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4.5 The First World War

The First World War was a product of multiple factors. Europe was in the position of international anarchy. There were 25 sovereign states in Europe on the eve of the World War I, and each desired to act according to their individual conscience. Neither was prepared to submit to the will or interference of the other because of the pride that their international prestige would be lowered if they accepted the advice of any other state. The feeling of nationalism was high and this made them believe that only their nation was right, and they should go for war, whether it was right or wrong. Occasions of serious rivalry and mutual hostility were in plenty.

4.5a Territorial Disputes

Some of the nations had territorial disputes with their neighbors. These territories were forcibly occupied after certain states succeeded in wars. For instance, at the end of Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871), Alsace and Lorraine, which were predominantly French, were taken away by Germany. As France now considered herself to be more powerful, she resorted to war.

4.5b Secret Alliances

This was a very important reason for the First World War. It divided Europe into two hostile camps. Germany made a secret alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879. In 1882, Italy was a party to the Triple Alliance. Only after the downfall of Bismarck, Russia and France came closer to one another and a pact was signed between them in 1894. England and other rival powers became antagonistic towards Germany as Kaiser William II adopted a comprehensive policy of world domination.

Russia wanted to increase her power in Asia. Till then England had been adopting the policy of "Splendid Isolation," but to curb the rise of Russia in the Pacific Ocean, she made a treaty with Japan in 1902.

These secret alliances and rival blocks divided Europe into two. England, France, Russia and Japan were on one side and Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey and Italy on the other.

Side I

Side II




Austria - Hungary





Rivalry between these two groups went on increasing.

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4.0 - Introduction
4.1 The Revolution of 1848
4.2 The Unification Of Italy
4.3 The Founding of the Gernam Empire
4.4 The Balkan War
4.5 The First World War
4.6 The Impact of the First World War
4.7 The Founding of the League of Nations
4.8 Points to Remember

Chapter 5

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