P- History Essays on Causes and Practice of the Great War

Who is most to blame for the Great War?

German ambitions which brought about the Great War were no better than those of the Nazi’s during World War II as Fritz Fisher recognizes He saw the German Elite as being racists guided by imperialists and capitalist ideology; to an extent at which he called Bethmann-Hollweg the "Hitler of 1914".[1] He was the first German historian to interpret German history in a negative aspect, rather than those before him, who had eulogized the “Sonderweg”. [2] Some people may argue that Germany was in fact the least to blame for war as its main efforts were to prevent it. But on the other hand, we must understand the belligerent nature of Germans. We could in fact identify them as the aggressors to initiate a “global” conflict. The German Schlieffen plan which was an ‘offensive’ stratagem, the Blank Cheque to Austria-Hungary, and the German ‘world policy’ which was intended for colonial expansion and development of German military strength. From these three points I would like to explain the aggressiveness of the Germans in connection to why they were most to blame for the Great War.

The German Schilieffen plan drawn up in 1905 and utilized during the Great War demonstrated aggression in many means. This is one reason showing why Germany should be most to blame for the Great War. After the formation of the Entente Cordiale in 1904 between the French and British, the Germans needed a plan in case of war. They needed one to not appear to be weak. Alfred Graf von was ordered to devise a stratagem which could fight a war on both fronts. After the Franco-Prussian war a following war seemed inevitable. Many of the European powers had individual ambitions; such as Frances want to take back Alsace and Lorraine. They began to formulate their own strategies of war.[3] The German Schlieffen plan was made so the Germans could be advantageous at the start of war. They hoped of being able to invade France in a short period of time before Russia could mobilize. We must also realize that the German Schlieffen Plan was created ten years before World War One even started. So should we understand this as Germans planning in advance as an aggressor or was German in a defensive position? Either way, Germany after declaring war on Russia on the 1st of August 1914 had already started to follow the Schlieffen Plan, invading Belgium and declaring war on France on the 3rd of August 1914.The Schilieffen plan also meant that the German army had to go Belgium, a neutral country. In other words this demonstrates a lack of inconsideration for Belgium neutrality. From just these two elements we understand the callousness of Germany and their defiant nature in terms of no consideration of the terms of neutrality. Furthermore, this aggression that the Germans exhibit and strategic planning of the war ten years in advance lays part of the blame on Germany.

Another Reason which places the blame on Germany is the Blank Cheque that it gave to Austria-Hungary on July the 5th. This was given to them shortly after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Blank Cheque assured that Germany would Support Austria-Hungary in any way it dealt with Serbia. So could we understand this as a German attempt to provoke Russia to mobilize and bring on a war? According to Fritz Fisher, the German General staff saw this as an opportunity to be triumphant against Russia if a war seemed inevitable. As they presumed that by 1916 Russia’s military strength would be too overwhelmingly powerful. So they decided in December, 1912, to exploit the next major European crisis in order to initiate a war. [4] This crisis was the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Germans Leaders at the time also argued that they should attack Russia whilst its army was still small in comparison to the other counties.[5] “That it was the weakness of the Russian Navy which kept the Russians in check, but that the assurance of English assistance to Russia turned the scales” (Dr. Dernburg, Quotes Belgium Against Russia…[6] This extraction explains the Russian Navy was not fully developed as it still relies on its Allies, Britain. “Germany tried to bribe us with peace to desert our friends and duty. But Great Britain has preferred the path of honour.”[7] At the same time the Germans were also trying to localize the war by convincing the British that the Russians were the Aggressors in this conflict. In other words the Germans hoped the British would not come to defend Russian so they could have an easier victory when taking on Russia. Of this matter, German intensions were again not to prevent war but in an indirect manner provoke Russia to attack first. The Germans by giving Austria-Hungary a Blank Cheque tacitly encouraged them to adopt an aggressive position knowing that they would have support from Germany. Therefore the Austria-Hungarians gave the Serbians an ultimatum whereby the consequences were to devastating. They had to refuse and Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 28 July, 1914. Germany’s true intensions were always to provoke a war, they were always the aggressor. In giving the Blank Cheque to Austria-Hungary, furthermore starting World War One, they saw this as a chance to deteriorate Russian military strength. Germany is again to blame for its prewar actions set in motion or contributed to a chain of events which escalated in to World War One.

The ‘world policy’ adopted in the late 19th century was intended for colonial expansion as well as the development of German military strength. The ‘world policy’ produced many diplomatic conflicts and economic struggles between Germany and other foreign nations which lead up to World War One. Conflicts such as The Morocco crisis of 1905-1906 where the French and Germans struggled for economic dominance over Morocco. But in the end, it instead only raised the tension between Germany and other rivalry nations with no real gain. The world policy was an aggressive approach by the Germans to find what Kaiser Wilhelm II called ‘their place in the sun’. Their aims were fast industrial advancement and formation of a colonial empire which could rival all other economic powers. This policy also meant the creation of the High Seas Fleet, which the Germans believed could compete against the British Royal Navy and even surpass them. As a result, there was an Anglo-German naval rivalry.[8] Before the Great War, Germany was a strong growing power; both militarily and economically which other nations viewed it as a threat. Germany in order for colonial expansion had to invade other controlled territory as most was already occupied by Britain, France and other powers. An example of such would be the French defeat at the Prussian War, 1870-1871, where Germany took Alsace and Lorraine. Germany desired for expansion and that meant that it was the aggressor. It was a country driven by capitalist and imperialist ideology which further deteriorated the relations between her and other European Powers. Germany’s aggressive nature and desire for colonial expansion and military strengthening aggravating other powers is a third reason for why Germany is most to blame for the Great War.

The Germans were always the aggressive force which tried to oppose and destroy the ‘peace’ and ‘balance’ in which was supposedly maintained by the British and its European Allies. They tried to provoke a war in any means necessary and had a belligerent approach to everything. They had planned the war in advance and hoped to have an easy victory over Russia through their attempts to localize the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. The Germans were the main aggressors which tried to instigate a global conflict and so I believe are most to blame for the Great War. Simple, clear, focussed ending to a perfect essay.
You show a precocious conceptual awareness, insight, knowledge and understanding evident in your ability to show skills of critical thinking (asking at the very beginning how we should understand a very complex situation vis a vis the German military position); a high level of ability to provide answers which are fully developed, structured in
a logical and coherent manner and illustrated with appropriate examples and the ability to come to reasonable, albeit tentative, conclusions; consistent evidence of critical reflective thinking.

[1] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Fischer
[2] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderweg
[3] http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/plans.htm
[4] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Germany_grant_Austria-Hungary_a_blank_check
[5] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Germany_grant_Austria-Hungary_a_blank_check
[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/mirror01_01.shtml
[8] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltpolitik

How did international events lead to World War One?

The First World War started as a result of multiple events which had been continuing for many decades. Pre-eminent among these was the apparent desire of Germany to be the dominant power in Europe. Whilst for France, Britain and other European nations, it was to retain the vestiges of their colonial supremacy. These events can be divided into three broad categories: the Morocco / Agadir crisis, the Bosnian crisis and Balkan war, and the German / British race for naval supremacy which was aligned with the growth of rightist militarism. The final trigger tipping Europe to war was the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand II.

The Moroccan and Agadir crisis between Germany and France could be acknowledged as a demonstration of diplomatic dominance intended for economic purposes or in other words colonial supremacy. France arrived at the Moroccan capital Fez in January 1905 with high hopes of being able to negotiate advantageous trading rights. The Kaiser followed suit, sailing his “German warship” into port Tangier demanding equal privileges to the French, as well as an international conference. His demands were granted and the French were given a central Moroccan bank a recompense. This event was partially intended for Germany to test the substance of the Anglo-French entente. The Kaiser had also heightened the awareness of other nations towards Germany. Five years later in 1911, a comparable political conflict between France and Germany took place in Morocco. In May 1911, French forces arrived at Fez to help prevent an internal revolution which the German government took to be a French attempt at annexation. So in July “The Panther” arrived in Agadir and requested trading benefits which the French rejected for they were supported by British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey. The second Morocco crisis was also to display cooperative strength and furthermore coalition against German intimidation and also future threats. In addition to the two Morocco crises, the Bosnian crisis from 1908-09 could be included as it exhibits power between the different alliances and tension of war in Europe. Both events tightened the tensions between Germany and other European countries and alliances

Britain with its naval supremacy and "two power standard" Naval Defense Act created in 1889[1] dominated nationwide warfare. In 1897 Tirpitz became “Secretary of State for Germany’s Admiralty” and the year after he announced Germany’s First Naval Law.[2] The First Naval Law stated that nineteen battleships were to be constructed in the following seven years. In 1900 the number was increased to twenty-four battleships by 1920. The British recognized German increase of arms as a threat and therefore decided to construct greater warships, the Dreadnought. The Anglo-German naval rivalry from 1908-10 meant the further intensified antagonism between Britain and Germany. “The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and fear caused by them – it was these that made war inevitable.”[3] As Sir Edward Grey stated above, insecurity and anxiety among European countries gave birth to fear which will progress to unavoidable war. Perhaps also a main reason for the British entering World War One was to neutralize Germany’s naval capability. In parallel with this most European countries were increasing their armed forces numbers while all appeared to have plans in place either to attack or defend against attack should war break out.

The Balkan Wars between 1912 and 1914 exhibited strong nationalistic movement. At the time, Balkan nations, including Bulgaria, Albania Serbia and Macedonia were all held down by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. They were nationalists and desired to break free from Ottoman dominance. Of which by October 1912, the Balkan league accomplished and territory was split among Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece according to the London Agreement of 1913. However in June 1913, there was a second Balkan War which further increased Serbian power in the Balkan region. This cause drew serious attention from particularly Austria–Hungary because in Serbia, there are extreme nationalist organizations which support and promote the breaking free of other nationalist groups from Austro-Hungarian dominance. Not only there their? being strong believing nationalists, alliances between Serbia and Russia, and Austria-Hungary with Germany which could further antagonise the situation. Bearing in mind the amount of tension between Austria- Hungary and Serbia, this small conflict or trend developed into the Great War

Considering all events above, the Balkan War, the Morocco crises, the Anglo-German naval rivalry are all factors contributing to the escalating tension within Europe in the early years of the 20th century. However, the true ignition of World War One was in fact the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This initiated the July crisis which gradually escalated into a continental and finally global conflict. On 23 July 1914, Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia which demanded that Austrian police be allowed to enter into Serbia to capture all anti-Habsburg groups. However this request was denied and Austria-Hungary finally had its excuse to invade Serbia. This happened on 28 July 1914 when Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. On 31 July 1914, Germany issued an ultimatum to the Russian government to cease advancement of Russian arms to Serbia but it was denied and on 1 August, Germany declared war on Russia. On 2 August Germany also sent an ultimatum demanding safe passage through Belgium for German soldiers into France. This was denied. Therefore on 3 August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France. Britain’s response was to defend Belgian Neutrality according to the Treaty of London 1839[4] and declared war against Germany on 4 August 1914. World War One officially began. The first Great War was the result of a combination of political factors. European nations to retain vestiges of their colonial supremacy, German ambition for greater power, the Anglo-German arms race and finally the War between Austria-Hungary and Serbia which was escalated because of diplomatic relations. In conclusion international events and conflicts were building blocks of the final inevitable outburst, the Great War.

The Failure of the German Spring Offensive of 1918

After a continual stalemate in 1916 and 1917 on the Western Front, Germany attempted to break through the deadlock and deliver the fatal blow to the Allies. Why did the Hundred Days Offensive successfully break through the German defenses? The reasons lie in the planning process and the operation process of the German Spring Offensive. Why did the German Spring Offensive of 1918 fail? This question would present the background to the Hundred Days Offensive and the signing of armistice by Germany. This question is often overlooked. Many historical books specifically discuss the Hundred Days Offensive and not the Spring Offensive.
Since this is a broad topic, the essay discusses the answers to this question from both the Allied and the German sides. The analysis does discuss the battles in the Offensive, but it primarily focuses on the situation of the society, industry, and the significant decisions behind the frontlines.
With the assistance of primary and secondary sources, the essay discusses and explains the 5 primary reasons that resulted in the failure of the Offensive. Even before the Spring Offensive, General Ludendorff made serious mistakes concerning the movement of his men and weapons from the Eastern Front to the Western Front. During the Spring Offensive, he made tactical and strategic mistakes. In other words, he missed opportunities that could have won him the Offensive. Germany's weaponry production declined in 1918, and these weapons were crucial to the Germans for the past successes. To maker matters worse, the forces lacked food as well. Ukraine did not live up to their expectations.
In the very end, America's moral, industrial, and military reinforcements, along with the reasons listed above, ultimately halted the German attacks and turned the defence into the offense that eventually won the war for the Allies.
Word Count: 296
" We must strike at the earliest moment before the Americans can throw strong forces into the scale. We must beat the British." Erich Ludendorff, the German Commander, decided that the only opportunity for the Germans to be triumphant in World War One was to separate the French and British forces and force them to comply with a peace treaty on the terms of Germany before America was at full strength. Germany appeared to possess the upper hand when the Spring Offense was initiated, and it certainly had opportunities during the Spring Offensive to deliver the fatal blow to the Allies. Why Did the German Spring Offensive of 1918 Fail? This question is significant because the causes of the failure of the Spring Offensive are the underlying grounds for the final outcome of World War One. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of Ludendorff's preparation errors before the Offensive, Ludendorff's strategic and tactical mistakes during the Offensive, Germany's inadequate manufactures of weaponry in 1918, Germany's agricultural shortage in 1918, and America's moral, industrial, and military reinforcements for the Allies during the Offensive.
In 1917, the failures of General Nivelle's offensive and the widespread mutinies radically lowered the French morale. During the period of November 1917 to March 1918, the British forces on the Western Front decreased by 25%. By March 1918, America was beginning to impact the outlook of the Western Front, but it has yet to reach full strength. General Ludendorff saw the opportunities to win the war, and placed the fate of the German people in this last offensive. The Spring Offensive is also known as "Kaiserschlacht" and Illustration 1 describes the progress of the entire Offensive. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 started at 4:50 AM on March 21st 1918 with Operation Michael, as shown in Illustration 2. Germany's Western Front extended from 390 km in March 20th to 510 km by June 25th. However, the Spring Offensive ultimately failed in its purpose to win the war, and the German forces returned to its starting line by July 20th. The counterattack of the Allies eventually defeated the Germans, and Germany eventually signed the armistice on November 11, 1918.
General Ludendorff's Planning Mistakes
The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of General Ludendorff's planning mistakes for the Offensive. In December of 1918, the Central Powers signed an armistice with Russia and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3rd, 1918. As a result, over 60 German divisions were freed from the Eastern Front. Over 1 million troops and 3000 artillery pieces were added to the German forces on the Western Front from the Eastern Front before March. However, approximately 1.5 million soldiers along with 270,000 horses were stationed on the Eastern Front in 1918. General Ludendorff did not even relocate the elite Eighth Army to the Western Front, and this army was responsible for decisive victories at the Battle of the Masurian Lakes and at the Battle of Tannenberg. Ludendorff also insisted that the Austro-Hungarians should continue with their campaigns to attack Italy rather than assisting the Germans in the Spring Offensive. Just as Crown Prince Rupprecht stated, "Ludendorff is a man of absolute determination, but determination alone is not enough, if it is not combined with clear-headed intelligence." Ludendorff was definitely one of the most talented and determined generals in World War One. Unfortunately, Ludendorff's mistakes during the planning process eventually resulted in the Offensive's failure. People supported Ludendorff by saying that Germany need 1.5 million people to stabilize Romania and Russia, but some historians claim that at least half of the Eastern Front army could be transferred to the Western Front. General Ludendorff undeniably overestimated the effectiveness of his forces in the Western Front so he was confident enough to leave 1.5 million men on the Eastern Front and ask no help from Austria-Hungary. These 1.5 million men require food and materials that the forces in the Spring Offensive could have used. He did not consider the predicament that the German troops would encounter if the Allies were able to successfully defend Germany's assaults in the early or middle stages of the Offensive. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because General Ludendorff made critical mistakes during the planning process for the Offensive.
General Ludendorff's Strategic and Tactical Mistakes during the Operations
The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of General Ludendorff's strategic and tactical mistakes during the operations. Oskar von Hutier developed the Hutier (Infiltration) Tactics, and these tactics were effective at the Battle of Riga and Caporetto. It eliminated the enemies by having the storm troopers infiltrate the front lines of the enemies and destroy key infrastructures like communication and transportation systems, as shown in Illustration 3. Afterwards, the troops and the infantry will attack. Ludendorff utilized this tactic in the operations, but his strategy did not correspond with the tactic. According to Rupprecht, the Crown Prince of Bavaria, Ludendorff's strategy was: "We chop a hole. The rest follows". As a result, their attack at Arras and other locations were repelled. In Operation Michael, the British Fifth Army was obliterated and General Hutier's 8th army broke through the defense line. The Encarta Reference, concerning this situation, states that: "If Ludendorff had concentrated all his reserves to exploit the gap Hutier had opened, the plan might have succeeded. Instead, he launched three separate new attacks." Even the British recognized the opportunities of victory for the Germans of the gap that Hutier created. Kingsley Martin, a British soldier, described their thoughts of the German attempts for a breakthrough in March of 1918: "French soldiers shouted at us, 'What's happened to the bloody Fifth Army?' The British had lost the war. It was said not to be safe to go out because the French were so angry." During Operation Michael, Germany lost 239,000 men and most of these soldiers were storm troopers. Hew Strachan, in his book called The First World War, described Ludendorff, concerning his final plans to defeat France, as a person that "had lost all grasp of strategic reality." Officers around Ludendorff claimed that he possibly worked for over 19 hours a day and the psychological strain could have been a cause for his tactical mistakes, and his hardworking efforts are displayed in Illustration 4. His successes cannot be denied at the Battle of the Somme and other battles in the Offensive. However, his wrong perception of the Hutier tactics and his missed opportunities of attacking the weak defenses, like in the example of the gap that General Hutier created, were reasons that resulted in the failure of the Spring Offensive. Some people praised Ludendorff for the progression of his army despite the economics obstacles, but it has to be remembered that the German army did nevertheless have the opportunities to win the Offensive and Ludendorff missed it. Ludendorff overrated the effectiveness of the Hutier Tactic to an extent that he became idealistic about his tactics of infiltration. The German Spring Offensive failed because of Ludendorff's strategic and tactical mistakes during the Offensive.
Germany's Agricultural Shortage in 1918
The General Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of Germany's agricultural shortage in 1918. From 1913 to 1918, the area of Germany under cultivation fell by 15% and the farming productions were in continual declines because mobilization took horses and over 3 million agricultural workers. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 33% of Russia's pre-war population, 33% of arable land, 40% of coal output, and 24% of stell making capacity primarily belonged to Germany. A Corps Commander in Kiev reported to Ludendorff on March 23, 1918 concerning Ukraine, "The administrative structure is in total disorder, completely incompetent and in no way ready for quick results." Ottakar Czernin, the foreign minister of Habsburg Empire, stated in 1918, "The hopes, which the settlement at Brest-Litovsk had universally raised, were not remotely fulfilled." After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Germany expected that their new regions would produce sufficient food for the soldiers. However, these territories did not provide enough materials for the soldiers in 1918. At the times when the German forces broke through the Allied defenses in the Spring Offensive, the supply line's food shortage forced the Germans to retreat. The German troops were starving, and this directly resulted in their low morale and their awful performances on the battlefield in the Offensive. The Spring Offensive failed because of Germany's inadequate production of foodstuffs to sustain the German troops.
Germany's Industrial Unproductiveness during the Offensive
The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of Germany's inadequate manufactures of weaponry in 1918. The British Navy started a Naval Blocade in August 1914 of Germany and had finished enclosing all the German sealine on the north by the end of 1914. It has been estimated that over 750,000 German civilians have died due to malnutrition and the blockade is a primary reason for the deaths. The German War Food Department announced in May 1918 that the flour allocation has to be reduced and it stated:
"The daily flour ration...will be reduced from 200 to 160 grams...The re-establishment of the old rations will take place as soon as sufficient imports from the Ukraine are in the hands of the Reich Grain Department."
At the same time, metal was so scarce that coins were melted and new forms of paper money called Notegeld circulated the market. For Germany, the deliveries of new guns fell from 3000 per month in 1917 to 2000 in February 1918. To make matters worse, German production of artillery shells in mid 1918 was merely half of the monthly output of 1917 and Germany was still fighting in WW1, in which artilleries are responsible for 70% of casualties. By 1917, industrial output had fallen 53% from 1913, and it continued to decline in 1918. Even the newly received Donets in Ukraine was only able to produce 5 million tons of coal in the first half of 1918 so transportation speed of these resources were decreased. By the time the former Russian territories produced enough resources, the railway network was unable to transfer them to the Western Front to support the forces. Strikes occurred in Germany at the beginning of 1918 and social unrest permeated through corners of the society. On January 28th, 100,000 demonstrated on the Berlin streets and there is an estimate that 4 million workers went to the streets around Germany in this period of time and the chaos are shown in Illustration 5. In the Offensive, German forces advanced their positions, but they were not able to secure it because of their lack of tanks and motorized artillery. Its production was not capable of producing sufficient weaponry for Germany because numerous workers were sick or died of malnutrition. Due to the lack of workers, many companies were shut down and this directly decreased the industrial production. At many times during the Offensive like Compeigne, mobilized weaponry could have easily opened new opportunities for the Germans, but they were forced to retreat because they did not have artillery backup to continue the offense. Towards the end of the Offensive, German forces mainly consisted of infantry and they stood no chance against the Allies that had modern tanks, artillery, and airplanes. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of Germany's inadequate manufactures of weaponry.
America's Reinforcements for the Allies
The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of America's reinforcements for the Allies. In 1916, Britain was spending 250 million dollars per month in America and once America entered the war, the Allies possessed global monopolies in the purchases of chief foodstuffs and other crucial products to the war. With the assistance of the United States, France and France was able to jointly produce an average of 11,200 machines and 14,500 aero engines every month in the last year of 1918. While Germany lost 350,000 men in the spring, approximately American 180,000 troops arrived in France during the same period. The AEF was crucial in stalling the German attacks in the Battle of Lys and halting the Offensive in the Third Battle of Aisne at Chateau-Thierry. They even drove the Germans out of Belleau Wood on June 26th. Throughout the Offensive, the morale of the American army distinguished them from the rest of the Allies; General Pershing somehow vitalized and trained them into qualified soldiers, as shown in Illustration 6. On April 15th at the Battle of the Lys, General Pershing said to his 900 officers of the American first division:
" You are going to meet a savage enemy, flushed with victory. Meet them like Americans. When you hit, hit hard and don't stop hitting. You don't know the meaning of the word 'defeat'."
Between June and July of 1918, America sent over 584,000 men to the battlefield and these men decisively stopped the advancement of the Offensive. America's entry into World War One reinforced the forces of the Allies, as well as foodstuffs, weapons, and morale. The incoming troops in the next few months overwhelmed the German forces. The American soldiers were vigorous because most of them were new soldiers to the battlefield. The additional American forces in the upcoming months were crucial to the halt of the Offensive. Their addition also lifted the spirits for the French and British soldiers. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 failed because of America's moral, industrial, and military reinforcements for the Allies.
Towards the beginning of July of 1918, Germany's forces were radically weakened as a result of the large casualties and the low morale, but it was not until July 15th that the operations stopped at a dead end. Gerhard Ritter was a young officer at the Western Front in 1918 and described the final periods of the Offense as:
"A crushing disappointment. Once again war's end had receded into the distant future, once again heart combs had done no more haplessly lengthen the front; and how could what had not been achieved in the first great blow, struck with every resource, full surprise, and tremendous barrages, now be won with far weaker forces, consisting largely of decimated and exhausted divisions?"
By this time, the Offence was considered to be a failure, and this passage displays the disappointment of the soldiers by then. Why did the German Spring Offenses of 1918 fail? The reasons that resulted in the failure of the Germany Spring Offenses of 1918 were the faulty preparations of General Ludendorff, the tactical mistakes of General Ludendorff during the operations, the scarce production of German foodstuffs, the inadequate manufactures of German weaponry, and the reinforcements of America into World War One. Other reasons like the continuous deaths of soldiers, as shown in Illustration 7, and the decrease of the German forces, were important factors for the failure too. In conclusion, only one or two of these five causes may not have resulted in the failure of the Offensive, but the combination of all 5 causes was enough for the failure of the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
Word Count: 2498
Gilbert, Martin. A History Of The Twentieth Century: Volume One: 1900-1933. U.S.A.: First Avon Books Trade Paperback Printing, November 1998.
McDonough, Frank. Conflict, Communism and Fascism: Europe 1890-945. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2001
Hamlyn. The Hamlyn Pictorial History of the 20th Century. Michelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London: Reed Consumer Books Ltd, 1989.
Upshur, Jiu-Hwa., Terry, Janice., Holoka, James., Goff, Richard., Cassar, George., and Lowry, Bullitt. World History: Comprehensive Volume: Second Edition. United States of America: West Publishing Company, 1995.
Strachan, Hew. The First World War. United States of America: Penguin Groups, 2004.
Yan, Li and Ming, Gao. The First World War. Beijing: Beijing TongZhou Jing Hua Shua Zhi Ban Chang, 2005.2.
Kaiserschlacht 1918: The Final German Offensive Of World War One. Randal Gray.
The German Spring Offensive of 1918.

World War I.
Australian Military Units: German Spring Offensive.

United States in the War and Last Battles.

The Victories and Defeats of the Russian Army: 1914. Patrick Murphy.
Stormtrooper Tactics of World War I.

Spring Offensive.
Spring Offensive.
Germany's Spring Offensive WW1 (Kaiserschlacht).

Feature Articles: Deceit Used by the High Command: An Unexpected Peace. 3 January, 2006.
The Effect Of The British Naval And Economic Blockade: On The Western Front In The Great War. Dr. David Payne. The Western Front Association.
German Historical Banknotes: Notegeld WW1: Emergency Money.
"World War I." Encarta Reference Library Premium 2005. 2005.

