World War One–How It Started

The war that most Americans seem to ignore most times is that of World War One…..

The most common and popular reason for the start of WW1 was the assassination of Archduke and his wife……but it all began many years before that event in 1905 and not in the Balkans but North Africa.

The major European powers began to flex their muscle……

The First Moroccan Crisis is seen as one of the long term causes of World War One as it led to a breakdown in trust between the major European powers. Morocco became the centre of the world’s attention between 1905 and 1906 and the crisis clearly indicated that Germany’s relation with France was at best fragile.

In 1905 Morocco was one of the few African states not occupied by a European power. It had been ruled by Sultan Moulay al Hasan from 1873 to 1894 and he had carefully played off one European power against another to such an extent that in 1880 Morocco had been given what amounted to a guarantee of independence by the Madrid Convention. The Sultan was succeeded by Abdul Aziz who proved to be a weak ruler. He lost control over the Berber people in the Atlas Mountains and they fought to assert what they believed to be their rights. The Berbers were so successful that by 1903, Fez, the capital, was under attack and Aziz controlled only a small part of the country.

The First Moroccan Crisis

And that was not the end of the muscle flexing exercises by the European powers……1911……was 1905 all over again….

The Morocco crisis of 1911 arose out of the dispatch of the German gunboat Panther to Agadir on July 1. The ostensible ground for this action was the request of German firms in Agadir for protection in the disordered state of the country. But inasmuch as there were no German subjects at Agadir and the port was not open to Europeans, it was clear that the real motive was a desire to reopen the whole question. The German Government resented the complete failure of the convention of 1899, and determined now, by a show of force, to prevent a further French penetration unless France would negotiate for a final settlement of the problem.

It is highly probable that Germany hoped to break up the Triple Entente. It is also probable that at the beginning of the affair Germany expected to obtain part of Morocco for itself, counting upon the known military weakness of France and the confusion in England produced by the struggle over the House of Lords to prevent serious opposition.

Further reading for those interested in this lesser known action as a prequel to WW1……

As a closing thought….why did the US enter into WW1?

In August, 1914 the United States declared its neutrality in the war then engulfing Europe. President Woodrow Wilson, reflecting the views of much of the nation, announced that his country would be “impartial in thought as well as in action”. But this stance soon came under pressure, as the impact of events across the Atlantic were felt in the US. By 1917 isolation had become untenable. In April, Wilson sought the approval of Congress to go to war. Several key factors played a part in this change of course.

5 Reasons the United States Entered the First World War

For me it was all about the money and the prestige once the war was finished.

War is always about the money….then as now!

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Class Dismissed!

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4 thoughts on “World War One–How It Started

  1. The colonial background to WW1 had been brewing for a vey long time, probably since the unresolved fiasco of the Crimean War. Germany was jealous of French and British colonies, and no doubt used the Sarajevo assassination as a good excuse to try to land-grab.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Huh–hadn’t heard of any of this–reading time!

    My favorite explanation I’ve seen for how WW1 started came from the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. I actually had planned to take that glorious 2-3 minutes and wrap up a unit about WW1 with it if I was teaching the right class for high school.:

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