Nations of Europe and the Great War - Charles Morris

Underlying Causes of the Great European War


What brought on the mighty war which so suddenly sprang forth? What evident, what subtle, what deep-hidden causes led to this sudden demolition of the temple of peace? What pride of power, what lust of ambition, what desire of imperial dominion cast the armed hosts of the nations into the field of conflict, on which multitudes of innocent victims were to be sacrificed to the insatiate hunger for blood of the modern Moloch?

Here are questions which few are capable of answering. Ostensible answers may be given, surface causes, reasons of immediate potency. But no one will be willing to accept these as the true moving causes. For a continent to spring in a week's time from complete peace into almost universal war, with all the great and several of the small Powers involved, is not to be explained by an apothegm or embraced within the limits of a paragraph. If not all, certainly several of these nations had enmities to be unchained, ambitions to be gratified, long-hidden purposes to be put in action. They seemed to have been awaiting an opportunity, and it came when the anger of the Servians at the seizure of Bosnia by Austria culminated in a mad act of assassination.

Assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince

The immediate cause, so far as apparent to us, of the war in question was the murder, on June 29, 1914, of the Austrian Crown Prince Francis Ferdinand and his wife, while on a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, the assassin being a Servian student, supposed to have come for that purpose from Belgrade, the Servian capital. The inspiring cause of this dastardly act was the feeling of hostility towards Austria which was widely entertained in Servia. Bosnia was a part of the ancient kingdom of Servia. The bulk of its people are of Slavic origin and speak the Servian language. Servia was eager to regain it, as a possible outlet for a border on the Mediterranean Sea. When, therefore, in 1908, Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, which had been under her military control since 1878, the indignation in Servia was great. While it had died down in a measure in the subsequent years, the feeling of injury survived in many hearts, and there is little reason to doubt that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was a result of this pervading sentiment.

In fact, the Austrian government was satisfied that the murder plot was hatched in Belgrade and held that Servian officials were in some way concerned in it. The Servian press gave some warrant for this, being openly boastful and defiant in its comments. When the Austrian consul-general at Belgrade dropped dead in the consulate the papers showed their satisfaction and hinted that he had been poisoned. This attitude of the press evidently was one of the reasons for the stringent demand made by Austria on July 23d, requiring apology and change of attitude from Servia and asking for a reply by the hour of 6 P. M. on the 25th. The demands were in part as follows:

  1. An apology by the Servian government in its official journal for all Pan-Servian propaganda and for the participation of Servian army officers in it, and warning all Servians in the future to desist from anti-Austrian demonstrations.
  2. That orders to this effect should be issued to the Servian army.
  3. That Servia should dissolve all societies capable of conducting intrigues against Austria.
  4. That Servia should curb the activities of the Servian press in regard to Austria.
  5. That Austrian officials should be permitted to conduct an inquiry in Servia independent of the Servian government into the Sarajevo plot.

An answer to these demands was sent out at ten minutes before 6 o'clock on the 25th, in which Servia accepted all demands except the last, which it did not deem "in accordance with international law and good neighborly relations." It asked that this demand should be submitted to The Hague Tribunal. The Austrian Minister at Belgrade, Baron Giesl von Gieslingen, refused to accept this reply and at once left the capital with the entire staff of the legation. The die was cast, as Austria probably intended that it should be.

Austria's Motive in Making War

It had, in fact, become evident early in July that the military party in Austria was seeking to manufacture a popular demand for war, based on the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife. Such was the indication of the tone of the Vienna newspapers, which appeared desirous of working up a sentiment hostile to Servia. It may be doubted if the aged emperor was a party to this. Probably his assent was a forced one, due to the insistence of the war party and the public sentiment developed by it. That the murder of the Archduke was the real cause of the action of Austria can scarcely be accepted in view of Servia's acceptance of Austria's rigid demands. The actual cause was undoubtedly a deeper one, that of Austria's long-cherished purpose of gaining a foothold on the Aegean Sea, for which the possession of Servia was necessary as a preliminary step. A plausible motive was needed, any pretext that would serve as a satisfactory excuse to Europe for hostile action and that could at the same time be utilized in developing Austrian indignation against the Servians. Such a motive came in the act of assassination and immediate use was made of it. The Austrian war party contended that the deed was planned at Belgrade, that it had been fomented by Servian officials, and that these had supplied the murderer with explosives and aided in their transfer into Bosnia.

