World War I

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How did militarism help cause World War I?

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The unification and rapid militarization of Germany after 1870 was the factor that destabilized Europe in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, leading to a chain reaction that eventually sparked World War I, a war that outdid all others up until its time in its violence and loss of life.

It is easy to blame Germany for its aggressive and destabilizing militarization, but the newly unified nation was, from its point of view, merely trying to catch up with states like Great Britain and France that had had a huge head start in developing into imperial powers. Germany wanted an empire like those it perceived as enriching rival European nations, and it wanted it fast. It believed that a ramped-up military was the best way to achieve this goal. It also wished to be the dominant power on the European continent and built up its armies with that idea in mind.

After its victory in the Franco-Prussian war, Germany was eager as well to take on the dominant world superpower,...

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