THE LONG TERM CAUSES OF THE WAR

Nationalism

Nationalism

GCSE History Revision NationalismEach European power regarded its own interests as paramount, and its own economy, military, people and culture as the most glorious. Taking this type of view is known as nationalism. It wasn’t just Germany and the Kaiser that adopted this outlook; Britain, France and Russia also regarded themselves as the greatest and most important empires.

Nationalism and nationalist rivalries weren’t just restricted to France, Britain, Germany and Russia. In Eastern Europe, and particularly the Balkans, Austria-Hungary – an Empire of dozens of smaller nations controlled by Austria and Hungary – also disputed territories with both Russia and Serbia.

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The Black Hand and Nationalist Terrorism

There were some people in the Balkans who wanted all parts of the region with Serbian populations to become united, including those that were owned by Austria-Hungary. A secret terrorist society known as The Black Hand was one of these groups. It planned several different terrorist attacks, including an attempt to assassinate Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in 1911. Although The Black Hand was not an official organization, the Serbian government and many Serbians shared most of its nationalist beliefs, much to the annoyance of Austria-Hungary.

Eastern Europe was the location for many of the key crises that occurred in the years before the war and caused international relations to go from bad to worse. Here are the key flashpoints:

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The Bosnian Crisis, 1908

In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia, a territory in the Balkans that Serbia believed it should rightly own, along with several other Austro-Hungarian lands. Russia also became involved in the dispute, taking Serbia’s side.

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The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913

Nationalism Although it was a relatively small power, between 1912 and 1913 Serbia successfully won territories from the Ottoman Empire. In Serbia’s view, it was also entitled to several parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its victory over the Ottoman Empire gave it an aggressive confidence that it could win them by force.

The conflicts and increasing tensions in the Balkans helped to push the European nations closer towards war.