Origins of World War I
The origins of World War I included many factors, including the conflicts and antagonisms of the four decades leading up to the war. The immediate origins of the war lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the
July crisis of 1914, the spark (or " casus belli") for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb. [Henig (2002)] However, the crisis did not exist in a void; it came at the end of a long series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powersin the decade prior to 1914 which had left tensions high almost to breaking point. In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1870. [Lieven (1983)]
Assassination, July Crisis and the declarations of war
In April 1914, the
Serbian Civilian Governmentattempted to establish its authority over the Serbian Military. The Military resisted. After several moves and counter-moves, the Military, in alliance with the King of Serbiaand parliamentary opposition forced the Serbian Civilian Government's resignation at the beginning of June. The Military's victory was shortlived as Russian Ambassador Hartwig intervened, the King reversed himself, reinstalled the old government, called new elections, and, drawing the appropriate conclusion, retired in favor of his second son, Prince Aleksandar. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II p.33-35] It is in the midst of this political crisis that politically powerful members of the Serbian Military armed and trained three Bosnian students as assassins and sent them into Austria-Hungary. [ Dedijer, Vladimir. "The Road to Sarajevo", Simon and Schuster, New York, 1966, p 398 ] The assassins departed Belgrade on May 28.
June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinandof Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, which Austria-Hungary had administered since 1878 and had annexed in 1908. They were shot by Gabriel Princip, one of the three assassins sent from Belgrade. Princip was part of a group of six assassins (the three from Belgrade and three local recruits) under the coordination of Danilo Ilić. The assassins' goal was the violent separation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and possibly other provinces from Austria-Hungary and attachment to Serbia to form a Greater Serbiaor a Yugoslavia. The assassins' goals and methods are consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia.
Austria-Hungary immediately undertook a criminal investigation. Ilić and five of the assassins were promptly arrested and interviewed by an investigating judge. The three assassins who had come from Serbia told almost all they knew. Serbian Major
Vojislav Tankosićhad directly and indirectly given them six bombs (produced at the Serbian Arsenal), four pistols, training, money, suicide pills, a special map with the location of gendarmes marked, knowledge of an infiltration channel from Serbia to Sarajevo, and a card authorizing the use of that channel. In their training and on their way they were assisted by other members of the Serbian Military including three sergeants, two captains and a major who the assassins fingered in addition to Major Tankosić. The full extent of Serbia's role in the plot was obscured from the investigators by Ilić's silence regarding his contacts with the Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence and Montenegro and France suppressing the confession of the sixth assassin (who had escaped to Montenegro). While the investigators had not found the whole truth, what they had found warranted the interview of witnesses and the arrest of participants in Serbia.
Germanyand Austria-Hungarytreated the assassination as largely a police and diplomatic matter that could be settled peacefully. On June 30, German Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Zimmerman advised the Serbian Ambassador that Serbia should open a judicial inquiry into the complicity of individuals within Serbia’s borders. Zimmerman also spoke to the Russian Ambassador asking that Russia deliver the same message to Serbia. On that same day, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Serbia advised Serbian Foreign Minister Gruic that Serbia should open a judicial inquiry, to which Gruic falsely replied "Nothing had been done so far and the matter did not concern the Serbian Government." after which "high words" were spoken on both sides. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pg.273] On July 6th Count Czernin, speaking for Austria-Hungary, brought the necessity of investigating the instigators of the assassination plot within the borders of Serbia to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov, but Sazonov cut him off. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp. 189-190] It was Albertini’s conclusion that calls for a judicial investigation in Serbia were rebuffed despite the risk of a general European war because the investigation would have implicated many high ranking Serbs, and shown that the Prime Minister had monitored the progress of the plot. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp. 282-283]
Serbia’s refusal to agree to investigate, and Russia’s support for this refusal, made it easy for consensus in Germany and Austria-Hungary to coalesce on coercive diplomacy to defeat Serbia diplomatically, or, failing that, militarily. Germany provided Austria-Hungary with its firm assurance that it would honor the terms of its alliance. This assurance became known as the "blank cheque". This alliance, known as the Triple Alliance or triplice, was composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, and was defensive in nature. Under this alliance, if Austria-Hungary were threatened by a foreign power like Russia, the alliance would apply. But if Austria-Hungary were to launch an aggressive war on a foreign power it would not.
The July Ultimatum
Obtaining Hungarian support, collecting criminal evidence, and the drafting of demands to place on Serbia took two weeks to complete. This was poor timing as the bi-annual Franco-Russian summit was about to begin. The French President
Raymond Poincaréand his Premier arrived in St. Petersburg on 20 July, conferred with the Czar and his ministers, and left on 23 July 1914. The details of this summit have never been published. Austria-Hungary waited until the hour of the summit's conclusion and released its letter of demands on July 23at 6PM Belgrade time. This letter of demands became known as the July Ultimatum.
The demands were tough. Austria-Hungary made Serbia's March 1909 declaration to the Great Powers in which Serbia promised (see the "Bosnian Annexation Crisis" below) to respect Austria-Hungary's territorial integrity and maintain good neighborly relations the basis of legitimacy of its ten enumerated demands and several demands in the letter's preamble. These demands focused on the investigation and arrest of the Serbian Military conspirators fingered by the assassins, destruction of the terrorist infrastructure and means of propaganda, rooting out terrorists from the Serbian Military, and putting Serbia back on track to be a good neighbor. Serbia was required to admit misbehavior by its officers and allow Austro-Hungarian authorities to participate in the investigation in Serbia. All demands had to be agreed to within 48 hours or Austria-Hungary would withdraw its ambassador.
The Serbian Government was unnerved. With the Russian weakness of 1908-9 fresh in the minds of its ministers, Serbia began writing a response accepting the demands in total, while Serbia's diplomatic corps sought its allies' support. Having already discussed with France during the summit what action to take in response to such an Austro-Hungarian letter, Russia promptly sent a telegram offering full support and recommending against full acceptance of the demands and began taking steps preparatory to war.
With Russia's words of support and tangible action in hand, Serbia drafted a response, conciliatory in tone, accepting enumerated demands #8 and #10 and rejecting, finessing, or disingenuously replying to the other demands. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp 364-371] Serbia mobilized for war and issued its response on
July 25within the 48-hour time limit. (The Serbian response was a public relations triumph for a careless read of it made it appear that Serbia had accepted almost all of Austria-Hungary’s demands.) Austria-Hungary immediately followed through on its threat to break diplomatic relations. Serbia began evacuating its government and military from Belgrade.
