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13. The Origins of World War I


13. The Origins of World War I

France Since 1871 (HIST 276)

The traditional, diplomatic history of World War I is helpful in understanding how a series of hitherto improbable alliances come to be formed in the early years of the twentieth century. In the case of France and Russia, this involves a significant ideological compromise. Along with the history of imperial machinations, however, World War I should be understood in the context of the popular imagination and the growth of nationalist sentiment in Europe.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Tangled Maps of Empire: Diplomatic Origins of the First World War
07:24 - Chapter 2. A Delicate Balances: The Shifting Alliances of the Great Powers
19:26 - Chapter 3. The British Empire on the World Stage: Capabilities on the Continent
32:29 - Chapter 4. Mounting Tensions in Alsace-Lorraine: The Saverne Crisis
40:14 - Chapter 5. War Expectations and Enthusiasm

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website:

This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

The Beginnings Of World War 1 Explained | First World War EP1 | Timeline

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The complex origins of the Great War, and how seemingly insignificant local tensions in the Balkans exploded into World War.

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New Thinking on the Origins of World War I

This summer marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, perhaps the most transformative war in history. While the wars of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars harnessed national populations to the war effort in a way not previously seen since the emergence of the modern states system, WWI combined the mobilization of both populations and industrial power, enhanced by technology, to produce a most lethal form of warfare. WWI also redrew the map of Europe and created the modern Middle East, as it led to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, thereby unleashing nationalism the disruptive characteristics of which still plague us today. It also paved the way for the great ideological conflicts of the 20th century by unleashing the forces of state-based communism and fascism. To commemorate the outbreak of The Great War, FPRI and ROA will present a workshop offering presentations by three eminent scholars of the war. Michael Neiberg of the US Army War College will discuss the factors that led to the outbreak of the war. John Schindler of the US Naval War College will discuss the often overlooked role of Austria-Hungary in the war and the Eastern and Italian fronts. Kate Epstein of Rutgers University-Camden will discuss the role of pre-war British defense policy in the outbreak of the conflict. Mac Owens, editor of Orbis and professor at the Naval War College, will moderate the panel.

HOW World War I Started: Crash Course World History 209

In which John Green teaches you about World War I and how it got started. Crash Course doesn't usually talk much about dates, but the way that things unfolded in July and August of 1914 are kind of important to understanding the Great War. You'll learn about Franz Ferdinand, Gavrilo Pincep, the Black Hand, and why the Serbian nationalists wanted to kill the poor Archduke. You'll also learn who mobilized first and who exactly started the war. Sort of. Actually there's no good answer to who started the war, but we give it a shot anyway.

You can directly support Crash Course at Subscribe for as little as $0 to keep up with everything we're doing. Free is nice, but if you can afford to pay a little every month, it really helps us to continue producing this content.

World War One (ALL PARTS)

All 5 parts of Epic History TV's history of World War One in one place. From the Schlieffen Plan to the Versailles Treaty, this is 65 minutes of non-stop WW1 history.

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Recommended books on WW1 (use affiliate link to buy on Amazon & support the channel):
Hew Strachan, The First World War: A New History
Gary Sheffield, A Short History of the First World War
Lyn MacDonald, To the Last Man: Spring 1918
Peter Hart, The Great War: 1914-1918
A J P Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History

#EpicHistoryTV #WorldWarOne #WW1

Archive: Getty Images, Photos of the Great War
Australian War Memorial
Library of Congress
National Archives and Records Administration
New York Public Library

Eindecker images courtesy of Jerry Boucher
The Virtual Aircraft Website

Henry Gunther Memorial, Concord via Wikipedia Commons

Kevin MacLeod (
Faceoff; Interloper; Invariance; Oppressive Gloom; Stormfront; The Descent; Prelude & Action; All This;

'The Conspirators' by Haim Mazar; Audio Blocks

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History of Movie Stars and World War I

The History Guy remembers movie stars, the Great War and the forgotten history of the London Scottish Regiment.

The History Guy uses images that are in the Public Domain. As photographs of actual events are often not available, I will sometimes use photographs of similar events or objects for illustration.

