Saturday, April 7, 2012

The causes nof WWI

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The First World War had many causes; the historians probably have not

yet discovered and discussed all of them so there might be more causes

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than what we know now. The spark of the Great War was the

assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of

Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian nationalist on the morning

of June 8, 114, while traveling in a motorcade through Sarajevo, the

capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Archduke was chosen as a

target because Serbians feared that after his ascension to the throne,

he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the

Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Serbian terrorist organization, the Black

Hand, had trained a small group of teenage operatives to infiltrate

Bosnia and carry out the assassination of the Archduke. It is unclear

how officially active the Serbian government was in the plot. However,

it was uncovered years later that the leader of the Black Hand was

also the head of Serbian military intelligence. In order to understand

the complexity of the causes of the war, it is very helpful to know

what was the opinion of the contemporaries about the causes of the

Great War. In the reprint of the article What Started the War, from

August 17, 115 issue of The Clock magazine published on the Internet

the author writes It is thought that this war that is been ongoing

for over a year, began with the assassination of the Archduke Francis

Ferdinand. However, many other reasons led to this war, some occurring

as far back the late 1800s. Nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and

the system of alliances were four main factors that pressed the great

powers towards this explosive war.

According to the article above, the author stresses that the

nationalism was one of the primary causes of the war. In the ninetieth

and twentieth centuries, especially after the French Revolution

nationalism was becoming a powerful force in Europe so people that had

the same culture, language wanted their own country. And that was the

problem for the government of Austria-Hungary that did not want to

lose their power and control. The Slavs in the southern part of the

empire were their main concern since they wanted to join up to Serbia.

Militarism is the second cause according to the article above, which

comes after the nationalism. To understand what the author means by

militarism one should be familiar with the situation of the world in

the beginning of the century, which was the result of both industrial

and democratic revolutions. Britain at that time was the largest

empire in the world, and it also had the largest navy. The navy was so

big and strong because the Britons needed to protect their empire and

maintain the sea routes between the different colonies. The Kaiser

William II of Germany hated and envied Britain for having a stronger

navy than his. He increased the German navy and built many warships.

Britain responded with building more ships and increasing its navy

too. This started a race for building more and better warships and it

created tension and competition between those two countries.

Imperialism and the system of alliances are the last two major causes

of the War. There was a quarrel between France and Germany about

controlling the colonies, and especially Morocco, which leads to a

greater conflict, the Great War. Europe at that time was divided into

two rival alliance systems Triple Entente that included Great

Britain, France, and Russia and the Triple Alliance, which included

the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and eventually the

Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Austria-Hungary must take a large proportion of any blame for the

outbreak of war in 114. The reason for Germanys part in the causes

involves Germanys blank Check policy. Before sending its ultimatum

to Serbia, Austria needed to be sure of the support of its ally,

Germany. Such support was forthcoming in the form of a telegram to the

Emperor Franz Joseph on 6 July 114. The telegram has become known to

history as the Blank Check. In order to balance the power, France

and Russia signed an alliance. Russia saw itself as the protector of

Slavs in the war, and immediately mobilized. When the war began, the

German decision that if they were going to have to fight Russia and

France, they would strike at France first according to its Schlieffen

Plan, and then turn West to Russia. Germans believed that Russia at

the time was unprepared for war, and that it will take a long time for

Russia to mobilize its army.

On July 8, 114 Austria declared war against Serbia. Russia responded

by partially mobilizing against Austria as a protector of Slavs,

and Germany insisted that Russia immediately demobilize. Russia

refused to do so, and on August 1 and declared war on Russia and

France. When war was declared in August people involved on all sides

felt that it would be a short war, and will be over by Christmas.

