Since the beginning of the XIX° century, Europe had known a series of crises, due to serious issues which were causing mounting friction amongst the Powers. Nonetheless, at the beginning of 1914 Europe seemed to be at peace, and the international relations between European countries seemed less tense than they had been in the previous decades. But this picture of an increasing stability was illusionary, and masked great underlying problems. Like this, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian heir, on the 28th of June 1914 in Sarajevo, leaded to the triggering of the First World War. How this event, which seemed to concern only Viennese and Serbian affairs, can have leaded to a World War? What are the origins of the First World War? The question of the causes of the First World War has become a major historical problem, especially because the First World War seemed to be of a great significance as a turning point in the world History. A lot of historians have worked on this question and most of them agree on the fact that it exerts direct and indirect causes, short-term and long-term causes, to the continuation of war.
[...] Secondly, the reaction of the other existing Powers of the area to theses actions of the minorities in the Balkans can be viewed as another factor of the triggering of the war. First, the forces of nationalism and liberalism which spread through Europe in the XIX° century threatened to weaken both states by undermining the absolute powers of the rulers and by feeding the nationalist sentiments of the different groups of subject people. For example, in the Habsburg Empire, we can quote the Hungarian pressure for autonomy (we could speak of “Magyar jingoism”), the increasing demand for greater rights and freedom from Czechs and southern Slaves. [...]
[...] In this way we can say that the manifestation of the French nationalism in Europe was only a desire of conservation, because it only meant recover the lost French provinces. This could only happen through a war against Germany. That is why in France, even if they knew the horrible consequences that it would have, the will of the war existed. Britain, Russia and France were worried about the growing German will of power, and that lead them to an arms race with Germany. [...]
[...] Bridge, in Coming Of The First World (1983), the existence of the Turkish Empire acted as a stabilizing factor, and when this buffer between the great Powers had disappeared after the Balkan wars of 1912-1913 (caused by the Balkan League, issue from the local nationalism), that a peaceful solution to Austria's problems seemed impossible to achieve. Serbia was incensed at the Austrian action (annexing of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and stepped up her campaign to appeal to Serb and Croats. Secret organizations linked Serbian patriots in Bosnia and Herzegovina with nationalists in Serbia. [...]
[...] One answer could be found in the second kind of nationalism, which was growing at this moment, linked to the invocation of the security interests of the states “which expressed the desire for prestige and the will of power”. Strong nationalism also existed in the other European countries and this can explain the extent that had the war between Austria and Serbia. In comparing the nationalism in the different other European countries, we could find two categories: the nationalism which leaded to the will of increasing power, and the one which lead to the will of conservation of the power. [...]
[...] Thus, we could say that nationalism, in different ways, can be considered as a cause of the outbreak of the First World War. First, because the national feelings of the minorities under foreign domination in the Balkans, menacing Austria-Hungary integrity, lead to the disparities of the Ottoman Empire and to the outbreak of a conflict between Austria and Serbia. The national feeling in Germany, had as consequence a will of power and domination in Europe, which drove France Britain and Russia, through their nationalist feelings traduced as a will of “conservation” of their power, to conclude alliances. [...]
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