World War I: Causes and Consequences

Until the turn of the century, European nations had lived in relative peace for the past 30 years. From the middle of the 19th century, European leaders and various peace organizations were trying to avoid wars and establish permanent peace in Europe. Which led to the general impression that material and intellectual progress had ended the culture of wars in Europe. Yes, but in the second decade of the 20th century. Europe faced such a war, which was named the Great War. Because it spread beyond Europe.

1. Causes of War Tensions in Europe

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was apparent peace in Europe, but behind it, there were some anti-peace factors or forces which finally mobilized and pushed the continent into war.

2. A Major Factor Among Them Aas Nationalism

At the beginning of the century, a fierce nationalistic rivalry arose between the great powers of Europe (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, and France).
One of the main drivers of this rivalry was the competition for markets. The second was the border disputes. For example, France was angry about Germany’s occupation of its territories (Alsace and Lorraine). There was a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia for dominance in the Balkans.
Demands for independence were being made by various nations and ethnic groups (Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, etc.) in the Balkans.

3. Imperialism

Another cause of war in Europe was imperialism. There was an intense conflict between European nations for colonies in Africa and Asia. Competition for overseas possessions deepened mutual distrust among European countries

4. Arms Race

Another reason was the dangerous arms race in Europe in the early years of the 20th century. Having a powerful army was considered a sign of greatness. By 1914, all the major powers except Great Britain had built large armies.

5. Different Alliances

Another reason was the dangerous arms race in Europe in the early years of the 20th century. Having a powerful army was considered a sign of greatness. By 1914, all the major powers except Great Britain had built large armies.

Since the middle of 1870, the major powers of Europe had been establishing various military alliances due to mutual rivalries and mistrust. But later this trend of alliances became a cause of war.

Bismarck And The Alliance

From 1864 to 1871, the Chancellor of Prussia “Bismarck” followed the policy of “Blood and Iron” to unify Germany. After unifying Germany in 1871, he focused on establishing peace in Europe. “Bismarck” considered France to be a big threat to peace. He was afraid that France would try to take revenge for his defeat from Prussia. Therefore, with the aim of isolating France, he allied with Austria-Hungary. A few years later it became a “tripartite alliance” with the addition of Italy. In 1881 “Bismarck” made a treaty with Russia.

Changing Alliances Are A Threat To Peace

In 1890, German policy changed dramatically. When “William II” became Kaiser in Germany, he removed Bismarck. The stubborn “William” was obsessed with showing Germany’s power. He ended the treaty with Russia in 1890. In response, Russia entered into a defensive alliance with France. It was an alliance that Bismarck feared because if Germany were to go to war with either of them, they would have to face the enmity of both.

“William II’s process of strengthening the German navy” worried Britain and led to an alliance with France.
In 1907, Britain signed another alliance agreement with France and Russia assuring that it would not go to war against Russia and France.
Thus, by 1907, two opposing camps were formed in Europe, one was the tripartite alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy and the other was the alliance of Great Britain, France, and Russia.

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5. The Balkan Crisis

The mountainous peninsula (Balkans) at the southeastern tip of Europe was home to various nations and ethnic groups. Due to its long history of national uprisings and ethnic riots, the Balkan region was considered the minefield of Europe.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire (which was part of the Balkans) was in decline. Some nations of the Balkans like Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia gained independence from the Turks and became separate states. While some other groups were struggling for freedom from it.
The powerful motivation of these groups was nationalism.

The nations that gained independence from the Turks wanted to expand their borders.
Serbia wanted to make the co-ethnic “Slavic” population of the Balkans a part of its country. Russia was a supporter of this nationalist thought of Serbia. While Serbia’s powerful northern neighbor, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was against such an attempt by Serbia because it feared that the creation of a Slavic state would incite a rebellion among the Slavic population in its empire.

In 1908, Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina. These were areas with a majority Slavic population. This move by Austria infuriated the Serbs, which led to increased tension between them the following year.

6. Immediate Cause

In this atmosphere of mutual enmity, on June 28, 1914, the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary “Duke Ferdinand” and his wife were killed by a Serb youth during their visit to the Bosnian capital “Serjava”. Which was the immediate cause of the war.
Enraged by this incident, Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28. The peace efforts of the European powers have been in vain for the past several decades. And Europe had to face a big war.

Until 1914, Europe was divided into two opposing allied camps. With Austria’s declaration of war against Serbia, the two allied camps helped each other under the alliance agreements, and almost all of Europe had to participate in the devastating war. For support, Russia mobilized its troops on the German border in addition to Austria. In response, Germany declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914.

Two days later, Germany also declared war against France. With this Britain also started a war against Germany.
Along with Great Britain, its Dominion States (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) were also helpful
While “Serbia” was Russia’s ally in the Balkan region
The camp of the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary) was joined by Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire, while the support of the other allied camp (Britain, Russia, and France) was supported by Japan and after some time Italy.

There were two land fronts in Europe. On the western front, Germany was fighting against France and on the eastern front, they were fighting against Russia.
The naval front was mostly in the North Atlantic where Germany and Great Britain were facing each other
Although the battlefield was mostly Europe, it soon spread to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In the Middle East, Britain fought against the Ottoman Empire.
He was patronizing Arab national movements. The important role in this regard was entrusted to the famous British agent “TA Lawrence”.

In 1914, Japan declared war against Germany and occupied its possessions in China and the Pacific Ocean. While Great Britain and France attacked four German possessions in Africa.
Britain and France used to recruit soldiers from their colonies (India, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria and India) for their war campaigns in Asia and Africa.
The sub-continent provided nearly 13 lakhs (soldiers and laborers deployed on the fronts of France, Africa and the Middle East) for their British rulers. Brazil was the only country in South America that participated in the war. It was a supporter of the Allies.

