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1915-1918 The Great War 100 years since the First World War
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The 1914 and the outbreak of the European conflict

The immediate cause of the First World War was the assassination in Sarajevo (28th June 1914) of the Austrian heir Archduke Francesco Ferdinando and his wife by the Serbian irredentist student, Gavrilo Princip.
But the real causes of the war are more remote and complicated. The main causes of the conflict were:
  • the Austrian-Russian conflict for the hegemony in the Balkans (Austrian victory at Berlin Congress in 1878; the Austrian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908; the establishment of a big Serbian State by Russia during the two Balkan wars, etc.).
  • the French-German conflict (Prussian victory in 1870 and a French sentiment of revenge; German intervention in the Moroccan question, etc.).
  • the British-German conflict (a German political economic Power rising in the world).
  • the irredentism as in the case of Italy, that aimed to annex Trento and Trieste, and Serbia that aimed to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conflicts between the great Powers spoiled the political system of the European Countries, leading to the formation of two hostile fronts: the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) and the Triple Entente (Great Britain, France and Russia). The increasing arm race led up to international tension between the Countries.
Causes of the war: political conflicts between the European Countries (Germany-Great Britain, Germany-France); arm race; Anglo-German rivalry for the supremacy on the sea (Anglo-French Naval Agreement in 1912); nationalist agitations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that had two different ethnic groups; Czech desire of independence; Slavic question; Russian policy in the Balkans; mobilisations and ultimatum (because of the military operational plans). There were also the nationalist movements inside France and Germany, as well as the Anglo-German economic rivalry. Responsibilities for the war. The main causes that led up to the outbreak of the conflict were the fatal certainty, especially by Germany, that the war would have been delimited in Europe as well as the freedom in taking decisions by the statesmen and the General Staffs, considering the armament as a security guarantee.

There is no population that wants to give up on its objectives in the name of the peace:
  • Austria-Hungary defended tenaciously the supranational imperial idea;
  • Serbia aimed to expand its territory in the Balkans;
  • Russia feared for its policy in the Balkans, threatened by the alternative: a war outside the national borders or a revolution inside the Country;
  • Great Britain oscillated between neutrality and the stance on in favour​ of the war (indecision by the Cabinet, fear for the Russian expansion in the Middle East);
  • France wanted to use the Russian support for pressing Germany, after its alliance with Russia;
  • Germany used the alliance with Austria-Hungary to escape from the political isolation and to help the Danube Monarchy, threatened outside and inside, in recovering its prestige. The German General Staff wanted the war in 1914 because it feared for the lack of advantageous conditions to defeat France rapidly (Schlieffen Plan);
  • ​​​​​​​​​France and Germany did not intervene moderately on the policy of their allies, respectively Russia and Austria-Hungary.