From: Danmark, Europe
One could just as easily point the finger at Paleologue and Sasanov and the British fear of German Naval growth for the kindling that led to war.
What you mention were factors in creating the general climate that made the war possible, certainly but in none of these cases is there any evidence to suggest a deliberate intention go to war..
Paleologue and Sazanov deliberately kept German/AH peace overtures from reaching the Tsar and the Poincare, England was virtually silent during the whole Serbian crisis with Lord Gray giving Litnovsky mixed messages on Britains intentions. Germany tried several times to keep Russia from mobilizing and forcing the issue but Sazanov sat on the messages til it was too late. It may have been German stupidity in their "mobilization means war" planning but Germany did not go into the Serbian crisis with the intent to start a World War. It took the machinations of all parties to accomplish that.
I guess some of us get our information from different sources....
Paleologue and Sazanov
I’m not sure what you mean. I flatter myself I have consulted a representative selection of works on the causes of the Great War. The literature on the war’s origins is immense and would take much more than a single lifetime to digest thorough but I would be very interested if you can point me to scholarship the calls the basic facts into question
The points you raise are irrelevant. True enough but irrelevant unless you are seriously proposing that either Paleologue, Sazanov or Grey deliberate set out to cause the war as a policy objective in itself.
You are right about the long-term or structural reasons for the conflict, primarily the ambitions and fears of the great powers and the dangers of opposing alliances. In that sense everyone really was guilty but when it comes the immediate or contingent causes, the events of June-August 1914 you are simply dead wrong.
It took a deliberate act of wanting the war to push the European Civilisation over the edge. You can argue that the long term trends would have caused it eventually even with no one explicitly wanting a war but that is not what happened.
The “we-all-slithered-into-war ” thesis was comprehensively demolishe in 1961 when Fritz Fischer published his seminal study ‘Deutschland’s Griff Nach der Weltmacht’ (literally ‘Germany’s Grab for World Power’ though the abridged British translation bore the far blander title ‘Germany’s Aims in the First World War’). For the first time, Fischer opened archives in both West and East Germany to prove that Germany had used the crisis triggered by the pistol shots in Sarajevo quite deliberately to spark a war. Irresponsibly, indeed monstrously, elements of Germany’s ruling elite had gambled with the lives of millions to engineer a conflict that it hoped to win in weeks.
Fischer was furiously assailed by Germany’s ultra-conservative historical establishment as a ‘Marxist’ and even a ‘traitor’ for demonstrating the culpability of Wilhelmine Germany so conclusively. Despite the attacks on Fischer’s integrity, the evidence for his thesis was so overwhelming that it gradually found acceptance among virtually all serious historians of the period, both outside Germany and within it.
The old innocence thesis from 1914-60 is dead. The predominant part of the German Reich in the outbreak of the First World War and the offensive character of German war aims is no longer debated and no longer deniable.
I just read Christopher Clark's “The Sleepwalkers” where he makes the best possible case for your standpoint that everyone was guilty and even he does not deny what Fischer concluded . He gets around the tricky question of German war guilt by the novel expedient of virtually ignoring it throughout almost all the 700 pages of his mighty tome. But when he finally deigns to notice Fischer in his conclusion he is swatted away like irritating insects, on the surprising grounds that responsibility for the war is neither here nor there: ‘Do we really need to make the case against a single guilty state, or to rank the states according to their respective share of responsibility for the outbreak of war?’ Clark asks rhetorically.
I would answer with a resounding ‘Yes!’
Historians are not shy about saddling Hitler’s Germany with prime responsibility for causing World War Two, so why should they shrink from pointing the finger at Wilhelmine Germany for the outbreak of World War One?