[Illustration] from Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris


What evidence Austria possessed leading to this opinion we do not know. While it is not likely that there was any actual evidence, the case was one that called for investigation, and Austria was plainly within its rights in demanding such an inquiry and due punishment of every one found to be connected with the tragic deed. But Austria went farther than this. It was willing to accept nothing less than a complete and humiliating submission on the part of Servia. And the impression was widely entertained, whether with or without cause, that in this Austria was not acting alone but that it had the full support of Germany. That country also may be supposed to have had its ends to gain. What these were we shall consider later.

Servia Accepts Austria's Demands


Imperious as had been the demand of Austria, one which would never have been submitted to a Power of equal strength, Servia accepted it, expressing itself as willing to comply with all the conditions imposed except that relating to the participation of Austrian officials in the inquiry, an explanation being asked on this point. If this reply should be deemed inadequate, Servia stood ready to submit the question at issue to The Hague Peace Tribunal and to the Powers which had signed the declaration of 1909 relating to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The subsequent action of Austria was significant. The Austrian Minister at Belgrade, as before stated, rejected it as unsatisfactory and immediately left the Servian capital. He acted, in short, with a precipitancy that indicated that he was acting under instructions. This was made very evident by what immediately followed. When news came on July 28th that war had been declared and active hostilities commenced, it was accompanied by the statement that Austria would not now be satisfied even with a full acceptance of her demands.

That the intention of this imperious demand and what quickly followed was to force a war, no one can doubt. Servia's nearly complete assent to the conditions imposed was declared to be not only unsatisfactory, but also "dishonorable," a word doubtless deliberately used. Evidently no door was to be left open for retrogressive consideration.

The Ironies of History

It is one of the ironies of history that a people who once played a leading part in saving the Austrian capital from capture should come to be threatened by the armies of that capital. This takes us back to the era when Servia, a powerful empire of those days, fell under the dominion of the conquering Turks, whose armies further overran Hungary and besieged Vienna. Had this city been captured, all central Europe would have lain open to the barbarities of the Turks. In its defense the Servians played a leading part, so great a one that we are told by a Hungarian historian, "It was the Serb Bacich who saved Vienna." But in 1914 Servia was brought to the need of saving itself from Vienna.

What Austria had to Gain

If it be asked what Austria had to gain by this act; what was her aim in forcing war upon a far weaker state; the answer is at hand. The Balkan States, of which Servia is a prominent member, lie in a direct line between Europe and the Orient. A great power occupying the whole of the Balkan peninsula would possess political advantages far beyond those enjoyed by Austria-Hungary. It would be in a position giving it great influence over, if not strategic control of, the Suez Canal, the commerce of the Mediterranean, and a considerable all-rail route between Central Europe and the far East. Salonika, on the Aegean Sea, now in Greek territory, is one of the finest harbors on the Mediterranean Sea. A railway through Servia now connects this port with Austria and Germany. In addition to this railway it is not unlikely that a canal may in the near future connect the Danube with the harbor of Salonika. If this project should be carried out, the commerce of the Danube and its tributary streams and canals, even that of central and western Germany, would be able to reach the Mediterranean without passing through the perilous Iron Gates of the Danube or being subjected to the delays and dangers incident to the long passage through the Black Sea and the Grecian Archipelago.

[Illustration] from Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris


We can see in all this a powerful motive for Austria to seek to gain possession of Servia, as a step towards possible future control of the whole Balkan peninsula. The commercial and manufacturing interests of Austria-Hungary were growing, and mastership of such a route to the Mediterranean would mean immense advantage to this ambitious empire. Possession of northern Italy once gave her the advantage of an important outlet to the Mediterranean. This, through events that will be spoken of in later chapters, was lost to her. She apparently then sought to reach it by a more direct and open road, that leading through Salonika.

Such seem the reasons most likely to have been active in the Austrian assault upon Servia. The murder of an Austrian archduke by an insignificant assassin gave no sufficient warrant for the act. The whole movement of events indicates that Austria was not seeking retribution for a crime but seizing upon a pretext for a predetermined purpose and couching her demands upon Servia in terms which no self-respecting nation could accept without protest. Servia was to be put in a position from which she could not escape and every door of retreat against the arbitrament of war was closed against her.

