Causes of World War I

Essay by e-terroristA+, February 2005

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The major powers that involved in World War I perhaps did sense that they were on the brink of incalculable catastrophe, but the more they tried to prevent the war, the closer they got to it. It all began with alliances. Russia felt it needed to protect its Slavic friend Serbia and began to mobilize, feeling it had no other choice. Yet Germany took this as a declaration of war and declared war on Russia. France became allied to Russia, both of them swearing to attack Germany in case the other is attacked. So Germany declared war on France as well. Great Britain felt that its naval power was being threatened by Germany and decided to join in the Triple Entente with France and Russia. Germany was already allied with Austria-Hungary, offering all possible help for its war effort in Serbia. The biggest mistake was that these two major alliances declared war on each other.

Germany didn't expect Britain to declare war on it, despite warnings from Britain. Germany went straight ahead, marching its troops through neutral Belgium. That's when Britain entered the turmoil, not thinking twice before attacking Germany.

Of course many diplomatic mistakes were made because the two alliances ended up with incredible devastation and millions of deaths. Before the war began, all the powers assumed they could just blame it all on the would-be loser when the war ended. However, they did not know that an assassination could lead to such a horrific war.

Germany did not think out carefully enough its war plan in case Russia was to mobilize. As the Austrian ambassador Count Szogyney reported to his Foreign Minister, Count Berchtold, "...Russia at the present time was in no way prepared for war, would think twice before it appealed to arms..." The Triple Alliance...