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"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" - Discuss.

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Introduction

"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." The main thesis of Joachim Remak was that the First World War was due to the management of a badly mishandled Balkan Crisis. He often referred to WW1 as the third Balkan war. The Balkans was where the interests of the Great Powers clashed. Throughout the 19th century the Balkans had been a major source of tension between Austria and Russia. The Balkans were made increasingly important to Austria after their expulsion from Italy and Germany. Austria-Hungary needed to increase her influence in the Balkans to survive. Also, Austria, as a multi-national Empire threatened with disintegration, needed to restrict the influence of Russia and the growth of Balkan nationalism, particularly that of Serbia. Austria-Hungary was not interested in territorial expansion. Serbia was an aggressive expansionist power, which wanted to recreate the large medieval Kingdom of Serbia destroyed by the Turks in 1459. The greater Serbia was to be achieved by uniting the 7.5 million Serbs in Austria-Hungary with the 3.5 million in Serbia. ...read more.

Middle

Serbia replied favourably and accepted nine of the ten points, however, the Austrians were not satisfied and declared war on 28th July, 1914. The Serb reply to the Austrian ultimatum indicated that they did not want a war, but they couldn't agree to one of the points as it involved delegates from Austria-Hungary taking part in the assassination enquiry. Serbian courts would be influenced by a foreign country and this would be a threat to Serbian independence. The Austrian declaration of war on Serbia was the first step towards general war in 1914. After the Bosnian Crisis of 1908, Russia felt it had let down its Slav allies in the Balkans, so was determined to go ahead. On July 30th Russia mobilised their army and prepared for war without first consulting France or Britain. Germany declared war on Russia and stayed true to its alliance with Austria-Hungary. Germany went to war with France on August 3rd. However, Britain did not get involved until the launch of the Schleiffen Plan. In August 1914 all members of the rival alliance systems, except Italy, declared war on each other. The outbreak of war was a result of a series of crises and mistakes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some historians blame Britain as Britain was determined to stop Germany achieving world power status and it was later admitted that the policy in 1914 was that of encirclement. Some other possible explanations are that war arose as a desire to divert attention from domestic dangers by engaging in war abroad. A radical, young German historian Eckhardt Heir put forward the idea that 'Crisis, even war would come to be seen by those making decisions to be a more attractive alternative than domestic reform.' This could be true for many of the countries involved in the war. Austria for example was faced with the collapse of the parliamentary system and insoluble national divisions and therefore it could be argued that she most appreciated the value of a good, short war as the Great war was expected to be. Fischer corroborates this view as he referred to a serious domestic crisis in Germany in 1914. He concluded that the German ruling classes deliberately sought war to preserve their domination of German society. Both are examples of the role of INNENPOLITIK. Each differing view of an historian offers a different aspect as to why war actually broke out. The Balkan crisis could be viewed as a catalyst as all Powers involved had personal, or interests of their allies which lay in the Balkans thus providing enough discrepancies to provoke war. ...read more.

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