• 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 an Accident of History" Discuss

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"The First World War was an Accident of History" Discuss. The question proposes the idea that statesmen did not intend for their political plans or decisions to consequentially influence or encourage the major conflict within Europe from 1914 to 1918; therefore, implying that no one is to blame for the out-break of the First World War. However, historical evidence suggests that Germany's reputation as a potential threat in Europe dates back since 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War; therefore, Germany holds some responsibility for the Great War. This argument can be verified by exploring long-term causes such as imperialism since 1880; leading to high amounts of tension between colonial powers. Influential causes also include Kaiser Wilhelm the second's antagonistic notion of Weltpolitik after the Fall of Bismarck in 1890, the role of the alliance systems since Bismarck's Dual Alliance in 1879; and finally, the events of the July crisis of 1914 during which Germany handed to Austria-Hungary the "blank-cheque". Imperialism - in this case, the seizing of territory in Africa and Asia overseas - led to significant rivalry between European colonial powers from 1880 to 19141. Tension between imperialist states heightened mainly between Britain, France and Germany as Germany decided to build an empire. ...read more.

Middle

Yet, after forming the Dual Alliance ensuring Austro-Hungarian support of Germany against Russia in case of attack, Bismarck went on to form the League of the Three Emperors in 1873 informally linking Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. However, this was not enough for Bismarck, who eventually put an end to the League in 1887 to create the secret Reinsurance Treaty between Germany and Russia. This was a guarantee that neither of the two countries would go to war with one another. In all evidence, Bismarck's intentions were based on a plan of security for Germany within Europe, possibly through fear of war. On the other hand Wilhelm's leadership worked against Germany's reputation. One year later, Wilhelm decided not to renew the Reinsurance Treaty when he came to power in 1888. This demonstrated unreasonable lack of diplomacy on Germany's behalf and encouraged Russia to turn towards France in 1893 in the Franco-Russian Alliance. This Alliance along with the Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907 and the Entente Cordiale formed the Triple Entente between the UK, France and Russia11. The immediate cause of the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Sarajevo on June 28th 1914. ...read more.

Conclusion

and become subordinate to German policy without further territory in Europe being taken from her."15 Grey warned that the British would declare war on Germany should she breach Belgian neutrality to in-danger France. In spite of this warning, German troops invaded Belgium that very day. This reckless behaviour was to lead Britain into war with Germany on the 4th of August, and submit Europe to three traumatising years of war. Fischer, a German historian, develops a thesis accusing Germany of being concious of her par-taking in Europe's decent into the First World War16; therefore associating with the idea of German responsibility. I agree with Fischer's thesis in the sense that Germany should hold a good deal of responsibility for the outbreak of the Great War. Germany's annexations of territory dating back since 1870, as well as her motivations for creating a Weltpolitik prove that Germany's desire to become a great power considerably outweighed her consideration of other countries. The same argument stands when considering Wilhelm's careless decisions during the 1914 July crisis - declaring war on two countries in the space of three days in spite of the pleas of peace from Russia and Britain. At this point, it is fair to assume that Wilhelm was aware of the weight of his actions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History 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 International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. Compare and contrast the causes of the First World War and the Second World ...

    Appeasement towards Germany was justified because people believed the to ToV had be unfair and that Hitler's actions, in breaching to ToV terms, were justified. Both the alliance system and policy of appeasment were systems that countries relied on to maintain stability and order in Europe, however both, with historians

  2. Why were the central powers defeated in the First World War

    The British blockade was operating permanently after that. On January 1917 Hindenburg, a German general, seized the Kaiser and convinced him to undergo unrestricted submarine warfare. This was very successful at the beginning as many British ships were sinking and Germany and the central powers looked as if they were going to win the war.

  1. Assess critically the causes of world war I

    It directly challenged British naval superiority, and it was an attempt to take Britain's place as a leading colonial power. Also, in 1905, during the time of the Moroccan Crises, Wilhelm II announced his support for Moroccan independence. War was avoided by the Algiceras conference which allowed France to once again retain possession of Morocco.

  2. Nazi Germany

    of Weimar * they promised to make Germany great again by rejecting the ToV * they offered an end to unemployment by putting men into the army * Propaganda - torchlight processions, huge rallies, radio broadcasts, films, records, concerts, sports days, theatre groups, "Flight over Germany" ---> exciting, impressive, modern,

  1. IB History HL, Extended Notes: Russia, the Tsars, the Provisional Govenment and the Revolution.

    Some became merchant manufacturers and added to the growing middle class. 4. Private enterprise existed only in the cotton industry. River Volga was used to transport raw cotton from the Levant and Persia. 1860 800000 peasants took part in domestic industry, 860000 in factories.

  2. Extended Essay - The Role of a UN-Secretary General to Achieve World Peace: The ...

    had planned thoroughly to leave with the first team and would summon the second team upon achieving permission from Castro to observe the dissembling of the missiles in Cuba as soon as possible. Unfortunately, without informing the Secretary-General, the UN people had arranged twenty-eight pieces of luggage of ?communications equipment,

  1. To what extent were economic conditions the predominant factor in the proliferation and manifestation ...

    the economy and merely accelerating the process of capital drain from the country. Industrial output collapsed, dropping by 40% from its 1929 level by 1932. Businesses cut back in dramatic fashion, laying off workers and reducing wages to a pittance, while refusing to pay the taxes imposed to finance the welfare state.

  2. To what extent did militarism contribute to the origins of the First World War ...

    The British secretly encouraged the Bulgarians to take over Thrace as it preferred a Bulgarian Thrace to a Russian one. Germany had already been very involved in the internal politics of the Ottoman Empire, and it was completely opposed to the war.

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