Russia's declaration of war against Austria-Hungary motivated other nations that were bound by alliances to enter the war. World War I was caused by a combination of several factors, both long and short term, and it was precipitated by an assassination. The primary long term causes that led to the war are the formation of mutual military defense alliances among different nations, imperialism, nationalism, and the rise of military might.
Several nations entered into mutual defense alliances with each other, such as Russia-Serbia, Germany and Austria-Hungry, etc. If an alliance partner was attacked, the other partner was bound to defend it. Various nations were vying for resource-rich African and Asian countries imperialism and this was also the time when each of these nations was building up its military might, none more so than Germany and Russia.
The immediate or short term cause that led to the war was the assassination in June of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry and his wife Sophie by a Serbian nationalist in protest of Austria-Hungry having control of Sarajevo, a region Serbia was interested in.
This led Austria-Hungry to declare war on Serbia, which prompted Russia to come to the aid of Serbia due to their mutual defense alliance. Germany declared war on Russia due to its alliance with Austria-Hungry. And the war finally started and spread to the other nations, culminating in World War I. Expert Answers mrkirschner Certified Educator. In a quest for these scarce resources, industrial powers sought Begin typing the name of a book or author: Popular Questions Why is it important to study history?
Many ministers in Austria, especially Berchtold, argue this act must be avenged. The assassination triggered the July Crisis , which turned a local conflict into a European, and then a worldwide, war. It quickly emerged that three leading members of the assassination squad had spent long periods of time in Belgrade, had only recently crossed the border from Serbia, and were carrying weapons and bombs of Serbian manufacture.
They were secretly sponsored by the Black Hand, whose objectives included the liberation of all Bosnian Slavs from Austrian rule, and masterminded by the Head of Serbian Military intelligence, Apis.
Austria feared that if she displayed weakness, their neighbours to the South and East would be emboldened, whereas war with Serbia would put to an end the problems the dual monarchy had experienced with Serbia. There was also a feeling that the moral effects of military action would breathe new life into the exhausted structures of the Habsburg monarchy, restoring it to the vigour and virility of an imagined past, and that Serbia must be dealt with before it became too powerful to defeat militarily.
His removal not only provided the casus belli but removed one of the most prominent doves from policymaking. Since taking on Serbia involved the risk of war with Russia, Vienna sought the views of Berlin. The Germans provided their unconditional support for war with Serbia, the so-called "Blank Cheque. The Austrians hoped that the ultimatum would be rejected in order to provide the pretext for war with a neighbour they considered to be impossibly turbulent.
Convinced Serbian nationalism and Russian Balkan ambitions were disintegrating the Empire, Austria-Hungary hoped for a limited war against Serbia and that strong German support would force Russia to keep out of the war and weaken its Balkan prestige. At this stage in the crisis the possibility of determined Russian support for Serbia, and its attendant risks, was never properly weighed up. The Austrians remained fixated on Serbia but did not decide on their precise objectives other than war.
Nevertheless, having decided upon war with German support, Austria was slow to act publicly, and did not deliver the ultimatum until July 23, some three weeks after the assassinations on 28 June.
Thus Austria lost the reflex sympathies attendant to the Sarajevo murders and gave the further impression to the Entente powers that Austria was merely using the assassinations as a pretext for aggression.
In response to a request for support, Vienna was told the Kaiser's position was that, if Austria-Hungary "recognised the necessity of taking military measures against Serbia he would deplore our not taking advantage of the present moment which is so favourable to us A Serbian defeat would also be a defeat for Russia and reduce her influence in the Balkans.
The benefits were clear but there were risks, namely that Russia would intervene and this would lead to a continental war. However, this was thought even more unlikely since the Russians had not yet finished their French-funded rearmament programme scheduled for completion in On the other hand, the military thought that if Russia did intervene then St Petersburg clearly desired war and now would be a better time to fight, when Germany had a guaranteed ally in Austria-Hungary, Russia was not ready and Europe was sympathetic to them.
On balance, at this point in the crisis, the Germans anticipated that their support would mean the war would be a localised affair between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. Petersburg for a long-scheduled state visit on 20 July and departed on 23 July.
