World War One Controversy - key facts

Key facts and interpretations on whether or not it was German aggression which caused the outbreak of European war in 1914.

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When was the Blank Cheque issued?
5th July 1914
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How can it be argued that the Blank Cheque isn't evidence that German aggression caused war?
Austria were Germany's only ally and so it was logical they should defend them. If Austria had been defeated, Russia would have grown in strength. Also, its possible they belived Russia would back down as they had after the 1908 Bosnian Crisis
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How can it be argued that the Blank Cheque is evidence German aggression caused war?
Without it, it is unlikely Austria would have risked war with Russia; Germany gave their support knowing it would spark war which they could use to their advantage
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When was the Schlieffen Plan created?
1905
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Using the Schlieffen Plan, in what time period did Germany plan to defeat France?
They planned to defeat them within 6 weeks
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How can it be argued that the Schlieffen Plan isn't evidence German aggression caused war?
It was logical for Germany to be prepared for war due to the heightening tensions in Europe and it only reflected the plans of other nations; France had Plan XVII
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How can it be argued that the Schlieffen Plan is evidence German aggression caused war?
The plan had to be implemented immediatly and its inflexible nature left no room for negotiation after the outbreak of war. Also, that it had been produced almost 10 years in advance, it could suggest Germany had hoped for conflict
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What was Weltpolitik?
Weltpolitik (World Policy) was Germany's policy of colonial expansion which they hoped to use to gain their 'place in the sun' and achieve Hegemony
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What was the result of Weltpolitik for Germany?
Weltpolitik often resulted in humiliation for Germany. The Moroccan Crisis drove Britain and France closer and the massacre of the Herero people led then to be judged by Europe
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How can it be argued that Weltpolitik isn't evidence German aggression caused war?
Other Great Powers were expanding their empires and Germany were only reacting to this. Other nations were also involved in events such as the Moroccan Crisis and so they antagonised war just as much; France wanted full control in Morocco.
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How can it be argued that Weltpolitik is eveidence German aggression caused war?
Weltpolitik only furthered tensions between European nations and drove them closer together against Germany. It could even be argued they caused their own encirclement, countering arguments they fought a defensive war
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When was Weltpolitik first implemented?
It had been a constant policy since 1896
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In what areas did Germany want to gain Hegemony?
Mitteleuropa and MittelAfrika
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What was the September Programme?
It was an outline of Germany's war aims produced in the early days of the war
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What did the September Programme show Germany wanted from war?
It showed Germnay planned to annex large areas of land in eastern Europe and also sought to subordinate France and cripple them economically
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How can it be argued that the September Programme isn't evidence German aggression caused war?
It was written after war had begun and so there is little evidence that Germany held these plans beforehand; Fischer is making assumptions. Also, it wasn't a formal expression of Government policy, but the views of one individual
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How can it be argued that the September Programme is evidence German aggression caused war?
Germany wouldn't have been able to come up with such extensive plans in such a short space of time and therefore must have planned war in advance. This would make sense as it is known Germany wanted to expand their empire through Weltpolitik
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When was the Imperial War Council held?
8th December 1912
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What was the Imperial War Council?
A meeting between the Kaiser and his top military generals to discuss the possibility of war and plans were made on how to prepare Germany for such an eventuality.
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How can it be argued that the War Council is evidence German aggression caused war?
Shows Germany were considering war long in advance and were planning to cause it when it best suited their situation; action was postponed as the Kiel Canal hadn't opened. Supported by the fact the Schlieffen Plan was created 10 years in advance
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How can it be argued that the War Council isn't evidence German aggression caused war?
They didn't actually make a decision to got to war in 1912 and little happened in response to the meeting. It occured after Britain had declared alliegence to France and so it was rational they should meet; reflects fears of encirclement/alliances.
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In 1904 and 1914, by how much did the Russian and French armies outnumber those of Austria and Germany?
In 1904, they outnumbered them by 260,000 and by 1914 the figure was over 1 million
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Before 1914, which alliance system had the highest military expenditure?
The Triple Entente
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What is argued in the 'shared guilt' interpretation of war?
That all nations should share part of the guilt for the outbreak of war and therefore no country was soley to blame. It is argued that the alliance systems and tensions caused by the arms race sparked war
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What provoked the passing of the Third Naval Law?
The British launch of H.M.S. Dreadnought in 1906
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By what percentage did the Army Bills of 1912 and 1913 increase the size of the German Army?
Increased it by 20%
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By how many men did Russia plan to increase their army by 1916?
500,000
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How many battleships were there in the German navy after the Second Naval Law in 1900?
38 battleships - it was this which antagonised the British to launch the Dreadnought
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How do historians who agree with 'shared guilt' argue it wasn't just German aggression which caused war?
All nations contributed to the arms race and alliances which caused tensions and this provoked Germany's aggressive policy. In this way, nations didn't seek war in 1914.
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What is the counter-argument to the 'shared guilt' interpretation?
It was Weltpolitik and their wish for Hegemony which initially sparked tensions in Europe and set the foundation for war. e.g. It was Britain's fear of German expansion which caused them to break from isolation and enter European affairs.
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Which historians argue Germany was fully to blame for the outbreak of war in 1914?
Fischer and Wehler
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Which historian argues Germany 'slipped into war' in 1914?
Karl Dietrich Erdmann
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Which historians argue war started because Germany felt encircled?
Klaus Hildebrand, Andreas Hillgruber and Gregor Schollen
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Which historian argues Germany fought a preventative war?
Niall Ferguson
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What was Primat der Innenpolitik?
The idea that internal pressures impacted foreign policy; an 'escape forwards'. Politicians hoped to divert tensions by uniting the country behind traditional right wing leadership through nationalistic achievement
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What domestic tensions were there that justify the idea of Primat der Innenpolitik?
Industrialisation caused social and economic tensions which resulted in a huge rise in socialism which caused stalemates in the Reichstag. Junkers resisted middle class attempts to gain political power and the government faced a budget deficit.
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How can it be argued Primat der Innenpolitik isn't evidence German aggression caused war?
There is no conclusive evidence to suggest Germany purposely caused war to reduce domestic tensions and social tensions were already reducing before war due to social reforms
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How can it be argued Primat der Innenpolitik is evidence German aggression caused war?
Germany's elite purposely used war to strengthen their own position to try and create national unity, and to distract attention away from the need to reform the potitical system; they used aggression to improve their situation
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What was Flottenpolitik?
Germany's policy of naval expansion. Before 1898, Germany's navy had been a small coastal force with no heavy battleships but by 1914, only Britain rivaled them - caused tensions.
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What is the argument of Encirclement?
That Germany was an innocent victim of aggressive encirclement by the Triple Entente; their policy was a reaction to the aggression of others
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Card 2

Front

How can it be argued that the Blank Cheque isn't evidence that German aggression caused war?

Back

Austria were Germany's only ally and so it was logical they should defend them. If Austria had been defeated, Russia would have grown in strength. Also, its possible they belived Russia would back down as they had after the 1908 Bosnian Crisis

Card 3

Front

How can it be argued that the Blank Cheque is evidence German aggression caused war?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

When was the Schlieffen Plan created?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Using the Schlieffen Plan, in what time period did Germany plan to defeat France?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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