The Roads to World War I: Crash Course European History #32

i I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History, and things are indeed on course to crash, because World War I is coming. Decades ago, when I studied European history
in high school, I learned there were precise causes of the war: the alliance system, arms
build-up, secret treaties, nationalism, and imperialism. That set of causes, launched from above by
political leaders, eventually led to war. But more recently, historians have started
to lay out a more complex road to war: namely, a road that passed through social and cultural
change at the turn of the century. And those changes, which were experienced
by tens of thousands if not millions of people, caused tensions across a broad swath of Europe. People’s lives were affected by changing
family structures, by paradigm shifts in science, disruption of traditional gender roles, achievement
of the vote by working men, and ongoing economic advances, and the result was disorientation,
dislocation, deep resentments, and widespread fear–which, of course, is not too dissimilar
from how an array of changes are affecting people today. [Intro]
Some might even say that pre-war Europe a battlefield before World War I started. Strikes, which at times grew violent, abounded
across Europe—whether at the oil fields of Baku, the farms of Hungary, or the factories
of Italy. Assassinations were common–as was everyday
violence against Jewish people and other oppressed ethnic minorities. In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer
in the French army, was tried for espionage, convicted and imprisoned on Devil’s Island. The evidence against Dreyfus turned out to
be fabricated, complete with forged signatures. Further evidence of his innocence was that
the espionage continued, even after his exile. Passions exploded over the case, and anti-Semitism
flourished, families quarreled, and assaults took place around questions of whether Dreyfus
had committed these crimes. Newspapers took both sides as violence grew. Then in 1898 famed novelist Emile Zola’s
article “J’accuse,” exposed trumped up evidence against Dreyfus and helped build
support for him. Dreyfus was eventually pardoned in 1899, but
facts were not enough to stop the growing hatred and antisemitism. Intense divisions within and between communities
were growing elsewhere, too. Ireland, for one, was on the brink of civil
war, with both those opposing British rule and those favoring it establishing independent
armies. The distant colonial world was increasingly
tense too. Between 1904 and 1908 the German army massacred
between 24,000 and 100,000 Herero people, who refused to surrender their lands in southwest
Africa. Those who weren’t massacred were driven
into distant territory to starve. Some say that slaughter was a training ground
for European soldiers who would soon engage in further war. Around the same time, the French closed the
University of Hanoi and arrested or killed prominent teachers and intellectuals. and
open rebellion escalated. As one opponent said of the French: “Look
at those men with blue eyes and yellow beards. They are not our fathers, nor are they our
brothers. How can they squat here, defecating on our
heads?” and the Boers–that is, farmers with Dutch
heritage– of South Africa likewise rebelled against the British as the 20th century opened. They were only defeated after many civilians,
confined to concentration camps, died of disease or starvation. South Asians demanded reform too. They became more militantly anti-British and
launched boycotts of British goods. In 1900, a conglomerate of colonial nations
massacred Chinese civilians involved in the Boxer rebellion. Boxer activists had themselves assassinated
European and Chinese Christians in an attempt to take back their empire from white invaders. All these events suggest that the world was
already at war before 1914, although if you’ve been following this series, or our other series
in history, you’ll know that war was often happening– if anything, peace, to whatever
extent humans have experienced it, is very much a historical exception. And that’s important to remember when thinking
about the ultimately disastrous system of allegiances Europe had developed. That system was created by politicians to
try to prevent wars, or at least to manage any on the continent. Foremost among these politicians was our old
friend Otto von Bismarck, who’d had no qualms about starting wars to help Germany build
its empire but then declared Germany a “satisfied” nation. Oh, the adjectives that haunt us. Bismarck wanted peace in Europe and so organized
an alliance system to that end, binding Germany and Austria in the Dual Alliance of 1879,