July 26Serbian reservist soldiers on tramp steamers apparently accidentally crossed onto the Austro-Hungarian half of the river near Temes-Kubin. Shots were fired into the air to warn them off. Kaiser Franz-Joseph was persuaded by exaggerated reports of the incident to declare war and mobilize against Serbia on July 28th. The Serbian side of the border was bombarded by artillery on July 29, on the same day the Czar signed orders for both partial mobilization (full mobilization against Austria-Hungary and of the Baltic and Black sea fleets) and general mobilization. Later that day, the Czar received a telegram from the Kaiser warning that Russian intervention would lead to a general war and he revoked the general mobilization decree, leaving only the decree for partial mobilization in force. On July 30the Czar’s ministers convinced him to reorder the general mobilization of Russia. On July 31, Austria-Hungary ordered the general mobilization of its army in response to the Russian mobilization.
Kaiser Wilhelm's actions
Kaiser Wilhelm II was a close friend of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este, and he was deeply shocked by his assassination. He had wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers had persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on
6 July 1914. This was consistent with Germany's policy of down playing the crisis, of localization of the dispute as one between Serbia and Austria-Hungary only, and with the Austro-German failed effort to conceal the July Ultimatum until its release.
The Kaiser made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram as he cruised with the German Fleet. When news reached the fleet that Serbia had mobilized, rejected Austria-Hungary's demands and was moving its government to Nish away from the Austro-Hungarian border in expectation of war, the Kaiser ordered the fleet to return to Cuxhaven (Kiel) departing on July 25th at 6PM over the objections of his chancellor. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp 428n, 434-435] The next afternoon the order to disperse the British Fleet and dismiss British reservists was rescinded putting the British Navy on a war footing. Wilhelm II reached Berlin on
28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote comments on it that represented a complete reversal from his "Ultimata are either accepted or they are not! There is no discussion!" comment of July 24th: [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pg. 434]
"A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours! This is more than could have been expected. A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade. On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation." [Ludwig (1927), p. 444]
Unknown to the Kaiser, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Emperor
Franz Joseph I of Austriato sign a declaration of war against Serbia.
As Churchill was putting his navy on a war footing, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sir Arthur Nicholson was putting forward a proposal for a conference. The proposal was to hold a conference in London attended by Britain, France, Germany and Italy to address the Austro-Hungarian-Serbian-Russian dispute. All powers would be permitted to make military preparations such as mobilization, but military action was prohibited. The proposal started going out on
At 10PM on
July 26Italy accepted the proposal in principal, but could not agree to the prohibition on Austro-Hungarian military action. On July 27Germany formally rejected the proposal expressing a preference for direct negotiations between the interested parties. That same day France accepted the proposal. Russia, expressed a preference for direct negotiations, but if those failed, it would support the conference. On July 28, Lord Grey reversed the British position and began advocating direct talks. The conference, under the terms outlined, was dead." [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp 391-408]
Austro-Hungarian and German diplomatic efforts during this period were initially focused on localizing the conflict to one strictly between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. This of course would lead to complete Serbian defeat. When it became clear to Germany that Russia, France and probably Britain would back Serbia, Germany began advocating a “Stop in Belgrade” approach, meaning that Austria-Hungary would occupy Belgrade, from which Serbia's government and most of its military had already withdrawn, and then a negotiating conference could be held regarding Austria-Hungary’s original demands. With Austria-Hungary, Serbia and Russia bent on war and inelastic mobilization schedules underway, this effort was ineffective and only given an audience because Russia needed more time for its mobilization and Austria-Hungary could not afford to snub its ally.
Having got wind of Russia mobilization, Germany issued Russia an ultimatum on
July 31, demanding a halt to mobilization within 12 hours. On the night of July 30-31, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Kaiser Wilhelm II wrote a lengthy commentary containing the startling observations:: "For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria-Hungary—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us. ... Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honorable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.e. playing off all European States for her own benefit against us." [Michael Balfour, "The Kaiser and his Times," Houghton Mifflin (1964) pp. 350-51] On August 1, German discussions regarding declaring war on Russia were interrupted when at 4:23PM a telegram from the German Ambassador to Britain arrived with a planned British proposal to guarantee the neutrality of France and thus limit the war to one fought in the east. Despite opposition from the German military, Germany immediately accepted the proposal by telegrams at the ambassadorial and royal levels." [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Enigma Books, New York, 2005, Vol 3, p 381] In keeping with this decision, Kaiser Wilhelm II demanded his generals shift the mobilization to the east. Helmuth von Moltke (the younger), the German Chief of General Staff, told him that this was impossible, to which the Kaiser replied "Your uncle would have given me a different answer!" [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Enigma Books, New York, 2005, Vol 3, p 172, referencing "Die Deutschen Dokumente zum Kriegsausbruch", Vol. III, p 562] Instead, it was decided to mobilize as planned and cancel the planned invasion of Luxembourg. Once mobilization was complete the army would redeploy to the east. The British soon realized the stupidity of their proposal and backed out of it using the face-saving device of saying their proposal was misunderstood. The net effect of this incident was to modestly disrupt the German mobilization and war plan in the west. Germany and France mobilized nearly simultaneously. In Saint Petersburg, at 7PM, with the ultimatum to Russia expired, the German ambassador to Russia met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov, asked three times if Russia would not reconsider and then with shaking hands delivered the note accepting Russia's war challenge and declaring war.
August 2, Germany occupied Luxembourg as a preliminary step to the invasion of Belgiumand implementation of the Schlieffen Plan(which was rapidly going awry because of the British proposal and the head start Russia had on mobilization).
August 2, British Foreign Minister Grey gave Britain's firm assurance to protect France with its navy to French Ambassador Cambon. Cambon's account stated: "I felt the battle was won. Everything was settled. In truth a great country does not wage war by halves. Once it decided to fight the war at sea it would necessarily be led into fighting it on land as well." [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol III pp 406-7 (referencing Recouly p. 55 for the quote)] A German ultimatum was delivered, this time to Belgium on August 2, requesting free passage for the German army on the way to Franceand the German navy's right to make port in Belgium. The Belgians refused. On August 3, Germany declared war on France and Belgium on August 4. This act violated Belgian neutrality, the status to which Germany, France, and Britain were all committed by treaty. It was inconceivable that Great Britain would remain neutral if Germany declared war on France; German violation of Belgian neutrality provided the "casus belli" that the British government sought.
