What started World War 1
Comprehensive information about "What started
World War 1": To get an initial overview of possible triggers for World
War 1, you must make a distinction according to each trigger's
importance. The attack in Sarajevo are
presented merely as a spark in the mixture of pent-up anxieties and
It proves advantageous to divide the causes of World
War 1 into the following possible causes, as follows:
Foreign policy causes
Political economy causes
In the following sections, you can find further
information on any of these aspects to answer the question:
What started World War 1? - Domestic causes -
In the German state, there was mass promotion of a
nationalistic policy which was also in motion. This is in contrast to
the atmosphere of 1848, where Germany had more of an international
understanding and solidarity.
This outspoken nationalist and imperialist ideology
of the German nation state, coupled with the desire to upgrade the
nation's forces to meet that ideology, is one of the triggers of World
War 1. The expansion on land was accompanied in the maritime field with
the expansion of the German navy.
This triggered Great Britain, who saw this as a
threat to their naval superiority, and expanded in
line with the Germans. In particular, this led to ever more powerful
developments of battleships, particularly of the Dreadnought class.
Meanwhile, Austria-Hungary and Russia had other
problems to contend with. Pending reforms and poor quality of life
domestically meant that the populations of the two countries were
growing more and more dissatisfied. Coupled with the nascent nationalist
sentiment growing in the two nations, this can also be viewed as an
answer to the question "What started World War 1".
What started World War 1? - Socio-political causes -
An additional trigger for World War 1 may be the
“cult of the offensive”, a predominant view rooted in society which
demanded aggressive policies linked to imperialist interest groups,
which encouraged World War 1.
The forthcoming arms race was sponsored by the
prevailing belief that Germany would win the war with a swift victory,
another trigger for World War 1
This may seem incomprehensible in a modern-day
setting, but 100 years ago, Germans were used to cultural pessimism. For
many, World War 1 gave promises of excitement, chasing away boredom and
satiating hunger for experiences. It is difficult to understand in light
of what we now know, but it should not be dismissed out of hand in a
Finally, there was an element of social Darwinism – a
show of 'survival of the fittest' – seen as a politically correct idea
at the time, another trigger for World War 1.
What started World War 1? - Foreign policy causes -
Before World War 1 began, there were already
rivalries and tensions between the superpowers. Alliance systems had
been implemented through agreements outside the political aspirations of
imperial benefit (see
World War 1 Summary).
The German Reich maintained a policy of 'free hand'
in world affairs in order to expand its scope. The results of this
policy, however, were opposite of what was intended. German foreign
policy became increasingly inhibited with smaller room for maneuver (WW1
secondary consequence of this action was the increasing isolation of
Germany, a certain cause of Wold War 1.
Furthermore, one of the biggest triggers for World
War 1 was the aspirations of the Balkan countries, whether they were
Serb, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Albanian or Montenegrin. These nations
wanted to build their own nation-states and expand. This proved
explosive, as at the time there was a power-vacuum in the Balkans,
making it a contributory cause to World War 1. This can also be viewed
as a possible answer to the main question "What started World War 1"
An imperialist policy on the behalf of
Austria-Hungary and Germany provided additional triggers, since both
Empires were looking to expand in the Balkans.
There was also the 'Scramble for Africa', in which
Germany attempted to grab land and become rivals to the French and
British. This was not welcomed by those two nations, who did not want
another competitor for raw materials and markets – another possible
trigger for World War 1?
What started World War 1? Political economy causes -
From an economic point of view, the quest for raw
materials and the search for lucrative markets in Africa can be seen as
one of the causes of World War 1.
The dynamic arms race benefited the economy, with
lucrative arms exports and goods proving to be advantageous for the
industrial capitalist economies.
It only remains to note that these listed triggers
and causes for World War 1 are not complete. Rather, this is only a
first listing with examples. From a scientific point of view, many of
these causes are controversial. The goal here is to give an initial
overview. (see also what caused World War 1 and other pages with similar