then adding Italy to a Triple Alliance in 1882. He also allied Germany with Russia in the
Reinsurance Treaty, another attempt to build coalitions so formidable that large wars would
become impossible. But all of this was about to change when William
II, aka Kaiser Wilhelm, came to power in Germany in 1890. He rattled the sword, and called Bismarck’s
alliances the work of an outmoded old man. Under William II, the treaty with Russia was
canceled, which drove Russia to sign an alliance with France in 1894. William also called for Germany to gain power
around the world, expanding into tropical colonies to create a German “place in the
sun.” Which if you wanna do, you could just try
to take Southern France. Oh, right, you will. Try to take Southern France. Meanwhile, the French and British secretly
built another alliance–the “entente cordiale” And I’ll remind you, I’ve had three years
of high school French. It was based on military cooperation and even
shared military plans. The entente became a triple entente when Russia
and Britain settled their colonial differences in 1907, uniting three very different powers. But as they were entente-ing, Europe’s powers
were also growing their militaries. Standing armies grew to hundreds of thousands
of troops. General staffs demanded larger stockpiles
of weapons and got what they wanted. Most costly were the “Dreadnoughts” or
massive battleships with unprecedented firepower. Britain launched the first of these in 1905;
others followed. The construction of battleships in these years
employed tens of thousands of workers. So through their staffs of public relations
experts, military hawks threatened that cutting the production of Dreadnoughts would lead
to mass unemployment and revolution. “We want eight and we won’t wait” was
a popular British chant for more ships. So, yeah, America didn’t invent the military-industrial
complex. But we did perfect it. So, William II also wanted Dreadnoughts, because
he hoped to win the British over to an alliance of Teutonic peoples, including especially
Germans, that could defeat the “Latins” or “Gauls” of southern Europe whom he
considered inferior. William was the grandson of Queen Victoria
and a staunch anglophile, much to the dismay of his generals. But rather than taking advice from experts
in his government, William used another strategy. He avidly followed press coverage of himself
and his regime, using that as a monitor of successful policy. He had tantrums and even months of nervous
collapse when he was criticized in the press and elsewhere, creating an atmosphere of turmoil
in German policy through erratic militarism. So, despite all these attempts to control
war through alliances, the early decades of the century were also deadly because of revolution
and local wars in Europe itself. In 1905, the people of Russia rose up against
the tsarist regime. They were hard pressed in their daily lives
due to a conflict between Russia and Japan over competing claims in East Asia. And the Japanese, who’d been developing
a modern army and an industrial economy, attacked and crushed the Russian fleet in 1905. Ordinary people paid the price for these losses
and rebelled, but then Tsarist promises of reform, combined with armed force, eventually
restored calm and preserved the Romanov grip on power–for another decade or so. The Balkans also heated up, due to secret
societies of Balkan peoples that collected arms and organized themselves against the
Ottoman and Habsburg empires, and also had amazing facial hair. Everything about that photograph is phenomenal,
but the best part is that it vaguely resembles a cheerleading pyramid… Within these secret societies, people moved
from safe house to safe house as they built networks of militiamen ready to sabotage,
assassinate, and fight the imperial powers in order to gain independence. In the face of such resistance, Turkish nationalists
demanded a strengthening of military and administrative institutions in the Ottoman Empire. Finally, in 1908 a group of officers called
the Young Turks rebelled in the name of promoting Turkish ethnicity. They ultimately pushed aside the sultan and
replaced him with a pliable brother who was more submissive to the Young Turks, albeit
guided by a constitution and parliament. The Young Turks responded to other people’s
nationalist dreams by squashing demands for self-rule from Balkan ethnic groups. Even as the Young Turks inspired many groups
both in Europe and around the world, Austria-Hungary used their revolt as distraction during which
it scooped up Bosnia. That caused outrage among Serbs as they had
wanted to add Bosnia to a “greater Serbia” while all Balkan people’s anger against
the Young Turks boiled over. Building on this anger, the Balkan governments
of Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece unleashed the First Balkan War in 1912 against
the Ottoman Empire. They quickly won, only blocked when they tried
to march on Constantinople. But there was jealousy among the victors over
the splitting up the territorial gains, as there so often is, so in spring 1913 the Second
Balkan War erupted. The main issue this time was the territory
awarded to Bulgaria in the settlement. Serbia, which was backed by Russia, gained
territory from this second war, making Austria-Hungary and Germany anxious, not least because the
Habsburgs were nervous that Austria-Hungary’s Slavic population might want to be part of
this exciting new Greater Serbia. German public relations people swung into
action, planting hysterical stories on the growing and lethal threat from Slavs. So if you’re wondering if misinformation
can contribute to a global sense of dis-ease, confusion, and polarization: Yes. Yes, it can. The heir to the Habsburg imperial throne,
the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had a solution for all these problems: restore absolutism
as it had existed before the revolutions of 1848 and the general liberalization of politics. “The parliamentary form of government has
outlived its usefulness,” an advisor to Franz Ferdinand had written as early as 1898. “The so-called individual freedoms must
be curtailed.” Let’s Go to the Thought Bubble
1. In June 1914, a nineteen-year-old Bosnian
bookworm named Gavrilo Princip 2. became one of history’s more famous teenagers. 3. Princip thrived on reading Sherlock Holmes
mysteries 4. and Sir Walter Scott’s heart-pounding
stories of heroic medieval knights. 5. And he dreamed of his beloved homeland joining
Serbia, 6. and the Habsburgs had blocked that dream
by annexing Bosnia in 1908. 7. Princip, along with several friends, decided
something had to be done, 8. and when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and
his wife Sophie came to Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, the conspirators saw their chance. 9. The Archduke and his wife were traveling unprotected
in a convertible 10. –a perfect assassination opportunity. 11. Some of Princip’s co-conspirators were too
afraid when the moment arrived to actually try to kill the Archduke; 12. another had a gun malfunction. 13. One co-conspirator did manage to throw a grenade
at the Archduke’s car, 14. but he missed. 15. Later in the day, Princip mourning the failure
of his crew’s plan over lunch. 16. The Archduke and Sophie were on their way
to visit victims of the grenade attack in the hospital 17. when their driver took a wrong turn 18. and happened to drive past, of all people,
Gavrilo Princip, 19. who proceeded to shoot dead both Franz
Ferdinand and his wife. Thanks Thought Bubble. Some people celebrated the death of the opinionated,
radical heir to the Habsburg throne and others were not surprised at the murder, given that
assassination was an occupational hazard of leadership in these decades. After the assassination, heads of state and
high officials still went on planned vacations, because everyone expected a diplomatic solution. Again, assassination was pretty common, and
diplomatic solutions always followed. People were gripped not by the assassination
but by a scandal in France–the trial for murder of Madame Caillaux who had shot a newspaper
publisher for exposing her husband’s extra-marital affairs. Seems like the wrong guy to shoot. And yet the European powers moved almost imperceptibly
toward war. General staffs and some officials had been
planning for it, as we have seen, while competition for empire and the conduct of empire itself
were warlike, and overall social and cultural change had made people tense and even violent
toward one another. Moreover, wasn’t Europe—from Ireland to
Russia—simply a violent place where individuals and governments alike were always primed for
war? As the chief of the German General Staff put
it in 1912, given Europe’s track record, “I consider a war to be inevitable. And the sooner the better.” We can wonder what might’ve happened if
the Archduke’s driver hadn’t taken that wrong turn. Or we can wonder what might’ve happened
without Europe’s particular configuration of alliances, or if militarization hadn’t
made war seem unavoidable. As Margaret Atwood writes in The Testaments,
“Very little in history is inevitable.” But the lead up to the war was marked not
by one cause, or even by a few politicians making a few decisions, but by many people
making many decisions–from spreading fake news stories to pressing for more battleships–that
altogether contributed to an environment that made war progressively more likely. In short, it wasn’t only the Archduke’s
driver who made a wrong turn. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.

