The First World War of 1914 was an example of man’s brutal instinct. This had created a storm in the world and opened a black chapter in the history of mankind.
The long prevalent conspiracy which was going on among various countries of the Europe found expression through it.
The murder of Arch Duke Ferdinand ignited fire in the bomb cell and thus, broke out World War I.
Causes of the First World War:
Several causes were responsible for the outbreak of the First World War. A brief description is given below.
The Policy of Imperialism:
The European nations of the eighteenth and nineteenth century began their policy of Imperialism in other countries of the world. England, France and the Dutches extended their empires in India, Indo-Chin and Indonesia respectively. Other nations of Europe extended their domination in Africa. But Germany could not tolerate it. It also decided to adopt the policy of colonial expansion.
During the first half of the twentieth century the Imperialism of Europe reached its pinnacle. The main ideology of Imperialism was to capture one after another. Country by military power. The European nations followed the Policy of Imperialism and became jealous towards each other.
During the nineteenth century, Nationalism played an important role in Europe. Each nation of Europe had the slogan ‘My Country is the Great’.
At first this insurgent nationalism took its birth in Germany. Its ruler Kaiser William II was the symbol of extreme nationalism. Influenced by him England, France, Holland and Austria also became proudly about their nationalism. As a result there was internal rivalry among the countries.
Due to the Industrial Revolution, there was a revolutionary change in European economy. Different European nations established factories and tried for more production. There was competition among the European nations for the sell, of those products in cheap rate. Further, they engaged themselves to increase their capitals. These attempts created enmity between them.
Competition in Trade:
Competition in trade was another cause of the First World War. Owing to remarkable increase in their production, the European nations had to need more markets. In order to export their products to other countries they searched out new markets. They attempted to prove themselves the best in the world.
They printed their own nation’s brand on the products. The nations attempted to popularise the brand ‘Made in England’, ‘Made in Germany’, ‘and Made in France’ etc. in the World Markets. These trade rivalry, created bitterness among the European nations and they became hostile to each other.
From the trade rivalry, Colonialism was born. The European nations began to Colonialise their trade centres established in Asia and Africa. England France played an important role in this process. So Germany became jealous of them. This created rivalry among the European nations.
Establishment of Alliances:
Before the First World War the whole of Europe was divided into two rival alliances. Due to German Occupation of Alsace and Lorraine, France was afraid of the war and concluded the ‘Dual Alliance’ with Austria in 1867. In 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy formed the ‘Tripple Alliance’. In order to dominate the power of Germany, France, Russia and England formed the ‘Tripple Entente’ in 1907. In this way the European Continent was divided into two rival camps which indicated political storm in future.
Lack of International Institutions:
Before the First World War there was chaos and confusion in the whole of Europe. There was no international organisation like the League in order to maintain law and order at that time. All nations were free to do anything according to their selfish will. As a result of this, there was hatred and confusion which created chaos among the nations.
Anglo-German Naval Competition:
Anglo-German Naval Competition formed an important cause for the outbreak of the First World War. England felt that Germany had upset the European ‘Balance of Power’ by the increase of soldiers in her army. Further, England was threatened by Germany’s bid for naval supremacy. England also started increases her Naval Supremacy. This Anglo-German Competition paved the way for the outbreak of the First World War.
Character of Kaiser William II:
The character of the German Emperor Kaiser William II was responsible for the outbreak of the First World War. He attempted to make Germany the ‘World Power’. When England proposed him to decrease his naval supremacy they did not listen to her. His anti-British attitude could not solve the Anglo-German rivalry.
England banned Kaiser’s Berlin. – Baghdad railway. So the Anglo-Germany rivalry increased which paved the way for the First World War.
Vast Competitive Armament:
Another cause of the First World War was the vast competition in armament. After the establishment of military alliances, the European nations began to increase their armaments. This effort to increase armaments created rivalry among the countries.
The ‘Army Law’ of 1891 of Germany and ‘Navy Law’ in 1906 it’s increased the infantry and naval strength of Germany. England also strengthened her Navy. France increased her soldiers and made the army training compulsory and increased duration from two years to three years. Russia also made some changes in her Army Law. Thus the whole of Europe was engaged in the preparation of War. This cleared the way for the First World War.
The Morocco Problem:
In the Alzeriras Assembly of 1906, the European Powers were agreed to make Morocco a sovereign state. In 1911 Germany opposed the French intervention in the internal affairs of Morocco, but England took the part of France. This created bitterness among France and Germany.
Similarly taking the advantage of the ‘Young Torch Movement’, Austria annexed the two provinces of Bosnia and Herizegovina in the Austrian Empire. In 1911 Germany sent a Gun boat named Panther to the Agadi Port. Italy occupied Tripoli in 1911. It also paved the way for the outbreak First World War.
The assassination of the Austrian Prince Francis Ferdinand and his wife Sophia was the immediate cause of the First World War. On June 28, 1914 the Archduke Ferdinand along his wife Sophia were assassinated by a student of the ‘Black hand’, a revolutionary-organisation, at Sarajevo, the Capital of Serbia.
This was the last expression of the increasing bitterness between Austria and Serbia. Austria made Serbia responsible for this crime and gave an ultimatum to answer within two days. When Serbia did not listen to it, Austria declared war against Serbia on June 28, 1914. Russia took the part of Serbia whereas Germany supported Austria.
At this time France declared War against Germany. The foot step of the First World War was heard in the whole of Europe. There was heavy loss in the War from both the sides. .At last in 1918 with the ‘Declaration of Fourteen Points’ by Woodro Wilson, the President of U.S.A the First World War came to an end.
The results of the First World War were far- reaching. This War brought heavy losses as well as weakened the economic stability of Europe. The winning power the France England made Germany responsible for the War and in Paris Peace Conference, 1919 concluded the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ with her.
In this treaty, Germany was humiliated and their economic, military and political conditions became weak after the signing of the treaty. The Treaty of Versailles, Later on, paved the way for the Second World War.