Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Matthew end of this war, Germany was forced

Matthew Beingessner

To what extent is Germany responsible for the outbreak
of the First World War?

One
of history’s most controversial topics is the question of who was responsible
for the First World War. After the end of this war, Germany was forced to
accept sole blame for the war under the “war guilt” clause of the Treaty of
Versailles. However, it is factually incorrect to solely blame Germany because
of the impact other countries had on the war’s outbreak. Germany is the most
responsible of all countries, but others played an import part too. The war’s
primary cause was Germany’s aggressive militarism and expansionism, which is
the main reason why Germany is largely to blame. However, major alliances in
Europe at the time, one of which Germany was a part of, as well as the
countries involved in Europe’s industrial revolution are all responsible for World
War One’s outbreak to some extent. Germany is responsible for the outbreak of
the First World War to a very large extent because of their aggressive
militarism and expansionism, but other countries are also responsible because
of the alliances and their involvement in the industrial revolution.

Germany’s
aggressive militarism and expansionism was the primary cause of the First World
War. For instance, Germany’s attitude played a significant role in building up
tensions in Europe, and it tremendously aggravated the spark of the war, the
murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. In 1900, Germany had the largest
army in Europe. However, Britain had the most powerful navy which lead Germany
to expand its own navy. Thus, Germany’s attitude lead to tremendous tension and
hostilities, where they upset the balance of power which existed previously in
Europe. Another example is German expansionism through the construction of the
Berlin-Baghdad Railway. This also worsened relations in Europe, and most importantly,
the Russians felt threatened by the railway because they feared it would cut
off Russian access to the Mediterranean Sea. The British were also unhappy
about this because of Germany’s increasing influence. Furthermore, Germany’s
aggressive attitude during the Moroccan Crises interfered with the affairs of
numerous European nations and increased tension. During the first crisis,
Germany had Kaiser make a speech declaring that Morocco should remain
independent to the Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia. This angered
France, and strengthened the Triple Entente because Britain supported France
and it was decided that France must be given free rain in Morocco. This was a
rather foolish move by Germany, an almost appeared as if it was meant to “test”
the Triple Entente”. It was careless and aggressive, and undeniably increased
tensions in Europe at the time. Even more extreme, the second Moroccan Crisis
ended in Britain warning Germany that the British fleet was prepared for war.
In these responses, is becomes evident that if Germany’s militaristic and
expansionistic attitude continued, a war would be quite difficult to avoid.
Furthermore, Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to start a war against Serbia,
as well as to issue unacceptable demands in Serbia with the purpose of starting
a local war in the Balkans. This aggressive attitude was largely responsible
for bringing Russia into the war as they were a primarily Slavic country who
saw itself as a protector of other Slaves. The reason this was done was to
bring the Russians in, giving Germany a greater reason to get involved. It is
clear from these events that Germany was highly instrumental in starting this
regional conflict. However, is was not a regional conflict for long as Germany
escalated the dispute by giving France only sixteen hours to either establish
neutrality or enter the war. These extreme actions brought France into the war,
meaning that Germany’s aggressive militarism and expansionism played a key role
in the outbreak of the First World War. Lastly, Germany brought even more countries
into the war by planning to attack France through Belgium, Luxembourg, and the
Netherlands ultimately escalating the war by involving Belgium and Britain.
They carried out a part of the plan by attacking France through Belgium. This
was careless and aggressive because they carried out this plan despite
Belgium’s neutrality and the likelihood of Britain joining the war in response
to the invasion of Belgium. This shows the great extent to which Germany caused
the outbreak of World War One through their aggressive expansionistic and
militaristic attitude. Furthermore, as previously mentioned, the Triple Entente
was composed of Britain, France, and Russia, and they faced the opposing
alliance, the Triple Alliance, composed of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary.
While Germany was the primary cause of World War One, the other countries in
these alliances also played a role.

            Major alliances in Europe at the
time, one of which Germany was a part of, played a key role in the outbreak of
World War One. This was primarily because all of the nations involved in each
alliance had pledged allegiance to each other for any conflict affecting one of
them. This made the current conflicts in Europe significantly more critical,
and made it very difficult for local wars to occur without war rapidly
spreading across Europe. Moreover, there were many conflicts occurring in
Europe at the time which were worsened by the alliances, because this brought
many more countries into these conflicts. For instance, France wanted Germany
to return the provinces of Alsace and Lorrain, the naval arms race between
Britain and Germany, and Austria-Hungary and Russia both wanted control over
the Balkans. All of these conflicts would escalate very quickly because of the
alliances, resulting in a disastrous world war. This played out when Germany
declared war, forcing all their allies to declare war as well. In total, more
than ten additional countries became involved in World War One because of the
alliances. This shows how other countries are to blame for the war in addition
to Germany. Another key reason other European countries are partially
responsible is the Industrial Revolution.

            All countries involved in Europe’s
Industrial Revolution played a role in the outbreak of World War One. For some
context, the Industrial Revolution was a huge shift from small, independent
shops to large factories. It had a massive impact on Europe in terms of
economics, politics, and diplomacy. The Industrial Revolution resulted in expansionism
for many European countries due to the requirement of stable sources of
materials and secure markets to which goods would be sold. Thus, European
countries began to gain economic control of foreign countries. Germany was one
country involved, but many others were as well. The Triple Entente felt
threatened and that the balance of power and Europe had shifted, contributing
to a tense atmosphere in Europe leading up to the war. Furthermore, the primary
effect of the Industrial Revolution on World War One was how it allowed for
immense quantities of new machinery to be built much faster than before. It was
largely with new technology and machinery developed during this revolution
which lead to the outrageous number of casualties during the First World War.
Mass production was one of the deadliest weapons of the war. Tanks, planes,
rifles, and machine guns became common, whereas they would have been rare to see
in most earlier wars. The Industrial Revolution also contributed to deadly
innovations like chlorine gas and torpedoes, as well as improvements to
pre-existing weapons. Therefore, all countries involved in this revolution are
partially responsible for the outbreak of World War One, as well as the many
tragedies that followed.  

While
Germany’s aggressive militarism and expansionism makes them very responsible
for the outbreak of World War One, the alliances formed by other countries and
the countries who took part in the Industrial Revolution are partially responsible
as well. This contradicts the Treaty of Versailles which forced Germany to
accept sole blame for the war, which is one of the reasons why the study of history
is so important. Otherwise, countries would be falsely blamed for actions they
never committed much more often. In this case, the false blaming of Germany for
being the sole cause of the First World War led to a rather uneasy peace which
was destroyed later on into World War Two partially because of the wrongs Germans
felt had been done to them. While the Second World War could not have been
avoided by not laying all the blame on Germany, perhaps it would not have been
a world war, which would have been much less disastrous. Ultimately,
understanding who or what caused World War One and gaining an understanding of
the importance of being fair in our accusations is vital to avoiding future
world conflicts and gaining an accurate understanding of how historical have and
continue to affect us.