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The History Guy: Five Minutes of History is the place to find short snippets of forgotten history from five to fifteen minutes long. If you like history too, this is the channel for you.

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The episode is intended for educational purposes. All events are presented in historical context.

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World War One - 1915

The second year of World War One in 13 minutes, with maps and a blow-by-blow account so you can follow events in detail, and make sense of the big picture.
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Recommended books on WW1 (use affiliate link to buy on Amazon & support the channel):
Hew Strachan, The First World War: A New History
Gary Sheffield, A Short History of the First World War
Lyn MacDonald, 1915 : The Death of Innocence
Peter Hart, The Great War: 1914-1918
A J P Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History

Help Epic History TV to keep making videos by pledging as little as one dollar per video at Patreon:

Fokker Eindecker images courtesy of Jerry Boucher. Check out his excellent collection of military aviation art at The Virtual Aircraft Website

'World War One - 1915' is the second of our five-part series covering the Great War. This episode covers one of the first strategic bombing raids in history, when two German Zeppelin airships bombed the British ports of King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth. At sea, the British Royal Navy won the Battle of Dogger Bank. Germany then announced an Exclusion Zone around the British Isles, where its U-boats waged 'unrestricted submarine warfare' against British ships.

On the Eastern Front, 1915 began with further success for German Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, defeating the Russians at the Second Battle of Masurian Lakes. But the Russians had their own success at Przemyśl, taking 100,000 Austro-Hungarian prisoners.

British and French battleships arrived at the Dardanelles, intending to force the Ottoman Empire to surrender by threatening its capital, Constantinople. But Turkish shore-forts and sea mines caused heavy losses amongst Allied ships. Troops landed at Gallipoli, including the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs), became pinned down by fierce Turkish resistance.

On the Western Front, the British attacked at Neuve Chapelle. Indian Army units played a major role, but the offensive ended in failure. A German attack at Ypres opened with the first use of chemical weapons on the Western Front.

In April, the Ottoman Empire began the arrest, deportation and execution of ethnic Armenians, whom they suspected of sympathising with Turkey's enemies. The events remain controversial, with the Turkish government arguing that the number of deaths has been exaggerated and cannot be described as 'genocide'. Most historians and many other national governments disagree, describing these events as the Armenian Genocide and placing the death-toll between 1 and 1.5 million.

At sea, British passenger ship RMS Lusitania was sunk by a U-boat, leading to 1,198 civilian deaths, including 128 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson and the American public were outraged. In response to American warnings, Germany agreed to suspend attacks on passenger ships.

A new Allied attempt to break the Western Front stalemate at the Second Battle of Artois ended with heavy losses, after failed attacks at Vimy Ridge, Aubers Ridge and Festubert. In the air, Germany gained air superiority thanks to the Fokker Eindecker, a monoplane armed with a forward-firing machine-gun.

In June 1915 Italy joined the war, attacking Austria-Hungary in the first of many battles of the Isonzo River. At Gallipoli, the Allies failed to break the stalemate with new landings at Suvla Bay and a series of attacks known as the Battle of Sari Bair (including ANZAC assaults at Lone Pine and the Nek.)

France and Britain launched their Great Autumn Offensive to relieve pressure on their Russian ally. But French attacks at the Third Battle of Artois and Second Battle of Champagne, as well as a British attack at the Battle of Loos, led to massive losses with few significant gains.

In the Balkans, the Allies landed troops at Salonika in Greece, hoping to bring aid to Serbia. But when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, Serbian forces were outflanked and outnumbered. Belgrade fell, and Serbia was overrun. The Serbian army fled through the Albanian mountains, but suffered catastrophic losses from hunger and cold.

CORRECTION: the map shows Cyprus as part of the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1570 to 1914, but when the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in November 1914, Cyprus was annexed by Britain.

