Austria-Hungary in the First World War

The First World War of 1914-1918 was one of the bloodiest military conflicts in the history of the humankind. It involved the greatest economic powers in the world, which divided into two camps. In the beginning, the Allies included France, Russia, and the UK, while the Central Powers comprised Austria-Hungary and Germany. Other countries such as the United States and Japan joined the Allies later. There are many questions concerning the causes of the war. Officially, Austria-Hungary was the one to begin the WW1; however, in fact, other countries had also contributed to the development of the conflict via militarism, nationalism, and imperialism, as well as creating treaties.

 The actions of Austria-Hungary resulted in the WW1. On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary proclaimed war on Serbia; this event marked the beginning of the warfare. The announcement was made in a month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian separatist in Sarajevo. Serbia had been continually threatening Austria-Hungary, and the proper reaction to the assassination was organizing a military attack on Serbia. Some may assert that Serbia was the primary cause of the war; however, all the blame is to be put on Austria-Hungry. First, Austria-Hungary had to secure its dominant ally, Germany. On July 23, 1914, Austria-Hungary delivered Serbia a hard-line ultimatum. In such a manner, the Empire not only demanded Serbia to suppress any anti-Austrian propaganda and organization in the shortest time possible but also wanted to carry out an own investigation of the assassination event.

 

Soon, the Austrian government broke the diplomatic relationship with other ally countries and continued with the preparation measures. At the same time, the crisis was intensifying, and the Russian-Serbia’s allies in the Balkans were gradually starting the initial process of mobilization against Austria. The following day after the diplomatic break of between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, all the European countries, including Russian allies – France and Britain, feared the breakout of the pending Alkane’s conflict. If Russia was to be engaged in it, it would result in a general European war. In Berlin, Paris, and Rome, the British foreign officers tried to lobby their counterparts with the intention of stopping and managing the impending conflict. This intention was not welcomed by the German government, which advised Vienna to continue with its plans.

Aside from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, there were other factors that contributed to the development of the conflict and ultimate beginning of the WW1. These issues influenced such countries as Germany and the British Empire to join the local confrontation of two nations. One of such was the creation of political alliances by different European countries in 1914. For a long time already, there had been a contentious rivalry between Germany and the British Empire over the sea control, which would provide an easier way to access the market. Germany lacked overseas territories but was able to build a huge and strong navy. In their turn, the British considered this fact a threat to their security. Therefore, they looked for an ally that would help them curb any future conflicts with Germany. Meanwhile, Germany pursued similar goals. This binding partnership had prepared the ground for a military confrontation. In such a manner, once Austria-Hungary declared the war on Serbia, Germany and Russia were obliged to enter the war because of a pledge of protection under the agreement with the allied countries. This issue made the global conflict unpreventable. In such a manner, Germany and British can be considered the war-monger.

The mutual defense treaty added fuel to the fire by dragging several other countries such as the United States and Italy to the war. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, international policies led countries to create treaties. These military agreements meant that if any member state was attacked, others had to protect it. In this context, an alliance made a reference to some agreement between two or more countries, according to which, they promised to provide each other with the required assistance and support. In the case of the final agreement, involved parties were referred to as Allies. There were a number of alliances that were established between 1879 and 1914 in Europe. The declaration of such alliances was influential in causing the WWI since some of the countries had no option but to declare war in order to defend their allies. In the second half of the 19th century, Germany unified as a confederation of small countries under one ruler, Wilhelm I of Prussia. It all started when the states in Europe entered a mutual defense agreement. The treaty meant that if one of the allies was attacked, the allied forces were expected to defend it. In such a manner, when Austria-Hungary proclaimed war on Serbia, Russia had to come in, to support Serbia. As soon as Germany noticed that Russia was mobilizing for the war, the country took up the hatchet on Russia. Later on, France took the stage, to fight against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany fought France via Belgium and, thus, dragged the British Empire into the war. This ripple effect caused Japan, the United States, Italy, and other countries to enter the conflict. In such a manner, countries that decided to create treaties can be blamed for the war

