History is replete with many battles and wars. But the First World War was the kind of war which sharply polarized the world community. It was the first big war which saw the use of modern day warfare technology and strategies in a big way. Large scale use of machine guns, battle tanks, air force power, Gaseous material etc…
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Though, taking a retrospective look, James Joll (1984), argued in his book The Origins of the First World War, that German rulers had 'accepted the war as inevitable' by December 1912 itself. But the Germans preferred to wait for the most opportune time. Historians also say that the imperialistic policies of some European nations also contributed to the simmering discontent amongst other nations. Some countries had highly ambitious plans of establishing their colonies in foreign lands. Similarly, some countries had started arming themselves in a big way, which left the neighboring countries apprehensive for their safety and asking for cover for other nations. This polarized the world community. Therefore militarism was another reason for the outbreak of war. Slav nationalism never allowed the Austrians and Russians a peaceful coexistence. The sea route was earlier used basically for exploring far off places, but Britain and Germany also started using the naval forces for strategic advantages. Another race started in the two blocks to strengthen the naval forces. Though earlier the use of James Joll (1984) argues that;
"The immediate motives which led governments to decide to go to war in 1914 were not directly imperialist, but earlier imperialist policies had contributed to the frame of mind in which decisions were taken. ...
Evans and Strandmann (1990) say that apparently the war started off a clear sky, but most of the nations seem to be well prepared for the war. The authors state that, "Everyone seems to have known exactly what to do, and to have done it with great efficiency. Arrangements to take over the Examination Schools and colleges had been made by the War Office two years earlier."
Though historians find it very difficult to pinpoint one particular event or one particular day when the war trigger was put on. But the events of June 28, 1914 are still remembered as a turning point (Turner, 1970). It is on this day that, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife were assassinated (it was their wedding anniversary) in Sarajevo, Bosnia by a Serbian nationalist student. This province had been under Austro-Hungarian Empire since 1908. After this assassination, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, followed by the Russian Mobilization the next day. Increasing emphasis on militarism led to the development of new weapons. Simultaneously the emergence of trench warfare made the Great War the bloodiest conflict the world had known (The Birmingham Post, 2004)
James Joll prefer to place imperialism, domestic concerns, and the failure of diplomats as the basic reasons for eruption of the full fledged war. In broader terms the origin of First World War can be traced back as the result of a number of reasons. Some such reasons, enlisted by historians, over time are;
The rise of German power after 1870 and its Imperialistic designs: Germany used to be a loose confederation of independent states till 1870. On January 18, 1871, these states united under a Prussian king
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Since a war involves an engagement with the enemy, the plan made by one party may fail, since the planning is done without full information regarding the status of the enemy. This is worsened by war propaganda and military misinformation techniques applied, which serve to represent the enemy in a way that is different from the reality (Ross, 41).
The author of this essay explains that history is replete with many battles and wars, but the First World War was the kind of war which sharply polarized the world community. It was the first big war which saw the use of modern day warfare technology as machine guns, battle tanks, air force power and strategies in a big way.
The war also provided a brilliant example of the danger involved in the uncontrolled use of modern devastating weapons for resolving contradictions that initially had non-military nature. Unfortunately, the current political developments across the globe suggest that this example remains topical even these days and should be strictly considered by modern policymakers: the Second World War convincingly demonstrated that even the most costly lessons often turn useless.
In fact, as more balanced research clearly demonstrates, both victors and losers contributed to the ultimate conflict in many ways.
The issue is also complicated by a tendency to focus on a particular cause, such as the Anglo-German naval arms race, to the exclusion of equally valid and influential causal factors.
While exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that 65,000,000 men fought in the war, of whom at least 10,000,000 died (Browne, 2006). That was more than had been killed in all wars up till this time.
WWI is known for the many technological advances that made killing so much easier and more effective.
In its destruction of men, territory and economies, the First World War resulted in a European public wary of war and committed to the peaceful resolution of conflict. In the First World War, while the US had lost 114,000 men, the losses of Germany (2.037 million), Russia (1.8 million), France (1.4 million), Austria-Hungary (1.1 million), Bulgaria and Turkey (892,000), the UK (723,000) and Italy (578,000) were staggering in comparison.
Impact of war on Russian economy and society had been tremendous and the well-rounded picture between 1914 and 1918 is yet to emerge as all the communications with the outside world ceased with the communist take over, which was so unprecedented that the intellectual community of mainly the western world shunned Russia as a leper for a long time.
This kind of antagonism increased the rivalry amongst nations increasing the severity of the wars.
The few decades before 1914 were characterized by development of deadly weapons that had the capability of killing large numbers of people at ago.
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