The Great War Begins - A More Perfect Union

The Great War Begins
Chapter 14 section 1
Alliances Draw Lines
In 1882, German leader Otto Von Bismarck signed treaties with other
powers. These powers were Austria-Hungary and Italy and they
formed the Triple Alliance.
When war did break out in 1914, Germany and Austria-Hungary
stayed allied and became known as the Central Powers.
In 1904, France and Britain signed an entente, a nonbinding
agreement to follow common policies.
When war broke out, Britain signed a similar agreement with Russia.
The three became known as the Allies.
These alliances became known as entangling alliances, due to the
complex web that they created as countries began to go to war.
British post card
Triple Entente vs. Triple Alliance
Competition = problems
Overseas rivalries also divided up European nations. This European
imperialism nearly brought Germany and France to the brink of war
over the African nation Morocco.
• This tension made BR and FR strengthen their ties against
With war tensions on the rise, the great powers began to build up their
armies and navies.
• The fiercest competition was the naval rivalry between BR and
• With overseas colonies, both countries increased naval spending.
The rise of militarism, or the glorification of the military, helped to feed
into the arms race.
Militarism painted false hope for young men, who saw war as a noble
and great cause- not the misery that would soon follow.
Aggressive nationalism, or having extreme pride in one’s country, also
caused tension. Nationalism was strong in both Germany and
France, but France was still bitter about their 1871 defeat in the
Franco-Prussian War.
• Especially France’s loss of the border provinces of Alsace and
In Eastern Europe, Russia sponsored form of nationalism called PanSlavism.
• As the largest Slavic country, Russia felt it was their duty to lead
and defend all Slavs since they shared a common nationality.
• By 1914, it stood ready to support Serbia, a proud young nation that
dreamed of creating a South Slav state.
The Assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand
The Powder Keg Ignites
The crisis began when Archduke Francis Ferdinand of AustriaHungary announced he would visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.
• Bosnia, home of many Serbs and Slavs, was also under the
Austrian Empire. The visit upset many Serbian Nationalists.
Serbian terrorists, the Black Hand, vowed to take action.
June 28, 1914- While riding through Sarajevo in an open car, Francis
Ferdinand and his wife Sophia were shot by terrorists Gavrilo
Princip and killed.
The news shocked Austria and Germany. Germany gave Austria a
“blank check,” or a promise of unconstitutional support no matter
what the cost.
And how the dominoes fall
Austria sent Serbia a sweeping ultimatum, or final set of demands.
• Serbia did not agree to all of Austria’s demand, leading to Austria
declaring war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.
The war between the two nations was said to have been a “summer
war”, however, the planned alliances were soon drawn into battle.
After Austria’s declaration of war, Serbia turned to Big Brother Russia.
Tsar Nicolas II telegraphed Kaiser Wilhelm II and asked to stop
demands. When this plea failed, Russia began to mobilize, or
prepare its military forces for war.
August 1, Germany responded by declaring war on Russia.
Russia turned to its ally France. French nationalists saw the
opportunity to revenge the Franco-Prussian War.
When Germany told France to stay out, France refused, Germany
declared war.
…and keep falling
By early August, the lines were being drawn, yet Great Britain remained
Italy stayed neutral for the time being. Neutrality is a policy of
supporting neither side of the war.
With Britain undecided, Germany made the decision for them. On
August 3, Germany invaded neutral Belgium which had signed a
treaty Britain. Britain was furious, declared war on Germany on
August 4.