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Europe Prior to World War I: Alliances and Enemies  I PRELUDE TO WW1 – Part 1/3

Europe Prior to World War I: Alliances and Enemies I PRELUDE TO WW1 – Part 1/3


My name is Indy Neidell, and welcome
to our new channel “The Great War”. This show follows World War I, from July 28th 1914
to November 11, 1918, week by week exactly 100 years later, but in order for the initial
weeks of the war to make more sense we’re doing these prelude to war episodes to
give you a little background… All here on our new channel “The Great War”! Do you know what happened 100 years
ago last month? On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.
This was the little match that ignited the bonfire of the First World War. Now, it took a full month after the assassination
for war to be declared and on July 28, 2014, it is exactly 100 years since the beginning of
World War I, or the Great War, as it was called, or even The War to End All Wars. And unlike pretty much every other
World War I show ever, we’re going to ignore Franz Ferdinand for the moment,
and talk about some other stuff. The consequences of the Great War were
massive, and affected pretty much every person in every country on earth. Four great empires ceased
to exist, a bunch of new nations saw the light of day, and the explosive growth of an extraordinary
number of social movements, such as internationalism or facism, changed
the world’s political landscape forever. Just in terms of technology, the Great War
moved the world ahead by leaps and bounds. Cars and planes had existed prior to the war,
but by 1918 we had tanks and diesel fuel, bombers and fighters, and large planes ready
to be converted into the first airliners. And the tragedies were enormous. Although
completely accurate records are impossible, the war caused close to 40 million casualties –
killed or wounded – including nearly 10 million dead soldiers in a world whose population was only a quarter of what it is now. But why the Great War? Why start it?
Why go through with it? There had certainly been enough talk about
a European war during the early parts of the 20th century, sometimes romantically, such as when
military leaders who had never actually seen combat thought about coming home covered in glory, but most often it was talked about as a necessity,
and this was driven by waves of revolutionary sentiment, strikes and violent labor unrest, and above all feverish nationalism, which
together came to steer the course of Europe in the early 20th century. Now we’ll
go into that in detail week by week. Think about a German Europe.
Not today, but 100 years ago. It’s a theme that was certainly tossed around back then,
most spectacularly in the bestseller “Mitteleuropa”. And I don’t mean the Nazi kind of German Europe,
but a true German influenced and culturally and politically dominated Europe. You see, Prussia, and then a unified Germany, had
emerged as the leading power in Europe after beating France under Bismarck in 1871,
and things had just rolled on since then. By 1914, Berlin was the cultural capital of
Europe – where you went if you wanted to study anything “serious”. Words like Hertz, Röntgen, Mach, and Diesel
all come from this period. And British cabinet ministers, Russian Bolsheviks – they’d all
studied in Germany, which had even replaced England as the industrial giant of Europe.
Many people, not just German, dreamed of a German Europe or at least a multi-national German
commonwealth. Now, this commonwealth could protect itself from England or the US, could bring
in raw materials from France and Scandinavia, would have its own coal and steel production,
and hopefully even colonies in North Africa or in the Middle East, where there was oil. It was an impressive dream, and it wasn’t that
far-fetched, especially when you think about what was going on outside of Europe at the
time. See, Africa and India were basically being run from Europe, China was ready to collapse,
the Ottoman Empire looked ready to collapse. What Germany really needed to do to succeed was to
work with its German speaking neighbor to the south. Germany had been allied with Austria since
1879. There was, though, a big problem with the Austro-Hungarian empire because it was really
shaky. Now there are several reasons for this, but one big one that I’m gonna mention right here –
Austria had a serious mismanagement problem. Actually, when you look at the world
around it, Austria was an anachronism. The rest of Europe was going through a huge
age of nationalism, but in Austria there were 15 different versions of the national anthem. Franz
Josef, the emperor, had been on the throne since 1848 and he was 84 years old, and he too was
very out of place in modern Europe. And he made very questionable decisions. In 1908, for example, he made the decision
to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were nominally part of the Ottoman Empire.
Now, this basically pissed everyone off, especially the Ottoman Empire. There were protests
from all of the great empires but especially noisy protests from Bosnia’s neighbor
Serbia, and I don’t know if it’s quite possible for me to express just how much anti-Austrian
sentiment there was among the Slavic nations and peoples of the Balkans. Now, looking back, you might have thought Vienna
