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Germany’s Journey to War in 1914

Counter to what the vast majority believes, the Great War was not largely due to the July

Crisis and the assassination at Sarajevo; rather, it was much more in part due to the preceding

crises across Europe and Africa, the rising interests in nationalism and imperialism among the

Germanic peoples, the changing purpose of alliances in Europe, the Anglo-German Naval Race,

and racism between the Slavic and German People. The rising nationalism could be seen all

across Europe, but were very prevalent in Germany as the racist views towards the Slavic people

as being inferior and a threat aided the people’s desire to protect their current lifestyles. This

desire, alongside the racist rhetoric the Germans were spreading about the Slavic people,

reinforced a nationalist sentiment to combat the foreign enemy. This nationalist desire also

contributed to the imperialistic desire in the German population. While the German Colonial

Empire ended up as the third largest in the world, they were behind France, their age old rival,

and, of course, Britain. The Germans could settle as being second behind Britain, but they would

not allow themselves to be inferior to France. The First Moroccan Crisis stemmed from

Germany’s desire to prevent the Entente Cordiale, an alliance between Britain and France, the

two largest colonial empires at the time. They aimed to bully France in Morocco and force them

into negotiations to lessen Britain’s interest in the alliance, but ultimately the plan backfired on

Germany, as they suffered a loss and strengthened the Entente Cordiale. The First Moroccan

Crisis marked the end of a period of confrontation between Britain and France, Germany, and

Russia and the beginning of a period of confrontation with the Entente Cordiale and Triple

Entente versus the Central Powers. This crisis, along with the Bosnian Crisis and the Second

Moroccan Crisis, heightened tensions between the major European powers and ultimately
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contributed to an expansive war across Europe. Prior to these crises, and even during them to a

lesser degree, alliances served to dissuade countries from engaging in war. The thought of a

major European war scared everyone so when there was a point of conflict, it was resolved

through negotiations and diplomacy, not through military conflict. However, these consecutive

and seemingly endless conflicts resulted in an unsafe dependence on brinkmanship—“the art or

practice of pushing a dangerous situation or confrontation to the limit of safety especially to

force a desired outcome.” Because brinkmanship kept resulting in diplomatic solutions between

the major alliances and smaller countries, there was a belief that it could be propagated forever.

Brinkmanship and the negotiations were also aided by the rising military forces between Britain

and Germany, the two most powerful forces of their respective alliances. A large portion of this

rise can be attributed to the Anglo-German Naval Race, a competition between the two to see

who would essentially rule the seas. The British, being an island nation so heavily involved in

overseas colonies, had historically had the most powerful navy, but Kaiser Wilhelm II wished to

upset this norm and take control of the seas. The additional war vessels and elevated levels of

production of these warships led to a military on both sides of the alliances fully prepared for

war. Lastly, the anti-Slavic policies and laws in place in Germany, along with the previously

mentioned anti-Slavic rhetoric being spread, led to an international dislike of Germany (Prizel)

(Jaworska) (Stevenson) (E. Anderson) (F. Anderson) (Rinke) (Marriam-Webster) (Martel).

Prior to World War 1, there were a number of anti-Slavic laws in place that supported the

German people’s racism towards Slavs, a sentiment that fed the Serbians’ dislike of the Germans.

Serbia felt responsibility as a Slavic country to aid their Slavic brothers and sisters; they were

attempting to unite the South Slavs to create a Greater Serbia, and as such, took offense to
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Germany’s intense discrimination of the Slavic people and to Germany’s consistent spread of the

anti-Slavic thinking. For years before World War I and for years after it, the Polish Question—

what should be done with the Poles and whether they should have their own country—plagued

the continent. Bismarck’s personal response to this was the eradication of all Poles, one of the

groups under the Slavic umbrella, but he understood that that would not be smart politically or

diplomatically. Instead, he turned to legislation to oppress them. He organized the Prussian

Settlement Commission (1886-1924, but only active until 1918), which purchased the vacant

land in the newly acquired territories of West Prussia, formerly Poland. The aim was for the

government to buy the land and to sell it to approved German applicants looking to migrate to

the area, thus preventing an influx of Slavs looking for work in the area and ensuring

Germanization of West Prussia. Alongside the Prussian Settlement Commission, all non-German

languages were removed from public life and schools in West Prussia, forcing the Slavs to

essentially become Germans. But even if they assimilated and were Germanized, they still faced

significant discrimination and racism from the German people. At the time, there was printed

rhetoric circling (from the Pan-German League and the Eastern Marches Society) comparing the

Slavs to a disease that had infected the German body. This widespread racism, promoted by the

government and enforced by the people, created a major divide in Germany and darkened their

reputation in the Triple Entente’s eyes, adding another reason for them to engage Germany in

war (Engermen, Metzer) (Prizel) (Jaworska).

