The Causes of World War I The Unification of Germany • Bismarck’s Wars – The Danish War (1864) – The Austrian War (1866) – The Franco Prussian (1870-1871) What was accomplished was the creation of the strongest power in continental Europe. Other than that, the terms of the Franco-Prussian War were quite punitive, leaving France demoted from their position of strongest European power and humiliated by the war and the treaty. Bismarck After securing the creation of the most powerful nation in Continental Europe, Bismarck switched tactics from conqueror to diplomat. Germany had no need and little ability to expand without absorbing other ethnic groups. Bismarck tried to create a balance of power in Europe that left Germany protected. Enter the new Alliance System http://www.militaria-seidelsohn.de/bismarck.htm The Three Emperors’ League • Three Emperors' League, informal alliance among Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia, announced officially in 1872 on the occasion of the meeting of emperors Francis Joseph, William I, and Alexander II. The chief architects of the alliance were Julius Andrássy, Otto von Bismarck, and Prince Gorchakov. The aims of the league were to preserve the social order of the conservative powers of Europe and to keep the peace between Austria-Hungary and Russia. http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0848607.html The League breaks down • The League was destroyed as a result of events in the Balkans. The Balkans was of no interest to Bismarck. (He remarked that the area was not “the healthy bones of single Pomeranian musketeer.”) However he was worried about Austrian-Russian rivalry in the region. • In the Balkans there was a series of revolts against the Ottoman Empire among the Sultan’s Christian subjects between 1875 and 1876. In 1877 after attempts to impose reforms on the Turkish Empire failed, the Russo-Turkish war broke out. Russia was acting in her role as the traditional protector of the Sultan’s Orthodox and Slav subjects. • Before the war, Russia had promised Austria that she would not create a big Bulgaria if she won. After fierce resistance the Turks surrendered and signed the Treaty of San Stefano in March. The treaty proposed the creation of a big Bulgaria. This would be dominated by Russia. http://www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/bismarck.htm http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_conte nt/history20/unit1/sec1_03.html The Triple Alliance • It was against this background that the Dual Alliance was signed with Austria in 1879. This secret defensive alliance became as Carr pointed out “the very corner stone of German foreign policy”. • Bismarck saw two benefits of this alliance: • It would secure Germany’s southern frontier in the event of a war with Russia • It would frighten Russia into seeking a closer relationship with Germany. • This alliance was enlarged into the Triple Alliance when Italy joined in 1882. Although Bismarck did not think much of Italy’s military or political power, it deprived France of a potential ally. The Reinsurance Treaty • Bismarck then negotiated “his final diplomatic masterpiece.” • A “Reinsurance Treaty” was signed between Russia and Germany. It was a defensive alliance: Germany promised to stay neutral if Russia was attacked by Austria Russia would stay neutral if France attacked Germany. (1887) • This secret treaty reduced the possibility of a Franco- Russian alliance. In 1888 in order to prevent was between Austria and Russia he published the terms of the Dual Alliance. Austria would fight on her own if she attacked Russia while Russia would have to face Germany if she attacked Austria. http://www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/bismarck.htm William II • William II assumed the throne of Germany in 1888 • He began a period of “personal rule” in 1890 • He dismissed Bismarck http://www.search.com/reference/Wilhelm_II_of_Germany • He allowed the Reinsurance treaty to lapse • He felt the political differences of Russia and France would keep them from becoming allies The Triple Entente • (1907) Association between Britain, France, and Russia. It developed from the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1894, the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904, and the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907. Formed to settle mutual colonial disputes, the alignment became the nucleus of the Allied Powers in World War I. http://www.answers.com/topic/triple-entente Splendid Isolation • During this period, Britain's primary goal in foreign policy was, to maintain the balance of power in Europe and to intervene should that balance be upset. Its secondary goal was to protect its overseas interest in the colonies and dominions, as free trade was what kept the Empire alive. The sea routes to the colonies, especially those linking Britain to India (the Suez Canal), were vital. • The policy of Splendid Isolation was characterized by a reluctance to enter into permanent European alliances or commitments with the other Great Powers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splendid_isolation Risk Fleet Theory • To accomplish German global ambitions, Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz formulated the Risk Fleet theory of constructing a fleet of sixty capital ships, equivalent to two-thirds the size of the Royal Navy, to challenge the latter's Two-Power Standard. The Royal Navy, in order to maintain its naval superiority based on its Two-Power Standard, would need to build ninety vessels. However, due to British imperial commitments, her fleet would be dispersed throughout her far-flung empire. In contrast, the Imperial German Navy would be concentrated in the North Sea. It not only enjoyed local superiority, but could also threaten the British Isles directly. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/fleet-in-being.htm End of Splendid Isolation • The difficulties in winning the Boer War and the enjoyment other European nations got from her difficulties persuaded some British diplomats that it was time to end Splendid Isolation • The rise of the threat of the German navy backfired on Germany and Britain felt that it needed to turn away from its traditional ally and turn to it’s traditional rival (France) The naval race and the enormous costs of the new Dreadnought class battleships made clinging to naval dominance via the two-power standard obsolete Origins of World War I Two Armed Camps World War I The Summer of 1914: Road to War • June 28, 1914 • While in Sarajevo, touring the controversial Austrian province of Bosnia, the heir to the Austro- Hungarian throne, Francis Ferdinand, was assassinated by a member of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist terrorist group.
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