German desires to gain territory as a cause
Kaiser’s policy of weltpolitik •
Issuing ‘blank cheque’
von Moltke said that “war inevitable and the sooner the better” (1912)
Fischer thesis: German plans for world domination as shown by Bethman-Hollweg’s September programme. •
German ruling elite provoked war, both to pursue long-held expansionist aims and defeat socialist at home.
Versailles, article 231: the war was imposed “by the aggression of Germany and her Allies.”
A.J.P Taylor blames WWII on WWI. Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy in overturning Versailles and taking control over Central Europe between 1936 and 1939. •
Hitler was opportunistic in pursuing his expansionist aims for his racially pure reich. As Trevor- Roper stated: “Hitler maintained the purity of his war aims”! Alliances as a cause
German failure to renew the Reinsurance treaty with Russia in 1890 symbolised the end of the Bismarckian approach. Russia was driven towards France, and signed the 1892 treaty. This made Germany feel isolated. •
This sense of German isolation increased after 1904 entente cordiale and 1907 Triple Entente between Britain, France and Russia. Though these alliances were intended to be defensive in nature and included little firm military ties, they still served to cement division between the two ‘sides’, increasing suspicion and fuelling the arms race in the decade before the war. The alliances played a decisive role in ensuring that a single incident in the Balkans on 28th June escalated into a European-wide conflict, as Russia stepped into defend its Slavic ally, Serbia, against a German-backed Austria- Hungary prompted a ‘domino-effect’ that brought Europe to war.
Despite Wilson’s attempt to replace the Great Power diplomacy of secret alliances with the more open system of collective security, pacts and alliances also contributed to the outbreak of WW2. Alliances can explain why war broke out in 1939, and also, as with WW1, how a...
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