In order for Germany to accomplish its Schlieffen Plan, Germany

occupied Belgium. By August most of Belgium was under German

occupation and the Schlieffen Plan appeared to be going well, but it

brought Britain into the war because they had made a treaty with

Belgium before, and Schlieffen Plan involved the invasion of neutral


One of the problems during the Great War that military staffs and

thinking were far behind new weapons and logistics. In other words

military commanders like General Haig or Marshall Joffre were not

quite ready to the war with its modern weapons and new technologies

such as machine guns, bunkers and railroad systems that allowed to

bring troops quicker into defensive positions. This was the first war

in the human history where the weapons of defense were superior to

offensive. The First World War is also known as a war of attrition. In

order to protect themselves from modern weapons, men dug in along the

whole of the Western Front. They built networks of trenches that ran

500 miles. The First Battle of the Marne was the wars first major

turning point. German army has almost reached its objective Paris in

accordance with the Schlieffen Plan, but the Battle of the Marne

stopped the movement of Germans in the west. Unfortunately for the

Germans, the plan did not work as expected. The result was a partial

success, which failed in its ultimate goal of knocking the French army

out of the war early. The Battle of the Marne marked the end of the

Schlieffen Plan, the end of movement in the war and the start of

Trench Warfare. Eventually the trenches were stretching 5,000 miles,

from Switzerland to the North Sea. On the other hand, Germans were

much successful on the Eastern Front and had a series of quick

victories over Russia. Only in a single Battle of Tannenberg ,000

Russian prisoners were taken. After the failure of the German

offensive, both sides made various local attempts at achieving

breakthroughs. Most of these attempts failed due to the effects of

modern weapons.

The First World War was the first war to use poison gas as a military

weapon. Germans also had the first submarines and used them to

blockade Britain by sinking British ships. The sinking of Lusitania is

the famous example of the submarine warfare during the World War I.

The Lusitania had civilians on board, where 100 passengers were

American citizens. After sinking Lusitania a letter was sent to the

German Government by President Wilson to warn the German government

against killing Americans citizens.

In October 115 Ottoman Turkish Empire enters war on German side.

Turkish army began invasion of Russia and was very successful until

Great Britain attacked Turkey. British, French, Australian and New

Zealand were unsuccessful in invading Turkey. The action was confined

to the Dardanelles Strait and the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula near

Istanbul. The same year, Italy had withdrawn from the Triple Alliances

when war started, and on the Eastern Front Russians were loosing their

lands and over 750,000 soldiers were taken as prisoners. By the end of

115 the whole society of Europe mobilized for war. This was to be the

worlds first Total War. Women were taking on the jobs, and most male

population was sent to war. The total war started when Germans used

their first gas attack

Gassing was the start of total war, because it broke all limits, the

social taboos, the gentlemans etiquette of other wars. Sometimes the

shot would miss the mark and kill innocent civilians. Before the

introduction of gas bombing, soldiers found it easier to overlook the

fact that they were fighting on opposite sides of the field, because

they had no personal motivation to fight.

In 116 there 1 British and French Divisions were fighting against

117 German Divisions. Two sides were facing each other across the no

mans land of mud, shell holes and barbed wires. Sometimes the

distance between two fighting powers was so close that on first

Christmas both sides were singing carols to each other. One can find a

good description of trenches by reading Erich Remarques novel All

Quite on the Western Front were he gives the reader some insight and

a look at a group of young German friends who are also fighting in

World War I. It covers the horror of this war through the eyes of a

young German solider, Paul Baumer. This book is not like other books

and stories that glorify wars. It tells the horrors of war in detail.

The story recalls the bloody details of bombing, gunfire, gas,

hand-to-hand combat, barbed wire, trench warfare and etc. Remarque

tells the story in the first person that makes the reader feel as if

he or she is one of the soldiers, that makes the novel even more

dramatic for the reader

We see men living with their skulls blown open; we see soldiers run

with their two feet cut off, they stagger on their splintered stumps

into the next shell-hole; a lance-corporal crawls a mile and a half on

his hands dragging his smashed knee after him; another goes to the

dressing station and over his clasped hands bulge his intestines; we

see men without mouths, without jaws, without faces …

The two biggest and horrifying battles of the World War I are the

Battle of Verdun and the Battle of the Somme. John Keegan, a military

historian in his interview tells about the Battle of Somme It was

the biggest barrage that had ever been. So, they were firing over

100,000 shells a day; relentless, relentless banging and booming of

this tremendous bombardment. So loud, you could hear it in England, if

the wind was in the right direction (60 or 70 miles away).

Over million soldiers were killed on both sides only in a single

battle of Somme during 116. The second biggest battle of Verdun was

fought at the cost of the French Army, and it is often compared to a

sausage machine, because 15,000 Frenchman died. The human kind had

never sees such battles throughout the whole history, with so many

losses, which was quite shockfull experience for the soldiers who

fought the First World War. This war resulted shortages in practically

everything, and rising prices. By the end of 116 America was still

not involved in the war.

