Section on an unprecedented scale. This investigation

Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of SourcesThe First World War was a chain reaction of nationalism and militarism, whereby one assassination brought Europe, and, by extension, many of its colonies, into painstaking battles of attrition. These battles blurred the line between homefront and battlefront in what became known as total war. The Central Powers, which consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and later the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, engaged Serbia, Russia, France, Belgium and Britain, whereupon the eventual victory of the Allies foreran the Treaty of Versailles in 1919–20. Whilst previous world conflicts, such as the Seven Years War, were doubtless widespread, WWI was characterized by new technology, and the death of people on an unprecedented scale. This investigation will explore the various opinions around the event, and attempt to answer the question: to what extent was German militarism to blame for the First World War? Despite the spectral nature of the question explored, the inherent historiographical complexity of the causes of WWI provides the necessary grounds for many opinions. Thusly, sources cited in this investigation are diverse in terms of their conclusions, and variable in the way they approach the topic, despite the use of “to what extent” in the question. The two such sources that will be explicated in this section are Robert Gildea’s Barricades and Borders, and The Great War and Women’s Consciousness: Images of Militarism and Womanhood in Women’s Writings by Claire M. Tylee. Reading and analysing the two works, it is apparent that the former offers shrewd historical hindsight, whereas the latter is valuable in hindsight, but also is limited due to its focus on only women. Amongst the most renowned studies of the war is Robert Gildea’s book, which discusses the war holistically, with reference to themes of division. Written from the viewpoint of World History, which looks at historical occurrences while considering different global factors, whilst drawing upon theories of integration and difference, Barricades and Borders looks at the difference between groups in WWI. It is particularly valuable that Gildea examines key differences between allied nations, as this provides unique historical insight. Its origin is venerable, as Gildea is a well known professor at Oxford University. His education and many other books on the subject are demonstrative of proficiency. The fact that it was published, and subsequently revised, near the turn of the century means that he had the benefit of hindsight. It is possible that evidence has arisen in the years since the event that have helped him to analyse it in further depth. An example of the censorship in the First World War is that contrary to popular belief, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic earned its title “Spanish Flu”, not because it originated in Spain, but because the Spanish press were not censored, unlike those of partisan nations. Therefore, it can be argued, on the grounds of censorship in the press, that many pieces of historical evidence from the First World War gain credibility over time. Also, new evidence may have come to light since the war, such as classified information, or broad statistical analyses. Overall, this work is especially valuable, given the time frame in which it was written, its purpose as an investigation of differences between nations, and its detail-oriented content.Another notable source is The Great War and Women’s Consciousness: Images of Militarism and Womanhood in Women’s Writings. The book was written with the purpose of highlighting the experience of the war for women. This is both valuable and limiting because it discusses only one aspect of the war; but it is not an aspect that is usually discussed. The role of women in propagating militarism is explored in the study, which makes the source more valuable to this investigation. It is also helpful that the book takes into account differences in culture and, chiefly, in nationality, so as to remain unbiased. The author, Claire M. Tylee, is very qualified in terms of writing specifically about women, however, she does not write specifically about the First World War, and she is not as renowned as Robert Gildea. Even so, it is credible, even if not well-known, and the author makes efforts to transcend topical limitations. In summary, the origin is somewhat valuable, whereas the purpose is mostly valuable, but both are limited because of the narrow scope the author uses. The content is limited because it shows that, while women were used by others in propagating militarism, they themselves did not propagate it. It discusses the experiences of the agerage German, however little focus is given to the greater historical and diplomatic context that is needed for exploration herein.In conclusion, both works tackle the same historical topic from completely different angles. The former slightly surpasses the latter with regards to value because of its more prestigious origins and its topic more relevant to this investigation.Section 2: Investigation”European countries began WWI with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a disastrous illusion.”—Virginia PostrelDefined by Alfred Vagtz as “domination of the military man over the civilian, an undue preponderance of military demands, an emphasis on military considerations”, militarism was prevalent in Europe during the beginning years of the First World War. It is also a commonly cited cause of the First World War, along with nationalism, imperialism and alliances. It can be distinguished from nationalism and imperialism because of its characteristically specific focus on the military. Alliances play a part in nationalism as they give certain powers a militaristic advantage. The question that is explored in this investigation was also explored during the Treaty of Versailles, in which Germany received much of the blame for the war, and was forced to pay reparations. Having not invited Germany to participate, the treaty participants came to the conclusion that Germany was primarily to blame for WWI, due in large part to her militarism.Section 2a: The Moroccan CrisesThe Moroccan crises, wherein the French and the Germans disputed over their colonies, is a prime example of German militarism as an instigator of conflict in the years leading up to the First World War. In the first crisis, in 1904, Kaiser Wilhelm supported Moroccan independence, travelling there and promulgating the importance of an open door policy in the area. It