Theme there was part of Germany that wanted

Theme 1

The militarism of Germany is said by many to one the main
cause of WW1. One the main examples given to why German militarism caused the
war is the Anglo-German naval arms race. The common interpretation from
historians such as of the Anglo-German naval arms race is that it was not
responsible for war but like many other events it contributed to the
anti-German atmosphere that made the war possible.  In February 1906, the Royal Navy launched its
first dreadnaught which was a massive technological leap from that which came
before it. Germany was desperate to catch up. Therefore, in 1910 Germany had
four of its own dreadnaughts built in response to this. This caused a race
between Britain and Germany as to who could build the most dreadnaughts. The
naval arms race is one example of many that Germany was souring its
relationships with its neighbours contributing to the anti-German atmosphere.
Eventually the arms race escalated to a point where talks over the arms race
took place in 1909 where Germany offered to slow down shipbuilding enterprise
if Britain first promised to maintain neutrality in any continental war. Which
possibly reveals that Germany’s intentions behind the arms race that, it was
trying to secure British neutrality in order to go to war with France and
Russia. This is further supported by the amendments made by Britain to the
first set of negations between Britain and Germany about the arms race that
Britain tried to put in place. They were that firstly, Germany would have to
slow down production first before an agreement took place, secondly and mainly
that any agreement would not include a pledge of neutrality that would allow
Germany to defeat France and Russia or at least go to war with the two
countries. In addition to this, the words of then Prime Minister Herbert Henry
Asquith support this conclusion1
“Nothing, I believe, will meet Germany’s purpose which falls short of a
promise on our part of neutrality, a promise we cannot give.” Showing that
Asquith also believed that arms race was just a plot to secure British
neutrality.  Furthermore, this agreement
for Germany to end the arms race did not come to fruition, which may have been
due to the British insistence on not allowing Germany to include the demand for
a pledge of neutrality, which could show that to Germany gaining that pledge
was the most important part of the negotiations. This reveals Germany’s
motivation for starting the naval arms race, that it was not in the interest in
self-defence or technological advancement but rather that it was an attempt to
bully Britain into a pledge of neutrality that would allow Germany to in their
view, start a war against France and Russia. Conclusively showing that there
was part of Germany that wanted to start a war or knew a war was coming.
However, on the other hand it could be said that the attempt to gain British
neutrality was a response to the fact that Germany had spent 1/3 of their
defence budget on the arms race and that because of this it could not afford to
support a war on both fronts between Russia and France. Therefore, why would
Germany try to start a war with Russia and France even with British neutrality
if they could not afford it? But the evidence is damning in suggesting that
Germany did help start the war by burning its bridges with Great Britain whilst
trying to secure neutrality in a costly mistake

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Another example of how militarism may have caused the war is
the Russian “Great Program” of June 1914 which proved worrisome for Berlin as
Russia rose their peacetime army size by 45 percent to 1,885,000 by 1917.
Russian forces would also improve qualitatively by expanding rapid-firing field
guns to 8,358, dwarfing Germany’s total of 6,004 in 1914. But all things
considered, writes historian Norman Stone, “The pointers for the future were
unmistakable.” This is an example of how the arms race on land was developing. However,
this wasn’t Germany’s fault unlike the naval arms race as they were building up
as a response to Russian expansion. It was no surprise, therefore, that Moltke
grew increasingly anxious, pressing Minister of War Erich von Falkenhayn
for another troop increase. It became clear in May 1914 that no further
increase could be squeezed out of a stingy parliament whose Left wanted no more
consumer taxes, and whose Right was bitterly protesting the new 1913 federal
taxes on wealth. In response, Moltke pleaded with the Kaiser. Getting nowhere with his plea
made Moltke eager to start the war while the odds favoured Germany. “If only
things would finally boil over,” he declared in early June 1914. “We are
ready—the sooner, the better for us.”2
Showing that Germany wanted the war to come as quickly as possible which could
explain the issuing of the blank cheque to Austria-Hungary in later that year.
On the other hand, in Germany’s eyes they were responding to what seemed like
Russia gearing up for war and therefore Russia should take some of the blame
also.

