How Far Was Germany Responsible For War In 1914

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The outbreak of war in 1914 has been the subject of considerable debate ever since the war was concluded in 1918. Initially the victorious powers did blame Germany wholly for causing the war whilst historians from the 1920’s and 30’s tended to focus on the shared guilt e.g. Lloyd George argued that the nations of Europe slithered into the cauldron of war and nobody really wanted it but nobody really did anything to stop it. This argument has some credence but does not differentiate sufficiently between the Great Powers. Most had varying degrees of responsibility, not equal. The overwhelming evidence supports the argument that although Germany was not wholly to blame she was certainly the most responsible. Their imperial, economic and military …show more content…
Kaiser Wilhelm II ratcheted up the rivalry in the 1890’s when he began to demand Germany’s ‘place in the sun’ to create an Empire to rival that of Britain’s and France. He also had ambitions to dominate international diplomacy through his policy of Weltpolitik. His zealous nationalism also brought Germany into conflict with Britain, Russia and France. Germany had calculated that her security would be best served by an alliance with 2 other continental powers. Thus an alliance system emerged as the Triple /dual alliance between Germany, Austria Hungary and Italy. Russia and France also realised the value of an alliance, with Britain remaining on the edge, committing to very little until it really had too. The alliance system coupled with the naval and military arms race meant that all Great Powers spent millions on strengthening their defences and preparing for possibility of war. There had even been instances in 1905 and 1911 where clashes between Germany and France came close to war over Morocco but war was averted. Equally the Balkan league wars of 1912 and 1913 were encouraged by alliances working together. It is also true that the Great Powers devised detailed war plans through the early part of the 20th century which again suggests an expectation of war in the near future. Germany’s Schlieffen Plan in particular was conscious …show more content…
AJP Taylor described it as war by timetable and July 28th 1914 is the key turning point when war became inevitable. It is true that other countries could have made different decisions and avoided war in 1914 but the balance of power would have shifted very favourably towards Germany. A situation none of the Triple entente could tolerate. Germany knew this and still Germany forged ahead. The Kaiser’s argument that Britain would not risk war with its ‘contemptibly small army’ over a little scrap of paper’ to defend Belgium neutrality was naive at best. Germany wanted a war and Germany engineered the situation to provoke war. The Kaiser’s long held ambitions for imperial, military and political dominance provided the coals for war and the Balkan crisis of 1914 provided the spark. Therefore Austria, Russia and Serbia should some responsibility for causing a localised regional war but Germany shoulders the most responsibility for a European wide conflict we know as the Great war/ First World

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