Explain why Germany is responsible for World War1. Explain why Germany is responsible for World War1,
Discuss topic related to Militarism, Alliances, imperialism, Nationalism, and their national interests, and where they faced the most tension or conflict (with reasons an evidence)
Overview of the causes of World war
The causes of World War One are complicated and unlike the causes of World War Two, where the guilty party was plain to all, there is no such clarity. Germany has been blamed because she invaded Belgium in August 1914 when Britain had promised to protect Belgium. However, the street celebrations that accompanied the British and French declaration of war gives historians the impression that the move was popular and politicians tend to go with the popular mood.
The alliance between Germany and Austria was natural. Both spoke the same language – German – and had a similar culture. In previous centuries, they had both been part of the same empire – the Holy Roman Empire.
Austria was in political trouble in the south-east of Europe – the Balkans. She needed the might of Germany to back her up if trouble got worse. Italy had joined these countries as she feared their power on her northern border. Germany was mainland Europe’s most powerful country – so from Italy’s point of view, being an ally of Germany was an obvious move. Each member of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria and Italy) promised to help the others if they were attacked by another country.
The Triple Entente was less structured than the Triple Alliance. “Entente” means understanding and the members of the Entente (Britain, France and Russia) did not have to promise to help the other two if they got attacked by other countries but the understanding was that each member would support the others – but it was not fixed.
France was suspicious of Germany. She had a huge army but a poor navy. Britain had the world’s most powerful navy and a small army. France and Britain joining together in an understanding was natural.
Britain was also concerned about Germany because she was building up a new and powerful navy. The inclusion of Russia seemed odd when Russia was so far from France and Britain. However, Russia’s royal family, the Romanovs, was related to the British Royal Family. Russia also had a huge army and with France on the west of Europe and Russia on the east, the ‘message’ sent to Germany was that she was confronted by two huge armies on either side of her borders. Therefore, it was not a good move by Germany to provoke trouble in Europe – that was the hoped for message sent out by the Triple Entente.
Certain specific problems also helped to create suspicion throughout Europe. The first was Germany’s fear of the huge British Empire.
By 1900, Britain owned a quarter of the world. Countries such as Canada, India, South Africa, Egypt, Australia and New Zealand were either owned by Britain or were still highly influenced by the British Empire. Queen Victoria had been crowned Empress of India. Huge amounts of money were made from these colonies and Britain had a powerful military presence in all parts of the world. The Empire was seen as the status symbol of a country that was the most powerful in the world. Hence Britain’s title “Great Britain”.
Germany clearly believed that a sign of a great power was possession of overseas colonies. The ‘best’ had already been taken by Britain but Germany resolved to gain as much colonial territory as possible.
Millenarianism is a belief held by a religious, political or social group or movement that a coming major transformation will occur, after which all things will be changed. For Germany, leading into World War I, historians report that the Spirit of 1914 was high, with support from the German population for participation in the war.
The German government believed that the onset of war and its support of Austria-Hungary was a way to secure its place as a leading power, which was supported by public nationalism and further united it behind the monarchy. The success Germans saw in the opening battles of WWI provided a platform for the German government to position itself as able to accomplish more when unified and nationalistic. However, this millenarianism was short-lived, as Germany was unprepared to fight the long war, which took a dramatic and demoralizing toll on its people and later set the stage for the rise of the Third Reich, less than two decades later.
Following the events above, World War I moved into full force from 1914 through 1918, ending when peace was brokered between the German and Central Forces and the Allied Powers with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. However, this treaty forced punitive measures on Germany that further destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for the start of World War II. By understanding the causes of World War I, historians can develop a keen comprehension of how and why this devastating conflict began.