Timeline: Causes of WW I

Causes of WW I (Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism – Diplomacy: MAIN-D)

“Bismarck’s sudden change of foreign policy from aggression to moderation between 1871 and 1890 made many other European countries suspicious about his motives. However, at the core of his foreign policy was his plan to surround Germany with friendly nations while encouraging dissent among other powers.” see article.

1869: Opening of the Suez Canal
1871: Unification of German states by Bismarck
1870-71 – Franco-Prussian war Germany wins (takes (Alsace Lorraine from France).  See map. See Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck.

1873 – Dreikaiserbund (3 emperors league) Russia, Germany, Austria- Hungary.  See Bismarck’s Foreign Policy: 1871-1890.

1875 – ‘War in Sight’ crisis: “France had recovered quickly after the Franco–Prussian war. In 1875 the “War-in-sight” crisis resulted from an attempt to bully France into abandoning her rearmament programme. The export of horses to France was forbidden (usually a sign of preparation for war). Then an article appeared in the influential Berliner Post entitled “Is war in sight?” It was almost certainly inspired by Bismarck.

There was talk from leading German officials about the possibility of a preventative war. The episode resulted in a German diplomatic defeat as Russia backed a British protest to Berlin. The Dreikaiserbund had been weakened. The affair brought home the dangers of a two front war to Bismarck. After this episode he proceeded with the utmost caution.” see blog.

1875: British Disraeli buys shares for Suez Canal

1875-78 –Balkan CrisisEastern Question. An uprising against the Ottoman Empire begins in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875. The reason for this revolt was the heavy taxes levied against them from the Ottoman administration. The revolt led to the 1876 Bulgarian April.

1876 – Serbia vs. Turkey (seeks Russian support, Russia says: western Balkans are under Austria’s influence not Russia’s)

Konstantin Makovsky – The Bulgarian martyresses

1877 – Russo-Turkish War– Shocked by atrocities committed against Bulgaria, Russia declares war against Turkey.  Russia wins leading to Treaty of San Stefano.

1878 – Treaty of San Stefano (Create a large independent state of Bulgaria, to be administered by Russia.  Russia receives access to Bulgaria’s coast-line on the Aegean Sea.   Russia also receives access to the Danube from Romania.  Russia is allowed passage through the Dardanelles.  Serbia, Romania, Montenegro were recognized as independent.  Russia received land in Georgia and Armenia. This is the highpoint of Russia’s near eastern policy.

1878 – Congress of Berlin – Bismarck – ‘Honest Broker’ (took away Russia’s gains from San Stefano, Bulgaria was divided into 3 parts, coastline part and Macedonia were returned to Ottoman empire. Austria-Hungary takes firm control of Bosnia-Herzegovina and jointly occupying the Sanjak of Novibazar together with the Ottoman Empire. This state of affairs persisted from 1878 until the outbreak of the crisis in 1908. The Treaty of Berlin also stated that the Straits of Constantinople would be closed to warships during time of war. This had the effect of bottling up the Russian fleet in the Black Sea.
Effects: Russia humiliated, felt hostile towards UK (afraid of Russian advances to the south, as they may threatened British control of the Suez canal) and Austria-Hungarywho wanted land.  Serbia resents Austrian influence in Bosnia Herzegovina because Serbia wanted that land.

1879: Russia gets taxed on exported goods to Germany.

1879 – Dual Alliance – secret alliance between Austria and Germany: if Russia attacks either, the other will back-up, BUT remain neutral if the attack were to come from others. Germany not totally satisfied, as AUSTRIA-HUNGARY wouldn’t support against France (note: Russia, AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, Germany loosely allied due to balance of power)

1880 –The beginning of Imperialism (until 1914 in Africa and Asia) 90% of African territory came under European rule (UK, France, Germany, Italy, King Leopold II of Belgium). map of scramble for Africa

1881 – Austria-Hungarian alliance with Serbia

1881 – The Three Emperor’s League (Renewal of Dreikaiserbund) – dedicated itself to the principle of benevolent neutrality on 18 June 1881.  Agreed that when conflicts in the Balkans should arise,  the three imperial parties would discuss any territorial changes before they occurred. (military treaty)(text 18 June 1881).  Collapses in tension over Balkans in 1885 when Austria, sui sponde, forces Bulgaria to not take any territory from Serbia.  Russia incensed. (see below.)

1882 – Austria-Hungarian alliance with Romania

1882 – Triple alliance (defensive): Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (Italy joined – Good for Germany, both against France) (military alliance)

1882: British occupation of Egypt (Suez Canal), angering the French.  see map of Colonial Possessions.

1884 – Germany agrees to protect Namibia (becomes German colony) Togo, Cameroon (business purposes) Bismarck: does not wish to colonize,  just protect business establishments.  See map of German colonies.

1884-85 – Partition of West Africa decided peacefully by European Powers at West Africa Conference in Berlin

1885 – Nationalists in Eastern Rumelia (southern Bulgaria) revolted against Ottoman rule, and demanded the right to join the rest of Bulgaria.

