How far was Germany's ambition as a world power, the main cause of the First World War?

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How far was Germany’s ambition as a world power, the main cause of the First World War?

The German historian Imanuel Geiss notes that it is not possible to completely understand the events of July 1914 without realising the historical background which was provided with past decades of competition. In the years leading up to the First World War, it could be said that Germany was perhaps one of the most ambitious nations in the world, with a Kaiser and many German politicians who believed their German culture and nation to be superior. Germany’s ambition created rivalry, tension and above all competition between the main powers of Europe. One of the most influential events in this period was the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand because of its cataclysmic consequences. It was the spark that started five years of war. I quote from Sir Basil Liddell Hart - “Fifty years were spent in the process of making Europe explosive. Five days were enough to detonate it.” However it could be fair to say that without the fifty years, the five days in which the world was ‘detonated’ would never have happened. The fifty year build- up included German ambition, Nationalism, Imperialism, land disputes and alliances. All of these contributed towards full scale war and the five days that began it. Nonetheless, some factors in the starting of the war are more important than others. I will be discussing how important German ambition was compared to the rest of the ‘powder keg’.

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 Britain at that time was the largest empire in the world. She controlled many areas including parts of Asia, America, Africa and Australasia. Britain also had the largest navy which was needed to protect her empire and maintain the sea routes between her different colonies. The Germans were particularly envious and wanted to compete. In 1905 Britain began to construct a battleship named Dreadnought. In response to this supposed threat, the Germans began constructions of their own to build bigger and better ships. Between 1900 and 1911, the Germans tried to enlarge their naval fleet to a size ...

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