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“Evaluate the relative importance of imperialism, the arms’ race and the failure of diplomacy in causing the First World War”

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Introduction

History Internal Assessment The Origins of World War One "Evaluate the relative importance of imperialism, the arms' race and the failure of diplomacy in causing the First World War" Jens Vall´┐Ż November 19, 2001 I.B. History HL I Enthusiastic German soldiers march through the streets of Berlin on their way to the front at the beginning of World War I Table of Contents Introduction.........................................................3 Body 1. Imperialism........................................................4 2. The arms' race....................................................5 3. The failure of diplomacy........................................6 Conclusion...........................................................7 Bibliography.........................................................8 The Origins of World War One "Evaluate the relative importance of imperialism, the arms' race and the failure of diplomacy in causing the First World War" Introduction Historians are still today debating on what actually caused World War One. This is because the actual origin was a combination of many different factors. Short-term as well as long-term causes influenced the outfall of events, however some are more important than others. What is mainly agreed on1 is that Germany was the nation most to blame, however most of the more influential nations of Europe were somehow involved in the conflict. England, France, Russia, and Austria-Hungary didn't "stumble" into the war like Germany, but they all played an important role. ...read more.

Middle

With Germany becoming a significant power after 1872, the European balance of power was tipped off. This triggered an arms' race between the leading nations, France, England, Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. With vast amounts of industries being brought in from colonies and produced within Europe, the countries were able to produce great amounts of war material. Especially the continental armies of Germany and Russia were competing in numbers. As Russia was becoming an industrial nation, it wouldn't take many years for her to surpass match the might of the German army (if not the superb efficiency and leadership). Therefore the German military leaders, under pressure from the Triple Entente8, had to calculate the risks of war. The conclusion came to be that if a war was to come between Germany and Russia, then rather sooner than later.9 Germany's Weltpolitik aimed to turn Germany into an overseas empire. In order to achieve this Germany would need a considerable navy to compete with Britain. Combined with the economic pride of the German people, the German government embarked on the task to build a respectable navy. This would both help Germany defend overseas interests in for example Africa, and also as a defense against the mighty British navy in the North Sea. ...read more.

Conclusion

The arms' race created strong military tension; the many alliances pushed off the balance of power and further accelerated the arms' race, and the imperialist ideas influenced the decision making of the military leaders in critical situations. The situation created in Europe was not to last for very long, and maybe was the only way to achieve a more stable balance between the great nations. One can question the fact if war could have been avoided, but it is very hard to determine as so many different factors influenced the course of events. Many historians actually believe that war is the ultimate test of mankind to lead the evolution of strong nations and end the reign of weaker ones. In some ways it makes sense considering that Austro-Hungarian Empire consequently came to an end, and many other changes could be seen on the European map after the Great War. Germany was forced down to her knees and lost much territory to France and Russia, however she managed to regain her strength in such a way that she eventually invaded most of Europe thirty years later.13 Therefore the relative importance of the three evaluated origins is that they all combined and pushed the European powers into the cataclysmic war that defined the end of the Old World. ...read more.

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