This institutional racism also had another effect: it raised nationalist sentiment among the

German people, and this rise in nationalism during the time leading up to the Great War

significantly impacted Germany’s decision making during the two Moroccan Crises and the
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Bosnian Crisis. Alongside this rise in nationalism existed an old ideal of honor, which was

reinforced to the German public and the German military by both Kaiser Wilhelm I and Kaiser

Wilhelm II. During this time, honor directly influenced every level of decision making and every

level of decision maker in Germany, from the Kaiser to the average soldier. Effi Briest, a novel

based on a true story and published in 1895, gives the reader a sense for the atmosphere

regarding honor and pride in pre-World War I Germany. In the novel, a young Effi, who is

married to Instetten, a military man, has an affair with an army general. Years after the affair and

a rekindling of Effi’s love for her marriage, Instetten stumbles upon letters from Effi’s previous

lover and finds out who he is. And rather than letting it go, or listening to his colleague, he

challenges the general (who is then injured from war) to a duel and kills him, committing a

felony. His sentence, however, is ended early and he turns his back to Effi, taking their daughter

when he leaves her, and flourishes with his military career while Effi dies in the streets. All of

Instetten’s actions are in line with the Wilhelmian code of honor and aren’t out of the ordinary.

The pride and honor, which he could not ignore, led him to murdering a man and committing a

felony, showing that the Germans valued their code of honor more than the law itself. And while

this might be an extreme example, it explains some of the actions Germany took in regards to the

Moroccan Crises. In both the First and Second Moroccan Crisis, Germany felt as though their

pan-Germanic Right was being encroached and led to Germany’s sudden interest in Imperialism,

specifically in North Africa (Schmitt) (Offer) (Fontane) (Rinke).

German nationalism led to the desire to be the greatest country in Europe, a desire that

would not be fulfilled without extending Germany’s reach. This, alongside Kaiser Wilhelm II’s

respect for Great Britain, the land of his grandmother, led to the German desire to be involved in
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the colonization of Africa. While Germany was late to join the Scramble for Africa, it acquired

leftover countries and still became the third largest imperial empire. There are two main reasons

for Germany’s tardiness: the timing of German Unification and Bismarck’s lack of interest in

colonies. Addressing the first, the German Empire officially formed in 1871, while the Scramble

for Africa began around 1881. Germany, which previously had not developed a powerful navy,

was not able to pursue it’s desire immediately. However, the newly formed German Empire felt

the need to prove itself, and thus wished to widen its control; because of this, Bismarck, given

his personal inhibitions regarding imperialism, accepted the necessity of colonies. This, however,

was not his only reason. He also wished to protect its trading economy and ability to acquire raw

materials overseas. Just as notable, however, was Germany’s inferiority complex in regards to

France. Germany could not stand to see its neighbor expanding its influence so much while being

limited to the European Continent itself. This inferiority complex was also key in triggering the

First Moroccan Crisis. Germany, Bismarck, and Wilhelm II all felt as though as they had no

choice but to contest France’s claims to Morocco (Schmitt) (Washausen).

Because Berlin knew Russia was weak from their recent defeat at the hands of Japan in

the Russo-Japanese War and due to their ongoing political revolution, Berlin wanted to divide

what remained of the major alliance and separate Britain and France to prevent a force more

powerful than themselves from being established. One of the largest obstacles looming over

Germany’s head was the danger of a Franco-Russo Alliance as it opened Germany up to a two-

front attack. Even though there existed the Schlieffen Plan (or doctrine), which provided them a

means of dealing with the two-front attack through utilizing greater mobility and surprise attacks,

Kaiser Wilhelm II and Chancellor Bülow wished to force France into negotiations while Russia
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was recovering. “What mattered was to show the French that Germany was a decisive power in

global politics and one that could not simply be bypassed—not even with British support.” This

comes back to the previous point made regarding the pan-Germanic Right: Germany felt this

right being encroached on by the Entente Cordiale, and thus strived to break the alliance to

preserve it (Stevenson) (E. Anderson) (Paddock) (Rinke).

