Causes of the First World War

There were many causes of the First World War, but the most prominent was the assassination of Austria’s new leader, Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian Socialist. That is when Austria declared war on Serbia, according to Shubert & Goldstein (2012). Empire and Imperialism played huge roles in this war because each country was trying to gain power over other regions. It wasn’t until the Treaty of Versailles that all of this came to be seen. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George wanted some of Germany’s territory for his own gain and agreed with the mandates the League of Nations proposed. Rosenberg (2014) raised an interesting view of Wilsonianism. During World War I, Wilson ordered the invasion of Mexico to control the Port of Veracruz. She wrote that this “ …consolidated U.S. domination over the Caribbean and Central America—an area in which the United States held one colony in Puerto Rico; possession of the Virgin Islands; two protectorates, Cuba and Panama, over which strict controls were expanded; and dependencies in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Haiti that were held through ever-tightening regimes of economic control and, in the case of the latter two, by U.S. military governments and armies of occupation” (p. 853). But to Wilson, this was not Empire or Imperialism where he was just trying to spread “enlightenment and civilization.” Life for soldiers in the trenches was terrible. According to the Argentian Journalist, Juan Jose de Soiza Reilly, he wrote: “It is simply awful to live for months and months underground, bent, twisted, buried, eyes strained, always watching to see if a head pops up from the enemy trenches…” (A Discordant Voice from the Trenches, p. 6). He also called them “open graves” because cholera and tuberculosis were breeding within these confined places. Shubert and Goldstein (2012) write: “Living and sleeping in trenches was often a dirty and disgusting experience, as they flooded during rainy weather, were typically infested with rats and lice, and were all too often partly choked with human bodies or body parts.” One difference between the trenches on the Western Front and the ones on the Eastern Front is that the Western Front’s trenches “filled with water and planks called duckboards had to be laid in the bottom to keep soldiers feet from getting wet” (The Western Front in World War I, 2018). They were both subject to trench warfare such as bombs, snipers, and gas. According to studies about reasons for soldiers to continue fighting rather than surrendering or deserting their posts, some say: “If soldiers know that they are fulfilling a mission sanctioned and at least partially sanctified by God, religion might be a highly motivating factor for single soldiers” (Kallhoff & Schulte-Umberg, 2015, p. 435). Women became telephone operators, nurses, and they filled in sometimes at warehouses making war equipment. The War ended with the Treaty of Versailles, which served as a peace agreement between all participants. The Europeans suffered so many casualties, and the soldiers suffered psychological damage because of the war.


A Discordant Voice from the Trenches: Juan José de Soiza Reilly’s War Chronicles. (2017). United States, North America: New Prairie Press. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Kallhoff, A., & Schulte-Umberg, T. (2015). The Committed Soldier: Religion as a Necessary Supplement to a Moral Theory of Warfare. Politics, Religion & Ideology, 16(4), 434–448.

Rosenberg, E. S. (2014). World War I, Wilsonianism, and Challenges to U.S. Empire. Diplomatic History, 38(4), 852–863. Retrieved from

Shubert, A. & Goldstein, R.J. (2012). Twentieth-century Europe [Electronic version]. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

The Western Front in World War I. (2018). The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide. Retrieved from

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