But in this retrospect we are dealing with Austria and Servia alone. What brought Germany, what brought France, what brought practically the whole of Europe into the struggle? What caused it to grow with startling suddenness from a minor into a major conflict, from a contest between a bulldog and a terrier into a battle between lions? What were the unseen and unnoted conditions that, within little more than a week's time, induced all the leading nations of Europe to cast down the gage of battle and spring full-armed into the arena, bent upon a struggle which threatened to surpass any that the world had ever seen? Certainly no trifling causes were here involved. Only great and far-reaching causes could have brought about such a catastrophe. All Europe appeared to be sitting, unknowingly or knowingly, upon a powder barrel which only needed some inconsequent hand to apply the match. It seems incredible that the mere pulling of a trigger by a Servian student and the slaughter of an archduke in the Bosnian capital could in a month's time have plunged all Europe into war. From small causes great events may rise. Certainly that with which we are here dealing strikingly illustrates this homely apothegm.

How the War Became Continental

We cannot hope to point out the varied causes which were at work in this vast event. Very possibly the leading ones are unknown to us. Yet some of the important ones are evident and may be made evident, and to these we must restrict ourselves.

[Illustration] from Europe and the Great War by Charles Morris


Allusion has already been made to the general belief that the Emperor of Germany was deeply concerned in it, and that Austria would not have acted as it did without assurance of support, in fact without direct instigation, from some strong allied Power, and this Power is adjudged alike by public and private opinion to have been Germany, acting in the person of its ambitious war lord, the dominating Kaiser.

It may be stated that all the Powers concerned have sought to disclaim responsibility. Thus Servia called the world to witness that her answer to Austria was the limit of submission and conciliation. Austria, through her ambassador to the United States, solemnly declared that her assault upon Servia was a measure of "self-defense." Russia explained her action as "benevolent intervention," and expressed "a humble hope in omnipotent providence" that her hosts would be triumphant. Germany charged France with perfidious attack upon the unarmed border of the fatherland, and proclaimed a holy war for "the security of her territory." France and England, Belgium and Italy deplored the conflict and protested that they were innocent of offense. So far as all this is concerned the facts are generally held to point to Germany as the chief instigator of the war.

Russia, indeed, had made threatening movements toward Austria as a warning to her to desist from her threatened invasion of Servia. Great Britain proposed mediation. Germany made no movement in the direction of preventing the war, but directed its attention to Russia, warning it to stop mobilization within twenty-four hours, and immediately afterward beginning a similar movement of mobilization in its own territory. On August 1st Germany declared war against Russia, the first step towards making the contest a continental one. On the 2d, when France began mobilization, German forces moved against Russia and France simultaneously and invaded the neutral states of Luxembourg and Belgium. It was her persistence in the latter movement that brought Great Britain into the contest, as this country was pledged to support Belgian neutrality. On August 4th, Great Britain sent an ultimatum to Germany to withdraw from the neutral territory which her troops had entered. Germany retorted by a declaration of war against Great Britain. This was issued at 7 P. M. Great Britain replied by a similar declaration at 11 P. M.

An Editorial Opinion

As regards the significance of these movements, in which Germany hurled declarations of war in rapid succession to east and west, and forced the issue of a continental war upon nations which had taken no decisive step, it may suffice to quote an editorial summing up of the situation as regards Germany, from the Philadelphia North American of August 7th:

"From these facts there is no escape. Leaving aside all questions of justice or political expediency, the aggressor throughout has been Germany. Austria's fury over the assassination of the heir to the throne was natural. But Servia tendered full reparation. So keen and conservative an authority as Rear Admiral Mahan declares that 'the aggressive insolence' of Austria's ultimatum 'and Servia's concession of all demands except those too humiliating for national self-respect' show that behind Austria's assault was the instigation of Berlin. He adds:

"'Knowing how the matter would be viewed in Russia, it is incredible that Austria would have ventured on the ultimatum unless assured beforehand of the consent of Germany. The inference is irresistible that it was the pretext for a war already determined upon as soon as plausible occasion offered.'

"Circumstantial evidence, at least, places responsibility for the flinging of the first firebrand upon the government of the Kaiser. Now, who added fuel to the flames, until the great conflagration was under way?

"The next move was the Czar's. 'Fraternal sentiments of the Russian people for the Slavs in Servia,' he says, led him to order partial mobilization, following Austria's invasion of Servia. Instantly Germany protested, and within forty-eight hours sent an ultimatum demanding that Russia cease her preparations. On the following day Germany began mobilizing, and twenty-four hours later declared war on Russia. Mobilization in France, necessitated by these events, was anticipated by Germany, which simultaneously flung forces into Russia, France, Luxembourg and Belgium.