The First Moroccan Crisis was caused by Germany’s attempt to drive Britain and France

apart and “disrupt… the Dual Alliance”; however, France’s seemingly readiness to fight a war

and Germany’s desire to handle the situation diplomatically led to a German failure.

Furthermore, it served to bring Britain and France closer together and strengthen their alliance.

The First Moroccan Crisis, in many ways, began with Kaiser Wilhelm II visit to Morocco to

undermine the French control of the colony, a feat he accomplished by addressing the Sultan as

the ruler of a free and independent empire. Germany realistically had very little to gain from

interfering with Morocco or taking control of the colony, aside from interfering with France

gaining full power over it. That was enough reason for Germany to interfere nonetheless.

Germany attempted to fully utilize this opportunity created by the recent Russian defeat and

ongoing Russian revolution to destroy the Anglo-Franco alliance. However, even after the

Kaiser’s visit to Morocco, both the Germans and the French wanted to reach a diplomatic

solution, as neither side was interested in a war. The Algeciras Conference was planned to work

out Morocco’s future between the two countries, and at this time, France, Belgium, and Britain

all started military preparations, so they could later aid in negotiations. But even still, Germany

refused to begin preparations and continued to pursue a diplomatic victory. This changed after

Delcassé resigned and Rouvier took over as Prime Minister. Rouvier ordered a mobilization of
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French troops to guard against the path the Germans would have to take to reach Morocco. Even

at this point, the Germans showed no interest in preparing, which led to their imminent defeat at

the hands of the French. The biggest accomplishment of the First Moroccan Crisis was to cement

the Entente Cordiale and the Anglo-Russo alliance, the two things the Germans feared the most.

“Algeciras had openly demonstrated German isolation for the first time, and the term

encirclement gained more currency with the German public” leading to a changing opinion

among the German population (E. Anderson) (F. Anderson) (Palmowski) (Rinke) (Stevenson).

Due to the recent defeats at the hands of Britain, and more importantly France,

Germany’s age old rival, the people’s trust in the government declined heavily. Paired with the

rise in nationalism and national pride, the citizens began to feel betrayed by their leaders as they

had started and lost two major crises within a decade of each other. At the same time, there was

also a rise in desire for pacifism and other means of resolving diplomatic problems. While a rise

in nationalism can result in more support from the citizens, it can also lead to heavy criticism.

After the loss in the First Moroccan Crisis, the German people felt distrust towards their

government for essentially the first time since the formation of the German Empire. The

Germans goal with their involvement in Morocco was to ensure secure trading privileges and to

drive a wedge between Britain and France. While they accomplished the former to some degree,

they failed catastrophically with the latter; the alliance only benefited from Germany’s actions.

As such, Germany was essentially isolated against the Triple Entente, with their only semi-

reliable ally being Austria-Hungary. However, with this, Germany had enemies on what was

essentially three sides, while having their ally on their furthest side. The German public began to

fear the possibility of war given the disadvantageous position Germany was in. The phrase
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encirclement became more and more widespread, and began to nurture the fear of war in the

Germans. This fear of war then led to the people embracing the new alternatives to war, like

pacifism. Pacifism spread throughout the hearts and minds of many Germans during this time, all

while the German citizens failed to realize that during the First Moroccan Crisis, Germany

showed no interest to fight a war and did not even mobilize troops to combat the French

mobilization. Rather, this decision for pacifism by Chancellor Bülow is what led to the German

defeat (Herwig) (Rinke).

Although the Bosnian Crisis served as a victory for Germany, it was mainly because of

Austria-Hungary’s quick mobilization and garrisoning, not Germany’s actions. Germany’s

support was a direct jab at the already weakened Russia, since their support of Austria-Hungary

was what allowed Serbia, Russia’s ally, to be overwhelmed and manipulated. The Bosnian Crisis

began with Austria-Hungary beginning plans to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina, to which they were

met with unexpected retaliation from Serbia, who offensively mobilized to aid in them following

diplomatic negotiations. Following suit, Montenegro mobilized and garrisoned what would have

been Austria-Hungary’s naval paths for attack with artillery. Following what was essentially a

stalemate, Vienna began recommending full mobilization for all Balkan affairs, but Aehrenthal,

their Foreign Minister, pushed for a mutual stand-down to avoid a mountain campaign, which

was seen to be highly unpredictable. He also feared the potential of the Russo-Turkish-Italian

alliance stepping in to contest Austria-Hungary’s claims and support Serbia. However, as stated

earlier, Russia was severely weakened at this time, something Germany took full advantage of.