Comments 100

  • Love the video! I noticed that at the beginning you mentioned your high school educational experience lacking substance compared to how historians teach it now. However, from the middle to the end, you essentially just elaborated on the bits that you said were not enough at the beginning. For example. You said that you learned about Military Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism, etc. stating that those were the former talking points of high school teachers. But then you used those same points through your video to explain the history.

    I do agree with you that high schools are not able to teach everything in history, but to be honest it seems like you learned more about World War I (then) than I did. Most of my education on the conflict was, “Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, Domino Effect, World War II…” Definitely felt like they skipped around even then. I didn’t get my first true lecture about The Great War until my second year at community college.

    Regardless, I think the parts of history you did learn at the beginning represented a great precursor to the knowledge you have now. If you don’t have a base for a large topic like World War I, it’s hard to keep up with the plethora of information they feed you all at once in arriving at the university. I have to keep that in mind when I organize lectures for my own history students.

  • 11:46 …unprotected in a convertible "A perfect assassination opportunity." JFK! Too bad the secret service didn't watch Crash Course History.

  • I always have subtitles on. It fascinates me to see how the subtitle (draft?) version of the script differs from the final, voiced, one. Sometimes the differences, though small, can be quite meaningful.

  • Thanks for putting into words an eerie sense of unease I've had myself about the similarities between now and then, but haven't had the time to do the research to back up

  • So Europe was a powder keg just waiting to happen.

  • Further reading on the matter: Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark.

  • I love this.. but god I hate William II so much, he's insanity reminds me of how stupid crassus was.

  • America did not invent the Military Industrial Complex, but we did PERFECTED it!!

    I liked that ?

  • John, the photo that you used for the Young Turks (around 9:05) is a wrong photo. I don't recognise it, but the sign is in Bulgarian

  • 7:41 that sound so familiar to another leader today I don’t even think I have to say the name.

  • Real reason for Second Balkan war wasn't jealousy of Bulgaria, it was making of Albania by great powers in order to stop Serbia to access sea, which made Serbia brake previous agreement.

  • love the map in the background. Wish I knew where to find one lol

  • Margaret Atwood?! Okay

  • The ending line of these videos always gets me.

  • Educational!

  • Anyone else think Bismarck sounds like Trump haha

  • I appreciate how the dynamics in the Balkans was handled. It is complex, and hotly debated even among scholars today. It was a wise choice not to try to unpack it too deeply. That would take an entire series in itself, and that still wouldn't be enough.

  • WWI was caused by changing gender roles. Yep, this is CrashCourse.

  • Yah the young Turks squash so well they invent a whole new word for it, but hat would be spoilers, let’s see if crash course covers IT.

  • 4:22 "Peace… is very much a historical exception." Even the Mongal-tage can't help here…

  • History is getting more Tolstoyian in that history is starting to focus more on the people than on the big names.

  • Cool. So historians shifted the blame for WW1 from politicians to regular people. Cool, cool, cool. /sarcasm

  • Baku?? We were mentioned? Yeeeey

  • "Each time history repeats itself – the price goes up."

  • 5:15 That's Wilhelm the 3rd, Wilhelm the 2nd was his father

  • It's sad that back then, fear and turmoil came from revolutions that benefitted the people whereas today, fear and turmoil is used as a weapon to obey the State and its authorities.

  • Why skip the Filipino-American war on the list of unrests around the world that happens in early 1900's?

  • The 1910's was truly the high point of facial hair. Almost ever person picture in think episode has an amazing moustache

  • Hail brittania!
    Germany: I'm rt here.
    France : uh oh

  • for SEBIA!

  • It's crazy how relevant all this assassination stuff is in the beginning of 2020.

  • World War one is always the one that I remember they didn't bother with in History class, the just wanted to the sequel, which is always been seen as the rare sequel that was better than the original. Which isn't hard since the first one seemed so pointless.

  • > peace was very much a historical exception

    No Mongoltage? Or Switzereel?

  • “Look at those men with blue eyes and yellow beards. They are not our fathers, nor are they our brothers”

    What a terrible racist reference to those of European ethnicity.

  • In short, "The terrible ifs accumulate." – Winston Churchill

  • Did the world not open up? 🙁

  • I am not convinced by your revisionism. In Latin America we had exactly the same social phenomena but we did not declare open war on each other. Why? Because we had no system of alliances, no guns race, no imperialism, etcetera. You point at the expressions of modernization as if they were synonymous with the causes of WW I, but that is not the case.

  • This is the subject of "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann. He seems to argue that the people of Europe were eager for war. That is was a huge case of "Be careful what you wish for."

  • As soon European colonial powers lost their stolen lands to rich themselves. They have only bankrupt traditions and
    royal families living in glass palaces entertaining their subjects.

  • Great video! But I think it’d be appropriate to have mentioned the Ottoman Empire’s tendency to massacre Armenians and Assyrians in the 1890s as a basis to discuss upcoming ethnic genocide in WW1

  • 0:06 U mean ww3 is coming
    (its a joke yall)

  • need dialectic with history n school only allows for the victors legends so here to for only a rebel n one in a general mistrust can ever understand history

  • Finally got John talking about the Balkans! I’ve waited so long for this day haha

  • love this show

  • i thought franz ferdinand was a moderate for his time?

  • "he avidly followed the press coverage of himself and his regime, using that as a monitor of his success. He had tanturms and even nervous break-downs when he was criticized by the press…"
    Gee THAT sounds awfully familiar….*sigh*

  • 3:25
    «Kìa những người mắt biếc xanh, râu sắc hồng, bay chẳng phải là cha anh ta, chẳng phải là thầy dạy của ta mà sao lại ngồi chồm chỗm, ỉa đái trên đầu ta?» – Phan Bội Châu

  • I've read about Kaiser Wilhelm II before, and then as now, he reminds me of a certain current leader….which can't bode well.

