The First World War lasted for four years and resulted in the catastrophic deaths of millions. Germany is responsible for it, there’s no doubt in it. Yet whether Germany should be held the sole responsibility for World War one is something that led to endless debates among people for ages. In my point of view, all participating countries should be held responsible, only to different scale. I agree that Germany should be held a greater proportion of responsibility, comparing to other involving countries such as Russia, Serbia and Austria, as Germany was the main combatant and certainly caused the most fatalities.
Yet it would be unjust to make Germany bare all “war guilt” as there are still other factors leading to such destruction war. Due to the influence of extreme nationalism, Germany sought to be recognized as a world power and had imperialistic ambitions on expanding territories. It scrambled for colonies to show off its national strength, and refused to make concessions in economic and diplomatic rivalries with other European powers because it believed that making compromises implied weakness. These upset the other countries and harmed their diplomatic relationship, furthermore the likeliness of war.
Take the First Moroccan Crisis as an example: Under the terms of the Dual Entente in 1904, Britain recognized Morocco as a French sphere of influence. This offend Germany, William Second therefore demanded an international conference on the question. However it relentlessly undermined the relationship of Anglo-French entente, almost all countries (except Austria) supported France. Despite Germany failed to get Morocco, it strengthen the ally relationship with Austria as Germany regarded Austria to be its only reliable ally.
Due to the strong bonding between the two countries, Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to be completely off track when dealing with Serbia after the Sarajevo Assassination. This shows that German should be at least principally responsible for the outbreak of World War One- owning to Austria-Hungary would not presented such harsh and unreasonable ultimatum without the “blank cheque”, symbolizing unlimited support and fully backup from its ally Germany. Thus, in a sense reflected that Germany’s anticipating to war.
However, we cannot jump to the conclusion that Germany should bare all the “war guilt” as stated in the Treaty of Versailles yet. We must not unseen one of the most significant factor that led to the war- the alliance system in the pre-war period. It is a major cause for the war because the mystery of the alliances in the system led to fear suspicion and therefore caused conflicts between nations that led to war. The system guided to many secret arrangements between allies which had always been speculated by antagonistic nations, this led to fear and distrust between European powers.
Eventually, these conflicts could intensify tension among the powers which would lead to a general war. Just like what happened after the Sarajevo Assassination, all powers almost immediately took sides and formed the “chain of friendship”. The chain reaction caused by the alliance system enlarged the scale of any local conflicts- the intensified tension between the great powers easily turned any local conflicts that may settled in terms of peace into such a war.
Therefore, we can see that World War one was not one-handed led by the Germany–instead, all other involving countries had contributed to the start of the massive war in some way or another. In conclusion, Germany should not be held the sole responsibility for World War one as the cause of the war involved several contributing factors. Although Germany’s pre-war ambitions did contribute to the outbreak of the war greatly, the alliance system was another key factor that must not be unseen. World War one may have been avoided if any one factor was absent. F5B Shanelle Sham (19)
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