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Europe during the late 19th century was nothing short of a powder keg. All it needed was a spark to light the explosion. Beginning in the 1840's, nationalism began to arise in German and Italian areas, wanting to unite their respective regions into a single state. A united German state was finally achieved in 1871 in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. The North German Confederation (headed by Prussia) annexed the southern German states and formed the German Empire. Italy achieved unification the same year when Rome was absorbed into Italy and became the official capital of the unified Italian state.
European powers would soon begin imperialist ambitions in Africa and Asia. By 1906, all of Africa (with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia) was under the control of a European power. Asia found itself in a similar position. Even though they continued to remain independent nations, China, Korea and Japan were heavily influenced by European powers.
With this competition around the world, tensions would rise between multiple powers. To curb the possibility of war, many European powers began establishing alliances with one another. Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy established the Triple Alliance in May of 1882. Britain, France and Russia would establish the Triple Entente in August of 1907. Britain and Russia would also have separate alliances with nations such as Belgium and Serbia.
Despite the hope that these alliances and the continued buildup of their militaries would deter an act of war, Europe would continue to be a giant powder keg. The spark that would led to the explosion, would be the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, by Gavrilo Princip, who was a member of a Serbian terrorist group known as the Black Hand. Princip assassinated the Archduke in response to the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia. Having discovered the Serbian governments involvement in the assassination, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia and gave them a month to response to it. On July 28, 1914, with no response from the Serbian government, Austria-Hungary issued a declaration of war against Serbia. Thus setting off a tidal wave that would become known as World War I.
The War to end all Wars
Workers of the World, unite!
The Roaring Twenties
From Boom to Bust
A New Deal
Peace for our time
The Winds of War
Day of Infamy
Prompt and Utter Destruction
Send 'em back up North!
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