August 4, German Chancellor Bethmann Hollwegtold the Reichstag that the German invasions of Belgium and Luxembourgwere in violation of international law, but he argued that Germany was "in a state of necessity, and necessity knows no law." At 7PM that evening British Ambassador Sir Edward Goschen delivered Britain's ultimatum to German Secretary of State to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Gottlieb von Jagow. A positive reply to commit to go no further with Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality was demanded by midnight that evening (within 5 hours). Jagow replied that Germany could not give a positive reply and Goschen demanded his passports and requested a private and personal meeting with Bethmann Hollweg; Bethmann invited Goschen to dine with him. During their highly emotional conversation Bethmann Hollweg expressed astonishment that the British would go to war with Germany over the 1839 treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium, referring to the treaty as a "scrap of paper" compared to the "fearful fact of Anglo-German war." [Bethmann Hollweg, "Reflections on the World War", Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London (1920) pp. 158-9] Goschen's telegrams on August 4to Grey never reached London; whether a state of war existed between Britain and Germany was therefore a confused matter until the expiry of the ultimatum at midnight, Berlin time." [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol III p. 500]
Goschen's account of the "scrap of paper" conversation dated
August 6was later edited and published by the British Government and outraged public opinion in Britain and the United States. [Sally Marks, "The Ebbing of European Ascendancy: An International History of the World 1914-1945" (2002) p. 30; Francis Anthony Boyle, "Foundations of World Order: The Legalist Approach to International Relations (1898-1922)" Duke University Press, 1999, p 134; Tuchman, "The Guns of August," page 153.] The British government expected a limited war, in which it would primarily use its great naval strength. [Strachen, "The First World War" (2001) 1:97-98]
World War Iwas triggered by this chain of events unleashed by the assassination, the war's origins go deeper, involving national politics, cultures, economics, and a complex web of alliances and counterbalances that developed between the various European powers over the course of the nineteenth century, following the final 1815 defeat of Napoleon Bonaparteand the ensuing Congress of Vienna.
The reasons for the outbreak of World War I are a complicated issue; there are many factors that intertwine. Some examples areFact|date=April 2007:
* Fervent and uncompromising
* Unresolved previous disputes
* Intricate system of alliances
* Misperceptions of intent – e.g., the German belief Great Britain would remain neutral [Van Evera, Stephen. "The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War." (Summer 1984), p. 62.] [Fischer, Fritz. "War of Illusions: German Policies from 1911 to 1914." trans. (1975), p. 69.]
* Convoluted and fragmented governance
* Delays and misunderstandings in diplomatic communications
Arms races of the previous decades
* Previous military planning [Sagan, Scott D. "1914 Revisited: Allies, Offense, and Instability" (1986)]
* Colonial rivalry (imperialism)
* Economic rivalry
The various categories of explanation for World War I correspond to different historians' overall methods. Most historians and popular commentators include causes from more than one category of explanation to provide a rounded account of the causal circumstances behind the war. The deepest distinction among these accounts is that between stories which find it to have been the inevitable and predictable outcome of certain factors, and those which describe it as an arbitrary and unfortunate mistakeFact|date=April 2007.
In attributing causes for the war, historians and academics had to deal with an unprecedented flood of memoirs and official documents, released as each country involved tried to avoid blame for starting the war. Early releases of information by governments, particularly those released for use by the "Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War" were shown to be incomplete and biased. In addition some documents, especially diplomatic cables between Russia and France, were found to have been doctored. Even in later decades however, when much more information had been released, historians from the same culture have been shown to come to differing conclusions on the causes of the war. [Albertini (1965) page viii]
German domestic politics
Left wing parties, especially the
Social Democratic Party of Germany(SPD) made large gains in the 1912 German election. German government at the time was still dominated by the Prussian Junkers who feared the rise of these left wing parties. Fritz Fischerfamously argued that they deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government. Russia was in the midst of a large scale military build-up and reform which was to be completed in 1916-17. In his later works Fischer went further and argued that Germany had planned the war in 1912.
Other authors argue that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult.Fact|date=May 2008
The Russian Czar had originally proposed The Hague peace conference of 1899 and also the second conference of 1907 for the purpose of disarmament, which was supported by all the signatories except for Germany. Germany also did not want to agree to binding arbitration and mediation. The Kaiser was concerned that the U.S.A. would propose disarmament measures, which he opposed.
French domestic politics
The situation was quite the opposite in France, but with the same results.More than a century after the
French Revolution, there was still a fierce struggle between the left-wing French government and its right-wing opponents, including monarchists and "Bonapartists." A "good old war" was seen by both sides (with the exception of Jean Jaurès) as a way to solve this crisis thanks to a nationalistic reflex. For example, on July 29, after he had returned from the summit in St. Petersburg, President Poincaré was asked if war could be avoided. He is reported to have replied: "It would be a great pity. We should never again find conditions better." [Michael Balfour, "The Kaiser and his Times," Houghton Mifflin (1964) p. 434]
Everyone thought the war would be short and would lead to an easy victory. The left-wing government thought it would be an opportunity to implement social reforms (
income taxwas implemented in July 1914) and the right-wing politicians hoped that their connections with the army's leaders could give them the opportunity to regain power. Russian bribery under Poincaré's careful direction of the French press from July 1912 to 1914 played a role in creating the proper French political environment for the war. [Owen, Robert Latham. "The Russian Imperial Conspiracy, 1892-1914", A and C Boni, New York, 1927, pp 78-81] Prime Minister and then President Poincaré was a strong hawk. In 1913 Poincaré predicted war for 1914. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II, pg. 197] In 1920 at the University of Paris, thinking back to his own student days, Poincaré remarked "I have not been able to see any reason for my generation living, except the hope of recovering our lost provinces (Alsace-Lorraine; Poincaré was born in Lorraine)." [Owen, Robert Latham. "The Russian Imperial Conspiracy, 1892-1914", A and C Boni, New York, 1927, pp 93]
Changes in Austria
In 1867, the
Austrian Empirefundamentally changed its governmental structure, becoming the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. For hundreds of years, the empire had been run in an essentially feudalmanner with a German-speaking aristocracyat its head. However, with the threat represented by an emergence of nationalism within the empire's many component ethnicities, some elements, including Emperor Franz Joseph, decided that a compromise would have to be made in order to preserve the power of the German aristocracy. In 1867, the " Ausgleich" was agreed upon which made the Magyar elite in Hungary almost equal partners in the government of Austria-Hungary.