 

Theme 2

 

One of the main 1interpretations regarding world war one is
that Germany’s quest to become a super power had started the war. A frequent way
in which the this is explained is via the Moroccan crisis. which came to a
climax in September of 1911 was important in demonstrating the interpretation
that Germany was responsible for the start of the First World War.  This was shown through the sending of the
gunboat panther to the port of Agadir in Morocco to ensure “compensation” for Germany in the form
of territories in the French Equatorial African colony of Middle Congo.
This action taken by Germany caused international outcry as both countries saw
no reason to back down leading to the escalation of the event. The event within
itself caused mass outcry one person to speak out against Germany’s actions was
David Lloyd George in his Mansion House speech3.
 An interpretation from historian A.J.P
Taylor suggests that the speech was not a warning to Germany but however a
warning that Britain could not be left out of talks about the Agadir Crisis.
However, the common and more convincing interpretation says that this speech
was a threat against further action in Morocco by Berlin shown by the various
mentions of Britain wanting to retain their status. In this way the speech
shows how seriously Britain took the threat of Germany that it had to emphasise
that Britain would not bow to German Demands. This is further supported by the
meeting between Edward Grey and the German ambassador, Count Lichnowsky in
which after the speech given by David Lloyd George, Grey explained that in the
event of a war between Germany and the Franco-Russian alliance that Britain was
likely to side with the Franco-Russian entente over Germany. Lichnowsky called
this a ‘moral declaration of war’. This showed that the actions of Germany had
isolated them and built upon the increasing anti-German atmosphere4
shown via French cartoons with strap lines like this “And now Marianne hurry to conquer Morocco for us;
soon there will not be enough space in France for all German emigrants” showing the French opinion of the German Populace.
In itself the Moroccan crisis was fairly limited in the responsibility for
World War One. It didn’t outright cause it and came 3 years before the start.
But its significance came within the fact that it deepened the divisions
between the countries and lead to the deepening of the alliance system between
the Entente Cordiale. In
summary it wasn’t the event of the Moroccan Crises itself that caused the war
it was the path that it led the countries on (revise later)

However, on the other hand a much more responsible imperial
policy was the policy regarding the Balkans (revise
later). Between 1908-1914 the Balkans was in constant turmoil. Furthermore,
the imperialistic conflicts in the Balkans were directly responsible for the
start of the first world war due to the escalation of the war between Serbia
and Austria-Hungary. The reason the Balkans was such a mess was the conflicting
objectives of three world powers Austria-Hungary, Russia and Italy. It was
these ambitions from Russia to protect its interests in the Balkans that lead
to the informal alliance between the two countries that turned an Austro-Hungarian
and Serbian war into a worldwide conflict. However, the responsibility does not
lie with Russia for its actions undertaken in the build up to the war. Russia had
been friendly with Serbia as far back as 1906 when it supported Serbia in a
trade war between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

On the other hand, one interpretation of events surrounding
the death of archduke Franz Ferdinand was that Austria-Hungary exploited his
death to go to war with Serbia and pursuit its imperialistic ambitions in the
Balkans. This is supported by the Austrian-Hungarian demands to Serbia and the
Serbian Reply5.
From reading the demands and the reply it appears that Serbia satisfied the
demands of Austria-Hungary suitably even Kaiser Wilhelm II agreed with this (Check this). What further demonstrates responsibility
for the First World War is Serbia’s reply to demand 10 they go so far as to say
that they “are ready to accept a pacific understanding either by referring this
question to the decision of the International Tribunal of The Hague i.e., the
World Court, or to the Great Powers”. This shows that even in the offering of
a peaceful ending to the event Austro-Hungary’s imperialistic greed was too
much and lead them to declare war on Serbia. This exhibits Austria’s
responsibility for the war however; Germany also played a part in the
declaration of war issuing Austria with the blank cheque, which made Austria
less cautious about declaring war as it had the backing of Germany implicating
Germany due to its support of Austria-Hungary’s imperialistic ambitions in the
Balkans.

1 British
Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey by Francis
Harry Hinsley p.18 15 Sep
1977 (find)

2  Citations in Mombauer, Helmuth von Moltke 2001, pp. 176,
182. (find)

3 https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Agadir_Crisis:_Lloyd_George%27s_Mansion_House_Speech
13/12/17

4 https://www.dhm.de/lemo/bestand/objekt/nn000271
cartoon 13/12/17 

5 http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/austrianultimatum.htm
14/12/17

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