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Underlying reasons why World War I broke out

I need help identifying the Great Powers who went to war in 1914. Explain at least three causes of World War 1, and can you include Weimar German and fascism in Italy in your response.

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The Great Powers that went to war in 1914 were United Kingdom, France, Russia vs. Germany, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire.

There were actually other countries involved so it's unclear to me what your professor means by "Great Powers" - but the bigs ones are above. (America didn't get involved until 1917)

Basically, you had to rival alliances fighting.

Here are the Allied/Entente Powers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_I

Note how that can include Italy and Japan.

Here were the Central Powers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Powers

Also includes Bulgaria.

As for the causes of WWI: I don't understand the reference to Weimar Germany (which didn't exist until AFTER WWI) and Italian fascism dates to the 1920s - again after WWI. Weimar Germany and the rise of European fascism are usually discussed as contributing causes to the outbreak of World War II - not WW I.

As for 3 causes of the war itself:

1. international system of "entangling alliances"

2. An international arms race that created a powder keg scenario

3. Domestic political concerns in Imperial Germany

4. Competition between rival European Colonial Empires

For an overview of some the above, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I#Causes

The Arms Race scenario was primarily a function of Britain and Germany competing as German economic might was gaining strength during this period and the British Empire saw them as a threat.

The entangling alliances explanation is covered in the "balance of power" section on the wikipedia link above.

There is also the ethnic powder keg scenario as the older empires such as Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires were starting to disintegrate and the instability of these multi-ethnic empires helped provide the sparks that led to war.

All the above explanations and more can be found by students researching this topic. The following summary posits a ...

Solution Summary

This solution gives the student 4 basic reasons commonly discussed as underlying causes for the First World War. That portion of the solution is designed to give students starting points for further research, and a few hyperlinks are provided to point them in the right direction.

I also provide a detailed chronological outline of a more controversial view pinning the blame for the outbreak of the war on a single power. That outline is based on a paper I wrote while in graduate school at the London School of Economics.