Austria and Germany thought that they would win with lightning speed and thus the war would end soon. But their guess was wrong.
On the western front, Germany occupied Belgium, but there was a deadlock during the advance towards “Paris”. For three years there was a fierce battle between the two sides in the trenches (fronts) in which millions of soldiers were killed. The Western Front had become a field of death. This front stretched for about 500 miles from the North Sea to Switzerland. The killing reached its peak in 1918, during the German invasion of France in February of that year. Each of the two sides lost 300,000 soldiers. By the end of the year, more than 500,000 soldiers from each side were victims.

Eastern Front

Despite the loss of lives on the western front, both sides were sending millions of soldiers to the eastern front as well. Although Russia’s position on this front remained weak for the most part, providing more troops due to its large population was not much of a problem for it. Germany was confused on this front for three consecutive years. Thus, severe killings and deadlocks were a feature of this front for many years

The Gallipoli Campaign

In February 1915, the Allies launched a campaign to seize the “Strait of the Dardanelles” sea route to Constantinople (Turkey).
Continued attacks on the peninsula “Gallipoli” located on the southern side of Abney, but due to the strong defense of the Turkish army, the allies could not succeed and in December 1915, nearly two and a half million soldiers died (most of them from Australia and New Zealand). After the loss, he was forced to abandon the campaign.

US Participation In TheWorld War I

In 1917, the focus of the war shifted to the high seas. The United States was concerned about the series of indiscriminate attacks by German submarines in the North Atlantic Ocean. Because these attacks on ships were causing loss of life and property to American citizens. Despite the warning of the American president, Germany did not listen. When Germany sank three American ships, in April 1917, “President Wilson” declared war against Germany with the support of Congress, and the United States jumped into the war on behalf of the Allies. fell
With the entry of the United States into the war, Palada began to favor the Allies. Although earlier events in Russia (the abdication of the Czar) paved the way for German success on the Eastern Front.

Although the Provisional Government that replaced Czarist Russia in March 1917 was in favor of continuing the war, the war-weary Russian army refused to fight any longer. There was a Bolshevik revolution in November 1917. The new leader “Lenin” was in favor of ending the war. Thus, in March 1918, Russia and Germany ended the mutual war under the “Brest Litofisk” agreement.
After Russia withdrew from the war, Romania also withdrew from the war in May 1918 by signing an agreement with Germany.

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The Defeat Of The Central Powers

After the withdrawal of Russia and Romania from the war on the eastern front, Germany deployed almost all of its forces on the western front.
And in March 1918, he launched the last major attack on France. By the end of May, “Paris” was only 40 miles away from him. But the German forces were tired in this campaign. The supply of resources was becoming difficult. Counterattacked with the forces. In July 1918, the second battle of “Maran” was going on between the parties. With the arrival of 200,000 more Americans, the Allies were gradually able to advance toward Germany and soon the Central Powers began to panic. After the Bulgarians, the Ottoman Turks became tunnels.

In October 1918, an internal revolution broke out against the Austrian monarchy. Soldiers and civilians in Germany rose up against Kaiser Germany. On November 9, 1918, Kaiser was removed and Germany was declared a republic. The representatives of the new government met with the French commander “Marshal Foch” and agreed on a ceasefire. Thus, on November 11, 1918, the First World War ended with the victory of the Allies.

Consequences And Effects Of War

  1. Loss of life: 85 lakh soldiers were killed. 2 crores were injured. While the number of civilians who died due to famine, diseases, and massacres was very high.
  1. Due to the devastating effects on industry and agriculture, Europe faced a severe economic crisis. Due to the destruction of the European industrial system, America and Japan took over the world market.
  2. This terrible war spread feelings of insecurity and despair in European society. Intellect, progress and
    Confidence in expectations of higher values ​​has been shaken. Which was expressed in the European literature and art of that period.

Political Geographical Variation

Three empires (Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman Turks) ended and the political map of Europe changed. After the war, the “Paris Peace Conference” held in January 1919 led to major geographical changes in Europe under the 5 treaties. Three new independent states separated many areas from the Austrian Empire. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were created.

Similarly, some areas were taken from Russia and added to Romania and Poland. While Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were separated from Russia and given the status of independent states.
But instead of giving the right to self-determination to the nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America, they kept them under the control of the conquerors
By ending the Turkish Empire under the Treaty of Severus, Lebanon and Syria in its southwestern regions were placed under the control of France, while Jordan, Palestine and Iraq were kept under the control of Great Britain.
Except for the Hejaz coastline, where Sharif Husayn was made Sultan of Mecca, the rest of the Arab region remained under European rule. Only some areas of Asia Minor were allowed to Turkey.

The most important agreement of the Paris Conference was the “Versailles Treaty” concerning Germany, under which strict and rather “derogatory” conditions were imposed on Germany. He was not only deprived of certain areas and the possessions of Africa and East Asia, but besides imposing heavy ransom war, he was also forced to keep a lifeless army.
Although this Paris conference also created an organization called “League of Nations” whose main objective was to prevent future wars through collective security and disarmament and to resolve international disputes by negotiation, this organization remained in its basic position. Purpose (Couldn’t prove to be very effective in preventing wars).

At the time of the Treaty of Versailles, although under the circumstances, Germany had no choice but to endure the harsh conditions and restrictions imposed by them and the humiliating treatment, the Germans did not like this treatment, which soon reacted with German nationalism. In the next decade, Hitler emerged as its radical spokesman.
One of the main causes of World War II was the treatment accorded Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.

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Source: Wikipedia