Western Civilization - World War One Essay

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The events that lead to the outbreak of World War One are hauntingly familiar. Preexisting strife between Austria-Hungry and Serbia was sparked to fire with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austria-Hungry throne. Ferdinand's assassin was a Slavic teenager, Gavrilo Princip, a nineteen-year-old member of the terrorist organization the Black Hand (Duffy 2007, "Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, 1914"). Although the Serbian government claimed that it did not officially sponsor the Black Hand's terrorist activities, and Ferdinand was no JFK, Austria Hungry saw the assassination as an opportunity to further its influence in the Balkans, a spatial region already taught with ethnic and nationalistic violence (Duffy 2007). In fact, Duffy asserts that Serbia's proposed involvement in the assassination was "unlikely" and points out that Austria-Hungry did not respond to the act of violence that took the life of their national symbol and heir to their throne for three weeks (2007). Thus, Duffy suggests there are enough facts to back up the theory that "the Austro-Hungarians opted to take the opportunity to stamp its authority upon the Serbians, crushing the nationalist movement there and cementing Austria-Hungry's influence in the Balkans" (2007). While the history of ethnic and nationalistic conflict in the Balkans resulted in the spark that began WWI, neither Austria-Hungry nor Serbia were major powers in the war. Instead, each country turned to its allied nations -- Russia and Germany -- for aid (Duffy 2007). The tangle of alliances was such that a general war could not help being declared, although Germany did not want war, desiring simply to remain in its unified state as Bismark had left it (Duffy 2007). The conflict of these nations brought the British, United States, and other states into the war as conflict progressed. For this reason, a spark in the Balkans over ethnic lines led to a world war. Oddly, the situation uniquely resembles that of the current Iraq war, or third Gulf war, in which the United States became involved with the country after an act of terrorism that Iraq claimed not to support. One can only hope that this conflict will not have as dire of consequences.

Question Two

At the end of the largest and most complex war in history, the victorious Allies were not willing to sit idly by while the Triple Entente went back to business as usual. Instead the Versailles Treaty sought to sufficiently make amends for personal and property losses during the war. Some of those losses included 750,000 dead British soldiers and 116,000 dead United States' soldiers. Totally, around 8.5 million were killed and 21 million injured (Trueman 2008). Although the lost lives can never be replaced, the Treaty of Versailles sought to punish the offending nations, and it was sufficiently harsh to accomplish that goal. The treaty gave away no less than segments of land were taken from the Germans, including Alsace-Lorraine, which was given to France, and the country's overseas colonies, which were managed by the League of Nations and generally turned into different countries. The treaty also reduced Germany's military, forced her to pay for war reparations and wounded her economy by giving resource-rich portions to other countries. Finally, Germany was forbidden from forming a larger state with Austria-Hungry, was forced to admit guilt, and was made to pay further costs associated with the war. Finally, the treaty established a League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, which would attempt to maintain world peace (Trueman 2008). Although war reparations and the admission of guilt are normal and necessary for most peace treaties, the severity… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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