would have said, “okay, you guys can have a sort of pan-Slavic nation under Vienna”,
which might have cooled things off a bit, but they didn’t do that. What they
did instead was nothing at all. You see, for years, Vienna had been trying to
control its minority nations by basically paying them off, to the extent that they
had no money left for things like the army. Austria spent less money on its army than England did,
even though the Austrian army was ten times the size. So they couldn’t afford to keep trying to
buy them off, which didn’t work out anyway, so Vienna basically did nothing and hoped
there would be no catastrophic events. That didn’t work out so good. Now, does this sound really complicated?
Well, it is. There hadn’t been a real European war in over 40 years, war being kept at bay by a
complicated and constantly shifting system of alliances. Now, you should look it up yourself
because it’s really interesting, but here’s the basics: Germany and Austria-Hungary were two thirds of
the Triple Alliance, right? Italy being the third part at the time, but nobody really counted
on them to help out in case of a war. Germany and France had historically been at odds with
each other, but even more so after Prussia walked all over France in the Franco-Prussian
War. France and England were allies, but it turned out that in the early 20th century
there were French contingency plans afoot to invade England, and vice versa, so go figure.
When Bismarck had run Germany, he had cultivated Russian friendship, but that was long gone. Much of the
German elite now openly looked down on Russia, who allied herself with France when German
industrial and military power really got going, and The Triple Entente between England,
France, and Russia became official in 1907. The German Empire was friendly with the Ottoman
Empire and a true Russian nightmare would be the Germans in charge of the Dardanelles – through which
Russia send up to 90 percent of her wheat exports. Russia supported Serbia and all of the slavic peoples, which meant that they were banging heads with
both Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, and everybody – EVERYBODY – was worried
about another Balkan explosion. Whew. That’s almost it, but not quite. Before I go, I’d like to
mention the unique case of Germany and Great Britain. Now, the Germans and the English admired
each other culturally, industrially, and militarily. Germany especially admired
England’s vast overseas empire and her navy, the greatest the world had ever
seen, and many Germans were convinced that the British navy was the key to her
success, her power, and her empire. Now, I’m going to quote historian Norman Stone: “the last thing Germany needed was a problem
with Great Britain, and the greatest mistake of the 20th century was made when Germany
built a navy designed to attack her”. Pretty heavy words, but think about it: the Kaiser,
who occasionally ruled Germany by decree, totally ignoring the fact that the German people
did not want war with anybody and admired and respected the British, built a navy. A navy built
for only one purpose – to challenge Britain. Winston Churchill, at the time Britain’s
First Lord of the Admiralty, suggested a mutual pause in naval building, reasoning that for the
British Empire a powerful navy was a necessity, but for the German Empire a luxury. But Kaiser Wilhelm
would not have it, and he built up the German navy. That navy took a third of the German defense
budget, which meant that Germany could not afford a two front war against France and Russia
if such a thing were to happen. And it also meant that there were a bunch of giant battleships, sitting
in harbors, thumbing their noses at England. Now, there was substantial naval warfare, especially
submarine warfare, between England and Germany during the war, but these battleships didn’t
do anything – they just sat there taking up space the entire war until their crews finally
mutinied. They had much more armor than British ships, and they were really impressive,
but they just sat there mocking England, whose response was to out-build the German
navy two to one and make further defensive arrangements with France and Russia.
That was interesting, right? Ok, I’m gonna wrap it up here, but come back
next time to see what was going on in Serbia, Italy, and other sunny places
with long cultural histories. Don’t forget to subscribe to get each new episode and
also, this show is available in German and Polish, so if you or your friends want to watch
it but English isn’t your first language, links to those channels are below.
One important thing before I go: You may have some questions at this point.
You may be wondering for example: What about the economic situations in these countries
or What about the possible threat of civil war in Ireland or even Can you tell us about Conrad von Hötzendorf?
Well there is one thing you need to keep in mind: this show will run weekly for four and a half years and
including special features will be around three hundred episodes so all of your questions, hopefully, will be
answered and explained, but it takes time with such a huge project. We do welcome your comments
and your questions, though, so bring em on!

