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Key Question 1 WHY DID TENSION INCREASE IN EUROPE 1900-1914?

The Arms Race

This question is about causation, you are being asked about the reasons World War One broke out in 1914. The short answer to this question is;

There were several causes which saw World War I break out in 1914. Tensions between the Great Powers increased between 1900-1914 over issues such as the growth of nationalism, the arms race, imperial rivalry, the alliance system and the Schlieffen Plan. These tensions boiled over with the assassination at Sarajevo which saw Europe slide into war.

Learn the following information to help you to answer the question. The sentences in BLUE are basic information you should know, the sentences in RED explain why the information is important or significant, this should help you to explain why you have included the basic information in your answer

How did the Arms Race add to the tension between the Great Powers?

All the great powers of Europe raced each other to build the biggest and best armed forces. Every country, except. Great Britian, had a conscript army. This meant that these countries had a large number of trained soldiers they could call up very quickly in the event of war. In 1914 the German army was the biggest and best in the world - but the Russian army was growing the fastest, and German generals were worried that, in a few years time, they would not be able to defeat Russia. At the same time Britain and Germany had an arms race to see who could build the biggest navy. Military spending snowballed, as one country increased spending another would follow suit, military spending doubled in the period 1900-1914.

  • .   In 1914, including 'reservists' (trained men who could be called up), the Germans had an army of 8.5 million men, an the Russians had an army of 4.4 million. German was afraid that Russia's army would keep on expanding and believed that it would just roll across Europe and flatten all her enemies. This was the 'Russian steamroller'.and German generals were worried that, in a few years time, they would not be able to defeat Russia - in 1912, the German general Moltke said: 'War the sooner the better'
  • The huge German Army made other countries think that Germany wanted to rule the world. 
  • The Great Powers drew up war plans to use their weapons against each other and were confident that they would succeed. They were confident they would win.

The German Navy Law of 1900 planed to build many warships to challenge the British Navy.Britain saw this as a threat, the Royal Navy protected Britain from invasion, it protected Britain's far flung Empire and trade routes and her economy. Britain's navy had always been bigger than the combined navies of her two largest rivals (The Two Power Standard). This position was threatened by the building of the Dreadnought. Thsi British built battleship made all other warships out of date. Whoever had the most Dreadnoughts would achieve naval superiority, in 1906 Britain and Germany became involved in a race to build the most Dreadnoughts

Date

Great Britain

Germany

1906

1

1907

3

1908

2

4

1909

2

3

1910

3

1

1911

5

3

1912

3

2

1913

7

3

1914

3

1

Total by 1914

29

17

  • The race saw relations between Britain and Germany deteriorate. It stirred up nationalist feelings in both countries and whipped up public hostility towards Germany. In 1908 the British public demanded that the government build 8 new Dreadnought warships to stop a German invasion - they shouted: 'We want 8 and we won't wait'.
  • Britain believed that Germany was intent on world domination, they were seen to be building the biggest army and navy in Europe and so were a threat to the status quo and peace.
  • Look out the way in which Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm are portrayed in these cartoons.

LINKS (Alliance System) (Imperial Rivalry) (Great Powers)

 

 

"The future is dark, the present burdensome. Only the past, dead and buried, bears contemplation." - G.R. Elton