This arrangement fostered a tremendous degree of dissatisfaction amongst many in the traditional German ruling classes. Some of them considered the Ausgleich to have been a calamity because it often frustrated their intentions in the governance of Austria-Hungary. For example, it was extremely difficult for Austria-Hungary to form a coherent
foreign policythat suited the interests of both the German and Magyar elite.
Throughout the fifty years from 1867 to 1914, it proved difficult to reach adequate compromises in the governance of Austria-Hungary, leading many to search for non-diplomatic solutions. At the same time a form of social Darwinism became popular amongst many in the Austrian half of the government which emphasised the primacy of armed struggle between nations, and the need for nations to arm themselves for an ultimate struggle for survival.
As a result, at least two distinct strains of thought advocated war with Serbia, often unified in the same people.
In order to deal with political deadlock, some reasoned that more Slavs needed to be brought into Austria-Hungary in order to dilute the power of the Magyar elite. With more Slavs, the
South Slavsof Austria-Hungary could force a new political compromise in which the Germans would be able to play the Magyars against the South Slavs. Other variations on this theme existed, but the essential idea was to cure internal stagnation through external conquest. Another fear was that the South Slavs, primarily under the leadership of Serbia, were organizing for a war against Austria-Hungary, and even all of Germanic civilization. Some leaders, such as Conrad von Hötzendorf, argued that Serbia must be dealt with before it became too powerful to defeat militarily.
A powerful contingent within the Austro-Hungarian government was motivated by these thoughts and advocated war with Serbia long before the war began. Prominent members of this group included among them
Leopold von Berchtold, Alexander Hoyos, and Janós Forgách Graf von Ghymes und Gács. Although many other members of the government, notably Franz Ferdinand, Franz Joseph, and many Hungarian politicians did not believe that a violent struggle with Serbia would necessarily solve any of Austria-Hungary's problems, the hawkishelements did exert a strong influence on government policy,Fact|date=August 2007 holding key positions.
Samuel R. Williamson has emphasized the role of Austria-Hungary. Convinced Serbian nationalism and Russian Balkan ambitions were disintegrating a monarchy comprised of 11 different nationalities, Austria-Hungary hoped for a limited war against Serbia and that the strong German support would force Russia to keep out of the war and weaken its Balkan prestige.
Historically, many of the economic causes of the war can be attributed to a growing material dependency of advancing European nations on
imperialism. Nations such as Great Britain and France maintained thriving domestic economies in the late 19th century through their control of foreign resources, markets, territories, and people. As a late arrival on the world stage, Germany was locked out of the most valuable colonial regions in Africaand the Far East. In addition, the rapid exhaustion of natural resources in many European nations began to slowly upset the trade balance and make nations more eager to seek new territories rich in natural resources. Intense rivalries developed between the emerging economic powers and the incumbent great powers.
Rivalries among the great powers were exacerbated starting in the 1880s by the scramble for colonies which brought much of Africa and Asia under European rule in the following quarter-century, it also created great Anglo-French and Anglo-Russian tensions and crises that prevented a British alliance with either until the early twentieth century. Otto von Bismarck disliked the idea of an overseas empire, but pursued a colonial policy to court domestic political support. This started Anglo-German tensions since German acquisitions in Africa and the Pacific threatened to impinge upon British strategic and commercial interests. Bismarck supported French colonization in Africa because it diverted government attention and resources away from continental Europe and
revanchism. In spite of all of Bismarck's deft diplomatic maneuvering, in 1890 he was forced to resign by the new Kaiser (Wilhelm II). His successor, Leo von Caprivi, was the last German Chancellor who was successful in calming Anglo-German tensions. After his loss of office in 1894, German policy led to greater conflicts with the other colonial powers.
The status of
Moroccohad been guaranteed by international agreement, and when France attempted to greatly expand its influence there without the assent of all the other signatories Germany opposed it prompting the Moroccan Crises, the Tangier Crisisof 1905 and the Agadir Crisisof 1911. The intent of German policy was to drive a wedge between the British and French, but in both cases produced the opposite effect and Germany was isolated diplomatically, most notably lacking the support of Italy despite Italian membership in the Triple Alliance. The French protectorate over Morocco was officially established in 1912.
In 1914 there were no outstanding colonial conflicts, Africa having been essentially fully partitioned apart from Ethiopia for several years. Though the antagonisms the various rivalries and crises had provoked had not entirely subsided, the war emerged from a crisis in the Balkans so colonialism had, at most, an indirect role.
Web of alliances
A very tight web of alliances bound the European nations (many of them requiring participants to agree to collective defense if attacked):
Treaty of London, 1839, about the neutrality of Belgium,
* German-Austrian treaty (1879) or Dual Alliance,
* Italy joining Germany and Austria in 1882,
* "Entente" (less formal) between Britain and France (1904) and Britain and Russia (1907) forming the
* Russia proclaiming herself the "protector of the Southern Slavs" in the Balkans through several treatiesFact|date=April 2007 .
This complex set of treaties binding various players in Europe together prior to the war is sometimes thought to have been misunderstood by contemporary political leaders. Mobilization by a relatively minor player would have a cascading effect that could rapidly run out of control, involving every country. Yet leaders discussed the crisis between Austria-Hungary and Serbia as if it were a localized issue. This is how Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia resulted in Britain declaring war on Germany:
June 28, 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated by Serbian irredentists.
July 23: Austro-Hungarian demarche made to Serbia.
July 25: Russia enters period preparatory to war, mobilization begins on all frontiers. Government decides on partial mobilization in principal to begin on July 29th.
July 25: Serbia mobilizes its army; responds to Austro-Hungarian demarche with less than full acceptance; Austria-Hungary breaks diplomatic relations with Serbia.
July 26: Serbia reservists accidentally violate Austro-Hungarian border at Temes-Kubin. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Oxford University Press, London, 1953, Vol II pp 461-462, 465]
July 28: Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia and mobilizes against Serbia only.
July 29: Russian general mobilization ordered, then changed to partial mobilization.
July 30: Russian general mobilization reordered at 5PM.
July 31: Austrian general mobilization is ordered.
July 31: Germany enters period preparatory to war.
July 31: Germany demands a halt to Russian military preparations within 12 hours.
August 1: French general mobilization is ordered.
August 1: German general mobilization is ordered.
August 1: Germany declares war against Russia.
