According to Ferro in his book 'The Great War' he suggests that England felt threatened by Germany due to the unprecedented economic strides the country made between 1880 and 1914, although Germany did not have a financial base on the same scale as Britain's economic power. In addition Germany's rising industrial base had overtaken Britain's, although Germany did have trading routes and links around the world as Britain had. Ferro goes on and talks about the rising force of the German naval force with the building of their version of the super-ship the Dreadnoughts. Furthermore Anglo-German rivalry became a public matter, orchestrated and fomented by press and cinema (Ferro, 1969). Critics agree that an arms race especially between Britain and Germany was created with the cost affecting both countries, the buildings of their naval fleet between the two countries is an example of
Source W seems to take the opposite approach deeming how Germany’s aggressive actions since the turn of the century resulted in war. Source X seems to take a neutral decision and admits how it is a matter of great controversy but points towards the fact that Germany had always wanted colonial expansion, and also that there is an array of information that supports this. Therefore, I believe that the outbreak of war in Europe was due to an aggressive foreign policy which had been waged from 1900. Source W suggests that aggressive Weltpolitik was a major contributing factor leading up to the start of the First World War. After seeing the successes of the British Empire, Kaiser Wilhelm decided that he too wanted an empire and wished for one that could match and outstrip Britain.
The fact that the September Programme detailed territories in Northern France, Belgium and buffer states between them and Russia (such as Poland) very much show that Germany’s expansionist aims would cause a general European war. Fischer also found later on in Riezler’s diary entries (Bethmann Hollweg’s advisor) the word ‘Kriegswilligkeit’ which translates to willingness for war appears on several occasions. Even Source 3 that argues for shared guilt still shows that German was still heavily involved, because although James Joll argues that von Tirpitz hoped Germany’s naval forces would be so strong that ‘no British government would risk going to war’, it doesn’t mention the War Council meeting of 1912. At this meeting von Tirpitz claimed that it
If Germany had not given Austria the blank cheque or the military backing in the first place Austria would have to have accepted Serbia’s amended ultimatum, but because Germany had pledged their undying support Austria was able to declare war on Serbia thus also dragging a precarious network of alliances with it. By 1900 Austrians were losing their grip on their multi ethnic empire. In response to the Serbians attempt to reduce Austro-Hungarian, Austria-Hungary adopted an aggressive foreign policy in order to reestablish its reign over the empire and crush Serbia’s aspirations. A now determined Austria Hungary continually provoked Serbia by addressing the Eastern Question
So did something go wrong in the handling of the crisis, or did one or more of the countries involved exploit the situation to plunge Europe into war? (The view that somehow Europe simply stumbled into World War 1 by accident is generally not accepted by historians). It is at this point that controversy begins. Austrian Response to the Assassination The Austrians delivered an ultimatum to Serbia that was almost guaranteed to be turned down by Serbia, but in the event Serbia accepted almost all the points. Austria then declared war on the grounds that it had not been accepted in its entirety.
The Alliances were made to protect the country when in war or whilst away and fighting. As you can see from the picture below the Triple Alliance were surrounded by the Triple Entente so they might have felt a cautious about an outside attack from the Triple Entente http://firstworldwar.olemarius.net/images/pics/map.gif The first official attack in the war was by Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia 28 July 1914 and bombarded Belgrade 29 July this was all triggered by the assaination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand by a member of the Black Hand. The making up of alliances and the order to protect the country they have made treaty with. If the assassin of Franz Ferdinand hadn’t of shot the duke and The Alliances had not been formed there may have only been a small war between Serbia and Austria-Hungry .
Why did Britain go to war in 1914? There are many reasons as to why Britain went to war with Germany, some being more important than others, more often the long term causes but were not helped by the triggers and short term causes such as the invasion of Belgium by Germany in 1914. This could be argued to be an excuse by the British to declare war on Germany but a reason nonetheless. Other short term factors such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were another trigger which may have caused an outbreak of war in 1914. It can be argued that had these short term factors not come about, the outbreak of war would have been avoided regardless of the fact that these triggers were deemed to be less important than other long term factors such as Britain’s relationship with Germany.
This disagrees with the argument that Fischer states. Fischer states that Germany was planning the war and to occupy Central Europe before the war. Fischer also states that they were planning an offensive war, whilst source one says “which at its beginning was to be a defensive war.” This shows that Germany was resorting to a preventive strike as an attempt to break free from the pressures brought about by diplomatic isolation and the threatening power of Russia. These are both supporting the argument that German aggression didn’t cause World War One. The source carries on to say “…nor anyone else at the time, and a special plan to dominate Europe” This shows an argument that all the countries in Europe ‘slithered into war’.
‘The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 was due to an aggressive German foreign policy which had been waged since c.1900.’ How far do you agree with this opinion? Explain your answer using the evidence of Sources V, W and X and your knowledge of the issues relating to the controversy. When considering the outbreak of the First World War and who bore responsibility, there are certain factors that must be considered. These factors are German aggression through military and individual aggression, whether Germany engaged in a defensive war, the responsibility of other countries, the idea of calculated risk, and the domestic tensions that had arisen in Germany around the time. Sources V, W and X provide evidence for most of these issues with the exception of calculated risk, and domestic tensions.
An example for this is the dreadnaughts between Germany and Britain. Britain had strongest navy in the world to protect its massive overseas empire and to protect its economic interests. Britain became very suspicious when Germany began to build up its navy. They were afraid that Germany may try to take over some of its colonies. From 1906 onwards, the two countries were in an arms race over building new battleships called dreadnaughts.