Revision Diary

1900-1914: Alliances and Arms Race


The alliance system and the Arms race.


Make sure you have detailed factual knowledge about AND HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT the following issues and topics:



1.  A description of the Alliance System before the war.

2.  The effects of the Alliances.

3.  A description of the Arms Race before the war

4.  The effects of the Arms Race.







By 1914 Europe was divided into two hostile camps - the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) versus the Triple Entente (France, Russia and Great Britain), each hating and scared of the other, who had promised to join in any war any of their allies got involved in..



1.   In 1904 France made an agreement with Britain called the Entente Cordiale (= ‘Friendly Relationship’ – not a formal alliance, but a promise to work together).

2.   In 1902 Britain made a naval treaty with Japan.

3.   Russia was (dangerously) also allied to Serbia in the Balkans



Effects of the Alliances

1.   The Triple Alliance frightened France, who saw it as part of a German plan to take over Europe

2.   The Triple Entente alarmed Germany, which felt itself surrounded by the France-Russia alliance.

3.   Note that it is arguable that Alliances were the main cause of the war.  

     The countries of Europe thought that the alliance system would act as a deterrent to war; there is an argument that in fact it tied them together so that in 1914 when one country went to war, the others HAD to follow.




Arms Race


All the great powers of Europe raced each other to build the biggest and best armed forces.

In 1914 the German army was the biggest and best in the world - but the Russian army was growing the fastest, and German generals were worried that, in a few years time, they would not be able to defeat Russia.

Britain and Germany had an arms race to see who could build the bigger navy..



1.   In 1914, including 'reservists' (trained men who could be called up), the Germans had an army of 8.5 million men, an the Russians had an army of 4.4 million.

2.   The German Navy Law of 1900 planed to build many warships to challenge the British Navy..

3.   In 1908 the British public demanded that the government build 8 new Dreadnought warships to stop a German invasion - they shouted: 'We want 8 and we won't wait'.



Results/importance of the Arms Race

1.   The HUGE German Army made other countries think that Germany wanted to rule the world.  

2.   The Russian army was growing the fastest, and German generals were worried that, in a few years time, they would not be able to defeat Russia - in 1912, the German general Moltke said: 'War the sooner the better'. 

3.   Note that it is arguable that the Arms Race was the main cause of the war.  

     There is an argument that the fact that they HAD huge armies made it easier for governments to suggest a military solution to foreign policy problems - if you have a huge army, you might as well use it.


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



e-book on the background to WWI.



•  Examples of the long-term causes of war

•  How did the long-term causes of war cause war?



•  Alliances   ppt.   swf.

•  Arms Race   ppt.   swf.