Germany's Responsibility for World War One
Holger H. Herwig, in his quest to answer this question has concluded;
"...The greatest measure of responsibility, however, remains with
Germany. Planners, both civilian and military, were all too eager to
resolve their perceived diplomatic encirclement by use of force --
"now or never," as Kaiser Wilhelm II put it."
The outbreak of World War One was reliant on a number of factors.
These include the alliance system, the sense of nationalism sweeping
Europe at the time. The imperial and colonial rivalry resulted in the
naval and arms race. When Germany's role in these causes is examined
it is possible to come to the conclusion that Germany, whilst not
entirely to blame for the outbreak of World War One, certainly
deserves a fair share of responsibility. Its share of responsibility
lies in its involvement in the alliance system, its role in the arms
race and the nationalistic policies of its government.
Before the question can be answered, it is important to look at the
situation in Europe at the time before the First World War started.
Europe was divided by two alliances: the Triple Alliance, of Germany,
Austria-Hungary and Italy and the Triple Entente, consisting of Great
Britain, France and Russia. The Triple Entente countries had been
established for a long time and Britain and France had many overseas
colonies and huge empires. They were quite happy with the situation in
Europe and would not have much reason to start a war, although France
was keen to regain the industrial Alsace-Lorraine area, lost to
Germany in a recent war. However, this does not automatically mean
that Germany was solely to blame. None of the countries in the Triple
Alliance was completely happy with the status quo. Germany and Italy
were newly formed and wanted their own empires and Austria-Hungary was
divided, with inhabitants of many ethnic groups, and wanted to be more
stable. The Alliance System was supposed to make sure that a war did
not happen, because the risks involved would be too great. Instead, it
made sure that, when two countries became involved in a dispute, the
whole of Europe was drawn into a war. Backing this view is Ramsey RD;
"Among the causes of the war were rising nationalist sentiment
(manifested both in the chauvinism of the great European powers and in
the unrest among the subject peoples of the multinational European
empires), colonial and economic rivalries, the formation of hostile
alliance systems, and arms races, all of which contributed to the
growing sense of international tension during the pre-war years."
(Ramsey RD. The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopaedia - Release 6 -
(World War 1))
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