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"The First World War was an Accident of History" Discuss

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  • Essay length: 1883 words
  • Submitted: 12/11/2008
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International Baccalaureate History

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"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

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