German Aggression Was Responsible For The Outbreak Of A General European War In August 1914 Essay

I agree Germany were aggressive but their actions were not completely responsible for the outbreak of war, there were other causes for the war which Germany were not responsible for, such as the Triple of Entente where Germany felt isolated and insecure. However, the Schlieffen Plan of 1905 referred to in sources 1 and 2 is frequently seen as an act of aggression. In source 1 Corrigan says that “Germany had in place a plan for an aggressive war” because they were concerned of having to fight Russia and France at the same time. The fact that the Schlieffen Plan was created over a decade before the war suggests Germany were long anticipating it beginning and intended to be aggressive as planned. In source 2, Turner describes the plan as “flagrant violations of neutrality”. Both sources 1 and 2 see the Schlieffen Plan as an act of aggression. But it could be argued that it was an act of defensive. The Schlieffen may have been a precaution to defend themselves from both France and Russia at the same time if war broke out. Maybe the Schliffen Plan was only bought into play because Germany felt threatened by other powers, especially the Triple Entente.

Yet, it is much more likely that the Schlieffen Plan was an act of aggression. Before the outbreak of the war there was already underlying tensions from the Weltpolitik referred to in sources 1 and 3. On one hand, Germanys Weltpolitik was aggressive as it “focussed on annexation” as Corrigan believes in source 1. On the other hand, you could argue that it wasn’t just Germany who were displaying some aggressive behaviour like the Naval Race War between Germany and Britain mentioned in source 3: “The British were determined to maintain their naval superiority, whatever the financial and political cost”. This suggests there was also a feeling of aggression from other powers such as Britain and Germany felt threatened so had to respond to defend themselves if anything happened. Germanys Weltpolitik could be seen as aggressive or defensive but Germany was certainly not the only power showing signs of aggression. Germany would’ve definitely felt threated by the Triple Entente when the agreement was closed in 1907. Germany would’ve felt isolated and may be the cause of some of her actions – although they may seem aggressive, they actually could have been defensive like the use of the Schlieffen Plan as I mentioned earlier. Source 1 mentions Germanys concern: “Germany would have to fight Russia and France simultaneously, with Britain as a possible ally of France.” You would not expect anyone to sit back and do nothing if they were in Germanys position and so to avoid being walked all over Germany asserted themselves as a potential threat as seen in the arms race mentioned in source 3.

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It is quite easy to see the arms race as Germany being aggressive towards Britain however “The arms race, in which all the major powers were involved” would be threatening from a German point of view. Germany may have built up their arms, not to compete with the other powers but to defend themselves from them. Source 2 says “Bethmann Hollwegg courted a great war” which suggests Germany wanted the war to be sooner rather than later. This was because Russia had little resources and a small army after the Russian revolution in 1905 so Germany had a devised the Schlieffen Plan to defeat France before Russia could mobilise. This supports what source 2 is saying because a war sooner rather than later would be suitable for Germany as they would have more chance of success and could be a reason why Germany were aggressive as they were pushing for war. An example of Germany pushing for war is the giving of the blank cheque to Austria-Hungary mentioned in source 1: “unconditional support”. This could be because Germany was simply pushing for war and urging Austria-Hungary to make a significant move but it could also have been because Austria-Hungary was Germanys only ally. If Germany didn’t support their only ally they would be completely isolated by enemies and feel more threatened than ever. It was also not only Germany who fancied the war to be sooner rather than later as mentioned in source 3.

The source suggests France was also hoping for the war to start soon as they knew it was going to happen eventually so this is a sign of aggression towards Germany: “better war than this perpetual waiting!” There are other occasions where German aggression may be seen, such as in the Moroccan Crisis’ where German leaders seem to be provoking other powers to make a move and the Bosnian Crisis. Overall there seems to be a lot of evidence supporting there was a significant amount of German aggression but there is evidence to suggest that Germany were not completely responsible for the outbreak of war. Other powers were aggressive such as Britain in the Naval Arms Race and Germany might of done some of the things they did because they felt threatened by the Triple Entente for example and so were defensive. I agree that German aggression was responsible for the outbreak of a general European war to a certain extent however they were definitely not completely responsible.