Fischer, the provoker of this controversy, expresses this concept of German aggression by stating that since c.1900 Germany planned, and then was able to execute a war, due to their aggressive weltpolitik; based purely on expansionism. However, although many historians have agreed with, or adapted this argument, such as the view it was a ‘calculated risk’, or an ‘escape forward’ in order to relieve Germany from their domestic pressures, many have also criticised the approach. For instance, it is interpreted by some that Germany stumbled into a defensive war in order to protect themselves, and their ally; Austria-Hungary. However, considering these aspects, it could be argued that it is most conceivable that that Germany had planned the war and their aggressive foreign policy aimed to provoke a war in order to help their plans of annexation. Fischer’s argument that the outbreak of the First World War was due to Germany’s aggressive foreign policy, with a harsh focus on annexation, can be regarded as one of much significance.
Overall, Source W challenges source V, as it indicates that Germany’s aggressive actions since the turn of the century resulted in war. Source X implies how it is a matter of great controversy however leads more towards the fact that Germany had always wanted colonial expansion. Although it could be argued otherwise, it is evident that outbreak of war in Europe was due to an aggressive foreign policy which had been waged c.1900. Source V states that Germany, ‘felt encircled not only by the triple entente but also by the forces of change’. Although it is true that Germany was surrounded by an alliance system, indeed an extensive alliance system did surround Germany, whether they posed a threat or not is questionable.
In 1919 Germany was handed a diktat by the ‘Big Four’, a treaty that they had no option but to sign. Germany originally signed the Treaty of Versailles with the belief that it would be based around President Wilson’s fourteen points, however it soon became clear to them that this was not in fact the case. Germany felt that the Treaty had cheated them and there was much outrage across Germany. The principle complaint Germany had was that they felt the War Guilt Clause, referring to article 231 of the Treaty, was totally unjust. Germany was forced to take all the blame for damages received by the allies.
They did this through aggressive policies, which they hoped would achieve their aim and build up their empire. In 1897 Germany introduced Weltpolitik (World policy). This was a militaristic strategy and the aim of it was for Germany to become a world power and to create an empire to rival Britain’s. They tried to build up their empire but only managed to gain minor colonies, which offered little gain to Germany and did little to assert their authority in Europe. They clashed with the main powers of Europe over territory like morocco, which ultimately strengthened Franco-Anglo relationships.
This meant more power for their empire. This is why Britain backed France as they didn’t want Germany to gain land as they could potentially get more land and a bigger empire than Britain. In the long term this caused problems between Britain and Germany because they was both power hungry and the thought of another country having a bigger empire or navy made them angry. Wilhelm tested the Entente Cordiale again in 1911 when he demanded compensation
Furthermore, the intricate system of alliances spawned during this era meant diplomacy became an impossible task that only the most expert politicians could manoeuvre. Despite the factors that could contradict the popular belief that it was Germany and it's unification that caused the First World War, the contrast of Bismarck's expert leadership with Wilhelm II's youthful and naive approach is also a huge factor, incorporated with this school of thought is the idea that the growth of Militarism, especially in Germany, made the idea of war vogue. This study will attempt to provide an alternate view point on the issue. In 1871, Otto Von Bismarck amalgamated the German States through subtle diplomacy and a series of military victories. However, the nature of their victory incited bitter indignation from the French and unsettled the European balance of power.
Important figures in these negotiations included Georges Clemenceau (France) David Lloyd George (Britain), Vittorio Orlando (Italy), and Woodrow Wilson (United States). The Versailles Treaty was one of the products of the conference. The Germans believed that the treaty would be based on President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, which offered a framework for a just peace, and the hopes that any future international tension would be prevented. The Germans believed the Fourteen Points would have resulted in drastically less devastation to Germany if used in the treaty. However, the Big Four were determined to punish Germany for the war, and so they did.
One of the main factors was the blank check that Germany gave Austria-Hungary. Allowing Austria-Hungary to go to war on Serbia, with Germany’s full support. Austria-Hungary wanted to go to war on Serbia because, a member of the Black Hand (a Serbian terrorist group) assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Austria-Hungary served a harsh ultimatum on Serbia, and if they didn’t agree they would declare war. They had known Serbia would reject the ultimatum.
The Treaty of Versailles Was an Unfair Settlement I believe that the Treaty of Versailles was an unfair settlement. The Treaty of Versailles was not a treaty, but instead a surrender document that the defeated Germans had to sign or face the risk of invasion. I believe the Treaty of Versailles was a series of penalties and punishments imposed on Germany. Rather than seeking ways to prevent future wars, the victorious allies decided instead to weaken the Germans by hurting their national pride. Both the Allies and Germany wanted to expand their territory.
This was especially the case for Germany as she was to reap the blame for the First World War. The peace treaties took place soon after the final bloodbath of WW1, emotions would have been raging which would have tainted some of the decisions made, and soldiers would have retired back to their homes and would have been reluctant to want to be involved in border shifting and disputes. The Allied countries wanted Germany to concur to a harsh settlement but the United States brought diplomacy into the situation. The treaties were not just and reasonable but without the United States, Germany would have been handed a much harsher punishment. The injustice of the settlement unintentionally gave birth to long term problems, including key events for the lead up to the Second World War.