Even though the murder of Archduke Ferdinand was the principal reason for WW1, chauvinism, imperialism, and culture played a significant role in preparing for battle. In the Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum, nationalism fuelled avarice and overconfidence in individual nations and nationalist organizations seeking freedom from Serbia (Nathwani, 2016). Nationalism would also give nations a false feeling of pride and pledges to fight and win a war they were not genuinely equipped to fight or win. The extreme patriotism or allegiance caused by nationalism would be the European countries’ demise when they were driven into a global war. Nations would overestimate their abilities to fight for independence, as well as the capacity of their military to battle.
The different nations’ imperialist control gave gasoline to the flames building up to WWI. It was growing tedious for colonies to be controlled by great powers hundreds of miles away. It was a similar tone that had sparked the American Revolution decades before. Europe’s strong nations gradually spread the world to become stronger than their neighbors. These mighty European nations’ materialism would be their undoing as their people grew disenfranchised and rebellious against their invaders. “Great power conflicts in Africa and Asia occurred regularly between the 1880s and 1911, although few of these conflicts threatened to lead to war (Nathwani, 2016).” Ethnic practices would have a significant part in the last events leading up to the war. Youthful Serbian individuals “radicalized by Serbian nationalist groups” planned to kill Archduke Ferdinand and his spouse. Following the Balkan Wars, most Bosnians despised Austrian authority and tried tirelessly to destabilize and destroy the new administration. All the factors mentioned above, when combined with militarism, would turn occurrences outside of Europe into wars. The quick arms competitions would escalate tensions between European countries as they grew their fleets and troops in the name of empire.
The use of improved technologies in the First World War irrevocably altered the way conflicts were fought. During the First World War, weapons such as machineguns, flame throwers, modern weaponry, chemical artilleries, aircraft, torpedoes, and tanks were widely used. The Germans utilized submarines to block Britain at sea (Knighton, 2017). These submarines terrorized both trade and war vessels on the high seas. These submarines might lay in wait for their targets to come to them, and the warship would have no idea the submarine was there until it was attacked. Machineguns were deployed along the front lines of the trenches; these weapons could fire at incredible rates and held the Germans at bay, making it hard to traverse the ground across the battlefields. They would slaughter the enemies in large numbers. Artillery weapon innovations result in weapons that could also fire further than ever before. The Germans possessed a rail cannon known as the Paris gun that they could use to fire on Paris, and constant shelling at the front line would become the answer to gridlock.
These artillery batteries could also fire gas shells, which carried poison gas incorporated to destroy the opponent in the trenches and were utilized by both sides. The chlorine-induced inflammation culminated in a yellowish fluid that obstructed windpipes, resulted in foaming in the mouth, and filled lungs as men virtually suffocated on dry ground (Knighton, 2017). Tanks first appeared on the battlefield in 1916, and they were capable of pushing past opposing lines. The aircraft may be one of the essential tools of the war; initially designed to watch enemy positions, and it swiftly evolved into a new function as a combatant (Knighton, 2017). Throughout the conflict, the airplane’s role in battle evolved; it grew faster and more agile. For each step forward taken by one party, the other was quick to follow suit. Airplanes shot down other aircraft, the Germans devised techniques to defeat allied tanks on the field, and responses to submarines developed different tactics such as convoys.
The Great War was a worldwide battle that was a direct outcome of imperialism and the vast kingdoms of the European nations. Britain maintained various territories across the globe. They include India, Pacific Islands, Australia, Pacific Islands, Africa, Hong Kong New Zealand. The French Empire held territories within the Pacific, Caribbean, South America, Africa, Vietnam, and Laos. Germany had colonial worldwide, New Guinea, Cameroon, the Pacific Islands, and China. Colonial regions supplied the governing nation with vital resources such as raw materials, labor, economic infrastructure, money, and military (Johnston, 2017). When the fighting started, the presence of all those European colonies meant that it could not be confined inside Europe. Germany attacked Belgium on August 4, 1914, and Allied troops moved relatively quickly to conquer German territories, even though the war in Europe was heating up.
Britain launched its battle for German territories on August 8, 1914, conquering Togo and East Africa. The Congo pact, approved by the Berlin Accord in 1885 and ratified by Belgium, Britain, France, and Germany, enabled regions across Africa to proclaim impartiality during the war. Togoland’s radio station linked Berlin to its African possessions and ships in the South Atlantic. Notwithstanding the German government’s efforts to maintain the agreement, British soldiers invaded Togoland on August 8 and took control on August 27 (Willis, 2015). Later in the conflict, Britain would turn its attention to the depleted Ottoman Rule.
