German Aggression Was Responsible for the Outbreak of a General European War in August 1914.’ How Far Do You Agree with This Judgment?

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‘German aggression was responsible for the outbreak of a general European war in August 1914.’ How far do you agree with this judgment? Whether German aggression was responsible for the outbreak of a European war in August 1914 is one that is widely debated by historians up till today. Many historians, for example Fischer, agree, as sources 1 and 2 will show. Others, however, suggest that the Germans’ actions can be seen as a form of defense against the rest of Europe – the arms race with Britain, for example - as talked about in source 3, due to the fact that they felt encircled and only had one ally. In this essay I will argue both sides of this argument using sources to back up my points, however ever maintaining the fact I agree. German aggression can be seen as being responsible for the outbreak of a General European war due to the Schlieffen plan. This plan devised by General von Schlieffen would give Germany the option of fighting a war on two fronts with the French and the Russians. Both sources 1 and 2 agree that this plan was aggressive and therefore agree with the statement herein. Source 1 state’s that ‘as early as 1906, Germany had in place a plan for an aggressive war.’ Suggesting that the plan was put in place to start a war when the time was right. Source 2 says, in agreement, that ‘as a reaction to the German war plan’ the French told the Russians to start mobilizing. This suggests that the Schlieffen plan pushed for war and also suggests that the French were being aggressive. Furthermore, this shows how the French - amongst other countries - had ‘confidence in victory’ as said in source 2. Many historians like Fischer, who’s also mentioned in source 1, believe, that if the Schlieffen plan was not aggressive then why would a war plan need to be devised in a time of peace? Other historians, however, argue that in fact the Schlieffen plan was a
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