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Day 27 – Q 3. Do you think World War I was a result of hyper nationalism? Critically examine.

3. Do you think World War I was a result of hyper nationalism? Critically examine.    

क्या आपको लगता है कि प्रथम विश्व युद्ध हाइपर राष्ट्रवाद का परिणाम था? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।


Hyper nationalism means extreme nationalism which believes in superiority of one’s nation and its culture and of the paramount importance of advancing it.


First World War or Great War was an international conflict that in 1914–18 embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East, and other regions. The war pitted the Central Powers—mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey—against the Allies—mainly France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and, from 1917, the United States. It ended with the defeat of the Central Powers.

The war broke out in the wake of the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the Hapsburg throne who was assassinated by a group of Bosnian radical Inter-War Period nationalists on 28th June 1914. The assassination was not the real cause of the war. It was just the pretext.

Was it a result of hyper-nationalism?

  • A new and aggressive nationalism, different from its predecessors, emerged in Europe at the end of the 19th century. The new nationalism engaged the fierce us/them group emotions – loyalty inwards, aggression outwards.                    Example: The leaders of post-1871 Germany relied on nationalist sentiment to consolidate the new nation and gain public support. German nationalism was also bolstered by German militarism under Kaiser, Wilhelm II. To the Kaiser, and to many other Germans, Britain was the main obstacle to German expansion.
  • Many Europeans – particularly those in the so-called Great Powers: Britain, France and Germany – were convinced their nation occupied a position of cultural, economic and military supremacy. Under such circumstances defeat of one nation by other would only lead to strong rivalry between the two. Example: German-France rivalry was because of Franco-Prussian war.
  • Inflated confidence in one’s nation assured Europeans that if war did erupt, their nation would emerge victoriously.

Thus Nationalism was a prominent force in late 19th and early 20th century Europe and was a significant cause of World War I.

However, it was not the sole cause. The causes of the war may be found in the politico-economic developments that had been taking place in the international arena since the Franc-German War (1870).

  • There arose economic rivalries: countries were locked in tariff wars and competition for overseas markets.
  • Disputes over colonies: There were collisions in Africa and in Asia between the European powers for colonies. In its struggle for acquiring colonies, Germany found Britain as the stumbling block.
  • The conflicting alliance system in Europe: Triple alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. France and Russia entered into an entente (1893). This entente was aimed at countering the Triple Alliance and also containing Britain, against whom both France and Russia had outstanding disputes over the colonies
  • The growing nationalist aspirations in the subject peoples in Europe added fuel to the fire: The Hapsburg Empire, ruled by the Austrians and the Hungarians, had been facing growing discontent by the subject peoples. Italians, Romanian, and the Slavic peoples sought independence and autonomy from the political domination of Austria-Hungary.


Thus it was hostile relations between European nations on politico-economic grounds combined with aggressive nationalism which ultimately led to First World War.

Best answer: Lucky Verma

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