The French and the Russians agreed their alliance extended to supporting Serbia against Austria, confirming the already established policy behind the Balkan inception scenario. As Christopher Clark notes "Poincare had come to preach the gospel of firmness and his words had fallen on ready ears. Firmness in this context meant an intransigent opposition to any Austrian measure against Serbia.
At no point do the sources suggest that Poincare or his Russian interlocutors gave any thought whatsoever to what measures Austria-Hungary might legitimately be entitled to take in the aftermath of the assassinations". On 21 July, the Russian Foreign Minister warned the German ambassador to Russia that "Russia would not be able to tolerate Austria-Hungary's using threatening language to Serbia or taking military measures.
He thought London saw a German "bluff" and was responding with a "counterbluff. Meanwhile, Berlin was downplaying its actual strong support for Vienna so as to not appear the aggressor, for that would alienate German socialists. On 23 July, Austria-Hungary, following their own enquiry into the assassinations, sends an ultimatum to Serbia, containing their demands, giving forty-eight hours to comply.
On 24—25 July the Russian Council of Ministers met, and in response to the crisis and despite the fact that she had no alliance with Serbia, agreed to a secret partial mobilisation of over one million men of the Russian Army and the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets.
It is worth stressing, since this is a cause of some confusion in general narratives of the war, that this was done prior to the Serbian rejection of the ultimatum, the Austrian declaration of war on 28 July or any military measures taken by Germany. As a diplomatic move this had limited value since the Russians did not make this mobilisation public until 28 July.
In addition Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov believed that war was inevitable and refused to acknowledge that Austria-Hungary had a right to counter measures in the face of Serbian irredentism. On the contrary, Sazonov had aligned himself with the irredentism, and expected the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Crucially, the French had provided their clear support for their Russian allies for a robust response in their recent state visit just days before.
The policy was intended to be a mobilisation against Austria-Hungary only. However, due to Russian incompetence, the Russians realised by 29 July that partial mobilisation was not militarily possible, and as it would interfere with general mobilisation, only full mobilisation could prevent the entire operation being botched. The Russians therefore moved to full mobilisation on 30 July. Christopher Clark stated "It would be difficult to overstate the historical importance of the meetings of 24 and 25 July"  and "In taking these steps, [Russian Foreign Minister] Sazonov and his colleagues escalated the crisis and greatly increased the likelihood of a general European war.
For one thing, Russian pre-mobilization altered the political chemistry in Serbia, making it unthinkable that the Belgrade government, which had originally given serious consideration to accepting the ultimatum, would back down in the face of Austrian pressure.
It heightened the domestic pressure on the Russian administration Most importantly of all, these measures drastically raised the pressure on Germany, which had so far abstained from military preparations and was still counting on the localisation of the Austro-Serbian conflict.
Serbia initially considered accepting all the terms of the Austrian ultimatum before news from Russia of pre mobilisation measures stiffened their resolve. On July 29, , the Tsar ordered full mobilization, then changed his mind after receiving a telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm. Partial mobilization was ordered instead.
The next day, the Tsar's foreign minister, Sergey Sazonov once more persuaded Nicholas of the need for general mobilization, and the order was issued that day, July This was the first of the general mobilisations. It came at the moment when the German government had not yet even declared the State of Impending War" . Thus, in response to Russian mobilisation, [ citation needed ] Germany ordered the state of Imminent Danger of War SIDW on 31 July, and when the Russian government refused to rescind its mobilisation order, Germany mobilised and declared war on Russia on 1 August.
Given the Franco-Russian alliance, countermeasures by France were, correctly, assumed to be inevitable and Germany therefore declared war on France on 3 August Following the German invasion of neutral Belgium, Britain issued an ultimatum to Germany on 2 August that she must withdraw or face war. The Germans did not comply and Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August Britain's reasons for declaring war were complex.
The ostensible reason given was that Britain was required to safeguard Belgium's neutrality under the Treaty of London The German invasion of Belgium was, therefore, the casus belli and, importantly, legitimized and galvanized popular support for the war.