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Music listing:
0.00 - 1.20: Dramatic Movie Opening, Audio Blocks
1.20 - 3.43: Epic War Music Theme, Audio Blocks
3.43 - 4.55: No Way Out, Audio Blocks
4.55 - 5.59: Dramatic, Audio Blocks
5.59 - 9.41: A Call to Battle, Audio Blocks
9.41 - 10.04: Throw Off the Oppressor, Audio Blocks
11.25 - 12.40: Dramatic Movie Opening, Audio Blocks
12.40 - 13.19: Prelude and Action,

A War To End All Wars - Home Front Propaganda I THE GREAT WAR - Week 13

The first weeks of war already took hundreds of thousands of lives and the daily struggle to survive in the trenches on the Western Front has nothing to do with the promised glory. Back home, propaganda is already working and grotesquely distorting the public's opinion about the war. While the British civilians feared a German invasion, some of the leading German scientists and intellectuals published the Manifesto Of The 93 in which they rallied for solidarity with the Germans. You can read the whole manifesto right here:

If you have questions about our show or about the team behind THE GREAT WAR, you should check out our new format OUT OF THE TRENCHES where Indy answers your questions:

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Videos: British Pathé
Pictures: Mostly Picture Alliance
Background Map:
Literature (excerpt):
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War. A Complete History, Holt Paperbacks, 2004.
Hart, Peter. The Great War. A Combat History of the First World War, Oxford University Press, 2013.
Hart, Peter. The Great War. 1914-1918, Profile Books, 2013.
Stone, Norman. World War One. A Short History, Penguin, 2008.
Keegan, John. The First World War, Vintage, 2000.
Hastings, Max. Catastrophe 1914. Europe Goes To War, Knopf, 2013.
Hirschfeld, Gerhard. Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg, Schöningh Paderborn, 2004
Michalka, Wolfgang. Der Erste Weltkrieg. Wirkung, Wahrnehmung, Analyse, Seehamer Verlag GmbH, 2000
Leonhard, Jörn. Die Büchse der Pandora: Geschichte des Ersten Weltkrieges, C.H. Beck, 2014

If you want to buy some of the books we use or recommend during our show, check out our Amazon Store:
NOTE: This store uses affiliate links which grant us a commission if you buy a product there.

THE GREAT WAR covers the events exactly 100 years ago: The story of World War I in realtime. Featuring: The unique archive material of British Pathé. Indy Neidell takes you on a journey into the past to show you what really happened and how it all could spiral into more than four years of dire war. Subscribe to our channel and don’t miss our new episodes every Thursday.

Most of the comments are written by our social media manager Florian. He is posting links, facts and backstage material on our social media channels. But from time to time, Indy reads and answers comments with his personal account, too.

The Team responsible for THE GREAT WAR is even bigger:

Presented by : Indiana Neidell
Written by: Indiana Neidell
Director: David Voss
Director of Photography: Toni Steller
Sound: Toni Steller
Sound Design: Marc Glücks
Editing: Toni Steller & Ole-Sten Haufe
Research by: Indiana Neidell
Fact checking: Latoya Wild, Johanna Müssiger, Florian Wittig, David Voss

A Mediakraft Networks Original Channel
Based on a concept by Spartacus Olsson
Author: Indiana Neidell
Visual Concept: Astrid Deinhard-Olsson
Executive Producer: Astrid Deinhard-Olsson and Spartacus Olsson
Head of Production: Carolin Hengholt
Producer: David Voss
Social Media Manager: Florian Wittig

Contains licenced Material by British Pathé
All rights reserved - © Mediakraft Networks GmbH, 2014

America in World War I: Crash Course US History #30

You can directly support Crash Course at Subscribe for as little as $0 to keep up with everything we're doing. Free is nice, but if you can afford to pay a little every month, it really helps us to continue producing this content.

In which John Green teaches you about American involvement in World War I, which at the time was called the Great War. They didn't know there was going to be a second one, though they probably should have guessed, 'cause this one didn't wrap up very neatly. So, the United States stayed out of World War I at first, because Americans were in an isolationist mood in the early 20th century. That didn't last though, as the affronts piled up and drew the US into the war. Spoiler alert: the Lusitania was sunk two years before we joined the war, so that wasn't the sole cause for our jumping in. It was part of it though, as was the Zimmerman telegram, unrestricted submarine warfare, and our affinity for the Brits. You'll learn the war's effects on the home front, some of Woodrow Wilson's XIV Points, and just how the war ended up expanding the power of the government in Americans' lives.

