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WORLD WAR I background

In the 19th century, the major European powers had gone to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting by 1900 in a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent. [5] These had started in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Then, in October 1873, German Chancellor Bismarck negotiated the League of the Three Emperors (German: Dreikaiserbund) between the monarchs of AustriaHungary, Russia and Germany. This agreement failed because AustriaHungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and AustriaHungary in an alliance formed in 1879, called the Dual Alliance. This was seen as a method of countering Russian influence in theBalkans as the Ottoman Empire continued to weaken.[5] In 1882, this alliance was expanded to include Italy in what became theTriple Alliance.[19] After 1870, European conflict was averted largely through a carefully planned network of treaties between the German Empire and the remainder of Europe orchestrated by Chancellor Bismarck. He especially worked to hold Russia at Germany's side to avoid a two-front war with France and Russia. With the ascension of Wilhelm II as German Emperor (Kaiser), Bismarck's system of alliances was gradually de-emphasised. For example, the Kaiser refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia in 1890. Two years later, the FrancoRussian Alliance was signed to counteract the force of the Triple Alliance. In 1904, the United Kingdom sealed an alliance with France, the Entente cordiale and in 1907, the United Kingdom and Russia signed the Anglo-Russian Convention. This system of interlocking bilateral agreements formed the Triple Entente.[5] German industrial and economic power had grown greatly after unification and the foundation of the empire in 1870. From the mid-1890s on, the government of Wilhelm II used this base to devote significant economic resources to building up the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy), established by Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, in rivalry with the British Royal Navy for world naval supremacy.[20] As a result, both nations strove to out-build each other in terms of capital ships. With the launch of HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the British Empire expanded on its significant advantage over its German rivals.

[20]

The arms race between Britain and Germany eventually extended to the rest of Europe, with all the major powers devoting their industrial base to the production of the equipment and weapons necessary for a pan-European conflict.[21] Between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the European powers increased by 50 percent.[22] Austria-Hungary precipitated the Bosnian crisis of 19081909 by officially annexing the former Ottoman territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it had occupied since 1878. This greatly angered the Kingdom of Serbia and its patron, the Pan-Slavic and Orthodox Russian Empire.[23]Russian political manoeuvring in the region destabilised peace accords that were already fracturing in what was known as "the Powder keg of Europe".[23] In 1912 and 1913, the First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League and the fracturing Ottoman Empire. The resulting Treaty of London further shrank the Ottoman Empire, creating an independent Albanian State while enlarging the territorial holdings of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece. When Bulgaria attacked both Serbia and Greece on 16 June 1913, it lost most of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece and Southern Dobruja to Romania in the 33-day Second Balkan War, further destabilising the region.[24] On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student and member ofYoung Bosnia, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia.[25] This began a period of diplomatic manoeuvring between Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France and Britain called the July Crisis. Wanting to end Serbian interference in Bosnia conclusively, Austria-Hungary delivered the July Ultimatum to Serbia, a series of ten demands which were intentionally unacceptable, made with the intention of deliberately initiating a war with Serbia.[26] When Serbia acceded to only eight of the ten demands levied against it in the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. Strachan argues "Whether an equivocal and early response by Serbia would have made any difference to Austria-Hungary's behaviour must be doubtful. Franz Ferdinand was not the sort of personality who commanded popularity, and his demise did not cast the empire into deepest mourning".[27] The Russian Empire, unwilling to allow AustriaHungary to eliminate its influence in the Balkans, and in support of its longtime Serb protgs, ordered a partial

mobilisation one day later.[19] When the German Empire began to mobilise on 30 July 1914, France, sporting significant animosity over the German conquest of Alsace-Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian War, ordered French mobilisation on 1 August. Germany declared war on Russia on the same day. [28] The United Kingdom declared war on Germany, on 4 August 1914, following an "unsatisfactory reply" to the British ultimatum that Belgium must be kept neutral.
[29]