  • Subtle.

  • Capitalism. It's called capitalism.

  • 10:35 The oldest scientific mistake in the book. Correlation is not causation John, just because there was disinformation, and there was unease and mistrust, doesn't mean that one caused the other. Unless you have some good scientific study showing that one causes the other, then you don't know that, of course not knowing something has never stopped you claiming it as true before.

  • So fast ??

  • "Things are indeed on course to crash, because WWI is coming."
    *chuckles nervously in 2020*

  • There is a beautiful anecdote about the war I read in Sleepwalkers. As the war began, Russian Cossack units in the far east were mobilized too, except news travelled slowly to Siberia and they didn't know who they were going to be fighting against. An American journalist interviewed them and asked for their best guesses, which ranged from Japan to China to Britain. When he told them the truth, they thought he was joking.

  • Given that the governments of five great countries made the critical decisions that made world war impossible to avoid, multiple causes had to be behind the first great war in 99 years.

  • 1. Franz Ferdinand wanted to reinstate absolutism is a lie. He was much more liberal than his father Franz Joseph. Franz Ferdinand wanted to centralize Austria-Hungary and make Croatia a partner as they did it with Hungary. He was one of the main advocats of a United States of Austria under which everyone is equal. Don't believe me? Read it up on Wikipedia.

    2. I have never heard about Kaiser Wilhelm II despising people of the roman languages. Could I have a source on that? All that I know is that Wilhelm was a anglophile and that he wanted a big navy because he admired the British Royal navy.
    3. "Princip along with several friends" what a lovely way to describe a terrorist organization. The bookworm Bin Laden along with several friends decided something had to be done against America on the 9th of September 2001. His beloved homeland had to be cleared by American invaders. How does that sound like to you?
    You seem a little biased about WW1

  • 13:06 "Seems like the wrong guy to shoot" is said in the same cadence of J.J. McCullough. I don't know if I'm going crazy or why I noticed this, but there's that.

  • John is very very proud of his french skills.

  • So well explained! And such a stark contrast to the reason(s) for WWII.

  • 14:00 that's chaos theory for you.

  • Wait Baku is considered Europe in this course?

  • "It wasn't only the driver who made a wrong turn." I love that line

  • There are always plenty of reasons for old white men to have younger men killed in wars.

  • video is not in the European History playlist

  • 7:10 William wasn't only an Anglophile, him and Geroge V and Nicholas II were first cousins. Before the war they often wrote each other letters, calling each other "Willy, Nicki and Georgie".

  • Here's a question that I'd like you to really think about. Like really think about…what would WWI have looked like if Wilhelm had not been born a cripple?

  • Nobody:
    John Green: *speaks french
    Also John Green: I've had 3 years of high school french

  • Really tried to watch this, but the horrific editing style of starting the next sentence before the final sentence has ended needs to stop. It's fine in a 90 second fast-paced clip type thing… it's incredibly counterproductive in a 15 minute fact-filled video. 16 minutes, or even 15 and a half minutes, isn't that much different. Stop doing this, for the love of information, education, and humanity.

    Just… maybe a full second, at most, between sentence.

    Without any pauses, the listener has literally no time to digest and reflect. What you're doing is a 15-minute non-stop barrage, and it makes long-term fact retention more difficult.

    The pause at 2:02 after "even after his exile." should be at least SOMEWHAT standard. It shouldn't be exceptional.

    At 3:08 "Around the same time" starts BEFORE "further war" ends, and that's the standard editing style in this video.

    I know it's popular these days, and I know why, but… doesn't matter. Again, adding 30-to-60 seconds AT MOST would not make this video too boring for younger viewers. If they're willing to watch a 15 minute video on history, they're willing to watch a 15.5 or 16 minute video. I hate downvoting this quality content but the editing style is horrific and anti-educational.

  • The entire course of the 20th Century was set because some guy stopped to get a sandwich.

  • "Seems like the wrong guy to shoot…" – I just love John Green: funny, brilliant & cute – I love this channel!

  • Kaiser Wilhelm HATED the British after the English doctor was responsible for the deformity of his left arm. He caused the naval arms race by trying to compete with the Royal Navy.

