What Caused The First World War?

By Toby Tunwase

World War 1 was one of the most destructive conflicts in history, and by the end of the war, about 16 million people were dead (including civilians). Before the kickoff of the war, there were already tensions across Europe, especially in the Balkans (Bosnia, Serbia, and Herzegovina). This strained several of the alliances between the superpowers of Europe.

Image: Shutterstock

The tensions reached their tipping point and, the first world war would start after the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The archduke was set to take over the Austro-Hungarian empire’s throne. He was murdered by a Serbian nationalist named Princip, who, alongside other nationalists, pursued the end of Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria-Hungary and several other nations blamed the assassination on the Serbian government and decided to use it as a justification to attack Serbia. 

However, Serbia had an ally in Russia – a significant power in Europe, and Austria-Hungary wanted the backing of Germany before declaring war on Serbia. Moreover, Austria-Hungary feared that intervention by Russia would bring along allies like France and Great Britain. 

German leader, Kaiser Wilhelm II, supported Austria-Hungary, and on July 8, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. However, Serbia had been preparing for that eventuality and had its troops ready while also sending a plea to Russia for help. 

World War 1Image: Shutterstock

Within a week of the declaration of war, the peace in Europe shattered, and Russia, France, Serbia, and Great Britain lined up against Germany and Austria-Hungary. This marked the beginning of World War 1, and the rest is a history of violence, death, and destruction.