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

To What extent was German Foreign Policy responsible for the outbreak of general European War in 1914?

Extracts from this document...


To What extent was German Foreign Policy responsible for the outbreak of general European War in 1914? The Foreign Policy pursued by Germany in the years proceeding 1914 was decisive in the build up and eventual breakout of war. Although it is far from being the sole cause of the war it was the most influential and significant. It was the stance of Germany Foreign Policy ahead of the Russian actions, the role of Austria-Hungary and the sense that war was inevitable, that was key. The aggressive policy shown by Germany to other nations instigated the tense international relations, which meant that war was inevitable during the July crisis of 1914. Historians such as Fellner have cited Austria-Hungary as the main instigator of the war. The Austria-Hungarian empire was vast and it comprised of many ethnic groups, most of whom in concurrence with the nationalist hegemony in the Balkans were calling for a degree of autonomy. In particular there were in excess of 4 million Serbs within the empire that meant there were calls to incorporate them into Serbia1. Austria-Hungary could not allow this to happen, as it would see other ethnic groups demand the same ad the empire collapse rapidly. When Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was shot it gave Austria-Hungary the opportunity to take drastic action and declare war on Serbia in order to preserve its self and re-establish the reputation of the monarchy. The Hungarian Prime Minister Tisza summed up this view; "The monarchy must make an energetic decision to show the power of survival and to put an end to intolerable conditions in the southeast". There were also large and extremely influential groups of young pro-war diplomats such as the foreign minister Berchtold and the common finance minister Bilinksi who declared, "the Serb responds only to force, a diplomatic success would make no impression in Bosnia and would be damaging rather than anything else"2. ...read more.


These alliances were however purely defensive at heart, they were designed and signed in order to prevent the outbreak of war. More significantly there were not particularly binding. Russia showed this in 1913 when if failed to support Serbia. In 1914 the majority of the powers that were to become involved preferred peace and in the case of Austria it only wanted a localised war in the Balkans. Germany manipulated its ally and it was the aggression Germany showed therefore that persuaded the other 'great powers' that they had to make a stand. It should be argued that German Foreign Policy that played the instrumental role in the escalation of war had its roots in the 19th century. Otto von Bismarck had unified Germany in 1871 as a result of the Prussian victory over France. The hard core of the new German empire were the Prussians and it was they who provided most of the military leaders. The victories in the 1860's and the knowledge that Germany had the best army in the world meant as the historian I. Geiss described it that the "Prussian military caste was cocksure". It gave them an arrogance and confidence that helped push Germany into war in 1914. Germany had emerged an empire and an increasingly important economic and military power under the helm of the reserved and conservative Bismarck. However he was sacked in 1890 and to quote John R�hl "Imperial Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II embarked on a long term bid to secure 'world power' status"4. Germany became obsessed with gaining an empire under the sun and the policy of Weltpolitik to achieve this. However by 1909 Germany had been out manoeuvred by Great Britain and isolated and surrounded after the formation of the Triple Entente the members of which were rapidly militarising and matching German power (Russia had implemented the Great Programme in 1912-1914 and France had lengthened military service). ...read more.


However Germany carried on acting in the reckless manner allowing, Austria to issue an ultimatum that Serbia could not accept and therefore they must have known what they were doing and consequently were preparing a European war. 5 Moltke believed that war was Germany's best option. If Germany wanted to achieve its European dominance and an Empire to rival that of Britain it would have to go to war. Men such as Moltke had been preparing for war for years indeed the Schlieffen plan had been formulated in the late 1800's in the event of a war against France and Russia. These Generals placed so much faith in the plan that to quote Rohl they "did not feel impelled to seek a political or diplomatic solution to Germany's grave problems at home and abroad". Moltke himself had been unhappy with the peaceful outcome of the Moroccan Crisis in 1911, such was his desire and drive towards war. 6 In 1911 there was increased tension after the Agadir Crisis when the French had occupied Fez and consequently broken an agreement with Germany. It allowed Germany a pretext to send a gunboat to Agadir. Although the French in effect conceded it persuaded Britain to aid its support behind the French, leaving the Germans isolated other then Austria in Europe. This in turn served to encourage the German Generals that war was the only option. 7 The historian Berghahn put together a thesis blaming German "internal pressures" for pushing Germany into a war. Berghahn blames several factors within Germany. Firstly there was the crisis between the Prusso-German political systems whereby the political system had been based upon the rigid Prussian elite and this was being threatened by increased industrialisation. Secondly there was Tirpitz and his Navy. The cost of creating the large navy was reflected in the taxes and this caused social unrest. Thirdly the paralysis of the Monarchy at home, which involved inflated resentment towards the ruling elite who were ruling increasingly by decree and not through the Reichstag. 03/03/02 ...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. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent was the alliance system responsible for the outbreak of World War ...

    5 star(s)

    This was before the Carte Blanche 1914). Many of Austria-Hungary's aggressive policies stemmed from the belief in German support. Both wanted empirical status; Germany to gain an empire, Austria-Hungary to preserve one. Their alliances allowed policies that were openly aggressive to take place, helping to spark tension and aggression.

  2. To what extent were germany to blame for the outbreak of ww1

    This was as a result of pan - Slavism that stated all Slavic countries should be under Slavic rule. Russia being the largest of the Slavic states felt it it's duty to protect the smaller states. As Russia felt the need to protect Slavic nations, when Russia went to aid

  1. How far was the USSR responsible for the outbreak of the Cold War?

    post-war conferences, the same can be said for the US- Byrnes' 1946 Stuttgart speech seemed to imply that Germany might be able to redraw its new border with Poland in its favour, even though the borders had been agreed to be at Oder and Neisse.

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

    In every country there was a strong belief that war was justified and that it could and would be won quickly and easily. * In Germany, the 'Schlieffen Plan', drawn up by the German Chief of Staff, Count Alfred von Schlieffen, in 1905, was set in motion.

  1. To what extent was Hitler solely responsible for the Holocaust

    Anti-Semitism was later even fuelled by a number of economic factors, such as the great depression. Those whom were hit worst such as peasants, shop-keepers and skilled workers, blamed the Jewish financers whom held a powerful position in Germany. Hatred towards the Jewry was further enhanced through the use of

  2. Consider How Far Gladstone And Disraeli Differed In Their Policies Regarding The British Empire ...

    Russia then decided on military intervention, which threatened Constantinople. In January 1878 Disraeli retaliated by sending a fleet to combat them. Britain did not have an ally therefore could not fight and did not encourage Turkey that there was the chance of another Crimean War.

  1. To What extent was Germany Responsible for the outbreak of World War One?

    needed to take that risk sooner rather than later. It has been argued that the "sole cause for the outbreak of war in 1914 was the Schlieffen Plan"3, because whilst other countries' mobilisations were diplomatic the very nature of Germany's meant war would be certain. As early as the 1920's when the acceptably held view was that of collective

  2. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    With Frangiyeh's approval, Dahdah met with Syrian officials. Talks went on for about four weeks and resulted in a draft, which was the basis for the Constitutional Document. Dahdah held meetings with Syrian officials, including seven with Assad. When negotiations started relations between Assad and Frangieh had been strained for several months, following Syrian army intervention in the war.

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