World War I Essay When a nation’s hunger for power and control become too great, the nation may be pushed to do things that may have harsh consequences. This was the case in the early 1900’s when the world engaged in its first major global military conflict. There were a number of causes of the First World War; due to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany accepted full responsibility for the war. Although the Germans had a large contribution in starting the war, they should not be fully held accountable for starting the war.
The world was a place where only the strongest nations could thrive and expand. The major powers of Europe were all doing whatever it took to gain power, wealth, and control different areas of land; this caused tension among the nations of the world. The stage was set for an armed military conflict to erupt at any given moment in time, all this tense situation needed was a spark to ignite the flame; and the world would be at war. Germany should not be blamed for starting World War I because the world had already set itself up for a war, Germany just instigated it.
The major powers set the tense situation in the world through: the numerous alliance systems and the competition for colonies; the different political plans various nations tried to implement, along with the race to see who could produce the largest navy; and the nationalistic beliefs of every nation, coupled with the militaristic views of the major powers. Germany should not accept full responsibility because the nations of the world created a hostile environment throughout the continent. After the Franco-Prussian War, a system of secret alliances had developed in Europe.
These alliances split the continent into two tense sides that were ready to go to war at any moment. A lot of the different major powers were involved in mutual defense agreements, which linked nations to one another in the event that one of them was attacked. When the war did happen, it involved nearly every country in Europe due to these mutual defense agreements. Because of these alliances, some nations were forced to support policies that their partners followed, even if they did not fully believe in these policies.
The discovery of the secret alliances brought about suspicion from other major powers that there were other secret agreements that existed. These suspicions put the major powers back on their heels and they prepared for anything that could happen. The pressure and competition to colonize was another source of international conflict. Following the division of Africa by the great powers, spheres of influence were established in Asia (specifically China) and protectorates were to be set up in other areas.
The rush to take control of different territories, and the race towards colonization would eventually lead to disagreements over various boundaries of control. The European powers felt the need to expand; disputes broke out over disagreements regarding the ownership of land as well as the distribution of territories. The map of Europe was constantly being written and rewritten. Once a large enough disagreement broke out, a war was inevitable. Various political plans were implemented to solve problems that nations had in relation to their national affairs.
Many of the major powers in Europe had plans that involved numerous armed conflicts that would occur in rapid succession, and eventually lead to a large scale world war. This is where Germany is at fault; it was the German Schlieffen Plan which outlined a two-front strategy. Since Germany chose to fight on two fronts this meant Germany would have to eliminate each one of their opponents quickly so that they could prepare for another enemy. The German forces had to seize Belgium and prevent the French Armies ability to mobilize.
Germany’s aggressive approach towards starting conflict with neighboring nations is a reason why they should take partial responsibility for starting World War I. After attacking Belgium, the German army had to rush eastward and quickly eliminate the slowly mobilizing Russian Forces. France had plans of its own; they wanted to quickly overtake Germany’s industrial heartland, Ruhr Valley. France felt that if they could get into Ruhr Valley they could lower the Germany’s chance to start a modern war.
The Russians planned on preparing their army for a war against the armies of both Austria-Hungary and Germany. The pressure that each one of these plans put on the other nations led to a war where speed was a major determining factor in the victor of the war. Once each army began mobilization, turning back was no longer an option and the war became more inevitable than ever. A new innovation that brought the ongoing naval battle between the major powers was the introduction of the dreadnought. The threat of the new more owerful battleship started a race to see who could produce the most dreadnoughts and control the sea. The pride of each nation became a contributing factor in the war; all the major powers felt they could reign supreme and that is exactly what they all tried to do. One of the dominant influencing factors of the war, according to the president of the United States at the time (Woodrow Wilson) and many others, was militarism. Military personnel had too much power in nations such as Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary.
Surely this could not be blamed solely on Germany as a nation, this type of military based mindset could not be blamed on any single nation in particular, and it was just the way things were run in the time. The desire for military power became stronger than each nations desire to develop a sound democratic government and this uncertainty in the nations priorities eventually led to a world war. The idea of militarism ultimately led to the United States intervention into the war, they felt that they had to eliminate the theory of militarism as a whole.
Militarism was not an ideal that was only adopted by Germany, most of the other nations also adopted this way of thinking. Also, each nation’s strong feelings of nationalism fed the fires of hatred in Europe before the war. Nationalistic views put the idea that war is the best test for proof of national superiority in the minds of the citizens of every nation, not just Germany. It was not just German nationalism that set off a war, but the nationalism and the immense egos of other nations also helped start a war.
These general causes created an atmosphere in Europe which made war a likelihood. The spark that ignited and transformed the underlying problems into a large scale world conflict was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand. This assassination was not even done by a German citizen; upon the assassination, Austria cut off relations with Serbia and war broke out a few days after. World War I should not be put on the shoulders of Germany; and Germany should not have to take responsibility for it.