100 comments on “Europe Prior to World War I: Alliances and Enemies I PRELUDE TO WW1 – Part 1/3

  1. Worls War I and II was a European war with a few countries like America and colonies pulled in. Europeans are so presumptious that they think their madness in having a continental war means the world is at war.

  2. Well after the "Unification" between the duchy of Bulgaria and East Rumelia Russia basicly abondened Bulgaria and was more in favor of Serbia,Romania if Bulgaria was included.

  3. My first language is some kind of german (i`m austrian, there are still a couple of us) i still prefer the english version. Have fun!

  4. This is old, and a post on a past program, but if you want some extra info on the new historiography, I did this presentation for the centenary of the outbreak of the war.
    https://youtu.be/dyoTif6eFEE?list=PL7qM1ZYRwV_DbcW31vF_Codobpq7u6ffS

  5. well, this is interesting. I come from italy, and the whole world war affair is always studied ONLY from italy POV. which ok is fair enough, but there's a trove of informations that I would have liked to have at the time!

  6. So that guy faffing around in the Ottoman seas with a bit of the German Navy was just sitting around doing nothing? 😛

    Anyway. I'm re-watching all of these again.

  7. He talks too fast, and not enough visuals. I remember more from a documentary in high school history over a decade ago than I learned in this video.

  8. Pretty ridiculous to say that challenging Britain's naval hegemony was a form of aggression, it was no more aggressive than trying to maintain such hegemony by force.

  9. 7:00: Russia supported ALL of the Slavic peoples? I don't think that the Poles and Ukrainians would agree with that comment.

  10. Frustrated with this video. Content was exactly what I was looking for to show in class until the use of an unnecessary expletive (pi***d) making it unusable in our schools.

  11. "…this show will be around 300 episodes…" — at the beginning of a playlist over 600 episodes long. Even shows about wars go on far longer than expected.

  12. Perhaps EU will be more sane and successful than Austrian Hungarian Empire which indeed was better than its terrible poor and ridiculed reputation.

  13. Thumbs up if you agree that this was a war no prime minister or monarch really wanted but as a war to where they all sleepwalked. Thanks to primary sources using new generation historians we now know better that Germany and even Austria-Hungary were not main "aggressors". In fact it has been revealed that Russia and France even started military mobilization earlier than Germany, another nail to coffin of that old Anglo French narrative of war.

  14. Recently I read I book called “Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War”. It states that the great war was planned by an elite group leaded by Alfred Milner 10 years before it started. Seems till today the spirit of this group still lives, leading to an endless series of wars. Would like to know what Indy thinks about that!

  15. At 7:29 you quote Norman Stone. I absolutely agree. There is no way that Britain was going to give up control of the English Channel and the North Sea. So tragic that the Kaiser could never grasp that.

  16. You just became my favorite foreign(for me) youtube channel when you pronounced Bosnia and Herzegovina correctly.I hereby thank you in the name of the entire nation.

  17. George the 5th, Nicholas the 2nd, and Wilhelm the 2nd, we're cousins more or less… so I keep thinking, how could they declare war on each other so easily 😀

  18. its actually crazy if you think about it. the one shot into franz ferdinand did start the great war (among other things of course). post war germany and the rise of the national socialists was created in an environment of frustration and claims to lost land from the first war, therefore a major influence on the start of second world war. second world war ends germany is divided and the stage is set for the iron curtain to cut europe in half. two powerhouse countries get into an arms race, space race etc and US comes out on top. US adopts interventionist role in world, starts sticking nose all over the place, russians also meddle in many proxy wars in the mid east and you have the geopolitical climate we have today. Obviously this is a gross oversimplification of world events but literally can all be traced roughly back to that one shot into franz ferdinand.