What were the Three Attempts to Break the Deadlock on the Western Front?

“A country cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent war,” famous German scientist Albert Einstein who lived during the time of the First World War once said this. Indeed Germany had the Schlieffen plan prepared since 1905 but in 1914, though it could invade Belgium and go onto France, due to France’s cooperation with British Expeditionary Force, the plan failed and Germany had to face war on both western and eastern front. As Britain and France dug trenches, Germany did the same, having a strong deadlock which was not able to be broken until 1918. From 1914, both Central powers and the Allies attempted to break the deadlock by battles, searching for allies and persuading the public with their war aims. How can merely “persuade the public” end a deadlock when the public is already at war?
The battles occurred from 1914 to 1918 were the most frequent attempts of breaking the deadlock. The outbreak of the Battle of Champagne was on 20 December 1914, by the French’s attempt to break the deadlock. Joffre, the French commander-in-chief, though was not quite successful in attacking against trench lines, could start attacking the Germans along the line from Nieuport to Verdun, throughout the Artois and Champagne regions. The offensive began with minor attacks on 10 December 1914 at the southern edge of the Sayon salient in eastern Champagne. France started to have heavy fighting at Givenchy on December 18th to 22nd, Perthes on 20th of the same month, and at Noyon on 22th but could have insignificant achievement because the German lines were well entrenched with its preeminent defensive warfare. After a temporary break in the battle in mid-February, the battle resumed on March 17th by German attacks and the French could gain a little amount of territory across the line, enabling the Fourth Army to progress on the hills of eastern Champagne no more than 3km, which was much below Joffre’s expectation. There were 90,000 of French casualties and German Third Army numbered the same with them.[1] The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, from March 10 to 12 in 1915 was the first attempt of the British to break the stalemate. That’s good Since the Royal Flying Corps, the air arm of the British military, could achieve swift aerial dominance, they commenced to attack German reserves and its transportation to secure Neuve Chapelle, the area that they had dominated. However, their aerial photography had a flaw, not being able to identify Germany’s strong defensive points, and impossible communication among the commanders brought a disturbance in their route of supplies. On March 12th, German army, with its fortification of its position, started to attack British forces, and prevented them from further dominance. During the battle, 40,000 Allied troops had participated but by the end of the battle, on March 13th, 11,200 (7,000 British, 4,200 Indian)[2] of them could not return, and the Germans lost approximately the same number. Consequently, in the contrary to the perfect beginning of the battle, the British could gain only over 2km of the area they had lost. Germany also tried to have a breakthrough, so it came up with the Second Battle of Ypres, which occurred from April 22nd to May 25th in 1915, the first time Germany used poison gas to a large extent. It started with the release of 160 tons of chlorine gas over a 6.5km front on the part of the line that belonged to French Territorial and its colonial Moroccan and Algerian troops of the French 45th and 78th divisions at around 5:00 pm on April 22nd of 1915. It incurred about 6,000 deaths of French and its colonial troops in 10 minutes.[3] The troops reluctantly had to escape from their trenches, leaving the gap in the front line. Nonetheless, General von Falkenhayn, Chief of German General Staff, did not expect the poison gas to have a great effect and ordered 4th Army not to have any further expectation[4], so there were no reserves to use this gap. Using this opportunity, a Canadian Division started to take action in order to prevent gas attacks until May 3rd 1915, sacrificing 6000 of them.[5] On April 24th, the Germans again released the poison gas directly where the Canadians had their position, west of St. Julien and the region was occupied. On May 10th, another release of chlorine gas took place as the German’s aim of breaking Allied lines but it was not effective. The last gas attack on 24th made the British to retreat to the north and south. By the end of the battle, Ypres salient now got reduced and was severely damaged. These typical countries who were in conflict, such as France, Britain and Germany all had tried to break the deadlock but they all failed and had to suffer from extreme amount of casualties. Due to their failure of the battles, they found another way to force a breakthrough, which was the search for allies. Very good, clearly explaining how this wasa to break the deadlock and what the end result was.
The next way of trying to break the stalemate, searching for allies, incited the other countries to be engaged in the battles. In August 1914, Japan joined the Allies and seized German colonies in China and the Pacific. As Britain had signed a mutual defense treaty with Japan in 1902, Japan joined the Allies and declared war on 23rd August 1914, and seized German colony in China, Tsingtao, on November 7th, and German Marshall and Caroline Island groups in the Western Pacific. But this wasn’t too important. In the same year, the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers and formally entered World War I on 28 October, with the bombardment in Russian Black Sea ports. The reasons for Turkey to join the Central Powers were the pressure from Germany, the opportunism ? of the Turkish minister Enver Pasha, I’m not sure what you are refrring to Germany victories in early stages of the war and Turkey’s conflict with the Allied forces. It was also advantageous for the Germans as Turkey did not join their enemy and could encourage Bulgaria to join. In May 1915, Italy, a country once had been a member of Central powers from 1882 to 1914 but alter became neutral, joined the Entente powers. It was because in 26 April 1915, Britain and France persuaded Italy to join them by secretly offering the territory in the Alps and along the Adriatic coast which they wanted to seize from Austria-Hungary. At that time, Italian army fought 11 battles of the Isonzo with Austria-Hungary and despite of the Italians’ steady attacks, they did not have any worthy gains but had serious losses, and so did the Austro-Hungarians because they did not have enough men to use against both Italy and Russia. In October of the same year, Bulgaria joined German and Austro-Hungarian troops attacking on Serbia. Similar to Italy, Bulgaria joined the Central powers because they could gain territory held by Greece and Serbia if they won the war and the Central powers’ successes in Gallipoli and Italy convinced Bulgaria. As Serbia was overwhelmed by central powers with its new ally, British and French troops went to Salonika port in Greece to help Serbia but it was too late. It resulted in territorial gain of the Central powers from the Baltic Sea to the Persian Gulf. In August 1916, Romania joined the Allies under the pressure of them but their national unity was secured, so Romania could declare war on Austria-Hungary. However, it led them to a tragedy because the Central powers conquered two-thirds of the country and killed most of its army only in 4 months. In April 1917, the United States joined the Allies since Germany did not end its submarine attacks. USA first did not offered plenty of manpower but by the beginning of 1918, 130,000 of men increased into 2 million troops, giving a rapidly effective help to the Allies for demolishing Germany on western front. Meanwhile, Greece joined the Allies because the Central powers included the countries that Greece was against such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. Turkey controlled the Greeks in the East, never turning them back to Greece, Bulgaria was still struggling with Greece for gaining Macedonia, and Austria-Hungary was in conflict with the Greece’s ally Serbia over territorial achievement in Bosnia. In fact the Allies attracted more powerful nations while the central powers could not, but they all had tried hard to have new allies, such as offering some territories or promising the nations’ securities and later the allies were gained easily because those neutral countries still had the other opposing countries, so they chose either the Allies or Central powers, according to what their opponents chose. With more countries joining the war, the battles became more vehement and there were more territorial changes than before.
Another method they used with desire of a breaking the deadlock was to intrigue ? the public with their war aims. There were two people who came up with different war aims, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg of Germany and Woodrow Wilson of USA. Germany’s war aims were claimed in September 1914. The following is Hollweg’s war aims from Germany’s War Aims in the First World War, written by Fritz Fischer, a German historian famous for his analysis of the causes of World War I.
Four years after, Woodrow Wilson, US president, laid down his Fourteen Points Speech about his war aims on January 8th. To sum up those 14 points, they were:
- Open covenants of peace and advancement of diplomacy
- Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas
- Establishment of an equality of trade conditions
- Reduction of armament
- To have a free, open-minded, and impartial adjustment of all colonial claims.
- All Russian territory should be evacuated.
- Belgium should be restored.
- All French territory should be freed and invaded lands should be returned.
- A readjustment of Italy’s frontiers.
- The Austro-Hungarians should be able to have their own development.
- Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro should be evacuated.
- The Turkish portions should have a secure sovereignty but other countries under Turkish rule should be independent, and the Dardanelles should be freed for the ships and commerce of all nations.
- An independent Polish state should be constructed.
- A general association of nations must be formed with mutual guarantees of political
independence and territorial integrity. [7]
Deadlocks in battle are broken by force of arms, not having people cheer and agree.
Wilson also had said that “For such arrangements and covenants we are willing to fight and to continue to fight until they are achieved.” Comparing different war aims from Bethmann-Hollweg and Wilson, German war aims were mainly to weaken the other nations and strengthen Germany with gaining territorial achievements but on the other hand, Wilson’s 14 points were more idealistic and endeavoring after peace, and had no offense to Germany, while Hollweg was trying to provoke the public to be enthusiastic of overwhelming the countries in Allied side. The aims of Germany CAUSED the deadlock, not made up to end it.Although the public in Central powers’ side was quite persuaded, Wilson’s speech was inconvincible because the nations wanted effective assaults on the other countries, not a peace settlement at the moment. These antithetic war aims from Germany and USA with Hollweg and Wilson’s desire of agreement from the public, one of the attempts to break the deadlock, however was again not successful.
To sum up, both Central powers and the Allies had made many exertions in order to break the stalemate three examples of which are mentioned above. Three of the battles from 1914 to 1918, The Battle of Champagne (1914), The Battle of Neuve Chapelle(1915) and the Second Battle of Ypres (1915) each were breakthrough attempts from the French, British and Germans. After searching for allies, the Allies had Japan, Italy, Romania and Greece joined, and Turkey and Bulgaria for the Central powers. The war aims claimed by Bethmann-Hollweg of Germany and Woodrow Wilson of USA also were made to enable the countries to break the deadlock. However, the enthusiastic mood within two major powers resulted in terrible casualties and caused a lot of failures, consequently breaking the stalemate in final armistice on 11 November 1918.[1] http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/champagne1.htm
[2] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Neuve_Chapelle
[3] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Ypres#_note-6
[4] http://www.greatwar.co.uk/westfront/ypsalient/secondypres/gravenstafel/gegains.htm
[5] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Ypres
[6] http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/workbook/ralprs34.htm
[7] http://www.quotedb.com/speeches/fourteen-points

Identify and explain three attempts to break the military deadlock on the Western Front in World War Ⅰ

The failure of the German Schlieffen plan to attack and overrun the French defence led to the deadlock which served as a potential barrier towards both the Allies as well as the Central Powers. Attempts from both sides were made to break this insurmountable obstacle. However after four years of bloody battling the Allies were finally able to break through the German resistance. During these four years, campaigns and defensive measures, as well as counter-offensive movements were taken by both sides. They were either to resist against enemy attacks or was initiated in an attempt to break the ‘deadlock’. Most evident procedures which demonstrate such an endeavour would be the Battle of Gallipoli, the Battle of the Somme and rapid technological advancement in armaments of both The Allies and the Central Powers to further pressurize and simply defeat the enemy.
The Battle of Gallipoli took place between April and December 1915 at Gallipoli. The Allies’ intention was to open up a new front in an attempt to break the deadlock. In November 1914, Winston Churchill suggested a naval assault on the Dardanelles in the hope of being able to secure a swift victory hoping in addition to bring Bulgaria to the Allied side. Churchill’s proposal of the Gallipoli plan was a complete failure, as most of the battleships which advanced through the narrow straits of the Dardanelles were damaged by sea mines. In April 1915, British troops finally managed to disembark at Gallipoli under the support of voluntary forces from Australian and New Zealand. The early battles fought at Gallipoli were the Battles of Krithia and Gully Ravine. One of the first offensive movements taken by the New Zealand and Australian divisions happened during the evening of the 2nd of May. They were ordered to attack Baby 700 by their commanders General Godley and John Monash, but were forced to retreat the following night having suffered over 1,000 casualties. The third battle of Krithia took place on the 4th of June. All previous plans for assault on Gallipoli had been disbanded and both sides returned to trench warfare. Casualties from this battle were estimated at around 25% of their full military strength. The British suffered a loss of 4,500 men. [1] During August 1915, futile battles between the Turks and Allies for territorial supremacy continued with both sides suffering heavy casualties. At the Battle of Chunuk Bair for example, out of “760 men of the New Zealander’s Wellington Battalion who managed to reach the summit, 711 were shot and wounded.” From just these few battle at Gallipoli we are able to notice the Allies leaders’ willingness to sacrifice men just for the chance of being able to advance inland and claim territory. The Allies’ casualties at Gallipoli were 141,113 whilst the Ottoman Empire reported 195,000 dead or wounded. In conclusion the Allies attempt to open a new front in the Dardanelles illustrated many of the incompetence’s of senior leadership. In not checking for mines they delayed the battle fleet moving into position and so being able to fully support the landing. Further failure in planning and lack of concern for human life led to horrendous casualties in order to advance the battle front a few hundred yards.
The Battle of the Somme was the Allies’ second attempt to break the deadlock. It was a joint operation between the French and British. The plan was created by the French Commander in Chief Joseph Joffre with approval from Sir Douglas Haig. Douglas Haig had replaced Sir John French as the British Expeditionary Force commander. Haig desired an offensive in Flanders to push the Germans out of Belgium. In February 1916 French commander Joffre and Haig decided to combine British and French forces in an attack on the Somme River in Picardy. However after the Germans attacked Verdun on 21st February 1916, the French troops committed themselves to defending Verdun rather than attacking the Somme. Haig took control of this operation along with the help of several other generals, including Sir Henry Rawlinson, Edmund Allenby and Fayolle. Douglas Haig formulated a new strategy which was an eight day artillery bombardment in order to annihilate the frontward defences. At this time, Haig commanded 27 divisions which included 750,000 men. This army was to attack the German front line which contained 14 divisions. It was believed that the eight days of artillery bombardment would be sufficient to destroy the barbed wire and defending German troops so allowing the Allies army to move forward untroubled. Proof? The Germans however had built strong deep trenches and were able to sit out the bombardment with little effect on their defensive positions. This plus their high ground gave them considerable advantages over the Allies. At 7:30 am on the 1st of July, 1916, the French and British troops attacked. On the first day the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) suffered enormous losses. In total there were 58,000 casualties with a third of them being fatal. Haig wasn’t discouraged and ordered Rawlinson to continue his attack on the Germans. Rawlinson’s Fourth Army attacked a total of forty six times with casualties reaching 25,000. While the French 6th army advanced 10 km on a 20 km wide front, securing Flaucourt Plateau capturing 85 cannons, 100 machine guns and other sorts of weaponry and 20,000 prisoners. Haig’s strategy was to continuously pressurize the German forces while the French Generals Joffre and Foch believed in conserving their military strength in preparation for a final blow. The capturing of the town of Pozieres on the 23rd of July was a small success, though they were unable to capture the neighbouring German encampment. General Alfred Micheler and the Tenth Army joined the battle at Flers Courcelette. He and the 12th Division using tanks for the first time managed to advance a distance of 3.2km. Four and a half months after the 31st Division attacked Serre they were ordered to do it again. Towards the south of Serre, the 51st Division took control of Beaumont Hamel and the 63rd Division took Beaucourt. On the 18th of November, there was a final attack on the Munich and Frankfurt trenches and final drive onwards to Grandcourt. 90 men from the Allies 16th Battalion were stopped in the Frankfurt trench. Half of them were killed and a further 30 of them wounded. They eventually surrendered ending the Battle of the Ancre and of the Somme. There was no true victor in the Battle of the Somme as both sides suffered heavy casualties. From the 1st of July, the British had advanced approximately two miles while losing around 420,000 men. The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans lost 500,000 men.[2] [3] As British historian Gary Sheffield said: “The battle of the Somme was not a victory in itself, but without it the Entente would not have emerged victorious in 1918.” [4] As British historian Gary Sheffield states the Battle of the Somme was the key event for victory of the Entente in 1918. Although there was no true victor, it was a major attempt by the Allies to break through German lines.
Technological advancement led to the creation and manufacturing of superior weaponry and vehicles, which it was believed would result in breaking the stalemate. New technology such as aeroplanes, poison gas, tanks, flame-throwers, U-boats and many other innovations were introduced during the war, some with significant impact. Poisonous gas was first introduced on the afternoon of 22 April 1915 at the second battle of Ypres. The poisonous gas used here was chlorine gas and this was the first time it was used effectively in war. Over the following three years both sides used poisonous gas as a weapon to terrify and kill large numbers of the enemy. Gases such as chlorine, diphosgene, and phosgene all made breathing difficult. Dichlorethlysulphide another gas which burned the skin and caused short-term blindness and when inhaled the person will die from pneumonia and also benzyl bromide. [5].The Germans used about 68,000 tones while the British and French used 51,000 from April 1915 until the end of war. In total, around 1,200,000 men from both sides were affected by the poisonous gas and 91,198 died.Source? The flame-thrower or flammenwerfer in German was first used during a surprise attack on British forces at the Hooge in Flanders at 03:15 am on 30 July 1915. There were two types of flammerwerfer, one of which was lighter, the Kleinflammenwerfer and another which was of a larger model, the Grossflammenwerfer. On the 31st and 32nd of July THERE IS NO JULY 32!!! during the German flammenwerfer assaults, the British lost 31 officers and 751 men of other ranks. The British later created four two ton flame-throwers in preparation for the Somme offensive. The French manufactured their own lightweight Schilit flame-throwers. Towards the end of war, they were extensively used on tanks.
The British invention, the tank, was a major mechanical innovation. They first saw action on the 15th of September 1916 in an offensive at Flers. The attack appeared to be successful, stunning the German oppositions. But how were they intended to break the deadlock? You tend to give one way and explain its use rather than explain how it was meant to break the deadlock which the question specifically asks for. Tanks however often broke down and were incapable of crossing large open trenches or ditches. To this end the British developed a means whereby the tanks carried a small bridge they could unroll from on top of the tank. On 20th November 1917, at the Battle of Cambrai the British tanks showed their true capability. Once the battle started they raced over German lines and occupied twelve miles of German front capturing 10,000 Germans, 123 guns and 281 machine guns; flattening barbed-wire, crossing trenches and operated as a shield for the advancing British infantry. Tanks later served as a vital vehicle in the advancement of the Allies throughout 1918.[6] Many other innovative vehicles and weapons were used in the war including the Zeppelin. Further the German U-Boats served as a constant fear during the Allies naval convoys and other military shipping. The purpose for creating these weapons was to have an advantage against your enemy on the battleground. For both sides, the new technology was used to secure victories in an attempt to break the deadlock.
Both the Allied forces and the Central powers suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Gallipoli as well as the Battle of the Somme. This demonstrates a misconstrued attempt to break the deadlock. Further attempts to break the First World War military deadlock came in the rapid introduction of new means of fighting through armaments.

[1] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gallipoli#Footnotes

[2] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Somme
[3] http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWsomme.htm
[4] http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Somme
[5] DK Eyewitness World War I page 44-45
[6] http://www.firstworldwar.com/weaponry/tanks.htm

From 1999 Paper II
Topic 1: Causes, practices and effects of war

According to popular historical opinion, one of the primary factors in the origin of World War One were alliance systems that divided Europe into two main powers. When analysing the origins of the Great War historians tend to focus on underlying and precipitant causes that are rooted both in the dysfunctions of the international system and in the mistakes and vagaries of the principle governmental leaders. Take for example American revisionist historian Sidney Bradshaw Fay, who summarises that the primary cause for World War One was the nationalist, imperialist, and militarist nature of the alliance systems in place. (1) However, the position that international alliances in political opposition were the root cause is unfounded. The key point that this argument overlooks is the vital role that domestic dispute and foreign policy played in the destabilisation of the European sphere. Thus, I would argue that alliance systems and international tension were not the primary factor in the origins of WWI but rather that domestic strife and expansionist policies were the root cause of the Great War.

Immediately after the end of the war and the resulting treaty of Versailles, the initial theory on what started the war stated that Germany was to blame, an opinion that A. J. P. Taylor argues in his book ‘The Struggle for Mastery in Europe.’ (2) However, the revisionist point of view that emerged in later interwar years, and after the end of the Second World War attempts to alleviate blame from the Germans, placing it rather into the hands of the European continent as a whole. In reading many of these theories, I have been able to determine a loose pattern. Unfortunately, what I found was that although the framework for the orthodox history of the causes of the First World War have no doubt been used to good advantage in uncovering information about the beginnings of the war, their approach is generally limited. No matter what cause they pin the blame on, these interpretations all detach foreign policy from the domestic context (from whence they stem from and in which they function). Most commonly, the theories label the key cause as the alliance systems, saying that, as they grew more contradictory and binding, the danger of small localized conflicts spreading into global general conflicts increased. (3)

It is evident that this cannot have been the case – in previous conflicts alliances have been called upon to aid a nation, but the country being looked to for help would not respond. During the 1905 Moroccan crisis where Germany’s back was against a wall, the German’s were failed in their alliance with Austro-Hungary and Italy, as they did not step forward to help them. (4) And three years later, 1908 finds Russia calling upon Her allies France and England to aid her during the Balkan crisis and being met with nothing. (5) These two examples show the very alliances that were said to have started the war due to the nation’s being tightly bound failing just a few years before. It cannot be said then that the alliance system drove Europe and then later much of the world into war - delightedly, history turns and slaps the historian claiming thus on the cheek with examples of just a few years previously.

The alliance system aside, I have found that the first of two primary factors in the destabalisation process was the struggle of European Nations and their expansionist policies, which resulted in three international crises. The alliances these crises formed and strengthened were then used as scapegoats for war when domestic unrest threatened governmental regimes. The first evidence of this was with the Moroccan Crises in which Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the Moroccan port of Tangier and denounced French influence in Morocco, aiming to test the new Anglo-Franco alliance. (6) Unfortunately for the Germans, the result not only brought France and Britain closer together but also caused an international crises ruled in France’s favour. As if this first attempt had not been enough, the Germans then sent the gunboat “Panther” to the Moroccan port of Agadir in 1911. Due to Britain’s expansion policies, they wanted to keep the port at Gibraltar which gave them access to the Mediterranean Sea. The war scare this generated in Britain however was doused as the German’s agreed to leave Morocco to the French in return for a piece of their Congo. (7)  This generated questions from the German populace who felt they had been humiliated and that their leader was incompetent. (8) Both of these crises emerged due to a desire for the control of more resources, more power and expansion.

From the same motives of imperialism, further international crises occurred in 1908 in the Balkan Crises in which both Bosnia and Serbia wanted to expand into the Balkans. As Turkey had just overthrown its government and was therefore unstable it left the Balkans and generated a massive power vacuum. Austria then annexed Bosnia after tricking Russia during negotiations. Serbia was angered as a large number of their population lived in Bosnia. Eventually Russia bowed to German pressure when they supported Austria and they agreed to the annexation. (9) Summatively, the crises served only to harden attitudes and amplify distrust between powers, as well as strengthening the alliances of Britain and France during the Moroccan Crises, and Austria and Germany during the Balkan crisis.

What is evident here is that expansionist foreign policy was a key player at the root of the war. As I previously observed, most historical views approach the issue saying that as the alliances grew more contradictory and binding the danger of small conflicts spreading into global conflicts increased. In fact, I argue that it is the reverse – a crossover of imperialistic desires and claims threatened to turn localized issues into global conflicts, and that the alliance systems rose and were solidified to prevent this.

I believe that the imperial nature of the European Nations (which led to solidified alliances) combined with, and created domestic strife to bring Europe to breaking point. During the decades (and immediate weeks before July and August 1914) European nations were struggling with extreme national turbulence. To prevent a total revolution in most nations, the idea of creating a common enemy to unify the nation against appeared to be a sound idea. During pre-war time, nationalism is shown to rise as the country feels the need to defend itself as a unified front.

Take Britain for example – the exemplar Herself of ordered change and constitutionalism was facing the impending possibility of civil war. On the 20th of March 1914, just a few months before the outbreak of World War One, the Curragh incident took place and the country was divided – Carson and the Ulster volunteers with the support of influential British leaders against Parliament. (10) Together in a Triple Alliance the railwaymen, miners and transport workers all threatened a crippling strike. This force roused the Labour movement, and in the ensuing polarization and action in the streets of Westminster the politics of compromise and accommodation were deeply threatened. Perhaps for England then, the international war came at just the right time to prevent an internal one. All across Europe other nations were fighting with internal struggles. Meanwhile, France was being eroded due to a vicious struggle between two extremes (the right portrayed the left’s antimilitarism as an urgent threat, turning a broad spectrum of republicans to the right, while the right and center joined to form a three-year draft by drawing on patriotism), which generated severe cabinet instability. (11) In Italy in June the Red Week strike wave left the Italian middle-class nationalists adopted a position of hostility towards the left, resulting in Italy going to war against the desire of the bulk of the Italian population in 1915. (12) Simultaneously in Germany, Arthur Rosenburg informs us that tensions in Germany were “typical of a pre-revolutionary period” and that if Germany had failed to go to war in 1914 “the conflict between the Imperial Government and the majority of the German nation would have continued to intensify to a point at which a revolutionary situation would have been created.” Russia too was facing problems in rising labour unrest in major industrial centres.

Evidently most European nations were struggling immensely with internal conflict and as Rosenburg said, war had come at the right time to prevent revolution. I do not think this was a co-incidence. A quotation from the French President Poincaré, backs up this claim. Poincaré is reported to have stated that "it would be a great pity," if war was avoided. (13) Perhaps he also saw the war as a chance for social reform as at the start of the war income tax was introduced in France.  Further evidence for this is how few nations seemed to think it would be a lengthy war. Many British thought it would be over by Christmas. (14) Russia merely partially mobilized her troops along the border of Austria. Austria itself waited a month before issuing its ultimatum so that the soldiers could return home to gather crops. A short burst of nationalism and a victory against an enemy would serve nicely to get the country to fall back in line. The alliance systems previously casually ignored now rose to bear the full blame for the war. Interestingly, it appears that out of the nations that joined, Britain did not use the war as a means of rallying nationalism until the war posed an actual threat – with German declaration of war on France, if the German’s won they would have control of almost all of Europe, only 28 miles from English shores. (15)

Thus we can see that the alliance system was symptomatic, and not a catalyst. Policies of expansion were the reason that countries needed to find allies and strengthen the bonds between them. But this did not always succeed, and often alliances were broken - the alliances were just a symptom of the initial foreign policies of expansion. When European nations found themselves suffering severe internal strife they then used their alliances as a reason to be prepared to go to war in the hope that it would create a sense of nationalism and prevent revolution. But the result escalated as mobilized troops could not be called back and as a real threat grew out of a political play. The result was a devastating war that lasted years. The alliances formed were therefore not to blame – foreign policies of expansion and threats of revolution, strikes and governmental conflict brought about the Great War.