After the crisis began, Russia declared no action as they were severely weakened and struggled

with a lack in morale following the Russo-Japanese War and the internal political revolution.
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Upon Germany’s announcement to support Austria-Hungary in this crisis, it was all but over.

Serbia, without the backing of any major European power, was essentially forced to surrender

and felt betrayed by the major European powers, increasing Russia’s necessity to support them

moving forward (Stevenson) (Clark).

The Second Moroccan Crisis was a result of France occupying the capital of Morocco

following a riot against the Sultan. This was in violation to the Algeciras Act of 1906 and the

Franco-German Agreement in 1909. The Algeciras Act of 1906, the resolution of the First

Moroccan Crisis, stated that Germany would be one of the countries responsible for loaning to

the Morocco. It also stated that the Sultan of Morocco would retain power over the police force

but it would be overseen by the French and Spanish. The Franco-German Agreement in 1909

was a followup to the Algeciras Act—it ensured Germany equal opportunity and acknowledged

their economic interests in Morocco. Germany claimed both of these were violated when France

occupied Morocco; Germany believed that France was overstepping their powers, as stated by

the Algeciras Act, and that they were obstructing the economic rights afforded to Germany

during the Franco-German Agreement. In response, Germany mobilized and anchored a gunboat

(the Panther) off the shores of Agadir, a major Moroccan port city. Also, Germany claimed

Congo as their own colony, which yet again, upset the British. The British Chancellor of

Exchequer responded with a speech that featured a stern warning to Germany to respect Britain’s

rights and interests. This led to heightened militarization from the Triple Entente (more than the

First Moroccan Crisis, but still very limited). Additionally, Britain, who were tracking the

German Navy’s every move, lost the fleet, and responded with even higher levels of readiness of

naval forces. Britain, France, and Belgium all even cancelled cavalry maneuvers in preparation
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for war, giving their respective countries different excuses for why. However, rather than

reorganizing its navy as Britain expected them too, Germany chose to do nothing since Kaiser

Wilhelm II insisted on avoiding war. Ultimately, it ended unfavorably for everyone; Germany

recognized the French protectorate of Morocco, but France had to surrender two strips of Congo

to Germany (Stevenson).

Viscount Haldane’s visit to Germany, which intended to end the naval arms race between

the two countries by having Germany admit inferiority to the British in terms of naval strength,

was met with the German announcement of additional naval and military bills. Germany offered

to agree under the condition that, should war break out, Britain cannot run to France’s side and

aid them. This finally would have allowed Germany to neutralize Britain to some degree and to

be able to dominate France. The Anglo-German Naval Race was instigated by the crippling of

the Russian navy and to the rapid growth of the German navy (and Germany’s ability to quickly

produce Dreadnought ships). Prior to the Russo-Japanese War, Britain was most concerned by

the development of the Franco-Russian naval forces. After the war though, Britain substituted

Russia for Germany as the major naval threat, but they still did not take them very seriously at

the start. Kaiser Wilhelm II held Britain in high regard and was known to admire his motherland,

but he also desired to be better than them, and viewed the creation of the most powerful navy as

a means to do so. Because of the perceived threat, however, Britain began to construct plans to

aid France if Germany decided to attack. And as such, Britain’s Committee of Imperial Defense

began further developing its navy in the case of a widespread European war. The focus on

Britain’s naval growth was matching the German fleets and securing the surrounding waters to

best protect the homeland. In February of 1912, Viscount Haldane, the Minister of War, visited
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Germany hoping to negotiate the end of this naval race. In response, Germany pushed Britain

and began announcing further military and naval bills as previously mentioned, but then also

later offered their conditions for accepting the naval agreement: Germany will limit their navy

and accept being inferior to Britain, but Britain must remain neutral in the case of any war that

Germany cannot be seen as the aggressor. It was yet another failed attempt to separate the Triple

Entente, but more importantly, to isolate France. This aggressive proposal ended negotiations and

served to worsen tensions between Germany and Britain, the two most navally powerful empires

in Europe, and to increase the major powers’ willingness to go to war (Martel).

