• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Do Kehr's essays imply a coherent theory about the origins of the First World War?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

18th February 2003 Do Kehr's essays imply a coherent theory about the origins of the First World War? Eckart Kehr is often described as the father of revisionist thought concerning imperial Germany and the road to war. His seminal collection of essays, Der Primat der Innenpolitik, was dismissed at the time and for a number of decades subsequent to its publication, for the primacy of foreign policy continued to dominate historical thinking. Kehr argued that Germany, for a number of domestic reasons, was pursuing a Weltpolitik that eventually led to the First World War. She rearmed and reorganised because of internal political tensions and squabblings, not because of any real provocation or threat from abroad. This theme has been taken up by other revisionist historians, most notably Fritz Fischer in 1961, but it is a rather one-sided view. It is impossible to view Germany's actions purely in isolation, and Kehr fails to take into account the activities and manoeuvrings of Germany's neighbours and rivals. She was not necessarily following a unique course, nor was she always the first to adopt certain measures. More recent historians, such as David Blackbourn and V.R. Berghahn, whilst not necessarily returning to the views of the orthodox school so violently rejected by Kehr, argue nevertheless that his theory presents only one side of the debate. ...read more.

Middle

Political wranglings and tensions meant that before long, they were soon demanding a similar expansion. The military's abandonment of the policy of steady troop increases was also due to the shrewd realisation that the extent of the navy's enlargement was such that it would inexorably lead Germany into conflict in the near future. Again, according to Kehr, it was Germany's sudden rearmament which prompted her neighbours to follow suit, in order to defend themselves from possible attack. Kehr also claims it was internal pressures which led to an increase in tensions in Germany's foreign relations. She had, towards the end of the nineteenth century, begun to import vast amounts of Russian grain and rye, which was vital to fund the Tsarist Empire's push for progress and modernisation. However, once the East Elbian landowners had introduced tariffs to protect their own agricultural interests, the effects on the Russian economy were dramatic. Thus domestic policies influenced Germany's foreign affairs, for this new policy led to a severe deterioration in Russo-German relations, and meant that, because the adage "countries who trade with one another do not fight each other" no longer applied, it was more likely that, in any future conflict, the two would be on opposite sides. ...read more.

Conclusion

Kehr's essays do present a coherent theory as to the origins of the First World War. It is possible to see how Germany's domestic actions could have led her towards war, and to go even further, as Fischer does in his Germany's Grasp for World Power in 1961, that 1914 was the outbreak of a world war that she had been actively working towards since 1912. Kehr does not go quite so far, but he refuted the previously held belief that Germany was innocent in the build up to war (indeed, his claims have a curious resonance in Friedrich Meinecke's Die deustche Katastrope, when he holds Prussian-German militarism for the event of World War One - curious because Meinecke was one of the historians Kehr had in mind when countering the orthodox point of view). However, Kehr's theory, no matter how coherent, is not necessarily correct. This debate has raged for decades, and will, no doubt, continue for many more, but the behaviour of other European powers, and their impact on Germany and the outbreak of war should also be taken into consideration. Placing the blame on Germany alone is to be as one-sided as those who Kehr was contradicting in his essays. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    They both agreed not to attack the other. But the Hitler and Stalin had been bitter enemies and the agreement astounded politicians throughout Europe. It was clearly the prelude to something dramatic. * In fact there were a number of secret clauses that were not public.

  2. Assessing the impact of the first world war on international relations in the decade ...

    There were problems that arose from the Paris Peace settlements and the League of Nations struggled to sort out the problems. For example, Turkey and Italy were dissatisfied with their treatment. The Turkish people were prepaid to defy the settlement because of huge territorial losses.

  1. American economic foreign policy and the origins of the cold war

    The United States intended that these two agencies would expand world trade, and reconstruct and stabilize the global economy respectively. Not surprisingly, there was one other rationale: voting in these organizations depended on money contributions. Given that the American financial share exceeded by far that of other members, the United

  2. The Origins of the First World War - Sources Questions

    In actual fact, it suggests that the nature of Weltpolitik war based on the idea of fear and defence. Wilhelm II political and military position would have influenced the nature of Germany's foreign policy. The fact that this was a secret memorandum, states that the Kaiser himself, believed that Germany had no choice but to go to war.

  1. Must a defensible theory of the morality of war must integrate moral reasoning with ...

    Jus ad bellum are the principles that governs the conditions under which resorting to war can be justified. The only justified reason to resort to war is, according to the legalist paradigm, to resist aggression, in other words self-defence. When resisting aggression it is legitimate to receive help from other states.

  2. Who is to be blamed for the outbreak of the First World War?

    into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (an extended form of Greater Serbia). The Serb government was involved in underground and terrorist activities directed against Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary was worried about the possible dissolution of its empire. It desired to crush Slav nationalism, the main factor of instability.

  1. "Keep the dogs hungry, they will follow you". Such was in essence, the ruling ...

    Or did the new Sultan really impose himself? In any case, four days after the coup of Salalah, the outside world learned that Tariq was only to be prime minister and that Qabus would succeed his father to become the eighth sultan of a dynasty which has been in power since 1749.

  2. How useful is the 'Fischer Thesis' in helping to explain the origins of the ...

    Germany had the means to do this due to them being behind these countries and as Fischer states that they would try and get this power with or without applying necessary force in the form of War. Germany began the war against France and Great Britain and from this you

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work