References Cited

(1) "Sidney Bradsdhaw Fay, The Origins of World War I." Sidney Bradsdhaw Fay, The Origins of World War I. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(2) Taylor, A. J. P. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe. London: Folio Society, 1998. Print.

(3) "European History." Causes of the First World War. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(4) Morel, E. D. Morocco in Diplomacy. London: Smith, Elder, 1912. Print.

(5) "Bosnian Crisis of 1908 (Balkan History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(6) Soroka, Marina E. Britain, Russia, and the Road to the First World War: The Fateful Embassy of of Count Aleksandr Benckendorff (1903-16). Farnham [u.a.: Ashgate, 2010. Print.

(7) "The Morocco Crisis of 1911." The Morocco Crisis of 1911. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(8) "Two War Clouds Menace Europe." New York Times (1911): 1+. Query at New York Times. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(9) Schurman, Jacob G. "Project Gutenberg's The Balkan Wars." Gutenburg. N.p., 22 Mar. 2004. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(10) Beckett, Ian F. W. The Army and the Curragh Incident. London: Bodley Head for the Army Records Society, 1986. Print.

(11) Mayer, Arno J. "Domestic Causes of the First World War ARNO J." Domestic Causes of the First World War ARNO J. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(12) "Red Week (Italian History)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(13) "International Relations and Time." International Relations and Time. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(14) "Podcast 8: 'Over by Christmas'" First World War Centenary. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012. .

(15) "Why Did Britain Join the War against Germany?" Why Did Britain Join the War against Germany? N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2012.

To an extent, however far it may be, the alliance system may have caused the First World War to break out in 1914, just as the many other factors contributing to the beginning of the First World War. In fact there is so much to say about alliances an their impact on the war, that George Kennan himself has written a whole book entitled “ The Fateful Alliance: France, Russia and the coming of the First World War”. Hence this essay will not cover every single fact in the books, nor will it display absolutely all the reasons why the First World War broke out in the first place, however it should give you a sufficient over view of the situation.
When analysing the events that happened in the year 1914 which finally lit the match, starting the war, I would probably consider the most significant to be the so called “Blank Cheque” given from Germany to Austro-Hungary on July 5th 1914 just a week after the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand, giving them the power to make any decision they want over this matter with Germany’s full support. Now clearly there are many arguments against this event, many historians even claim that the Blank Cheque is a complete nuisance, judging that Germany’s foreign minister was not even involved in this declaration. Nevertheless, it is a widely known fact that the Austro-Hungarian empire was very weak indeed, almost falling a part, therefore they must not have been very enthusiastic to go to war when their empire is already in such a vulnerable position. Furthermore it is obvious that they were not too keen on going to war, judging that it took them almost a month from the assassination until they finally declared war on Serbia. This shows us they were hesitant about the matter, therefore the blank cheque from Germany must have been one of the major sources which influenced their decision, after all they knew that if Russia attacked them they would have no chance standing against them alone, however Germany did have a very strong military, as did most countries at the time as they had all been building them up rapidly especially during the 1910-1914s, therefore with Germany’s support they had a lot less to worry about. Interestingly enough, between the years 1910 and 1914 Germany had increased their defensive expenditures to 73%.
However, as stated beforehand, Germany was not the only power increasing their military expenses during the 1910s-1914s, Russia had also increased theirs to 39%, which is a very significant amount, Britain around 13% and France 10%, though one must not forget that France had the most modern army at the time. The build up of militaries in each country is also considered a major reason of the cause of world war one. After all it is a grand source of tension for any country to have the countries around them building up their defence forces, as it indicates that each country must have some sort of reason, which lets them feel threatened and build up their army in response. Of course once countries have invested so much in their militaries it is also somehow expected that they make use of them, or else the people will question the reasons for which so much money has been invested in them in the first place. Nevertheless, the issue of militarization had been going on for the past four or five years, therefore it is difficult to argue that this was the reason war broke out in exactly 1914 and not a couple years before or later. There was however a very significant military move made in 1914 which in my opinion was the reason war broke out in this year and not another. This was when Russia mobilized at Germany’s borders on the 31st of July 1914. It is true that Austro-Hungary had declared war on Serbia three days before Russia mobilized; therefore many historians claim that the world war had already started at this point. However, I do not agree with this, simply because when Austro-Hungary annexed Bosnia in 1908, the matter did not escalate to involve the whole world, Britain, Russia, Germany and France pretty much stayed out of it. Had Russia not mobilized at Germany’s borders, there is no proof that any other of the powers would have even gotten involved in the Austro-Hungarian vs. Serbian war, it would just have been another Balkan Crisis, and perhaps war would not have started for another year or two. This move by Russia is what provoked the Germans to officially declare war on them on August 1st 1914, followed by them declaring war on France on August 3rd. This is one of the reasons why many blame Germany for starting the world war. Although one must ask ones self, what other choice did they have? With one of the world’s largest armies lined up at their border, how could they have not declared war? Obviously a mobilized army at your border is one of the most threatening actions another country could pose towards you, they could fire at any chosen moment, there is no way you could just sit their defenseless. Now AGB Taylor argues that “General mobilization- not for war but to keep their standing in the diplomatic conflict- was (Russia’s) only course”. However how was Germany to know or believe this? If someone points a loaded gun to your head and claims that they are just trying to make a statement are you meant to stop shivering and carry on what you are doing? This is impossible, reacting to protect yourself is inevitable, just as declaring war on Russia was for the German’s after Russia mobilized at their borders.
When considering alliances however, one realizes that though declaring war on Russia was nothing but a defensive move on behalf of Germany, declaring war on France was rather tied not only to geographical location and the Schlieffen plan, but surely also because Germany knew that if she attacked Russia, France would attack her. This is of course the result of alliances when looked at it from a basic stance. After the alliance between France and Russia in 1894, Germany had always sensed that enemies encircled her. Furthermore through all the crisis that had happened since then, such as the Moroccan crisis of 1905 and 1911, as well as the Bosnian crisis of 1908, Germany knew that she did not have Russia and France on her side, and that, to everyone’s surprise, they were even quite supportive on the matter of Germany’s increasing power. For the French at this time it would not have been imaginable for their government to have an alliance with the Russians, as they were the only monarchial state left in existence, and the French were much beyond such primitive circumstances. Nevertheless both these powers were very afraid of Germany’s rising power, and not to mention France had had a grudge against Germany ever since the Franco-Prussian war of 1871. After all, they were thirsting to grab Alsace and Lorraine back the first chance they get, and Germany was aware of this.
Now this point draws us back out of alliances and into imperialism and nationalism. Not only did France go to war in the hope of gaining back their territory and expanding, Britain very much entered the war backed up by very nationalistic and imperialistic reasons. This is extremely relevant to the First World War having broken out in 1914, because after Germany declared war on France and Russia, Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th 1914, making it officially into a world war as opposed to a European war. In the books it is written that Britain declared war on Germany due to the fact that Germany had invaded Belgium and Britain felt obliged to defend Belgium as according to the Treaty of London this was there duty. However if there had not been any other reasons for Britain to join the war, except to defend Belgium, surely they would not have joined. This is not because Britain is ignorant or does not care about other countries, but because clearly going to war is a massive decision for countries with devastating consequences. No country in history has ever genuinely gone to war for only selfless reasons. Britain was the largest empire at the time, having one fifth of the world under their control. They were not about to risk this vast power by letting Germany take over Europe and then slowly all their colonies too. In order for Britain to exist as it did, they needed a balance of powers in Europe, and as soon as this balance was at risk, so was the British Empire, therefore they stepped in. It could be argued of course, that this case very much had to do with alliances. Not the alliance between Belgium and Britain however, but the cordiale entente, the friendly agreement signed between Britain and France in 1904. After all, protecting the Belgians from the German troops was nothing more than a plot to hinder them from accessing the French. Now it could be argued that this shows the strength of the Cordiale Entente and therefore alliances did very much cause the war to break out in 1914. However, when one looks deeper one quickly realizes that the reason England was defending France was not because England was worried that their poor friend and ally would lose their power, but simply because Germany would gain power that would in turn threaten Britain. This shows that Britain may have declared war in the name of an alliance, however just as an excuse to fend for them selves.
This brings us to the conclusion that alliances may have impacted the start of world war one in 1914 to a slight extent, however truthfully they were simply excuses which could be twisted and turned in anyway in order to cover a countries true motives for declaring war and put it under another countries name, and as Italy clearly showed us, it meant nothing to sign an alliance, countries still did what they decided was best for their own country, and if this happened to benefit their “allied” country as well, then splendid! There were so many alliances between so many different countries that they were not to be taken seriously any more, as Churchill says: “If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.

When analyzing to what extent the alliance system caused the Great War in 1914 it is important to discard any historical bias and play the events in a historical timeline. In doing this you can then truly evaluate why the war broke out in 1914 and not another year in this period. My moral imperative is to determine what part the entanglement of alliances played in the most devastating war in world history up until that point. Put best by Kahlil Gibran “History does not repeat itself except in the minds of those who do not know history.”
Looking into the log of European alliances since 1879 it is evident that there is a common pattern of alliances between two great power blocks in Europe, the powers central in Europe and the outlying powers of Europe (entente powers).  The series of alliances formed between 1879 and 1914 was a continuous re-maneuvering and reaffirmation of commonly accepted allegiances (with the exception of absolute power of tsarist Russia and democratic France, initially) that countries held to one another. By 1907 with the triple entente the great revel of alliance finally settled in place. War did not however, break out until 7 years later, hardly compelling evidence that alliance system caused war. It could be argued that even with alliances in place war still needed a catalyst. My retort to this is the Bosnian crisis of 1908 where nations teetered on the edge of war with Russia and Germany mobilizing their respective forces, only defusing when Russia backed down. Alliances by themselves still did not have the power to pull Europe into total war, even as the Balkans experienced fighting. It is therefore clear that alliance system by them selves did not have the power to drag Europe into a total war.
The alliance treaties formed in the great peace between the congress of Vienna and the outbreak of war in 1914 did not cause war in their own right but turned small localized conflicts between feuding European nations into global issues potentially causing war on a much larger scale bringing in not only European powers but their colonial subjects as well. Without an alliance system binding Serbia and Russia together, the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand would have resulted in a small conflict in the Balkans between two relatively meager military powers. (This seems a slightly unrealistic statement accounting for Russia’s commitment to the downtrodden Slavs of Europe, but still valid in theory.)  Moreover, if alliance blocks had not been formed, it would not have mattered how Russia acted, for their actions would not have obligated any other nation to join them in war. Alliances created an environment where war seemed inevitable and any jolt to stability put the entire world off balance bringing war crashing down. In Winston Churchill’s words “all that subterranean, subconscious movement whereby the vast antagonisms of the great war where slowly remorselessly, inexorably assembled.” It is my strong conviction that without the treaties of alliance between countries and the honor obligations they carried, no ‘political’ leader would have carried their nations into such all consuming war, as the frantic attempts of leaders in July of 1914 to stop the war demonstrated.
On balance the great entanglement of alliance in their own right did not cause the war in 1914, but it acted as a catalyst and enabled war to break out.  Alliances gave the world a contemptible situation where one gunshot could hail a billion more. The alliance system did not entirely dictate world war, as was seen in the Bosnian crisis of 1908 or the Moroccan crisis of 1911 or even the Balkan war 1912-13. It did, however, create a situation where had a military dispute between to opposing alliance members broken out; the default conclusion was a domino effect of war crashing across Europe. All the Great War needed was a distraction preventing leaders from stopping the gears of war moving. This came in the golden summer of July 1914 where masses of important figures from ambassadors in Paris to the Kaiser in Germany, where on holiday blissfully distracted away from the coming war. In the words of an American writer at the time “behind the summer pleasure, the nations of Europe where like a file of marching prisoners chained together by their ankles, prisoners of national pride shackled together by treaty obligations.”  1914 was the year when alliances where given their chance to show their devastating consequences, simply by the culmination of events, the Great War could have broken out any year after the alliance blocks had been set.

I believe this is not an easy question to answer. The alliance system certainly did play a significant part in causing the war but although I can only base my arguments on books, facts, figures and the evidence that is left of this time, I can say for sure that alliances were only the cause to a certain extent and I agree with historian Jay Winter who said: "The First World war is a detective story with no resolution..." [1].
            Looking at the impact of alliances I can conclude that they caused quite a bit of tension between the European powers. In 1879 Germany and Austria-Hungary had their Dual Alliance, which in 1882 became the Triple Alliance along with Italy. Taking a quick look at a map from these times this could have looked alarming to Britain and France because the Kaiser was starting to spread his foreign policy and getting stronger. Was he planning on something? Why did Germany need allies? These thoughts might have been increased in 1887, when Bismarck made a secret Reinsurance Treaty with Russia after the Dreikaiserbund from 1881 had failed. It seems, the Germans were very keen on staying on friendly terms with Russia. Also, the emphasis lies on "secret". It seems Europe's choices were no longer made in the open. Was there a reason for this secrecy? I am convinced these events caused tension among the powers but this tension can also be looked at differently in the early 20th century. In 1902 Britain decided to form an alliance with Japan. Some argue that this was because they grew worried by isolation and again, looking at a map, this could be true. In 1904 Britain and France formed the Entente Cordiale, in 1907 the Triple Entente. So if Germany hadn't had any military intentions by forming its alliances would it be the Kaisers turn to be worried now? After all, Russia had bonded with Britain and France.  I believe so, as he very clearly tried to test the strength of the allied powers by provoking them through the Moroccan Crisis in 1905 and again in 1911. As well as this the formation of alliances caused the well-known domino effect to take place in August 1914. Due to countries, having promised each other help, should they be attacked, Britain, for example, had no other option than to declare war on Germany on the 4th of August as Germany's aggression was clearly directed towards France.
            However, what about everything else, imperialism, nationalism, militarism? These three factors were at least as important as the alliance system if not more important, not even mentioning the short term causes of the war that made it brake out in 1914, such as Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination. Vladimir Ilich Lenin, a man who played a significant role in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the founding of the Soviet Union and whom I believe has quite healthy reasons for his perspective, thought that World War I was an imperialist war. His view was that it was caused by the expansion of European empires and thus the arising competition. The different interests of the European powers clashed, producing the Great War[2].
            Looking at militarism, my opinion is that the race of arms should also at least be mentioned when trying to answer this question. Putting aside all arguments over whether Germany was trying to provoke war by arming up or not, it caused quite a big amount of tension and mistrust among the European countries. No country liked to be smaller in military size than the other, which proves how suspicious they were of each other. Of course, this was also a question of pride. No country wanted to back down in this. Could this arms race be considered a policy of building up strong forces to prepare for war? I think it could. Take the tension and suspicion caused by the alliance system and the different imperialistic interests among the countries. Of course Britain, France, Russia and Germany wanted to be able to defend themselves in the worst case and of course, they did not want to look weak.
            Nationalism also played along with imperialism, militarism and the alliance system. I think it is closely linked to the first two. The French were proud to be French, the Germans proud to be Germans and I would be surprised if the British weren't proud of their Empire. It was in every countries best interest to look as glamorous and strong as possible and maybe even better than the others.
            So far, I can come to the conclusion that alliances were still definitely a cause of war. However, their weighting is still in question. Looking at August 2nd 1914, when Germany delivered an ultimatum to Belgium to allow German troops to pass through its territory, a question arises when Britain clearly stated that if Belgium's neutrality should be violated they would declare war. Would Britain really care so much about Belgium and the Treaty of London from 1839, that Bethmann-Hollweg liked to call "a mere scrap of paper"[3]? I believe it wasn't because of the alliance or treaty itself but either because if the pact would be broken by Britain it would cast a negative light on them or because Britain simply needed a reason to go to war to enforce its foreign policy, which takes me to my next point.
            This foreign policy meant to Britain that no one power dominates, which was why they created small states such as Belgium. If Germany would take over Belgium without any issues it would be able to take over France and if that would be the case, Europe would slowly but surely become German. Therefore, Britain could not let Germany take over Belgium or France but neither could they let France get too powerful. There is no point arguing that The Triple Entente was the main reason Britain finally declared war on Germany, it had to help France. But this was probably the only strong alliance. The Triple Alliance consisted of two weak countries. Austria-Hungary, economically weak and torn between many different races of people within it and Italy, who hadn't had any significant imperial or military successes and wasn't exactly seen as a great threat to Britain and France. Thus, the Triple Alliance must have been more of a burden than support for Germany and if Britain and France knew the state Austria-Hungary and Italy were in, and I am sure they did, they must have thought that the Alliance could be torn easily, and they were not mistaken as Italy later on in the war joined their forces. As well as this, the so-called domino effect the alliances were supposedly responsible for was, I believe, also affected by the July Crisis 1914. Could the assassination and the ultimatum to Serbia as well as Russia's mobilization not be considered important domino stones too? And they certainly did not have anything to do with alliances.
            Therefore, I come to the conclusion that the formation of alliances did play a role in causing the World War. It created tension and suspicion among the European powers and was partly responsible for the "falling of dominoes", that eventually provoked the war in 1914. However, even I know for sure that a war to this extent can't simply be caused by some alliances. I like to think that the Titanic is a perfect representation of the pre-war situation. The powers, just like the Titanic were going fast, wanting to do and be everything that would make them better than the others. When the iceberg was spotted the ship was so fast there was not enough time to decelerate or swerve around it. The Great War was inevitable. Factors such as the clashing of different imperialistic views, nationalistic insinuations and the constant build up of arms added to this tension immensely, meaning the alliance was only equal to a small proportion of the causes.

[1] http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/historian/hist_winter_05_detective.html
[2] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitextlo/ess_leninscritique.html
[3] http://history.howstuffworks.com/world-war-i/world-war-i-in-1914.htm

I agree to a medium extent that the alliance system caused war in 1914. The reasoning for this is that there were other, more significant factors that led to the war. The alliance system was a long-term cause of the World War, but had not much to do with the fact it started in 1914.
The alliance system was one of the main factors causing the war, however due to the fact that it began in 1879 it is not the reason for war starting in 1914. The alliance system commenced with the “Dual Alliance”, which was between Germany and Austria. Italy joined this alliance in 1882- The alliance simply meant, that in case one country was attacked the others would support it. The reason for Germany allying with these countries was, that it was threatened by the fact, that there were opposing powers on its east and its west. It needed to prevent any other dangerous borders. In 1892 the Franco-Russian alliance was formed and 1907 the triple entente was agreed, where Britain joined the former two allies. These countries felt threatened by the fact, that Germany was building up an enormous navy (by 1914 Germany had built already 17 dreadnoughts) and army (1.5 million soldiers by 1914). The alliance system was sometimes used to test and manipulate countries (the Moroccan Crises of 1905, or 1911, where Germany tested the French and British alliance). In summary, one can say that the alliance system was already created between 1879 and 1892, and therefore it was not the reason for why war started in 1914.
The alliance system was not a very equal system, due to the fact that the two main alliances (triple alliance, and triple entente) were very different in power and stability.                The Triple Alliance was very unstable. Austria-Hungary, was a young country with over five different religions. Over ten languages were spoken, including German, Hungarian, Czech and Polish. It consisted of many different countries and therefore had too many identities of nationalism. It was not a good country to be allied with, but the only interest Germany had allying with it was the cultural proximity with the Austrians, and its direct border to Russia. Furthermore, nowadays a German would not understand why Germany would ally with Italy, because the culture, politics, language, religion, and even food, are so different, that it would make no sense for the population, except for geographical matters. A very curious observation one could make, is that the instability of the triple alliance can even be identified by the flags of the countries: completely different colours, patterns, and symbols.           On the other hand the triple entente was very strong. Three strong and stable powers collaborated and for one simple reason: the rivalry against Germany. There was no other explainable reason for why a liberal country such as France (“liberté, égalité, fraternité”) would have allied with a conservative and fascist country as Russia.                                        In conclusion, the fact that Germany was in a weak and unstable alliance increased the conflict between itself and its opponents who were stabilized by the triple entente. It is sure, that the alliance system made countries enter the war that maybe never would have: Germany entered because of the Blank Cheque sent to Austria (AJP Taylor once stated “The Austrian government was not much concerned to punish the crime of Sarajevo. They wanted to punish a different crime - the crime that Serbia committed by existing as a free national state”); Britain entered because of Germany’s invasion of neutral Belgium.

             There were several other important factors that caused World War I, such as crises, arms race and militarism (David Stevenson, a British historian, said: “A self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness was an essential element in the conjuncture that led to disaster. The armaments race was a necessary precondition for the outbreak of hostilities."), nationalism, and colonies. Kenneth Waltz, and American historian stated that “WWI was caused by human nature”. One should widen his horizon and think further back: how and why these aspects were generated. My reasoning for this is, that the War was caused by a generation factor. The generation of the countries’ leaders was born into great empires. All of them were born into their individual powerful nations and had then experienced the Prussian wars, which started the conflicts. As Otto von Bismarck stated in 1870: “A generation that has taken a beating is always followed by a generation that deals one.” which is exactly what took place. The Prussians (later Germans) were very proud of what they had taken over and as Helmuth von Moltke stated after the Franco-Prussian war: “What our sword has taken over in half a year our sword must guard for half a century.” These men educated the leaders of World War one, and therefore when Kaiser Wilhelm was encircled by three strong powers it was his right and duty to defend himself and protect his country. The half of a century which Moltke had talked about was not over yet, and therefore once Russia had mobilized (on the 31st of July 1914), he had to declare war. This is also supported by the German historian Wolfgang Mommsen, who has stated that “Wars only begin with the right leaders. The main actors of World War One had been educated accordingly, and merely fought for their blood.” As one can see in the above, the main reason that caused WW1 (around the time of 1914) was a generation factor.

In conclusion, as one can see in the above, World War One was started in 1914 due to the Alliance system to a medium extent. Of course it was one strong of many other causes of the First World War, but it has not much to do with the fact that it broke out in 1914. The main reason for why war broke out was the generation of leaders, but why war broke out in 1914 is very difficult to determine. The countries were ready, and that is why war broke out on August 4th 1914.

Why did World War One start in 1914 and not earlier?

