Identify specific causes of World War I.

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were several causes of World War I. The immediate cause was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. This led to a chain of events in which Austria, backed by Germany, held Serbia accountable for the assassination. When Russia, Serbia's ally, mobilized its troops in response, Germany declared war, and World War I had begun. 

The long term causes are more complex, and include:

  • militarization of Germany, France, and Great Britain. Germany's crash program to develop a navy to rival Britain's was a real point of tension between the two, and both France and Germany had spent vast sums to develop massive, modern armed forces.
  • nationalism in the Balkans. This was what led to the assassination of the Archduke in the first place. Serbia had designs on creating a pan-Slavic state that were at odds with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 
  • alliance systems. It was the alliance systems that transformed what should have been a regional conflict in the Balkans to a pan-European conflict.

These are just a few causes of what was a very complex series of events.

vnessawong21 | Student

There are many factors to what caused World War 1, but they can be narrowed down to 5 main reasons. Countries back in the early 20th century competed heavily against each other, forming allies among each other to be the top country. Germany was heavily upgrading their army size, which feared Russia and Great Britain. One of the immediate factors to why World War 1 started was due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. 

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