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

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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 judgement? The above judgement outlines a clear debate among historians as to whether German aggression was the main reason the First World War began in August 1914, or whether it was due to various other factors. Gordon Corrigan claims that it was due to German aggression and therefore represents the closest argument to the one made in the question. Corrigan also references Fischer to support his argument, and so supports the Fischer Theory, which holds Germany to be responsible for the outbreak of the First World War due to their aggressive foreign policy. Contrastingly, James Joll suggests that Germany’s defensive offensive war rooted from a fear of encirclement from the countries that it borders, and so presents the opinion most opposing to that of the question. L.F.C Turner’s opinion arises somewhere between the two other historians’ arguments, and states that Germany was aggressive during Europe’s last month of peace before war, but there were other factors that should be considered equally. On the one hand, it was German aggression that was responsible for the outbreak of a general European war in August 1914. One example of suggested German aggression can be seen in their long term foreign policy, ‘weltpolitik’ (world politics), which had been implemented in 1897. The aim of this foreign policy was to spread German influence throughout the world, the meaning of which is interpreted differently by different people. ‘Weltpolitik’ meant colonial expansion to the armed forces, and ‘Lebensraum’ (living space) throughout Europe to the Pan-German League. These promises made by ‘weltpolitik’ can easily be interpreted as aggressive, and this view is supported by Corrigan who says ‘At least as early as 1906, Germany had in place a plan for an
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