The debate of Germanys responsibility for the outbreak of war first began with the charge of war guilt given in Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty. Germany rejected Article 231 and successfully campaigned against it as by 1950 it had become widely accepted that Germany where not solely responsible for the outbreak of war in 1914. The first source from Gordon Corrigan, Mud, Blood and Poppycock, published in 2003 addresses Germany’s “unconditional support” to Austria- Hungary to support the idea of Germany being the main reason for the outbreak of World War 1. In this source Corrigan refers to Fritz Fischer’s theory in which he argued that Germany’s leaders might not have been solely to for what happened in 1914 but hold a substantial share of the responsibility. Source 2 from L.F.C Turner, The Origins of the First World War, published in 1970 agrees with Source 1 by reinforcing that it was Germany’s support to Austria and the Blank Cheque that were vital in the starting of War. On the other hand, Source 3 from James Joll, The Origins of the First World War, published in 1984 disagrees with source 1 as Joll highlights the involvement of other countries with a main focus on Britain being a main factor in the cause of war. Source 2 agrees with this to some extent as it also discusses that Germany is not the only country that is responsible.
All three sources are secondary sources and therefore show a unbiased explanation to some extent as well as including there own view; the reliability of the sources can be argued as they all are influenced by their own personal opinion. Source 1 uses Fischer’s views in order to support the source, it can be seen as being an unbiased source as he has drew upon further knowledge and evidence and came to a conclusion. Source 3 is similar in the idea that its has collected information from all accounts of the countries involved and came to a conclusion that all major powers contributed to the origins of World War 1. Source 2 will also have collected accounts from both Russia and France as it suggests they had involvement as well as Germany.
Gordon Corrigan argues that Germany had planned for a European War since 1906, shortly after the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905. This is significant as it was Germany who provoked the crisis in order to destroy the Anglo-French Entente, due to this Britain’s suspicions of Germanys plans for war increased causing Germany to prepare for an outbreak of war. The Second Moroccan Crisis in 1911 was a second attempt of Germany trying to undermine the Anglo-French Entente, which resulted in Germany realising the only support they had was from Austria. This is supported by source 2, which states that Germany did have a war plan known as the Schlieffen Plan that had been agreed by German government since 1904. However, it can be argued that Germany and Austria did not support each other fully as shown in source 2, “Bethmann pushed Austria” in which Germany did not get involved with the conflict of the Balkan Wars involving Austria. Unlike source 1 and 2 which refers to the Schlieffen Plan, source 3 focuses on German and British relations and how all major powers were influenced in the outbreak of war.
Both sources 1 and 2 argue that war was an aim of Germany’s foreign policy, where as source 3 suggests it was the involvement of all the major powers. Evidence to support the idea that it was Germany’s foreign policy is the Second Moroccan crisis in 1911. With the failure of destroying the Anglo-French Entente, Germany was only left with Austria as its ally and was surrounded by other countries, which created international tension throughout Europe. This reinforces the idea of Germany offering unconditional support to Austria as suggested in source 1. Source 3 strengthens how all major powers had involvement in the causes of upcoming war. Joll states’ “the British were determined to maintain their naval superiority, whatever the financial and political cost” demonstrating that their was a naval and arms race which began after the Second Moroccan Crisis.
Where as in Source 2 it puts forward the idea that Bethmann pushing Austria into a declaration of war against Serbia caused the situation to become uncontrollable being a main factor in the cause of Wold War One. The 1908 Bosnian crisis, Germany took the advantage to inflict a diplomatic humiliation on Russia who was already weakened by its defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904. It succeeded by leaving Russia humiliated and resentful of Germany. This demonstrates an aggressive foreign policy that is proposed in Source 1. Source 3 disagrees with this, as it is evident that the British policy in the second Moroccan Crisis was extremely forceful as well as Russia displaying a readiness to take risks when it backed the Balkan states in the war of 1912. Therefore, this supports the idea Joll has proposed arguing that all major powers had an involvement in the origins of World War One.
The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand by Serbian terrorist group, led to Austrian leaders agreeing on the need to take action against Serbia. Bethmann took this opportunity to offer Austria their full support, the deal that became known as the Blank Cheque. Source 1 argues that the Blank Cheque was one of the main factors which initiated war as Germany were focused on annexation which was prominent in the Bosnian Crisis and further continued into the July Crisis. Fischer would support this as he argued that Germany was intent on a general European war before 1914 and saw the Austro-Serbian crisis in 1914 as an unmissable opportunity to begin a war. Source 2 also supports this idea as the source implies that a European war was planned by Germany from around 1904. On the other hand, Source 3 reinforces the idea how all major powers had war plans for the upcoming war. France wanted revenge for the Franco-Prussian war as well as Russia wanting to secure an Empire in the Balkans. So it’s argued that it was not just Germany who where in support for a war.
In addition, source 1 and 3 can be seen as the most modern of the three sources, the evidence given gives the sources high reliability. Although, source 1 is from a negative viewpoint arguing Germany’s aggression was the main cause of a European war, it will want its audience to form the same opinion. Source 3 implies a sympathetic view that Germany where the main cause of WW1. It can be argued with source 2 being from the 1970’s, many historians aimed to blame Germany for the outbreak of WW1. However, it must be taken into account that this source also has a point to explain regarding the reasons of the origins of WW1.
Furthermore, sources 1 and 2 support the statement that it was Germanys aggression that was responsible for the outbreak of war and evidence such as the Moroccan crisis and the Austro-Serbian crisis is evidence to suggest Germany’s advancement. However, source 3’s suggestion that all the major powers were to blame is significant, as the Naval Race between Britain and Germany places some of the blame for war onto Britain. France also wanted revenge against Germany for the Franco-Prussian war; as well as Russia’s ambitions for supremacy in the Balkans, these are all factors that lead to World War One. Germany did have a significant role in the cause of the war and it can be argued that the Austro-Serbian crisis was the catalyst of the First World War.