The Outbreak of War in August 1914

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‘The outbreak of war in August 1914 was the logical conclusion of German military and expansionary plans confirmed by the September Program of 1914’ How far do you agree with this judgement? Explain your answer using sources 1, 2 and 3 and your own knowledge of the issues related to this controversy. (40 marks) According to the writer of Source 1, there is a fundamental flaw in Fischer’s assumption that Germany’s war aims already existed before the war and also caused it, he writes that if Fischer is right that this would mean that "Bethmann-Hollweg’s ‘September Programme’ for a separate peace with France – drafted on the assumption of a quick German victory in the West – is sometimes portrayed as if it were the first open statement of aims which had existed before the war". However, he continues ‘no evidence has been found by Fischer that these objectives existed before the war’. But Fischer famously argued that Germany’s Spetember Programme of war aims represented the climax of a conscious policy of German expansionism which had its roots in the Weltpolitik of the pre-war years. In his book, War of Illusions, he suggests that the Second Moroccan Crisis in 1911, was an important year in German foreign policy, because from that point there existed a clear continuity of German aims and policies aimed at fighting a European war as a means of achieving world-power status for Germany, that would have directly led to war in August 1914. Also his final conclusion was: “Consciousness of strength, an urge for expansion and a need for security combined to mold the policy of Wilhelm II’s Germany.” Thus, Germany had sought war as a means to assert her world power. Also, in Source 2, John Rohl gives the war aims and the calculated advantages of these aims, thus validating Fischer’s reasoning in Source 1. John Rohl, argues that it is now apparent that the ‘men of 1914’ were planning for a war, that would give them world power. Sources 1 and 2 contain similarities in...
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