August 2: Germany and The Ottoman Empiresign a secret treaty [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/turkgerm.htm The Treaty of Alliance Between Germany and Turkey] 2 August 1914] entrenching the Ottoman-German Alliance
August 3: Germany, after France declines ("See Note") its demand to remain neutral, [cite book |last= Taylor |first= A. J. P. |authorlink= A. J. P. Taylor |title= The Struggle For Mastery In Europe 1848-1918 |origyear= 1954 |publisher= Oxford University Press |isbn= 0-19-881270-1 |pages= p524] declares war on France.
August 4: Germany invades Belgium according to the modified Schlieffen Plan.
August 4: Britain declares war on Germany.
** With Britain, France, and Germany all at war, their overseas colonies now had to be defended against invading armies. The European empires made World War One become a global war.
August 23: Japan, honoring the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, declares war on Germany.
"Note: French Prime Minister
Rene Vivianimerely replied to the German ultimatum that "France will act in accordance with her interests" [cite book |last= Taylor |first= A. J. P. |authorlink= A. J. P. Taylor |title= The Struggle For Mastery In Europe 1848-1918 |origyear= 1954 |publisher= Oxford University Press |isbn= 0-19-881270-1 |pages= p524] " Had the French agreed to remain neutral, the German Ambassador was authorized to ask the French to temporarily surrender the Fortresses of Toul and Verdun as a guarantee of neutrality.
As David Stevenson has put it, "A self-reinforcing cycle of heightened military preparedness ... was an essential element in the conjuncture that led to disaster ... The armaments race ... was a necessary precondition for the outbreak of hostilities." David Herrmann goes further, arguing that the fear that "windows of opportunity for victorious wars" were closing, "the arms race did precipitate the First World War." If Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in 1904 or even in 1911, Herrmann speculates, there might have been no war; it was "the armaments race ... and the speculation about imminent or
preventive wars" which made his death in 1914 the trigger for war. [Ferguson 1999 p 82]
The German naval build-up is seen by some historians as the principal cause of deteriorating Anglo-German relations. The British also knew that the Imperial German Navy could easily defeat the Russian and French navies. The German ships were better armed and armoured than the French and especially the Russians. German warships preferred to attack French and Russian warships rather than the British whose ships were equal to the Germans. The Austro-Hungarian Navy was also superior to the Russians and the French. Austria-Hungary mainly fought Italy in naval engagements, but they did fight French and British warships on occasion. They had great success against the French and moderate against the British. Austro-Hungarian warships later aided Ottoman and Bulgarian warships clear the Russian Black Sea Fleet out of the Black Sea. German, British, and French warships also were stationed in overseas colonies. The smaller French Navy could not defend her colonies against German ships as well as the Royal Navy could. The Central Powers later fought the
Imperial Japanese Navy, the Portuguese Navy, the Romanian Navy, the Brazilian Navy, and the United States Navy.
Over by Christmas
The belief that a war in Europe would be swift, decisive and "over by Christmas" is often considered a tragic underestimation; if it had been widely thought beforehand that the war would open such an abyss under European civilization, no one would have prosecuted it. This account is less plausible on a review of the available military theory at the time, especially the work of
Ivan Bloch, an early candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Bloch's predictions of industrial warfare leading to bloody stalemate, attrition, and even revolution, were widely known in both military and pacifist circles. Some authors such as Niall Fergusonargue that the belief in a swift war has been greatly exaggerated since the war. He argues that the military planners, especially in Germany, were aware of the potential for a long war, as shown by the famous Willy-Nicky telegraphic correspondence between the emperors of Russia and Germany. He also argues that most informed people considered a swift war unlikely. However, it was in the belligerent governments' interests to convince their populaces that the war "would" be brief through skillful use of propaganda, since such a message encouraged men to join the offensive, made the war seem less serious and promoted general high spirits.
Primacy of the offensive and war by timetable
Military theorists of the time generally held that seizing the offensive was extremely important. This theory encouraged all belligerents to strike first in order to gain the advantage. The window for diplomacy was shortened by this attitude. Most planners wanted to begin mobilization as quickly as possible to avoid being caught on the defensive.
Some analysts have argued that mobilization schedules were so rigid that once it was begun, they could not be cancelled without massive disruption of the country and military disorganization. Thus, diplomatic overtures conducted after the mobilizations had begun were ignored.
Germany's strategic vulnerability, sandwiched between its allied rivals, led to the development of the audacious Schlieffen Plan. Its aim was to knock France instantly out of contention, before Russia had time to mobilize its gigantic human reserves. It aimed to accomplish this task within 6 weeks. Germany could then turn her full resources to meeting the Russian threat. Although Count
Alfred von Schlieffeninitially conceived the plan prior to his retirement in 1906, Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese Warof 1904 exposed Russia's organizational weakness and added greatly to the plan's credibility.
The plan called for a rapid German mobilization, sweeping through the
Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium, into France. Schlieffen called for overwhelming numbers on the far right flank, the northernmost spearhead of the force with only minimum troops making up the arm and axis of the formation as well as a minimum force stationed on the Russian eastern front.
Schlieffen was replaced by Helmuth von Moltke, and in 1907-08 Moltke adjusted the plan, reducing the proportional distribution of the forces, lessening the crucial right wing in favor of a slightly more defensive strategy. Also, judging Holland unlikely to grant permission to cross its borders, the plan was revised to make a direct move through Belgium and an artillery assault on the Belgian city of Liège. With the rail lines and the unprecedented firepower the German army brought, Moltke did not expect any significant defense of the fortress.
The significance of the Schlieffen Plan is that it forced German military planners to prepare for a
pre-emptive strikewhen war was deemed unavoidable; otherwise Russia would have time to mobilize, and Germany would be crushed by Russia's massive army. On August 1st, Kaiser Wilhelm II briefly became convinced that it might be possible to ensure French and British neutrality and tried to cancel the plan and mobilize German forces for a war against Russia only, but was told this was impossible and the chances of a neutral France and Britain were quickly revealed to be illusory in any case.
It appears that no war planners in any country had prepared effectively for the Schlieffen Plan. The French were not concerned about such a move because they were confident that their offensive,
Plan XVII, would break the German center and cut off the German right wing moving through Belgium and because German forces were expected to be tied down by an early Russian offensive in East Prussia.
