"Germany started World War One". Do you agree?

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Kirsty Whalley                                                                                 Europe Since 1870

“Germany started World War One”. Do you agree?

On the 28th of June 1914, the heir to the Austrian Empire, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo in Bosnia. What should have been a localised conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia soon escalated and by the 4th of August 1914 all the great powers in Europe were at war. What followed was an unprecedented, bloody and horrific war lasting 4 years and involving up to 32 nations. When the war finally ended in 1918 and the Treaty of Versailles agreed upon, article 231 placed firm blame on Germany as the main aggressor. It is certainly arguable that had Germany not given Austria-Hungary a blank cheque and encouraged her aggression against Serbia who was supported by Russia, the conflict may not have escalated into a world war. However there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration when determining exactly what caused the war.

Hobsbawn points out that “If we are interested in why a century of European peace gave way to an epoch of world wars the question of whose fault it was is trivial.”

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Germany may have indeed seemed the aggressor in the immediate crisis of relations between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. However, if we look at international relations between the powers in the prior to July 1914 we can see that there are a number of factors contributing to the outbreak of the war. By the time that war broke out, Europe was divided into two distinct alliance blocs; the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and the Triple Entente between Britain, France and Russia. It has been suggested by many historians that the powers had manoeuvred themselves into a situation where some ...

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