Why did World War I break out and who was to blame?

Essay by apl2k3 April 2004

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"At eleven o'clock this morning came to an end the cruellest and most terrible war that has ever scourged mankind. I hope that we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came to an end all wars."

David Lloyd George (1863 - 1945)

House of Commons, 11th November 1918

In this essay I will be looking at World War I and finding why it broke out and who was to blame. I will look at alliances, plans, rivalries and other subjects that would out.

Firstly, a long-term cause of the war breaking out was what is known as The Alliance Systems. These were two separate plans drawn up by several different countries to protect each other and in effect, prevent war from breaking out. However, this was rather ironically one of the biggest reasons why the war was not just a small two-country war, but the largest scale war ever until 1939 (World War II).

This is because these plans drew up hatred, anger and irrational overreacting. This is natural human behaviour. If you split up a room full of people into two, you would find that there would be some form of dislike to the opposite team. The two big alliances built up from smaller alliances earlier on, as far back as 1879.

* 1879 - The Dual Alliance - Germany and Austria-Hungary

* 1882 - The Triple Alliance - Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy

* 1892 - Franco-Russian Alliance - France and Russia

* 1904 - Entente Cordiale - Britain and France

* 1907 - Triple Entente - Britain, Russia and France

As well as these new Alliances, past history between France and Germany through the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1870) caused more friction as they were separated again through the Alliance systems. As a consequence of the Franco-Prussian War, two...