Strategic risk posed by German control of the Belgian and ultimately French coast was considered unacceptable. However, the Treaty of London of had not committed Britain on her own to safeguard Belgium's neutrality. Moreover, naval war planning demonstrated that Britain herself would have violated Belgian neutrality by blockading her ports to prevent imported goods passing to Germany in the event of war with Germany. Rather Britain's relationship with her Entente partners, both France and Russia, were equally significant factors.
Edward Grey argued that the secret naval agreements with France although they had not been approved by the Cabinet created a moral obligation vis a vis Britain and France. What is more, in the event that Britain abandoned its Entente friends, it was feared that if Germany won the war, or the Entente won without British support, then, either way, Britain would be left without any friends.
This would have left both Britain and her Empire vulnerable to attack. What will be the position of a friendless England? What would be their attitude towards England? What about India and the Mediterranean? Domestically, the Liberal Cabinet was split and in the event that war was not declared the Government would fall as Prime Minister Asquith , Edward Grey and Winston Churchill made it clear they would resign. In that event, the existing Liberal Cabinet would lose their jobs. Since it was likely the pro-war Conservatives would be elected to power this would lead to a slightly belated British entry into the war in any event, so wavering Cabinet ministers were also likely motivated by the desire to avoid senselessly splitting their party and sacrificing their jobs.
German government at the time was still dominated by the Prussian Junkers who feared the rise of these left-wing parties. Fritz Fischer famously argued that they deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government.
Other authors argue that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult.
The argument that Austro-Hungary was a moribund political entity, whose disappearance was only a matter of time, was deployed by hostile contemporaries to suggest that the empire's efforts to defend its integrity during the last years before the war were in some sense illegitimate. The collapse of the empire amid war and defeat in impressed itself upon the retrospective view of the Habsburg lands, overshadowing the scene with auguries of imminent and ineluctable decline.
It is true that in Austro-Hungary, the political scene of the last decades before the war were increasingly dominated by the struggle for national rights among the empire's eleven official nationalities — German, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Romanians, Ruthenians, Poles and Italians. In fact, during the pre-war decade the Habsburg lands passed through a phase of strong economic growth with a corresponding rise in general prosperity. Most inhabitants of the empire associated the Habsburg state with the benefits of orderly government, public education, welfare, sanitation, the rule of law, and the maintenance of a sophisticated infrastructure.
Crises came and went without appearing to threaten the existence of the system as such. Overlaying this was a culture of extreme nationalism, and a cult of assassination, derived from the slaying of the Ottoman Sultan as the heroic epilogue to the otherwise disastrous Battle of Kosovo on 28 June The Black Hand believed that a Greater Serbia would be achieved by provoking a war with Austro-Hungary through an act of terror which, with Russian backing, would be won.
The official government position was to focus on consolidating the gains made during the Balkan war, and avoid any further conflict, since recent wars had somewhat exhausted the Serb state. Nevertheless, the official policy was muted by the political necessity of simultaneously and clandestinely supporting dreams of a Greater Serb state in the long-term. Russia also encouraged Serbia to focus its irredentism against Austro-Hungary because it would discourage conflict between Serbia and Bulgaria another prospective Russian ally in Macedonia.
Imperial rivalry, and the consequences of the search for imperial security or for imperial expansion, had important consequences for the origins of the First World War. Imperial rivalries between France, Great Britain, Russia and Germany played an important part in the creation of the Triple Entente and the relative isolation of Germany.
Imperial opportunism, in the form of the Italian attack on Ottoman Libyan provinces, also encouraged the Balkan wars of , which changed the balance of power in the Balkans to the detriment of Austro-Hungary. Some historians, such as Margaret MacMillan , believe that Germany created its own diplomatic isolation in Europe in part through an aggressive and pointless imperial policy, known as Weltpolitik.
Germany's Chancellor in the s and s Otto von Bismarck disliked the idea of an overseas empire. Rather Bismarck supported French colonization in Africa because it diverted government attention and resources away from continental Europe and revanchism post The aim of Weltpolitik was ostensibly to transform Germany into a global power through assertive diplomacy, the acquisition of overseas colonies, and the development of a large navy.
