political cartoon on nationalism

The Causes of World War I: Part 2 – Nationalism

Nationalism is defined as patriotism and the spirit of a country. It also is defined as asserting that your country’s interests are separate from the interests of others. This second definition led to the belief that there is no greater and more honorable death than to die for one’s country.

In the pre-World War I years, nationalism took two forms: the desire to establish homelands independent of the major powers, and the desire for dominance and prestige.

Nationalist Fervor

Prior to the war, many ethnic groups were under the control of the great European powers.

These groups included people living in modern day:

  • Poland
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Slovakia
  • Czech Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Croatia
  • All of Africa as well as parts of the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas

Many of these groups were involved in militant and anarchist activities. Their goal was to establish independent nations ruled by their people. This goal caused many smaller conflicts in the years leading up to the Great War.

Imperialist Powers

While ethnic groups were seeking independence, the great empires were determined to strengthen their power.

The great powers of the day were:

  • The British Empire
  • France
  • The Russian Empire
  • Germany
  • Austria-Hungary
  • The Ottoman Empire

Many politicians as well as newspapers contended war was a natural way of preserving power.

Once war did erupt, the majority of people in the combatant nations viewed participation as their patriotic duty, that their nation’s cause was just and that the enemy was the aggressor. This belief would eventually contribute to the deaths of approximately 16 million people between 1914 and 1918, 60 million during World War II and countless millions during the conflicts which took place between 1919 and 1939.

Where to Purchase the WWI Trilogy

This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy: Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year.  The trilogy focuses on Hettie and her family as they navigate the challenges and heartbreak World War I brings.

Angel of Mercy:  A nurse reluctantly sacrifices her career for marriage. An impending war will change her, and her husband’s, life forever.  Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.  Click here for a full list of retailers.

Those Left Behind:  The brewing winds of war will soon rip the family apart. Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.  Click here for a full list of retailers.

Adjustment Year:  A war nurse returns home. Society expects her to carry on as if the Great War never happened. But how can she?  Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.  Click here for a full list of retailers.