From the November 2001 IB Paper III Exam
“What passing bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns
Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.”
– Wilfred Owen
There is no comparison to the horrors of World War I and the sheer stupidity behind this slaughter of mankind. As Siegfried Sassoon wrote, it was “the world’s worst wound”, that no amounts of memorials will ever be able to do proper justice. The question on each of these men’s mind was why and who had let this happen. They only knew what their governments had told them – so what were the driving forces behind the fatal decisions to go to war in 1914, and why had they been made?
On the 4th of August 1914, Great Britain finally declared war on Germany after German troops went through neutral Belgium as part of their Schlieffen Plan. The First Treaty of London in 1839 had agreed on perpetual Belgian neutrality and committed all other signatory powers, including Great Britain, to intervene in the event of a Belgian invasion. It was this act of British participation that truly launched the European conflicts into a fully escalated world war, as it pulled with it its colonies from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Only a day earlier, France had mobilised its troops after the German declaration of war, two days after Germany had declared war on Russia on the 1st. On the 30th of July, Germany had mobilised in support of Austria-Hungary, who had entered into war with Serbia on the 28th of July, supported by Russian mobilisation, exactly a month after the assassination of their Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Prinzip. The Great War determined the outcome of our world today – obviously, the resulting Treaty of Versailles was a major factor in Hitler’s rise to power and the Second World War. On a more recent note however, it would have averted the Cold War. Without Russia’s defeat and Lenin’s anti-war arguments, the October Revolution in 1917 may never have been successful and Russia wouldn’t have become a soviet state, while 1917 also marked the first active American involvement international scene, thanks to which it remains a dominating power today.
To understand the motives behind the war it is vital to know the history behind the history – to comprehend the existing tensions between countries, the mind-set of the time, and, most importantly, where the power actually lay. The Chinese philosopher Confucius wrote “There is deceit and cunning and from these wars arise”[1], while the American historian Howard Zinn argues that “historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience”[2]. The outbreak of World War I cannot be put down to a simple line of unfortunate events or general European restlessness. One must remember the ambition-driven, autocratic rulers making all major decisions independent of their people, while the latter followed as generations under rulership had taught them. With the single exception of France, monarchies supported by a small group of wealthy individuals were the sole decision makers in the European powers. The power that could be exercised by such a monarch is often underestimated, in particular if they freely go against the wishes of their people. Almost all commonly mentioned causes of World War I, namely militarism, alliances and imperialism are purely autocratic decisions made by the leaders of the time. If one wanted to argue from a Marxist standpoint, you could say that the war was a prime example of the higher-classes telling workers what to do. My argument therefore, is that war broke out because of autocratic monarchs and their advisors, whose decisions were made by selfish motives in order to cling on to power. The poems written by those who had to suffer by their hands are proof of the leaders’ incompetence to see beyond their own personal interests.
The rising trend in militarism that had gripped the countries involved in conflict is often seen as a prime factor in the pre-war tensions. There is certainly no denying that Europe was growing increasingly militaristic in the years leading up to the outbreak – in August 1914, Russia had an army of 5,971,000 men, Germany 4,500,000, France 4,017,000, Austria-Hungary 3,000,000 and Great Britain 975,000. Such rapid militarisation, especially in the case of Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, seems an obvious reason to believe that these countries were preparing for a major war, but in my opinion this was simply a misconception by those who felt threatened by it.
One must consider that essentially militarism embodied the pride and honour of a country. It was a method of propaganda to enforce the people’s faith in their leader. It is crucial to look at the leaders of Germany and Russia and the way they ruled their people to determine to what extent militarism influenced their decision to go to war – Kaiser Wilhelm in particular was an extremely militaristic man who wanted to make his military and navy Germany’s pride and glory. Proof of this is his announcement of Weltpolitik in 1897 and the start of the construction of the German fleet. As head of the military, the Kaiser saw the it as a symbol of national loyalty towards him and Germany, at a time where monarchies were being jeopardized by revolutionists even well after the end of the French Revolution in 1799 and, more recently, by growing Communist ideas. To illustrate truly in what narrow-minded hands the fatal war decision lay, Holger H. Herwig writes: “The 1914 decision first for mobilization and then for war was made by a small inner circle around the Kaiser: Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, War Minister Erich von Falkenhayn, and Chief of the General Staff Helmuth von Moltke, the Younger. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Gottlieb von Jagow and Secretary of the Navy Office Alfred von Tirpitz were temporarily absent from the capital early in July. The German crisis management team was beset by doubts, fears, shifts, and incompetence.”[3]
The Russian Tsar Nicholas II was under a colossal amount of pressure to prove himself to his people after Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 – 1905. His decision to militarize in Serbian support was therefore heavily influenced by his wish to regain the rapidly dwindling support of his people, so as to prove Russia strong and united under the God-chosen Tsar. Wielding “supreme autocratic power”[4] under the Russian constitution, the Tsar decided to prove himself worthy of his position with the input of a mere four of his advisors, and declared mobilisation.
The problem is, however, that while I believe that militarisation was a method to distract the people from internal conflicts and was possibly even a clever idea to evoke some unity, the fact remains that the governments’ intense militarism eventually led to tensions between powers. While Britain may not have admitted it, the very idea that Germany may some day become a serious threat to their naval superiority was definitely on their mind when they declared war.
With militarism comes nationalism, another commonly cited reason behind the outbreak of WWI. However, at first, this idea of such pride and devotion to your country that you are willing to die for it was very much a myth. The German unification of 1871 saw Bavaria put under the control of a Prussian king – an insult to any Bavarian. The idea of Bavaria enthusiastically fighting for a Prussian Kaiser was therefore equally as improbable as the Scots wanting to fight for England today. The Communist ideas sweeping both Western and Eastern Europe lead to a social divide between those who were willing to fight for their leaders and those who didn’t.
Therefore, it was a central governmental strategy in the countries to spark nationalism. As previously discussed, militarism was used as a tool to evoke nationalism in the people and to unite them under their leader. In August 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm famously said in his speech “I do not recognize parties anymore, I only recognize Germans”, in an effort to diminish the political differences between the German people.
While it is true that nationalist independence movement in Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania caused a 3rd Balkan War, it cannot be the reason behind Austria-Hungary and Russia’s involvement in the regional conflict.
Serbia was a struggling country, and was a chance for Russia to find a stronghold in Eastern Europe. Russia’s support of the country was therefore a clever method to evoke Pan-Slavic nationalism in the people, finding faith in the Tsar, while of course this allowed him to gain the Balkans, over which Russia and Austria-Hungary had been fighting for years.
Nationalism was clearly a method of creating a war-willing nation, and was not something that came completely naturally – if the reasons for war were purely out of cultural background, such was supposedly the case between Russia and Serbia and Germany and Austria-Hungary, why did Italy join the Triple Alliance in 1882?
Traditionally, Britain, France and Russia in particular had always been very powerful imperialist countries that prided themselves on their empire. As the head of a young German nation that now followed his concept of Weltpolitik, the Kaiser too was now itching to get his hands on colonies and earn Germany’s “place in the sun”. Meanwhile, as the Ottoman Empire’s control of the area diminished, Russia and Austria-Hungary were going head to head in their fight for the Balkans. While the Tsar may have branded it “Pan-Slavism”, their desire for the Balkan region was obvious, as Austria-Hungary tried its best to obstruct Serbian ambitions so as to avoid any Slavic movements in its own empire. Essentially, what they wanted were imperialist gains. As Lenin put it, “If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”[5] Imperialism embodied capitalism: it was a show of money, prestige and affluence for the country’s rulers, but it also created an immense amount of tension between the powers. The Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911 proved the stubbornness of the Kaiser, wanting to test the strength of the Entente Cordiale by stepping in for Moroccan independence and intervening with France’s plans to take over the region.
That Wilhelm interfered solely for the purpose of supporting Morocco seems very unlikely and it is probable that he too was hoping to exercise his influence there. The outcome of the crises, in which Germany gained territory in the Middle Congo in return for allowing France to take Morocco, is an indication that Germany was willing to compete for colonies, even if he didn’t get exactly what he wanted.
The Moroccan Crises had a rather unexpected impact on the formation of the rigid Alliances that had previously been very flexible and unpredictable.
At the time, the American journalist Ambrose Bierce wrote, “alliance in international politics (is) the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third”. [6] Alliances often contrasted harshly with the peoples’ views and were often made solely for economical reasons by the leaders, which they then had to keep in order to be able to collect the benefits. The Franco-Russian military alliance of 1892 made hardly any sense to its peoples – it seemed culturally illogical for such politically different states to suddenly come together. The French republic symbolised democracy and freedom of speech. It was a country of revolution that welcomed artistic expression on which their capital thrived. The fatalistic and deeply traditional Tsar Nicholas II meanwhile was determined to keep Russia under complete autocratic rule and made an effort to supress the democratic thoughts of his people. France was therefore a natural enemy whose revolutionary ideas greatly jeopardized Nicholas’ rule – until 1891, it had even been a criminal offense to play La Marseillaise.
Thus, it was simply his desire for economic aid to finance his militarisation that led him to this unusual pact with France. The latter, meanwhile, purely sought protection from Germany and an end to the isolation Bismarck had condemned it to since 1870 – friendship had no place in this alliance. A further example is Russia’s support of Serbia under the idea of Pan-Slavism. This was, latest by the time of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, an unpopular idea. Similar to the 9/11 attacks on America, it was generally agreed in Europe that the perpetrator, in this case Serbia, was in the wrong. Just like America was seen as the obvious victim in 2001, Europe pitied Austria-Hungary for its loss and decided Serbia should be turned against, making the Tsar’s backing of it a major gamble. The Russo-Serbian alliance therefore is not necessarily an indication of cultural loyalty; it is proof of the Tsar’s imperialist desire.
In 1920, David Lloyd George led many to believe that Europe had simply “slid” into war in 1914 as a result of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, a theory later backed up by Kissinger in 1976.
I would argue with this – we have since gathered a lot more insight about the dealings that went on inside the governments and can determine that in the countries that first declared war, autocratic rulers and wealthy higher classes were the ones making definite, if irrational, decisions.
Complying with this is the view of historian Hew Strachan, who states that “by 1914 each power, conscious in a self absorbed way of its own potential weakness felt it was on its mettle that its status as a great power would be forfeit if it failed to act”.[7] War was not on the agenda of the great leaders, unless it was necessary to upkeep their honour. Subsequently, this is the reason why war broke out in 1914 and not before – put simply, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand put each leader on the spot. Austria-Hungary’s empire was already falling apart and it was vital that they showed power by confronting Serbia. Russia immediately saw the importance of taking a stand in order to retain its honour as an “older brother” figure of the Pan-Slav ideology, while Germany mobilised so as to upkeep its status as a loyal ally – even if this meant war.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to claim that the countries’ people were always absolutely against their government’s decisions.
In Germany, for example, the Reichstag could easily have voted against the Kaiser’s war budget and stopped militarisation, but showed general agreement with the idea of war by not doing so. While it is difficult for my generation to imagine when asked why one would ever want war, at the time people were simply more willing to solve conflict with violence, and militarism had by then been so incorporated into their cultures that being in the military was a source of great personal pride. The enthusiasm with which the men first left to war is a clear indication that they couldn’t have been that miserable about fighting for their country. As already said, however, it is necessary to ask why there even was such a reason for people to believe that violence was unavoidable. Who had created this foundation for war? Tracing back to the events and decisions made before the actual outbreak of the war has little to nothing to do with the people, but with their leaders.
One can conclude, therefore, that the outbreak of war was primarily the great ruler’s faults, whose desire for power led to the tensions and events that eventually resulted in the outbreak of WWI. Their failure to understand the essentials of good international diplomacy and the incompetence that resulted is backed up by the “Great Man” theory, which simply argues that for international relations to be successful, there must be at least one “great man” on whom all others can rely for advice. Previously, this great man had been the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who became known as the “honest broker” of Europe, and to whom leaders of all major European powers looked to solve their international disputes. After Bismarck’s dismissal in 1890, I fail to recognize any equivalent in the political scene. Consequently, this left the Tsars, Kaisers, Prime Ministers and Presidents to act on the advice of a small aristocratic group whose main focus was simply on their own country’s power, spending too little thought on the broad international impact of their decisions – of which the result is so painfully expressed in the war poetry.

[1] WALTZ, K., “Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis”, Columbia University Press 2001
[2] ZINN, H., “Declaration of Independence”, http://www.ecn.cz/PRIVATE/Piano/right_zin.htm
[3] HERWIG, H., “Military Doomsday Machine? The Decisions for War 1914”, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies Volume 13/Issue 4, 2011
[4] HERWIG, H., “Military Doomsday Machine? The Decisions for War 1914”, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies Volume 13/Issue 4, 2011
[5] LENIN, V., “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch07.htm
[6] BIERCE, A., „Thoughts on the Business of Life“, Forbes.com http://thoughts.forbes.com/thoughts/politics-ambrose-bierce-alliance-in-international
[7] HERWIG, H., “Military Doomsday Machine? The Decisions for War 1914”, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies Volume 13/Issue 4, 2011

Once the first chancellor of the united German Empire Otto von Bismarck claimed: “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans”. He correctly identified that the Balkans had for long been an unstable area affected by nationalism, rivalry and imperialistic conflicts. Furthermore, Bismarck was right in saying that this situation carries potential for a Great War, however, it was Germany, which acted as the catalyst in promoting its escalation and turned this former local crisis into a European one. When war broke out following the July crisis of 1914, Germany had not just prepared to back up her ethnical ally Austria-Hungary, which sparked of the war after her Archduke Franz-Ferdinand was assassinated on the 28th of June in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist, but to fight a war based on her own interests. After unification in 1871 Germany arose as a key figure in European diplomacy and emerged as a major European power next to Russia, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary and France creating an imbalance of power; urged to extend and more importantly sustain this newly acquired influence Germany followed an aggressively ambitious policy – at home and abroad - and, at the expense of European peace, preferred to merely paper over the differences in the Balkans to leverage the situation. By analysing sources written in both English and German it becomes apparent that the Deutsche Reich triggered the First World War in the short and in the long run.
According to the German historian Fritz Fischer Germany has to bare responsibility for the outbreak of the European War[1]. In his book “Griff nach der Weltmacht” he claims:
Die Führung des Wilhelminischen Reiches habe 1914 eine aggressive "Kriegszielpolitik" verfolgt und Europa aus Hegemonie- und Weltmachtstreben vorsätzlich in den Weltkrieg getrieben“.[2]
In translation this thesis states that the Wilhelmine Empire intended to go to war; Fischer calls this policy “Kriegszielpolitk” (policy aiming for war). His book led to the eagerly discussed “Fischer Kontroverse” in the 1960s; basically all Germans disagreed with him at that time, however this has changed. Evidence from various sources support his claim.
The Kaiser’s and the wealthy Prussian Junkers’ willingness to fight a war increased dramatically, as their monarchical power started to cease away with the beginning of the new century. In the general elections of 1912 (Germany was a constitutional monarchy at that time) the Socialist Democrats received about 35% of the votes[3], hence providing the biggest ‘Fraktion’ to the Bundestag with 110 delegates. The democrats promoted an anti-war attitude, and proposed to cut military spending and instead enhance the well-fare system. The aristocrats believed that a heroic war could bring back their popularity by uniting the German peoples through nationalism. Anyway, by that time they assumed that a European war was inevitable[4] somehow or other.
Adding to this, on the 8th of December 1912 the German “War Council”, his Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II, Chief of the General Staff Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, Admiral Tirpitz and Vice Admiral Heering, met to discuss further military planning. There General von Moltke, who would later be in charge of the German offensive strategies during war, expressed his opinion as follows:
“I consider a war inevitable—the sooner, the better. But we should do a better job of gaining popular support for a war against Russia, in line with the Kaiser’s remarks.”[5]
Tirpitz responded to von Moltke’s words with a request to delay a war by another one-and-a-half years[6], as the navy was not prepared for a full-scale war at this point. Looking at the historical calendar one realises that the requested period of time almost exactly fits: 19 months later Germany declared war in summer 1914.

Germany displays a clear readiness and deliberateness to go to war. This state of mind of the Germans is affirmed by the ‘blanc cheque’, which was issued to the Austro-Hungarian government on the 5th of July during the crisis. Consequently the Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Berlin Graf Szögyény sent out Telegramm 237 to his partners, who have been awaiting a confirmation of unlimited German support, in Vienna:

„...ermächtigte mich (Graf Szögyény) seine Majestät, unserem allergnädigsten Herrn zu melden, daß wir auch in diesem Falle auf die volle Unterstützung Deutschlands rechnen können. Wie gesagt, müsse er vorerst die Meinung des Reichskanzlers anhören, doch zweifle er nicht im geringsten daran, daß Herr von Bethmann Hollweg vollkommen seiner Meinung zustimmen werde. Insbesondere gelte dies betreffend eine Aktion unsererseits gegenüber Serbien“[7]

Szögyény reports that “also in this case we can rely on full German support… In particular regarding any action taken on our behalf against Serbia”. The Kaiser, who could technically rule his Reich and conduct the Armee without any external intervention, gave his personal approval to back-up Austria-Hungary in any case.
Moreover, Germany deliberately urged the multi-ethnical Habsburg Empire to act unreasonably following the assassination of the Archduke and his wife by manipulation of internal affairs. In Austria-Hungary there were ‘doves’ and ‘hawks’; when Serbia had accepted most of the terms of the ultimatum, which had been issued to Belgrade on the 23rd of July, the ‘doves’ seemed to have managed to dissolve the conflict. Yet, alarmed by the prospect of a peaceful resolution the German General Staff used all their connections to influence subsequent decision-making, and thereby immediately strengthened the position of the ‘hawks’.
Not only did the Germans promote the escalations of the Austro-Serbian question – and through that create a European conflict – but also showed deliberate disinterest in reaching a solution in regards to the situation. Kaiser Wilhelm II went on holiday in Norway[8] a week after the terrorist attack in Sarajevo, but just before he ordered the German High Fleet to return to German ports[9]. It becomes highly visible that Germany was heading for a Great War.
Germany’s behaviour in the preceding decades further confirms this claim. The closest example for that is the third Balkan Crisis, which broke out in summer 1912, where Serbia increased her holdings in the Balkans after Turkey had been weakened by a conflict with Italy. Ultimately this caused the eruption of a war between Bulgaria and Serbia in 1913. The Russian Empire, pursuing her pan-Slavism policy, backed Serbia and likewise Bulgaria was helped by Austria-Hungary[10]. Germany tactically supported her alliance, to which she had committed herself officially already in 1879 (Dual Alliance).
The time leading up to the Bulgarian-Serbian war was the phase just before the aforementioned German ‘War Council’ met in December 1912, which sought an attack on Serbia. Before that, in October, the Kaiser demanded a further expansion of his military forces in the view of Austria-Hungary’s need to stand up against the newly strengthened Balkan states[11]. Clearly Germany was taking measures to fight a war, not to prevent, although deputies to the German Bundestag had already warned the Kaiser and his ministers of the rapidly growing war potential in the Balkan states as early as January 1912[12].
Adding to this, when Kaiser Wilhelm II had become Emperor of the Deutsche Reich in 1888[13], Germany developed a very ambitious imperialistic foreign policy called “Weltpolitik” (1897). As the attempt to annex the strategically important Samoan Islands in the South Pacific only partially succeeded in 1899 due to British and American intervention the Kaiser proclaimed:
“We have bitter need of a powerful German fleet… after twenty years, when the fleet is ready, I will adopt a different tone”[14]
The German government promoting the construction of the most advanced type of warship, the dreadnought, passed promptly two naval bills. In only fourteen years 17 battleships were built[15]. In comparison, Great Britain, which had always been the greatest naval power of the world, had increased her number to 29 battleships. However, it must not be forgotten that the British were ruling the largest Empire worldwide, which, adding to this, was spread out over the whole globe. They desperately needed the navy to pursue politics and secure a stable economy. Germany only ruled a colonial Empire hardly worth mentioning; they practically did not need a navy. While Great Britain’s navy was rather defensive, Germany’s ‘Marine’ was offensive. It can be seen as an indicator for German imperialistic war-desires.
Furthermore, unlike Britain, Germany had a vast army; conscription had for long been part of the German military system. In the ascending years of the war, between 1910 to 1914, the Kaiserreich’s military expenditure increased by 73%. German war-preparation was at its peek.
Also the development of German military strategies should be taken into consideration. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister during the time of the First World War, observed after the war had been won:
“The nations slithered over the brink into the boiling cauldron of war without any trace of apprehension or dismay”[16]
Yet, it should be doubted that Germany simply “slithered” into a war. The Schlieffen Plan, the German strategic-offensive plan of a two-front war fought with Russia and France, had already been created in 1905[17]. The fact that it had been in existence almost ten years before war actually broke out further suggests German war ambitions. Moreover, the Armee was preparing for a war of encirclement, which indicates that the German Generals expected to be fighting in a European War, and not only to bail her ally Austria-Hungary out of another Balkan crisis.
Though, there are claims that other factors rather than Germany’s pure willingness to start a war caused the eruption of such. Egmund Zechlin states that chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg took a calculated risk in July 1914 to gain diplomatic victory, or if it failed, to fight a "defensive preventive war" with nearly no objectives[18]. He interprets German military expansion as a safety measurement, as Serbian and Russian influence led to a Slavic domination in the Balkans at the expense of Austrian influence. Zechlin argues that Germany was merely preparing for a protective war.
Adding to this, recalling the content of ambassador Szögyény’s telegram a lack of communication can be identified. Telegram 237 was based on the Kaiser’s promise for unlimited support of Austria-Hungary. And although he practically had complete rule over his Empire, politicians were generally involved in decision-making, in particular the Reichskanzler von Bethmann-Hollweg. Yet, in the case of the ‘Blankocheck’ the German government did not follow normal procedures and the Habsburg Empire was granted support based on merely the Kaiser’s personal opinion. The chancellor later even admitted that the cheque was extremely risky, as it was a vague and consequently insufficient document[19].
Looking from that perspective it seems, as if Germany did not intentionally work toward a general war. According to information distributed by the historian David Heath, Britain could be equally blamed. Great Britain apparently entered the war on the 3rd of August[20] as a result of the German invasion of Belgium. In a treaty of 1839 Britain affirms to safeguard Belgian neutrality in the case of war, however, in August 1914 the first British troops did not arrive at the Belgian ports, but instead in the city of Basra, Iraq. Heath argues that the British forces landed in the Middle East for imperialistic reasons; Great Britain wanted to protect her Empire and more importantly her oil resources.
Though in conclusion, evidence supporting the thesis that World War One broke out in 1914 because Germany directed Europe towards the escalation of a local conflict in the Balkans outweighs any counter-argument. On the 9th of September 1914 Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg put forward the so-called ‘Septemberprogramm[21]’, where he outlined German military and economic ambitions. Evaluating those it becomes apparent that Germany has for long sought an imperialistic war to consolidate and increase her new status. For example, in regards to France the chancellor suggested:
“…Kriegsentschädigung; sie muß so hoch sein, daß Frankreich nicht imstande ist, in den nächsten 15-20 Jahren erhebliche Mittel für Rüstungen aufzuwenden... Ein Handelsvertrag, der Frankreich in wirtschaftliche Abhängigkeit von Deutschland bringt…”
The ‘Septemberprogramm’ aims to make France’s economy completely depending on Germany. In addition such high reparation costs would be imposed that France could not rearm for the next 15-20 years due to a lack of financial resources. Other states, such as Belgium or Luxemburg, would be annexed and either permanently integrated into the German Recih, or at least become externally governed as mandates:
Luxemburg wird deutscher Bundesstaat...“
Moreover, von Bethmann-Hollweg planned even further ahead and discussed the colonial question. He vaguely outlined that the German Empire seeks a “mittelafrikanisches Kolonialreich”, a central-African colonial Empire.
This official government document seems to address all fundamental issues affecting Germany. The Balkans are not dealt with in the protocol; that is the case because clearly the Balkan states lie in the Austrian and Russian sphere of influence. Yet, Germany aims to control all of central Europe, also including Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Norway and possibly Italy.
Undeniably the Deutsche Reich under the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm II conducted - and at times neglected – important European affairs so, that Europe went to war with each other. Germany aimed for expansion, colonial pride and economical superiority in order to evolve into an economic world power next to the United States of America. Therefore, as Germany allowed for an escalation of the Balkan conflict in 1914, she is to be blamed for the outbreak of war.
Although I have to admit that is extremely difficult to conclude a balanced argument, as I am only living now a hundred years later after the war broke out, I believe I do have a connection to that question as a German. Recently I discovered my grandfather’s diary; he himself fought on the Western Front for the German Armee. In his anecdotes I came across one section that stands out particularly. In that extract he talks about the euphoria that flooded Germany in August 1914. He noted down:
“Wir sind bereit, das Volk fühlt sich bereit! Unbedeutend von welcher Herkunft, von welchem Stand du bist – nun sind wir eins! Gemeinsam werden wir kämpfen, gemeinsam werden wir fallen!”
He describes the feeling of unity that suddenly arose; in summer 1914 the German peoples felt ready for a war. For that reason the German government had not pushed for a war earlier, only now they had the full support of the people. An example for this is this striking “Kriegparole”:
“Jeder Schuss ein Russ’, jeder Stoss ein Franzos und jeder Kick ein Britt”
The Germans came up with war slogans to motivate each other. This particular one translates into “Every shot a Russian, every push a French and every kick a Brit”. To me this conveys a certain spirit that the German government could not have suppressed for much longer. The Germans war, and t

[1] http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/germanresponsibility.htm
[2] http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-15188929.html
[3] http://www.dhm.de/lemo/objekte/statistik/wa19122/index.html
[4] http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/germanresponsibility.htm
[5] http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=799
[6] http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=799
[8] http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Wilhelm_II%27s_Account_of_Events
[9] http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/1914/wilnotes.html
[10] http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/1871-1914/section9.rhtml
[11] http://cnparm.home.texas.net/Wars/BalkanCrises/BalkanCrises02.htm
[12] http://cnparm.home.texas.net/Wars/BalkanCrises/BalkanCrises02.htm
[13] http://www.wilhelm-der-zweite.de/einleitung/index.php
[14] http://books.google.de/books?id=2yy6NSBYKC8C&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=kaiser+wilhelm+imperial+ambitions&source=bl&ots=hApjNxuSLu&sig=Tvlni8qqG0UeTNjWMS8aHRNg4-0&hl=de#v=onepage&q=kaiser%20wilhelm%20imperial%20ambitions&f=false
[15] http://www.historyatfreeston.co.uk/fbechistorysite/Paper%201/KQ1-Arms%20Race.htm
[16] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1984/mar/29/slithering-over-the-brink/?pagination=false
[17] http://www.deutsches-reich-1914-1918.de/schlieffenplan.html
[18] http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Origins-World-War-One/46327
[19] http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Origins-World-War-One/46327
[20] http://www.historyorb.com/events/date/1914?p=2
[21] http://www.dhm.de/lemo/html/dokumente/hollweg/

