The Path to War

The Path to War
The Events That Led
to the Beginning of the
First World War.
Causes of the War
 The rise of Germany as a great power
changed the balance of power in Europe,
the alliance systems that developed
attempted to deal with this but turned
Europe into two armed camps.
 Nationalist unrest caused conflict and
internal divisions.
 Arms race contributed to tensions.
The Alliance Systems
 The Three Emperors League
– The key to German preeminence
was keeping France isolated.
– Bismarck negotiated an alliance
in 1872 (Dreikaiserbund).
– The alliance joined Germany,
Austria, and Russia to cooperate
to maintain peace and the status
Franz Josef
The Russo-Turkish War
 After revolt in Turkish controlled Bulgaria in
1876, Russia went to war with the Ottomans.
 The Treaty of San Stefano (1878) established
Serbia, Montenegro and Rumania as states and
autonomy to Bulgaria.
 The increased influence of Russia in the Balkans
and the Mediterranean threatened Austrian and
British interests.
Congress of Berlin
 Powers met to avoid war in
Berlin in 1878.
 The Treaty of Berlin reduced
Russian influence in the region
by giving Austria domination of
Bosnia and the British control of
 The compromise avoided war,
but angered the Russians by
reducing their war gains.
The Alliance Systems
 The Dual Alliance
– The Austro-Russian conflict ended the Three
Emperors’ League.
– Bismarck created an alliance with Austria in
 Revival of the Three Emperors
– Bismarck continued negotiations and revived
the league in 1881, this again ended in 1887.
The Alliance Systems
 The Triple Alliance (1882)
– Italian anger over French control over Tunisia made
them ally with Germany and Austria.
– Germany’s alliances with Austria, Russia, Italy and
good relations with UK isolated France.
 Franco-Russian Alliance
– With the dismissal of Bismarck, Germany did not
renew its alliance with Russia.
– In 1894, France negotiated and secret alliance with
Russia, primarily aimed at Britain in the Med.
Anglo-German Relations
 In the 1890s, relations between Germany
and Britain began to deteriorate.
 Germany’s support for the Boers in South
Africa angered the British.
 The development of a high seas fleet by
Germans threatened British naval
The Alliance Systems
 Anglo-French Entente
– The French and British determined they each
needed allies, especially in dealing with
colonial matter (Fashoda Crisis, Boer War)
– The Entente Cordiale was negotiated in 1904,
leading to increased cooperation.
 Italian-French Agreement
– Italy and France came to an secret agreement
on colonial policy in North Africa.
– This further weakened Germany’s position.
The First Moroccan Crisis
 Germany provoked a crisis with France
over French protectorate in Morocco.
 German calls for Moroccan independence
were denied by Britain, Russia, and Italy at
the Algeciras Conference in 1906.
 Germany’s belligerent attitude brought
France, Britain and Russia closer together.
The Alliance Systems
 Anglo-Russian Entente
– Britain and Russia came to an agreement on
their spheres of control in Central Asia in 1907
 Triple Entente
– The agreement between Britain and Russia
completed the process of alliances between the
two nations and France.
– The Triple Alliance now faced the Triple
Entente, with the Entente being the more
The Bosnian Crisis
 Austria wished to annex Bosnia and came
to an agreement with Russia that gave
them control of the Turkish straits in 1908.
 The Austrians moved too fast and angered
the Russians and the Serbians who hoped
to annex Bosnia themselves.
 Germany pledged to support Austria and
Russia backed down in the spring of 1909.
The Second Moroccan Crisis
 In 1911, Germany again opposed the
creation of a French Moroccan
 The French and Germans came to a
territorial agreement which eased tensions.
 In 1912, the British began concentrating
their navy in the North Sea and the French
in the Mediterranean to deal with the
German threat.
The First Balkan War
 Italy’s defeat of Turkey in war in 1912 gave
encouragement to Balkan states.
 Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece
formed the Balkan League and went to war with
Turkey in 1912.
 The 1913 Treaty of London had Turkey lose all
of its European territory (except on the straits)
and the creation of Albania (against Russian and
Serbian objections).
The Second Balkan War
 Arguments over territory led to war that
had Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Rumania,
and Turkey defeating Bulgaria.
 The Treaty of Bucharest (Aug. 1913) had
Bulgaria cede territory.
 Russia continued to be frustrated at the
situation and supported Serbia, while
Germany supported Austria,
The Sarajevo Crisis
 On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo
Princip, a member of the
Serbian nationalist group The
Black Hand, assassinated
Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir
to the Austrian throne) and his
wife in Sarajevo.
 Austria blamed Serbia for
backing the murder (Serbia did
not support it, but they did not
stop it either).
Franz Ferdinand
The Outbreak of War
 Austria made diplomatic demands that the
Serbs could not accept (though they were
willing to negotiate).
 Austria was determined to deal with Serbia
and declared war on July 28, 1914.
 Germany had given Austria a “blank
check” of support in the matter and
appeared ready to go to war.
The Outbreak of War
 Russia was not going to let its ally in the
Balkans, Serbia, be defeated. So Tsar
Nicholas II began mobilizing on July 30.
 Germany demanded the Russians halt.
When they refused, Germany declared war
on Russia on August 1.
The Outbreak of War
 Germany asked France its intentions. The French
said they would follow their interests.
 On August 3rd, Germany declared war on France.
 The Germans, going by the Schlieffen Plan,
invaded neutral Belgium to quickly defeat France
before Russia could mobilize.
 In response, Britain declared war on Germany on
August 4th.
 So began the Great War.
Europe on the Eve of World War I