Nationalism

Nationalism

One of the main causes of World War I (otherwise known as the Great War) was the growing force of nationalism.  Nationalism (as of dictionary.com) is “a sentiment based on common cultural characteristics that binds a population and often produces a policy of national independence or separatism.” Nationalism, although it can serve as a unifying force within a country, can also cause intense competition amongst other nations.

In the early 1900s, this nationalism created a fierce competition and rivalry between Europe’s powers. These powers were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, and France. In order to be the greatest of the great nations, the nation would have to be the best at everything- both militarily and economically.

Due to their late Industrial Revolution, German technology was far more advanced than those of the British, French and Russians. Because of their location and lack of a warm-water port, Russians had the worst technology, and thus, the worst military.

Competition for natural ores and resources was one of the causes for the hatred amongst these nations. Africa had many of these resources that these

nations needed in order to run factories and other industries, being rich in natural resources- such as rubber, gold and diamonds.

Because of this need for national security and pride, territories and colonies were required. Territorial disputes were one of the main causes of World War I.

Austria-Hungary and Russia, at this time, were both trying to dominate in the Balkans (Southeast Europe). Within the Balkans were many groups of Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians and other ethnic groups demanding independence. Serbia’s intense nationalistic feeling (being mostly Slavic) sided with Russia (which was also formed of many people of Slavic descent). Serbia wished to form one large nation with all of the Slavs in the Balkan Peninsula. Austria-Hungary, unwilling to let Serbia extend its borders, opposed these efforts. It feared that efforts to create a Slavic state would bring about a rebellion.

Eventually, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegonina (two large Balkan areas with large Slavic populations). This area happened to be the exact area that Serbia wanted to extend to. They were outraged. Eventually, the different nationalities (Serbian and Austrian) grew to hate one another. The Serbians wanted to take away Bosnia and Herzegonina, and Austria-Hungary vowed to crush any Serbian effort to take over. This eventually led to the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which created a domino effect. The Russians came in to help the Serbians and the other alliances came in for a full-fledged world war.

(Andrew Cho H3G)

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