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Brief overview

More detail

Donald Kagan


Germany was the chief menace to the After Bismarck, Germany changed policy and became the most
status quo in Europe
significant challenger to European peace. UK was the only power
able to halt move towards war but was unable to stop war.

James Joll


Once war was accepted as inevitable

by the German leaderstheir strategic
plans became all-important and these
had more immediate military
consequences than those of any other

LCB Seaman

Ruth Henig


Gordon Martel


The accumulation of tension had created a feeling that war was

inevitable. This meant that the powers, especially Germany, were
now purely focused on choosing the right moment (before Russian
rearmament, before the French had carried out military
reorganisation and before the British and Russians made an
effective naval agreement). Once it was accepted that war was
inevitable, Germanys strategic plans became all-important and had
more immediate military consequences than those of any other
The Germans stampeded into the war, Germany had no specific aims, principles or ambitions unlike the
the mindless and purposeless victims of other powers. For example, France wanted reclamation of Alsacetheir own monstrous history.
Lorraine, Russia wanted Constantinople, England needed to protect
the seas and its empire and Austria-Hungary wanted to destroy
Serbia. Germanys absence of aims meant that diplomacy could not
settle Germanys problems, because there were no problems which
could be solved.
Countries went to war because they
The greatest miscalculation by the Powers was in believing that by
believed they could achieve more
going to war, they would achieve more than through diplomatic
through war than by diplomatic
negotiation and that if they didnt participate, their status as a Great
negotiationif they stood aside, their Power would be affected. This miscalculation was proven at the end
status as great powers would be gravely of the war when it was apparent that the status off all Europes
diminished. This was their greatest
major powers had been greatly diminished and that virtually none of
the Powers objectives had been realised.
The First World War was not
What distinguished the July crisis from those of the previous decade
was the fact that in the previous crises one or more of the involved
nations held the view that the interests at stake did not justify the
The transformation of that crisis (The risk of war. The issues at stake during the crisis of July 1914 also
July Crisis) into a world war was the
meant that each of the great powers could mobilise public support,
responsibility of Germany.
without which, war would have been impossible. Martel argues that
-The First World War wasfought for
although Austria-Hungary took the first fateful step towards war,
the future of the near east; whoever
they were not responsible for escalating the crisis into a general
won this struggle wouldbe in a
European War, as Russias refusal to mobilise in support of Serbia
position to dominate all of Europe.
would have prevented war. Martel places sole responsibility for the
transformation of the crisis into a world war on Germany. He argues
that after the assassination, Germany decided that the perfect
opportunity had arisen for Austria-Hungary to dissipate the internal
unrest against them while reducing the Balkans at the same time to
an order that satisfied both Germany and Austria-Hungary.