The Outbreak of War in Europe in 1914 Essay Sample
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The Outbreak of War in Europe in 1914 Essay Sample
‘The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 was due to an aggressive foreign policy which had been waged since 1900 Century’ How far do you agree with this opinion? Use Sources V, W and X and your own knowledge of the issues relating to the controversy
There has been much historiographical debate over the controversy of “who bore chief responsibility” on who was solely to blame for the outbreak of war. The Treaty of Versailles is significant evidence to display how Germany was forced onto the conclusion that they caused the outbreak of war in Europe. Fischer, the provoker of this controversy, states that since 1900 Germany was able to execute a war due to their aggressive Weltpolitik. However, although many historians have agreed with, or adapted this argument, such as the view it was a ‘calculated risk’ or an ‘escape forward’ in order to relieve Germany from their domestic pressures, many have also criticised the approach. For instance, some historians believe that Germany stumbled into a defensive war in order to protect themselves and their ally Austria-Hungary. However, it could be mostly argued that it is most plausible that Germany had planned the war and their aggressive foreign policy aimed to provoke a war in order to help their plans of expansionism.
Fischer’s argument that the outbreak of the First World War was due to Germany’s aggressive foreign policy can be highly significant. Historians such as Berghahn state that Germany ‘tried to shift the balance of power in their favour’ through an aggressive policy of Weltpolitik. The Navy Race is clear evidence to support this viewpoint as it displays how Germany “built a battle fleet aimed at the British” attempting to expand their navy in order to compete with them. Some may argue against this though as they may regard it as a defensive war that Germany was fighting and were merely catching up with its European rivals.
However, it is more conceivable that this was an attempt of an aggressive foreign policy by using Flottenpolitik as a means of seeming more powerful and threatening against any other naval power. Blackbourn believes Tirpitz, Secretary of the Navy, “bores more responsibility” towards Germanys of blame for the war by using this aggressive tactic of Flottenpolitik, agreeing with the argument that Germany used an aggressive policy contributing to the outbreak of the war. Therefore, Sources V and W clearly interlink and agree with Fischer’s thesis on the basis that Germany was attempting expansionism which resulted in tensions between European powers, leading to the outbreak of war.
Additional evidence to suggest Germany’s liability for war was the “Dual Alliance” between Germany and Austria Hungary, also known as the blank cheque. John Moses believes that “the two allies persisted during the entire war” presenting how the solid alliance Germany made with Austria Hungary of how she would give unconditional support in any war displays how Germany were taking war preparations by sustaining alliances and extra support. Thus, creating “international tension” and pushing Europe towards a war, displaying Germany’s tactics of foreign policy. This links to Fischer’s thesis, where he concluded that Germany had hoped the ‘Blank Cheque’ would result in war. He also states the Government wanted to be distracted from innerpolitik which is why they was keen for war in order to gain nationalism and patriotism within their country, relating to the theory of Primat der Innerpolitik.
Source W tells us “German actions going back to the 1890s had done much to create international tension” clearly blaming German foreign policy for pushing Europe towards war, a view supported by Source X which seems to blame Germany even more reverently claiming that “the German plan to unleash a continental war…was fully realised” indicating that the author of the source John Moses, fully believed that Germany had planned a war on a grand scale for some time. Historians such as Fischer would support this view and would use the document known as “The September Programme” to back up their claims.
This document, drawn up in September 1914 shows us what the demands of the German state would be should they be victorious in the war, Fischer argued that this was proof that the German government had been planning a war in Europe for some time and had fully intended to do so in order that they may see through the demands of the September Programme and annex large areas east and west of Germany. However, it should be noted that these demands were drawn up only after the war had started and so it does not seem legitimate to argue that this proves this was the intention of Germany before the war, it is to be expected that once engaged in a war Germany should have aims. Fischer has no evidence to prove that prior to the outbreak of war with which he can legitimately prove that Germany wanted a war in order to expand in Europe as he suggests. Fischer would point towards what is referred to as