At the time though, Europeans did not expect a war of the Great War’s caliber to break

out, and for good reason. At the time leading up to the war, three of the most powerful monarchs

on the continent were relatives; they all shared the same grandmother: Queen Victoria of

England (Nicholas II married into the family). It was believed that Tsar Nicholas II, Kaiser

Wilhelm II, and King George V would not engage each other in war, but rather solve their

countries problems diplomatically; and this had proven to be true time and time again, until

everything finally escalated in the Great War. Even prior to King George’s ascendance in 1910,

the King of Britain, King Edward VII, was a descendant of Queen Victoria. This provided the

people of Europe peace of mind whenever disputes seemed to escalating—something that was

becoming more and more common. Furthermore, while the assassination of the Archduke shook

the continent, it was very quickly buried in favor of other major headlines—a political scandal in

France and the Home Rule Crisis in Britain. France was much more involved in the Dreyfus

Affair, which spanned twelve years, and resulted in evidence showing that Alfred Dreyfus had

committed treason and leaked army documents to Germany. Meanwhile, in Britain, the Home
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Rule Crisis (which Neiberg refers to as the Irish Crisis) was on the forefront of the British’s

minds. For years, there had been strong opposition from Irish nationalists to Britain’s rule of the

country, and the clashes seemed to be ceaselessly escalating. The countries’ fleeting interest in

the assassination indicated it would be just another assassination of the era. A number of

assassinations in the Balkan regions had already previously resulted in nothing besides regional

conflicts. Diplomacy had been successful in dampening the international disputes, and Europe

believed this would be the case again. And while nationalism was a considerable driving force

towards war, transnational identities like religion and occupation had been largely counteracting

it. However, the cause of the transnational identity occupation, migrant workers, backfired and

increased nationalism through citizens coming together to protect their way of life from a foreign

enemy, something that was previously discussed. In the end, the numerous restraints set to

prevent this global war proved to fruitless as Europe, and the rest of the world descended into

chaos. The faith and confidence in a dangerous political policy like brinkmanship led to major

repercussions when, finally, the negotiations failed and all countries decided it would be worth

risking war to continue pushing forward (Neiberg).

“The history of international relations in this period is not simply an account of the

origins of the war, but also of the maintenance of peace.” Prior to the Great War, alliances had

served to dissuade countries from war since seeing the cooperation of major powers would lead

to negotiation more often than not. No powerful country wished a full blown war with another;

there was sufficient research and work done by this point to show the negative effects war would

have on Europe’s economy. For example, during the Bosnian Crisis, although fighting did occur,

the German support of Austria-Hungary in the annexation of the Bosnia-Herzegovina forced

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Siberia to withdraw their objections. Their major ally, Russia, was severely weakened at this time

due to their loss in the Russo-Japanese war and their recent political revolution. Berlin had acted

on this knowledge and knew that, without Russia, Serbia would have no choice but to abandon

the South Slavs in the Balkan region and withdraw. Germany pushed this advantage to improve

their already beneficial relationship and allow Austria-Hungary to take over Bosnia-

Herzegovina, a process in which Austria-Hungary did not expect to face opposition. There were

exceptions to this though; as was previously discussed, Germany’s involvement in Morocco was

very little to do with colonial desire and very much to do with their desire to drive a wedge

between France and their new ally Britain, which significantly lessened the possibility of the

Anglo-German alliance that the Kaiser sought. The Kaiser’s respect for Britain led to his

aspiration of allying with them; however, all of his actions seemed to contradict this sentiment. It

was not just Germany’s involvement in Morocco; leading up to World War I, Germany had been

supplying weapons to the Irish nationalists fighting Britain and Britain’s desire for home rule.

Regardless, when the time came, the alliances are what escalated what would otherwise have

been a localized war into a global one. The alliances forced countries to join in on the fighting so

they would not appear to be betraying their comrades (Stevenson) (Neiberg) (Leeds) (E.

Anderson) (Mulligan) (Hamilton, Herwig).

