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20 October 2014
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The Road To War: The Triple Alliance
To what extent did the Triple Alliance expect war?

The great European powers were building up empires with many colonies in Asia and Africa. They were also building up their military strength. The only European rival of Germany for the greatest navy was Britain. The German armed forces were large and well-trained, as Germany required every man to serve some time in the military.

The Balkan states had been in crisis for many years, with the first of the two Balkan Wars in 1912. The small nations of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Herzegovina and other states wanted independence from the larger countries like Turkey, Greece and Austria. Many revolutionary groups, especially in Serbia, protested violently at Austrian rule. Russia supported many of these countries against Austria, partly because they were all Slavic, and partly because it wanted to rule this territory, too. If anywhere, the Balkans was the area where a European war would start.

Germany had been developing a plan for a European war since 1905 when Count von Schlieffen began work on a strategy to deal with the two fronts created by France and Russia. Russia's enormous size and poor railroads would make it difficult to quickly mobilise armies to the German border. If the Triple Alliance could knock out France first in a six-week sweep from neutral Belgium to Paris, it could then turn to Russia without splitting its army into two halves.

Why do you think Germany did not do more to make peace between Austria and Serbia, but drew Russia into a larger war?

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A - To engage France and Russia on the terms of the Schlieffen plan, avoiding giving Russia more time to prepare.

B - To gain land from France and Russia in Europe and in their colonies.

C - To demonstrate to the world their military power.

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