Structural Causes Immediate Causes

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Causes of WW1

“Europe today is a powder keg and the leaders are like men smoking in an arsenal…A single spark will set off an explosion that will consume us all…I cannot tell you when that explosion will occur, but I can tell you where…Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans will set it off.”

Otto von Bismarck

Structural Causes

Immediate Causes

The Spark (The July Crisis)



Carl von Clausewitz: Prussian military thinker, wrote On War

Military Reserve System: Military organization made up of ordinary citizens who are on standby to head off into war in the military as needed

Mobilization system: A system that prepared a country for war by conscripting young able-bodied men into the military to increase the army population. Often used propaganda to increase patriotism. (Britain only country w/o conscription)

War Colleges: Colleges designed for education of potential soldiers

New Technology:
Machine Gun: Automatic gun capable of firing bullets in rapid succession for as long as the trigger is held.

Breech loading rifle: A rifle where the bullet/shell is loaded into the barrel’s rear

Artillery: Large guns used on land-based warfare, such as the guns mounted on war tanks

Poison Gas: Poisonous gas/vapors/fumes able to knock enemy forces unconscious; earliest form of chemical warfare

Radio Communications: Signals, messages, & codes sent to allied forces over radio were the primary and quickest means of communication during the First and Second World Wars

Planes: Airplanes often carried cargo, men, guns, artillery, or bombs to be dropped on enemy territory

Tanks: Armored vehicles best suited for land-based combat, mounted with heavy guns

Flamethrower: A weapon that uses fuel to shoot out flames

War Plans:
Schlieffen Plan: German plan of defense against the Russo-Franc alliance; Germany would attack France first while Russia was delayed trying to encourage mobilization, and would then have defeated France by the time Russia got to her aid.

Plan 17: French “scheme of mobilization and concentration” against Germany in WWI that included five decisive battles, that was designed without a fixed military strategy to remain flexible to offensives into foreign territory.

“Elan”: French war plan to rely not soley on their technology, but the patriotism and pure fighting spirit of the country’s soldiers

“Cult” of the Offensive: a military dilemma when the leaders or commanders of an army faction believe that the offensive advantages are so great that a defending force has no hopes of stopping an attack; this causes all states/countries to try and attack

Anglo-German Arms Race:
Dreadnought Battleship: A 20th century battleship that was bigger and quicker than previous armored battleship models, and also had large-scale guns as artillery.

Tirpitz: Navy Laws: Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz launched a campaign to bring Germany’s military up to par with the Royal Navy of Britain to ensure protection from any attack by sea.

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