Prior to the First Moroccan Crisis, and even after it for the Balkan Crisis, alliances served

to dissuade major powers from war, as was discussed in the previous paragraph. The escalation

of World War 1 was somewhat caused by the Germans’ offer of what, in retrospect, is called a

“Blank Cheque”—an offer of what was essentially unconditional support. Christopher Clark

agrees with this point in his novel Sleepwalkers; he writes that the blank cheque hastened the
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path to war and reflected Germany’s eagerness for it. But, while there has been some controversy

regarding this, there is sufficient evidence that shows that German cheque was not aiming to

accelerate towards war, but rather limit any and all subsequent (and unavoidable) conflict

between Austria and Serbia to local. The Germans offered this blank cheque after Archduke

Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by a terrorist group from Siberia. Looking back,

there was a very small possibility that Serbia did not know of these plans to take the Archduke’s

life, but they chose not to relay that information to Austria-Hungary, who they had been having

conflicts with over the Balkan region. After the assassination and German offer of support,

Kaiser Wilhelm II agreed with Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary on Austria-Hungary

waging war on Serbia. Wilhelm II and Franz Joseph knew that if they were to wage war, Russia

would not be able to support Serbia as it would be viewed as them aiding a terrorist and assassin

organization. However, rather than proceeding with this plan, Austria-Hungary opted to send

strong demands to Serbia, demands which were historically deemed as being extreme, but Clark

considers to be reasonable. The demands essentially sought proper action towards the terrorist

group, but Serbia chose to tolerate them, thus furthering the path to war. Once the demands were

sent out, a copy was issued to Russia as well, who believed the demands to be excessive and, in

response, offered their support to Serbia. A telegram conversation between “Nicky” (Tsar

Nicholas II) and “Will” (Kaiser Wilhelm II) during the July Crisis (July of 1914) shows Nicholas

II inadvertently revealing that Russia had already begun mobilizing prior to receiving the

ultimatum, but chose to rescind the order days later after Wilhelm II wrote back and asked him

to, stating that he “will not become responsible for a monstrous slaughter.” Unfortunately,

Wilhelm’s efforts only provided a delay for the mobilization; after Poincaré pressured the Tsar
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further, he gave in and remobilized his troops. Ultimately, the Germans intended this blank

cheque as a defensive alliance, only to be used for diplomatic gain, as was the case for the

Bosnian Crisis. Regardless, Austria-Hungary used it to force Germany into an offensive alliance

by offering, what at the time seemed to be, absurd demands to the Serbians (Clark) (Laqueur)

(Martel) (Albertini) (McMeekin).

In Dance of Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I, Neiberg discusses the

notion that the Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the July Crisis did not cause the Great

War, but rather the preceding months and years did. Europeans, rightfully, were not overly

stressed about the outbreak of war. Yes, it was in everybody’s minds, but it was not at the

forefront of their thoughts. Many countries at this time were facing, what to them were, more

pressing issues, like the Irish Crisis for the British, and the Dreyfus Affair for the French.

Additionally, it was largely believed that the German alliance with Austria-Hungary would lead

to peace, just like most alliances of the time had. However, all the brakes set in place were not

enough to stop the unrelenting pressures of war; when it came time, rather than reassessing the

situation and attempting further negotiations, all of the great powers of Europe were willing to

risk war, even if they did not prefer it. There were five major factors that played into the

escalation of what is World War I from a localized war to a global one: the rise in nationalism

and imperial desire and the pressure from citizens for the government to be internationally

successful, the increasing friction between the major powers due to the consecutive crisis over

Morocco and the Balkan region and the Anglo-German Naval Race, the continuous success and

reliance on a policy of brinkmanship, the blank cheque issued by the Germans, and the early

mobilization from Russia during the July Crisis indicating a propensity for war. All of these
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factors tie together and lead to the inevitable outcome of war. The intense nationalism and

imperial desire from the people pushed the governments—mainly in Germany—to aggressively

push for international greatness partially contributed to the Moroccan Crises and the Bosnian

Crisis. The German offer to Austria-Hungary in the Bosnian Crisis was very similar to their

blank cheque in that they offered support against Serbia in hopes of a diplomatic resolution.

After they received their desired outcome once, they were more confident in reissuing the same

proposal. Another reason they opted for an offer as bold as the blank cheque was the growing

dependency on a policy of brinkmanship to solve diplomatic problems. However, when it finally

failed, it resulted in the outburst of years of building tension and resulted in countries willing to

risk war, like Russia with their early mobilization. Even with all of these factors, there is a

chance that the evolution from a localized war could have been prevented by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

When the telegram with Serbia’s response to Austria-Hungary’s demands came in, the Kaiser

was away, and did not see it for another three days, at which point it was too late to mediate

between Vienna and Belgrade. In the end, once the war began, escalation was inevitable.

“Throwing down arms and hoping the other side would do so as well was simply not an option”

and as such, the conflict relentlessly grew (Neiberg) (Neilson) (Mulligan) (McMeekin).

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