Why did war break out in 1914?
The First World War (1914-1918) was the culmination of complex political tension existing

across the globe. In Europe, the primary belligerents involved included the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia) and the Triple Alliance (Austria-Hungary, Italy and Germany). These groups formed under an alliance system which was designed to preserve peace by balancing power so that no camp would initiate a war with another. As an article in the British newspaper The Times declared, "the division of the Great Powers into two well-balanced groups with intimate relations between the members of each... is a twofold check upon inordinate ambitions or sudden outbreak of race hatred. (April 1914)" 1 However, the alliances did not manage to succeed in preventing these. Instead, the premise of an alliance system resulted in a passive style of diplomacy which, characterised by a distinct lack of communication, contributed to hostility between powers and acted as a major cause for the war. While historians such as AJP Taylor claim that the alliance system was too fragile to act as a cause of war2, it was this instability that impacted politics in a way that could have generated maximum conflict. The reason war broke out in 1914 as opposed to any other year was because it combined a history of strain with the assassination of Archduke Franz- Ferdinand, a sudden act of provocation. The eruption of war as a result of this event- when defined by the moment two major Powers enter a state of warfare - can be directly attributed to the alliance system as exemplified by the Franco-Russian agreement, the Triple Entente's effect on the Triple Alliance and the relationship between Russia and Serbia.
The Franco-Russian Alliance signed in 1894 was an important agreement in regards to the alliance system. The terms of the treaty encompassed mutual support in the case of a German attack on either France or Russia. Although the powers never assumed major roles in the same crises, the nature of this alliance would define certain political expectations: their alliance left Germany vulnerable as it was encircled by opposing nations. Russia opposed Germany's alliance with Austria-Hungary while France sought to avenge its loss of Alsace-Lorraine. Germany's response to the Franco-Russian Alliance was to devise a military tactic (the Schlieffen Plan) to help it win a costly and complicated two-front war. Although the alliance had mixed effectivity - while it was an agreement necessary to both countries, its loyalty was dubious as France did not voice much support for Russia during the Bosnian Crisis of 1908 - its stamp on German policy served to create an air of hostility. Between 1912 and 1914, however, neither France nor Russia had a pressing reason to attack Germany. The Moroccan and the Agadir crises had both resulted in Germany's diplomatic isolation in addition to the creation of the Triple Entente, which called for aid should Germany declare war on a member nation. The agreement remained defensive; although members
1THE ORIGINS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR (2nd edition) James Joll2 http://lswhs.leesummit.k12.mo.us/Steve.Smith/World%20War%20I/Historians%20and%20the%20Origins%20of
may have anticipated a German attack they was not actively planning a war. During these years, Russia was preoccupied with observing the Second Balkan War and the improvement in Anglo- German relations following discussions regarding the naval race meant that France may have been isolated had it pursued aggression with Germany. However, in 1914, the anticipated result of the Franco-Russian alliance would provoke Germany into employing its Schlieffen Plan designed to win a war against France and Russia. Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia and Russia's subsequent mobilisation on German borders proved that the encirclement of Germany may take on a military rather than geopolitical role. Should Russia continue to ready its arms, Germany faced the possibility of engaging in the two-front war it wished to avoid. Therefore, Germany had to carry out the Schlieffen Plan in to promote self-defence. However, this could not cause a war until 1914 because no Balkan conflict had caused Russia to mobilise in support of Serbia or Germany to mobilise in support of Austria-Hungary. Earlier in the twentieth century, Russia had a close economic relationship with Germany "which in 1901 took 13 percent of the Russian exports and provided 35 percent of its imports3". As Russia required foreign investment in order to improve its economy and undergo an industrial revolution, targeting an investor without a feasible reason would not be a likely course of action. In 1914, Russia's mobilisation on German borders resulted in Germany declaring war on both France and Russia. The likelihood of such a development may have decreased had Germany never felt encircled by the Franco-Russian Alliance as its anticipation of a two-front war caused it to declare war on both nations. Thus, the alliance system caused the war in that it frightened Germany into declaring war on other Powers.
A second noteworthy point would be the impact the formation of the Triple Entente had on Central European alliances. Prior to its formation, Germany was concerned about the connection France and Britain shared under the 1904 Entente Cordiale. Despite the ongoing Anglo-German naval race, Germany was still willing to consider an alliance with Britain and certainly did not want its enemy, France, to gain in power. In order to break Franco-British relations, Germany intended to humiliate France. To do so, it challenged French authority in North Africa by sending the Kaiser to Morocco to advocate for Moroccan independence and called for a conference to be held. The Algeciras Confernce, however, shocked Germany by proving Britain's loyalty to France. Germany's attempt at safeguarding itself from France culminated in antagonising Britain and pushing the Entente Cordiale closer together. This outcome was also the case following the 1911 Agadir Crisis also involving Morocco. When France disrupted a trade agreement between itself and Germany by deploying troops to curb a Moroccan uprising, Germany retaliated by sending a gunboat to Agadir. Again, Britain backed France, displaying that Germany's reckless tactics could not damage the Triple Entente and further isolating it within Europe. These developments caused Germany to
3 201 - Jelevich
realise that its only truly reliable ally was Austria-Hungary - in the words of Bethmann-Hollweg, Germany's main aim was to preserve their alliance: "Our primary interest calls for the unscathed preservation of Austria-Hungary(" (...) Unser Lebensinteresse erfordere die unversehrte Erhaltung Österreichs..." 4) The Moroccan Crises exemplify the poor communication and passive behaviour surrounding the diplomatic events. It was unclear how close Britain and France really were; up until the turn of the century they had been fierce rivals in matters regarding colonies. Hostility was apparent even in 1905 when it was believed that the French public would prefer Germany to its long-time enemy. This meant that efforts to shatter the Entente Cordiale were grounded in what had, up until this point, been the very real possibility that France and Britain would not be able to put aside their differences. No obvious amiability existed and Germany, not wishing to become even more isolated, saw this as an opportunity to weaken France. The later Agadir Crisis of 1911 again proved that Britain supported French interests. Instead of actively discussing relations immediately after crises occurred, diplomacy remained passive in the sense that it remained a series of reactions. This is exemplified by the As a result, conferences were held only in times of crisis when international hostility was at a high, restricting communication between two rapidly polarising groups. While Entente/German relations generated tension, they did not necessarily guarantee a world war as they featured not hot-blooded acts of hostility. AJP Taylor argues that "from the moment... the Algericas conference broke up European war was inevitable"5. However, this cannot be regarded as entirely correct. The British diplomat Sir Eyre Crowe commented in 1911 that:
"The fundamental fact of course is that the Entente is not an alliance. For purposes of ultimate emergencies it may be found to have no substance at all. For an Entente is nothing more than a frame of mind, a view of general policy which is shared by the governments of two countries, but which may be, or become, so vague as to lose all content."6
Even after an event supposed to cement the Entente as an important agreement, government officials disregarded the agreement to imply total obligation to other involved nations. However, Algericas did not make war inevitable; Germany mobilised in response to Russia's call to arms rather than to any cause directly related to the Entente Cordiale. While the conference suggested to Germany that Austria-Hungary was its only reliable ally, this did not guarantee a war involving Britain and France as Austria-Hungary's internal difficulties
4 http://www.geschichtsforum.de/f62/betrachtungen-zum-weltkriege-quelle-27843/5 http://www.gotterdammerung.org/books/reviews/c/course-of-german-history.html 6THE ORIGINS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR (2nd edition) James Joll
would have rendered it a poor ally against them. In addition, Britain and Germany attempted to slow the rate of the arms build up in a 1912 conference; although this was fruitless, relations between the two Powers eased until the outbreak of war. However, Germany's response to the Moroccan Crises served to push the France and Britain closer together as well as see the formation of the Triple Entente. On the whole, it caused the polarisation of a camp against Germany that could easily have blown into a more serious conflict had the assassination of a political figure occurred between France and Germany. Instead, it was the Serbian assassination of the Austro-Hungarian archduke that provided such an outlet. However, the nature of the Triple Entente's relationship with the Triple Alliance suggested that Europe had polarised into two camps and that communication between them was passive. Therefore, the alliance system contributed to tension culminating in 1914.
Another important alliance existed between Russia and Serbia. Following the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand at the hands of a Serbian nationalist group, Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia had Russia mobilising in its defence. Eventually, this resulted in Germany's declaration of war on Russia: this also marked the first moment at which two great European Powers were at war with one another. Russia's support of Serbia was motivated by pan- Slavic and geopolitical reasons which made Russian involvement inevitable. Due to their similar ethnic background, culture and religious views, Russia felt obligated to support Serbia in their endeavour for an Slav state independent of Austria-Hungary. The strength of their connection is apparent in the history of the Slavic anthem "Hey, Slavs": composed in 1834, it was inspired by the worry that the Balkan nations were threatened by germanisation and "became a widely known rallying song for Slav nationalism and Pan-Slavic sentiment, especially in Slavic lands governed by Austria"7. The pan-Slavic movement and its Russian support had existed for over 80 years prior to the outbreak of World War 1. This premise, combined with Russia's rivalry against Austria- Hungary/the Ottoman Empire regarding territory in the Black Sea and subsequent interest in influencing Serbia meant that any Serbo-Russian agreement would eventually bear an offensive nature. Known as a terrorist state, Serbia's military was allied with the Black Hand, an extremist pan-Slavic organisation later responsible for the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in 1914. This premise, combined with Russia's rivalry against Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire regarding territory in the Black Sea and subsequent interest in influencing Serbia to monopolise their geopolitical position meant that any Serbo-Russian agreement would eventually bear an offensive nature. Serbia desired a war in order to see the formation of a Slavic state whereas Russia was concerned about Austro-Hungarian presence in the Black Sea. This was because Russia required a warm sea port in order to export a greater quantity of goods, promote economic growth
and thus gain the resources to become an industrialised nation. Supporting Serbia and pan-Slavism also offered a means of gaining internal support for its struggling Tsarist regime. This led to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 because Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia gave Russia an excuse to settle the Balkan affair once and for all while also fighting for a Slavic cause. In order to assess the importance of the year 1914, one must consider the Bosnian Crisis of 1908. At this time, Austria-Hungary wanted to annex its protectorate of Bosnia; however, in order to do so, it would require Russian support. A conference was called between the two nations in which Russia wished to bargain for unlimited use of the straits in the Black Sea in exchange for the annexation of the territory. When Austria-Hungary undertook this action, however, Russia felt it was too soon and demanded territorial compensation for the land that had been annexed. However, none of its allies backed it in its effort and Germany's support of Austria-Hungary forced Russia to back down as it did not have the means of sustaining a war. Humiliated, Russia vowed not to back down should the opportunity present itself again. At the same time, Germany affirmed Austria- Hungary that “at the moment Russia mobilises, Germany will also mobilise and mobilise its entire army.”8 Although AJP Taylor suggests that the lack of support within alliances meant that the system was ineffective and could thus not lead to a war, one must consider the change in attitudes marked by the conflict. Austria-Hungary was now more assured of German support whilst Russia's position of power in Europe was threatened because it was isolated. As Russia could not terminate its support of Serbia, it vowed not to back down again. However, war could not yet break out at this point because none of the involved Powers were directly threatened. This would not occur until 1914, when the actions of the Black Hand would directly offend Austria-Hungary. Compared to earlier times, 1914 was a significant year because it marked an explosion of tension: the assassination of the Austrian archduke by Serbian nationalists gave Austria-Hungary a reason to try and quell the nationalism detrimental to its dual monarchy, an opportunity for Slavs to fight for self- determination as well as a window for Russia to affirm its influence in the Balkans in order to dominate the Black Sea. While the Balkans had been a turbulent area for decades, this event seemed to jolt things into motion. Serbia had emerged as the victor of several local wars and was now a force to be reckoned with. Russia had vowed not to back down again and would support Serbia. Austria-Hungary had gained a guarantee of German support under the blank cheque which provoked Austria-Hungary's issue of a harsh ultimatum to be towards Serbia. Clauses were extreme; it was not a document designed to be complied with. Even when Serbia agreed with all but one point, Austria-Hungary refused to accept this and declared war. Russian mobilisation as Serbia's ally led to a German declaration of war on Russia and eventually France. Unlike the Franco-Russian Alliance, their bond was not defensive and both nations were willing to enter a brief war in the hope
of achieving their aims. This is a clear example of how the alliance system caused local discord to escalate into a widespread conflict; thus, the assassination occurring in 1914 sparked a sudden war.
However, it is notable that no alliance was ever cited as an official declaration of war. For example, France sought to regain Alsace-Lorraine from Germany whereas Germany's military plans were based around Weltpolitik and defending itself from encirclement. The alliance system may have bridged conflicts, but could not possibly act as the main cause of the Great War. Much of the international tension predated the alliance system, indicating that the alliances were formed in response to previous tension rather than conflict being generated by the treaties themselves. This was apparent in the Franco-Russian Alliance as France sought an alliance to support itself in the light of its German grievance. Furthermore, the majority of treaties were defensive and would require an action relating to imperialism or to nationalism in order to see the alliance act. Most importantly, Austria-Hungary did not declare war on Serbia because of its alliances but because of its display of rampant nationalism which threatened the survival of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The sheer fragility of the treaties as suggested by AJP Taylor meant that not all conflicts would be faced with the intervention of an ally. However, it was exactly these qualities that meant that the alliance system could become so volatile and powerful. The exchanging moods of support and rejection caused fluctuations in which countries were aggressive due to confidence in its alliances and those who were hostile because they had been forced to back down. It seems that the conscious effort to avoid war or strengthen a defensive alignment by entering an alliance implied that such a conflict was imminent. Nations were expanding their armies and drafting tactics such as the Schlieffen Plan in order to safeguard their survival should. The passive style of government can be blamed on the accepted possibility of war; because some degree of conflict was widely anticipated Powers were waiting to see which country would act first. Most agreements contain a clause explicitly stating their desired procedure in the event of war with their enemy, furthering this theory. 1914 was the critical year for this because it marked an act of violence that was met with an eventual declaration of war - now that the conflict was out in the open, most countries wanted to settle the existing issues. This is demonstrated by Germany's declaration of war on the Franco- Russian Alliance as it assumed that it would have to enter the war as Austria-Hungary's ally anyway and wanted to gain the upper hand over France, which would target Germany for revenge. The multitude of alliances allowed tension to remain as it made action passive due to the fact that most countries would have to consider their ally before acting. Therefore, the alliance system was instrumental in the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
To conclude, the alliance system caused the outbreak of war in 1914 because it served to connect localised and international conflict. While tension had been growing between both major Powers and smaller nations, the alliances prevented them from remaining regional affairs. Although
balancing of power was intended to deter Powers from attacking each other, the manner in which it was executed made some alliances/rivalries very clear and some less transparent. This would negatively impact politics in that it caused confusion as to how each Power would be treated while simultaneously causing the polarisation of two separate camps, allowing for less diplomatic flexibility as each Power would be expected to support its allies in the even of a conflict. The assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in 1914 occurred at a point in history when many nations sought a local war with an other for personal reasons. It was the alliance system that allowed for the ignition of the Great War as it allowed a regional conflict to develop into the Great Powers of Russia and Germany to enter a state of war due to their respective alliances.. Thus, AJP Taylor's claim that the alliance system was too fragile to provoke a war in 1914 is invalid.
http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/agadir_crisis_1911.htm http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/world-war-100-1-july-the-agadir-crisis-1911

World War One broke out on the 1st August 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia due to the rising threat of their mobilisation. There were plenty of reasons for the outbreak of war in 1914 though. Most importantly these include the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, rising militarism and increased feeling for nationalism.
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand on the 28th June 1914 was a clear provocation of Serbia toward Austria-Hungary, which they had to react to. This assassination was organized by the organisation Black Hand and was intended to threaten Austria-Hungary and address the Slav minority, which wanted to liberate from Austria Hungary. The Black Hand was also not only a regular terrorist group but involved many politicians in Serbia, which made the assassination even more provocative. Franz Ferdinand himself wanted to join the Slav minorities in Austria-Hungary with the Austrians and have one big empire, which is of vital importance since he was heir apparent after the death of Franz Joseph. The Slavs though did not favour this policy at all and wanted to be independent from Austria-Hungary. The fact that he was heir apparent is also a reason for Austria-Hungary to react in a harsh way because this individual was of high importance to their country and determined the future of it. Additionally it was known that Serbia would be backed up by Russia since these were already humiliated in the first Balkan Crisis when supporting Bosnia-Herzigovina during the annexation by Austria Hungary. Russia would not allow another humiliation again. The date of the death of Franz Ferdinand was on a national celebration day of Serbia. So it could be argued that Austria-Hungary themselves who exactly knew that they were not on good terms with Serbia provoked them by the visit of Franz Ferdinand. This however does not justify the actions by the Black Hand to which Austria-Hungary had to react in order not to loose their authority in Europe.
Further more militarism was a central issue to why World War One broke out in 1914. First of all Kaiser Wilhelm introduced the so called Weltpolitik in 1897, which was intended to make Germany one of the most powerful nations in Europe besides France and Britain. Germany wanted to expand their territory and militarise. Of course France and Britain’s reaction to this German policy was that they would have to deal with a new aggressor in Europe, which created tension. This also and imprinted the Entante Cordiale and made relations between France and Britain much better. The actions France and especially Britain took were mostly defensive and they were preparing for the worst case scenario. In terms of militarisation Germans were especially concerned about their fleet, which ended up in the naval race between Germany and Britain. Both countries spent tonnes of money in building big Dreadnoughts, but in the end Britain is said to have won the naval race. Russia and Austria-Hungary though were countries in Europe that did not militarise for a long time. Russia as an example only mobilised shortly before the outbreak of war. This shows that not every big European power was militarising as early as Germany, Britain and France. However this is not of vital importance since certain countries as Germany, Briatin and France militarised which was the majority. It must be added though that Britain and France militarised because of a German threat.
Adding to that nationalism grew more and more until 1914. France was humiliated by Germany in the 1871 when Alsace and Lorraine were annexed. The French population thus had hate against Germans and wanted revenge. Additionally France and Britain were also not always allies, but actually they were traditional enemies. There was a lot of competition with their colonies and they still tried to be more powerful then the other. The relations between these countries were reinforced by German aggression and failed politics. An example would be the the first and second Moroccan Crisis where Germany provoked these countries and tried to stand out as a powerful nation, which failed. In the first Moroccan Crisis they were humiliated in the Agadir conference where even their allies Austria-Hungary and at that time Italy voted against Moroccan independence. In the second Moroccan Crisis they were not humiliated but the submarine Panther was a clear act of aggression against the French. This helped to consolidate the French and British alliance and eventually resulted in the Entente Cordiale in 1904. Also concerning nationalism Austria-Hungary who had a huge problem with their Slav minority, that they where not able to control, reinforced the countries instability and made it very hard for Franz Joseph to control. This weakened Austria-Hungary to a very huge extent because they could not even control the population within their own borders. Further more Russia was also humiliated in the Balkan Crisis which they would not allow to happen again because of their national pride. To conclude tension in Europe arose because the European powers slowly started to get into conflicts of which they were afraid of and therefore had to take defensive measurements or they were humiliated which made them have an aggressive attitude towards others.
It could be argued that World War One broke out because of the failed alliances system that was very complex in 1914. This underlines that many nations as for example Britain went to war because of loyalty to their allies, in this case Belgium who was attacked by Germany. However this is not true since the alliances were not as important to countries as their own interests, which always come first. The whole alliance system was a defensive measurement that every great power in Europe wanted to have in order to feel save and not give the impression that they are weak, but in reality when war broke out in 1914 it was everybody for themselves. This also created tension but not to that extent that the great European powers would go to war. Additionally many countries as for example Britain and France did not take certain other alliances before World War One that serious. Also the real reason why Britain declared war on Germany as a response to them annexing Belgium was that they new exactly what was facing them. World War One was inevitable by the time of 1914 and Britain thought that they would gain victory very fast so they faced it.
In conclusion World War One broke out in 1914 due to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, increasing militarism and growing nationalism. These reasons made war inevitable in 1914 but it is of vital importance that these were based upon miscommunication of the great powers in Europe and failed politics.
Julius Cæsar once said Veni Vedi Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), a saying that comes well in context when describing the Great War. World War 1 was a devastating conflict involving European powers, the United States, and other nations across the world. World War 1 lasted from August 4th, 1914 until November 11th, 1918. The war was triggered by the assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia in Sarajevo. This was done by a Bosnian Serb and also a member of the terrorist group “Black hand”. Consequently of the assassination, the “Blank check”, which was an agreement between Austria-Hungary and Germany, was signed, allowing Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia with the support of Germany. However these are only short-term causes of World War 1, as earlier assassinations did not lead to war and a murder alone could not have provoked a global war. Nonetheless there are numerous long-term causes, which led to the outbreak of World War 1. Looking back at what Julius Cæsar once said one could say that the war broke out in 1914 because of long-term causes such as imperialism. Each country gained an imperialistic aspiration by “coming”, “seeing” and “conquering” territories, creating rivalries amongst the countries. To include the wave of nationalism, imperialism, the dating alliance systems, the strong sense of militarism, imperialism, and the events before 1914 clearly lead up to the outbreak of World War 1.
The wave of nationalism within each country prophesied the foreseeable war. The role model of this nationalism was Kaiser Wilhelm with his desire for world power. Similarly to 1871, Germany wanted to enlarge by acquiring colonies. However strong supporters of France wanted to seek revenge over Alsace-Lorraine, which Germany gained by war,underlining the continuous French-German rivalry. Furthermore the pride of our nationalities defines our place in history. This is why one can say that the member of the Black Hand killed the archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife as a result of patriotism, showing his dedication to his Serbian nationality, demanding to break free from the empire.
Imperialism provided a general framework for the outbreak of World War 1. The sudden increase in gaining colonies from 1880 to 1914 in Africa and Asia showed a great competition between the countries and the desire for a powerful empire caused by nationalism. Each country was acquiring colonies due to the raw materials and in order to assure economic growth. This megalomaniacal principle of further development caused tensions between the great powers. “About 90 percent of all African territory” was “… brought under European rule.”[1] This shows that the countries were competing economically and politically.
Alliances or in other words agreements between one or more countries were formed between the time period of 1879 and 1914. This formation of alliances changed the balance of power; it divided Europe into two armed camps causing a rivalry between the great powers. On October 7th in 1879 Germany set up the Dual-Alliance with Austria-Hungary, which later was used as an aid for Austria-Hungary against Serbia in the event of war. Then in 1882 the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was formed, which worried the countries France and Russia, as they feared that they could be attacked and beaten by these three powerful countries acting together. This is how the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892 emerged. Later, in 1904 Britain decided to join France and Russia, creating the Entente Cordiale, which got Britain out its isolationism. In 1907 the Triple Entente between England, France and Russia was brought into existence due to their fear of Germany’s lust for domination and therefore growing economy and navy. By then, Europe was divided into two great powers, the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente. The historian A.J.P Taylor argues “The alliances created an excessively rigid diplomatic framework, within which relatively small detonators could produce huge explosions.”[2] This shows that the alliance systems created in Europe created complex, diplomatic situations for the countries in which a spark could easily ignite a fire. This is suggesting that the alliances contributed to the outbreak of the World War 1, dragging its ally into the war.
In 1897, Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) introduced his new policy of Weltpolitik. He had a firm belief in divine-right monarchy and he was very prone to adopt aggressive attitudes. Kaiser Wilhelm was so proud of his nation that he wanted it to be the richest and most important and to be recognized as such. This nationalism increased the tension and had an influence in causing World War 1. Kaiser Wilhelm was jealous of the mighty British Empire because he wanted Germany to become such a great world power as Britain. In order to achieve this, Kaiser Wilhelm needed a navy that could challenge Britain’s navy, the largest in the world. Germany’s aim was to frighten Britain by building a stronger navy. The Kaiser increased the defense expenditure to 73 million pounds between 1910 and 1914, however Britain responded by increasing its costs on the military as well. Germany provoked Britain and therefore a race for building more and better warships started, which created competition between the two nations. By 1914, Germany’s army consisted of 4,200,000 soldiers[3], showing that Germany is clearly preparing a strong attack. Fritz Fischer debates “Germany was responsible for World War 1 because of its aggressive pursuit of its Weltpolitik.”[4] This example of Kaiser Wilhelm’s aggressive foreign policy of Weltpolitik threatened the other European powers, as they were scared to lose their colonies, causing the outbreak of World War 1.
Numerous events occurring before 1914 are examples of long-term causes of the war. In the first Moroccan Crisis in 1905, France hoped to conquer Morocco in Africa. Germany provoked this imperial conflict with the aim to destroy the Entente Cordial and the Dual Alliance in order to form a Russo-German Alliance. Due to Britain’s imperialistic view, she wanted to secure the Egyption-Moroccon border. The Algeciras Conference as a result of the Moroccan Crisis in which Germany demanded a Russo-German Alliance, lead to Germany’s isolation. Instead of the Entente Cordiale falling apart, Britain and France grew closer. In addition Russia drops the clause of the Algeciras conference, giving France and Britain support. The British saw another attempt by Germany to create an empire to rival Britain. For this reason Britain started to plan ways of how to fight Germany in a war, which provoked the international crisis, leading to the outbreak of World War 1.
Then between 1908 and 1909 the Turkish Empire was declined and Austria-Hungary announced the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina under the Treaty of Berlin with German support. As a result Serbia was furious as Bosnia had the access to the Adriatic, for which Serbia has strived. Serbia wanted this access to the sea and this wish was supported by Russia. However Serbia was humiliated by the fact that they lost the opportunity to rule Bosnia. This increased tension and hatred between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Furthermore Germany and Russia started to plan their mobilization. The Balkan War between 1912 and 1913 consisted of two wars in southeastern Europe. Territories of the Ottoman Empire were conquered by an alliance known as the Balkan League made up by Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece and Serbia- As an effect this occupation of territory was a source of rivalry, which had shifted to the Balkans.
Another long-term cause of World War 1 is the second Moroccan Crisis in 1911. The uprising in Morocco allowed France to send its troops to Morocco. As Kaiser Wilhelm was seeking for revenge after failing its aim at the Algeciras Conference, he sent the gunboat Panther to Agadir, interfering with the situation and wanting to claim Agadir as a naval base. As an effect Germany was seen as a major aggressor and she had to agree to leave Morocco.
Even though the Schlieffen Plan, which was already planned in 1905 by General Count Alfred von Schlieffen failed, it was the last step to war. Germany declared war on France on August 3rd and one day later Germany invaded Belgium, trying to carry out the Schlieffen Plan. The plan was created to avoid a war on two fronts; nevertheless it was not aimed to avoid a war in general. The Schlieffen Plan was thought through for a long time. Although Russia had a big army, she was not advanced in roads and railways. Germany thought she could make use of this lack of transportation, as it they thought it would take Russia six weeks to mobilize fully. Therefore Germany would use her modernized rail system to invade France at high speed through Belgium. Having defeated France within six weeks, Germany would have had the time to transfer its soldiers who had been fighting in the successful French campaign to Russia to attack and defeat the Russians. However Germany was not aware that Russia could mobilize so fast. Furthermore Germany invaded the neutral country Belgium as an excuse for going into war. As a consequence the allies that were at war forced their allies into the war as well.
Some historians though such as A.J.P Taylor argue “The Austrian government was not much concerned to punish the crime of Sarajevo. They wanted to punish a different crime- the crime that Serbia committed by existing as a free national state.”[5] This suggests that the two Balkan crises caused the major tensions, which led the powers into war. Other historians like Ritter debate “Germany had no desire for world dominion; its main aim was to support its ally, Austria-Hungary”[6]Additionally other conflicts and events, which occurred before 1914 were partly resolved and are not responsible for the outbreak of war.
However this is wrong according to Sidney Bradshaw who says that Imperialism, nationalism, militarism and alliances- “all these things meshed together to create a collective impetus to war”. All of these factors come into consideration when thinking of the outbreak of the war. Disuputes were created due to the events before 1914, and instead of them being resolved, the tensions between the powers increased until the war was no longer preventable. Furthermore in George F. Kennan’s opinion “alliance caused World War 1.” Also according to Fritz Fischers claim about Germany’s responsibility of the outbreak of World War 1,Germany competet with the European powers, challenged and provoked Britain’s navy and continued the Franco-German rivalry.
There were several events caused by all powers creating tensions, which led up to the Great War.
Many provocations created rivalry between the different alliances formed Alliances were one of the major war why the war turned into a World War. Every country dragged its ally into the war by signing several agreements stating that they would support each other in a case of war Additionally the strong sense of militarism and nationalism created a competition amongst the powers. The last step and short-term factor, which activated the war, was the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand.

