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Was the Alliance System Responsible for the Outbreak of WWI?

Uploaded by ivoryraven29 on Apr 26, 2001

The importance of the alliance system that developed in Europe in the decades before World War I as a cause for it is still an important topic of debate and argument between modern historians. Some argue that the alliance system was a direct cause of the outbreak of war between all major countries in Europe while other historians prefer to state that the alliance configuration we observe before the war started was simply a symptom of the conflicts and disagreements, fears and envies that had been accumulating since the Bismarck system of alliances collapsed, and even before then. This last opinion is becoming more accepted as the one that describes the true importance of the actual alliance system as a cause of the war. In order to determine the importance of the alliance system as a cause for the war we must first explore the origins of these alliances. We will take high-point of the Bismarck system in 1878 as our starting point as the Franco-Prussian war is a key factor for the development of this system.

The alliance system ideated by the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck kept peace in Europe but its main aim was, however, to forestall the possibility that, in the event of war, Germany would have to fight it on two fronts (basically France and Russia). This was achieved by diplomatically isolating France so that its dream of recapturing its lost provinces of Alsace-Lorraine couldn’t be fulfilled. This was done by, firstly, the creation of the League of the Three Emperors or Dreikaiserbund. It was first projected as a meeting of the monarchs of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia in 1872 and confirmed the following year, the 22nd of October 1873. Here, the very general and formless agreement was given a more solid form by military agreements promising to help any country attacked by a fourth party. And all this even though that there was mutual rivalry between Russia and Austria-Hungary in the Balkans. This proved to be a concrete way to isolate France for as E. Eyck mentions, “the League ensured that neither Austria-Hungary nor Russia was available as an ally for France”. At this point, Bismarck didn’t consider Britain as a potential French ally as they had a long history of rivalry. Secondly, in 1887 the Reinsurance Treaty was signed with Russia in which it promised to support Russia’s claims to the strait and to...

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Uploaded by:   ivoryraven29

Date:   04/26/2001

Category:   World War I

Length:   8 pages (1,876 words)

Views:   2846

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