To some extent it is correct to state that the First World War started more by accident than by design. However, it can be argued that many nations within Europe had planned for war and some even pushed for war. Despite this, those nations never wished for a full scale World War'. They were hoping for a war on a much smaller scale, for example, the earlier Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. In this essay I will discuss both sides of the argument; an accidental war and the planned war. I will then conclude the essay with which side of the argument I believe holds the strongest position.
There are many different angles to be looked at on the origins of the First World War. They include how different countries related to each other in an era of multi national empires; the military thinkers or planners of the time and the weapons available. Other points to consider include the beliefs of people at the time and attitudes to war, the question on whether Germany was the main cause of the outbreak of war, how did the arms race affect the pre-war crises and how did the alliance structures of the central and entente powers make a general war unavoidable?
One must study the empires before 1914 and what threats arose from various people as they attempted to obtain freedom and nationalism. There is also the development of the two Alliances; the Central and Entente powers and did these keep the peace or did they make war inevitable? There is also the military preparations and planning within the nations of Europe, due to new technology and weapons; an example being the new British warship the Dreadnought. Germany's intentions must also be taken into consideration. Was Germany, like all the other European countries, willing to risk war or did they have intentions for a war of expansion and domination?
I will discuss all of these points within this essay.
A planned war?
It was after the
Bibliography: F.R. Bridge, 1914: The Coming of the First World War 2nd Edition (London, 1988) N. Ferguson, The Pity of War 1914 – 1918 (London, 1999) D.F. Fleming, The Origins and Legacies of World War I (London, 1969) Gerard J De Groot, The First World War (Basingstoke, 2001) Ruth Henig, The Origins of the First World War 2nd Edition (London, 1993) James Joll, Europe Since 1870: An International History 4th Edition (Middlesex, 1990) James Joll and Gordon Martel, The Origins of the First World War 3rd Edition (Harlow, 2007) Annika Mombauer, The Origins of the First World War: Controversies and Consensus (London, 2002) David Stevenson, ‘War by Timetable? The Railway Race before 1914 ', Past and Present, No. 162 (Feb 1999), pp. 163-194 L.C.F. Turner, Origins of the First World War (London, 1970)