  19. The Naval confrontation Wilhelm caused. In the 19th Century Bismarck and Disraeli agreed, an elephant can't attack a whale. Two smart men who were missed in 1914.

  20. Very admirable Indy. In high school, I did not like history, . Now I am a bit of a history buff. What gets to me is the misconceptions I had, finding out that what I thought I knew was not so at all. Your channel and your narration has elucidated a lot of facts. I concur with your interpretation of the prelude to WWI. Thanks… Teacher…Sir…

  21. There was a sea battle between Britain and Germany in 1916 (The battle of Jutland), the Germans technically won the battle

  22. This pan-German union sounds a bit similar to the EU of today. Germany is the industrial capital of the EU and in a way it's leader. To think said ideas where thought 100 years ago really makes you think.

  23. This is interesting … World War one was a disaster for Europe – we need to find out why – when the Germans were defeated and we had the treaty of Versailles – this laid the building blocks for world war two – stupid – stupid – we should have helped Germany rebuild then – I am a Brit – and respect the German People. Now – 2019 – the International Bankers are trying to control all of us in Europe – trying to destroy our heritage – ALL of US – all people in Europe – need to RISE UP … Listen to the Gilets Jaunes in France – their message is solid . fight for out culture – fight for our heritage – this is a last chance – please listen – NO to George Soros and his ideology !

  24. This channel has given me better lessons on history than either college of high school provided… I've only watch about 6 videos, this is number 7.

  25. 6:20 can someone give more info about France thinking to invade Britain and vice versa?

  26. The biggest lesson I'm getting from these first two episodes is that the war was going to happen no matter what. The assassination of the Archduke was just an excuse

  27. Germany couldn’t afford two front war aganist France and Russia ? This is such a lie.They stand on two front war nearly 4 years.And without Britain,They could defeat both France and Russia with Austria-Hungary.Even France’s and Russia’s industry navy couldn’t defeat German one plus Austria.

  28. Yes an excellent series but did the series include an episode on Zionist influence in this war?

  29. The only reason the war was soo bad is because king of Britain, czar of russia, and kiaser of germany were all first cousins and Britain and russia would do anything to stop germany from being on the same level as them. Literally whole world goes to war over a family squabble. That's why it was soo bad. Usually after few battles theyd sign a treaty and say damn I'll get you next time, here's some land and money.

  30. This series should be taught to American children in public school. Most young people have no clue about either World War,  Korea or Vietnam.

  31. I was hoping to find the German version of the video, but I have not been able to find it among the comments or in the description, Am I missing something?

  32. I have finished watching your excellent series on the Great War and am starting on this series. I am currently reading A Reference History of the War by Irwin Scofield Guernsey which was published in 1920. It begins with a summary of the war then continues with the Underlying Causes. One of the things I'm getting out of the latter is the perception that the major and minor powers were basically driven by a combination of nationalism and greed. The major powers learned to disrespect the rights of others in their bids for colonies, so it is no stretch to see that they would not respect neutrality either if there was an evident need. All these nations seem to have gone forward with the medieval concept of might makes right. It is small wonder to me that, in the month's time it took from casus belli to declaration of war, no diplomatic solution would be found.

  33. The one thing that continues to puzzle me is that Great Britain, Germany, and Russia didn't form a triple entente. Since there monarchs shared a common Grandmother.

  34. You really could have gone with a map of the situation back then at 4:40, instead of the 1914 one who really didn't represent the situation you were talking about. ^^'

  35. From my recollection, the germany budget for its navy was 4x as much as England's budget for its navy, and yet england was still outbuilding germany's navy at least 2 ships to 1, and germany didn't have a fraction of the naval power england did after all the money germany poured into its navy (obviously england had a massive head start).

