Possible interpretations of causes of WW1

See 'my revision notes' (Barbara Warnock- Hodder Education) Revision guide pg33

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  • Interpretations of reasons for outbreak of WW1
    • War caused by German desire for European hegemony
      • Wanted to become dominant power in Europe
        • War Council
        • September Programme
        • Schlieffen Plan
      • Before war, deliberately destabilised peace and sought confrontation with Entente powers
        • Naval race with Britain
        • Antagonism against France during Moroccan crises
      • When crisis developed in summer 1914, German military and political elite sought to capitalise on it.
    • Germany wanted to 'escape forwards'
      • Government faced stalemate
        • Growing power of SPD
        • Tensions caused by Zabern Affair
        • Budget deficit
      • Conservative political and military elite sought war- strengthen own position
        • National unity
        • Distract attention from need of political system reform
    • War caused by German fear of encirclement
      • Schlieffen Plan
        • G actions more defensive than aggressive
        • Only hope of victory if France joined Russia against Germany
      • Alliances between Russia, France and Britain
        • G feared they would be crushed in the future: it faced an aggressive coalition
      • Russian and French plans to expand armies
        • G feared they would be crushed in the future: it faced an aggressive coalition
    • War was a 'calculated risk'
      • Did not have long term plan for aggressive war, but took risk when opportunity arose.
      • German military and political elite took chance to escalate conflict between Austria and Serbia- hoped would gain easy victories
      • Better to have war sooner than later
        • Before balance of power slipped away from them
    • War was caused by tensions, rivalry and instability between European countries
      • Many European countries contributed in destabilising peace before 1914
      • Alliances and agreements created tensions and suspicions
      • Number of countries joined arms race
      • Problems in the Balkans: fallout from weakening of Ottoman power caused conflict
      • European countries did not deliberately seek war
        • David Lloyd George: 'slithered' almost accidentally towards war


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