From the early years Germany has been a militaristic country with a ruler who had ambitions of expansion. So without a doubt it’s evident that the policies they had played a part in the war. The ‘Blank Cheque’ is seen to as an aggressive symbol over economics and the Kaiser’s claim that war was inevitable seem to suggest the militaristic attitude at the heart of the government and the key members in charge. It is clear that an aggressive foreign policy was a reason for the breakout of the war in 1914. Germany deciding to aid Austria- Hungry in its conflict with Serbia suggests that Germany have precipitated war.
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
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.
Considering that Realpolitik focused on preventing a war within Europe and Weltpolitik aggressively asserted German dominance, it can be validly argued that this direct change in German foreign policy played a major role in bringing about the First World War. Another reason that German foreign policy was so greatly scrutinized was because of the Anglo-German naval rivalry which was creating tension within Europe. As long as Germany built, Britain would be a German enemy. The German government dramatically increased the development of German Ships. [i] This arms race and change in German foreign policy, believing they needed to control the seas was seen as a definite and direct cause
From “War of Movement” to “Stalemate” The Schlieffen Plan: * Germans believed they could win the war quickly. 1905, General Chief of Staff Alfred von Schlieffen planned a way of preventing Germany from fighting a war on two fronts. He believed that it was a priority to defeat France quickly, forcing them to surrender before Russia had a chance to mobilise her armed forces * Helmuth von Moltke revised/modified the plan, less prepared to take risks than Schlieffen – lacked faith in elements of the original plan. * Execution of Schlieffen Plan led to Britain declaring war on Germany and honouring alliance/agreement guaranteeing protection of Belgian neutrality and territory against invasion, 4th August 1914. * Moltke changed ratio of number of troops in right wing to left wing from 7:1 to 3:1 as he thought the left wing were too small and might be over-run and forced back by French forces; weakened the main strike force by diverting more German troops reinforcing Eastern Front from right wing to support Austria-Hungary * Right wing (main attack force) of the German army would mobilise in massive strength (north) and invade France through neutral Belgium * Smaller left wing (decoy/diversion) would hold French army on Rhine border against unexpected attack through Alsace-Lorraine * French Plan 17 went to German hands.
During the early 1900’s up until 1940 there was a positive Sonderweg thesis that endorsed the differences of Germany over that of other Western nations.  This verison of the thesis was big on singularities in German history. Giving praise to fascism/totalitiriusm over western European parliamentarianism. German defeat in World War I is seen as an important part of the German Sonderweg.  The loss in the First World War left Germany’s confidence running low.
To what extent were the dictators Hitler and Mussolini responsible for the outbreak of WW2 in Europe Dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini are largely responsible for the outbreak of WW2. This is due to the aggressive and dangerous foreign policies. It aggravated tensions between European powers and the Western Allies. Even though these two dictators played a major role in the outbreak of war, the little resistance from the Allies gave the dictators breathing room to enforce such heavy foreign policies and ultimately create fear and tensions between nations. Other influences include the League of Nations which failed the principle of collective security and the enforcements of demilitarisation.
However, the nature of their victory incited bitter indignation from the French and unsettled the European balance of power. Because of this, the act of 'German Unification' is credited widely as the cause of the First World War. Due to the economical excellence of the Zollverein, Prussia (who were first to abolish the domestic tariff
France might have also been frightenend by the progressing German unification. There were other more politically domestic long term reasons for the war. These were that Bismarck wanted to unify the land that he had won as a result of the Austrian and Prussian war in 1866. Bismarck also used France as a common enemy of Germany all together so that unification could take place much more easily. France thought the war would not only help by stopping Germany’s increase in power.
What were the aims for Weltpolitik? To what extend did the Germans achieve these aims by 1907? In 1897 Germans pursued a World Policy called “Weltpolitik” as a reaction to the conservative “Realpolitik” of Bismark. Weltpolitik didn’t have a precise meaning but generally describes the specific phase of German history in which the Kaiser asserted the right to rule the country personally, appointed Bernhard Bülow as a Foreign Minister to secure the country’s place in the world map and the good relations with Britain and selected admiral Von Tirpitz to expand the navy. In that year Bülow stated officially that Germany now pursued such a policy.