Militarism, Nationalism, And The System Of Alliances: The Causes Of World War One

1481 words - 6 pages

The flash of machine guns and the blare of shells were brand new to the veterans. Both the soldiers on the front and their family at home did not realize how much WW1 would change war forever. WW1, beginning in 1914 and ending in 1918 involved two major parties. The triple alliance, including Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary, and the triple entente, including France, Great Britain, and Russia fought the biggest War that the world had ever seen. We know the story, but when we read the between the pages, what were the underlying causes of the Great War that changed history? Through extensive research among primary and secondary documents, the answer has been found. The hidden causes were militarism, nationalism, and the system of alliances. Militarism led nations to jump at war prematurely. Nationalism causes other nations to become suspicious, and it also leads to a war that could easily be resolved other ways. The system of alliances was another underlying cause, as it made the war a world war by bringing all of Europe into it. WW1 began because of militarism, nationalism, and the system of alliances.

The presence of militarism, an ideology that claims that the military is the most important aspect of a society, before and during the war led to jealousy and hard feelings, thus escalating the war far before it needed to be. Although this was not the primary cause, it was still an extremely important factor in the playing out of WW1. Document 2, a collection of period quotes compiled by Addison Wesley Longman, demonstrates the feelings of the citizens of Europe at the dawn of war. In the first quote, we can see that the average citizens throughout Europe found the prospect of peace in war, rather than fear and distaste. By placing this as the most important aspect of life, other problem solving methods were not tried, and therefore, troops were sent into a battle that could have been solved other ways. In the second quote, it is seen that the average European men and women were very excited at the prospect of war. They saw it as a chance to show off their military, as shown with the clapping and cheering. By sending troops into battle without a proper reason, not only were many lives in danger, but other countries jumped into war as well.
A map and table compiled from different sources including Colin Nicolson’s The First World War, also demonstrates how militarism could have led to hard feelings, and then to war, (Doc. 11). On the map, almost every nation owned vast amounts of land, but Great Britain topped them all. Thus, feeling inadequate, the other European Nations all attempted to outdo one another at the same time. When things got out of hand, as Serbia was attempted at being colonized, a war that could have been stopped if military glorification was not so blaringly disrespectful, began. Document 7, a graph of the growth of armaments adapted from London Times History of the World, demonstrates how putting the military first...

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