The US had not entered the war until 1917. When Germany attacked the international ship, the state had to respond because Germans violated the neutrality agreement. The US joined the Allies as an associate power, and it was not a direct partner of the United Kingdom and France. It claimed that such a setup was chosen in order to avoid any further entanglements. Italy ended her partner association with the Central Powers before joining the Allies. In addition, Japan was considered an important player. The secondary partners were Greece, Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania. Although at some point, Russia was one of the Allied Forces, after the Brest-Litovsk treaty, it withdrew and ended its involvement. After signing it, Russia initiated a separate peace agreement with the Central Powers. The five great powers, which remained after the withdrawal of Russians, included the British Empire, the US, France, Italy and, Japan. On August 4th, 1914, the United Kingdom was the first country to declare war on German.

Another reason as to why Germany and the UK can be considered the war-mongers was imperialism. Imperialism stands for a situation when a country conquers new lands set own rule over them. Many European nations had small colonies and countries overseas. They were in constant competition with each other over new colonies. The British Empire, as well as France, had several colonies in Asia and Africa.  By the end of 1900, the British had extended their possessions to all five continents. France had managed to gain control over large territories of Africa. Such a success of France and Britain was the cause of jealousy of Germany. Germany wished to have colonies, as well. However, the country was late with its intentions, and only managed to attain small regions in Africa. Imperialism was one of the leading reasons for the war since Germany could not come to terms with the fact that other countries had sources of raw materials and cheap labor. The German Empire was growing fast. The British worried about their power and made certain improvements in their military and economy. One of the benefits associated with the growing German empire was that many states sought to make an alliance with them. For example, Italy had not played an active role in the war, but it considered that Germany would win. In such a manner, imperialism dragged other nations such as the UK and Germany into the war since each of them wanted more power than the other. Ultimately, Germany and Britain would have developed an interest in the same country. In turn, such a case would have resulted in the war. Imperialism is closely connected with militarism since conquering new territories required a modern weapon. In this context, the army has a high profile. Militarism fueled the beginning of the WW1 since it increased the military rivalry and spread an idea that war was around the corner. The divide among the European nations had resulted in a race of arms. Both Germany and France doubled their armies during the war. As soon as the British Empire purchased the HMS Dreadnought in 1906, Germany acquired a similar ship. This event had increased the tension even more. Von Schlieffen from Germany went further and came up with a plan of action that presupposed launching an attack on France via Belgium if Russia attacked Germany. The colonial competition ended in the naval arms race between Germany and Britain. Such competition had made the relationship between the two countries tensed. With the passage of time, the race had evolved into jealousy and hatred; ultimately, it became one of the primary causes of war. The competition between the main global powers resulted in the development of new weapons and generation of mistrust. On the other hand, imperialism was associated with nationalism since each of nation considered itself superior to others because of possessing a stronger army.

It is a well-known fact that the WW1 began when Serbia was attacked by Austria- Hungary. However, neither Austria-Hungary nor Serbia can be considered the only reason for the war. Even if Serbia caused the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, he was not popular with people. His assassination did not have any major influence on anyone or anything in Europe. Austria-Hungary simply made use of the event and launched an attack on Serbia. Germany can be considered the cause of the attack on Serbia by Austria- Hungary, as well. The country presented Austria-Hungary with a blank check; however, the last could have turned it down, but it did not make this choice. As a result of being an Austria - Hungary ally, Germany had to enter the war. Since Russia was the ally of Serbia, it was dragged to the war automatically. 

In conclusion, Austria-Hungary began the First World War because it declared the war on Serbia after the assassination of France Ferdinand. Nonetheless, it was not the only one to cause the conflict. There was a set of other factors that dragged such nations as France, Russia, the British Empire, and Germany into the war. Such factors include militarism, nationalism, imperialism, and treaties. Consequently, a local conflict developed into the WW1 that was one of the bloodiest warfare that had ever been witnessed by the humanity. A close look at the factors that resulted in this military confrontation should be used, to avoid a reoccurrence of the same event in the future.

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Jun 26, 2020 in Research
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