"It was Germany's historic policy of 'blood and iron' that fired Austria to attempt the crushing of Servia. It was Germany that hurled an ultimatum, swiftly followed by an army, at Russia. It was Germany that struck first at the French frontier. It was Germany that trampled upon solemn treaty engagements by invading the neutral states of Luxembourg and Belgium. And it was Germany that, in answer to England's demand that the neutrality of Belgium be protected, declared war against Great Britain.

"Regardless, therefore, of questions of right and wrong, it is undeniable that in each succeeding crisis Germany has taken the aggressive. In so doing she has been inspired by a supreme confidence in her military might. But she has less reason to be proud of her diplomacy. The splendid audacity of her moves cannot obscure the fact that in making the case upon which she will be judged she has been outmaneuvered by the deliberation of Russia, the forbearance of France and the patience of Great Britain. She has assumed the role of international autocrat, while giving her foes the advantage of prosecuting a patriotic war of defense.

"Particularly is this true touching the violation of neutral territory. For nearly half a century the duchy of Luxembourg has been considered a 'perpetually neutral state,' under solemn guarantee of Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Russia. Since 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, it, too, has been held 'an independent and perpetually neutral state,' that status being solemnly declared in a convention signed by Great Britain, France, Russia, Austria and Prussia. Yet the first war move of Germany was to overrun these countries, seize their railroads, bombard their cities and lay waste their territories.

"For forty years Germany has been the exemplar of a progressive civilization. In spite of her adherence to inflated militarism, she has put the whole world in her debt by her inspiring industrial and scientific achievements. Her people have taught mankind lessons of incalculable value, and her sons have enriched far distant lands with their genius. Not the least of the catastrophes inflicted by this inhuman war is that an unbridled autocracy has brought against the great German empire an indictment for arrogant assault upon the peace of nations and the security of human institutions."

Is the Kaiser Responsible?

How much reliance is to be placed on the foregoing newspaper opinion, and on the prevailing sentiment holding Kaiser Wilhelm responsible for flinging the war bomb that disrupted the ranks of peace, no one can say. Every one naturally looked for the fomenter of this frightful international conflict and was disposed to place the blame on the basis of rumor and personal feeling. On the other hand each nation concerned has vigorously disclaimed responsibility for the cataclysm. Austria—very meekly—claimed that Servia precipitated the conflict. Germany blamed it upon Russia and France, the former from Slavic race sentiment, the latter from enmity that had existed since the loss of Alsace and Lorraine in 1870. They, on the contrary, laid all the blame upon Germany. In the case of England alone we have a clear vista. The obligation of the island kingdom to maintain the neutral position of Belgium and the utter disregard of this neutrality by Germany forced her to take part and throw her armies into the field for the preservation of her international obligations.

Many opinions were extant, many views advanced. One of these, from Robert C. Long, a war correspondent of note, laid the total responsibility upon Austria, which, he said, plunged Europe into war in disregard of the Kaiser, who vigorously sought to prevent the outbreak, even threatening his ally in his efforts to preserve peace. In his view, "All the blood-guiltiness in this war will rest upon two Powers, Austria and Russia. It rests on Austria for her undue harshness to Servia and on Russia for its dishonesty in secretly mobilizing its entire army at a time when it was imploring the Kaiser to intervene for peace, and when the Kaiser was working for peace with every prospect of success."

We have quoted one editorial opinion holding Germany wholly responsible. Here is another, from the New York Times, which, with a fair degree of justice, distributes the responsibility among all the warring nations of Europe:

"Germany is not responsible; Russia is not responsible, or Austria, or France, or England. The pillars of civilization are undermined and human aspirations bludgeoned down by no Power, but by all Powers; by no autocrats, but by all autocrats; not because this one or that has erred or dared or dreamed or swaggered, but because all, in a mad stampede for armament, trade and territory, have sowed swords and guns, nourished harvests of death-dealing crops, made ready the way.

"For what reason other than war have billions in bonds and taxes been clamped on the backs of all Europe? None sought to evade war; each sought to be prepared to triumph when it came. At most some chancelleries whispered for delay, postponement; they knew the clash to be inevitable; if not today, tomorrow. Avoid war! What else have they lived for, what else prepared for, what else have they inculcated in the mind of youth than the sureness of the conflict and the great glory of offering themselves to this Moloch in sacrifice?