  36. This is a great series and really well done, but it is not correct that he uses England when he means Britain. They are not the same.

  37. How come the comments in Serbia Before World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special were disabled? Anywho, how did you figure in the war of 1885 Serbia was unprepared? They attack a country from the west when Bulgaria is excepting an attack on it's southern border having 85% of its army there hundreds of kilometers away from the place of Serbian invasion. This gave Serbia a massive advantage in men and weapons for many days on the battle field. The Serbs retained advantage even when the man and armor started getting more equal as more Bulgarian troops arrived from the southern border, since those troops were exhausted, hungry and barefooted from marching for days in rain and snow without rest and their shoes disintegrating on their feet from the weather and the long march. Serbs had advantage in more modern shot guns and better bullet supplies. Bulgarians eventually had artillery supremacy but still had to compensate for the lack of bullets with bayonet attacks and counterattacks. The latter were devastating to the Serbs who could not stand their ground until they retreated into Serbia where they finally started staying their ground against the Bulgarian bayonets. The highest ranking officer in the young Bulgarian army was a captain against the Serbs seasoned generals.
    For the second Balkan war you said that Bulgaria was soundly defeated. Let me disabuse you of that notion. After going back and forth Bulgaria finally earns a spectacular defensive victory against the Serbs at the Karamanci heights were the Serbs are stopped and their allies the Montenegrian army is completely annihilated. Soon after the Serbs other allies the Greeks are almost completely surrounded at the Kresna pass and face complete annihilation. Since there are two other countries attacking Bulgaria besides the above mentioned, Bulgaria accepts a peace deal in which she gets out of the war significantly bigger than it entered the First Balkan War. How is that a sound defeat? Sure, Bulgaria was unhappy with the final tally but it was a choice to fight another day.

  38. Super wealthy arms manufacturers, oil and population control were the main reasons for WWI. Since then weopons makers and global corporations have been behind most wars all over the world supplying all combatants with the tools of death

  39. I didn't discover this channel until late 2016, and I'm still playing catch up. I've read dozens and dozen of books on the Greast War, and this a perhaps the best explanation of the subject I've ever encountered. I'm sorry I missed the first two years: I can watch the previous shows but the impact of seeing the program 100 years after the fact is lost. Great idea, great presentation, great everything!

  40. great video apart from you keeps saying 'England' instead of 'Britain'. Scotland/ Wales/ Ireland all involved too! England not a 'Great European Power'- but Britain is. It's like naming a US state instead of referring to the whole of the US.

  41. If you were to add up all the man hours lost , all the treasure expended and all the resources used to make this war, where would civilization be today?

  42. If Germany won this war its arguable that the world would be a much better place… no depression, no hitler, no communism, just a changing of the guard of global dominance from English influence to German… sheesh

  43. I was under the impression that Austria was trying to protect its investments in Bosnia Herzegovina, They were awarded the Protectorate of BH at the 1878 Berlin Congress. Although AH invested in mining, railroads, industry, infrastructure and even clerical they never bettered the BH working class. Also, AH reneged on a deal over Russia's annexing Constantinople at the same time. Also, AH cut a deal with Envar Pasha of the Ottoman Empire to approve the BH annexation of their territory. This left Russia looking like a fool to the rest of the world and they were succored into the 1909 BH Apology with Serbia by the World Powers. Russia inherited Serbia's misgivings over the Regicide of King Alexander and Queen Draga. As a result, the World Powers included Russia with Serbian in the retributions of 1909 Apology to AH. Russia ended up looking like a fool because Serbia promoted the Black Hand Assassins instead of punishing them. In short, this is one of the dozens of assinine moves that led to The Great War. I did my best.

  44. Excellent, superb! Best documentary series to ever show up on YouTube (or even History Channel, for that matter). Thank you Indy and team!

  45. In 1914 the capitale of Europe dont was berlin but paris and hitler dont studie the art in berlin but in paris. STOP REMAKE HISTORY BIG AMERICAN

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