is possible that this strengthened the distrust in Germany of both Britain and France, who in turn strengthened their alliance with each other. The Second Moroccan Crisis, or Agadir Crisis, escalated tensions in Europe even further, as German gunboats were deployed in Agadir, Morocco. It was settled that there would be a shift in who owned which colony. While the first crisis was arguably more strongly related to other factors, the Second Moroccan crisis was predicated very directly upon militarism; the French and the British saw this as a very direct threat to their naval presence in the Mediterranean.The argument that both incidences were initiated by German military powers lends itself to the notion that these were pivotal moments in the development of German militarism. Indeed, the actual presence of weaponry during the second crisis may have demonstrated a threat to other powers. While this may lend itself to the ‘affirmative argument of this investigation’, which is that German militarism caused WWI to a large extent, there exists a valid case for Germany’s not being militaristic in this scenario. One perspective is that the behavior of Germany in 1904 was not militaristic, as there was little to no use of weapons or violence; it was an entirely different type of conflict. As for the second crisis, some may see it as more colonial than militaristic, as it was simply about ownership of foreign land. In addition, although the actions of Germany in the Moroccan crises were hostile in nature, if not militaristic, so were the retaliatory actions on the part of the British and French. It seems reasonable that all parties involved displayed militaristic tendencies, attributes and policies, and that the Germans may not have been especially to blame.Section 2b: The Schlieffen PlanThe Schlieffen Plan was a military strategy employed by Germany, whereby Germany invaded France by way of Belgium. The goal in planning it was to achieve swift victory, avoiding a two-front war. When the plan did finally come to fruition, its success was extremely limited. However, the Schlieffen Plan was constructed many years before the war, according to some sources. Kaiser Wilhelm had led the project based on the supposition that war would actually happen.Because it was planned as early as 1897, it would seem Germany had malicious intent, working themselves into a militaristic state of mind over a long period of time. This falls under the aforementioned definition of militarism because it seems to be an undue preponderance for military considerations. In executing the plan, they brought Belgium, and by extension, Britain, two previously neutral countries into the war. There are few who believe the Schlieffen Plan was not militaristic. Indeed, Kaiser Wilhelm had to invent a false pretext for invading France. Nevertheless, because the plan was not actually implemented until the war, it is less militaristic than if it had occurred earlier. The plans were only really used because there were few viable alternatives.Section 2c: ConclusionBecause of the existence of many prominent perspectives, it is apparent that the First World War was based on a great number of factors. The general consensus seems to be that, while German militarism played a major role in instigating the world conflict, it was just one of many causes. The Moroccan crises shed light on the colonial aspect of German militarism, and that of the militarism of the Allies. The Schlieffen Plan showed an eagerness to fight on the part of the Germans. In answer to the question posed at the beginning of this investigation, German militarism was a key contributor to the start of WWI, however, militarism of the allies was an equal, or perhaps greater, factor. The average person in Germany was not to blame for the militarism of the war. Women, in particular, were used to some degree to build up the war machine, however, they did not propagate militarism; they were just used to do so. In short, more investigation is needed to determine the other factors that contributed to the start of WWI, such as nationalism, alliances and imperialism. However, those factors are related to militarism.Section 3: ReflectionThis investigation has shown me the methods of analysis used by historians in analysing an occurrence as distinctive as the First World War. My method of analysis involved looking at the events surrounding WWI in retrospect. Although this is a good method for tying in conclusions, the evidence may be less reliable because of how much time it has been since those events occurred. Most of my sources were secondary sources, simply because there exist more secondary sources than primary sources, and because secondary sources are more accessible. The advantage to using secondary sources is that they contain historical analysis that may help the reader view the topic in depth. The disadvantage is the fact that these analyses may distort the events, rendering an objective or even balanced viewing of the event difficult. As such, this is more of an investigation of historiography, rather than one of just history. My strategy was to elaborate different aspects of the context of the war, discussing how each aspect supports or does not support an argument. One alternative might be to present all arguments for the resolution, and then to present the arguments against it. However, because there are more than two perspectives, I felt the first method would be more fitting.History, as an academic pursuit, is unique because it is always debatable. However, a historian must draw conclusions from credible sources, and analyse his or her methods of inference. Often, the words “to what extent” imply that there are only two polar answers; although my research question started with the words “to what extent”, I did not feel at any point I was investigating a dichotomy, as there were multiple sources that supported, or did not support various perspectives. Not only were there differences in purpose of the many works explored, but the formality, conventions and genre of the sources were often different. The two sources mentioned earlier were hard to compare because although they supported the same resolution, they had fundamental differences in presentation. By the end of this investigation, I resolved through analysis that the sources used were credible.Overall, feeling literate in a historical topic gave me a sense of closure. Personally, I wish the Treaty of Versailles had analysed historical perspectives. Had all the diplomats simply investivated through a somewhat objective lens, they may have come to a different conclusion and prevented future conflicts.