To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically.
- The First World War was the result of developments on political-military front which were taking place after the exit of Bismark. The new King Kaiser William II was young and impatient and his foreign policy divided Europe into two hostile blocks.
- There was an end to French isolation as new alliances were formed between France-Britain & France -Russia & also the Triple Entente. However, the immediate reasons were arms race, diplomatic humiliation of Germany during Moroccan crisis, etc. There was spread of rapid nationalism due to unfulfilled nationalistic aspirations. The fight for colonies also added fuel to the fued.
- Austria-Hungary wanted war to settle Serbia challenge forever. Serbia wanted a war to attract attention of big power towards Serbian cause. The interference of Germany in Ottoman empire through infrastructure development created doubt about intentions of Germany. Thus, developments in Germany only acted as a catalyst, in the equation which was already very unstable.
- Germany was defeated in World War I and they were forced to pay heavy reparations to the victors. Their economy could not take the pressure and it fell apart. Severe inflation and depression followed. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles and the economic disasters that followed, the German people became very resentful towards the victors of World War I, namely France and Great Britain.
- Therefore, Germany started the fight against them in lieu of conquering Europe and gaining the pride back.
- Later Hitler defied the Versailles and Locarno treaties by remilitarising the Rhineland. He encountered little opposition from other European powers. Germany and Italy formed the Rome-Berlin Axis. A month later, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, which Italy joined in the following year. This all led to World War II.