[1] McDonough, Frank. The Origins of the First and Second World Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.
[2] "Causes of the First World War." Gisele School. Web Design Leeds, n.d. Web. 4 Sept. 2012. .
[3] The Great Powers of Old Europe. N.p.: n.p., n.d. DOC.
[4] Heath, David. "Hakenkreuz Und Zirbelnuss : Augsburg Im 3. Reich." Traces of Evil: Historians and Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Sept. 2012. .
[5] Heath, David. "Hakenkreuz Und Zirbelnuss : Augsburg Im 3. Reich." Traces of Evil: Historians and Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Sept. 2012. .
[6] McDonough, Frank. The Origins of the First and Second World Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.

Why war broke out on 28th July 1914 and not in 1913,1915 or even a month earlier, right after the assassination of archduke Franz-Ferdinand on the 28th June 1914, is because firstly Germany was ready for war more than she had been during earlier years and would be during later years and because of the agricultural background of many countries in Europe especially Germany and Austria-Hungary: they had to wait for harvest to be brought in to rely on those resources in terms of food and manpower to fight the war.
In 1914 many people in Germany and throughout Europe believed that war was coming. General Helmut von Moltke, chief of the German army staff from 1906-1914, believed that war was unavoidable and advised Kaiser Wilhelm II. to declare war on Russia rather sooner than later because other countries such as Russia, France and Britain were actually starting to overtake Germany in armament payments because Germany was running out of money. [1] Even more strengthening this argument is the fact that the chief of the Navy, General Tirpitz, claimed at a conference with the Kaiser and Moltke in 1912 that the Germany navy would be in the best position for a war in one and a half years, therefore towards the end of 1913 moving towards the beginning of 1914. The German army chiefs knew that if Germany would go to war, then the best time would be in 1914 during the crises between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
After Franz-Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28th 1914, the Austrian-Hungarian government sent Serbia an Ultimatum on July 23th that was deliberately meant to be inacceptable, but should be accepted by Serbia after 48 hours. Although Serbia accepted most conditions on July 25, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia July 28 1914. Surprisingly it took Austria-Hungary almost a month to declare war on Serbia although they had full backing from Germany, who had issued the blank check just two days after the assassination on July 5th. This "missing month" can be related back to the agricultural background of both Germany and Austria-Hungary, especially Hungary whose economy was based on agriculture. The main time for bringing in the harvest is during June, July and May as I can tell from personal experience since I am living in Germany and have myself helped as an "Erntehelfer", which is the German word for a person who helps collecting the harvest.
There are also opposing historical views claiming that the complex alliance system helped to preserve peace, from the Vienna conference onwards, that was held almost a century before WWI, up to the beginning of WWI, but at the same time dragged countries into war that were not involved yet in 1914. This is only partially true: countries like Britain and France did not go to war over alliance partners like Belgium. Although it was officially claimed that the neutrality of "Little Belgium" should be preserved and therefore Britain should go to war with Germany, this was only to trick the public into believing in the good cause of entering a war. The British Empire itself had invaded neutral countries before such as America or India during its rise and from a German or non-British viewpoint the claim that Britain was protecting Belgium for the good cause seems rather ridiculous. Britain was actually pressured by Russia and France and additionally did not want a strong Germany dominating Europe. Russia only helped Serbia because Tsar Nicholas had not forgotten his face loss during the Balkan crises and was afraid to be seen as a weak Emperor by the Russian public; therefore he supported Serbia this time no matter what Britain and France were attempting to do. A good example from the later 20th century showing that the alliance system in 1914 worked in the way it was supposed to is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, that was originally aimed at Russia but has helped preventing wars successfully up to today because of collective security; this links back to the alliances: they were created to prevent war and did that successfully which is another reason why war did not break out earlier than 1914.
A common historical approach why World War one broke out on the 28th July 1914 is represented by the abbreviation M.A.I.N. This abbreviation represents the words Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism and Nationalism. All together, these added up to World War is a view that is commonly used to explain the outbreak of World War One. However this approach is to simplistic: There are far more reasons to the outbreak of The First World War than just those four words: Winston Churchill claimed that war came in 1914 because of general restlessness throughout Europe, suggesting that war broke out because of failed statesman and governments who accepted that war was coming and even saw war as a good opportunity to distract from problems at home. Marxist historians argue that the war was a result of competition between capitalist businessmen such as the historian Emil Ludwig. Many historians like Fritz Fischer blamed Germany as the aggressor who actually "planned for war". Additionally the people at the time were very enthusiastic about the outbreak of the war believing that it would be over soon.[2] Another big problem was also bad communication amongst the different governments that made any reverse or slowing down of the events impossible. Therefore it is very difficult, if not impossible, for people living today to understand the situation at the time and the mindset of the people at the time; this is where even with resources available to the public nowadays, knowledge and especially understanding are still limited. Therefore this essay is also limited to a certain approach since it cannot discuss all the different viewpoints mentioned above.
Coming to a conclusion, I would like to quote Lloyd George's memoirs in which he claims "We muddled into war". Written in 1934 he accepts that WWI broke out in 1914 because of failure of different statesmen and governments and that the general situation in Europe did result in a war in 1914. It is actually surprising that war did not break out earlier for example during the Moroccan or Balkan crises but that was probably caused by the alliance system that held the powers in Europe together. A combination of other factors such as the war-readiness of Germany or the harvest theory can be used to explain the date of the outbreak of World War One.

[1] GERMANY, 1858-1990 HOPE, TERROR AND REVIVAL, Oxford Advanced History, Alison Kitson, page 67.
[2] http://www.johndclare.net/causesWWI_Answer1.htm

The reasons why “war” broke out in 1914 are much different than the reasons that let it escalate into the world war it became. The reasons for the escalations are much more complex and involve a greater variety of nations. This essay though will discuss simply the reasons why the war between the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and Serbia started, as well as asses the main reasons of why this then turned out to be a world war. In the end this conflict turned to be a minor and unimportant issue with regards to the overall world war, but it undeniably was the first conflict in that time and the one event that sparked the Great War.
The beginnings of this tragic event date to the 28th of June 1914, when the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary along with his wife was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, an agent of the Black Hand. The Black Hand was a Terror organization made up of nationalistic Serbs, which was found in Serbia and was supported by high Military Officials from Serbia. The assassination has often been referred to as “the spark that lit the powder keg” which the situation in Europe was. Although some people argue that this action could be replaced by any other one, I believe that the assassination of this specific person, the Archduke, was truly the one spark needed to blow up Europe, or at least the Balkans. The reason being is that the Archduke was to be the next Emperor of the multicultural mixture called Austria-Hungary. The problem for many people, especially for such nationalistic Serbs as Princip, was that their plans of creating anger and hat towards Austria would only work if the Austrians would actually act in certain ways. The plans which Franz-Ferdinand had would only destroy their hopes for a Slavic country, since he wanted to integrate all cultures and nationalities more in the decision making of the Empire instead of only having the Austrians ruling them. This would most likely have appeased the majority of hate and unrest and thus crushed the Black Hands plans. Of course this assassination also had enormous effects on Austria, but it certainly wasn’t simply a cheap excuse. Which country would not have acted aggressively if their heir to the throne had been killed by another country? So although it did give Austria the perfect excuse to take action of any kind against the long disliked neighbor, I think it really had to be a person of that importance to set something of that scale of. And Germany might not even have given Austria the Blank Check if it hadn’t been for that particular assassination. So the assassination can truly be seen as the one event which got things rolling towards a war in 1914 and gave way to the aggressive policies Austria adapted after that.
The reasons of why such a local conflict ultimately caused most of the world to be at war go beyond the simple act of assassinating. How could all of Europe, and ultimately the world suddenly become involved in something which could have been simply another Balkan crisis/war? The answer sound simple but has to be elaborated: Alliances. Although the alliance system did not necessarily cause the war, it definitely did pull all the countries into it once the war had started. Why else should countries like France join a war originally between Austria and Serbia, if it hadn’t been for the triple entente?
The war, which by that point had only been a European war, only became a world war because one country joined: Great Britain.

“Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired.” To what extent does this statement explain the outbreak of the First World War?

From the IBO markscheme:

This should be a popular choice and the question invites candidates to look back to 1904 or even earlier for possible causes of the outbreak of the First World War. Some candidates will go back further – into the Alliance system as well as economic, naval and colonial rivalries and some of the more traditional causes of the war. Candidates could also analyse the immediate “trigger” for war – such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in order to connect it to previous problems.
Candidates can use their considerable knowledge about the causes of the First World War and will comment on the rivalries between the Great powers, the various crises, Balkan nationalism, etc. But they should also evaluate the relative importance of long-term and short-term causes and come up with a valid judgement of their “causes” in the context of the question posed.
[0 to 8 marks] for little understanding of the meaning of the quotation, or knowledge of the causes of the First World War.
[9 to 11 marks] at this level candidates will narrate causes of the First World War.
[12 to 17 marks] emphasis of events between 1904 and 1914 will be the main focus of a structured
analytical answer.
[18 to 20 marks] an extra dimension such as perceptive interpretation of the quotation will be added.


Wars don’t usually happen overnight, so in a way WW1 did start before 1914. It can be said that Alliances, naval race, war build up, and the Balkan Wars all contributed to WW1. So before Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger, what the tension was already building.

            To say that the cause of WWI went back 10 years before it started in 1914 would mean to place part of the blame on the Alliances and Ententes that had developed around 1879. The forming of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy as an Alliance and France, Russia, Britain as their own Entente could be seen as Europe setting up for a war. Like a game of chess put together, waiting only for the first movement of a pawn in order begin. However the intend of the Dual Alliance in 1879 and Triple Alliance in 1882 was for protection purposes rather than offense. Germany in fear of Russia, due to disagreements, decided to get a safety net. The Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892 was a reaction these forming Alliances. Britain also become worried and in 1904 formed the Entente Cordiale with France. By 1907 the Triple Entente was formed and Europe was divided. But these groups weren’t particularly looking for war. The grouping of world powers into sides did contribute to the start of WWI, but not directly because alliances and friendships were already common long before the Dual Alliance in 1879. The Alliances and Groupings are instead the cause of the War becoming so huge and creating collateral damage.

The Alliances and Ententes are the reason the war became so huge not the main cause. In fact the Entente Cordiale between France and Britain was not even military, as seen in the reaction to The Tangier Crisis in 1905. At the Algeria conference it showed Britain would support France, but not in the case of war. It also showed that France and Britain wanted to resolve the conflict without starting war. Despite France hating Germany, because of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, they still stepped down. This Crisis along with the Agadir Crisis shows Germany poking at overseas colonies in order to provoke major world powers, such as France. But this was rather to see what the reaction would be, then to produce war. As seen with the Agadir Crisis, Kaiser Wilhelm II did withdraw his troops before war broke out. Although to be fair this might have also been from intimidation. Britain was head in the naval race and despite the Admiral Tirpitz’s attempt to surpass the HMS Dreadnought with the HMS Rheinland, Britain was still producing more and stronger battleships such as the HMS Neptune.

            A growth of navies was not the only defense the powers were creating. In 1905, perhaps in response to the Franco-Russian Alliance, Germany came up with the Schlieffen plan. In case of war with Russia, Germany would attack France first in order to avoid fighting two fronts. This was important because it showed that involving France in any conflict Germany had with Russia was inevitable. Germany was in the middle of nations, so it was more of a precaution since fighting on two fronts would be noxious. France in 1915 came up with Plan Seventeen, which was to all out attack in Alsace and Lorraine then progress from there. This plan reflected they still hated Germany for the outcomes of the Franco-Prussian war. Britain created the Expeditionary Force in 1906 as well as the Territorial Army and Officers Training Corps. That would help France if they were attacked. Russia and Austria-Hungary grew their armies and weapons.

The Naval Race showed growing competition, and Kaiser Wilhelm wanted a “place in the Sun”. Europe was divided and all of the sides seemed to have war plans. So perhaps war was inevitable and it was one big domino effect that started 10 years before. But the war was sparked by only one major power, Austria-Hungary, and their conflicts. The Black Hands and their killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo was the direct cause. The other five world powers had no actual reason to get involved it could have simply been another Balkan War. The Young Turks revolution and the taking of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria in 1912 were the build-ups of WW1.

So yes the quote is correct in that war starts 10 years before, to the extent that everything has a reason for happening, due to determinism; the quote is right in the same reason that saying it rains because of precipitation. It would only make sense that the problems would begin before the battle. The quote is bias, because even if WW1 did not happen the quote would still be right.  And one of the only ways to go against the quote is to say WW1 started at random, statically meaning by a roll of a dice or a flip of a coin. But it did not. It is seen that Europe’s world powers avoided war in 1905 and 1911. There are consist conflicts; it so happened that the Balkans War knocked over a pawn.  There had been conflicts among the Slav people and Austria-Hungary before 1914. So the war did not really start in 1904, Austria-Hungary’s conflict with Serbia started the war. The Alliances and Entente’s are what made it huge because the war plans France and German had created both required a quick reaction.


         Thucydides, a historian who lived during the Peloponnesian war claims, “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta”. It is still believed to this day that this statement applies to the cause of any war. Such as the cause of World War 1  What made war inevitable was the growth of German power and the fear which this caused in Britain”. Many historians argue over the causes of World War 1, so in this essay I will be analyzing this statement, “Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot was fired”. I will be exploring two sides of this argument, one side will be the events longer than ten years that contributed and might have caused the outbreak of the First World War, and the other side will be looking at events within the 10 year period before 1914 that contributed to the outbreak of World War 1. Many believe that World War 1 started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and the events that took place within the previous 10 years. Others believe that the cause of the War started long before that, when Prussia decided to unify with other German states in 1970. Whereas, others believe that it was the alliance system that started World War 1.

         Many believe that the events that would partake within the 10 years before World War 1, this would be from 1904-1914 are what caused the World War. There are many reasons, which sparked such great havoc and War. This paragraph will discuss those events and see how the effected the outcome of the Frist World War and if “Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot was fired”. In 1904-1907 Britain and France decided to create the Entent Cordial, so that it would stop the colonial differences in Canada, Africa and Asia. This would lead to the Entent cordial being between Britain, France and Russia in 1907. In 1905 the first Moroccan crisis occurred. Morocco used be part of the Ottoman Empire until the late 19th century, then it slowly stated to become part of the French Empire. The Moroccan crisis was the Germans trying to test the strength of the Entent cordial, so he demanded the Morocco would become a free and independent country and the Germans wanted equal trading rights within Morocco as the French wanted to gain. So the Kaiser sailed aboard a German Battleship to Morocco. With the Kaisers provocative move, and the worry that this might start a Franco-German war, which greatly worried the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, he supported the French rights in the conference. This led to the French allowing Morocco to be an independent country, but allowed France to have control over the bank.

         There was a lot of rivalry between the British and the Germans, as the British wanted Europe to maintain a balance of power. Germany wanted to become more powerful than all the other country by expanding their armies, improving and expanding the industrial sector and have more colonization over other countries. To do so Germany had to improve their naval army, as Britain had the greatest naval army in the world. In 1908 the rivalry had reached its peak, with Germany wanting to improve its navy and Britain wanting to stay strong with its supreme Royal Navy. As Britain had the HMS Dreadnought in 1806, the strongest navy battleship in the world, Germany attempted to match this by creating its own dreadnoughts, this caused a lot of tension between the two countries. When a journalist from the daily telegraph interviewed Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1908 he said, “You English, are mad, mad, mad as March hares”, and this angered the British. This greatly angered the British, which caused even more tension between the British and the Germans.

         In 1908, Austro-Hungary managed to take control over Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the help of Germany. Austria wanted Bosnia, as they felt that there should not be a free independent country outside of the main powers within Europe. So they manage to trick Russia into giving them Bosnia. This greatly angered the Russians, as Austria had a secret deal with Russia that if Russia gave Austria Bosnia, Austria would help Russia be able to use the shipping route, which lead through Istanbul. But since it was secret when Austria did not stand to their end of the deal, Russia was unable to prove them that they needed the shipping route. It also angered the Bosnians, as they were mainly Slavs and Russia swore to protect Slavs.

From 1910 to 1914, Germany had started to increase their expenditure on their army by 73%, as oppose to Frances 10% increase, Britain’s 13% increase and Russia’s 39% increase. This started to worry the other major powers, as the only reason someone would increase their expenditure on the military to 73% was if they were expecting war or were planning to do something, but nothing happened until 1914, when war broke out.   

         In 1911 the second Moroccan crisis occurred. This was called the Agadir crisis. French troops were sent into Morocco to help the sultan against the nationalist revolt in Fez. The Kaiser saw this as an act of aggression and sent their Battleship “The Panther” to Agadir. Their hopes were to gain some trading concession from then French, but the French, with the support of Sir Edward Grey, declined the offer. This then led to the Germans backing down and retreating their battleship from Agadir, and was forced to acknowledge the French control over Agadir. This showed that Italy and Austro-Hungary, were not prepared to show there support for Germany, as they were unprepared to show their support during the First Moroccan crisis. This meant that Germany was in a very weak spot, as they had backed down, and in the future it would be unlikely to see any European power backing down and suffering the humiliation.

         Many important events leading to World War 1 happened in 1914, such as the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Austria blamed the Serbians. As Sir Richard J Evans, Regius professor of history, University of Cambridge stated, “Serbia bore the greatest responsibility for the outbreak of WW1. Serbian nationalism and expansionism were profoundly disruptive forces and Serbian backing for the Black Hand terrorists was extraordinarily irresponsible. Austria-Hungary bore only slightly less responsibility for its panic over-reaction to the assassination of the heir to the Habsburg throne”. It was mainly Austria’s reaction the Assassination of the Archduke, and their hatred over the Serbians that caused the War. The assassin was Gavril Princip, a Bosnian terrorist, who was involved with a Serbian terrorist organization called the Black Hand. The day after the assassination, the Austrians asked for the Germans full support, and the Kaiser gave it to them. Within the next few days, Austria sent an ultimatum to Serbia demanding that the Austrian police are to be sent within Serbia to arrest all anti-Habsburg terrorist groups. The Serbian government declined, and demanded a conference so that the dispute could be settled peacefully. The Austrians declined and on the 28th of July 1914 Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, hoping that Russia would not intervene, but Russia is an ally of Serbia and goes to aid Serbia. The German government stated that if Russia would defend Serbia, Germany would be forced to defend Austro-Hungary. France would then intervene and state that if Germany stands with Austria, France will stand with Russia. Germany escalated the issue by sending Russia an ultimatum telling them that if they do not stop their troops from aiding Serbia, Germany would be forced to declare war on Russia. The Russian Tsar refused and so on August 1 Germany declared war on Russia. Later Germany would send an ultimatum to Belgium asking for safe passage for its troops to attack France, as they were allies of Russia. On the 3rd of August Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France.

         On the 4th of August, Britain declared war on Germany, as they had breached Belgium’s neutrality. Sir Edward Grey, Britain’s foreign secretary new that they had to go to France and Russia’s aid, otherwise Germany would overpower them. War was inevitable, as so much tension built up between the other countries. 

         There are many reasons why World War 1 broke out, and this paragraph will be discussing the factors that contributed longer than 10 years before World War 1 with the growing power of Germany. In 1866, Prussia had the 7 weeks war against Austria, since Prussia defeated Austria in 7 weeks many Germany states that sided with them, decided to leave Austria and join Prussia. This then allowed Prussia to defeat France in 1871. Prussia was able to force the French hand and make it look like France started the war. Doing this Prussia was able to get all the states within what is now know as Germany to take sides with Prussia, since Bismarck was able to get all the other German states to join forces with him and unify in 1870. They were then able to defeat France easily, with all the states united with what is know as Germany. When Germany was united Otto von Bismarck wanted to ensure that the Germany would later become a powerful country.

         During 1800s to 1900s many great European powers were trying to imperialize Africa, as 90% of Africa was under the control of European powers. Bismarck did not want any involvement with that, as he was more focused on improving Germany. Since the victory of Germany in the Franco-Prussian war, there was a lot of tension within Europe. With Germany become powerful rapidly, with the largest military power and rising industrial force, with the fact that they were in the middle of Europe, many European powers feared that they would disrupt the balance of power.

         Before Kaiser Wilhelm II fired Bismarck from his chancellor’s position, he was able to secure Germanys power by creating a triple alliance with Austro-Hungary and Italy. He also tried to improve their relations with Britain, France and Russia. While he was in power he made a drastic effect on the events that took place with Germany, and his ability to create such a powerful country. Then when he was fired in 1890, it caused a lot of havoc within Europe and mainly Germany, as Kaiser Wilhelm II did not know how to rule a country, since Bismarck was always in charge of foreign affairs.

When Kaiser Wilhelm became emperor in 1890, he stopped the Russian alliance. He then proceeded to keep the Triple alliance, with Austro –Hungary and Italy. Since Germany stopped their secret alliance with Russia, Russia proceeded to make a defensive alliance with France in 1894. This greatly angered The Kaiser. In 1897, Wilhelm II introduced the ‘Weltpolitik’, where he would try and create a large colonial empire, by expanding his Navy and to use foreign policy affairs to strengthen his power over the German people.

         In conclusion, I believe there are many reasons why war broke out in 1914. I think is was mostly due to the fact that Germany had turned a minor quarrel that could have been solved with some diplomacy into and War between the main powers of Europe. I believe that this statement “Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot was fired” does in fact explain the outbreak of the First World War. Although there were some events that took place earlier than ten years before the War, there was nothing serious enough to provoke serious action from other powers, apart from the growing power of Germany and the way it was affecting the balance of power in Europe, and how some alliances formed such as the Entent Cordial and the Triple Alliance. However, it was mostly the tension that started to build up and continued to build up 10 years before the World War. Such as the Moroccan crisis in 1905 and again in 1911 and the Navy competition between Britain and Germany in 1906, along with Austro-Hungary’s annex of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, among other actions that caused the beginning of the War.


Cooper, David, David Williamson, and John Laver. Years of Ambition: European History 1815-1914. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001. Print.

"Guide to Thucydides." Guide to Thucydides. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. .

"10 Interpretations of Who Started WW1." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. .

"Firstworldwar.com." First World War.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. .

BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. .


The First World War was caused by a series of interlinking events and changing in society and thinking such as Alliances, Nationalism, the Moroccan Crises and the growing tension between European counties. Captain K.K.V. Casey states that “Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired”, but to what extent is this true for the Great War? Key events took place on the time from 1904-1914 but what about the tension that was caused for example by the unification of Germany?

When looking at the time period of 1904-1914 important short-term causes can be found. This would include the growing Anglo-French relationship, which was an effect of France and Britain signing the Entente Cordiale in 1904 resulting in the deterioration of Germany’s diplomatic position. 

Another short-term cause is the rising tension between European countries in 1907 when Britain signed the Anglo-Russian Convention, now unifying Germany’s biggest rivals. Also the Moroccan Crisis of 1905-06 was intensifying the situation in Europe further as Kaiser Willhelm II of Germany tried to test the stability of the Anglo-French entente by challenging the French right to economic dominance in Morocco and his acts resulting in a boost in the French economic influence in Morocco.

 A very significant event in the time prior to the Great War was the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinant on the 28th June 1914, as s nationalism-driven group of Slavs killed the future Austria-Hungarian king. This event is often referred to as the ‘spark’ that started the Great War. Therefor it can be said that war-like tension already existed in the decade before the actual outbreak.

However in order to get an accurate picture of how and why a war of this dimension was able to break out, a much larger time-period has to be taken in consideration. Already George F. Kennan argued that alliances caused the First World War, and most of these alliances were formed before the 1900s. In 1882 Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary formed the first Triple Alliance, over 25 years before war started. Despite this time gap, this alliance was vital to the outbreak of the war because it laid down the foundations of disagreements between European countries.
Also when taking a closer look at Germany, which is often and by many historians made responsible for the Great War, it is clear that it’s event-stricken but short history plays an important role as cause for the war. A key event here is the ‘dropping of the pilot ‘ in 1890 when German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who was able to place Germany in a strong diplomatic position, fell from power and Kaiser Wilhelm II introduced his ‘Weltpolitik”. As the German historian Fritz Fischer said, Germany was responsible for the First World War because of its aggressive pursuit of its ‘Weltpolitik’.
Another important cause that developed long before the 1900s was nationalism in Europe. During the 1800s Europe was a continent that consisted of different empires rather than individual countries. Most people disliked the idea of being ruled by people of different nations and cultures and therefore developed a very strong nationalistic feeling, which led to many conflicts. This strong sense of nationalism can also be seen in the Scramble of Africa, when France and Britain almost went to war in Fashoda in 1898.
Similar to nationalism was militarism one of the main characteristics that caused the war. As Germany was growing in power after it’s unification in 1971 and trying to be one of the leading European powers, an arms race began. Especially Britain, who had had the strongest navy, feared that Germany would soon overtake their power. To paraphrase Thucydides ‘ the war was caused by the growing power of Germany and the fear this inspired in England.’

Wars often start a long time before the first shot is fired, but there is no genuine time period that can be set as a rule. For the First World War, tensions already started building up in the 1870s with the Unification of Germany and nationalistic feeling developed nearly a century before the war broke out. Even though tensions were most noticeable in the time from the 1900s on, they already existed before that time.


Prompt: “Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired.” To what extent does this statement explain the outbreak of the First World War? 

The first shot of the Great War was fired far earlier than the Russo-Japanese war. The period before the conflict was largely a build up of global turmoil, and as Sidney Bradshaw Fay said, the First World War started due to “imperialism, nationalism, militarism, and alliances”. The butterfly effect caused by the end of the Napoleonic war is a realistic and accurate explanation, however my intent is to focus on whom I believe as the primary instigator and culprit; the Serbian Kingdom. There is far more cause to blame the Serbs than the actions of a single murderer, and while Austro-Hungary, Germany, Russia and Italy have much to answer for, it was clearly the Slavic idiocracy that I would feel comfortable to point my finger at.

