The Balkan Wars and the Road to World War I
The Balkan Wars were a series of conflicts that took place in 1912 and 1913, resulting in the deaths of 200,000 troops and many civilians due to cholera and typhus. The wars had far-reaching consequences that would lead to the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Table of Contents
- The First Balkan War
- Colonel Apis and Unification or Death
- The Treaty of London and the End of the Balkan Wars
- Impact on Russia and the Concert of Europe
- Naval Arms Race and Suspicion between Britain and Germany
- The Road to War
The First Balkan War
- What triggered the First Balkan War? The First Balkan War began when Albanian tribesmen took control of Skopje, leading to autonomy from the Ottoman Empire being granted to the surrounding province. This prompted Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia to attack.
- What was the outcome of the conflict? The Ottoman forces were unable to cope, and the Serbs quickly defeated them, massacring Albanian Muslims and burning down their villages. The conflict ended in 1913 with the Treaty of London, which created an independent Albania and removed the Ottomans from the region almost entirely.
Colonel Apis and Unification or Death
- Who was Colonel Apis? Colonel Apis was the founder of nationalist group ‘Unification or Death,’ also known as the Black Hand. He led the massacres of Albanian Muslims during the First Balkan War with the aim of creating a Greater Serbia.
- What was the goal of Unification or Death? The goal of Unification or Death was to promote Serbian national interests in the region, including the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the creation of a Greater Serbia.
The Treaty of London and the End of the Balkan Wars
- What were the key provisions of the Treaty of London? The Treaty of London created an independent Albania and removed the Ottomans from the region almost entirely. The treaty also recognized Serbia’s gains from the First Balkan War and established a framework for resolving disputes between the other Balkan states.
- How did the Balkan Wars change the geopolitical landscape of Europe? The Balkan Wars led to the emergence of several independent Balkan states, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. The wars also weakened the Ottoman Empire and contributed to the rise of nationalism in Europe.
Impact on Russia and the Concert of Europe
- How did the Balkan Wars impact Russia? The Balkan Wars were a catastrophe for Russia. The Russian government was forced to mobilize its troops to support its Balkan allies, which strained its military resources and contributed to widespread unrest at home.
- What was the Concert of Europe, and how did the Balkan Wars impact it? The Concert of Europe was a system of international cooperation established by European statesmen in 1815 to prevent another revolution in Europe. The Balkan Wars marked the beginning of the end for the Concert of Europe, as the major powers began to pursue their own national interests rather than working together.
Naval Arms Race and Suspicion between Britain and Germany
- What led to the naval arms race between Britain and Germany? The British improved their naval construction in response to the Japanese navy’s defeat of the Russian navy. They launched a new type of fast-moving battleship armed with long-range guns and torpedoes, known as HMS Dreadnought. By 1914, the British had twenty-nine battleships, including improved “super-dreadnoughts”, whereas the Germans only had seventeen.
- Why did Britain remain suspicious of Germany’s naval ambitions even though they won the naval arms race? Both Britain and Germany believed the other to be the major potential enemy in any broad European conflict. The British did not lessen their suspicion of German naval ambitions even though they won the naval arms race.
The Road to War
- How did the political climate in Europe contribute to the outbreak of World War I? A younger generation of politicians came to power who viewed the system of international cooperation as unnecessary. The Concert of Europe started to crumble, and Britain regarded Russia and France as major threats to its interests. The Germans began to build up their naval power, and tensions between Germany and Britain would ultimately lead to war.