1885 – Serbo-Bulgarian War over lands left after revolt.  Bulgaria defeats Serbia and claims those lands.  Austria – Hungary intervenes.  No changes in border.  Angers Russia.  Collapse of Three Emperors’ League.

1885 – Germany takes Tanzania, New Guinea

1887 – Reinsurance Treaty – secret alliance between Russia and Germany, both would maintain neutrality in the case of a third party EXCEPT is Germany attacks France, Russia attacks AUSTRIA-HUNGARY(effect: Bismarck can continue being the negotiator between these two fragile powers.)

1888 – Wilhelm I dies, replaced by Wilhelm II.

1889: Germany takes Samoa.

1890 – Bismarck removed from office (fights with Wilhelm II over foreign policy)

Bismarck’s successors abandoned the difficult aspects of his subtle diplomatic balancing act and jettisoned his ‘balance of power’. Most did not appreciate the vulnerability of the German Empire, however, sandwiched between the other great powers. Those who did regarded the solution as the further expansion of the Reich, which would have horrified Bismarck. Finally — disastrously — they ignored his last advice to von Tirpitz in 1898 that ‘Germany should keep within her borders’, and thereby led their nation into world war and ruin.” see article.

1890 – Wilhelm II lets Reinsurance Treaty lapse (no treaty with Russia any more)

1891 – Franco-Russian entente

1897 – Weltpolitik – ‘world policy’ German industrial expansion was so dependent on imports of raw materials from oversees that a vast colonial empire was required with a large navy to support it. Thus Weltpolitik was a programme of naval expansion and heavy involvement in colonial affairs (by way of justification to match UK’s force, and increase support for authoritarian rule). Germany’s unsuccessful and expansive colonization coupled with the financial expansion into the Middle East and the build up of its navy will lead other European states to fear its neighbor and question its motives.  Create tension between the Triple Entente (England, France, Russia) and the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungry, Italy)

1897 – Krüger Telegram – Wilhelm II sends telegram to Boers congratulating on defeating British, and keeping independence = provoking UK

1897 – Russia and Austria-Hungary sign an agreement which puts the ‘Balkans on ice’ as both were keen to get their hands on the land in that area and avoid conflict.

1898 – Naval Bill (Germany begins to develop naval power)

1998 – Negotiations began to establish an Anglo-German understanding.

1898 – Anglo-French war at Fashoda over North Africa. See map.

1899-1902: Boer War, South Africa (British vs. Dutch and German).  See map.

1901– negotiations end between Brits and Germans.  Germans demands too much from England.  Germany demands a permanent treaty and a promise of neutrality if either attacks France.

1902 – Anglo-Japanese Treaty – designed to ease Britain’s worry over trade in that region, and to easy fears over Russian threat to India (this may have encouraged Japan to go to war against Russia in 1905, as it felt supported).  See map.

1903 – King Alexander of Serbia and wife assassinated by nationalists. The King was replaced with King Peter who was pro-Russia, and therefore looked to tsarist Russia for support. This coup in Serbia shifted political power to more nationalistic elements. These nationalists saw the Sanjak of Novibazar and Bosnia-Herzegovina as natural avenues for territorial expansion. Relations between Serbia and Austria-Hungary gradually deteriorated.

1903-1904: Russo-Japanese war over Asian territory. (Russia humiliated, Japan wins).  Russia shifts focus to Balkans.

1904/5 – Schlieffen plan – plan to invade France, Russia via Belgium followed by an all-out assault on Russia. The Schlieffen Plan was the German General Staff’s early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory both on the Western Front against France and against Russia in the east. In short, it was the German plan to avoid a two-front war by concentrating their troops in the west, quickly defeating the French and then rushing those troops by rail to the east to face the Russians before they had time to mobilize fully.  see map .

1904 – British and French ‘Entente Cordiale’ – cleared up colonial differences in Africa and Asia. France agreed UK could keep Egypt (Suez Canal for trading to India), and France could keep Morocco. This was merely a colonial alliance, however the Kaiser Wilhelm is suspicious this is military pact to insure Germany’s isolation.

Blank map: Europe and North Africa.

1905 –1st Moroccan Crisis – (map) Wilhelm II interfered with Great Powers attempt to expand colonies when France tried to get concessions from the Sultan.  Wilhelm II visited Tangiers (March 1905), received by the Sultan and told him that he supported Morocco’s independence and to resist French pressure.  Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow, worried about the recently signed Entente Cordiale between Britain and France decided to test the entente.  He didn’t believe that Britain would not be prepared to offer a strong support to France in a situation where war would be in sight.
Germany sought a multilateral conference where the French could be called to account before other European powers. On July 1 France with strong British backing, agreed to attend the conference.  The crisis continued to the eve of the conference at Algeciras, with Germany calling up reserve units (December 30) and France moving troops to the German border (January 3).

