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How far can Germany be held responsible for WWI?

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Introduction

Alexandra Rousseau World War I Topic Question: How far can Germany be held responsible for WWI? After World War I fingers immediately began to be pointed as to who caused the war. At the Versailles Peace Conference, 1919 the victorious powers, the Triple Entente, placed entire fault on Germany, forcing them to admit blame and pay the huge war debts. However even in this day and age who is to blame for the First World War is still a much-debated subject, as historians presented new interpretations to the events, which lead up to WWI. This essay will discuss to what extent Germany was responsible for the war in perspective with other key events, which also played a part in igniting World War I. The Unification of Germany threatened the balance of power within Europe. A new great power in the heart of Europe raised fears in her neighboring countries, which the new Kaiser Wilhelm did nothing to defuse after Bismarck was relinquished from his post. Kaiser Wilhelm's change in foreign policy from non-confrontational to confrontational, called the Weltpolitik, arose distrust and suspicion within the other European nations as to German's true expansionist intentions. This was amplified by Germany's imperialist desires for colonies. Since Germany was newly unified, it was harder and slower for her to acquire an empire, seeing as most territory had already been divided among the older European powers. ...read more.

Middle

The suppression of the Balkan States by the Ottoman Empire for many years had finally reached its end, as the empire found it virtually impossible to control such an explosive region. The Balkan states demanded their independence however Austria refused to watch this happen, as she too was a crumbling empire, built up of nations demanding their freedom. Austria was thus in opposition of Balkan nationalism and in favor of oppressing the nationalist movements within the Balkan states, as to not let it spread within her own boarders, whereas Russia, who desired access to the Again Strait supported the Balkan nationalist movements. The Balkan wars placed Germany in an awkward position, terminating her alliance with Russia, as she chose Austria-Hungary's side. Serbia which eventually gained her independence from the Ottoman Empire was a boiling pot for nationalist groups. After the assassination of the Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria Hungary, while visiting Serbia, a chain reaction of events resulted, after an impossible list of demands were sent to Serbia, which, in historian John Remak's view brought about the war. He considers World War I to be the 3rd and final Balkan War and blames Serbia and Austria-Hungary for selfishly brining all the major European powers into a squabble for supremacy in the Balkans between the two of them. ...read more.

Conclusion

Imperialism among all the European nations created an atmosphere of heightened nationalism, know as jingoism. Jingoism is the glorification of armed force, and the denial of national self-determination to small powers (such as the Balkans). Each power competed for their individual needs and desires, creating as A.J.P. Taylor labels it an "export of tensions" out of Europe but into Africa, Asia, and other colonies. In Konine Zillias's view, a Marxist historian, no European nation went to war in 191 because of treaty obligations, moral issues, or the rights of small nations, but to defend imperialist's interests which consisted of the private interests of finance of monopoly. Paul Schroeder however does not follow this argument and instead points out that the structure of international power politics was the key dererminate in the origins of WWI, not the economic factors. As reviewed, each power shared in the liability of causing World War I. No one power was more to blame than the other, as a chain reaction of events, which began long before the July Crisis seemed to show the true origins of WWI. Germany was no more to blame than the other great European powers and other aspects such as militarism and nationalism, which evidently played a key role in creating an atmosphere of paranoia as to who was going to make the first strike. David Lloyd George describes it best his memories in suggesting that "all the nations of Europe slithered over the edge of the boiling cauldron of war in 1914." ...read more.

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