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

"The First World War was the result of a badly mismanaged Balkan Crisis in the summer of 1914, rather than the product of long-standing rivalries between the great powers." Assess the truth of this opinion on the causes of the outbreak of World War One.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Origins of World War One Karan Lalwani "The First World War was the result of a badly mismanaged Balkan Crisis in the summer of 1914, rather than the product of long-standing rivalries between the great powers." Assess the truth of this opinion on the causes of the outbreak of World War One. The Balkan Crisis obviously led to the outbreak of World War One. However, the debate historians are faced with is to decide whether this crisis was the ultimate cause or just an occasion which resulted in the war of 1914. However long-standing tension and rivalries did exist in Europe is unquestionable. The Franco-German rivalry over Alsace-Lorraine, the Austro-Russian rivalry in the Balkans and the Anglo-German naval rivalry were all tensing the European atmosphere prior to 1914. Therefore it is clear that the decisions taken in 1914 were themselves influenced by international tension provoked in the preceding years. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand upon 28 June 1914 was just excuse for war. The war was bound to have happened anyway, at least Gavrilo Princip believed when he said: "If it hadn't been for me, they would have found some other excuse." The real cause of the outbreak of World War One was not the assassination but the legacy of long-term rivalries coupled with the Central Powers yearning for war. For both Austria and Germany, war was seen as a solution to their respective problems; the Junkers in Germany would maintain power and the Austrians would end the menace of the Pan-Slav movements. ...read more.

Middle

Russia mismanaged the crisis because not only did they transform a localized war into a European war, but they also fell into Germany's trap and would be portrayed as the aggressor and culpable of this European War. The reason Russia's actions were misread was because Russia was the first one to mobilise; Germany could now portray her as the aggressor and Austria-Hungary as a victim. But it would be correct to say that Russia had been encouraging an alliance that made Austro-Hungarians suspicious. Because of the long-term Austro-Russian clash of interests in the Balkans, and Russia's long-term support of Serbia, it is possible to understand Austro-Hungary's insecurity and their solution of waging war as to be the only alternative left. Russia fully backed Serbia during the July Crisis. When the Austro-Hungarians presented the ultimatum to Serbia, Russia would support her even if it unleashed a great war. "This means a European War" as Sazonov, the Russian foreign minister, labelled the ultimatum; a deliberate provocation. Although Russia's entry would mean German involvement on Austria-Hungary's side, Russia believed that her prestige, the dignity of the Slav states and her influence in the Balkans was at stake. Russia was not fully prepared for war but if war was to break out, Russia would defend her prestige and the dignity of the Slav state. Eventually Russia was left with no alternative. Russia mismanaged the crisis when partially mobilising her army upon 29 July after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, because Russia was exposed as the aggressor. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Social Democratic Party was gaining popularity in Germany which would mean sooner or later, the end of this militaristic elite. In the 1960s the debate about German culpability was reopened by Fischer. He mentioned that "primat der innempolitik" (supremacy of domestic politics) was the main and crucial reason of the outbreak of World War One. In July 1914 Germany was preparing for war; war was foreseen previously. Upon 25 July the Kaiser commented on a telegram to Vienna that the cause of war as now been removed with the Serbian response, and expected Vienna to halt any mobilisation. His comments were altered by Bethmann Hollweg and the Junkers. Now his comments instead of suggesting Austria-Hungary to withdraw and compromise, it gave the Austrian government the push which encouraged them even more to declare war against Serbia. Russian mobilisation was then celebrated by the militaristic elite. Now the SPD's hostility towards war had evaporated and the Junkers had achieved their goals. Each step had been planned. Germany did not mismanage the crisis, but used the crisis to solve their internal problems and to try to achieve their ultimate goal; Weltpolitik. It is clear that the Balkan Crisis provoked World War I. But the Balkan Crisis itself was a product of long-term Austro-Russian rivalry caused by the declining Ottoman Empire. Many elements of the crisis were mismanaged by the European powers, but Austria and Germany certainly did not. As Williamson declared, the "fateful meshing of aggressive German Weltpolitik with an even more aggressive, irresponsible Hapsburg Balkanpolitik" resulted in the war both Empires felt to be inevitable and winnable. ...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 Modern European History, 1789-1945 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 Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explain how the effects of the First World War caused the collapse of the ...

    4 star(s)

    They promised decisive change, unlike the Provisional Government. They promised 'Peace, Land, Bread' to the people in Lenin's April Theses. The First World War was a large problem for all of Russia at this time. Everyone wanted to end the war and stop the shortages and other problems.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Was it the policies pursued by Henry VIII that caused "the mid-Tudor crisis"?

    4 star(s)

    new poor law act in 1552, and repealed the unpopular 1547 vagrancy act. Mary too increased poor relief, and passed a law against the hoarding of grain. Another main area of crisis at this time was religion, and Henry's policies were the root cause - his legacy was "a nation divided in religion".

  1. Stalins Russia, 1924-53 revision guide

    * However it was not only perceived 'enemies of the Soviet Union' that suffered at the hands of Stalin. Purging was the means by which he ruled and this also applied to those closest to him. * After the war the wife of Molotov, the Foreign Minister, was arrested and

  2. Vietnam war

    The Vietminh now had a substantial military victory to buttress their negotiating position to press this key issue of the party. This advantage can be said to have resulted in the Conference promising the withdrawal of the French forces from Indochina, creation of a sovereign North Vietnam and also the

  1. Hitlers Germany

    The basic economic infrastructure of Europe had ceased to exist and industrial production had fallen by two-thirds or more. In Russia 3,000 oil wells and 1,000 coalpits had been destroyed and nearly 70 million head of livestock were taken by the Germans.

  2. Why was the league so ineffective in dealing with the Abyssinian Crisis?

    These "talks" were then leaked to the press. So everyone knew that the British and French and the league were ready to just give in and give the aggressors what they wanted. With this the Italians then fully invaded Abyssinia and the league do nothing to stop it as the two main powers didn't want too provoke the Italians.

  1. Were the Armenian killings of 1915 a deliberate act of genocide or a justifiable ...

    However, it was after the CUP reneged on the specifics of their agreement, mainly total autonomy, that the relationship between the two parties became fragmented. In addition to this, it became clear that the party was attempting to revive Ottomanism and had a clear interest in the pseudo-scientific racial theories

  2. The Holocaust was the result of Hitlers long held grand design to pursue a ...

    Although Hitler delivered this speech before the war (1939) it can be argued that the way in which this speech has been interpreted has been exaggerated; it is vital to view the source in context. The utilization of the word ?banished? by Hitler is somewhat ambiguous does insinuate harshness, but does not necessarily imply violence.

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