The assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand was the spark that ignited a string of violent and historically alternating events that in the end molded our world. In a time where the victors are the ones who write history, only a few nations in the world could be proud of their achievements in global dominance during this time. That is why in my opinion i believe that nationalism was the biggest underlying cause/factor that instigated the events leading up to the Great War.
On June 28th,1914 the archduke of Austria is assassinated by a young nationalist by the name of, Gavrilo Princip. When being interrogated to why he assassinated the archduke he said,” I am a Yugoslav nationalist and I believe in unification of all South Slavs in whatever form of state and that it be free of Austria.” This statement alone is a clear insight into what influenced the start of World War 1. It was nationalism. Princip felt extremely patriotic about his country and had very little care for other countries, with this mindset he joined a rogue group and before he knew it he ignited a ‘flame’ that would burn for years and claim millions of lives.
A second point that proves that nationalism is the biggest underlying cause was the need for dominance. In Europe; Britain,France,Germany, and Russia can be considered the more powerful nations than other nations such as Belgium and Serbia which are weaker and smaller. These countries had a drive that kept them running. It was the need for more power. If these countries had more land or influence they could be more ‘powerful’. So taking over countries or having smaller countries devote themselves to them was important. With more power came more nationalism from the people of these countries. It was nationalism that made citizens think that their country was righteous and prosperous. It gave the people confidence in their country’s military strength and government.
My last point as to why nationalism is the underlying cause of world war 1 is that the confidence that came with nationalism enticed the idea of war. As mentioned before victors write the stories of history. Also mentioned in the last paragraph nationalism made the citizens believe in their country,country’s military and government. From a different perspective nationalism made rival countries look evil. This mindset made it seemed that war may have been necessary,easily winnable and correct. Gavrilo once said, “ There is no need to carry me to another prison. My life is already ebbing away. I suggest that you nail me to a cross and burn me alive. My flaming body will be a torch to light my people on their path to freedom.” If you break down this quote you can sort of pick out phrases that relate to the mindset that i just mentioned. For example when he said “My flaming body will be a torch to light my people on their path to freedom,” you can say that it relates to the idea of winning. Gavrilo’s objective was to help his country and people gain independence from Austria(after the Great War Yugoslavia was founded),in a way he did that.
In conclusion, nationalism is the number 1 underlying factor that caused World War 1. It lead to the assassination of the archduke which erupted the Great War in Europe. It created people who are considered nationalists who thought they were too good for other countries and that they were the mightiest. To round it all off nationalism was the reason countries needed to start a war, it was their excuse to why they needed more power and land. The archduke of Austria was not assassinated by bullets,he was murdered by the nationalism inside Gavrilo Princip’s gun.