Although the Algeciras Conference temporarily solved the First Moroccan Crisis it only worsened international tensions between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente that ultimately led to the first world war.  This also showed that the Entente Cordiale was strong as Britain had defended France in the crisis. The crisis can be seen as a reason for the Anglo-Russian Entente being signed the following year since both countries backed France. Kaiser Wilhelm II was angry at being humiliated and was determined not to back down again which led the German involvement in the Second Moroccan Crisis.

1905 – Lord Lansdown – British foreign secretary messaged the French gov. in the vague hope that the entente may, under certain circumstances, become a military alliance. The Kaiser interpreted this as at attempt to reverse settlements over Morocco, so France did not agree – thus showing how insignificant their entente was.

1904-05 – Russo-Japanese war over imperial differences in Asia, resulted in a surprise Japanese victory and the humiliation of Russia

1906 – The Algeciras Conference called to settle the dispute caused by the 1st Moroccan Crisis.  Of the thirteen nations present the German representatives found their only supporter was Austria-Hungary. A German attempt at compromise was rejected by all but Austria Hungary. France had firm support from Britain, Russia, Italy, Spain, and the United States. The Germans decided to accept a face-saving compromise agreement on March 31, 1906 that was signed on May 31, 1906. France agreed to yield control of the Moroccan police, but otherwise retained effective control of Moroccan political and financial affairs.

1906 – UK release HMS Dreadnought – bigger, better than others = suspicion and distrust amongst all of Europe, if UK and Germany are built. (Biggy gunboat, “got more than you!”)

1907-10 – British naval expenditure increased from 31.5 to 50 million quid per annum to compete with German expansion

1907 – Anglo-Russian entente, which loosely created the triple entente between Russia, France and Germany

1908 – “Bosnian crisis” – Austrian-Hungarian and Russian foreign ministers agree informally that Austria annexes Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgarian independence and Russia would have access to Dardanelles even in war, Bulgarian independence, territorial concessions to Serbia, and abolition of restrictions on Montenegrin sovereignty.  Austria takes Bosnia, denies Russian claim for other changes to the Berlin Treaty of 1878.  Germany supports Austria.  Hugh embarrassment to Russia and Serbia.

1908-10 – Anglo-German arms race climaxed, causing international tension.

1908 – ‘Young Turk’ movement revolted in Turkey demanding social reforms

1908 – Serbia made bid to create a Balkan coalition which leads to the Balkan League

1911  – Agadir Crisis (2nd Moroccan Crisis)
Rebellion broke out in Morocco against the Sultan.  In April, the Sultan was besieged in his palace in Fez and the French prepared to send troops to help put down the rebellion under the pretext of protecting European lives and property. On 1 July 1911 the German gunboat Panther arrived at the port of Agadir. There was an immediate reaction from the French and the British.

The British became worried of the Panther’s arrival in Morocco. They believed that the Germans meant to turn Agadir into a naval base on the Atlantic. The Royal Navy had a naval base in Gibraltar in the south of Spain. Britain was concerned that the Germans might have a base near the Atlantic and so sent battleships to Morocco in case war broke out. The British supported France as in the First Moroccan Crisis again showing the strength of the Entente Cordiale.
On July 7, the German ambassador in Paris informed the French Government that Germany cherished no territorial aspirations in Morocco and would negotiate for a French protectorate on the basis of “compensation” for Germany in the French Congo region and the safeguarding of her economic interests in Morocco.

On 21 July David Lloyd George delivered the Mansion House speech in which he declared that national honour was more precious than peace. The speech was interpreted by Germany as a warning that she could not impose an unreasonable settlement on France.[4] The speech read:

“If Britain is treated badly where her interests are vitally affected, as if she is of no account in the cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure.”

Franco-German negotiations initiated on July 9 in 1911 toward the Treaty of Fez led (on November 4) to a convention under which Germany accepted France’s position in Morocco in return for territory in the French Equatorial African colony of Middle Congo.

1911 – Italy succeeds in Libya

1912 – German military leaders began to recognize a tip in the balance of power to their disadvantage.

1912 – Balkan League formed: Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro. Chief aim of this Pan-Slavic coalition was to force the Turks out of the Balkans

1912 – Balkan League declares war on Turkey (first Balkan war) gained swift victory and drove the Turks out of most of European Balkan areas. See map.

1912-14 – Attention swung towards the Balkans, including: ethnic tensions, nationalist groups and great power rivalry.

1913 – Treaty of London – settled first Balkan war.

1913 – Treaty of Bucharest – forced the Bulgarians to give Serbia large gains in Macedonia, but under Austrian and German pressure, the Serbs were once again denied the Adriatic port.

1913 – Treaty of Constantinople – allowed Turkey to gain Adrianople.

1914 – Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated visiting Sarajevo (nephew of Franz Joseph I, the Austrian emperor, heir to Habsburg throne)

1914 – see map: Nations at War 1914-1918

1919 – see map.

(Gert Reimets, Hannah Fyfe and Maureen Fitzmahan)

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