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Before the outbreak of the war in August 1914, there had been a growing tension across Europe between the major nations who had been competing over a variety of things: their Empires (how much land they controlled around the world); their Armed Forces (how strong they were with their Armies and Navies); their jealousy of each others possessions and abilities; suspicion and fear about each others intentions and each others friends.

All of these factors need to be explored and understood in detail in order for you to be able to make a judgement about the causes of the First World War. They can stretch back a few months (the short term causes), right back to a century or more earlier (long term causes). However, for the sake of your GCSE History, you only need to be able to explain the medium to short term causes, so we'll go back as far as about 1871, when Germany was created after the defeat of France by the new German nation. From this moment on, France would want revenge on the Germans for taking away some of their lands, filled with rich natural resources - the most important of these territories is known as Alsace-Lorraine. Between 1871 and 1914 the French had been coming up with new plans to take back this land. By the time the war finally began they put their seventeenth version of this plan into action - known simply as Plan 17. An all out attack deep into German territory in order to capture Alsace-Lorraine and defend it from the German armies. The problem was that they were outnumbered, not as well trained, and not expecting what the German High Command had planned under their leader - Alfred Von Schlieffen - he devised his war plan, known as "the Schlieffen Plan". This required the German troops to stay clear of Alsace-Lorraine, knowing that the French would be here, instead they would sweep around the north of this land, through neutral Belgium and capture the French capital, Paris, without the French being able to defend themselves.

This plan was necessary because the Germans knew that if a war broke out they would have to strike first to stand a chance of winning the war, as France's strongest friend, Russia would come to their rescue and invade Germany from the east - therefore German would be encircled, or sandwiched, by these two allies. Their only choice was to hit France first by surprise, then return to the east and strike Russia before they had fully mobilised (got ready to fight). These plans had been building up, ready for the war to start, the only thing was that neither side knew when that would be, the tension continued to grow, like adding more charcoal to a barbecue, now just waiting for the match to set it alight.

DID THE ALLIANCE SYSTEM MAKE WAR MORE LIKELY?

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HOW FAR DID COLONIAL PROBLEMS CREATE TENSIONS BETWEEN THE GREAT POWERS?



WHY WERE PROBLEMS IN THE BALKANS SO DIFFICULT FOR THE GREAT POWERS TO SOLVE?



HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE KAISER IN CAUSING THE WORSENING INTERNATIONAL SITUATION?


WHY DID THE ARMS RACE ESCALATE, 1900-1914?



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WHY WAS FRANZ FERDINAND ASSASSINATED?
https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Assassin-of-Archduke-Franz-Ferdinand-Gavrilo-Princip



HOW DID THE ASSASSINATION OF FRANZ FERDINAND LEAD TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR?
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HOW FAR WERE THE ACTIONS OF AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, BRITAIN, GERMANY AND RUSSIA RESPONSIBLE FOR THE OUTBREAK OF WAR?



HOW FAR DID THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE OUTBREAK OF WAR?