How World War I Started

The Lowdown — How World War I Started


1. Work with a classmate to see if you can match the country to the individual lowdown statements
2. Identify examples of the 4 main WWI causes—Imperialism, Militarism, Nationalism, Alliance System
3. Based on what each country says, identify which side (Allies or Central Powers) you think they’re on

Countries to Match:

Austro-Hungarian Empire
Great Britain
Ottoman Empire
United States

The Lowdown — How World War I Started

Allies Central Powers
United States


_______________________: I’m the union between Austria and Hungary with the idea that we make a stronger empire together than we would separately. It’s hard to keep this union, though. Austrians like to act like they’re the boss…Hungarians get sick of Austrians acting like they’re more important (lots of drama!). When the Ottoman Empire started to fade away, we saw an opportunity to grab Bosnia, so we did. We’ll start off there. Who knows. If things work out, we may be able to add more territory. I think we’ll send Archduke Ferdinand for a “tour” of Bosnia to scout things out for taking over Serbia.

_______________________: I’ve been ticked off for years about having some other country / empire control me. The Ottoman Empire ruled over me for almost 300 years. And when we Balkan countries FINALLY get rid of them, the Austro-Hungarians think they can bust in and start taking over some of our land. They’ve already taken Bosnia. We know they’re already looking at us like we’re next. So I’m gonna send them a message that they can’t mess with us, and if they do, we’re gonna take…them…down.

_______________________: Because we are fellow Slavs and share a common language, religion, and cultural / ethnic background with Serbia, we look out for them. If someone messes with them, they’re gonna have to deal with us. So when Austria-Hungary started moving in on my Serb friends to try to take them over, we knew things were gonna get messy. When a Serb shot and killed Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Ferdinand and then Austria-Hungary declared war, we immediately had Serbia’s back and fought hard. But in 1917, we had a revolution that killed our czar and his ruling family, the Romanovs. The new group that took over was the Bolsheviks and they were communists…led by a guy named Lenin and following the ideas of Karl Marx. The Bolsheviks didn’t originally believe that imperialism was right, so they criticized what went down with this war and even withdrew from the war. So I’m out!

World War I Declarations: Topics in Chronicling America

The Lowdown — How World War I Started

_______________________: Austria-Hungary and I have been tight for 35 years now. We signed an alliance with Italy so that we would help defend each other if someone attacked one of us. Italy’s a punk, though, because now they say they won’t support or defend us since I’m planning on throwing the first punch. They say our alliance was only for defense. The thing is that our alliance (me, A-H, & Italy back then…punks) freaked out the other big empires: England, France, and Russia. So they all got together to form their own super gang (I mean alliance). So far the US has stayed out of our European business. But I’m worried that when I come at my enemies harder using my submarines that those Americans might get their noses bent outta shape. They’re such boy scouts! If the US does decide to jump into the fight, I’ve got a backup plan. I’m gonna have my guy Zimmerman tell Mexico that I’ll help them get their land back from the US if they help us by starting a war with the US back in America. That way the Mexicans can get the lands the US “stole” back—like Texas & California—and we won’t have to deal with fighting the US since they’ll be too busy fighting the Mexicans back on their own turf. Geeeez. Sometimes I’m so smart I even amaze myself!

However…back in Europe, things are a bit complicated. I know that Russia has Serbia’s back. So when I get word that Russia is sending troops to its western border, I know that Russia is fixing to fight Austria-Hungary. And that means Russia is fixing to fight me. But I also know that if I fight Russia, France and England are probably gonna stick up for them. So…here’s my plan. The Russians always take forever to get anywhere. They are SO slow. So what I’m gonna do is go beat the crap outta France before Russia even gets ready to fight. Then I can just focus on knocking out Russia.

I have been getting ready for this fight for a while now. THIS is the reason I’ve been building up my military. I’m ready to go. I’m a nation that has no equal. No looking back.

_______________________: Germany has been looking at me funny lately. I know they’ve got their eye on some of my eastern lands. I know they’re up to something. That’s why I got together with Russia and Great Britain. Don’t get me wrong. I hate England. But I’m used to fighting them. It’s the Germans who worry me today. I don’t really like Russia either, but we both have to deal with the Germans, so better to do it together and have back up. But now Russia is getting drawn into that Austrian—Serbian drama. I bet this is just what Germany’s been waiting for.

_______________________: Look. I’m teeny-tiny, and I’m surrounded by trigger happy idiots. That’s why I always stay neutral and just let those other guys fight. I even have it in writing that England will protect me if anyone tries to fight me. England and I go back 75 years.

_______________________: I hate France. Let me repeat. I hate France. I’ve spent the last 2 centuries trying to destroy them so that I could dominate everywhere because quite frankly, I’m the best. But things have kind of cooled off now…they’ve got their colonies, and I’ve got mine. We’ve just kind of agreed to coexist. Right now it’s the Germans I’m worried about. They’re building up their military for one reason: conquest. I know. I’ve been the Big Dog for the last 2 centuries. France, Russia, and I are gonna have to stand firm against these jerks, and I’ve still got to protect Belgium (they’re big wimps and need my help) if anything goes down. Most likely I’ll get drawn into this Serbia—Austria thing. Someone’s bound to go after one of my peeps. Thankfully I’ve been building up my military, too!

_______________________: My empire is falling apart. It really sucks going from a total bad #@! to the empire everyone is carving up, especially Russia. I can’t kick Russia’s butt all alone, but if I see a chance to throw a few punches their way, I’ll take it. Plus, the Germans have really been putting the pressure on me to join their side. I really don’t think I have a choice in this…one last hurrah!

_______________________: Dude, I really like having an ocean between me and all the European imperial powers. They know they can’t mess with me over here on my turf in the Americas, and I don’t mess with them in Europe or Africa. If all this stuff about Austria and Serbia gets intense, I’m just gonna let Europe fight it out and follow my policy of neutrality. They can beat the crap out of each other, and I’ll be the one power still strong. Don’t get me wrong…I am rooting for England and France. I’ve loaned them tons of money and weapons. They better win or I’m screwed! But for now, I’m not joining in the fight. Germany’s been talking about using their submarines to sink more ships, though. We’ve told them to cool it & that civilized nations don’t blow up civilian ships. But the Germans are like “war is war blah blah blah.” We’ll see how things go. If they cross the line & hurt ANY Americans, they’ll regret it. Because let’s face it. I’m an exceptional country.

WWII and Postwar America Review & Test

The Lowdown — How World War I Started

Last Updated on July 24, 2020 by Essay Pro