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Causes of WWI Historiography

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E Scheidemann

on 7 January 2014

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Transcript of Causes of WWI Historiography

Historiography of Causes of WWI
Blames Germany immediately after war
"Germany accepts the responsibility...for causing all the loss and damage...as a consequence of the ... aggression of Germany and her allies" Article 231, Versailles Peace Treaty
Revisionist Position
Shared Guilt 1920-30s
Revisionism 1
"The power of long-term factors"
Revisionism 2
"The power of incompetent individuals"
Blamed Russian mobilization and Austria-Hungarian diplomacy
Sidney Fay
War caused by alliance system and secret diplomacy.
G. Lowes Dickinson
Socialists following Lenin identified close links between capitalism, imperialism and the causes of war.
Colonial and economic rivalry
led to the arms race.
"The war of 1914 is the most colossal breakdown in history of an
economic system
destroyed by its own inherent contradictions"
"General restlessness throughout Europe...everybody was turning to violence to resolve issues (suffragettes, trade unions, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland)"
Winston Churchill
Everybody contributed to reasons for the war
Individuals determine historical events
A peaceable, industrious, sensible mass of 500 million [European people], was hounded by a few dozen incapable leaders, by falsified documents, lying stories of threats, and chauvinistic catchwords, into a war which in no way was destined or inevitable.
Emil Ludwig
"We muddled into war...The nations slithered over the brink into the boiling cauldron of war...not one of them wanted war, certainly not on this scale"
David Lloyd George
Post Revisionist
German to Blame (Again...Seriously)
Anti-Post revisionist
"German mobilization was equivalent to the declaration of war because the Schlieffen Plan was offensive in nature"
Germany holds responsibility to outbreak of war by creating the Schliffen Plan
Argument developed in the years after WW2
Luigi Albertini
"The German bid for continental supremacy was certainly decisive in bringing on the European War.The sole cause for the outbreak of war in 1914 was the Schlieffen Plan"
A.J.P Taylor
The Fischer Controversy
Fritz Fischer
The "Will to War"
The Sonderweg ("Special Path") Thesis
Junker Aggression
Germany planned and hoped war would break out by giving Austria a "blank cheque"
The "September Programme" of German Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg showed that Germany always had annexationist territory-grabbing) arms - Hitler fitted into a long-term path of German History
Kaiser William II, the arrogant young Emperor, [followed] a policy based on strength instead of caution. Convincing himself that Germany was being denied her rightful 'place in the sun', the Kaiser embarked upon a vast program of military and naval armament.
R.J. Unstead
Domestic factors - Junker (landed) class felt under threat from socialism and were keen to unite the country with a military victory
"Austria-Hungary was equally to blame for war, marrying a German expansionism with an Austrian desire to expand into the Balkans."
Britain, France and Russia did not want to go to war but reluctantly followed allies, Austria and Germany wanted war
There was no 'slide to war, no war caused by 'inadvertence' but instead a world war caused by a fearful set of elite statesmen and rulers making deliberate choices"
Holger Herwig
Individuals have little influence on the outcome of events
It is not, therefore, in the diplomatic documents, or the plans of the war offices that the whole story of the origins of the war can be found. When they have been read, there still remain important questions about mass psychology"
Understand the past on its own
J.M. Roberts
"What really marked out of the decade before 1914 was a failure of statesmanship and hope...most European governments had come to believe that a general war was inevitable and that problems at home could no longer be settled diplomatically. War seemed to offer an attractive way out."
Ruth Henig
Random events determine history
Institutional structures determines history
Samuel Williamson
"War was inevitable, and the sooner the better"
von Moltke
"The supreme leaders in Austria-Hungary and Germany failed to exercise sufficient control over their subordinates...none of the leaders had the nerve to order a halt to the mobilization, even though this was a completely viable option."
John Stoessinger
"...(You wil) not find the causes of the war in any one country or person, but rather in the system of industrial capitalism that dominated the economics"
Eric Hobsbawm

Others felt that
individuals were to
Fischer's idea had such a huge impact on the scholarship on the war that the Post-Revisionist period is sometimes also referred to as the Fischer Revolution.
The End
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