Causes of World War 1

Causes of World War 1

Unlike WW2, Causes of WW1 have been constantly debated.




Belgium / Netherlands


eventually America

Central Powers


Austro Hungarian Empire


At the beginning of the 20th century, the Balkans was easily the most unstable part of Europe. Small countries, many ethnic groups with long standing grudges and either young or unstable governments, it is little wonder that war began here.

In 1914, Gavrilo Princip was a Bosnian Serb who was a radical anarchist who wanted to destroy the political systems in which he lived. He assasinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophi. His goal was to free Bosnia, instead he became the match to a Europe piled high with wood ready to ignite. Whether it was good luck or bad, Franz Ferdinand was traveling in a convertible car which stopped just about 5 feet from Princip. All Princips desire to kill the visiting Archduke had not allowed him to figure out how to get close enough to take a shot and just like that, fate brough the Archduke right to his laps. More so the situation was absolutely ideal for him to get a clear shot almost impossible to miss. After his capture he was not sentenced to death due to his age, but instead sentenced to 20 years in prison. Princip died in prison from tuberculosis in 1918.

The Balkans was an area fought over and contested by many empires over time, right up to the start of WW1. The most recent and powerful empire to compete for control of the Balkans was the Austo hungarian Empire. This empire was ruled by Franz Josef.

It is easy to assume that the people of the Austro Hungarian Empire were fairly homogenous but this would be far from the truth. The Empire with filled with a wild mix of people and religions. Right up to the start of WW1 the Empire saw constant ethnic and religous uprising and violence. Troops were often needed to quell the violence. Serbia wanted unrest in the Empire and desired to break away and form a “super state for slavic people”.

In this background came Princip. With the visit of the Archduke from Austro Hungaria, the young man found the opportunity to set things right for his country, or so he believed.

Unknown to Princip was that Archduke Franz Ferdinand (future ruler of the Austro Hungarian Empire) believed in political reform and desired to change things so that people in different areas would be content, thereby avoiding a war.

The death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand let to an intense desire within the Austro Hungarian Empire for revenge on Bosnia and Serbia. There was a general belief that a strong military action against them would teach them to fear the Empire and create decades of peac in the area based upon that fear. There were conversation at the highest level in the Empire regarding the consequences of such military actions, including concerns that Russia would come to Serbia aid, however it was well known that Germany was allied to Austro Hungarian Empire and the two together were more than a match for anything they might face.

Germany’s Kiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany, was Queen Victoria’s old grand son. Germany’s support enabled Austro Hungary to plunge ahead with military action. Amazingly, German leadership was so certain that no greater war could come from a military action against Servia that Kiser Whilhelm II went on vacation. Unfortunately, aliances were set in place and while Germany, Austro Hungaria and Itally were in an alliance on the other side France and Russian were alligned. This of course is importat because Russia was alligned with Serbia. A massive domino effect was set in place.

In short, If the Austro Hungarian Empire attack Serbia, Russia would attack Austro Hungray to support its ally. If Russia is at war, then France would support Russia by going to war and of course France was allied with England.

In short, If the Austro Hungarian Empire attack Serbia, Russia would attack Austro Hungray to support its ally. If Russia is at war, then France would support Russia by going to war and of course France was allied with England. One of the most crazy and little known fact about World War 1 is that like it or not, the King of England, King of Germany and Emeror of Russia were family. They were all Grand sons of Queen Victoria. In a last sad and incredible twist to all this, was that there was a royal yachting event that took place in 1914 where all three brothers attended providing a perfect opportunity to talk and settle the issues before blood was spilled. Instead they choose war. Almost like it was a game.

Click to View Pictures