"No Power involved can cover up the stain. It is indelible, the sin of all Europe. It could have been prevented by common agreement. There was no wish to prevent it. Munition manufacturers were not alone in urging the race to destruction, physical and financial. The leaders were for it. It was policy. A boiling pot will boil, a nurtured seed will grow. There was no escape from the avowed goal. A slow drift to the inevitable, a thunderbolt forged, the awful push toward the vortex! What men and nations want they get."

Germany's Stake in the War

What had Germany to gain in the war in the instigation of which she is charged with being so deeply involved? Territorial aggrandizement may have been one of her purposes. Belgium and Holland lay between her and the open Atlantic, and the possession of these countries, with their splendid ports, would pay her well for a reasonable degree of risk and cost. The invasion of Belgium as her first move in the war game may have had an ulterior purpose in the acquisition of that country, one likely to be as distasteful to France as the taking over of Alsace-Lorraine. Perhaps the neutral position taken by Holland, with her seeming inclination in favor of Germany, may have had more than racial relations behind it. Considerations of ultimate safety from annexation may have had its share in this attitude of neutrality.

The general impression has been that Germany went to war with the purpose of establishing beyond question her political and military supremacy on the European continent. Military despotism in Germany was the decisive factor in making inevitable the general war. The Emperor of Germany stood as the incarnation and exponent of the Prussian policy of military autocracy. He had ruled all German States in unwavering obedience to the militarist maxim: "In times of peace prepare for war." He had used to the full his autocratic power in building up the German Empire and in making it not only a marvel of industrial efficiency, but also a stupendous military machine. In this effort he had burdened the people of Germany with an ever-increasing war budget. The limit in this direction was reached with the war budget of the year 1912, when the revenues of the princes and of all citizens of wealth were specially taxed. No new sources of revenue remained. A crisis had come.

That crisis, from Germany's point of view, was not any menace from Britain or any fear of the British power. It was rather the very real and very rapidly rising menace of the new great Slav power on Germany's border, including, as it did, the Russian Empire and the entire line of Slav countries that encircled Germanic Austria from the Adriatic to Bohemia. These Slav peoples are separated from the governing Teutonic race in the Austrian Empire by the gulfs of blood, language, and religion. And in Europe the Slav population very largely outnumbers the Teuton population.

Recent events, especially in the Balkan wars, had made it plain, not to the German Emperor alone, but to all the world, that the growth into an organized power of more than two hundred millions of Slav peoples along nearly three thousand miles of international frontier was a menace to the preservation of Teuton supremacy in Europe. That Teuton supremacy was based on the sword. The German Emperor's appeal was to "My sword." But when the new sword of the united Slav power was allowed to be unsheathed, German supremacy was threatened on its own ground and by the weapon of its own choosing.

However all this be, and it must be admitted that it is to a degree speculative, there were in 1914 conditions existing that appeared to render the time a suitable one for the seemingly inevitable continental war. Revelations pointing to defects in the French army, deficiencies of equipment and weaknesses in artillery, had been made in the French Parliament. The debate that occurred was fully dwelt upon in the German papers. And on July 16th the organ of Berlin radicalism, the Vossische Zeitung, published a leading article to show that Russia was not prepared for war, and never had been. As for France, it said: "A Gallic cock with a lame wing is not the ideal set up by the Russians. And when the Russian eagle boasts of being in the best of health who is to believe him? Why should the French place greater confidence in the inveterate Russian disorganization than in their own defective organization?"

As regards the Kaiser's own estimate of his preparedness for war, and the views of national polity he entertained, we shall let him speak for himself in the following extracts from former utterances:

"We will be everywhere victorious even if we are surrounded by enemies on all sides and even if we have to fight superior numbers, for our most powerful ally is God above, who, since the time of the Great Elector and Great King, has always been on our side."—At Berlin, March 29, 1901.

"I vowed never to strike for world mastery. The world empire that I then dreamed of was to create for the German empire on all sides the most absolute confidence as a quiet, honest and peaceable neighbor. I have vowed that if ever the time came when history should speak of a German world power or a Hohenzollern world power this should not be based on conquest, but come through a mutual striving of nations after a common purpose.