Some historians, notably MacMillan and Hew Strachan , believe that a consequence of the policy of Weltpolitik and the associated assertiveness was to isolate Germany. They also downplay the impact of Weltpolitik and the Anglo-German naval race, which ended in Britain and France signed a series of agreement in ,which became known as the Entente Cordiale. The most important feature of the agreement was that it granted freedom of action to the UK in Egypt and to France in Morocco.
The convention brought shaky British—Russian relations to the forefront by solidifying boundaries that identified respective control in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Therefore, the Triple Entente was not conceived as a counterweight to the Triple Alliance, but rather as a formula to secure imperial security between these three powers.
The impact of the Triple Entente was therefore twofold, to improve British relations with France and her ally Russia and to demote the importance to Britain of good relations with Germany.
Clark states it was "not that antagonism toward Germany caused its isolation, but rather that the new system itself channeled and intensified hostility towards the German Empire".
The status of Morocco had been guaranteed by international agreement, and when France attempted to greatly expand its influence there without the assent of all the other signatories Germany opposed it prompting the Moroccan Crises, the Tangier Crisis of and the Agadir Crisis of The intent of German policy was to drive a wedge between the British and French, but in both cases produced the opposite effect and Germany was isolated diplomatically, most notably lacking the support of Italy despite Italian membership in the Triple Alliance.
The French protectorate over Morocco was established officially in In , however, the African scene was peaceful. The continent was almost fully divided up by the imperial powers with only Liberia and Ethiopia still independent.
There were no major disputes there pitting any two European powers against each other. Marxists typically attributed the start of the war to imperialism. Social Darwinism was a theory of human evolution loosely based on Darwinism that influenced most European intellectuals and strategic thinkers in the era.
These theories emphasized that struggle between nations and "races" was natural and that only the fittest nation deserved to survive.
German colonial rule in Africa was an expression of nationalism and moral superiority that was justified by constructing an image of the natives as "Other". This approach highlighted racist views of mankind. Germany's cultural-missionary project boasted that its colonial programs were humanitarian and educational endeavors.
The model suggested an explanation of why some ethnic groups called "races" at the time had been so antagonistic for so long, such as Germans and Slavs. They were natural rivals, destined to clash.
Senior German generals such as Helmuth von Moltke talked in apocalyptic terms about the need for Germans to fight for their existence as a people and culture. War was seen as natural and a viable or even useful instrument of policy.
Nationalism made war a competition between peoples, nations or races rather than kings and elites. It tended to glorify warfare, taking the initiative and the warrior male role. Social Darwinism played an important role across Europe, but J. Leslie has argued that it played a critical and immediate role in the strategic thinking of some important, hawkish members of the Austro-Hungarian government. General narratives of the war tend to emphasis the importance of Alliances in binding the major powers to act in the event of a crisis such as the July crisis.
Historians such as Margaret MacMillan warn against the argument that alliances forced the great powers to act as they did during the July crisis. They were much more loose, much more porous, much more capable of change. The most important alliances in Europe required participants to agree to collective defense if attacked. Some of these represented formal alliances while the Triple Entente represented only a frame of mind.
There are three notable exceptions which demonstrate that alliances did not in themselves force the great powers to act:.
By the s or s all the major powers were preparing for a large-scale war, although none expected one. Britain focused on building up its Royal Navy, already stronger than the next two navies combined. Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Russia, and some smaller countries, set up conscription systems whereby young men would serve from 1 to three years in the army, then spend the next 20 years or so in the reserves with annual summer training. Men from higher social statuses became officers.
Each country devised a mobilisation system whereby the reserves could be called up quickly and sent to key points by rail. Every year the plans were updated and expanded in terms of complexity. Each country stockpiled arms and supplies for an army that ran into the millions. Germany in had a regular professional army of , with an additional 1. By the regular army was , strong and the reserves 3. The French in had 3. The various national war plans had been perfected by , albeit with Russia and Austria trailing in effectiveness.
Recent wars since had typically been short—a matter of months. All the war plans called for a decisive opening and assumed victory would come after a short war; no one planned for or was ready for the food and munitions needs of a long stalemate as actually happened in — As David Stevenson has put it, "A self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness The Second Hague Conference was held in All the signatories except for Germany supported disarmament.
