W CS 14

Achievements and Crises (1900-1945)

The first half of the 20th century was one of rapid technological advances. It was a period when the tensions between industrialized nations resulted in World War I and set the stage for World War II. While World War II transformed the balance of world power, it was the most destructive and costly war in terms of human casualties and material resources expended.

Content Statement

14. The causes of World War I included militarism, imperialism, nationalism and alliances.

Content Elaborations

Military spending among the great powers of Europe increased greatly in the years prior to World War I. Rivalries between the powers led to a building up of armed forces and an increase in distrust.

Imperialism was an important underlying cause of World War I. The great powers of Europe were competing for land around the world.

Intense nationalism grew among the European people (e.g., the influence of nationalism in the Balkans, which prompted the outbreak of WWI). Consequently, due to national animosities, there was little resistance to war when it began.

The system of alliances early in the century set the stage for enlarging a small-scale conflict into a world war. Each alliance brought several nations into the conflict. By the beginning of the war, the two large alliances were the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance.

Expectations for Learning

Explain how militarism, imperialism, nationalism and alliances were causes of World War I.