WORLD WAR II background


World War I radically with the altered defeat the of diplomatic the Central and political situations in Eurasia and Africa, Powers, includingAustriaHungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire; and the 1917 Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia. Meanwhile, the success of the Allied Entente powers including the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Serbia, and Romania, and the creation of new states from the collapse of Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire, resulted in fundamental changes to the map of Eastern Europe. In theaftermath of the war, major unrest in Europe rose, especially irredentist and revanchist nationalism and class conflict. Irredentism and revanchism were strong in Germany because she was forced to accept significant territorial, colonial, and financial losses as part of theTreaty of Versailles. Under the treaty, Germany lost around 13 percent of its home territory and all of its overseas colonies, while German annexation of other states was prohibited, massive reparations were imposed, and limits were placed on the size and capability of Germany's armed forces.[10] Meanwhile, the Russian Civil War had led to the creation of the Soviet Union. After Lenin's death in 1924, Joseph Stalinseized power in the USSR and repudiated the New Economic Policy favouring the Five Year Plans instead.[11] The German Empire was dissolved in the German Revolution of 191819, and a democratic government was formed which was known as theWeimar Republic. During the interwar period, domestic civil conflict occurred in Germany involving nationalists and reactionaries versus communists and moderate democratic political parties. A similar scenario occurred in Italy. Although Italy as an Entente ally made some territorial gains, Italian nationalists were angered that the terms of the Treaty of London upon which Italy had agreed to wage war on the Central Powers, were not fulfilled with the peace settlement. From 1922 to 1925, the Italian Fascist movement led by Benito

Mussolini seized power in Italy with a nationalist, totalitarian, and class collaborationist agenda that abolished representative democracy, repressed political forces supporting class conflict or liberalism, and pursued an aggressive foreign policy aimed at forcefully forging Italy as a world power, and promising to create a "New Roman Empire."[12] In Germany, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler pursued establishing such a fascist government in Germany. With the onset of the Great Depression, Nazi support rose and, in 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany, and in the aftermath of the Reichstag fire, Hitler created a totalitarian single-party state led by the Nazis.[13] The Kuomintang (KMT) party in China launched a unification campaign against regional warlords and nominally unified China in the mid-1920s, but was soon embroiled in a civil war against its former Chinese communist allies.[14] In 1931,
[15]

an increasingly as the first step

militaristic Japanese Empire, which had long sought influence in China

of its right to rule Asia, used the Mukden Incident as justification toinvade Manchuria and established the puppet state of Manchukuo.[16] Too weak to resist Japan, China appealed to the League of Nations for help. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations after being condemned for its incursion into Manchuria. The two nations then fought several minor conflicts, in Shanghai, Rehe and Hebei, until signing the Tanggu Truce in 1933. Thereafter, Chinese volunteer forces continued the resistance to Japanese aggression in Manchuria, and Chahar and Suiyuan.[17] Adolf government in Hitler, 1923, after an unsuccessful attempt of to overthrow in the German He

became

theChancellor

Germany

1933.

abolished democracy, espousing a radical, racially motivated revision of the world order, and soon began a massive rearmament campaign.[18] Meanwhile, France, to secure its alliance, allowed Italy a free hand in Ethiopia, which Italy desired as a colonial possession. The situation was aggravated in early 1935 when the Territory of the Saar Basin was legally reunited with Germany and Hitler repudiated the Treaty of Versailles, speeding up his rearmament programme and introducingconscription.[19] Hoping to contain Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy formed the Stresa Front. The Soviet Union, concerned due to Germany's goals of capturing vast areas of eastern Europe, wrote a treaty of mutual assistance with France. Before taking effect though, the Franco-Soviet pact was required to go through the bureaucracy of the League of Nations, which rendered it essentially toothless.[20][21] However, in June 1935, the United Kingdom made an independent naval agreement with Germany, easing prior restrictions. The United States, concerned with events in Europe and Asia, passed the Neutrality Act in August.[22] In October, Italy invaded Ethiopia, with Germany the only

major European nation supporting the invasion. Italy then revoked objections to Germany's goal of absorbing Austria.[23] Hitler defied the Versailles and Locarno treaties by remilitarizing the Rhineland in March 1936. He received little response from other European powers.[24] When the Spanish Civil War broke out in July, Hitler and Mussolini supported fascist Generalissimo Francisco Franco's nationalist forces in his civil war against the Sovietsupported Spanish Republic. Both sides used the conflict to test new weapons and methods of warfare,[25] and the nationalists won the war in early 1939. Mounting tensions led to several efforts to strengthen or consolidate power. In October 1936, Germany and Italy formed the Rome-Berlin Axis. A month later, Germany and Japan signed the AntiComintern Pact, which Italy would join in the following year. In China, after the Xi'an Incident the Kuomintang and communist forces agreed on a ceasefire in order to present a united front to oppose Japan.[26]