My illiterate, patriotic and elderly Yugoslavian grandparents hail Gavrilo Prinzip as a national hero. I would align him and the terrorist organization he was associated with, with the likes of Che Guevara and ISIS. His thoughts mirrored that of most Serbs as well as the Serbian governments (who where more than likely responsible for supplying the Black Hand), desires as well. As a Croat with Bosnian and Serbian heritage, I feel right in saying that the majority of Serbs at that time had a primitive, belligerent and intolerant view of all things political, similar to modern times. Serbia felt entitled to Bosnia enough so, so that they would use terrorism and murder as a means to annex it. They knew that the military manpower between Austria and Germany alone was roughly the size of their entire population, not to mention the Italians who would have gotten involved against them over the Istrian coast. The evidence in this assumption lies in the words of Prime Minister Pasic himself, who said, “the first round is won, not for the second round against Austria” after betraying his fellow Slavic Bulgarians. What this meant was, he was confident in support from Serbia’s natural ally.

It took Austria a whole month to come up with an ultimatum to send to the Serbs. Franz Joseph risked looking weak and unresponsive for the sake of using diplomacy before guns. And yes, while he was confiding in Germany for support, war was not in Austria’s main interest. The same cannot be said for Serbia, who refused negotiations and went directly to Russia for military support. While Austria had no claim to the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina it was the Serbs, who escalated the conflict via violence, confirming Otto von Bismarck’s statement in 1888 “The great European war will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans”.

Being from the Balkans, I understand the Serbian mentality. Slavs are notoriously intolerant of both ethnicity and reason. A sense of hyper-nationalism (that I cant imagine exists anywhere outside of the former Yugoslavia) is ingrained in the core beliefs of the men there. Nationalism was at its peak in the early 20th century, mixed with the stereotypical barbarism of the men in this Kingdom and the already disastrous combination of continental militarism and tension meant that a war was doomed to happen, and Serbia was the expected outcome.

The aforementioned prompt can be briefly answered by saying that to some extent, yes, the war began years earlier; however it is far more complicated than that. While I believe the main culprit to be the Serbian Kingdom, the alliance system and military tension played a great role as well. To say that the war started 10 years before 1914 is true; the Russo-Japanese conflict caused a chain reaction, which likely contributed to the beginning of the war. As did the Moroccan crisis in 1905. And the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1873. Bismarck’s policies in the late 1800’s also played a role, and the Fischer thesis argues that Germany planned to go to war all along, but while all of these hold truth and where agents in the rising tensions in Europe, the underlying cause remains in the Balkans.

 From 1914 to 1918 the world was entrenched in a great war, a total war like none that had come before. When it ended, a peace settlement was signed on June 28th, 1919 called the Treaty of Versailles. In order to satisfy the masses, the winners of this war, Britain, the USA, Italy, France, and Russia, decided to pinpoint exactly who was to blame for the start of the conflict. This scapegoat was determined to be Germany, as a key member of the losing side. Ever since, it has been disputed to what extent this judgement was justified. In this essay, it will be argued that Germany should not carry the majority of the responsibility for the war. The true role of Germany’s expansionism, alliance to Austria-Hungary, and aggressive military in starting the conflict will be debated. Views of German revisionist historians Fritz Fischer and Gerhard Ritter will be also be utilized to aid in the argument. Fritz Fischer, author of the 1961Germany’s War Aims in the First World War, was strongly in support of blaming Germany for the First World War. Gerhard Ritter combated this idea. His view in Staatskunst und Kriegshandwerk: das Problem des ‘Militarismus’ in Deutschland (Statemanship and War, 4 volumes, 1954-68) is that Germany is not guilty for starting WWI. This essay shall consider both points of view and conclude that Germany was unjustly held completely responsible for the war.

“Wars Frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired.” To what extent does this statement explain the outbreak of the First World War?

The reasons for the outbreak of war on July 28th 1914, are subject to extensive amounts of discussion among the historical community; the prevailing mentioned aspect is growing militarism amongst the belligerents, and although this undoubtedly played a large role in the creation of the conflict, what is not mentioned often are various economic and social factors from up to a decade preceding the conflict. Take for example, Sidney Bradshaw Fay, an American revisionist historian who summarises the causes of the First World War as being the nationalist, imperialist and militarist nature of the Alliances in place. However what is overlooked is the fact that there was visible tension before any official alliances came into being. Therefore this essay shall examine social and economic factors in the context of the decade before 1914, which resulted in the creation of a conflict remembered for over a century with a specific focus upon Germany and its interactions with other belligerents.

When discussing the origins of the Great War the majority of sources start in 1914 or the few years leading up to the assassination of Franz Duke Ferdinand, generally only looking further back to discuss the alliance system and growing militarism. While as early as 1903 growing tension between Germany and England could be seen with the announcement of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. After the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, Europe entered a state of rapid expansion, a resultant of this expansion was a growth of railways, it was realised that in addition to providing rapid and effective connections between trading partners and various corners of colonial empires, it vastly simplified the problem of military defense and the definitions of political control of a territory. Due to the understanding of the importance of railways, nations quickly became wary of other nations strength in relation to rail networks. This was true for the French for England’s Cairo-Cape Town railway and the British for the French East-West railway across the bulge of Africa. Germany’s plan for the Berlin-Baghdad Railway was on par with the scale of it’s British and French counterparts; that in itself would have put the two western countries at unease. But according to Arthur P. Maloney the tension could be more attributed to other factors. The German-Ottoman agreement gave Germany control of oil fields in Iraq as well as putting the Germans exceptionally close to what was at the time a monopoly owned by Britain. In addition to this pressure it also gave Germany a way of transporting materials and goods to their colonies without the need of using the Suez Canal, therefore circumventing some of Britain’s power and control over German trade. The breaking of Britain’s monopoly and the weakening of Britain’s control over German trade would have instantly been seen as a threat to Britain’s economy that would have had to be dealt with.

Growing tension was visible far before 1904 in Europe. With such industrial growth as occurred after 1870, reaching a climax in the early 1900s, came an increase in demand of basic commodities; perhaps the most prominent amongst these were oil, coal and steel. Therefore the German increase in power could perhaps be summarised best by simple economical statistics taken from a book written on the eve of the Great War by Karl Helferich, the assistant General Manager of the Anatolian Railway and the son in law of the head of Deutsche Bank, the bank in charge of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway. Dr. Helferich stated that Germany’s steel production increased 1,300% from 1886-1910 whereas France had 700%, Russia 900%, and Britain had only 150%. By 1910 Germany had surpassed Britain’s steel production greatly, in fact it had surpassed France, Russia and Britain’s steel productions combined whereas in 1910, Germany’s population was still an 8th of Europe’s. Furthermore comparing German’s visible trade with that of Britain, from 1887-1912 Germany had 220% increase while Britain had 100%, over the course of 15 years Germany’s trade had increased from one half of Britain’s in 1887 to almost equal to that in 1912, despite Britain’s doubling in the period. But perhaps the most interesting of all statistics is that of shipping, despite Britain’s complete Naval dominance, Germany between 1885 and 1911 increased shipping of goods to be equal with the United States despite having a severe lacking in ports. Britain being the largest economy at the time would have viewed such a massive increase as an increasingly possible threat and competitor to their economic dominance at the time.

            Britain continued to lose control over their monopoly when Germany announced the widening of the Kiel Canal in 1907. The creation of the HMS Dreadnought brought new rivalries between the powers. Germany decided to start expanding its navy; initially in secret they built ships to rival those of the British, larger and faster than the original Dreadnought; in 1906 Germany was already spending 60% of its revenue on the army; with the decision to expand their naval forces they were forced to pass at Novelle allocating 940 Million marks to the creation of Dreadnoughts, Battle-cruisers and the dredging of the canal. With the announcement of the widening of the Kiel Canal to a size capable of allowing Dreadnought-sized ships passage, the Germans were making a bold statement to the rest of Europe about it’s naval intentions and refusal to be seen as weaker and less developed. Once again Britain would have had to reconsider their policies and economic situation, as with the rise in German power there was immediately a rivalry between the two countries. As A. J. P. Taylor stated, “No matter what political reasons are given for war, the underlying reason is always Economic.” Assuming this quote is true it is easy to see that Britain would have had to take some form of action. Running colonies proves to be a large expense and in some of Britain’s cases the cost was out numbering the gain, with financial strain of running the largest colonial empire in the world, Britain would have been careful with affairs closer to home. That being said it could be seen that Germany was not intent on making war but instead expanding its economic situation without taking into consideration the repercussions and implications from other neighbouring states.

            Overall when discussing the origins of the First World War, sources tend to oversimplify information and fail to extend the scope of their discussion causing the assumptions and reasoning’s made to fall short. In fact the question of if “Wars Frequently begin 10 years before the first shot is fired “ can explain the outbreak of the First World War, is not enough, on something as complicated as the First World War 10 years is not a large enough scope to explain the events leading up to the creation of the conflict.


Works Cited
"Baghdad Railway." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
Bönker, Dirk. Militarism in a Global Age: Naval Ambitions in Germany and the United States before World War I. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2012. Print.
"British Navy Ships--HMS Dreadnought (1906-1922)." British Navy Ships--HMS Dreadnought (1906-1922). N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
"Dreadnought." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
Helfferich, Karl. Germany's Economic Progress and National Wealth, 1888-1913. New York: Germanistic Society of America, 1914. Print.
Herwig, Holger H. "Luxury Fleet": The Imperial German Navy, 1888-1918. London: Allen & Unwin, 1980. Print.
"Kiel Canal." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
Maloney, Arthur P. The Berlin-Baghdad Railway as a Cause of World War I. Alexandria, Va. (2000 N. Beauregard St., Alexandria 22311): Naval Studies Group, Center for Naval Analyses, 1984. Print.
McMeekin, Sean. The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 2010. Print.
Showalter, Dennis E. "World War I (1914-18)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
"The Top 5 Causes That Led to World War I. Could It Happen Again?" About. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Germany’s expansionist and nationalist foreign policy was a main factor in Germany’s decision to go to war according to Fritz Fischer. Kaiser Wilhelm II often spoke about Germany’s need for ‘a place in the sun’ with the other colonial powers, and this aggressive colonialism made the other powers distrustful. This was particularly true concerning Germany’s over-zealous colonialism in the Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911. Britain believed that the Kaiser was attempting to undermine their friendship with France in the 1905 crisis. Furthermore, in the crisis of 1911, the apparent danger of a German naval presence on Morocco’s Atlantic coast (among other events) left France and Britain wary of Germany. But Germany, a recently founded state, was still finding its place in Europe. It had only been existence since 1871, a result of wars against Austria and France. It had quickly become a large industrial power with a good-sized army, which completely upset the existing balance of power in Europe. The other powers were bound to be wary of the newcomer and consider the Kaiser to be a disturber of European peace. Germany was also surrounded by colonial alliances. There were existing colonial agreements between Britain and France, as well as between Russia and Britain. Though these were not necessarily firm alliances, it gave Germany a sense of being ‘encircled.’ It had to fend for itself. However, Fischer argues that Germany’s decision to go to war was not defensive in the least; after all, it was a general aim of the German government to make Germany a world power. More specifically, Fischer writes that Chancellor Theobald Bethmann-Holweg had hopes of annexing European Russia, Belgium, and part of France after Germany had won the war. Gerhard Ritter disagrees with this claim, writing that the Chancellor’s support of annexations is under debate as he was, in fact, against annexation proposals made by the military. Nevertheless, Fischer goes further to say that there were also firm connections between Germany’s choice to go to war and domestic groups in Germany urging expansion. A counterpoint to this idea is that the elite members of the government were not in the habit of being responsive to the general populace. Although Fischer writes that, no matter the reason, Germany did purposefully encourage Austria-Hungary’s war plans in order to create a conflict in which Germany could expand the country’s borders, as well as solve its issue of ‘encirclement’ by France and Russia and dominate Europe. This evidence supports a conclusion that Germany’s insistent expansionism was a major cause of the war. But these claims cannot be taken as complete fact. Therefore, it can be concluded that Germany’s expansionism was significant, but only one of many contributing factors to the start of WWI. Still, part of Germany’ goal to become a world power included forming alliances that would add to its strength and prestige. This resulted in further conflict.
Ritter believes the importance of Germany’s alliance to Austria-Hungary is often underestimated. He argues that Germany’s support of Austria-Hungary notably worsened its relationships with the other powers. Nevertheless, in light of their extenuating circumstances, their loyalty is understandable. The new country was exposed, without any natural defenses against action from its adjacent nations, particularly France and Russia; it lay vulnerable between them to a two-front attack. Compounding the problem, in 1892-95 Russia and France signed a full military defensive alliance. Fear of a two-front war on Germany continued with renewed force. Yet Russia and France were not the only allied nations-- other opposing European powers had agreements as well. This system of entangling alliances, which has been blamed by some as the cause of a global war, meant that Germany could be outnumbered if the agreements were honored. For protection, Germany was compelled to maintain its only meaningful alliance, which was with Austria-Hungary.  This alliance worsened Germany’s relationships with other countries. Germany’s support of Austria-Hungary during the Bosnian Crisis of 1908-09, for example, aggravated the other European powers, particularly Russia. Russia was humiliated by Austria-Hungary’s deceit concerning their annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and angered that Russia’s navy did not get any closer to being able to utilize the Turkish Straits. Germany’s involvement put salt on the wound. Germany’s alliance with Austria Hungary caused further conflict for the country during the crisis of 1914.  In fact, Ritter believes that a main reason that Germany joined the conflict was to keep Austria-Hungary a great power. In his opinion, Austria-Hungary was set on going to war and they forced Germany to join them. Ritter even argues that Germany did not realize that supporting Austria-Hungary necessarily required war. Germany believed, perhaps naively, that the other European countries would be just as outraged at the killing of the Austrian heir to the throne as it was. Arguing against this view, Fischer says that Germany had plans for war previous to the crisis of 1914. He believes they simply used the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as an excuse to put their plan into motion. Nonetheless, whatever one’s views are, when all of the evidence is taken into account, it becomes questionable as to why Austria-Hungary did not receive any blame for the war in the Treaty of Versailles. It is greatly reductionist, one might argue, to place all of the blame on Germany without considering Austria-Hungary’s role in matters. It is admitted, however, that Germany’s decisions concerning its military also proved keeping the peace difficult.
Fischer believed that Germany’s aggressive military presence and growth was a significant cause of WWI because it drove wedges between Germany and its European neighbors. Britain, for example, felt threatened by German naval expansion, which they believed was directed mainly against them. Before 1898, Germany had large armies but small naval forces. In 1898, however, Admiral Tirpitz announced that Germany was going to begin the process of enlarging its navy. An anxious Britain engaged in an expensive naval race with the new power to construct the premiere battleship. Germany also made relations worse with Britain in the Boer War (1899-1902) by supporting and sending weapons to the Boers in South Africa. Prior to the 1890s Britain had not seen Germany as an enemy, but these events, among others, changed that view. Furthermore, the influence of German military plans in starting the war is strongly debated.  Ritter writes that Germany did not have a long-term military plan concerning the conflict, only an immediate reaction to the threatening Russian mobilization of its armed forces. Also, he emphasizes that Germany did not believe that Britain would become involved in a potential conflict. Britain, arguably, is the country that made the war a World War. The involvement of their colonies across the globe (from Australia and India, to Canada and South Africa) greatly expanded the scope of the conflict. The masterminds of the German military, on the other hand, were convinced the conflict would be resolved locally and swiftly. They miscalculated. Yet Ritter does concede that military necessity was the most important factor in Germany’s choice to go to war. Ready for use since 1898, the Schlieffen Plan was particularly influential. The Shleiffen Plan concerned how to deal with a threat from Russia. According to the plan, German forces would invade Belgium in order to quickly attack northern France. After France had been defeated, Russia would be tackled. This was all to avoid the division of German troops between east and west, weakening them. Sixteen years later, once Russia appeared set on war these plans had to be followed. War on France and invasion of Belgium were a necessary preemptive tactic. This action against Belgium became the reason for British involvement in the war. Nevertheless, there is certain evidence that suggests German statesmen attempted to solve the July 1914 crisis peacefully. The generals were a forceful influence, but Germany was not a completely military state. In fact, it spent less per person on its military than the other powers prior to 1914. But their strongest ally, Austria, had a multinational army that had been defeated in previous wars and was not necessarily reliable. All things considered, a competitive German military, with their plans and miscalculations, did have their place in causing the Great War. Nonetheless, to exclusively place blame on Germany while Russia and Britain go scot free is grossly unfair. Russia mobilized first, and while Germany did play a significant part in inciting a European war, Britain truly made it a world war.
In conclusion, Germany cannot shoulder unilateral blame for World War I. Germany should not even truly carry the blame for the majority of the war. Germany may have become the mythic enemy to many European imaginations before the war, but there was not much evidence to support this hysteric view. This was particularly true in Britain, where, in the years leading up to war, spy stories featuring German foes became wildly popular. More truthfully, WWI was a result of the self-centered and preservative nature of the European powers in general. This point of view goes hand in hand with the theory of Realism. In 1948, Hans Joachim Morgenthau developed his theory of Realism, which says that states are defensive and selfish. Morgenthau further argued that the world is full of opposing interests, and therefore country clashes are ‘inevitable’. Many international relations scholars claim that these characteristics of states are responsible for all international conflict. The idea that World War I was caused by competing national interests, rather than by any single country (Germany or otherwise), is generally a more objective and post-revisionist idea. Germany is to blame, but so are all of the other parties involved. One could say that all shared roles in instigating the world’s first devastating total war.