Crimean War (1853-1856)
Crimean War, in which Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empiredefeated Russia, radically changed the diplomatic structure of Europe. Austria had been allied to Russia following mutual assistance during the Revolutions of 1848. Fearing Russian power at the mouth of the Danubeand in Constantinople, however, Austria waffled and then sided with the Allies in the crisis leading up to the Crimean War. Following the war, Austria was diplomatically isolated, allowing it to be defeated in the Second Italian War of Independenceand in the Austro-Prussian War, losing its influence in most German-speaking lands. Soon after, Austria allied with Germany, and Russia more aggressively supported pan-slavismin the Balkans, creating some of the conditions that would lead to World War I.
Franco–Prussian War (1870–1871)
Many of the direct origins of World War I can be seen in the results and consequences of the
Franco-Prussian War. This conflict brought the establishment of a powerful and dynamic Germany, causing what was seen as a displacement or unbalancing of power: this new and prosperous nation had the industrial and military potential to threaten Europe, and particularly the already established European powers. Germany’s nationalism, its natural resources, its economic strengths and its ambitions sparked colonial and military rivalries with other nations, particularly the Anglo-German naval arms race.
A legacy of animosity grew between France and Germany following the German annexation of parts of the formerly French territory of
Alsace-Lorraine. The annexation caused widespread resentment in France, giving rise to the desire for revenge, known as revanchism. French sentiments wanted to avenge military and territorial losses, and the displacement of France as the pre-eminent continental military power. French defeat in the war had sparked political instability, culminating in a revolutionand the formation of the French Third Republic. Bismarck was wary of this during his later years and tried to placate the French by encouraging their overseas expansion. However, anti-German sentiment remained. A Franco–German colonial that was made in 1884 in protest of an Anglo–Portuguese agreement in West Africa proved short-lived after a pro-imperialist government under Jules Ferryin France fell in 1885.
War in Sight crisis
France quickly recovered from its defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. France paid its war remunerations and began to build its military strength again. Bismarck allowed the idea that Germany was planning a preventative war against France so that this recovery could not be realized to be leaked via a German newspaper. However, the
Dreikaiserbundsided with France rather than Germany, humiliatingly forcing Bismarck to back down.
Anglo–German naval race
Wilhelm II desired to construct a formidable German navy which could tie in with German ambitions in the colonial and commercial spheres, threatening British world domination. The Kaiser entrusted the establishment of this German navy to his Naval Minister and close advisor, Grand Admiral
Alfred von Tirpitz.
Motivated by Wilhelm's backing and his own enthusiasm for an expanded navy, Tirpitz championed four
Fleet Actsfrom 1898 to 1912. The German program was enough to alarm the British and drive them into the alliances with France and Russia.
Under the direction of Admiral Jackie Fisher, the
First Sea Lordfrom 1903 to 1910, the Royal Navy embarked on its own massive expansion to keep ahead of the Germans. The cornerstone of British naval rearmament was to be the revolutionary battleship"Dreadnought", which was launched in 1906. From then on until 1914, the British and Germans vied with each other to construct superior numbers of battleships, submarines, and other naval vessels and weaponry. The British and Germans needed large navies to protect colonies and capture new territories. The German High Seas Fleetwas the main German fleet and was the one that defended Germany. The Home Fleetwas the huge British force that countered the High Seas Fleet in the war around Europe.
Bosnian Annexation Crisis
, on the other, were permanently damaged.
After an exchange of letters outlining a possible deal, Russian Foreign Minister
Alexander Izvolskyand Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Alois Aehrenthal met privately at Buchlau Castle in Moravia on September 16, 1908. At Buchlau the two agreed that Austria-Hungary could annex the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Austria-Hungary occupied and administered since 1878 under a mandate from the Treaty of Berlin. In return, Austria-Hungary would withdraw its troops from the Ottoman Sanjak of Novibazar and support Russia in its efforts to amend the Treaty of Berlin to allow Russian war ships to navigate the Straits of Constantinople during times of war. The two jointly agreed not to oppose Bulgarian independence.
While Izvolsky moved slowly from capital to capital vacationing and seeking international support for opening the Straits,
Bulgariaand Austria-Hungary moved swiftly. On October 5Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The next day, Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. On October 7, Austria-Hungary announced its withdrawal from the Sanjakof Novi Pazar. Russia, unable to obtain Britain's assent to Russia's Straits proposal, joined Serbia in assuming an attitude of protest. Britain lodged a milder protest, taking the position that annexation was a matter concerning Europe, not a bilateral issue, and so a conference should be held. France fell in line behind Britain. Italy proposed the conference be held in Italy. German opposition to the conference and complex diplomatic maneuvering scuttled the conference. On February 20, 1909, the Ottoman Empire, acquiesced to the annexation and received ₤2.2 million from Austria-Hungary. [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Enigma Books, New York, 2005, Vol I, p 277]
Austria-Hungary began releasing secret documents in which Russia, since 1878, had repeatedly stated that Austria-Hungary had a free hand in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Sanjak of Novibazar. At the same time, Germany stated it would only continue its active involvement in negotiations if Russia accepted the annexation. Under these pressures, Russia agreed to the annexation, [Albertini, Luigi. "Origins of the War of 1914", Enigma Books, New York, 2005, Vol I, p 287] and persuaded Serbia to do the same. The Treaty of Berlin was then amended by correspondence between capitals from
April 7to April 19, 1909to reflect the annexation.
During the period immediately following the end of hostilities, Allied historians argued that Germany was solely responsible for the start of the war; a view heavily influenced by the inclusion of '
war guilt' clauses within the Treaty of Versailles. In 1916 Prince Lichnowsky had also circulated his views within Germany on the mishandling of the situation in July 1914. However, academic work in the later 1920s and 1930s blamed all participants more or less equally. Starting in the mid-1920s, several American historians opposed to the terms of the Treaty of Versaillessuch as Sidney Fayand Harry Elmer Barnesproduced works that claimed that Germany was not responsible for war, and as such, Article 231 of the Versailles which had seemingly assigned all responsibility for the war to Germany and thus justified the Allied claim to reparations was invalid. The objective of Fay and Barnes was to put an end to reparations imposed on Germany by attempting to prove what they regarded as the moral invalidity of Article 231. Both Fay and Barnes were provided with generous use of the German archives by the German government.