Germany also did not want to agree to binding arbitration and mediation. The Kaiser was concerned that the United States would propose disarmament measures, which he opposed.
All parties tried to revise international law to their own advantage. Historians have debated the role of the German naval build-up as the principal cause of deteriorating Anglo-German relations. In any case Germany never came close to catching up with Britain. Supported by Wilhelm II 's enthusiasm for an expanded German navy, Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz championed four Fleet Acts from to , and, from to , the Royal Navy embarked on its own massive expansion to keep ahead of the Germans.
This competition came to focus on the revolutionary new ships based on the Dreadnought , which was launched in , and which gave Britain a battleship that far outclassed any other in Europe. The overwhelming British response proved to Germany that its efforts were unlikely to equal the Royal Navy. In , the British had a 3. Ferguson argues that, "So decisive was the British victory in the naval arms race that it is hard to regard it as in any meaningful sense a cause of the First World War.
In Britain in , there was intense internal debate about new ships due to the growing influence of John Fisher's ideas and increasing financial constraints.
In early-mid Germany adopted a policy of building submarines instead of new dreadnoughts and destroyers, effectively abandoning the race, but kept this new policy secret to delay other powers following suit.
The Germans abandoned the naval race before the war broke out. The extent to which the naval race was one of the chief factors in Britain's decision to join the Triple Entente remains a key controversy. Historians such as Christopher Clark believe it was not significant, with Margaret Moran taking the opposite view. The main Russian goals included strengthening its role as the protector of Eastern Christians in the Balkans such as the Serbians.
The start of the war renewed attention of old goals: These conquests would assure Russian predominance in the Black Sea and access to the Mediterranean. Traditional narratives of the war suggested that when the war began both sides believed that the war would end quickly.
This is important for the origins of the conflict since it suggests that, given the expectation was that war would be short, the statesmen did not tend to take gravity of military action as seriously as they might have done. However, modern historiography suggests a more nuanced approach. There is ample evidence to suggest that statesmen and military leaders thought the war would be lengthy, terrible and have profound political consequences. While it is true all military leaders planned for a swift victory, many military and civilian leaders recognized that the war may be long and highly destructive.
The principal German and French military leaders, including Moltke and Ludendorff and his French counterpart Joseph Joffre, expected a long war. Moltke hoped that a European war, if it broke out, would be resolved swiftly, but he also conceded that it might drag on for years, wreaking immeasurable ruin. Foreign Secretary Grey famously stated just hours before Britain declared war: Nevertheless, Clark concludes that "In the minds of many statesmen, the hope for a short war and the fear of a long one seemed to have cancelled each other out, holding at bay a fuller appreciation of the risks.
Military commanders of the time, including Moltke, Joffre and Conrad, held that seizing the offensive was extremely important. This theory encouraged all belligerents to devise war plans to strike first to gain the advantage.
These war plans all included complex plans for mobilisation of the armed forces, either as a prelude to war or as a deterrent. In the case of the continental Great Powers the mobilisation plans included arming and transporting millions of men and their equipment, typically by rail and to strict schedules- hence the metaphor "War by Timetable".
These mobilisation plans shortened the window for diplomacy as military planners wanted to begin mobilization as quickly as possible to avoid being caught on the defensive. They also put pressure on policymakers to begin their own mobilisation once it was discovered that other nations had begun to mobilise. Some historians assert that mobilization schedules were so rigid that once it was begun, they could not be cancelled without massive disruption of the country and military disorganization and so diplomatic overtures conducted after the mobilizations had begun were ignored.
For example, Russia ordered partial mobilisation on 25 July. However, due to a lack of pre-war planning for this type of partial mobilisation, the Russians realised by 29 July that partial mobilisation was not militarily possible, and as it would interfere with a general mobilisation, only full mobilisation could prevent the entire operation being botched. The Russians were therefore faced with only two options, to cancel mobilisation during a crisis or to move to full mobilisation, which they did on 30 July.