"After much has been done internally in a military way, the next thing must be the arming ourselves at sea. Every German battleship is a new guarantee for the peace of the world. We are the salt of the earth, but must prove worthy of being so, Therefore our youth must learn to deny what is not good for them.

"With all my heart I hope that golden peace will continue to be present with us."—At Bremen, March 22, 1905.

"My first and last care is for my fighting forces on land and sea. May God grant that war may not come, but should the cloud descend, I am firmly convinced that the army will acquit itself as it did so nobly thirty-five years ago."—At Berlin, February 25, 1906.

In the early days of the reign of William II war was prominent in his utterances. He was the War Lord in full feather, and the world at that time looked with dread upon this new and somewhat blatant apostle of militarism. Yet year after year passed until the roll of almost three decades was achieved, without his drawing the sword, and the world began to regard him as an apostle of peace, a wise and capable ruler who could gain his ends without the shedding of blood. What are we to believe now? Had he been wearing a mask for all these years, biding his time, hiding from view a deeply cherished purpose? Or did he really believe that a mission awaited him, that regeneration of the world through the sanguinary path of the battlefield was his duty, and that by the aid of a successful war he could inaugurate a safer and sounder era of peace?

We throw out these ideas as suggestions only. What the Kaiser purposed, what deep-laid schemes of international policy he entertained, will, perhaps, never be known. But if he was really responsible for the great war, as he was so widely accused of being, the responsibility he assumed was an awful one. If he was not responsible, as he declared and as some who claim to have been behind the scenes maintain, the world will be ready to absolve him when his innocence has been made evident.

Why Russia Entered the Field

In this survey of the causes of the great war under consideration the position of Russia comes next. That country was the first to follow Austria and begin the threatening work of mobilization. Germany's first open participation consisted in a warning to Russia that this work must cease. Only when her warning was disregarded did Germany begin mobilization and declare war. All this was the work of a very few days, but in this era of active military preparedness it needs only days, only hours in some instances, to change from a state of peace into a state of war and hurl great armed hosts against the borders of hostile nations.

The general impression was that it was the Slavic race sentiment that inspired Russia's quick action. Servia, a country of Slavs, brothers in race to a large section of the people of Russia, was threatened with national annihilation and her great kinsman sprang to her rescue, determined that she should not be absorbed by her land-hungry neighbor. This seemed to many a sufficient cause for Russia's action. Not many years before, when Austria annexed her wards, Bosnia and Herzegovina, both Slavic countries, Russia protested against the act. She would doubtless have done more than protest but for her financial and military weakness arising from the then recent Russo-Japanese War. In 1914 she was much stronger in both these elements of national power and lost not a day in preparing to march to Servia's aid.

But was this the whole, or indeed the chief, moving impulse in Russia's action? Was she so eager an advocate of Pan-Slavism as such a fact would indicate? Had she not some other purpose in view, some fish of her own to fry, some object of moment to obtain? Many thought so. They were not willing to credit the Russian bear with an act of pure international benevolence. Wars of pure charity are rarely among the virtuous acts of nations. As it had been suggested that Germany saw in the war a possible opportunity to gain a frontier on the Atlantic, so it was hinted that Russia had in mind a similar frontier on the Mediterranean. Time and again she had sought to wring Constantinople from the hands of the Turks. In 1877 she was on the point of achieving this purpose when she was halted and turned back by the Congress of Berlin and the bellicose attitude of the nations that stood behind it.

Here was another and seemingly a much better opportunity. The Balkan War had almost accomplished the conquest of the great Turkish capital and left Turkey in a state of serious weakness. If Europe should be thrown into the throes of a general war, in which every nation would have its own interests to care for, Russia's opportunity to seize upon the prize for which she had so long sought was an excellent one, there being no one in a position to say her nay. To Russia the possession of Constantinople was like the possession of a new world, and this may well have been her secret motive in springing without hesitation into the war. Her long-sought prize hung temptingly within reach of her hand, the European counterpart of the "Monroe Doctrine" could not now be evoked to stay her grasp, and it seems highly probable that in this may have lain the chief cause of Russia's participation in the war.