Britain established various agreements in an attempt to gain an advantage in the Arab area, focusing entirely on the intended goal and disregarding the methods. The Sykes-Picot pact, in which France and Britain secretly agreed to split the Ottoman territory, was one such arrangement. This was considered a blatant violation of the McMahon deal with Sharif Hussein. The British pledged to construct a single Arab kingdom under the rule of the Hussein dynasty in the McMahon pact, seeking an Arab rebellion to aid in the battle against Turks (Johnston, 2017). In the end, Britain got its desired revolt, while Hussein received nothing. Rather, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned between Britain and France, resulting in almost a century of Arab turmoil in the area.
The victory was within Germany’s grasp in 1917, but the Allies snatched it away. In February 1917, Germany started military aggression. During the unrestricted submarine warfare of 1917, German submarines destroyed almost 5.8 million tons of commerce. Admiral John Jellico of the United Kingdom anticipated little chances of Britain lasting until November 1917 if submarines originating from Germany were not defused. Allied shipping fatalities to German submarines vastly outweighed the Allies’ ships building exertions. The admission of the U.S. into WWI altered all estimates, tipping the warfare in favor of the allies. With the introduction of convoy schemes to the British, the United States’ influence was seen even before the first bunch of soldiers gained access to Europe (Crocker, 2014). Convoy techniques started to counteract the U-boat menace, substantially reducing Allied casualties at sea. With the U-boat danger reduced, America was able to put 300,000 soldiers on European ports per month, and the Americans were thus able to halt two crucial German advances. In 1918, the Marne River flowed toward Paris, Belleau Wood, and Chateau-Thierry.
In 1917, Russia also withdrew from the battle. In Russia, two revolutions coincided. The first revolution resulted in the deposition of Tsar Nicolas II, who the Provisional Government succeeded in March 1917. In October 1917, the Bolshevik revolution followed. As a consequence of the Russian changes, Germany was capable of extracting territorial gains from Russia. Germany thought that by removing Russia from the battle, it would assemble a considerable number of soldiers and supplies to the Western Side (Royde-Smith & Showalter, 2020). On the other hand, Germany’s severe management of the newly gained region would cause dissatisfaction in the east. The original proposal to relocate 45 divisions to the west would be reduced to 33 divisions. Germany’s goal to make the warfare a single front fight was unsuccessful, giving the allies a significant edge in regard to manpower.
The Allied countries saw Germany as the principal cause of the war’s commencement. In the early 1900s, Germany had been gearing up for war for years. After Ferdinand’s killing, Germany also supported and pushed Austria-Hungary to war with Serbia. When a diplomatic resolution appeared to be imminent, Germany forced it by launching an attack on Russia and France. Due to the severe conditions of the Brest-Litovsk pact with Russians, Germany should not have been surprised when it retreated (Royde-Smith & Showalter, 2020). Germany was not accorded a chance to participate in the consultations with the allied forces regarding the conditions of the Versailles pact, as had been done in all past battles (Marks, 2013). Until Germany surrendered in November 1918, the Germans believed they had conquered the war.
The massive reparations imposed on Germany and the War Guilt Article fueled a burgeoning nationalist drive within Germany. Moreover, Germany lost an enormous chunk of her country, which had millions of residents and environmental assets. They were split into two sections to facilitate Poland’s accessibility to the ocean. The similar propaganda campaign that presented Germany’s victory converted the War Guilt Section against the allies. The War Guilt Section indicated that Germany would bear responsibility for any losses and damages caused by Germany and her allied forces (Marks, 2013). The vital point within the research question is that Germany is legally identified, not her partners, which places the obligation solely on Germany.
The German people were enraged by the terms of the treaty outcome and sought to place the blame on any entity. The German public criticized the government, not the armed services institution, for the defeat. The Nazi party arose due to political turmoil and conflict in Germany. In response, Hitler wanted retaliation against the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler would attack Poland to reclaim the Danzig Corridor, a former German province. On his march to France, Hitler would pass through Belgium after Poland. Hitler’s invasion and conquest of France were exclusively motivated by retaliation for France’s crimes during WWI and the Versailles treaty (Marks, 2013). Efforts to amend and reject the most onerous terms of the ceasefire became a fundamental component of their separate foreign policy. They proved to be a disruptive factor in world affairs.” This eventually led to the outbreak of World Conflict II, as Hitler sought to reclaim all of Germany’s lost territories throughout the conflict.
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Marks, S. (2013). Mistakes and Myths: The Allies, Germany, and the Versailles Treaty, 1918- 1921. Journal of Modern History, 85 (3), 632–659. https://www-journals-uchicago-edu.vlib.excelsior.edu/doi/10.1086/670825
Nathwani, D. (2016). What was the most significant cause of World War One? (WW1). Retrieved from https://medium.com/@dhireshnathwani/what-was-the-most-significant-cause-of-world-war-one-ww1-74bb9e815e37
Royde-Smith, J.G. & Showalter, D.E. (2020). World War I: The Russian revolutions and the Eastern Front, March 1917–March 1918. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/event/World-War-I
Willis, M. (2015). Togoland and the First World War. Retrieved from The National Archives: http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/togoland-first-world-war