“In 1914 Germany deliberately embarked on a grab for world power. German imperialism should thus be considered as the major cause of the First Word War”
The World War 1 has been unforgettable. There have been several arguments for the real cause of the World War 1 however, not all the arguments have been true and precise. From the various arguments that have been set down, one such cause that has been explained to be the reason behind World War 1 is that of Germany’s responsibility in terms of the world war. A few of the experts feel that Germany’s embankment to try and gain complete world power was one of the major causes for the World War 1.
Between the years 1890 and 1914, Kaiser William II from Germany there was a strong and very aggressive expansion policy that had been adopted. This to a great extent led to confused and aroused international countries. Germany in 1870s was the first country to start up the alliance systems. These defence systems under the rule of Bismarck were started with a major aim of isolating France once it was defeated in the war Franco – Prussian in 1870-1871. Under his ruling the first alliance was made with Austria and Russia following which it was later made with Italy as well. A triple appliance was formed in 1882, which consisted of Germany, Austria and Italy. To seek revenge and also to an extent to gain national security, 1894 saw the Dual alliance going through with France and Russia. By 1907, France had been successful in drawing Britain to their side, thereby creating a Triple Entente which was between Britain, France and Russia. The repercussion of this was quite a few. Firstly, this formed the war within Europe, as this led to the birth of two rival camps, i.e., Triple Entente and Triple Alliance. This caused the birth of the local war within the Europe and had come to be known as the European war. The alliance system had also turned to become supporting to the allies, which were formed to obtain colonies. Best example of this was the expansion of Austria in the Balkans which was encouraged by Germany. The alliance also led becoming offensive in nature. It was the cause of the fear and suspicion among the nation states at the camps. This in turn led to the increase in the armament race and also was the one to create the war environment. The major reason for the armament race was Germany. Germany was the first to start the military conscription in Europe between 1890 and 1914. It was here that the Germany started building of naval race with Britain and this included building of Dreadnoughts. Also Germany had built the Schlieffen Plan. This plan was a preparation for war. Here the country would not negotiate with other countries but jump right into war instead. Also Germany was the first country to withdraw from the Hague conference. This simply meant that Germany refused to limit the armaments and this was one of the major causes for the armament races. This also caused other countries to be cautioned as one of the fellow countries had moved out of the committee and this meant that the country as now inclining towards war itself. All these factors thus lead to the war being inevitable and unstoppable.
Another very big issue which made war inevitable was the economic rivalry between Germany and other countries. 1870s saw the birth of German Empire, after which Germany had developed heavy industry. By 1890s the level of industrialization of Germany had increased to a great extent. Thus in order to compete and remain the best, the country was faced with a lot of rivalry from the British Industry. Germany had to a great extent due to the rivalry led to blocking the plans of Britain in Africa, to build the railway line between Cairo and Cape. The country also created a number of conflicts in the Boer War in 1899 until 1902, 1908 and also 1911.Germany also has rivalled with France in the three Moroccan crises. Germany also led to a fear among the Russians and also the British, with the inclusion and building of Berlin Baghdad Railways. Thus it has been seen that Germany’s expanding economy has been a major cause for higher tension in Europe. Also the economic conditions of the country also led to worsened situations and relations among the camps. IT also led to tightening of each of the camps and thereby making a direct path towards war. Another quite important factor that causes the country to be the one to pave the road towards war was the fact that Germany had sponsored the Pan – German movement. This was mainly aimed at getting all the Germans of central Europe to be united under one German state. This however causes a clash and conflicts with Pan – Slavism. This was under the leadership of Russia and was the major cause of the ill feeling between the two countries. Also, at the time when Russia backed Serbia in the fight against Austria, the tension between the two countries increased to a great extent as Germany was now ready to back Austria, a German nation.
Also the final reason and the most essential reason as to how Germany was responsible to be the immediate cause of the war was an attack and assassination. Archduke Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo was assassinated. Post this event Germany gave Austria a blank cheque support, and this led to Austria going into war with Serbia. If Austria has been considered to be the major reason behind the war, then it is only because of Germany’s backing. Also another major cause was the attempt to fight and defeat France, as planned under the Schlieffen Plan. Germany had to invade Belgium. Belgium had neutrality by the Treaty of London 1839. This led to a request for the German troops to withdraw, however due to Germany’s non compliance with the request, Britain had to declare war against Germany. Thus Germany had to a great extent proved to be responsible to create the local war into a world war.
This argument to a great extent has been persuasive and true. These however have not been the sole cause for the World War 1 to start up and the reasons for the World War are many. A world War is not something that could be triggered off by one step or a series of steps taken by one country. It involves the whole world and thus it is in some manner a joint effect of a series of step taken on by all the countries. As a matter of fact, to trigger a fight so large and involving so many countries, even single steps taken on the side of every country could be the cause. Apart from Germany many other countries have played an equal part in triggering the World War 1. For instance Europe also caused to a great extent the sense of insecurity and fear to the rest of the world by increasing the weapons in the country. Also other factors like the crisis that prevailed in every country and also amidst every country there had been a growing crisis which to a great extent has also been an underlying cause for the start of the World War 1. There have also been cases where the decision makers have acted defensively maybe due to the fact that all the nations were under threat and a lot of countries were also at a decline.
The above discussion has highlighted how Germany’s steps to a great extent has affected and contributed to the start of the world war. There are never any advantages that can be noted for this type of behaviour. The only thing that the country would face and the entire world would face is an event like the World War 1 which has left the entire world with a lot of changes and to a great extent has proven to be very disastrous for the entire world. On this note it is safe to say that to a great extent Germany has been responsible for the war, however as mentioned earlier, Germany alone was not responsible and it was not for Germany to take all the guilt. There have also been a number of other powers which have been responsible for the event like the steps taken up by Britain to increase its armaments and to stock up as many as weapons as possible by building the Dreadnoughts was also to a great extent a very strong step and therefore had in its own way provoked countries to fight against each other. Also with France creating the rival camps through series of ententes also caused the war to be set out. Austria’s efforts to crush Serbia forever and also Russia on the other hand ready to support Serbia have also been responsible for the war in their own way. Others countries have also played their role in the entire event and have been a strong influence for the war as well. Thus it is not very accurate to blame just one country specifically for the World War 1 and it is essential to understand that the World War has taken place because of doing of all the countries together and not only for the doing of one country in particular.
Berghahn, V.R., 1993, ‘Germany and the Approach of War in 1914’, 2nd ed, The Making of the 20th Century. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan
Coetzee, F., Shevin – Coetzee, M., 2002, ‘World War 1: A History in Documents’, 25 April 2002, Oxford University Press, USa
Fischer, F., 1967, ‘Germany’s War Aims in the First World War’, London: Chatto & Windus, 1967
Keegan, J., 2000, ‘The First World War’, 16th May 2000, p.48, First Vintage Books Edition, United States of America
World at War, 1974, ‘The World at War’, 24 August 2004, DVD
World Power or Decline, 1975, ‘The Controversy over Germany’s Aims in the First World War’, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975