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To what extent was Germany responsible for WWI

Info: 1333 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 30th Jul 2018 in History

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Germany was significantly responsible for the outbreak of World War One in 1914. It began in 1870, where France declared war on Prussia, unifying Germany, which led to the events that provoked the First World War. However they were other events that were responsible for the First World War that could not be blamed on Germany entirely.

The road leading to World War One began in 1870, which was the year of the Franco-Prussian War. This War led to the unification of a powerful and dynamic Germany, which threatened, to many great powers, as an unbalance of power in Europe. France was defeated, humiliated and isolated in this war, resulting in Germany obtaining French territory of Alsace-Lorraine. This alone already created tensions between France and Germany, as it was a bitter blow to the French. France was determined to acquire Alsace-Lorraine back (revanchism), and even created an offensive plan, the Plan XVII created by Joffre in 1913, which eventually never came to use due to it neither being financially nor militarily supported. France could not afford another war, yet were still irritated by this defeat, creating great tensions between Germany and France, which may have provoked the First World War.

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Otto von Bismarck was the chancellor of Germany, whose intentions were to establish as many allies as possible, however after his resignation in 1890(due to Kaiser Wilhelm II) his plans were destroyed and the political status of Germany deteriorated, which meant the downfall of peace. Germany did not renew the reinsurance policy with Russia, resulting in Russia feeling isolated. The Dual-Alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary made the Russians feel threatened, and as a response they joined a Rival-Alliance with France. This put Germany in a position of threatening peace in Europe, which may have provoked the First World War. In the late 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm the second was certain to enforce his new policy ‘Weltpolitik’ which was a foreign policy of colonial expansion and imperialism. He selected a range of ministers to support his risk-posing policy. Tirpitz, who was one of these ministers, was known to be very aggressive, thus because he tried to enforce naval expansion. In 1894, he passed a naval law that was to double the size of the navy; soon after he suggested that the navy should be quadrupled. This created tension between Germany and Britain, thus because of the ‘Naval Race’ of 1906-1912, which led to Britain being suspicious, provoking the First World War. Another minister, Alfred von Schlieffen, equipped Germany with an offensive war plan named ‘The Schlieffen Plan’. The plan called for Germany to concentrate about 90 percent of its forces against France at the beginning of a European war. This meant that only 10 percent of German forces were left as a defense against Russia, who, because it took them longer to mobilize, could be dealt with once Germany achieved a quick victory in the west. This plan called for suspicion in Europe, which may have provoked the First World War.

As Kaiser Wilhelm the second wanted to continue his ‘Weltpolitik’, he interfered with France in Morocco in 1911. This caused a series of tension around Europe. Germany, as promised, supported Morocco against France and sent a gunship named ‘The Panther’ to their aid and threatened war. This led to Britain feeling threatened and getting involved, thus because they had a naval base nearby. France and Britain rose up against Germany, and as soon as war was inevitable, Germany retreated its forces. The Other great powers of Europe were surprised that Germany would perform such an aggressive move, and this resulted in Germany losing its trust once and for all, provoking the First World War.

However, on the other hand, there were a few events that provoked the First World War, but could not be entirely blamed on Germany, for instance the Bosnian crisis of 1908 to 1909. As Austria was the only ally Germany had and did not want to lose, Germany was unwillingly forced into supporting Austria-Hungary to capture Bosnia-Herzegovina against Serbia. Yet other countries, specifically Russia did not agree with Germany’s limited options. They believed that Germany could have remained in a neutral position and leave all the quarrels to Austria, however Austria would not have been too fond about it, thus because they depended on Germany’s support. As a result Russia supported Serbia in taking Bosnia, yet Germany did not retreat forces until Russia retreated, creating tensions and unwillingly provoking the First World War. During these years there was a lot of nationalism, and due to the Alliance systems such as the Triple Entente, separatism existed in Europe. These can be seen as minor events that may have provoked the First World War.

All these events can be seen as the fuel of the First World War; however the initial spark began in 1914. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife took a trip to Sarajevo (Bosnia) on 28th of June 1914. (The 28th of June is a national holiday in Bosnia, meaning that security was limited.) Even though Franz Ferdinand was advised not to go on this trip, he insisted and ignored their claims, saying there was nothing to worry about. The first assassination began by a Serbian nationalist throwing a hand grenade towards the car, which was very vulnerable due to its opened top, however the assassination failed. A further attempt succeeded when the driver made a false turn, leading directly to the assassin. Franz and his wife were both shot, and died on their way to the hospital.

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Austria-Hungary did not take this as well, and instead of reaching an agreement it declared war on Serbia. Austria believed that war was necessary, thus because they wanted to expand, and they knew that Russia was weak and would not intervene if Germany supported them, giving Austria the opportunity. Germany ensured their support by creating the ‘Blank Cheque’, which stated that Germany would support Austria in no matter what they decide in doing. However things did not go as Austria Planned. As Austria declared War on Serbia, Russia declared war on Austria. This then created a chain reaction of other European Powers joining the war, the Central Powers (Germany and Austria) against the Allies. Germany as a response supported Austria, however as soon as the Russians came close to German boarders and would not retreat, Germany declared war on Russia. As a response to Russia mobilizing, France mobilized too, resulting in Germany declaring war on France. A European war begun, this meant that the ‘Schlieffen Plan’ would come in effect, as it did. Germany sent their troops as planned to France, however on their way infiltrated neutral Belgium. This immediately aroused Britain, as they could not allow Belgium to fall under German Power, which made Britain declare war on Germany. Other European Powers were drawn into the conflict, and eventually turned into a global war.

Germany was significantly responsible for the outbreak of World War One in 1914, she created a lot of tension between her and other Great Powers, such as in the Franco-Prussian War, ‘Weltpolitik’, imperialization of Morocco , ‘Schlieffen Plan’ and the Naval Race of 1906-19012. Also, Germany as well as Austria-Hungary preferred a war over a peaceful agreement, as quoted “This is going to be a quick and jolly war”. However other events such as the Bosnian crisis, where Germany unwillingly was led into supporting Austria, which other countries such as Russia did not see as well, was a forced event that led Germany into provocation of the First World War. Not to forget the main spark of the First World War; this was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914 by a Serbian nationalist, which led to Austria declaring war on Serbia. And due to the Alliance system, a chain reaction of war declarations occurred.


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