Year 10 History 1918 – 1945 Unit 1: Coursework 1 – Causes of war
Source 2: Fritz Fischer, From Kaiserreich to Third Reich, London, 1986.
After 1905 the Reich attempted, in a number of major crises, to break out of its ‘encirclement’, invariably doing so with an eye to the probable domestic ramifications. Its final endeavour led to the First World War. During these crises the Kaiser repeatedly revealed his own weakness. When he again ‘caved in’ on 28 July 1914 he was pushed aside. In all this, and at the crux of military deliberations from 1908 onwards, there was the anticipated and accepted two-front war with France and Russia. Only the active hostility of the third world power, Britain, remained in doubt …
In reality, there did indeed exist at the summit of the Reich a degree of collaboration between political and military leaders, embracing propagandist and psychological as well as financial and economic preparations for war. A clear decision was made to secure and extend its European base, although, with a view to Britain, the timetable, tactics and line of march might vary. And this decision was taken not from a purely military standpoint to secure a Great Power’s ‘freedom of action’ because in 1916-17 French and Russian counter-measures would be complete; it was made from a long-term power-political, economic and domestic political perspective …
The German military leaders’ confidence in victory was based on the Moltke-Schlieffen doctrine of the short war, in accordance with the tradition of the wars of 1864, 1866 and 1870. It was dominated by the pre-eminence of operational thought over a realistic assessment of the numerical strength and resources of the opponent and one’s own long-term potentialities.
Source 3: Fritz Fischer, War of Illusions, London, 1975, pp. viii-ix.
The aim was to consolidate the position of the ruling class with a successful imperialist foreign policy; indeed it was hoped a war would resolve the growing social tensions. By involving the masses in the great struggle those parts of the nation which had been hitherto stood apart would be integrated into the monarchical state. By 1912 at any rate the domestic crisis was apparent. The decision to go to war in 1914 was, in addition to the domestic consideration, based above all on military reflections which in turn depended on economic and political objectives. All these factors – and as regards both the masses and the Emperor there were psychological elements – the Government was forced to consider. If one looks at all these forces it is possible to see a clear continuity of aim before and after the war.
Some advice for completing these – and all – short-answer 5 mark questions:
· Fill the space allocated – do not go way over the lines and do not leave lines empty! Aim for 100-150 words per question.
· The first sentence of your paragraph should be a direct response to the question, i.e. answer it first before getting to details
· Focus o...