Assess how far the outbreak of the First World War was the responsibility of Germany and Austria
The factors that led to the outbreak of the First World War have been argued over for many years and it is still something that does not have a definitive answer. Many historians argue over who is responsible through long and short term factors. It is true to say that Germany and Austria were responsible but there were other factors such as the alliance system.
After 1871, the war atmosphere engendered by the secret alliances led to an armaments race among the powers. The race was particularly serious between 1900 and 1914, as the international situation became much worse than before. There was a significant rise in the army and naval estimates of the European powers in these years. All the Continental European powers had adopted the conscription system since 1870. Austria-Hungary had conscription since 1868 and Germany since 1870. Only Britain did not have conscription. After 1890, the deteriorating diplomatic relations among the powers accelerated their military expansion programme. Britain did not introduce conscription but had prepared her armed forces for both European expedition and for home defense. In general, all the powers increased their stocks of arms, produced more modern weapons of war and built more strategic railways. Britain and Germany were the chief rivals at sea. In the meantime, Britain produced her first Dreadnought. Dreadnoughts were large, fast and heavily armed battleships. They set a new standard in naval armaments and rendered all previous battleships obsolete. The naval race became intense. For centuries the powers of Europe had clashed over their competing interests around the globe. Du...
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... Russia to stop mobilize led to a general European war. James Joll attributes the outbreak of the war to disastrous decision made by politicians in the July crisis in 1914. Niall Ferguson states that Germany is not to blame because there is evidence that the social democrat party influenced the German Kaiser so much that he abandoned his expansionist aims. Ferguson sees UK as the country that contributed to the war the most as Sir Edward Grey completely misinterpreted ambitions and decided to go into the war to stop German expansionism.
To answer the question of who is responsible, there is no definitive answer to who is responsible for the outbreak but it is clear that both Germany and Austria-Hungary have the biggest part to play but other countries have to be taken into consideration especially Serbia because it was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
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