World War I: Causes and Consequences
World War I was an armed conflict that began as a consequence of ethnic and territorial issues, although the resentments due to economic and political problems were also causes of the conflict. Following a sanguinary evolvement on European soil, the war ended after four years of intense combat between the involvedcountries, leaving a toll of dreadful consequences for the rest of the world.
At the start of the XIX century, the process of industrialization started to speed up in Europe in such a way that it led to its ample development during the XIX century. Because of this industrialization, countries needed natural resources to use in this process and the only way to obtain them at minimum cost wasby getting colonies in places where these materials were found. The majority of the countries in Western Europe possessed colonies in America since the conquest and settlement in that continent. But in the XIX century there was a large virgin area, with an abundance of raw materials: Africa. For this same reason the European imperialism began; everyone wanted colonies in these regions.
Germanywas the last country to industrialize. This process was delayed due to the fact that the Unification of Germany began in the mid-nineteenth century, and was validated in 1871 (“Schools History.”) By industrializing so late, the Germans did not manage to get many colonies.
Germany was a country that had a much accelerated economic development towards the end of the XIX century. It became a power,and also began its rivalry with Great Britain for economic leadership. Its people were educated, and had a deep appreciation for their race and their country. Also, with the economic advancements, came the German military capability. The German army was modern and capable, and became stronger with nationalism, which led to many Germans enlisting for the army.
From this moment on, the economic,ethnic and politic tensions aroused between several European countries, and with these disturbances came the alliances, which, by threats of war, kept a tense peace that would not last long. In 1879, Otto von Bismarck (the German chancellor) began to form a system of alliances with Italy and Austria-Hungary: Germany/Austria-Hungary, in which Germany would defend Austria-Hungary if Russia were toattack, and Germany/Italy, in which Germany would defend Italy if France were to attack. The first alliance was made because Serbia was forced to be a part of Austria-Hungary, and the Serbs and the Russians are Slavic countries. The second alliance was made because France was interested in taking over some Italian territory (Schroeder 1-26.)
On the other hand, the Triple Entente was formed in1907, which was formed by the Britain, France and Russia. The Triple Entente’s main causes for creating this alliance was to counterweight the Triple Alliance, and because of what they considered an acute menace: the German expansionism. The Entente felt threatened by the German imperialism and its intentions to establish worldwide German dominion (Conybeare and Sandler 1197-1206.)
The last straw,however, was the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. He was the possible heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his murder accelerated the Triple Alliance war declaration against the Triple Entente. From this moment on, four dreadful years took a toll on Europe in a scale that can hardly be imagined (Williamson.)
This was, along with WWII, the bloodiest warthat humanity has witnessed. There were 16,543,868 reported casualties in four years, and for every person that passed away there were two to three injured (Urlanis.)
There were billions of dollars lost in property damages, raw materials squandered, the monetary systems sunken because of inflation, and the countries indebted. Also, Europe’s economic position in the world market was seriously...