Causes of WW1 Paper

This essay has a total of 3000 words and 14 pages.


causes of WW1




The Long Range Causes
INTRODUCTION
In the introduction to a recent survey of the origins of World War I, the author begins
with a quote from British scholar C. V. Wedgwood:

"The war solved no problems. Its effects, both immediate and indirect, were either
negative or disastrous. Morally subversive, economically destructive, socially degrading,
confused in its causes, devious in its course, futile in its result, it is the outstanding
example in European history of meaningless conflict."

Although Wedgewood was not writing on the 1914-1918 War, but on the Thirty Years' War in
the Seventeenth Century, the sentiment expressed is relevant. Europe was never to recover
from The Great War. It destroyed a relatively peaceful century of progress, destroyed the
very dynasties which it was initiated to save, and laid the foundations for Lenin,
Mussolini, and Hitler. In the ethnic hatred, racism, and nationalism of the post-war
period lay the seeds of a second terrible conflict. The war solved nothing. The sacrifices
were to produce no security; the decisions of the Peace Conference were to produce no
peace. Perhaps the Germans could have accepted a straightforward "YOU LOST-YOU PAY"
attitude. By placing the chief blame for the war on Germany in the famous "War Guilt
Clause," the Allied Powers crippled the new democratic government of Germany and alienated
every German patriot. While it is true that the Germans as a whole were and are unwilling
to face the truth of their own guilt in bring on he war, the Allies - who had won the
propaganda war against Germany from 1914-1919 - gave their victorious weapons to new
enemies like Hitler.

In the 1960s with the publication of new scholarly works by German historians, led by
Fritz Fischer, the origins of the Great War became again a major topic of historical
investigation. As one historian has written, the publication of Fischer's works

"forced the West German establishment, both at academic and governmental levels, to reopen
a question that it did not want to face, that of Germany's accountability for the First
World War. While most West German scholars and politicians were willing to accept
Hitler's-if not Germany's- responsibility for starting the Second World War, they proved
remarkably unwilling to confront the possibility that the same could be said of the First
World War."

The study of the origins of the First World War is still relevant to students today. While
the divisions of Europe into the two major blocks of the Cold War seem to be over, the
whole world is again preoccupied with the Balkans. It might be comforting to think that
nations jusT "slither" into war as Lloyd George says below, but human beings make the
decisions or fail to make the decisions which lead to or prevent wars.

Among the factors which set the stage for The Great War were:
Nationalism
Entangling Alliances
Militarism, Arms Races, and War Plans
Imperialism
Domestic and Human Tensions
Psychological Fear of Loosing One's Allies
Exhaustion from Relentless Crises & Tensions
Cultural Dispair & Fatalism
Willingness to Risk War for Minor Goals
The crutial turning points in the short range were:
The Assassination of the Archduke and His Wife
The German-Austrian Conference at Potsdam on July 5
The Austrian Ultimatium and Their Declaration of War
The Mobilizations: Austrian, Russian, and German
Variety of Opinion:
Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles said that Germany and her allies were to blame for the outbreak of the war:
"The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of
Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and
Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war
imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.

David Lloyd George, who became the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1916, has written in his memoirs:
"How was it that the world was so unexpectedly plunged into this terrible conflict? Who
was responsible? . . . The nations slithered over the brink into the boiling cauldron of
war without a trace of apprehension or dismay."

Harry Elmer Barnes, an American scholar, reacted sharply to the Versailles verdict by
blaming France and Russia for the outbreak of hostilities because of their motives:

"The chief objects of Russian and French foreign policy, seizure of the Straits and the
return of Alsace-Lorraine, could be realized only through a general European war.... In
estimating the order of guilt of the various countries we may safely say that the only
direct and immediate responsibility for the World War falls upon Serbia, France and
Russia, with the guilt about equally divided."

Sidney Bradshaw Fay, another American, presented a more scholarly case for revision of the
Versailles conclusions. Fay wrote that that no one country or person was responsible:

"None of the Powers wanted a European War.... Nevertheless, a European War broke out. Why?
Because in each country political and military leaders did certain things which led to
mobilizations and declarations of war, or failed to do certin things which might have
prevented them. In this sense, all the European countries, in a greater or less degree,
were responsible. One must abandon the dictum of the Versailles Treaty that Germany and
her allies were solely responsible."

Bernadotte E. Schmitt, a noted scholar also writing in the 1930s, concluded that perhaps
Fate was responsible for the war:

"In every country there was an instinctive feeling that the future, for an indefinite
period, was at stake, that the nation which did not play its part would be outdistanced in
the eternal competition of peoples, and that any sacrifice must be borne to insure the
continuance of historic traditions. In the face of this intense nationalism, which had
been born of the French Revolution and intensified by the events of the nineteenth
century, pacific instincts, socialistic programs, religious scruples and humanitarian
ideals were of no avail."

Holger H. Herwig, in summarizing the scholarship since 1960 on the origins of the First
World War, has concluded the following:

"In the final analysis, one can attribute responsibility--to be sure, not sole
responsibility--for the war with some meausre of certainty. The regicide at Sarajrvo was
inspired and supported by Serbian military intelligence, and thus Belgrade must shoulder a
good measure of responsibility. Second, Austria-Hungary made the conscious decision to
launch a Balkan war in order to reduce Serbia to the status of at best a
"semi-protectorate," and to appeal to its ally in Berlin for supportin case the
Austro-Serbian conflict escalated into a general European war. Unfortunately,
Austria-Hungary's culpability for the start of the First World War has been overshadowed
for far too long...The greatest measure of responsibility, however, remains with Germany.
Planners, both civilian and military, were all too eager to resolve their perceived
diplomatic encirclement by use of force -- "now or never," as Kaiser Wilhelm II put it."



Chronology of Events, 1904-1913
1904 (February 8) Outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War
(April 8) Anglo-French entente
1905 (September 6) Treaty of Portsmouth ending Russo-Japanese War
1906 (January 16) First Moroccan Crisis (Algeciras Conference opens)
(7 April) Algeciras Act signed
1907 (August 31) Anglo-Russian convention
1908 (October 6) Austria-Hungary annexes Bosnia and Hercegovina
1911(July 1) Second Moroccan Crisis (Ger. Panther to Agadir)
(September 29) Italy declares war on Turkey
(November 4) Agadir accord over Morocco
1912 (February 8-11) Haldane Mission to Berlin
(March, May) Balkan League formed
(July 22) Anglo-French Mediterranean naval reorganization
(October 15) Treaty of Ouchy (ends Italo-Turkish War)
(October 17) First Balkan War breaks out
(December 8) Potsdam "war council" convened by Wilhelm II
1913 (May 30) Treaty of London (ends First Balkan War)
(June 29) Second Balkan War breaks out
(August 7) French Army bill (3-year service) ratified
(August 10) Treaty of Bucharest (ends Second Balkan War)
(October/Nov) Zabern Affair in Germany
(November 4) Nicholas II approves army's "Great Military Program"
The Summer of 1914
The March to War
June 28. ASSASSINATION OF THE ARCHDUKE FRANCIS FERDINAND at Sarajevo. The assassin was
Gavrilo Princip of the Serbian society The Black Hand, a terrorist organization. The
Serbian gov-ernment was cognizant of the plot; the world generally was outraged.

July 23. Austrian ultimatum to Belgrade (48 hours).
July 28. AUSTRIA DECLARED WAR ON SERBIA. Belgrade was bom-barded the next day, though
Austria was not ready for real operations until about August 12. The declaration of war
was meant to create a fait accompli.
Continues for 7 more pages >>




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