Who are the Central Powers? What was their war plan? Why are they aligned politically? What are they hoping to accomplish?

1 Answer
Jul 5, 2016

Germany and Austria-Hungary, and later the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, were the principal members of this WWI-era alliance.


World War I was the result of "entangling alliances." An attack on Austria-Hungary would obligate Germany to come to its defense, and an attack on Russia would similarly obligate its allies France and Great Britain to respond militarily.

The Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) all saw themselves as sandwiched between Russia to the East and France and Great Britain to the West, expansionist empires with a natural urge to expand into central Europe. Plus, at least three of these Central Powers were expansionist empires in their own right, or had been in better days. Finland and Lithuania joined later in the war.

Russia concerned its European neighbors primarily because Russian Tsar Nicholas II had recently provoked an unsuccessful war with Japan for no better reason than to jump-start the Russian economy, and the Russian economy was in need of another jump-start by 1914. Meanwhile, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II felt an obligation to expand Germany's territory, as his 19th Century Prussian predecessors had done, by 19th Century tactics, in a new century with new, untried weapons.

Sadly, all the mutual defense treaties designed to avoid a massive European war were the very thing that assured one.