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Hey teachers and students - Check out CommonLit's free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. The complex secret alliances of Europe led to World War I:
It took several years before Americans joined the war:
After the war, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to prevent a future World War, and promoted creating a League of Nations, established following the Treaty of Versailles:

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Prof. Robert Weiner: The Origins of World War II

Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History, lectures on The Origins of World War II as part of Lafayette College's Alumni Summer College. See for details.

How Europe Went to War in 1914. Tans Lecture Maastricht University

Christopher Clark revisits the century-old debate on the outbreak of the First World War, highlighting the complexity of a crisis that involved sudden changes in the international system. Clark proposes fresh perspectives on an old question.

HIST 2112 13 - World War I Part II (Short-term causes)

WORLD WAR I - A Kid Explains History, Episode 17

Mr. Q returns to the subject of World Wars to take a look at what caused the first one (you can see what he learned about WWII in episode 1). Who is Franz Ferdinand and why was this war worse that all the others that came before it? Find out here.

Archdukes, Cynicism, and World War I: Crash Course World History #36

In which John Green teaches you about the war that was supposed to end all wars. Instead, it solved nothing and set the stage for the world to be back at war just a couple of decades later. As an added bonus, World War I changed the way people look at the world, and normalized cynicism and irony. John will teach you how the assassination of an Austrian Archduke kicked off a new kind of war that involved more nations and more people than any war that came before. New technology like machine guns, airplanes, tanks, and poison gas made the killing more efficient than ever. Trench warfare and modern weapons led to battles in which tens of thousands of soldiers were killed in a day, with no ground gained for either side. World War I washed away the last vestiges of 19th century Romanticism and paved the way for the 20th century modernism that we all know and find to be cold and off-putting. While there may not be much upside to WWI, at least it inspired George M. Cohan to write the awesome song, Over There.

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Epic History: World War One - 1914

Everything you need to know about the first year of World War One in a 12 minute video.
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Recommended books on 1914 & WW1 (use affiliate link to buy on Amazon & support the channel):
Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace
Max Hastings, Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914
Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Lyn MacDonald, 1914 : The Days of Hope
Peter Hart, The Great War: 1914-1918
A J P Taylor, The First World War: An Illustrated History
Hew Strachan, The First World War: A New History

'World War One - 1914' is the first in a five-part series covering the Great War. This episode covers the rival alliances that dominated Europe in the build-up to war, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, and the fatal gunshots by Gavrilo Princip at Sarajevo that resulted in the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Imperial rivalries, the system of alliances and deep-seated animosities helped propel Europe into a general war. However Woodrow Wilson, the US President, ensured America stood apart from Europe's conflict. In August 1914, Germany invaded France and Belgium as part of the Schlieffen Plan. The tiny British Expeditionary Force could only hold up the German army for a few hours at the Battle of Mons, but later joined the French in saving Paris at the Battle of the Marne. The 'Race to the Sea' followed, leading to the First Battle of Ypres, as both sides tried to outflank each other to the north. Their failure led to a stalemate, in which the devastating power of machineguns and artillery forced infantry of both sides to take cover in deep trenches.

At sea, Britain's Royal Navy won the war's first naval battle at Heligoland Bight, and imposed a naval blockade on Germany, preventing war supplies (including, controversially, food) from reaching the country by sea. HMS Pathfinder was soon sunk by a German U-boat, revealing the potential of Germany's submarines to overturn Britain's long-held naval dominance.

On the Eastern Front, a Russian invasion of East Prussia ended in disaster at the Battle of Tannenberg, masterminded by German generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. A second victory at the Battle of Masurian Lakes sent the Russian army into retreat. Austria-Hungary's invasion of Serbia began badly, with defeat at the Battle of Cer. Things went even worse on the Russian front, as Austria's offensive against the Russians leads to heavy losses, and forced Germany to come to the rescue, by launching the Battle of Łódź.

In Africa, British, French and German colonial forces clashed in British East Africa (Kenya), Togoland (Togo), German South-West Africa (Namibia), and German Kamerun (Cameroon). German Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbek had notable success repelling the British at the Battle of Tanga.

