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· It must be remembered that the outbreak do the First World War happened in the context of Europe at the turn of
the century. Powerful forces technological, economic, ideological and demographic were at work and they
helped to shape the international situation and make the war possible. However, to emphasis the primacy of such
long-term factors is dangerously close to suggesting that the war was somehow inevitable.
· An interesting modern comparison might be that all the ingredients existed from the late 1940s to the late 1980s
for another worldwide conflict, but the flashpoints of the cold war never did actually develop into a Third World
· It I difficult to escape from the conclusion that the German leadership must shoulder the major responsibility for
both the worsening international climate in the years before 1914 and also for turning the July crisis of 1914 into
a European war.
· Weltpolitik and the ham-fisted diplomacy that accompanied it contributed to an increase in international tension
and, by 1907, to a deterioration in Germany's position.
· Significantly, in the following years there was no real attempt by Germany to overcome this. There was no
willingness to compromise as a way to encourage conciliation and trust or to improve the prospects for peace.
Instead, German foreign policy was generally of a warmongering nature that was prepared to take risks. In part,
this was made necessary by Germany's determination to stand by its one remaining reliable ally, Austria-Hungary.
· This policy and approach came to a head in the German response to events in the crisis of July 91. From early July,
Bachmann chose a policy that involved taking calculated risks in the hope of winning a diplomatic victory that
would decisively weaken the Entente. To this end, the crises was deliberately worsened and there were no
attempts at constructive mediation.
· All this was done because it was believed that the failure of diplomacy would lead to a war with the Entente
powers, which, in the view of the general, Germany could win.
· Thus, when Russia did mobilise in July 1914, Germany willingly accepted the challenge, declared war on Russia and
France and began to implement the schiliffen Plan.…read more