  • Well now I have anxiety again.

  • Me. Green, you have done it again!

  • It's so sad to see you oversimplify this so much when in other places I find myself quoting you "Truth resists simplicity". What happened to crash course?

  • why was I recommended this? it's been 5 years since I last watched these in my AP US history class…and I'm still completely enamored

  • Having forgotten their relation to the Infinite, most men have descended to the lowest level of consciousness, where they’re guided only by animal passions and by herd influence. Leo Tolstoy On the Importance of the Upcoming Moral Revolution

  • I’m glad this video popped up! I just saw 1917 and it re-ignited my interest in WWI!

  • 11:42 SarAjevo*

  • “…It just wasn’t the Arch Duke’s driver who made a wrong turn.” Savage, yet true!

  • Thanks John. I think I’ll keep my simpler explanation: trump assassinates Soleimani…

  • In Poland even in 1950's in church people were praying for "war gerat and just" . Seriously. I'm polish, I live in Poland and my father remembers that preyer. He told me about it. Those were people, who 10 years earlier ware under nasi german occupation and at this time there was a silent war between AK, who didn't really disarm themselves (polish partisan organization nat times of world war II) and komunistis. The nationalism was so strong.

  • It seems ferociously disingenuous to me to try and paint all of these as causes and build-ups to WW1, considering how disproportionately heavy some of these causes were to it over others. You're making it seem like the Boer War, Boxer Rebellion, and gender equality movements had equal weight in causing WW1 as the alliance deterrent system did, which is patently absurd. It's like saying that the 2016 election was shaped by changes in the pH of Midwest ground soil or something.

  • So… let's have another World War because there hasn't been one in a good while???

  • So Kaiser Wilhelm was the old-world Donald Trump…

  • I can't wait for crash course to do a ww3 series

  • hey @CrashCourse I remember John Green saying in a different episode of crash course world history that Franz Ferdinand was more of a moderate and now i'm hearing that he was more of a radical reactionary and I am wondering which one of these is correct and which one of these is false of if they were from conflicting viewpoints of if new evidence of old letters has come to light?

  • God there is a lot of stupidity out there, and it’s repeating again!

  • Boers – You said it wrong, it doesn't sound like "bores" it sounds like "boo-er" – Source, I live in South Africa

  • Thank you.

  • Why is Hilary Clinton teaching history?

  • I feel like WW1 is so consequential. Feels like it marked a change from Aristocracy/Empiralism to Democracy Capitalism/Communism.

  • If you've got a lot of time on your hands and want to know more about the buildup to WWI, Hardcore History did a series called "Blueprint for Armageddon", and it's excellent. It's six four-hour episodes but well worth the time investment.

  • That reacher in the first minute looks like Hillary Clinton (good to see her working)

  • SarAjevo

  • The "alliance" with russia was merely a non-aggression pact AND that Wilhelm didn't cancel it. Instead that the pact reached its expiration date and Wilhelm refused to renew it.

  • If they do a whole video about WWI it will be the third time they do it. Season 1 and 2 of world history and now here.

  • could you please make a video on the peace treaties from ww1 and the league of Nations, and/or the rise of Nazis in Germany. My history course is on those topics.

  • Remember every nation was rearming its own military constantly throughout the 1880-1900s. The french with the lebel, germans with 98 az and Austrians with manlichers. Watch C&arsenal for much more in depth.

  • 5:23
    Actually you have it wrong here. The alliance between France and Russia was falling apart way before Wilhelm II came to the throne. This was under Wilhelm II's father Frederick IV who idealized German nationalism and wanted closer relations with Austria. Austria which had conflicts with Russia over influence in the Balkans saw the league of Three Emperors Collapse. Wilhelm II actually tried to get the alliance between Russia and Prussia reinstated and tried personal diplomacy with his cousin Tsar Nicholas II. Wilhelm also tried his best to avert the war and was the last of the monarchs to mobilize his armies. The problem was that both Empire's governments were firmly against each other. The German General staff feared Russia since it was rapidly modernizing and once it completed its industrialization, it would be too powerful for Germany to face. The Russian court and government was pro-French and was captivated by the Issue of Pan-Slavism. The Russian elites spoke French as a second language thanks to Peter the Great. Despite Wilhelm's best efforts the war had occurred.

  • "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist." -President Eisenhower, 1961

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