Abyssinia Alfieri, Dino Alsace Lorraine Altmark incident Altona riots Alvensleben, Werner von Amann, Max Anhalt, Anschlusssee Anti-Comintern Pact Zossen, Antonescu, General Ion Arab Freedom Movement, Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Vaterlandischen Kampfverbande Ardennes, Astakhov, Georgei, Attolico, Bernardo, Aust, Hermann, Kreditanstalt German Social Workers' Party, Social Democratic Party, Axmann, Artur, Babarin, Bachmann, Heinrich, Backe, Herbert, Prince Max Badogiio, Marshal Pietro, Baldwin, Stanley Barthou, Louis, Basch, Bauer Lerchenfeld Bechstein, Frau H61ene Beck, Colonel Jozef Beck, General Ludwig Below,ColonelClaus von, Berchthold, Joseph, Kapp Putsch Bernadotte, Count Folke Bessarabia, Best, Werner Biskupski, Bismarck, Prince Otto von Strasser, Black Reichswehr Blaha, Franz, Blitzkrieg Blomberg, Field-Marshal Werner Blum, L6on, Blumentritt, Giinther, Bock, Fedor von, Boldt, Gerhard Historikerstreit (historians’ debate) Franco, Francisco Franconia 178 Frank, Hans diary Frankfurt Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Bundestag Burt, Richard Calais California Cambodia 420 Canada 265 capitalism (capitalist) Catholicism (Catholic Church) Center Party Central America 106 Chamberlain, Houston Stewart correspondence with Wilhelm II 17–19; Foundations of the Nineteenth Century letter to Hitler The Ravings of a Renegade Chamberlain, Neville Chamfort, Sebastien 42 CHEKA 52, 221 Chelmo Chemnitz Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Christian Social Party 5, 8 Christian Social Union (CSU) 429–30 Christianity (Christian) Churchill, Winston “Church Struggle” 167–9 Ciano, Galeazzo, conte di Cortellazzo Civil Service Law (1933) Class, Heinrich 2, 20; If I Were the Kaiser Clausewitz, Karl von 9, 320 Cold War Cologne Colonial Society 20 Commissar Decree (1941) 277–9 communism (communist [see also German Communist Party]) Communist International (Comintern) Communist Manifesto 95 Compiègne 251, 259–60 concentration camps Concordat Confessing Church conservatism (conservative), in the German Empire Conservative Party 5 Conservative Revolution 75–6, 128, 170–1 Corsika 250 Cortez, Hernan 106 Courage project 437–8 Crimea 292, 379 Croatia 241, 348–9 Cromwell, Oliver 37 Cyclon B Cyrankiewicz, Josef Czechoslovakia D-Day (6 June 1944) 253, 310, 429 Dachau 124, 144–6, 205, 372, 401 Dada movement 68 Dakar Dalmatia 241 Damascus 213 Danzig (Gdansk) Darwin, Charles 74 de Gaulle, Charles 409 democracy (democrat) denazification xxix, 380, 391–3, 396–7 Denazification Commissions 391–4 denazification courts 393 Denmark Dibelius, Otto 167 Diels, Rudolf 132–4, 138 Dinkelbach, Heinrich 393 Disraeli, Benjamin 38 Dnieper 267 Dönhoff, Marion von 313; Names That Nobody Knows Anymore 313–18 Dönitz, Admiral Karl 318, 320, 386–7 Dortmund 137 Dover 34 Dregger, Alfred 430, 432 Dresden 97, 437 Dubno 357–8 Düsseldorf 103 Dunkirk East Germany (see also German Democratic Republic)East Prussia 313–17, 325 Eastern Europe Eastern territories (occupied Soviet Union) Ebermayer, Erich 140–41 Ebert, Friedrich Eckart, Dietrich 50 Economic Council (1948) 394 Edda 414 Editorial Law (1933) 162–6 Egypt xxviii, 253, 280, 295 Eichmann, Adolf Einsatzkommando (see SS) Eisenhower, General Dwight D. 321 El Alamein xxviii, 253, 295 Elbe River 318, 321 Enabling Act (1933) Engadine 361–2 Engels, Friedrich 95, 421 England (see Britain) Erlangen 419 Erzberger, Matthias 67, 69 Esterwege 205 Estonia 247, 348 Ethiopia 191 eugenics Eugenic Sterilization Law (1933) 331 Europe (European) European Defense Community 401 European Union 399 euthanasia xxix, 70, 154, 329, 331–7, 345 Evangelical Church (see Protestantism and Reich Evangelical Church) Far East 215, 282, 292, 407 fascism (fascist) Fascist Party (Italy) 229, 240, 249, 270 Fassbinder, Rainer Werner 421 Feder, Gottfried Federal Agency for Internal Security 434–5 Federal Border Guards 436 Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation 436 Federal Constitutional Court xxiii, 435 Federal Ministry of the Interior 434; “Right-Wing Acts of Violence, 1992” 434–6 Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) xxx, 379–82, 396–7, Adenauer, Konrad 380, 393–4, 396, 400–1, 412; address to CDU (1952) 400–1; “Hope for Europe” 394–6; speech to Bundestag (1949) Afghanistan 415 Africa Africa Corps xxviii, 253, 295 African-American 438 Agrarian League “Aktion “Aktion Reinhardt” (see “Operation Reinhardt”) “Aktion T-4” (see T-4 program) Albania 243, 279, 348 Alexandria xxviii Algeria 253 Allied Control Council 283–4 Allied High Commission Alps 250 Alsace 13, 261–3, 312 America (see United States) America First Committee 273 Amsterdam Federation of Trade Unions 95 Anschluss 58, 146, 192, 359 anti-capitalism 63, 66, 103 Anti-Comintern Pact (1936) 191, 202–3 anti-communism anti-Semitism (anti-Semite) in the Third Reichin the Weimar Republic 88, 92, 103 Anti-Socialist Law (1878) 5, 20, 23–4 anti-Zionism 404 Antwerp 31, 33 appeasement Arab states 407 Archangelsk 275 Ardennes Forest 258, 313 Argentina 273 aristocracy 79, 93, 313 Aristotle 306 Arlington National Cemetery 415 Armenia 416 Aryanism (Aryan [see also Nordic]) “Aryanization” xxvi, 192, 222 Asia (Asian) 416–17, 419, 421, 434 Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal) 243 Atlantic Charter (1941) 398 Atlantic Ocean 252–3, 273, 288, 413, 422 Auerbach, Berthold 14 Augustus 414 Auschwitz-Birkenau Auschwitz Law (1985) 432 Auschwitz-Monowitz 371 Ausländerfeindlichkeit (hostility to foreigners) (see also xenophobia) 381, 433, 436 Australia Austria (Austria-Hungary) Austro-Prussian War (1866) 9 Axis Powers BBC 401 Babeuf, Gracchus Bad Harzburg 98–9 Baden 110, 157 Baeck, Leo 402 Baku Balearic Isles 217 Balkan states 240–1, 243, 267, 279, 395 Baltic Sea 267, 275, 316 Baltic states Bamberger, Ludwig 22–3 Barmen Declaration (1934) 167–9 Baruch, Bernard 339 Basel 95 Basic Law (see West German constitution) Battle of the Bulge (1944) 313, 321 Bautzen 402 Bavaria Bayreuth Bayreuther Blätter 2 Beachy Head 268 Bebel, August 23 Beck, General Ludwig 192, 219–21, 311 Beethoven, Ludwig van 179, 327 Begov, Lucie 375; Through My Eyes 375–8 Belarus (White Russia) Belfort Belgium (Belgian) Belzec Benelux countries xxvii, 399 Berchtesgaden (see Obersalzberg) Bergen-Belsen 401–4 Berlin xxv, Berlin Wall Bernhardi, Friedrich von 26; Germany and the Next War Bertram Cardinal Adolf 333 Besserabia 248, 348 Bethmann-Hollweg, Theobald von “September Program” 2, 32–3 Bialystok 348 Binding, Karl 70–73 Bismarck, Otto Bitburg 381, 411, 415, 424, 429 Black Reichswehr blitzkrieg xxvii, 251 Blomberg, General Werner von Bodenschatz, General Karl Heinrich 231 Boer War 309 Bohemia (see also Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia) 107 Bolshevism (Bolshevik Bonn 394, 399, 407, 422, 424, 432 Bordeaux 259, 262 Bormann, Martin 236, 386; letter to Alfred Rosenberg 237–40 Bose, Herbert von 170 Bouhler, Philipp 331–2 Boulogne 32–3 Bourbon 41 Boveri, Margaret 433 Bozen 312 Bracher, Karl Dietrich 426 Bracht, Fritz 137–8 Brandt, Dr. Karl 331–2 Brandt, Willy 380, 408; “Kneeling in Warsaw” Brauchitsch, Field Marshal Walther von Braun, Otto 99 Brazil 273 Bremen Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of 43, 52 Britain (England, English) “Battle of Britain” British Channel 268; British Empire Broszat, Martin 422, 431 “Brown Book” 391 Brüning, Heinrich Buchenwald Buchheim, Hans 427 Budapest 325 Buddha 107 Bürckel, Josef 221 Bug River 281 Bulgaria Feldherrnhalle 416 Fest, Joachim 416 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb 34, 50 Final Solution Fischer, Fritz 26, 32–3 Flanders 259 Flossenbürg 144 Foch, Marshal Ferdinand 260, 262 Folkstone Four-Year Plan 421, 425 Frederick the Great Frederick William I 115 Free Corps 45–7, 66 Free Democratic Party (FDP) 401 “Freedom Party” (Austria) 436 freemasonry 194–5, 206 Freiburg 265 Freisler, Roland 346 French Revolution 11, 196, 337 Frick, Wilhelm Friedeburg, Admiral Hans-Georg von 322 Friedländer, Saul 420 Fritsch, General Werner von Fritzsche, Hans 386 Fronde 96 Fulda Bishops’ Conference 333 “fulfillment policy” 77 Funk, Walther GPU (see NKVD) Galen, Bishop Clemens von 332 Galicia 362–3 Gebsattel, Konstantin von 28–30 Gehlen, Arnold 420 General German Trade Union Federation (ADGB) 153, 437 General Government (Gemeralgouvernement in occupied Poland) General Salaried Employees Federation (AFA), 153 Genetic Health Court 154–5 Geneva Conventions Geneva Disarmament Conference German Air Force (Luftwaffe) “German Alternative” 435 German Army (Reichswehr, Wehrmacht) German Christians 124, 167–8, 207, 238 German Communist Party (KPD) German Democratic Party (DDP) 401 German Democratic Republic (GDR) German Empire (German Reich German Faith Movement 207 German Fatherland Party 2, 43–4, 66 German General Staff German High Command, in the First World War 2, 43, 45; in the Second World War (OKW) German idealism German Labor Front (DAF) 124, 152, 308 German League 20 German Nationalist Party (DNVP) German Navy 289, 320–1, 387 German People’s Party (DVP) German reunification (1990) “German Revolution” 75, 77–8, 138, 170–2 “German Socialism” 87, 128 German–Soviet Treaty (1926) 247 German surrender (1945) German Women’s Organization (Deutsches Frauenwerk) German Workers’ Party (see National Socialism) Germanization 36, 129, 270–2, 330 Gerstein, Kurt 330, 352, 354; Gerstein report Gervinus, Georg Gottfried 423 Gestapo (Secret State Police) Giesler, Paul 320 Gladstone, William E. 38 Gleichschaltung Globocnik, Odilo 352, 354–5 Glücks, Richard 371, 373 Gobineau, Arthur Comte de 11, 22, 29 Goebbels, Joseph diary 118–22, 289–93; Sportspalast speech (1943) Goerdeler, Carl Friedrich 311–12 Goering, Reich Marshal Hermann Hermann Goering Works 195; Reconstruction of a Nation Goethe, Johann Wofgang von 34, 39, 73, 403 Goldap 314 Goldmann, Nachum 402–3 Gomulka, Wladyslav Gorbachev, Mikhail 431 Government General (see General Government) “Government of National Concentration” Graebe, Hermann Friedrich 357; affidavit Graf, Willi 303–4 Grafeneck 354 Great Depression Great Inflation (1923) 46, 82, 228 Greece (Greek) Greenland Grosz, George 69–70; A Little Yes and a Big No, 69–70 Grotewohl, Otto 404; address at Buchenwald (1958) 404–8 Grundig, Hans 97 Grundig, Lea Langer “Visions and History 97–8 Günther, Rolf Gürtner, Franz 127, 135, 155, 173, 190, 332 Gulag Archipelago xxx, 417, 420–1 Gypsies Haag, Alfred 146 Haag, Lina 146; A Handful of Dust 146–9 Habermas, Jürgen 418, 425; “A Kind of Damage Control” 419–24 Hadamar 332–3, 354 Haffner, Sebastian 416 Haider, Jörg Halder, General Franz 231, 258, 266, 276, 281; War Diaries Halifax, Edward F. L. W. 257, 266 Hamburg 322–4, 326–8, 357 Hamburg Institute for Social Research 286 Hammerstein-Equord, General Kurt von 128 Hampton Roads Hanfstaengl, Ernst Franz (“Putzi”) 178 Hanke, Karl 320 Hanko 275 Hanseatic League Harvard University 178 Harzburg Front 99, 102, 116 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 34 Hehn, Viktor 12 Heidegger, Martin 420 Heidelberg 412 Helldorf, Wolf Heinrich von 120 Henderson, Neville 257 Herder, Johann Gottfried von 12, 13, 15 Hess, Rudolf Heuss, Theodor 401, 404; address at Bergen-Belsen 401–4 Heydrich, Reinhard Hierl, Konstantin 205 Hildebrand, Klaus 419, 422, 425, 428 Hilfrich, Bishop Antonius 332; letter to Reich Minister of Justice 332–3 Hillgruber, Andreas Two Kinds of Collapse 419, 425 Himmler, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich ; on the concentration camps (1937) 205–7; on the destruction of the Jews (1943) Hindenburg, Field Marshal Paul von “Political Testament” Hirsch, Otto Historische Zeitschrift 419, 425 Hitler, Adolf Political Testament 253, 318–21; preparations for war against Poland 231–6; speech on anniversary of Putsch (1942) 295–7; speech to Industry Club (1932) 102–13, 129; in the Second World War speech to Reichstag (January 1939) 227–9; speech to Reichstag (September 1939) 253–7; speech to Reichstag (July 1940) 263–6; speech to Wehrmacht leaders (1939) Hitler Youth Hoche, Alfred 70–3 Hoepner, General Erich 390 Höss, Rudolf 371; Auschwitz testimony Hohenzollern dynasty 18, 34, 174, 180 Holland (Netherlands, Dutch) Holocaust Holy Roman Empire 75–6 homosexuality 329 Horst Wessel Song 263 Hossbach, Friedrich von 213, 231; Hossbach Memorandum 213–18, 231 Hoyerswerda 436 Huber, Kurt 304 Hugenberg, Alfred 98–9, 125, 127, 131–2 Humboldt, Wilhelm von Hungary Huntziger, General Charles I.G. Farben AG 195 Iceland Incorporated Eastern Territories (occupied Poland) Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) India (Indian) 106, 215, 243, 292, 438 Indochina 283, 398 Industrial Revolution 417, 428 Industry Club Inn River 361 Innsbruck 360 Institute for the Exploration of the Jewish Question 337 International Military Tribunal Nuremberg Trials) Ireland 215, 243, 348 Iron Curtain xxx Islam (Muslim) 243 isolationism 272–3 Israel 97, 380, 400–1, 420 Italy (Italian) Jäckel, Eberhard 427 Japan Jaspers, Karl 412 Jehovah’s Witnesses 146, 329 Jerusalem Jewish Combat Organization 363 Jews (Judaism, Jewishness) Jodl, General Alfred 192, 276, 284–5, 386 Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067 382–4 July 20 plot Jung, Edgar Die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen 170 Jutland, Battle of (1915) Kahr, Gustav von 85–6, 172 Kaiser, Hermann 312 Kaiser, Jakob 393 Kaiserhof Kaltenbrunner, Ernst 371, 386 Kamenev, Lev Borisovich 51 Kant, Immanuel Kapp, Wolfgang 43, 66–8; Kapp Putsch Karlshorst 121 Kattowitz 359, 361 Katyn 369, 386 Kauffmann, Kurt Keitel, General Wilhelm Kerensky, Alexander 51–2 Kerrl, Hanns 237–9 Kiaochow Kiel 47–8 Kiev 267, 284 Kinderlandesverschickung (KLV) (Children’s evacuation program) 324 Kipling, Rudyard 39 Kirdorf, Emil 130 Klausener, Erich Koch, Erich 344 Kocka, Jürgen 422 Königsberg 314, 316 Körner, Theodor 303 Kohl, Helmut Kollontai, Alexandra Kosovo xxiii Krakow 343, 364, 368 Kremlin 289 Kronstadt 51 Krosigk, Schwerin von 127, 143, 151–2 Kulaks 420 Kurdistan 416 Kurfürstendamm 83 Kursk, Battle of Labor Party (Britain) 282 Labrador 273 Länderrat 394 Lake Ladoga 284 Lamarck, Jean Baptiste de 74 Lammers, Hans Heinrich 205, 219 Landsberg 86; prison Lange, Herbert 346 Lanzmann, Claude 421 Lasker, Eduard 22–3 Latvia 247, 346, 348 Law to Combat Unemployment (1933) 181 Law for National Labor Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor (1935) Law to Secure the Unity of Party and State (1933) League of German Girls (BDM) League of Nations League for the Rights of Man 152 Lebensborn Lebensraum (living space) Leipzig 311, 437–8 Lenin, Vladimir I. 51–2, 107, 432 Leningrad Lenz, Fritz 71, 74–5 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim 403 Ley, Robert 122, 124, 152–3, 302, 308, 386 liberalism (liberal) Lichtenberg, Bernhard 332 Lichtenburg 146, 148, 206 Liebknecht, Karl 43, 69 Liège Limburg 332–3 Lindbergh, Charles A. 273 Lindner, Herbert 355 Lithuania 242, 246–8 Litvinov, Maxim 245–6 Locarno Treaty (1925) 193 Lodz 330 Loew, Elfriede 359; “The Story of My Escape” 360–3 Lohse, Heinrich 344 London Lorenz, Konrad 420 Lorraine Lossow, Otto von 87 Louis, Joe 291 Louisiana 178 Lower Saxony 318 Lubjanka 416 Lublin 330, 354–5, 364–5, 367 Ludendorff, General Erich Luftwaffe (see German Air Force) Luther, Martin Lüttwitz, General Walther von 66, 128 Lutze, Viktor 180 Luxembourg 30, 32–3, 89, 251, 258, 396, 400 Luxemburg, Rosa 43, 69 Lwów Mackensen, Hans Georg von 287 Madagascar 329, 337; “Madagascar Plan” 337 Maginot Line 217, 244, 258 Majdanek 330, 354 Malta Manchuria 202 Manila 289 Mannesman AG 393 Mannheim 325 Manstein, General Erich von 391 Marburg University 125, 169, 354, 357 Marne, Battle of Marshall Plan 393 Marx, Karl 74, 93, 95, 131, 421 Marx, Wilhelm 142 Marxism (Marxist) Mason, Tim 426 Masonic Lodge (see freemasonry) Matsuoka, Yosuke 283 Maurras, Charles 421 Mauthausen 144, 146, 402, 409 Max Planck Institute 422 Max von Baden, Prince 45, 48 Mecklenburg 318 Mediterranean Meissner, Otto 70 Memel 242 Meran 312 Meyerbeer, Giacomo 2 Middle Ages 130, 364 Middle East 243 Milch, General Erhard 231 Mischling 345, 350–2 Mitteleuropa 32–3 Mittelstand 65, 126 Moeller van den Bruck, Arthur 75–6; The Third Reich 75–82 Molotov, Vyacheslav 246, 248, 255 Moltke, General Helmuth von (1848–1916) Mommsen, Hans 421, 424; “Reappraisal and Repression” 424–33 Mommsen, Theodor 103 Mommsen, Wolfgang 421 monarchism (monarchist) Mongolia 104 Montgomery, General Bernard xxviii Morgenthau Plan Morocco 21, 253 Moscow Battle of Moscow Treaty (1970) 409 Müller, Heinrich 222–4, 346 Müller, Hermann 63 Müller, Ludwig Müller-Zadow, Emilie 181; Mothers Who Give Us the Future Münster 332 Munich University of 303 Munich Agreements (1938) Museum of German History 422, 430, 432 Museum for the History of the Federal Republic 422, 432 Mushakoji, Kintomo 203 Mussolini, Benito NATO xxx, 404, 407, 411–12, 421, 423 NKVD (GPU) 221, 276 Napoleon Bonaparte Narev River 246–7 National Democratic Party (NPD) “National Offensive” 435 “National Opposition” 98–9, 102 National Socialism (National Socialist, Nazi Party, NSDAP) ideological roots party program relationship with churches 236–40; in the Third Reich in the Weimar Republic 7 in the Second World War National Socialist Factory Cell Organization (NSBO) National Socialist Women’s Organization nationalism (nationalist) in the German Empire in the Weimar Republic "Nationalist Front” 435 Nationalist Party (see German Nationalist Party) nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (NAPOLA) Naval League 20 Naval Treaty with Britain (1935) 231 Nazi–Soviet Non-Aggression Pact (1939) Near East xxvii, 338, 407 Negro 93, 104 Neisse River 380, 398, 408–9 Nemmersdorf 314 neo-conservatism neo-fascism 429, 433 neo-Nazism “Nero Command” (1945) 319, 416 Netz, Berta 334; court testimony, 334–7 Neues Deutschland 391 Neurath, Konstantin von 218, 386 “New Cold War” 381, 418 “new left” 381 “new nationalism” (see neo-conservatism) “New Order” xxviii, 269, 290, 292, 329 “new right” 381, 413 New Testament 403 Newfoundland 273 Niemöller, Martin 167 Nietzsche, Friedrich 34 “Night and Fog Decree” 389 “night of the long knives” (see Roehm Purge) Nihilism 5 Nikolajew 294 Nolte, Ernst “Between Myth and Revisionism” 420; The European Civil War 413; “The Past That Will Not Pass” 414–18; Three Faces of Fascism Non-Aggression Pact with Poland (1934) 231 non-fraternization policy 382 Nordic states (see Scandinavia) Nordicism (Nordic) Norfolk, VA 273 Normandy 310–11, 313 North America 106 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (see NATO) North-German Confederation 2 Norway 33, 251, 258, 275, 294, 348, 403 “November criminals” 86 November Pogrom (1938) xxvi, 192, 222–7 November Revolution (1918) Nuremberg xxix, 177, 327 Nuremberg Laws (1935) Nuremberg rallies 125, 177–81, 195, 300 Nuremberg Trials Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) Oberkommando der Marine (OKM) Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) Obersalzberg 134, 192 Obrawalde 334–7 occupation zones Oder River 318, 380, 398, 408–9 Odessa 267 Ohlendorf, Otto Old Testament 229, 403 “Operation Barbarossa” (1941) “Operation Reinhardt” (1942–1943), “Operation Sea Lion” (1940) 266 Oranienburg 205, 401 Ordensburg 384 Order Police 223–4, 343, 357 Orwell, George 416–17 Oshima, General Hiroshi 292 Ostmark (see Austria) Ostpolitik 380, 408 Oswiecim (see Auschwitz) Ottoman Sultanate Pacelli, Eugenio (see Pius XII) Pacific Ocean 51, 273, 287, 289, 291 Pact of Steel (1939) 231, 269 Palestine xxix, 21, 97, 337–8 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) 420 Pan-German League Papen, Franz von Marburg speech Paris 258–60, 405 Paris Commune 5 Parliamentary Council (1948–1949) 394 Paulus, General Friedrich 282, 286 Pearl Harbor xxviii, 252, 273, 287–8, 345 People’s Party (Austria) 437 Persia 94 Pétain, Marshal Henri Philippe “Phony War” (1939–1940) Pieck, Wilhelm 392 Pirmasens Pius XI, Pope 156–7, 191; “With Burning Anxiety” (1937) Pius XII, Pope 156–7, 160–61 Pizarro, Gonzalo 106 Plessner, Helmut 420 Pohl, Oswald Pol Pot 420 Poland (Pole) invasion of 253–8; Polish Corridor Pomerania 216, 316, 318 Popular Front 191, 202, 412 Portsmouth 268 Portugal Potsdam 34, 140, 379; Day of 123, 140–1; Potsdam Agreement (1945) Poznán (Posen) Prague 231, 354, 405 Pravda 53 Prenzlau Probst, Christoph 303–4 Progressive Party 1 proletariat (proletarian) 110–11, 114, 427 Protagoras 79 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Protestantism (Protestant church) Protocols of the Elders of Zion 45 Prussia (Prussian) “Prussian Socialism” (see “German Socialism”) prussic acid (see Cyclon B) Race and Settlement Main Office racial hygiene movement radical left 381, 397–8, 413, 427 radical right Raeder, Admiral Erich Ramsgate 268 Rath, Ernst von 223 Ravensbrück 144, 402 Reagan, Ronald rearmament rearmament Recklinghausen 394 Red Army Red Cross 306 Reich Armaments Council 393 Reich Association of the German Press 165 Reich Cabinet 214, 380, 386, 427, 432 Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration 347 Reich Chamber of Culture 162 Reich Chamber of Fine Arts 162 Reich Chancellery Reich Citizenship Law (1935) 186–9 Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Ethnicity 270–1 Reich Economic Chamber 393 Reich Evangelical Church 124, 168–9 Reich Flag Law (1935) 186–7 Reich Industrial Chamber 393 Reich Labor Service Corps (RAD) 179–80 Reich Ministry for Church Affairs Reich Ministry of Economics 125, 225, 330 Reich Ministry of Education 237 Reich Ministry of Finance 143, 152, 225, 344 Reich Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reich Ministry of the Interior 125, 135, 143, Reich Ministry of Justice Reich Ministry for Occupied Eastern Territories 293–4, 330, 337, 346, 416 Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda 162–6, 297, 386 Reich Ministry of War (see German High Command) Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War 297 Reich Press Chamber 162 Reich Representation of German Jews 402 Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) Reich War Flag 437 Reichenau, Field Marshal Walter von Reichkommissariat Ostland 344, 346 Reichkommissareat Ukraine Reichsbank 83, 99, 116–17, 196 Reichsbanner 145, 152 Reichskristallnacht (see November Pogrom) Reichsrat (Reich Council) 58, 61, 142 Reichstag in the Third Reich in the Weimar Republic 94, 98, 114–18, 121–3; Reichstag Fire (1933) Reichswehr (see German Army) Reinhardt, Fritz 344 Renan, Ernest 13 Reparation Commission 57–8 reparations 77, 82, 98, 103, 116; after the Second World War 379, 382–3 Republicans (Republikaner) 433 revisionism 413, 418, 420–3, 425, 429, 433 Revolution of 1848 Rheims 321 Rhenish Steel Works 393 Rhine River 56, 191, 327 Rhineland Ribbentrop, Joachim von Rich, Norman 219 Riefenstahl, Leni, Triumph of the Will 177 Riga Ritter, Joachim 419 Roehm, Ernst Roehm Purge (1934) Romania 192, 275, 279, 348–9 Rome (Roman) Roman law 65; Roman Empire 103, 177, 215 Römerberg Conference 421 Rommel, Field Marshal Erwin teletype to Hitler 310–11 Roosevelt, President Franklin D. 193, Rosenberg, Alfred on the “World Jewish Problem” 337–9 Rostock Rousseau, Jean Jacques 74, 403 Rübenach, Eltz von 127 Ruhr 20, 46, 233–4, 379; occupation (1923) Rundstedt, General Gerd von 390 Russia (Russian) Russo-Finnish War (see Winter War) Russian Revolution Ruthenia SS (Schutzstaffel) Death’s Head Units 205–6; Einsatz- kommando (Einsatzgruppe) Saar 54, 125, 191, 319 Sachsenburg 206 Sachsenhausen 124, 144, 205, 322, 372 Saint-Germain, Treaty of 64 Saint Petersburg (see also Leningrad) San River 247 Sardinia 348 Sauckel, Fritz 302, 386 Saxony xxv, 110, 113, 437–8 Scandinavia 244, 258, 350, 399, 414 Schacht, Hjalmar Scharnhorst, Gerhard Ludwig David von 41 Scheldt 33 Schellenberg, Walter 390 Scheubner-Richter, Max Erwin von 86, 416 Schiller, Friedrich 34, 317, 403 Schirach, Baldur von 386 Schleicher, General Kurt von Schleswig-Holstein 48 Schlieffen, Field Marshal Alfred von 30 Schlieffen Plan, 2, 30–2 Schmeling, Max 291 Schmid, Carlo 410 Schmorell, Alexander 303–4 Schmundt, Rudolf 231 Scholl, Hans 303–4 Scholl, Sophie 303–4 Scholtz-Klink, Gertrud 147, 185 Schopenhauer, Arthur 34 Schumacher, Kurt 393, 412 Schweitzer, Albert 403 “Second Revolution” 125, 169, 171, 177 Second World War Security Police (SIPO) Security Service (see SD) Seeckt, General Hans von xxv, 131 Seisser, Hans von 87 Seldte, Franz 99, 127 Serbia 30, 348 Seven Years’ War 256 Severing, Carl 137 Seyss-Inquart, Arthur 386 Shirer, William Berlin Diary, 177–81; 260–3, 272–4 Shoah (see also Holocaust) 415, 421 Showa Tenno Hirohito 270, 290 Siberia Siegfried 174 Siemens AG 393 Silesia 215–16, 320, 373 Singapore 292 skinheads 381, 434, 437 Slavs Slovakia 192, 348–9 Sobibor Social Darwinism 70, 299, 329 social democracy (social democrat) Social Democracy (Social Democratic Party, SPD), after 1945 in the German Empire “Social Fascism” 111 socialism (socialist) Socialist International (Second International) Socialist Unity Party (SED) xxx, 391–2 Sombart, Werner 29; Händler und Helden Sonderkommando (see SS) Sonderweg 410, 412 Sophists 79 Sorge, Richard 282 South America 106, 273–4, 396 Soviet Union (see also Russia) Spain Spanish Civil War 202,  Spartacus Uprising 69 Speer, Albert 195, 302, 319, 386, 416 Spengler, Oswald Spiegel xxiii Spinoza, Baruch 14 Stahlhelm 99 Stalin, Joseph Stalin Note (1952) 412 Stalingrad Staud, Toralf 437; “On a Visit to Schools in Saxony” Stauffenberg, Colonel Claus von 253, 311–12 sterilization (see also eugenics) Stinnes, Hugo 83 Stockholm 52, 410 Stoecker, Adolf 1, 5 Stralsund 335 Strasser, Gregor draft program (1925) 88–92 Streicher, Julius 143–4, 178, 386 Stresemann, Gustav 82, 113, 142 Stroop, Jürgen 363; Stroop Report Stülpnagel, General Carl Heinrich von 260 Stürmer, Michael “History in a Land Without History” Stumpff, General Hans-Jürgen 322 Stuttgart 66, 95 Sudetenland Suez (Suez Canal) 34 Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (see German High Command) Supreme Command of the Army swastika Sweden 33, 198, 251, 258, 275, 348, 354, 408 Switzerland T-4 program (see also euthanasia) Tarnopol Tel Aviv 420 Tendenzwende  Thälmann, Ernst 405 Thatcher, Margaret 411, 418 Theresienstadt 326, 349, 402 Third Empire Thirty Years’ War 103–4, 317 Thuringia xxv, 118, 121 Tirpitz, Admiral Alfred von Tojo, General Hideki 290–2 Tokyo  Torgau 206, 321, 402 totalitarianism (totalitarian) totalitarianism theory Trans-Caucasia 294 Trans-Siberian Railroad 283 Treblinka Treitschke, Heinrich von 1, 8–9, 22; “The Aim of the State” 9–10 Treptow 335 Tresckow, General Henning von testament 312–13 Tripartite Pact (Three-Power Pact 1940) Triple Alliance 27 Troeltsch, Ernst 40; “The Spirit of German Culture” 40–3 Trotsky, Leon  Tunisia 250 Turkestan 294 Turkey (Turk) Tyrol USSR (see Soviet Union) Uffing 86 Ukraine (Ukrainian) Ulbricht, Walter on the Denazification Commissions ultramontanism (see also Catholicism) Union of South Africa 243 United Kingdom (see Britain) United Nations United States (American) US Congress US Military Government in Germany United Steel Works 393 Ural Mountains V2 rocket 325 Vatican (Holy See) Verdun 170, 259 Vergangenheitsbewältigung 381, 415 Versailles 141; Treaty of Verviers 32 Vichy Vienna Vietnam (Vietnamese) 434 Vietnam War  Vilna 247 Vistula River (Weichsel)  Vladivostok 107, 283 Völkisch movement Völkischer Beobachter Volga River Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community) Volksgerichtshof (People’s Court) 304, 310–11 Volksturm Wagner, Adolf 179 Wagner, Josef 221 Wagner, Richard “Judaism in Music” 1–4; Die Meistersinger 177 Waldheim 402 Wall Street 393 Wannsee Conference (1942) minutes 346–52 Warlimont, General Walter 231, 276–7 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 410 Warsaw Treaty (1970) 409 Warsaw Uprising (1944) 410 Warthegau (see Incorporated Eastern Territories) Weber, Friedrich 86 Wehler, Hans-Ulrich 423 Wehrmacht (see German Army) Weilheim, 360 Weimar Weimar Constitution Weimar National Assembly Weimar Republic Weizmann, Chaim 420 Weizsäcker, Ernst von 282 West German constitution West Germany (see also Federal Republic of Germany) 391–4 West Wall (Siegfried Line) 233 Western Europe Westphalia 318 “The White Rose” 253, 303; leaflets 303–7 White Russia (see Belarus) White Sea 267 Wiedergutmachung (restitution) 400–1 Wiener Library, London 359 Wiesbaden 333, 358–9 Wilhelm II Wilson, Woodrow 53, 296 “Winter War” (1940–41) 251, 267 Wirth, Christian 352, 354–7 Witzleben, Erwin von 393 Witzleben, Wolf-Dietrich von Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) 311 Wolthynien 272 Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council 48 World Jewish Congress  World War I (see First World War) World War II (see Second World War) Württemberg Wurzen xenophobia (see also Ausländerfeindlichkeit) Yalta 379; Yalta Conference (1945) yellow star 340–1 Yugoslavia (Yugoslav) Zangen, Wilhelm 393 Zeit (Die Zeit) Zhukov, General Giorgiy 321 Zinoviev, Grigoriy 51 Zionism 337–8, 368, 420 Zuider Sea Zurich 362 Zweig, Stefan The World of Yesterday