“Germany must bear ultimate responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War.” How far do you agree with this judgment?
Although Germans had a great part in the outbreak of the First World War, all responsibility must not lay on her, for she was not the only country involved in the outbreak. Many will argue that “Germany must bear ultimate responsibility for the outbreak,” but historical evidence proves that this is not so.
First of all, it is Serbia who provoked the initiation of the First World War. This provocation came in the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, by a Pan-Slavic nationalist. This problem would not have escalated to greater lengths if the Serbian government had warned the Austrian-Hungarian government of the intended plot to murder their Archduke, of which they had knowledge. When the Austrian government learned that the Serbian government had known of the plot to kill their Archduke, of course they felt resentment and betrayal. The only thing the Austrian government looked forward to was capturing those involved in the murder. This is where Austria became involved in the outbreak of the war.
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Following the discovery, Austria left Serbia with an ultimatum. This ultimatum demanded a full investigation into the assassination and went to say that the Serbian government stop supporting propaganda, etc. All the stipulations of the ultimatum were accepted by the Serbian government, except for one, which gave Hungarians the right to punish those Serbian officials suspected of having been involved in the crime. Refusing to accept this stipulation, the Serbian government refused to accept the entire ultimatum. This refusal caused Austria to declare war on Serbian, on July 28. Although historian John G. Stoessinger says in Why Nations Go To War, that the German Kaiser wanted Austria to punish Serbia as quickly as possible, historian Sidney Bradshaw Fay argues, in The Origin of War, that Germany became involved in the war because they were being true to a treaty of alliance they made with Austria in 1878.
Finally, Russia also has blame in the outbreak of the First World War because she had an influence in the decision made by Serbia. Serbia’s decision to refuse the ultimatum was due to the support that Russia was offering Serbia. At this time, Russia had been defeated by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904, and Czar Nicholas II saw the war as a way to show two things: that Russia was still a powerful country and that he was protecting his fellow Slavs. Secret treaties between countries further escalated the war because once one nation declared war on another, a chain reaction began. When Austria declared war on Serbia, Russia began mobilizing troops into Germany, which then declared war on Russia. When France learned that Germany had declared war on Russia, they became involved. France’s involvement called Britain to join the war, since they had a treaty with France. The main reason for these secret treaties was because every European country wanted to expand and these treaties were a safeguard, in case they faced an emergency.
In conclusion, Germany can not “bear ultimate responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War,” since Austria-Hungary, Serbia and Russia had fault in its outbreak. At this time, every European nation wanted to show their power to the rest of the world and, unfortunately, this war was a way to do so. Germany can not be accused of having caused the war, when in reality, other countries have the blame. According to Bradshaw Fay, “Germany did not plan a European war, did not want one, and made genuine, … to avert one.”