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How Far Was Germany Responsible For Staring the Great War?

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Robert Lindsay 11/10/2001 HOW FAR WAS GERMANY RESPONSIBLE FOR STARING THE GREAT WAR? The First World War had many causes. The spark of the Great War was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, soon to be at the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian nationalist, while travelling through Sarajevo. The Archduke was chosen as a target because Serbians feared that after he was at the throne, he would continue the persecution of Serbs living within the Austria-Hungary Empire. The Serbian terrorist organisation, the Black Hand, felt they had to carry out the assassination. The initial act of war was that of Germany when they invaded Belgium and threatened France. Although is it fair to say Germany were totally to blame for the war? Or was there a good reason for Germany to want a war? Throughout this essay it will become clear how far Germany was responsible for the outbreak of the 'Great War' because the main reasons for the war will be considered and a conclusion will be made from these reasons. Other reasons as well as the ones considered to be Germany's fault will be explored so it is fair and not a one sided argument. Germany was a new power in Europe; the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in January 1871 was the result of ...read more.


So, on July 28, 1914, Austria declared war against Serbia. Russia responded by partially mobilizing against Austria as a 'protector of Slavs', and Germany insisted that Russia immediately demobilize. Russia refused to do so, and so Germany declared war on Russia and France. From this, it can be said that Germany's alliance with Austria-Hungary inspired Russia, Britain and France to form the Entente for protection and thus creating tension between the powers involved. Although Germany had to declare war on Russia because Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary. Even though it was said that Germany used it as an excuse to have a war in Europe to expand its Empire. Germany's new weaponry were another reason to believe that it was to blame for war as their development of poison gas and the first submarines used for killing purposes suggests they were expecting a war soon. Although they may have been preparing for a defensive war by doing this, it would have aroused suspicion between the main powers and encouraged them to increase and improve their weaponry similar to the way Germany and Britain contended for the best Navy. Problems had existed between Austria and Russia for many years over an area known as the Balkans. ...read more.


It was the unacceptable ultimatum, and consequent declaration of war on Serbia that led to the involvement of Russia and therefore a fight between the alliances. However, Germany cannot be excluded from blame, it was the promise of unconditional support that allowed Austria to act. It is difficult to understand why Germany did this, but it is reasonable to assume that either Germany wanted war or that she trusted Austria not to go to war. Either way it is reasonable to say that as a consequence of Germany's non-committal 'Blank Cheque', Austria was able to go to war with the full support of its powerful ally. In conclusion, Germany can certainly be blamed for causing the hostile atmosphere that had developed by 1914 due to the alliance system, and also for giving Austria unconditional support in the Balkans crisis. However, to simply blame Germany for the outbreak of war would be not to consider all the facts. Austria's loss of status, and subsequent wish to restore itself as a great power through war led to a spark igniting, and indeed the actual outbreak of war could be blamed on Austria's desire for war and revenge on Serbia. The full mobilisation Russia's troops was also important in the outbreak of war. Germany can certainly be blamed partially for contributing to the outbreak of war, but other factors and other countries perhaps played an important role in Germany's invasion of France in 1914. ...read more.

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