This full mobilisation meant mobilising along both the Russian border with Austro-Hungary and the border with Germany. For their part the German war plans, the so-called Schlieffen plan, assumed a two-front war against France and Russia. They were predicated on massing the bulk of the German army against France, and taking the offensive in the West, while a holding force held East Prussia. The plans were based on the assumption that France would mobilise significantly quicker than Russia.
Hence German forces could be deployed in the West to defeat France before turning to face the slow-moving Russians in the East.
On 28 July, Germany learned through its spy network that Russia had implemented partial mobilisation and its "Period Preparatory to War". The Germans assumed that Russia had, after all, decided upon war and that her mobilisation put Germany in danger.
This was doubly so because German war plans, the so-called Schlieffen Plan, relied upon Germany to mobilise speedily enough to defeat France first by attacking largely through neutral Belgium before turning to defeat the slower-moving Russians.
But by the time that happened, the Russian government had been moving troops and equipment to the German front for a week. The Russians were the first great power to issue an order of general mobilisation and the first Russo-German clash took place on German, not on Russian soil, following the Russian invasion of East Prussia.
Rather it alerts us to the complexity of the events that brought war about and the limitations of any thesis that focuses on the culpability of one actor. During the period immediately following the end of hostilities, Anglo-American historians argued that Germany was solely responsible for the start of the war.
However, academic work in the English-speaking world in the later s and s blamed participants more equally. Historian Fritz Fischer unleashed an intense worldwide debate in the s on Germany's long-term goals. American historian Paul Schroeder agrees with the critics that Fisher exaggerated and misinterpreted many points. However, Schroeder endorses Fisher's basic conclusion:. However, Schroeder argues, all that was not the main cause of the war in Indeed the search for a single main cause is not a helpful approach to history.
Instead, there are multiple causes any one or two of which could have launched the war. He argues, "The fact that so many plausible explanations for the outbreak of the war have been advanced over the years indicates on the one hand that it was massively overdetermined, and on the other that no effort to analyze the causal factors involved can ever fully succeed.
Debates over which country "started" the war, and who bears the blame, continues to this day. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
For the article on the war itself, see World War I. French entry into World War. Anglo—German naval arms race. Cult of the offensive. Historiography of the Causes of World War I. World War I portal. German policies from to Allies, Offense, and Instability".
The Origins of the First World War. Russia and the Origins of the First World War. A History of Eastern Europe: Progress, Participation and Apprehension. Gooch, Franco-german relations, Gooch, Before the war: The First World War. Spender, Fifty years of Europe: Fay, "The Origins of the World War" 2nd ed. International Review of History and Political Science.
Center for Strategic and International Studies l. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire: Fearon, "Rationalist explanations for war. Germany's Aims in the First World War. The World War I Reader. How Europe Went to War in The New Cambridge Modern History: The War That Ended Peace: The Road to From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany.
Short Term Cause: Rise of military The rise of militarism increases the number of militaries and power, which influence countries to become involved in the war. Short Term Cause: Alliances Alliances create situations for war and rivals. Additionally, if a country join the war, its alliance also joins.
Long term causes of world war 1. The long term, underlying causes of World War I were nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and the defensive treaty alliances of both sides. Militarism is another name for the arms race. Great Britain and Germany were distrustful of one another and attempted to keep their military might as powerful as possible.
Long-Term Causes * Imperialism. Empire-building had long been an aim of many of the European nations. Britain, France, Spain and Portugal had all exploited the weaknesses of local tribes in the centuries beforehand to spread their empires across t. Long and Short Term Causes of WWI There were several long-term events that led to the outbreak of World War One. The most prominent factors include: nationalism, militarism, imperialism, the Balkan and Morocco crises, and the alliance system. Ironically, these things were either started in response to, or upheld because of, one of the other factors.
World War I was caused by a combination of several factors, both long and short term, and it was precipitated by an assassination. The primary long term causes that led to the war are the formation of mutual military defense alliances among different nations, imperialism, nationalism, and the rise of . Causes of World War 1. STUDY. PLAY. Name the LONG-TERM causes of World War One. LONG-TERM CAUSES The rise of germany The new german Kaiser The arms race The AlliancesThe scramble for Africa (Morocco) The wars for the Balkan regions. Name the SHORT-TERM causes of World War One.