Down the Archives of History.
By Ore Bello
The conflicts in Europe during world war I grew in part from a network of alliances going back to the 1870s.Ironically,these alliances had been designed to keep peace.
Between 1865 and 1871,Prussia’s blood and iron chancellor,Otto Von Bismarck,freely used war to unify Germany.
After 1871,however,Bismarck turned to a policy of peace.Germany, he said, was a “satisfied power”.Bismarck’s new goal was to prevent war because war might shatter his newly created Germany Empire. From 1871 to 1890,Bismarck worked to keep peace in Europe(alliances was one of his means).
Bismarck saw France as the greatest threat to peace,because the French wanted revenge for their defeat in the Franco-Prussian War . Bismarck’s first goal,therefore,was to isolate France .”as long as it is without allies”,Bismarck stressed “it poses no danger to us”.
In 1879,Bismarck succeeded in partially isolating France by forming the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary. Three years later,these two countries were joined by Italy ,making the Triple Alliance.In 1887,Bismarck took yet another possible ally away from France by making a treaty with Russia .
Bismarck’s alliances were a fragile network.Germany had ties to both Austria-Hungary and Russia.Yet those two empires were locked in a struggle over the Balkans.For the moment,the British seemed content to stand proudly alone.
In 1890,Germany’s foreign policy changed abruptly.In that year, kaiser Wilhelm II forced Bismarck to resign.Unlike his grandfather, who had let Bismarck rule Germany for more than 20 years, the now kaiser as determined to be his own master.Shortly after coming to power,he let the treaty of friendship necessary for cooperation between Russia and Germany lapse.The French were delighted;they had been loaning money to Russia for industrial development, hoping to earn the goodwill of the Russian government which happened in 1894 when they both signed a treaty which also stipulates that upon the attack of one by a third country the other would come to aid this was what Bismarck feared.A war with either would make Germany the enemy of both.Germany would then be forced to fight on both its eastern and western borders.
The impulsive kaiser made an even greater mistake in his dealings with great Britain.Britain and Germany were economic rivals,but they had remained on fairly friendly terms during much of the 1800s.The kaiser himself was half English,as his mother was queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. Nevertheless,he held a life long grudge against Britain. He envied its worldwide empire and its mighty navy.The kaiser decided that Germany should challenge Britain.During the 1890’s,Germany built its own small colonial empire ,threatening British and French dominance. At the same time,Wilhelm II started a tremendous ship building program,planning to make the German navy equal to Britain’s.
Alarmed, great Britain began to enlarge its fleet,joining Germany in a naval arms race.Moreover, the British government ended its policy of isolation and allies.
In 1904,Britain signed a treaty of friendship with France. In 1907,it signed a second treaty ,this time with France and Russia. These treaties were’ ententes’,or friendly understandings,rather than alliances. Although the triple entente did not bind Britain to fight alongside France and Russia, it did ensure that Britain would almost certainly not fight against them.
By 1907,two rival camps existed in Europe.On one side. was the Triple Alliance-Germany,Austria-Hungary,and Italy.on the other side was the Triple Entente-Great britain,France and Russia.A dispute between any two powers could draw the entire continent into war.
The members of the Entente Alliance multiplied in later years with Italy joining in 1915,Japan, Belgium,Serbia,Greece,Montenegro, and Romania being secondary members.
The Treaty of Servres in 1920 further defined the principal Allied members of the original ententes:British empire, French republic,Italy,and Japan with Armenia,Belgium,Greece,Hejaz, Poland,Portugal,Romania,Serb-Croat-Slovene state,and Czechoslovakia being primary members.Russia was no longer a part of this alliance as a revolution had displaced the Tsar(Nicholas) and the Bolsheviks with the help of the Germans had their leader Lenin,become the new leader of Russia by secretly delivering him(Lenin)through a secret train to Russia after the upheaval that followed the revolution, hence came up the signing of the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with Germany.
Ore Bello is a columnist, essayist and Social Critic. Born and Bred in an environment with a high level of “Street Sense”, he can make a Mecca out of an Agege. He delivers issues from the trivial to the serious