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‘German Aggression Was Responsible for the Outbreak of a General European War in August 1914.’ How Far Do You Agree with This Judgement?

In: Historical Events

Submitted By tommym98
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It is heavily debated that the display of German aggression inevitably contributed to the outbreak of general European tensions, and war in 1914. The use of strategies such as the Anglo-German Naval Race, as stated in Joll’s source, highlighted the aggression by Germany prior to war. Moreover, this type of tactic also demonstrated the desire and hunger Germany obtained for continental power, another factor towards European tensions. The sources in question both support and contest the set statement, to an extent. Sources 1 and 3 by Corrigan and Joll, respectively, argue how Germany’s use of tactics agitated European powers, thus causing war. However, Source 2 by Turner disagrees with the statement, arguing how other European powers were to blame for the outbreak of general war. Nevertheless, all sources will be taken into account and analysed with the support of other relevant in the build-up to war, before reaching a final judgement.
Corrigan’s source thoroughly argues how Germany used the tactic of aggression to stipulate war. Corrigan includes the historian within the source, Fischer, to highlight how Germany were to blame for general war. Fischer states that “at least as early as 1906, Germany had in place a plan for an aggressive war based on the premise that Germany would have to fight Russia and France simultaneously”. The quote demonstrates how Germany aimed to use methods of aggression to agitate other nations. Additonally, the quote also implies how Germany had been planning for war for a substantial period of time; “as early as 1906”. Furthermore, this indicates how Germany had planned to use the war via aggression to agitate other European nations; “Fischer is adamant that Germany’s foreign policy aims were focused on annexation”. This further highlights Germany used aggression to gain power, as well as create general war. Similarly, Source 2 by Turner also states how Germany “courted a great war”, again highlighting Germany’s proposal of war in order to gain power. Moreover, Corrigan and Turner also demonstrate Germany’s support to Austria-Hungary in war with Serbia; “pushing Austria-Hungary into premature declaration of war”. However, Corrigan fully conforms to the statement, arguing how Germany indeed caused general war through continuous aggression, whereas Turner argues that as well as Germany, other nation contributed to the outbreak of war. An example of German aggression that inevitably contributed to the outbreak of war was the Agadir Crisis in 1911. The crisis demonstrated European tensions between the UK and France against Germany for using naval power to invade Agadir Port. As a result, this led to Britain and France threatening to use violence upon Germany, causing an expansion in European tensions. Another example that is evident of Germany aggression is the German policy of Weltpolitik. The 1891 policy sought German expansion, becoming confrontational towards other European nations. Again, this demonstrates how Germany would confront and agitate other nations, contributing to the tensions between European countries before sparking a general war.
On the other hand, Turner argues how German aggression did not contribute to the outbreak of general war. Turner states that Germany provoked Austria-Hungary to declaring war on Serbia. Nevertheless, Turner also argues how other nations contributed to war. Turner states “The crisis got out of control because Bethmann pushed Austria into premature war with Serbia. French General Staff drove Russia along the fatal path of mobilisation”. The quote infers how despite that Germany may have provoked Austria-Hungary into “premature war”, they were not the only nation causing general war. The fact that France forced Russia into “fatal mobilisation” suggests that most people ignored other nation’s flaws and their contributions to war, scapegoating Germany in the process. Furthermore, this also argues how Germany’s aggressive Schlieffen Plan was not fully responsible for general war. Furthermore, the 1905-06 Moroccan Crisis was also evident of how other nations as well as Germany were to blame for war. The crisis led to a Russian betrayal of Germany, prioritising the Triple Entente instead. As a result, Germany vowed revenge, leading to aggressive strategies to take place. Despite this indicating that German aggression was at hand, it is implied that Russian betrayal was a cause of this aggression – evident that other nations were not just at blame for war, but also the consistent aggression by Germany. Despite this, Joll supports Turner, also arguing how Germany had a concrete determination of being involved in war despite the efforts of other nations. However, Turner states how Germany wanted to “avert crisis” whereas Joll contests this, using the arms race as an example of how German aggression inevitably led to general war. On the other hand, despite Turner implicating Germany’s intentions of war, events such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 indicate how other nations used their own aggression to cause war. The assassination in Sarajevo sparked international outrage. Moreover, the event displayed how nations such as Austria-Hungary and Serbia caused European war, thus concluding that German aggression was not the sole perpetrator of the outbreak of general European war.
Despite this, it is evident that German aggression caused European war. Joll contrasts with Turner, arguing how the German strategy of aggression via the arms race led to general war; “Arms race, in which all major powers were involved contributed to the sense that war was bound to come, sooner rather than later”. The quote implies that the use of the Arms Race was a major factor towards the inevitable war, also highlighting the aggression of Germany. Additonally, the source indicates the turbulent effect of the arms race on the nation; “it caused serious financial difficulties for all governments involved”. This demonstrates the severe impact of German aggression and how it had some severe flaws, despite hoping that the race would “make for peace rather than war”. A prime example of the consequences of German aggression was the July Crisis in 1914. The crisis led to severe consequences between Germany and other nations. The unconditional support by Germany for Austria-Hungary aka ‘blank cheque’ led to an increase in the chances of armed conflict and higher chances of war occurring. Overall, this is evident that Germany’s involvement in other nations conflict only spurred the chances of war. In support of Joll, Corrigan and Fischer also highlight how German aggression was creating war. Moreover, the historians also concluded how Germany were adamant that the war would create two things in German favour – power via annexation and armament. However, Joll highlights the financial consequences of German aggression, as well as state that the arms race was for peace whereas Corrigan differs, arguing nevertheless, Germany used aggression no matter what the consequence.
Overall, it is evident that German aggression played a part in the outbreak of general European war in 1914, as well as the involvement of other nations. Through events such as the Agadir Crisis and Weltpolitik, it Is evident that Germany increased the possibility of war through dependence of aggression. However, the roles of other nations such as France and Russia also prolonged the chances of war. With this in mind, the provocation of Austria-Hungary and aim for continental expansion demonstrated the urge and sought by Germany for war. However, events such as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Moroccan Crisis also increased European conflict, again concluding to the outbreak of general war.…...

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