The Student Room Group

Any primary sources that show nationalism was the main cause of the First World War?

History causes of the First World War
While nationalism is considered one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of World War I, attributing the war's cause solely to nationalism is a complex and debated matter. Nationalism was intertwined with other factors such as militarism, alliances, and imperialism. Primary sources from the time can offer insights into the role of nationalism but may not explicitly label it as the sole cause. Here are some primary sources that reflect nationalist sentiments during the period:

1. Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914)

- The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is often seen as the catalyst for the war. The primary sources related to this event, such as newspapers reporting on the assassination, may reveal nationalist motivations of the individuals involved.

2. Nationalistic Speeches and Declarations

- Speeches and official declarations by political leaders at the outbreak of the war may express nationalist sentiments. Look for statements that emphasize national pride, identity, and the defense of national interests.

3. Propaganda Posters

- Propaganda posters from various countries during the war can provide visual evidence of nationalist themes. These posters often aimed to evoke strong nationalistic feelings and support for the war effort.

4. Treaties and Alliances

- Primary sources related to the formation of alliances and treaties may reveal nationalist motivations. Look for diplomatic correspondence and official documents outlining the reasons behind forming alliances.

5. Letters and Diaries of Soldiers

- Personal accounts from soldiers who participated in the war can offer insights into their motivations and beliefs. Letters and diaries may contain expressions of nationalism and patriotic fervor.

6. Political Cartoons

- Contemporary political cartoons can be valuable primary sources. They often caricature political leaders and nations, providing a visual representation of nationalist sentiments and tensions.

Remember, while these sources can provide valuable context, it's essential to consider the broader geopolitical, economic, and social factors that contributed to the outbreak of World War I. Nationalism, though significant, was just one element in a complex web of interconnected causes.

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