World War I’s origins were in the Serbian nationalists under Austrian-Hungarian rule. These nationalists wanted freedom for the Serbs from foreign rule. This movement was called pan-slavism and was primarily aimed at freeing the Serbs and creating a new independent country for them.
In the West, France wanted certain territories back from Germany, and was nursing grievances against it. Therefore, Germany, with the French on one side and the Russians (allies of the Serbs) on the other, began to fear encirclement and a two-front war. A two-front war would be a situation in which Russia and France would fight as allies against Germany.
The prime minister of Germany, Otto von Bismarck, in anticipation of a two-front war, made an alliance with Russia—a re-insurance treaty. He also made alliances with Austria (1879) and Italy (1882). Italy however, later broke this treaty and joined France, Britain and Russia. Continue reading