World War 1 Facts For Kids Homework Chart

The following article on causes of WW1 is an excerpt from H.W Crocker III’s The Yanks Are Coming! A Military History of the United States in World War I. It is available for order now from Amazonand Barnes & Noble.

Listen to the audio of this blog post about World War One – Causes


The first world war began in August 1914. It was directly triggered by the assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, on 28th June 1914 by Bosnian revolutionary, Gavrilo Princip.

This event was, however, simply the trigger that set off declarations of war. The actual causes of the war are more complicated and are still debated by historians today.

Causes of WW1: Alliances

An alliance is an agreement made between two or more countries to give each other help if it is needed. When an alliance is signed, those countries become known as Allies.

A number of alliances had been signed by countries between the years 1879 and 1914. These were important because they meant that some countries had no option but to declare war if one of their allies. declared war first. (the table below reads clockwise from the top left picture)

Causes of WW1: Imperialism

Imperialism is when a country takes over new lands or countries and makes them subject to their rule. By 1900 the British Empire extended over five continents and France had control of large areas of Africa. With the rise of industrialism countries needed new markets. The amount of lands ‘owned’ by Britain and France increased the rivalry with Germany who had entered the scramble to acquire colonies late and only had small areas of Africa. Note the contrast in the map below.

Causes of WW1: Militarism

Militarism means that the army and military forces are given a high profile by the government. The growing European divide had led to an arms race between the main countries. The armies of both France and Germany had more than doubled between 1870 and 1914 and there was fierce competition between Britain and Germany for mastery of the seas. The British had introduced the ‘Dreadnought’, an effective battleship, in 1906. The Germans soon followed suit introducing their own battleships. The German, Von Schlieffen also drew up a plan of action that involved attacking France through Belgium if Russia made an attack on Germany. The map below shows how the plan was to work.

Causes of WW1: Nationalism

Nationalism means being a strong supporter of the rights and interests of one’s country. The Congress of Vienna, held after Napoleon’s exile to Elba, aimed to sort out problems in Europe. Delegates from Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia (the winning allies) decided upon a new Europe that left both Germany and Italy as divided states. Strong nationalist elements led to the re-unification of Italy in 1861 and Germany in 1871. The settlement at the end of the Franco-Prussian war left France angry at the loss of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany and keen to regain their lost territory. Large areas of both Austria-Hungary and Serbia were home to differing nationalist groups, all of whom wanted freedom from the states in which they lived.

Causes of WW1: Crises

Moroccan Crisis

In 1904 Morocco had been given to France by Britain, but the Moroccans wanted their independence. In 1905, Germany announced her support for Moroccan independence. War was narrowly avoided by a conference which allowed France to retain possession of Morocco. However, in 1911, the Germans were again protesting against French possession of Morocco. Britain supported France and Germany was persuaded to back down for part of French Congo.

Bosnian Crisis

In 1908, Austria-Hungary took over the former Turkish province of Bosnia. This angered Serbians who felt the province should be theirs. Serbia threatened Austria-Hungary with war, Russia, allied to Serbia, mobilized its forces. Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary mobilised its forces and prepared to threaten Russia. War was avoided when Russia backed down. There was, however, war in the Balkans between 1911 and 1912 when the Balkan states drove Turkey out of the area. The states then fought each other over which area should belong to which state. Austria-Hungary then intervened and forced Serbia to give up some of its acquisitions. Tension between Serbia and Austria-Hungary was high.

This article on causes of WW1 is from the book The Yanks Are Coming! A Military HIstory of the United States in World War I © 2014 by H.W Crocker III. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazonor Barnes & Noble.

You can also buy the book by clicking on the buttons to the left.

16 January 2014Last updated at 16:59
A collection of World War One ration books

Lots of food was sent away to feed the soldiers fighting in the war. There was also less food arriving from other countries because ships bringing supplies were often attacked by German submarines called U-boats.

Food became very expensive. People panicked and soon there were very long queues outside shops.

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The first school dinners

School dinners were introduced because lots of children were missing school to queue for food. Mothers also queuing hadn't time to cook dinner and children were going hungry.

Government posters encouraged families to save food so there would be more to feed the soldiers fighting.

In the countryside, many men and farm horses had been sent off to war. They were replaced by women who worked hard to grow the much-needed food. They called themselves 'The Women's Land Army'. Conscientious objectors (men who felt morally opposed to fighting) also worked the land.

Many children helped too, but without horses to pull the heavy ploughs it was really tough work.

'Don't waste it'

In 1918, new laws set by the government introduced rationing, a way of sharing food fairly. Sugar, meat, flour, butter, margarine and milk were all rationed so that everyone got what they needed.

Each person had special ration cards, even King George and Queen Mary.

The cards could only be used at certain shops. Families had to say which butcher, baker and grocer they would buy food from.

The rules were very strict. Anyone found cheating could be fined or even sent to prison.

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Before rationing, the government used posters like this one to discourage people from wasting food.

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“Start Quote

Look well at the loaf on your breakfast table and treat it as if it were real gold because the British loaf is going to beat the German”

End QuoteA wartime leaflet
Grow your own

People grew fruit and vegetables in their own gardens too. Surplus produce was preserved as jam, pickles or chutney so there would be more to eat in the winter.

People were often hungry, but nobody starved.

Rationing was an idea which was not a popular with the British public. But as the war went on, food became scarcer and scarcer, and in 1918 the Government finally introduced rationing (2lb of meat, ½ lb sugar and ½ lb total fats each a week).
As well as rationing, the government also tried to control the price of food, and anyone who sold above the set rate could face fines.
The price of vegetables was not controlled by the government during the war and they became very expensive. As a result people had a lot less fresh fruit and vegetables in their diet.

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Teachers' notes

Teachers' notes and classroom ideas looking at the high street 100 years ago.

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