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Who started world war I?

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DLeRium

Lifer
Feb 19, 2001
20,158
20
81
Originally posted by: techs
Originally posted by: BlinderBomber
World War I is extremely complicated. You have a number of factors involved in its outbreak, many of which date back fifty or sixty years. First, Germany defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, took Alsace and Lorraine, and declared an independent, united German empire. Despite being unified, Germany lacked the overseas colonies of her competitors and lacked secure access to the sea and to trade. Their engagement in Weltpolitik or a global strategy designed to bring glory tot he German empire, basically resulted in the acquisition of lackluster colonies.

Second, Austria-Hungry, which for years had been a stable, dependable power was finally being hit by waves of nationalism and discontent. The country, while not completely unstable by 1914, was clearly in a lot of trouble. Its close relationship with Germany, as the only great power which hadn't shunned the country certainly caused concern for the Germans. Feeling as though their only ally was about to plunge down the drain, and being surrounded by countries which wanted nothing more than to see her dismantled, it would have been extremely difficult for the Germans to sit by and let Austria-Hungary collapse.

Meanwhile, France and Russia's close alliance, particularly over issues concerning Germany further fueled the belief within the country that they were surrounded on all sides. On top of that, recent French military reforms, as well as Russian military prowess rising fed the fear that the German empire was about to be eclipsed by her rivals.

In 1914, Germany certainly felt as though she was at the peak of her power. The Balkans disaster (assassination of Ferdinand) must have been viewed with trepidation within Germany because of the rising fears of nationalism. Their "blank check" issued to Austria reflected their desire to see Austria-Hungry remain united. The great miscalculation was that the Russians also had a vested interest in the Balkans.

Like the Germans, the Russians had no clear port access to the high seas. Their best bet, they thought, was to gain control of the Balkans and, with Austria-Hungary's war in Serbia, they saw two Great Powers (Germany / Austria) infringing on their sphere influence, perhaps even actively trying to deny the Russians the warm-water port they had desired for so long.

Meanwhile, the Germans realized that if they went to war they would have to fight both Russia and France (because of their pledges of support). They calculated that it would take the Russians six weeks to fully mobilize their forces and deploy them to the front. The length of time, they felt, hinged on the poor infrastructure of the Russian Empire. Hence, they decided they would eliminate the French as quickly as possible (less than six weeks with the infamous Schlieffen Plan) then wheel Eastward to meet the Russians.

Something else that is key to remember - every nation thought the next great war would be over very fast. They thought each nation would mobilize as quickly as possible and send their forces out into a few very bloody, but brief, battles and then the war would be over. They believed that the nation capable of striking first would be at a huge advantage and that for each day they delayed in mobilization the enemy gained an even greater advantage. Hence, all nations were eager to mobilize first and all nations saw mobilization by an enemy as a declaration of war.

Hence, the question is a complicated one. Germany is certainly the aggressor, but the other great powers also share the blame for 'boxing in' Germany. Russia shares blame for panicking over the Balkans and all the generals are partly to blame for their eagerness to mobilize. You can't simply place one nation or person at fault, because the situation was rife with complexities.

edit: if this is homework, do your own work! Second, the Kaiser is the German Emperor or King and, no, he is not to blame. Nobody is.

Wow. Someone who actually studied the causes.

I also have done some real studying on the causes of the war.
Your points on the timetables of mobilization are quite accurate. In fact, some people say the railroads started it, because that was what determined the timetables.

However, I am of the school that it was the lack of communication that started it. The complex treaties and interactions between the countries were all successfully negotiated to result in a peaceful settlement, but the time it took to communicate decisions that were made between the powers was so slow that new actions were being taken that negated the compromises.
Hence, Woodrow Wilsons call for a League of Nations, where all the parties could meet on neutral ground and swiftly communicate compromises.
Wow. I think I was taught pretty much all of that during my Poli Sci IR class a few summers back. Oh it was fun, but I could tell most people didn't give a damn about the politics and history.
 

soonerproud

Golden Member
Jun 30, 2007
1,874
0
0
Originally posted by: Soviet
Hitler started the second one, who started the first one? What was it all about? Can someone just sort of generalise and simplify what happened?

I looked at the wikipedia article but its pretty in depth, i just need a generalisation. Was it the "kaiser"? Someone told me the "kaiser" started it, who was that?
It is actually quite complicated. All of the parties involved in Europe share responsibility for starting the war. The spark was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian extremist. But the tension leading to war was a long time building between the various parties.

Russia and France had a treaty of alliance prior to the war and both sided with Serbia. Austria, Germany and The Ottoman Empire also had a treaty of Alliance to oppose Russia and France. Almost all countries in Europe were taking sides except the UK. The UK decided after the start of the conflict they needed Russian and French cooperation to protect their colonies from Germany.

