Who Was Responsible for World War I?

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WWI left Europe devastated. The total deaths of all nations who fought the war is thought to have been 8.5 million with 21 million being wounded.

The Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI tells us that Germany can be blamed for starting it. It was signed by more than 50 countries on the 28th of June 1919 and included 15 parts and 440 articles. Some countries agreed with the treaty and others disagreed because they didn't want to start another war. However, Germany finally signed the treaty without protest. This treaty forced Germany to admit that they were responsible for WWI. Germany had to make territorial concessions, pay reparations to the winners, the Entente Powers, and disarm. It is important to consider that Germany was one of the most powerful countries in the world, in military terms. The amount of money that Germany had to pay was enormous, and they finished paying it in the year 1983.

The treaty accused Germany, but can Germany really be blamed for starting WWI?

The main causes on which we can base this essay are variable, ranging from militarism and alliances to imperialism and nationalism.

The Outbreak of War

On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. This was one of the triggers of WWI, and this month changed the world. On this day the Austria-Hungary empire also declared war on Russia, so nearly all of the Triple Alliance was against Russia.

The Triple Alliance of 1882 linked Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Italy decided to remain neutral when the war started, but these countries were still the Central Powers.

Germany's Role

Another war that places blame on Germany for starting WWI was the Franco-Prussian War. In this war, France lost two very important cities, Alsace and Lorraine, because of Germany. This also contributed to the expansion of the German Empire, and Germany grew stronger, becoming more harmful and devastating against its opponents.

Even though Germany did not technically start the war, when Austria declared war on Serbia, part of the guilt was placed on Germany because they were part of the same alliance.

Germany also helped Austria by giving them unconditional support with a "blank check."

Other Countries' Involvement

On the other hand, Austria, Serbia, France, Great Britain, or Russia could also be blamed for WWI.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was considered the event that triggered the war. He was assassinated by a member of a small Serbian organization called the Black Hand. The Austria-Hungary empire declared war on Serbia, and then WWI was a chain reaction resulting from tensions throughout Europe. This produced the July Crisis in Germany.

Russia's alliance with Serbia contributed to this trigger and the domino effect.

The other alliance that existed in Europe was the Triple Entente, formed in 1907, that linked France, Great Britain, and Russia. They were surrounding Germany, and they put pressure on the country.

Russia also had a lot of fault in starting WWI, as it was the first country that moved troops toward Germany.

If we speak about Great Britain's guilt, we can see that Germany was not the only country with a large military; Great Britain had always had naval superiority.

Another reason why Britain can be considered guilty of WWI is the interest of European countries in taking control of petroleum and having a monopoly on communication from Europe to the whole world.

The Baghdad Railway

The Baghdad Railway was a direct connection for petroleum provision from Iraq to Germany, as Iraq had a lot of petroleum for transport. But at the same time, Britain controlled the Suez Canal, so they had a continuous fight.

Britain also had some privileged information, given by Muller in 1908. With the help of journalists, he persuaded the British government that Germany was accelerating its naval program, and this created an atmosphere of mutual suspicion.


After examining the evidence, I have come to the conclusion that Germany was not the only country that caused the war; there were many actors in this complex problem. We must bear in mind that everything analyzed in this essay is not even half of what happened in WWI. The conflicts were everywhere, and I think that Germany should not be blamed for all of them. Maybe the countries that decided that Germany was guilty did it only to rid themselves of their own fault. Perhaps it was an attack by all countries towards Germany, as they even created the League of Nations, an international diplomatic group developed after World War I, which was a way to solve disputes that Germany could not enter.

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