It is apparent to see that in today’s society when anything about any of the world wars is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is Germany, especially if we are talking about the origins of the wars. However if we ponder into this matter further and emphasise on all key events which took place during the first world war we can establish that Germany’s participation in causing the world war was quite considerable.
As Germany’s greed for territory and supremacy provoked other superpowers, such as France and Britain, this outlined the causes for starting such a catastrophic war. Among these causes were Naval and Arms rivalry and also rivalry in Industrialisation between the countries. Even though Germany had lost the war they had a well thought out plan that showed that they were not afraid but ready for war. This plan was known as ‘The Schlieffen plan’.
It was constructed by Von Moltke in 1905 and its aim was to outflank French forces by means of a massive swing through Belgium, and so with France overwhelmed, the German army would contain a Russian onslaught from the east. This may even prove the remarks of a historian by the name of Fritz Fischer who in 1960 stated that Germany in 1914 intentionally started the war purely for dominance. This resulted in Germany signing a treaty at the end of the war, known as the Treaty of Versailles, by the allies which meant that Germany would lose large amount of territory and financial liability.
However it can be seen that Germany should not be alone in the blaming as recent restoration of 1920’s German theory states that Britain could have prevented the war if only it had made its position clear and it also states that all countries involved in the war should have an equal amount of burden for responsibility in causing the war. So who or what turn of events actually caused the war and to what extent did each have to play and who should have been given the right amount of blame.
In 1879 Germany, Austria and hungry joined an alliance to watch over one another from any threatening attacks by Russia or France. Later by 1882 Italy would also join this alliance. However this wasn’t the only alliance formed as in 1904 Britain and France also joined with Russia to join later. The leader of Germany at the time was Kaiser. He wanted a Germany which would really stand out on the map and be recognised as a supreme power in its ability to rival other countries, particularly Britain due to its empire, as it wanted an empire of its own with a prevailing army behind it.
These actions and desires of Kaiser understandably brought arise to unease and tension between itself and other super powers. However if Kaiser wanted to fulfil these desires he knew he would need to build a vast naval force and in order to do this he would need to pass certain laws. So in 1898 naval law gave Germany the opportunity it needed in order to reach its goal in the expansion of its naval forces. It began producing fierce battleships, which just from name sounded potentially disastrous, called Dreadnoughts.
This in turn made Britain question its own naval force in comparison to that of Germanys. Near the end of the nineteenth century Germany and America began to contend with Britain in many services such as industrialisation and economy. Germany particularly excelled in the steel and iron in aspects of industry as they had iron ore in there own county whereas other countries such as Britain needed to import iron ore. This in turn helped Germany’s reputation in industry and caused an increase in population and markets in and around the area.
Although the increase was good for Germany it caused Europe to become over populated and so people decided to move to areas with large amounts of space and so the best option would be to move to areas in Africa. When Germany noticed this they decided to take parts of Africa for themselves which was not seen on too well by Britain and France. Britain and France decided to share out areas of Africa between themselves. Britain would take Egypt and France would be given Morocco.
But nonetheless Germany still took parts of Africa and now signs of there increase in territory was beginning to exemplify as they were also getting bases as far as the pacific and increasing their trade and so with it their resources in order to produce the dominant country which they desired. In 1905 Kaiser decided to make an unscheduled stop in Tangier to try and get the support of the Moroccans. This made France very angry as it knew Germany was trying to test its patience.
This resulted in an international conference to resolve the matter. This conference was called the Algezeras conference and took place in 1906. Germany was outvoted by all the obvious countries but surprisingly was also voted against by Italy, one of her allies. As part of the Congress of Berlin in 1878 Austria was authorized to govern Bosnia on behalf of Turkey. However in 1908 Bosnia was annexed by Austria which in turn annoyed both Turkey and Serbia. Especially Serbia as Bosnia would have enabled Serbia access to the sea.
Due to this Serbia wanted to go to war with Austria and so asked Russia to facilitate them but when Germany said that she would join with Austria and declare war on Russia, Russia decided to back down. This meant that Germany and its alliance would prevail on this occasion. In 1911 the Agadir Crisis took place. There was an uprising in Morocco and so Germany decided to send out a Gunboat as Kaiser felt it was for Germany’s own protection. This caused great unease throughout the nations and all countries began preparing their armies even though they didn’t want it to come to that.
By 1912 a league known as the Balkan League was formed which consisted of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro. Its aim was to remove Turkey from the Balkans. Serbia was now very strong and Austria felt threatened by this. In 1913 Austria and Hungry were ready to take on Serbia but needed the support of their third member of the alliance. Over the two years two wars were fought and Serbia came out victorious in both due to their power they were able to cause these wars in order to obtain larger amounts of land even if it meant taking it from Bulgaria.
On the 28th of June 1914 the archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were both assassinated by Serbian nationalists on a visit to Sarajevo. Austria then sent an ultimatum to Serbia telling them that they would need to find the assassins and castigate them and also to allow Austria into the country. As Austria needed an excuse to go to war with Serbia they produced the ultimatum in such a way that they knew Serbia would refuse the ultimatum which is exactly what they did. Exactly a month later Austria declared war on Serbia and so on the 31st Russia began mobilising their army in order to help Serbia.
This gave Germany just the excuse they needed in to go to war with Russia and so on the 1st of August they declared war against Russia as they claimed Russia were a threat to them and its allies. Germany also declared war against France who was Russia’s allies. So in concluding we can see that Germany had a great role to play in causing the First World War but were not alone as other issues also played a part. There were other more specific causes due to individual interests in economy, nationalism, rivalry and sheer greed for supremacy.
Two main alliances had arouse in Europe and if any one country from either side decided for war the rest would have to join resulting in a calamitous war which we can see is what happened. All countries were provoked and teased into war which could have been prevented if it wasn’t for the idealistic plans of dominancy especially from Germany and Serbia. But we can see that the main trigger for the war was the assassinations in Sarajevo which gave countries like Germany the perfect excuse to go to war with their great rivals, both Russia and France.