The Austrian Hungarian Empire had annexed Serbia leading to nationalist movements in that country. Russia considered Serbs brothers and was sympathetic to their cause. When Serbian nationalist assassinated the Archduke, Austria-Hungary basically put demands on the Serbs that guaranteed war. When Austria-Hungry declared war, Russia and France declared war on Austria-Hungary and Germany declared war on the Serbs, Russia and France.

A short time later both the UK and The Ottoman Empire threw their hats in the ring. The Uk entered the war on the side of the Russians and the French. The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the side of the Germans and Austrians.

This is really a simplified version of the events. It is far more complex than this and any one looking at it from all sides will see everyone involved was at fault.
 

soonerproud

Golden Member
Jun 30, 2007
1,874
0
0
Originally posted by: BlinderBomber
World War I is extremely complicated. You have a number of factors involved in its outbreak, many of which date back fifty or sixty years. First, Germany defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, took Alsace and Lorraine, and declared an independent, united German empire. Despite being unified, Germany lacked the overseas colonies of her competitors and lacked secure access to the sea and to trade. Their engagement in Weltpolitik or a global strategy designed to bring glory tot he German empire, basically resulted in the acquisition of lackluster colonies.

Second, Austria-Hungry, which for years had been a stable, dependable power was finally being hit by waves of nationalism and discontent. The country, while not completely unstable by 1914, was clearly in a lot of trouble. Its close relationship with Germany, as the only great power which hadn't shunned the country certainly caused concern for the Germans. Feeling as though their only ally was about to plunge down the drain, and being surrounded by countries which wanted nothing more than to see her dismantled, it would have been extremely difficult for the Germans to sit by and let Austria-Hungary collapse.

Meanwhile, France and Russia's close alliance, particularly over issues concerning Germany further fueled the belief within the country that they were surrounded on all sides. On top of that, recent French military reforms, as well as Russian military prowess rising fed the fear that the German empire was about to be eclipsed by her rivals.

In 1914, Germany certainly felt as though she was at the peak of her power. The Balkans disaster (assassination of Ferdinand) must have been viewed with trepidation within Germany because of the rising fears of nationalism. Their "blank check" issued to Austria reflected their desire to see Austria-Hungry remain united. The great miscalculation was that the Russians also had a vested interest in the Balkans.

Like the Germans, the Russians had no clear port access to the high seas. Their best bet, they thought, was to gain control of the Balkans and, with Austria-Hungary's war in Serbia, they saw two Great Powers (Germany / Austria) infringing on their sphere influence, perhaps even actively trying to deny the Russians the warm-water port they had desired for so long.

Meanwhile, the Germans realized that if they went to war they would have to fight both Russia and France (because of their pledges of support). They calculated that it would take the Russians six weeks to fully mobilize their forces and deploy them to the front. The length of time, they felt, hinged on the poor infrastructure of the Russian Empire. Hence, they decided they would eliminate the French as quickly as possible (less than six weeks with the infamous Schlieffen Plan) then wheel Eastward to meet the Russians.

Something else that is key to remember - every nation thought the next great war would be over very fast. They thought each nation would mobilize as quickly as possible and send their forces out into a few very bloody, but brief, battles and then the war would be over. They believed that the nation capable of striking first would be at a huge advantage and that for each day they delayed in mobilization the enemy gained an even greater advantage. Hence, all nations were eager to mobilize first and all nations saw mobilization by an enemy as a declaration of war.

Hence, the question is a complicated one. Germany is certainly the aggressor, but the other great powers also share the blame for 'boxing in' Germany. Russia shares blame for panicking over the Balkans and all the generals are partly to blame for their eagerness to mobilize. You can't simply place one nation or person at fault, because the situation was rife with complexities.

edit: if this is homework, do your own work! Second, the Kaiser is the German Emperor or King and, no, he is not to blame. Nobody is.
Great post and much more detailed than what I posted. I agree Germany was an aggressor along with Austria-Hungry, Russia, France and The UK. They all were trying to position themselves for territorial gain or revenge against one another. They all deserve responsibility for the war.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,659
3,137
126
Originally posted by: Soviet
Hitler started the second one, who started the first one? What was it all about? Can someone just sort of generalise and simplify what happened?

I looked at the wikipedia article but its pretty in depth, i just need a generalisation. Was it the "kaiser"? Someone told me the "kaiser" started it, who was that?
I thought for sure GWB started ww1......
 

Martin

Lifer
Jan 15, 2000
29,178
1
81
One has to be particularly daft to think Princip started anything. He was a freedom fighter and did the right thing.
 

dug777

Lifer
Oct 13, 2004
24,778
3
0
It's almost universally accepted that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the spark that ignited it.
 

soonerproud

Golden Member
Jun 30, 2007
1,874
0
0
Originally posted by: Martin
One has to be particularly daft to think Princip started anything. He was a freedom fighter and did the right thing.
Princip was a pawn used to advance the idea of war by colonial powers. He still was a major player in the events that happened regardless whether he started anything or not.

Some call him a freedom fighter and others call him a terrorist.
 

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