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Traditionally, the alliances have been regarded as very important, almost as if they dragged unwilling countries to war. In reality, for a considerable time before 1914 Europe had been divided into opposing blocs, and this reflected real clashes of interest. It would be quite wrong to assume that without alliances the war have remained a local conflict. Joncey

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17y ago
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17y ago

This goes back to Bismarck, who set up a bizarre system of partly incompatible alliances. His instinct was to set up an alliance of the main autocratic countries in Europe (Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary) against what he called 'the followers of the red flag', meaning Britain and France. Given conflicts of interest between Russia and Austria-Hungary this alliance collapsed soon after 1890. Bismarck also established the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and a less enthusiastic Italy. In 1892, following the ending of the alliance between Russia and Germany, Russia made an alliance with the other country that was worried at that time about the growth of German power, namely France. After fruitless negotiations between Britain and Germany in 1897, and the start of the Anglo-German naval arms race, Britain initially made an agreement with France in 1904 (the Anglo-French Entente) to solve conflicts of interest. It wasn't strictly an alliance. In 1904 the British government believed that the two main alliances more or less balanced one another. This view was shattered very soon afterwards by Russia's defeat by Japan in 1905. What worried the British government much more than the actual defeat was the behaviour of the press in Russia: instead of lining up patriotically behind the Tsar and the government, the intellectuals and the press gleefully celebrated Russian defeats and moaned about any minor successes. The British view was that Russia lacked the social cohesion to fight really effectively in a major war. It's often said that the British General Staff didn't take Russia seriously as a military power again till 1943. They were unimpressed by the vast sums of money that Russia poured into defence from 1908 onwards. The British government decided (in 1906) that in the event of a major European war it would probably have to throw its full weight behind France - which is what it did in 1914. This is lengthy but I hope it helps. Joncey

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15y ago

The Alliance at the outbreak of WW1 consisted of Britain, France, Italy and Russia against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. The British Empire and Commonwealth nations (i.e. India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, Rhodesia etc.) were on the side of Britain; the dependent nations of France, Germany and Italy also supported their colonial overlords. Greece was initially neutral, but came over to the British & French side following the overthrowal of the Greek monarchists and the recognition by the Allies of Prime Minister Venizelos's government. The United States also began by remaining technically neutral, though morally supported the Allied cause and provided material and economic aid- it finally entered the war militarily at the end of 1916. Russia withdrew from the War completely following the Revolution in 1917, believing that the conflict was a needless sacrifice by rival Capitalist warmongers that a People's Republic had no reason to support-however, a Civil War began in the new USSR in 1918 that ran on until 1922.

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Q: What alliance existed at the beginning of world war 1?
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