In a different approach,
Leninin his pamphlet "Imperialism - the Highest Stage of Capitalism" portrayed the war as imperialist, caused by rivalries triggered by highly organised financial monopolies, that frenzied competition for markets and raw materials had inevitably brought about the war. Evidence of secret deals between the Tsar and British and French governments to split the spoils of war was released by the Russians. In the 1920s and 1930s, more socialist works built on this theme, a line of analysis which is still to be found today, although vigorously disputed on the grounds that wars occurred before the capitalist era. [Henig (1989) page 34] Lenin argued that the private ownership of the means of production in the hands of a limited number of capitalist monopolies would inevitably lead to war. He identified railways as a 'summation' of the basic capitalist industries, coal, iron and steel, and that their uneven development summed up capitalist development on a world-wide scale. [Lenin (1978)]
In the inter-war period, various factors such as the network of secret alliances, emphasis on speed of offence, rigid military planning, Darwinian ideas, and the lack of resolution mechanisms were blamed by many historians. These ideas have maintained some currency in the decades since then. Famous proponents include
Joachim Remakand Paul Kennedy. At the same time, many one sided works were produced by politicians and other participants often trying to clear their own names. In Germany these tended to deflect blame, while in Allied countries they tended to blame Germany or Austria-Hungary. The debate over "German war guilt" was quite emotional and topical in the interwar years, and some lingering resentment within Germany may well have contributedFact|date=April 2007 to the rise of the Naziparty, which denied German war guilt.
In 1961, German historian Fritz Fischer wrote "
Griff nach der Weltmacht", in which he blamed Germany for the war by generously ignoring Britain's aggressive policy and completely ignoring British world domination. Fischer believed that many members of the German government had overtly the same expansionist plans that the British had, formulated in the aftermath of Social Democratic gains in the election of 1912. He alleged that they hoped to use external expansion and aggression to check internal dissent and democratization. Some of his work is based on Bethmann Hollweg's [http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/workbook/ralprs34.htm "September Programme"] which laid out Germany's war aims. Fischer's work created a whole school of analysis in a similar vein, emphasizing domestic German political factors. Some prominent scholars in this school include Imanuel Geiss, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Wolfgang Mommsen, and V.R. Berghahn.
The "Berlin War Party" thesis and variants of it, blaming domestic German political factors, became something of an orthodoxy in the years after publication. However, many authors have attacked it.At first, the idea prompted a strong response, especially from German conservative historians such as
Gerhard Ritterwho felt the thesis was dishonest and inaccurate. Writing in the 1960s, Ritter believed that Germany displayed all the same traits as other countries and could not be singled out as particularly responsible.
Possibly the most broadly influential popular history of the outbreak of World War I is
The Guns of August(1962) written by Barbara Tuchman, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize. The book was widely read and is said to have influenced President John F. Kennedyduring the Cuban Missile Crisisand to have been read by numerous other heads of government. A major point in Tuchman's analysis is the damage that was done to Germany's cause by its military actions in Belgium, including such atrocities as the burning of the city of Leuven/Louvain, through its effect on international public opinion, especially in the United States. She makes a case that the atrocities were part of a deliberate policy of intimidation, which was ultimately disastrous. Though the accuracy of Tuchman's book has been challenged, its influence makes it an important work.
In the 1960s, two new rival theories emerged to explain the causes of World War I. The first, championed by the West German historian
Andreas Hillgruberargued that in 1914, a "calculated risk" on the part of Berlin had gone awry. Hillgruber argued that what the Imperial German government had attempted to do in 1914 was to break the informal Triple Entente of Russia, France and Britain, by encouraging Austria-Hungary to invade Serbia and thus provoke a crisis in an area that would concern only St. Petersburg. Hillgruber argued that the Germans hoped that both Parisand Londonwould decide the crisis in the Balkans did not concern them and that lack of Anglo-French support would lead the Russians to reach an understanding with Germany. In Hillgruber’s opinion, the German government had pursed a high-risk diplomatic strategy of provoking a war in the Balkans that had inadvertently caused a world war.
Another theory was
A.J.P. Taylor's "Railway Thesis". In Taylor’s opinion, none of the great powers wanted a war, but all of the great powers wished to increase their power relative to the others. Taylor argued that by engaging in an arms race and having the general staffs develop elaborate railway timetables for mobilization, the continental powers hoped to develop a deterrent that would lead the other powers to see the risk of war as being too dangerous. When the crisis began in the summer of 1914, Taylor argued, the need to mobilize faster than one's potential opponent made the leaders of 1914 prisoners of their own logistics. The railway timetables forced invasion (of Belgium from Germany) as an unavoidable physical and logistical consequence of German mobilization. In this way, Taylor argued, the mobilization that was meant to serve as a threat and deterrent to war instead relentlessly caused a world war by forcing invasion. Many have argued that Taylor, who was one of the leaders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, developed his Railway Thesis to serve as a thinly veiled admonitory allegory for the nuclear arms race.
Other authors such as
Arno Mayer, in 1967, agreed with some aspects of the "Berlin War Party" theory, but felt it isolated Germany from its historical context. Mayer believes that all states acted similar to Germany in the years before the war. Samuel R. Williamsonlays most of the blame with the Austro-Hungarian elites rather than the German in his 1990 book, "Austria-Hungary and the Coming of the First World War". Another recent work is Niall Ferguson's "The Pity of War" which completely rejects the Fischer thesis, laying most of the blame on diplomatic bumbling from the British.
Recently, American historian
David Fromkinhas allocated blame for the outbreak of war entirely to elements in the military leadership of Germany and Austria-Hungary in his 2004 book "Europe's Last Summer". Fromkin's thesis is that there were two war plans; a first formulated by Austria-Hungary and the German Chancellor to initiate a war with Serbia, to reinvigorate a fading Austro-Hungarian Empire; the second secret plan was that of the German Military leadership, to provoke a wider war with France and Russia. He theorised that the German military leadership, in the midst of a European arms race, believed that they would be unable to further expand the German army without extending the officer corps beyond the traditional Prussian aristocracy. Rather than allowing that to happen, they manipulated Austria-Hungary into starting a war with Serbia in the expectation that Russia would intervene, giving Germany a pretext to launch what was in essence a pre-emptive strike. Part of his thesis is that the German military leadership were convinced that by 1916-18, Germany would be too weak to win a war with France, England and Russia. Notably, Fromkin suggests that part of the war plan was the exclusion of Kaiser Wilhelm IIfrom knowledge of the events, because the Kaiser was regarded by the German General Staff as inclined to resolve crisis short of actual war. Fromkin also argues that in all countries, but particularly Germany and Austria documents were widely destroyed and forged to distort the origins of the war.
