Part B controversy 1: Germany to blame for WW1?

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Part B controversy- WW1 Blame

Historians views:

  • Fischer- Fischers view, often referred to as the Fischer Thesis, can be summarised as German responsibility, based on aggressive foreign policy. He suggested the pursuit of Weltpolitik led Germany to engineering a war in 1914.
  • Ritter- One of Fischers main cirtics, Gerhard Ritter argues Germany acted in defence during the July crisis 1914, and was pursuing a diplomatic victory over the other European powers, not a military victory.
  • Taylor- The British historian AJP Taylor argues that war plans of the Great Powers were the cause of WW1. Diplomacy would never have worked in any situation according to Taylors view, and that following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, War was essentially inevitable.

Key Historical knowledge needed to answer the question in the exam

German factors linked to blame-

  • Germany was a 'recent creation', unified during a war between France and Austria. This left Germany vulnerable, and wanted to avoid fighting a war on two fronts.
  • Germany needed allies, and Austria seemed to be the only willing country,with the exception of the reinsurance treaty with Russia, which would always be problematic given tensions between Russia and Austria.
  • 1892-95 Full military defensive alliance between France and Britain caused much tension in Germany over fear of a two-front war which she would likely lose.
  • THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN- Often the centre of debate, the Schlieffen plan was Germanys answer to a two-front war. Developed from 1898 by Count von Schlieffen, the plan assumed that Russia would be slow to mobalise (approx. 6 weeks to be fully ready), and so Germany would be able to take France in a matter of weeks via Belgium, allowing enough time for German troops to meet the Russians over the border.
  • GERMAN NAVAL EXPANSION- Again often the centre of debate, Naval expansion was decided upon in 1898. This caused great tension in Britain, who at the time still had the Worlds greatest Navy, which led to the naval race between the two.
  • German colonialism- Germanys desire to have its 'place in the sun' along side other European powers led to seemingly aggressive policies. Coupled with incidents in Morocco 1905 and 1911, this led to a sense


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