the cause of the FirstWorld War, you can not “point a finger” at an individual country. My
argument is that each European Country involved in the war was at fault. I
completely agree with Sidney B. Fay in chapter II of An Age of Conflict
about each country being at fault. “… a European War broke out. Why?
Because in each country political and military leaders did certain things
which led to mobilization and declaration of war…all European countries,
in a greater or less degree, were responsible.” (Fay 30/31). I think that
Michael Duffy, the author of The Causes of World War One says it best in
his article: “The events of July and early August 1914 are a classic case
of “one thing led to another” – otherwise known as the treaty alliance
The easiest way to start this is to explain that Serbia sparked the
war. They assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria-Hungry.
The next move was Austria’s. Austria and its ally Germany mobilized their
forces and declared war on Serbia and its allies, France and Russia. When
Britain gained wind of Germany’s plans of crushing the French, they had no
choice but to back France and join the war. Now I can go into the readings
in Chapter II about the origins of the First World War.
The Origins of the First World War is the first argument in Chapter
II. Fay opens his statement saying that none of the powers wanted the war,
but they knew it was inevitable. Each allied country not including Austria
and Serbia, entered the war to defend their allies. They where so quick to
live up to their word and keep a sense or pride, but didn’t think to reason
things out with one another and try to come to a compromise. Fay dose
something interesting next. In several paragraphs, he explains what each
countries action was in entering the war. He starts off with Serbia:
Serbia wanted one national Government. She waned to bring her people
together to have a sense of nationalism. She liberated those under Turkish
rule and was going to liberate those under Hepsburg rule. Serbia asked for
Russian assistance and expected the only response to be a positive one.
After the assassination, Mr. Pashtich (head of Serbian Government) did not
bother to find the killer. He even assisted some of the people involved to
disappear. Pashtich wanted to see what evidence Austria had against his
country. Eventually Austria gave Serbia an ultimatum. Pashtich responded
negatively and knew what was to follow. He mobilized forces and repaired
for the worst. He engaged in war knowing Russia would help him out.
Austria was more responsible for the war than any other country, but
was simply acting in self defense. She didn’t want to look like a coward
or as Serbian Propaganda called her “worm-eaten” by not issuing an
ultimatum. She needed her people’s support, and in order for this she
needed to crush Serbia. The Austrian minister of foreign affairs,
Berchtold, framed the ultimatum issued to Serbia with expectations that it
would be reject. This rejection “gave Austria no choice” in declaring war.
He knew by doing this he would be dragging Europe into a massive war.
Germany did not want a European war. She made genuine efforts to
overt one. She was a victim of her alliance to Austria. Since Austria’s
other allies (Italy and Rumania) were unreliable, Germany had no other
choice in the matter. Germany feared accusations of being an instigator of
war. She knew that by entering the war, she would pull Britain into it.
The reasoning behind this was due to Germany’s geographic position. They
were between France and Russia. As an active participant in the war,
Germany would first crush France and turn around and get Russia. Britain
would have to enter the war because they backed France. Germany also
dragged Belgium into the war because they had to march through Belgium in
order to get to France.
Russia was basically supporting Serbia and her every move. Russia was
weak from the Bosnian Crisis and Balkin War. She was also exhausted from
the Russo-Japanese War. The fact that France and Britain were both allies
gave Russia the confidence it needed to peruse a European war.
France is less clear than the other Great Powers because she did not
make a full publication of her documents. M. Poincare made an elaborate
and skilful plea in his memoirs saying “La France innocent” but he is not
convincing.He visited Russia and assured the Tsars that France would
support Russia as an ally in preventing Austria in humiliating and crushing
Serbia. Poincare convinced Russia to take strong military action. He knew
this would cause Germany to enter the war and fulfill his intentions of
stopping Germany from hurting his country.
Sir Edward Grey of Britain, made many proposals to preserve peace,
but these ideas were shot down do to Germany’s attitude toward war. Grey
could have possibly prevented a European war by warning Germany that
Britain would side with Russia ant France and this would have intimidated
Germany and made them back down. This would keep the war between Serbia
and Austria if war were to even break out at all.
The next argument is titled War’s Origins and these are Views from
Marxist/Leninist of the Soviet Union. The views expressed in this section
put the blame on Russia. It says the working class revolution crushed
capitalism and formed “advanced capitalism”. This made two social classes,
the lower working class, and the rich upper-class. What happened was that
millionaires created monopolies by buying out all of the capital in Russia.
This created an unfair capitalist system and affected the equilibrium of
the world. The reason why Russia is blamed in this section is because
their revolution is feared by other Great Powers such at Britain and the
U.S. These powers fear that their working classes will revolt as well. In
order to keep things safe and sound these Great Powers create propaganda
against Russia and use military force to bring them down.
German’s Aims in the First World War by Fritz Fischer is about how
Germany is at fault for the war. Fischer said that Germany was rapidly
industrializing and growing in power. “Germany’s claim to world power was
based on her consciousness of being a young growing and rising nation.”
(Fischer 40). Germany knew they were becoming a superpower and wanted to
expand its growing nation. Germany also wanted to expand so they could
acquire raw materials cheaply and easily. Germany claims that the war was
forced on them and that they are not responsible, however the real
responsibility does lie in Germany.
The last argument is titled Domestic Causes of the 1st World War by
Arno J. Mayer. Mayer explains that diplomatic historians find that there
are two sets of underlying and persistent causes of the Great War. The
first being dysfunction internally, and the other being mistakes and
miscalculations in foreign affairs. Other contributors to war are Alliance
Systems, Propaganda, Arms Races, and the fact that many leading officers
have personal motives and agendas that they carried out. Many of these
people did not concern themselves with the benefit of their country.
Instead they did what favored their own political beliefs.
Many countries wanted war to take attention away from internal
tension. War was a good way to create a sense of nationalism. Usually
high tension inside a country lead to worse problems outside the country.
An example would be revolutions cause by labor unrest. This would cause
other countries with similar labor problems to revolt as well.
“To a inconsiderable degree, then, throughout Europe the rising
international tensions, were accompanied by rising internal tensions – by
mounting social, political, and economic struggles that radicalized the
extremes, eroded the center, and inclined the governments to push
preparedness and diplomatic obduracy as part of their efforts to maintain
a precarious domestic status quo.” In other words the problems in Europe
were matched by the domestic problems each country had. The people of the
countries were torn between two extremes and the only way to keep control
and order inside a country was war outside the country.
I think that each author makes a valid point as to why the First
World War Occurred. The argument that Fay and Mayer state are the two that
support my idea that each European country involved is responsible. Even
though the Marxist-Leninist view solely blamed Russia and Fischer solely
blamed Germany, each one argued good points that can contribute to the idea
that not one country is responsible.
In conclusion I have proven that you can not “point a finger” at any
one country for starting WWI. Many countries contributed to it. I think a
main cause of the war is the idea of allied nations. There were defiantly
contributing facture such as power struggle, internal deputes, and fear or
one another. This is just a short list of problems.