Fateful year of 117 marked the beginning of the modern world. Several

important events took place in 117. First and the most important

event was the Russian Revolution and the rise of a Communist Power in

the World. The same year America enters the war against Germany. Two

great non-European leaders with two different ideas of what is good

for humanity emerge, and the European History becomes a World History.

Vladimir Ilich Lenin, who was hiding in Switzerland at that time, was

helped by some German agents to be able to go to Russia in a sealed

train. Germans helped Lenin, because they knew that if the Revolution

occurs, the war with Russia would eventually finish. As a matter of

fact Lenin and the Bolsheviks takes over the country on November 7,

117. Everything that was planned by Germans came true and Russians

made peace with Germany. The Western front was the only show in

town, and Germans moved all their power from Eastern to a Western

Front to break through the line of the enemy.

In March of 118 Russia signed a treaty in Brest-Litovsk which put a

formal end to the war and agreed to stop fighting. Russia was also

forced to give up some of its land to the enemy. The war that was

supposed to be over by Christmas seemed endless; however, in 118,

after great Franco-American Offensive Germany gave up, and became a

liberal Republic. It happened at 1100 am, on November 11, after 4

years and over 8 million military deaths on both sides. Germany agreed

to President Wilsons 14 points, issued in January 118 where Germany

agreed no to have secret treaties with other countries, most

importantly to end submarine warfare and to free the seas, to give up

their colonial claims and etc.

Germany also had to take the responsibility for the cause of the Great

War and accordingly pay reparations to Allies. By signing the treaty

Germany also agreed to disarm, and give up the colonies. The world war

one had tremendous consequences on the world. World War I killed

fewer victims than World War II, destroyed fewer buildings, and

uprooted millions instead of tens of millions, but in many ways it

left even deeper scars both on the mind and on the map of Europe. The

Old World never recovered from a shock. According to many

historians, and in particular Edmond Tailor the trench warfare was the

cruelest among all wars since the Ice Age. The reason why historians

think that way is because the people of the XIX and early XX century

were not ready to this kind of war. People were very optimistic about

the future with all the great inventions. The last twenty years of

the 1th Century, say 1880 to 100, those years were characterized by

an immense optimism. It was thought that public health, invention, the

telegraph, the telephone, ultimately the wireless and the radio, were

going to civilize human life in a way that it had never been civilized

before. And, then, all of a sudden, what happens is ghastly war breaks

out and spoils everything. The inventions that were supposed to

improve the standards of living for humanity in fact made the war more

tragic. The age that died in 114 was a brilliant one - so

extravagant in its intellectual and aesthetic endowments that we who

have come after can hardly believe in its reality. In Eric

Remarques novel All Quite on the Western Front one can clearly see

what war had done to the people, especially to the young generation

who fought it. The soldiers who fought in the Great War often lost

their interest in life. The only significance in the lives of the

soldiers was comradeship. Eric Remarque also mentions in his novel

what was the opinion of the soldiers about the progress, We are not

youth any longer. We dont want to take the world by storm. We are

fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. … The first bomb, the

first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity,

from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we

believe in the war. That was the mentality of the soldier of the

Great War. Nothing in the world meant anything to a soldier, other

than the war. Remarque also shows in his novel how meaningless was

the war for the soldier. There is a place in the novel were Paul kills

a French soldier, and feels very guilty about it. It shows one more

time how artificial was the cause of the war. There was no real cause

why German would hate a Frenchmen and voiceovers. Erik Remarque shows

that when Paul talks to a dead French soldier where he says, Comrade,

to-day you to-morrow me. But if I come out of it, comrade, I will

fight against this, that has struck us both down; from you, taken

life-and from me-? Life also. Despite being alive, Paul considers

his life without any meaning after all the horrible experiences of the

war. All people who came out of the First World War were either

physically or psychologically wounded.

The impact of the First World War is still with us. In many respects

the events of modern Europe are a direct result of what happened in

114 -11. Had there be a World War I, of course have been no

Second… Adolph Hitler himself was a product of the First World War.

World War I also gave Lenin an opportunity to overthrow the government

in Russia and proclaim communism.

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