To what extent was the nature of the Schlieffen Plan responsible for the outbreak of a general European war in August 1914?
Explain your answer, using Sources 1, 2 and 3 and your own knowledge of the issues related to this controversy.
(Total for Question 5 = 40 marks)
"The nature of the Schlieffen plan is important in explaining why war broke out across Europe in 1914. Taylor explains this in source 1 by saying that all countries had plans but that crucially Germany’s plan was an offensive one, so his war by timetable theory blames the nature of the Schlieffen plan for war. Martel admits that war plans were important in source 2, but he also highlights Germany’s close relationship with Austria-Hungary in explaining why it initiated the Schlieffen plan. Grenville takes a different angle in source 3 blaming the sense of fatalism developing in Europe but in particular bellicose attitudes from the French."
It is true that the nature of the Schlieffen plan is important in explaining why war broke out in 1914. A J P Taylor best sums this up by saying that “the moment Germany decided on mobilisation they decided on war”. However the reasons Germany decided to mobilise for war are more complex and when analysing these details it becomes clear that Germany is not solely to blame for causing the war. However they were a major part of the July crisis which led to war. Taylor goes further with his argument by saying that German plans (the Schlieffen plan) “actually laid down the first 40 days of the German mission” which takes them deep into Belgium and France, whereas other plans for mobilisation only brought “troops to their barracks”. However Grenville disagrees with the statement that other plans didn’t mean war, he argues that the Russian mobilisation “made war inevitable”. This is where it is important to realise that European politics are in such a fragile state that only one country mobilising, if it was...