The European nations had not been fighting for nearly 30 years. By the 1900s, there were hundreds of peace organizations. However, in around a decade, there would be a massive war.

  • Rising Tensions in Europe

    While peace was present across much of Europe in the start of the 1900s, there were other forces at work. Soon, other developments would begin to push the continent into war.

    • The Rise of Nationalism
      • Nationalism was a contributing factor. Nationalism was a unifying force within an nation, but could also cause competition between nations. There was a fierce rivalry between the European Powers: Germany, Austria-Hunger, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, France.
      • This competition came from the demand for materials and markets and territory.
    • Imperialism and Militarism
      • Imperialism also helped lead to war. As the nations attempted to create colonies, they would often end up competing, building distrust and rivalry.
      • Another development was the start of the arms race. They believed in a strong military and all nations had a strong army except Britain. Military experts valued mobilized armies who could quickly move at a sign of trouble.
      • This glorification of the military was known as militarism,. Having such a strong military made people feel patriotic, but also frightened some. Peace activists were extremely disturbed.
  • Tangled Alliances

    The growing mistrust led to new military alliances between he powers. This alliance system started in the 1870’s and was designed to keep peace in Europe. This failed and started a war.

    • Bismarck Forges Early Pacts
      • Prussia’s chancellor was Otto van Bismarck, a military leader who used war to unify Germany. After 1871, he decided that Germany was large enough and that he would now move to peace.
      • Bismarck felt that France was the greatest enemy as they were still angry for losing the Franco-Prussian
        War. Bismarck’s first goal was to isolate France. He formed an alliance with Germany and Austria. Italy joined later, forming the Triple alliance. In 1881, Bismarck made an alliance with Russia.
    • Shifting Alliances Threaten Peace
      • In 1890, Germany’s foreign policy was changed by Kaiser Wilhelm II. He forced Bismarck away and decided to show the world how mighty he was. The army was his pride and he let the German treaty with Russia expire.
      • Soon, Russia formed a military alliance with France. If either France or Russia attacked, the Germans would have a war on 2 fronts, west and east.
      • Wilhelm began to work on a German navy.
      • This alarmed Great Britain, who decided to join France and Russia. The Triple Entete did not require Britain to fight with France and Russia but prevented war between them.
      • By 1907, the two groups were formed: The Triple Alliance – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy. The Triple Entente – Great Britain, France, and Russia
  • Crisis in the Balkans

    The Balkan Peninsula had a large amount of ethnic groups and was known as the “powder keg” of Europe.

    • The Restless Regions
      • In the 1900s, the Ottoman Empire was in decline. The Balkan region were trying to free themselves from the Turks, forming new nations such as Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia.
      • These countries were strongly nationalistic, longing for extended borders. Serbia wanted to expand but Austria-Hungary opposed them.
      • In 1908, Austria took over some Slavic populated land, angering Serbia. Tensions continued to rise.
    • A Shot Rings Throughout Europe
      • Archduke Franz Ferdinand rose to the Austro-Hungarian throne. However, they were shot by Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian. He was a member of the Black Hand, a secret society.
      • Austria decided to use this as an excuse to punish Serbia. Only July 23, Austria gave Serbia an ultimatum of demands. Serbian leaders offered to have some settled by international conference, but Austria did not want to negotiate.
      • Austria declared war. Russia, an ally of Serbia, began to mobilize towards Austria.
      • Everyone in Europe began preparations as the war loomed ominously.