France's Hatred of Germany

The Republic of France was less hasty than Russia and Germany in issuing a declaration of war. Yet there, too, the order of mobilization was quickly issued and French troops were on the march toward the German border before Germany had taken a similar step. France had not forgotten her humiliation in 1870. So far was she from forgetting it that she cherished a vivid recollection of what she had lost and an equally vivid enmity towards Germany in consequence. Enmity is hardly the word. Hatred better fits the feeling entertained. And this was kept vitally alive by the fact that Alsace and Lorraine, two of her former provinces, still possessing a considerable French population, were now held as part of the dominions of her enemy. The sore rankled and hope of retribution lay deep in the heart of the French. Here seemed an opportunity to achieve this long-cherished purpose, and we may reasonably believe that the possibility of regaining this lost territory made France eager to take part in the coming war. She had been despoiled by Germany, a valued portion of her territory had been wrested from her grasp, a promising chance of regaining it lay before her. She had the men; she had the arms; she had a military organization vastly superior to that of 1870; she had the memory of her former triumphs over the now allied nations of Austria and Germany; she had her obligations to aid Russia as a further inducement. The causes of her taking part in the war are patent, especially in view of the fact that in a very brief interval after her declaration her troops had crossed the border and were marching gaily into Alsace, winning battles and occupying towns as they advanced.

Great Britain and Italy

We have suggested that in the case alike of Austria, Russia, Germany and France the hope of gaining valuable acquisitions of territory was entertained. In the case of France, enmity to Germany was an added motive, the territory she sought being land of which she had been formerly despoiled. These purposes of changing the map of Europe did not apply to or influence Great Britain. That country had no territory to gain and no great military organization to exercise. She possessed the most powerful navy of any country in the world, but she was moved by no desire of showing her strength upon the sea. There was no reason, so far as any special advantage to herself was concerned, for her taking part in the war, and her first step was a generous effort to mediate between the Powers in arms.

Only when Belgium—a small nation that was in a sense under the guardianship of Great Britain, so far as its nationality and neutrality were concerned—was invaded by Germany without warning, did Britain feel it incumbent upon her to come to its aid. This may not have been entirely an act of benevolence. There was a probability that Germany, once in control of Belgium, would not readily let go. She might add it to her empire, a fact likely to seriously affect British commerce. However this be, Great Britain lost no time after the invasion in becoming a party to the continental war, sending her fleet abroad and enlisting troops for service in the aid of her allies, France and Belgium.

Italy, a member of the Triple Alliance, the other members of which were Germany and Austria, was the only one of the great. Powers that held aloof. She had absolutely nothing to gain by taking part in the war, while her late large expenses in the conquest of Tripoli had seriously depleted her war chest. As regards her alliance with Germany and Austria, it put her under no obligation to come to their aid in an offensive war. Her obligation was restricted to aid in case they were attacked, and she justly held that no such condition existed. As a result, Germany and Austria found themselves at war with the three powerful members of the Triple Entente, while Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, declined to draw the sword.

The defection of Italy was a serious loss to the power of the allies, so much so that Emperor William threatened her with war if she failed to fulfil her assumed obligations. This threat. Italy quietly ignored. She gave indications, in fact, that her sympathies were with the opposite party. Thus Germany and Austria found themselves pitted against three great Powers and a possible fourth, with the addition of the two small nations of Servia and Belgium. And the latter were not to be despised as of negligible importance. Servia quickly showed an ability to check the forward movements of Austria, while Belgium, without aid, long held a powerful German army at bay, defending the city and fortresses of Liege with a boldness and success that called forth the admiring acclamations of the world.

The Triple Alliance and Triple Entente

This review of causes and motives may be supplemented by a brief statement of what is meant by the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, terms which come into common prominence in discussing European politics. They indicate the division of Europe, so far as its greater Powers are concerned, into two fully or partially allied bodies, the former consisting of Germany, Austria and Italy, the latter of Great Britain, France and Russia. These organizations are of comparatively recent date. The Alliance began in 1879 in a compact between Germany and_ Austria, a Dual Alliance, which was converted into a Triple one in 1883, Italy then, through the influence of Bismarck, joining the alliance. In this compact Austria and Germany pledged themselves to mutual assistance if attacked by Russia; Italy and Germany to the same if attacked by France.

The Triple Entente—or Understanding—arose from a Dual Alliance between France and Russia, formed in 1887, an informal understanding between Britain and France in 1904 and a similar understanding between Britain and Russia in 1907. Its purpose, as formed by Edward VII, was to balance the Triple Alliance and thus convert Europe into two great military camps. When organized there seemed little probability of its being called into activity for many years.