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How far was Germany's ambition as a world power, the main cause of the First World War?

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Introduction

How far was Germany's ambition as a world power, the main cause of the First World War? The German historian Imanuel Geiss notes that it is not possible to completely understand the events of July 1914 without realising the historical background which was provided with past decades of competition. In the years leading up to the First World War, it could be said that Germany was perhaps one of the most ambitious nations in the world, with a Kaiser and many German politicians who believed their German culture and nation to be superior. Germany's ambition created rivalry, tension and above all competition between the main powers of Europe. One of the most influential events in this period was the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand because of its cataclysmic consequences. It was the spark that started five years of war. I quote from Sir Basil Liddell Hart - "Fifty years were spent in the process of making Europe explosive. Five days were enough to detonate it." However it could be fair to say that without the fifty years, the five days in which the world was 'detonated' would never have happened. ...read more.

Middle

Germany has always wanted to maintain superiority on the continent (particularly over France) and to be recognised as a world power. Between 1905 and 1914 Morocco in North Africa and the Balkan States, which had emerged after the shattering of the Ottoman Empire were being disputed over. Germany's ambitions were clear: she wanted power in Morocco and to push France and Britain out. Germany at first looked to be in a strong position, but failed to win general support. Other powers around the world supported French rights in Morocco. Germany had expected the outcome to be different and felt very isolated. The other powers supported her contender, France, which caused a lot of rivalry and unreasonable jealousy. Germany turned her back on the other powers by refusing to be part of international conferences, which were a means of settling international disputes. However, the focus of European tension was soon switched back to Morocco. The French had abused their rights and occupied a major city in Morocco, a move which suggested they were preparing to take over. Ambitious Germany who had always wanted permanent influence in Northern Africa were ready to use force. ...read more.

Conclusion

This meant that if any county was to attack one of the three, the rest would join in and protect the attacked country. Russia was also protecting Serbia, where there was a lot of Nationalism. People in Serbia felt proud of their nation and wanted to be independent. Germany was allied with Austria-Hungary, who was trying to take over Serbia and the ambiguous Italy. Germany felt encircled by her enemies and very threatened. When Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was shot on the 28th of June 1914 by a Serbian Nationalist, everything exploded. Nationalism and a sense of home identity for the individual who shot the Austria-Hungarian had began the war. Russia joined in to protect Serbia, Britain and France joined in to protect Russia, and Germany came to Austria-Hungary's rescue. Although Germany's ambitions contributed greatly to the start of the war, especially with imperialism and land disputes, other factors were far greater in sparking the start of the war. Fifty years of German ambition, competition, rivalry and protecting each other amounted to five days of nationalism and alliances. Nationalism not only created the many divisions that would make the need for war, but was also the catalyst, the shooting of the Austrian Archduke. The passion of people and their leaders resulted in four years of intense battle and millions dead. ...read more.

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