World War I
Uploaded by 2jag2 on Feb 22, 2007
The First Total War
World War I, was the first total war. It lasted from August 1914 to November 1918, that involved many of the countries of Europe as well the United States and other nations throughout the world. Why did the Germans decide to take such harsh measures?
When Bismarck retired in 1890, however, his carefully crafted policy of isolating France began to unravel. The impetuous new German emperor, William II, abandoned Bismarck cautious foreign policy. When William refused to renew Germany's treaty with Russia, the French approached Russian Zsar Alexander III. By 1894 France and Russia had concluded a treaty of alliance, in which each country pledged to come to the assistance of the other in case of war with Germany. The Franco-Russian alliance obliged Germany to face the prospect of having to fight a war on two fronts, which would prevent Germany from concentrating all its military might against a single foe.
William also began to assert Germany's ambitions abroad. He loudly complained that Germany had fallen behind in the global competition for colonial territories and insisted that Germany make up for lost time. As the 20th century began, Germany aggressively acquired overseas territories. German industrial firms and financial institutions also began to compete fiercely with their long-entrenched British counterparts in distant lands.
William also decided that Germany must become a great naval power. The British were at first scornful, then irritated, and finally alarmed as Germany embarked on major battleship-building programs. The country, which under Bismarck had been content with its role as the most powerful nation on the European continent, now aspired to become a global power.
Concern about William new global ambitions and naval policy prompted Britain to resolve its disputes with France over colonial territories in the common interest of restraining Germany. In 1904 Britain and France established a friendly diplomatic relationship called the Entente Cordiale (French for œcordial understanding). Thereafter these two powers developed closer political ties and began to discuss possible forms of military and naval cooperation in the event of war in Europe. In 1907 Britain settled its outstanding conflicts with France's ally Russia, and the same year, these three powers began to cooperate in a loose diplomatic association that was known as the Triple Entente.
In the decade before World War I, Britain, France, and Russia began to compete with Germany and Austria-Hungary in a costly arms race. Anglo-German naval rivalry was accompanied by a...