In the Pacific, Japan honoured its alliance with Britain and seized the German naval base at Tsingtao in China. Task forces from Australia and New Zealand secured the German colonies of Samoa and New Guinea. German Admiral von Spee's East Asia Squadron won victory at the Battle of Coronel, off Chile, before sailing into catastrophe at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. In the Middle East, British troops occupied Basra, securing access to Persian oil for their fleet.

Winter 1914 saw the French launch their first major offensive to break the trench stalemate of the Western Front. But the First Battle of Champagne led to heavy losses for no real gains. Ottoman operations in the Caucasus Mountains also ended in disaster at the Battle of Sarikamish. The war's first Christmas was marked by games of football in No Man's Land on the Western Front, but early hopes of a short war had now been entirely quashed.

CORRECTION: 7.55 - the map shows Cyprus as part of the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1570 to 1914, but when the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in November 1914, Cyprus was annexed by Britain.


#EpicHistoryTV #WorldWarOne #WW1

World War 1 VS World War 2 - How Do They Compare?


People have been fighting wars since the first wooden spears were carved thousands of years ago. Estimates for the total number killed in war throughout all of human history ranges from 150 million to 1 billion people, and according to the New York Times, at least 108 million have been killed in wars in the twentieth century alone. With the continuing advances we see in technology, the way we fight wars is constantly changing. Today we’ll be looking at how two of the biggest wars in history compare, in this episode of The Infographics Show: World War 1 vs World War 2.

World War 1 vs World War 2. How do the two wars compare?







Sources for this episode:

Some Images used under license from

Slavery - Crash Course US History #13

In which John Green teaches you about America's peculiar institution, slavery. I wouldn't really call it peculiar. I'd lean more toward horrifying and depressing institution, but nobody asked me. John will talk about what life was like for a slave in the 19th century United States, and how slaves resisted oppression, to the degree that was possible. We'll hear about cotton plantations, violent punishment of slaves, day to day slave life, and slave rebellions. Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, and Whipped Peter all make an appearance. Slavery as an institution is arguably the darkest part of America's history, and we're still dealing with its aftermath 150 years after it ended. Support CrashCourse on Patreon:

Hey teachers and students - Check out CommonLit's free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. Memoirs from former slaves like abolitionist Frederick Douglass provide insightful context on the harsh realities of slavery:
Others resisted the violence of slavery through open rebellion, like Nat Turner:
Abolitionists and free slaves alike had to fight against unfair laws such as the Fugitive Slave Act:

Causes of World War I

World War I had several causes, which are usually summed up by four MAIN causes (Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism). In this lecture, Tom Richey discusses each of the MAIN causes and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

(01:23) Militarism - The Anglo-German Arms Race, H.M.S. Dreadnought
(06:27) Alliances - Bismarck's Alliance System, Triple Entente, Central Powers
(08:46) Imperialism - an international forum for national rivalries
(09:16) Nationalism - Serbian nationalism in the Austrian Empire
(13:10) Assassination - Some people add an A at the end for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand

2015 Ross Horning Lecture "Was World War One Inevitable?"

Margaret MacMillan was this year's keynote speaker for the Creighton University Department of History Ross Horning Lecture.
Margaret MacMillan is the Warden of St Antony’s College and a Professor of International History at the University of Oxford.
Her books include Women of the Raj; Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World, among others. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Senior Fellow of Massey College, University of Toronto, Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, University of Toronto and of St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, and sits on the boards of the Mosaic Institute and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, and the editorial boards of International History and First World War Studies.
In 2006 Professor MacMillan was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

The Medic Who fought a War without a Weapon

Desmond Doss was not your average hero.
He would become a Medal of Honor recipient, the United States of America's highest and most prestigious military award, as a combat medic who saved many of his comrades lives in battle without firing a single shot - because he did not take a weapon into combat because of his religious beliefs.

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Drums of the Deep Kevin MacLeod (
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'Devastation and Revenge', 'Hero Down', by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (

'Act Three' , 'Night runner'by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (



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