The First World War
The First World War
All of the sources give different impressions as to wether Germany’s leaders are responsibe for the outbreak of the First World War. Source 1 seems to strongly suggest that German leaders and the German Government did in fact push for the war with Hewitson blaming the Army and suggesting that Germany was looking for an opportunity to start war however he does not fully support the view that German leaders were responsible.Porter and Armour (Source 2) strongly supports this view by again pointing to the millitary and prime minister Bethmann Hollweg looking for an opportunity to wage war but again not fully placing the blame on Germany but looking at the threating actions of Russia and Britain. In contrast to both Source 1 and 2 Norman Stone ( Source 3) does not blame Germany, instead he suggest that the tension in Europe for the last decade finally reached an ultimatum in the July crisis and the war was the fault of all Great powers.
Mark Hewitson argument that ” German army and the government pushed for war before 1914 ” is reasonable and puts the blame on the German leaders, this view is also supported by ficher who said that Germany was making plans for annexation before the July crisis which suggest that Germany hoped to quickly win the war. It is also supported by the Council meeting in 1912 which held that it was Germany’s consious decision to wage war for its own gain. This view is supported by Porter and Armour ( source 2), they say ” Bethmann Hollweg government deliberatly provoked a diplomatic crisis which it knew might lead to war.” This strongly suggest that German leaders were actually responsible for the outbreak and the statement might be true, because if Hollweg knew that the war would be a certain victory, he would certainly be very pro-war, this due to him carrying about German wellfare which can be seen through certain reforms he passed, such as the 1911 imperial insurence code. Norman ( Source 3) does not fully accept the argument that the German army pushed for war, he instead says that the war was collectivly the fault of Great powers and “increasing hysteria since 1890 .”
Mark ( Source 1) argues that Germany was trying to make themselves seen as the ones that need to defend themselves, ” to undercut public opposition to war by casting Russia as the agressor”, this would give Germany an opportunity to wage war on Russia without other European powers being hostile to Germany. “Reich government was able to undercut public opposition”, with Russia being the agressor the German government hoped that nationalism would stop the public from opposing the war. Porter and Armour (soure 2) agrees with Mark “Anglo-Russian naval talks”, this would mean encirclement for Germany and in fact might show Germany as the country that only wants to defend itself. This could suggest that German leaders were not as responsible but the other countries such as Russia , France and Britain being aggressive and therefore Germany naturally being worried. Norman ( source 3) also agrees on the fact that it was the tension in Europe that led to war instead of German leaders decisions.
Mark ( Source 1) does come into a conclusion that not neccesserly ” German leaders planned war, but rather continued a policy of brinkmanship.” The contination of this policy however might be the decision that has caused some tension amongst majour European countries, the expansion of Germany might of have been seen as a threat towards other countries such as France which could suggest that German leaders were in fact responsible. Porter ( source 2) does suggest that Gernan leaders were responsible, ” civilian and millitary leaders were much influenced by a deep pessimism as to Germany’s survival if it did not act before it was too late.” This is of course talking about the Schlieffen Plan which is an agressive plan of sieging france to not fight a war on two fronts during the war. This contrasts with Mark ( source 1 ) who says that German leaders did not neccessary plan the war, Schlieffen Plan was created 1905, which suggest that German millitary leaders were thinking about planning the war way back before the tension in Europe was high. Norman ( source 3) does seem to disagree with source 1 as it says ” the situation in which the First World War did break out was forseen… for five years beforehand” this suggest that the politicians and leaders would of known about the possibilty of war, and therefore some planning would need to be done in case of the war.
In conclusion the German Leaders alone cant be responsible for the outbreak of war due to tense situation in Europe, triple entente being put in place which would encircle and therfore endanger Germany. However the sources suggest that to a large extent German leaders were contributing towards creating the tension in Europe by their dangerous policy, their army leaders who wanted to quickly start a war and go through Belgium to gain France which would cause Britain to enter the War with the hopes of Germany not having to fight on two fronts and also the contribution to making the relationship between Britain and Germany thorugh policies such as Weltpolitik or Flottenpolitik. Finally the situation in Germany ” nationalism and hysteria ” and also SDP meant that to bring the country together a war would be the only reasonable choice.