Tag Archives: Alliances

Dual Alliance

The formation of the Dual Alliance by Germany and Austria-Hungary – introductory video

A series of three wars in less than a decade had seen the creation of a unified Germany directed by the Realpolitik of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Keen to consolidate the newly-united country, he turned to diplomacy in an attempt to ensure the status quo in Europe.

Despite forming the Dreikaiserbund with Austria-Hungary and Russia in 1873, a power struggle over territory in the Balkans from 1875-78 led to Bismarck playing the role of ‘the honest broker’ at the Congress of Berlin to resolve tensions between his allies. The congress was a diplomatic defeat for Russia and left the Dreikaiserbund in tatters, leading Bismarck to negotiate the new Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary.

Although specific details of the Dual Alliance were kept secret until 1888, it was a defensive alliance in which both countries agreed to assist each other if they were attacked by Russia. Bismarck and Austria-Hungary’s Secretary of State, Count Julius Andrássy, also agreed to remain neutral in the case of an attack from another country in what is known as benevolent neutrality.

The announcement of the alliance surprised some observers, who noted the threat that the burgeoning German nationalism posed to the Habsburg Empire. The Austro-Prussian War had only been fought between the two countries thirteen years earlier, but the relatively generous peace terms that had been agreed in its wake left the door open to future cooperation. This, combined with Germany and Austria’s shared linguistic and cultural connections, ensured the Dual Alliance lasted until the end of the First World War.

The Alliance System in Europe 1871-1890

This revision podcast focuses on Bismarck and the International System (sometimes known as the Alliance System) he created from 1871 until his resignation in 1890.  Approaching the topic through a consideration of Bismarck’s foreign policy aims following the unification of Germany, the podcast explains how he attempted to isolate France, befriend Britain, and create a series of alliances with Russia and Austria-Hungary.

          

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
The Reinsurance Treaty

The Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia: a brief overview

Germany and Russia signed the secret Reinsurance Treaty that ensured they would each remain neutral if the other went to war with a third European power.

Germany, Russia and Austria-Hungary had entered into a second Three Emperors’ Alliance in 1881. Like the one before it, the agreement was designed by the German Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, to isolate France from potential allies and avoid rivalry between his two neighbours over territory in the Balkans.

Continuing tensions between Austria-Hungary and Russia over this region led to the agreement’s collapse in 1887 and forced Bismarck to find another way to maintain French diplomatic isolation.

Germany had already formed the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879, so the Reinsurance Treaty was created to ensure Russia continued to side with Germany. In return Germany agreed to a Russian sphere of influence in Bulgaria and the Black Sea.

By the time the treaty came up for renewal in 1890, Wilhelm II had become Kaiser of Germany. He insisted that Bismarck resign the Chancellorship in March that year, and argued that his personal relationship with Tsar Alexander III would be enough to avoid any future problems with Russia. Bismarck’s successor Leo von Caprivi was also unwilling to seek a renewal of the Reinsurance Treaty, meaning that it lapsed.

Without the treaty to tie St Petersburg to Berlin, the Russian government began to forge closer relations with France. France’s improving diplomatic situation was formalised in the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1892. This opened up Germany to the possibility of a war on two fronts, making the failure of the Reinsurance Treaty a contributing factor to the outbreak of the First World War.

The breakdown of the International System from 1890

In this revision podcast we see how the ascension of Wilhelm II to the throne of Germany in 1890 led to the breakdown of the Alliance System created by Bismarck.  It explores how a number of factors led to increased European tensions through reference to key issues including Weltpolitik, the arms race, and nationalism.  These factors are assessed in order to explain the changing relationships between the European powers during the period.

          

  • /
Update Required
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.
Europes-military-alliances-in-World-War-I-1914

Causes of the First World War – the ‘Alliance System’

An overview of the Alliance System before the outbreak of the First World War including archive footage from the time.

Alliances seating plan

Awkward dinner party: WW1 alliances seating plan

This activity works well as a plenary or as an energising starter to the next lesson. Having studied the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, students are faced with the problem of seating the six countries at a dinner table. They need to keep disagreements to a minimum by positioning the biggest rivals away from each other.

Students enjoy the debate involved in this activity, and often need to re-draw their plans as the discussion progresses. Having decided the seating plan, they write the name of each country on the appropriate chair and give a short explanation of their placement in the blank box.

The activity can be easily adapted for other situations – I know of colleagues using seating plans to get students to show the differing internal alliances in the early years of Stalin’s Soviet Union, and a Philosophy & Ethics teacher using it for arguments about the existence of God.

Download a printable A4 PDF here

Entente Cordiale

Explanation of the Entente Cordiale

A brief explanation of the terms and effects of the signing of the Entente Cordiale on 8th April 1904.

Causes of the First World War – The July Crisis

Beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, this video explores the 6-week period known as the July Crisis.  It explains the concept of Germany’s ‘Blank Cheque’ and how the alliance system caused the nations of Europe to become embroiled in what was now a ‘world’ war.  Reference is made to the Schlieffen Plan and how this led to Britain’s declaration of war.

Causes of the First World War

An explanation of the causes of the First World War…sheer brilliance.

The MAIN causes of the First World War (video)

This video is taken from BBC Bitesize revision, and it gives an excellent overview of the key long-term causes of the war.