series of battles fought at different ...view middle of the document...
(Dwight E, 1966)
Furthermore, the feelings of nationalism among the nations were at their peak especially in Bismarckï¿½s Germany. People were very eager to prove how strong or important their country was and each felt superior in comparison to other countries. This nurtured hatred among the countries and made them eager to go to war to prove their might.
Another significant cause of the war is a set of alliance systems that had been put in place to prevent war. After the Franco-Prussian war, a system of tangled alliances between European nations emerged. Some of the most famous alliances include Bismarckï¿½s Greater Germany, Britainï¿½s Splendid Isolation, The Three Emperors League and Dual Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia, The Triple Alliance consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. There was a secret Franco-Italian Alliance, whereby in event of war, and Germany attacked France, Italy would remain neutral. Other alliances included the Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia and the Franco-Russian Agreements. They were meant to prevent war, but instead magnified small conflicts into big ones. (Dwight E, 1966)
However, the last straw that was to break the camelï¿½s back came on June 28, 1914, when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. He was heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was murdered by a group of Serbian nationalists, led by Gavrillo Princip. Following this, Austro-Hungarian officials issued an ultimatum to Serbia containing five concessions that it wanted fulfilled. After the expiry of the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. (Dwight E, 1966)
The major players in the war included Russia, who was involved because of the treaty to Serbia, while Germany was also tied to Austria-Hungary by a treaty. Britainï¿½s colonies were also part of the war, with countries such as Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and Union of South Africa offering support in terms of manpower and finance. (Dwight E, 1966)
Italy initially succeeded in avoiding taking part by invoking a clause that stated that it was only obligated to join a defensive war, and Germany and Austria-Hungary were waging an offensive. It pleaded neutrality until 1915, when she finally joined the war. (Gilbert, Martin, 1994)
Finally, the United States had declared neutrality in a policy by the then president Wilson Woodrow. Later on however, America rescinded on this policy after Germanyï¿½s policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Germanyï¿½s U-boats torpedoed and sunk the RSM Lusitania, and in addition, a telegram sent by Zimmerman, the German ambassador to Mexico. The note revealed a German plot to persuade Mexico to go to war with the United States. At this point, America declared war on the side of the allies on April 6, 1917.By the end of the war; she had almost 5million men and women in the army. (Walsh, Jeffrey, 1982)
One of the highlights of the First World War was the first usage of new...