In 1919, the European powers had just recovered from the first World War. At the conclusion, the Paris Peace conference was held, and there it was decided that Germany was solely responsible for the war. This
paper seeks to prove that Germany was not the only power responsible for the war, by focusing on the actions of Austria-Hungry and England, as well as explaining Germany’s role. This paper will also discuss how nationalism, militarism, and the alliance system played into the beginning of a war that would shake the world.
Austria-Hungry was a major instigator of WWI. After the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, Austria-Hungry sent the country of the assassins, Serbia, an ultimatum that Serbia was bound to reject. “…deliberately framed the ultimatum with the expectation and hope that it would be rejected.” (Fay 2) This quote shows that Austria-Hungry was attempting to instigate a war with Serbia. Furthermore, Austria-Hungry was the first to declare war within the entire world war, when she declared war on Serbia. Also, the alliance system in place in Europe during the war caused Germany to be dragged into warfare with Austria-Hungry, which began the involvement of multiple world powers.
England also was an instigator of WWI. If England had acted sooner, siding with the Franco-Russian Alliance, then Austria-Hungry might have been too scared to declare war against Serbia. “…if Sir Edward Grey had listened to German urging, and warned France and Russia early in the crisis, that if they became involved in the war, England would remain neutral, probably Russia would have hesitated with her mobilizations, and France would probably have exerted a restraining influence in St. Petersburg.” (Fay 3) This shows that England could have worked the other side of the war, and warned France and Russia that their actions could have dire consequences, and could have applied the sufficient pressure to prevent a world war. England simply joined the war too late, finalizing the reality of a world war.
Finally, Germany must shoulder some of the blame. When Austria-Hungry was considering war with Serbia, Germany pressed war, because she imagined that the war could work in her favor. “…possible to establish a friendly relationship with England, and through England with France. He hoped to bring about a ‘grouping of Germany, England, and France against the Russian colossus…” (Fischer 6) This shows that Germany saw herself gaining a further alliance with the other huge powers of the European continent, a goal that was never to be realized. Germany therefore pledged full support to Austria-Hungry, without which there would have been no extra involvement by other world powers in the Austria-Hungry/Serbia conflict.
This paper brings into light the reality of the causes of World War One. While historically, Germany is blamed for the war, it is necessary to understand the unfairness of this accusation. Looking at the involvement of Austria-Hungry and England, one can clearly see that the ruling that blamed Germany was incorrect. Understanding that leads one to understand why Germany was so willing to begin World War Two, as they were under the impression that they had been severely slighted.