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

The 'cause' of the First World War.

Extracts from this document...


The 'cause' of the First World War has always been a subject of intense debate. There are many explanations on offer and it is easy to conform to one of the crude views expressed by the warring governments that it was one power or a group of powers that provoked war. We must look at the wider picture; from the cometh of war in 1914 all the major powers had some military plans drawn up for the eventuality of conflict, be it a war of attrition or a war that had been forced upon them, they all had plans which would defeat at least one major adversary. Early in the war Lenin a Russian Marxist, living in Switzerland offered an explanation that the war was the product of large economic forces embedded in the capitalist system. This view argues it was militant imperialism which capitalism had created, rather than mismanagement of the July Crisis of 1914. Alternatively, Geiss argued that German was aggressive by its very 'nature' as it defined her role based on the theory of Social Darwinism; that is the belief in the survival of the fittest. With the 'concentric circles' of Joll we can identify such a link with capitalism and militant imperialism. Especially when we look at the roles of Walther Ratheneau head of the industrial giant A.E.G. ...read more.


In order to do this, he required colonies and its aims with the Second Fleet Act in 1900 a large Navy to accompany. This made the British suspicious of Germany's intentions and with the aim of an equal force by 1917; a naval race began with the construction of the British 'Dreadnought', responding the German's also began construction, there actually appears to be an armament race between the two nations as statistics show how spending on the military increased dramatically between the years. For example, Germany on her army alone in 1880 spent a total of 18.2 million (Britain 15m) then in 1914 the total had raised to 88.4 million, with the Germans spending four times as much as Britain. The Navy had also seen a significant boost in spending, which had increased from 2.4 million in 1880 (10.2m Britain) to 22.4 million in 1914 actual five fold increases with the British spending practically double that. Many European nations also desired Empire or at least the economic benefits of one. Between 1870 and 1914, much of Africa was colonised by the European community, the 'scramble for Africa' had began with the German Kaiser wanting his 'place in the sun' , German colonies which had led to several disputes one of which being over Morocco in 1906-11 between Germany and France. ...read more.


Previously it signed an alliance with Japan to guard against Russian expansionism and took pre-emptive action against such French measures. However, it reconciled it differences with France and then Russia. Germany possibly unconsciously had kept to the more traditional methods of using might to achieve their aims; expansion and Empire, building a fleet to challenge the British and the Schlieffen Plan to defeat France and Belgium. However, despite making this plan Zechlin justifies the action "Germany was ready to accept the risk of war, but had no desires to provoke it". With the 'concentric circles' of Joll which discuss the mix between personalities and the Marxist arguments of economics as the driving force. We may be able to contradict the view that Germany's warmongering caused the First World War through the Willy-Nicky telegrams (between Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas II) which are thoroughly friendly; with the "Need for peace...loving relationship". Or is this material only partly useful as it is on purely a peaceful front, written by two cousins - if the two were friendly was it economics which dragged Europe into war? Whatever, the national, economical or personal attributes if the Marxist views are accepted the blame lies on the power struggle between the imperialist powers and capitalist economics. "Was it a badly mismanaged Balkan crisis or long-standing rivalries that caused the First World War?" *********** Page 1 of 7 ...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?

    Strongest memory of all was the smell of decaying bodies, made worse by the fact that battle after battle was fought over the same stretch of ground. The bodies from the previous battles were uncovered in later fighting. * In places the two frontlines could be as little as fifteen metres apart, as at Hooge, near Ypres, in 1915.

  2. How Significant were the Normandy landings in Defeating Germany in World War Two?

    To add to this, he is writing this source for a guidebook of the Normandy beaches for tourists. In essence, the type of tourists that are likely to visit this area of France would essentially be French, British, American and Canadian.

  1. The Cold War was a big rivalry that developed after World War II.

    Under these events the Cold War took its start. The relations between these superpowers have strained. And in march 1946, in Fulton, Churchill said that the USSR didn't held agreements and put "an iron curtain" under the Eastern Europe; this speech is known as public announcement of the Cold war[2 - Bol'shoi spravochnik istorii dlya shkol'nikov i postupauschih v

  2. “Evaluate the relative importance of imperialism, the arms’ race and the failure of diplomacy ...

    However since these natural resources are limited in abundance within Europe, these overseas empires, as for example Britain, France, Spain, and later Germany, sought beyond towards other continents in search for colonies. The colonies then provided their mother country with the natural resources needed in the rapidly spreading industrialization.

  1. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    Suddenly, the Congressmen sat up and took notice. That argument, Senator Arthur Vandenberg told the president, would be successful. If Truman wanted his program of aid to be approved, he would-like Acheson-have to "scare hell" out of the American people. By the time Truman came before Congress on March 12, the issue was no longer whether the United

  2. Total War, Britain during the Second World War

    Evacuation led to a complete mixing of social classes. Children went off to their evacuation areas with the rest of the pupils from their school. Their new homes could be anything from a cottage, to a farm or even a castle. Never before had the poor and the better off in Britain found out so much about how the

  1. Race Against Empire by Penny M. Von Eschen.

    Many of the intellectuals felt that the United States was begginning to assume the role of the "dominant world power" a distinction the European nations had held for so long. The men spoke of decolonization and the rights of individual nations to make their own future and form their own governments.

  2. Was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the most important cause of World War one?

    Ferdinand and his wife were shot by a Bosnian Serb student - Gavirilo Princip. Princip was a member of "Black Hand", an organisation committed to forcing Austria out of Bosnia.

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