History of Europe
History of the Balkans
Causes of World War II
European Civil War
*Albertini, Luigi, "The Origins of the War of 1914", trans. Isabella M. Massey, 3 vols., London, Oxford University Press, 1952
*Barnes, Harry Elmer "The Genesis Of The World War; An Introduction To The Problem Of War Guilt", New York, Knopf, 1929 Oclc number|3300340.
*Barnes, Harry Elmer "In Quest Of Truth And Justice: De-bunking The War Guilt Myth", New York: Arno Press, 1972 ,1928 ISBN 0-405-00414-1
*Engdahl, F.William, "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" (1994) ISBN 0-7453-2310-3
*Evans, R. J. W., and Hartmut Pogge Von Strandman, eds. "The Coming of the First World War" (1990), essays by scholars from both sides ISBN 0-19-822899-6.
*Fay, Sidney "The Origins Of The World War", New York: Macmillan, 1929, 1928 Oclc number|47080822.
*Ferguson, Niall "The Pity of War" Basic Books, 1999 ISBN 0-465-05712-8.
*Fischer, Fritz "From Kaiserreich to Third Reich: Elements of Continuity in German history, 1871-1945", Allen & Unwin, 1986 ISBN 0-04-943043-2.
*Fischer, Fritz "Germany's Aims In the First World War", W. W. Norton; 1967 ISBN 0-393-05347-4.
*Fischer, Fritz "War of Illusions: German policies from 1911 to 1914" Norton, 1975 ISBN 0-393-05480-2.
*Fromkin, David "Europe's Last Summer: Who Started The Great War in 1914?," Knopf 2004 ISBN 0-375-41156-9.
*Gilpin, Robert. "War and Change in World Politics" Cambridge University Press, 1981 ISBN 0-521-24018-2.
*Hamilton, Richard and Herwig, Holger. "Decisions for War, 1914-1917" Cambridge University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-521-83679-4.
*Henig, Ruth "The Origins of the First World War" (2002) ISBN 0-415-26205-4
*Hillgruber, Andreas "Germany and the Two World Wars", Harvard University Press, 1981 ISBN 0-674-35321-8.
*Rolf Hobson. "Imperialism at Sea: Naval Strategic Thought, the Ideology of Sea Power, and the Tirpitz Plan" (2002) ISBN 0-391-04105-3
*Joll, James. "The Origins of the First World War" (1984) ISBN 0-582-49016-2
*Keiger, John F.V. "France and the Origins of the First World War", St. Martin's Press, 1983 ISBN 0-312-30292-4.
*Kennedy, Paul "The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914", Allen & Unwin, 1980 ISBN 0-04-940060-6.
*Kennedy, Paul M. (ed.). "The War Plans of the Great Powers, 1880-1914." (1979) ISBN 0-04-940056-8
*Knutsen, Torbjørn L. "The Rise and Fall of World Orders" Manchester University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-7190-4057-4.
*Lee, Dwight E. ed. "The Outbreak of the First World War: Who Was Responsible?" (1958) oclc number|66082903, readings from, multiple points of view
Lenin, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism" Progress Publishers, Moscow, (1978)
*Leslie, John (1993). “The Antecedents of Austria-Hungary’s War Aims,” "Wiener Beiträge zur Geschichte der Neuzeit" Elisabeth Springer and Leopold Kammerhofer (Eds.), 20: 307- 394.
*Lieven, D.C.B "Russia and the Origins of the First World War", St. Martin's Press, 1983 ISBN 0-312-69608-6.
* Sean M. Lynn-Jones, and Stephen Van Evera (eds.) "Military Strategy and the Origins of the First World War" (2nd ed., Princeton UP, 1991) ISBN 0-691-02349-2
*Mayer, Arno "The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War" Croom Helm, 1981 ISBN 0-394-51141-7.
*Ponting, Clive (2002). "Thirteen Days." Chatto & Windus.
*Remak, Joachim "The Origins of World War I, 1871-1914", 1967 ISBN 0-03-082839-2.
*Ritter, Gerhard “Eine neue Kriegsschuldthese?” pages 657-668 from "Historische Zeitschrift" Volume 194, June 1962, translated into English as “Anti-Fischer: A New War-Guilt Thesis?” pages 135-142 from "The Outbreak of World War One: Causes and Responsibilities", edited by Holger Herwig, 1997
* [http://www.asu.edu/clas/polisci/cqrm/papers/schroedercounterfactual.pdf Schroeder, Paul W. (2000), “Embedded Counterfactuals and World War I as an Unavoidable War”
* Jack Snyder, “Civil—Military Relations and the Cult of the Offensive, 1914 and 1984,” "International Security" 9 #1 (1984)
*Steiner, Zara "Britain and the Origins of the First World War" Macmillan Press, 1977 ISBN 0-312-09818-9
*Stevenson, David. "Cataclysm: The First World War As Political Tragedy" (2004) major reinterpretation ISBN 0-465-08184-3
*Stevenson, David. "The First World War and International Politics" (2005)
*Strachan, Hew. "The First World War: Volume I: To Arms" (2004): the major scholarly synthesis. Thorough coverage of 1914; Also: "The First World War" (2004): a 385pp version of his multivolume history
*Taylor, A.J.P. "War by Time-Table: How The First World War Began", Macdonald & Co., 1969 ISBN 0-356-04206-5
*Tuchman, Barbara. "
The Guns of August", tells of the opening diplomatic and military manoeuvres
*Turner, L. C. F. "Origins of the First World War", New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970. ISBN 0-393-09947-4.
* Stephen Van Evera, "The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War," in "International Security" 9 #1 (1984)
*Wehler, Hans-Ulrich "The German Empire, 1871-1918", Berg Publishers, 1985 ISBN 0-907582-22-2.
Weikart, Richard, "From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany." 2004 ISBN 1-4039-6502-1
*Williamson, Samuel "Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War", St. Martin's Press, 1991 ISBN 0-312-05239-1.
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/origins_01.shtml The Origins of World War One] : An article by Dr. Gary Sheffield at the BBC History site.
* [http://www.activehistory.co.uk/WW1_CAUSES/index.htm What Caused World War One? A Decision-Making Simulation] : A free online educational game available in English, Spanish, German and Dutch.
* [http://www.firstworldwar.com/origins/causes.htm Overview of Causes and Primary Sources] : Provides an excellent starting point for further research.
* [http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/historian/hist_stone_01_russia.html Russia - Getting Too Strong for Germany] by
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/17111 The Meaning of the War, Life & Matter in Conflict] a free downloadable ebook by Henri Bergson
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