Germany turned a local conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia into a world war. Isn't Germany the responsible party here? I know this is an opinion but teachers told me that I make a good point. Does anyone agree with this? Why/ why not?

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    The community frowns strongly on "Please do my homework for me" questions. Try digging up a copy of Barbara W. Tuchman's The Guns of August for a good background introduction. – Pieter Geerkens Dec 7 '15 at 22:47
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    This is not a "please do my homework for me" question. I am asking for help, not asking directly for answers from an individual. For @PieterGeerkens – Mags Dec 7 '15 at 23:05
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    In fact, this is actually a dup of a dup. I've started a meta question on this. – T.E.D. Dec 8 '15 at 0:07
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    How to Ask establishes that this is not a forum for opinion questions. – MCW Dec 8 '15 at 23:52
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    The question explicitly solicits opinions (in the style of a typical essay question...) which isn't what H.SE do here. However, I will point out that the premise is very one sided and factually flawed. One could just as well argue that Russia turned a local conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia into a world war. Russia was allied with France explicitly against Germany; its intervention in the Balkans against Austria - Germany's only real ally - is not really "local". – Semaphore Dec 9 '15 at 4:32

The question is controversial, in the sense that different modern historians express different opinions. Most maintain that several parties are responsible to some extent. As there is no objective criterion for the "share of responsibility" probably this question will be never settled. One also has to take into account that most modern histories of WWI are written by English-speaking historians. (I will be grateful if someone points to me a serious comprehensive history of WWI written by a modern German historian). On my own opinion, Russia's and Austria's part is at least as large as the German one.

"Germany turned a local conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia into a world war". This is certainly wrong. Germany had an obligation to defend Austria in the case of a Russian attack, and Austria counted on this when it attacked Serbia. Similarly, Russia felt obliged to defend Serbia, and France had an obligation to help Russia. So from the very beginning, all understood that this is not a "local conflict". So one can say that "Russia turned a local conflict (between Austria and Serbia) into a world war. But of course this also would be an oversimplification.

As a serious research of the Russian role I can recommend S. McMeekin, Russian origins of the first world war, Cambridge 2011.

  • True, but when ArchDuke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, why did Germany come to a rush in the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia? – Mags Dec 7 '15 at 23:09
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    As far as I know, Germany did not "rush to the war" but only guaranteed Austria's protection. Then Russia mobilized. It was the first to mobilize. Many think that it was this mobilization that triggered the world war. But as I said the issue is still controversial. Look at the exact chronology of events. – Alex Dec 7 '15 at 23:19
  • I agree, but do you know why Germany felt the need to protect Austria-Hungary if it was just a local-conflict? I see eye to eye to you with everything else, but that is my one concern. – Mags Dec 7 '15 at 23:51
  • @Mags: just because Austro-Hungaria was afraid of the Russian reaction. And Germany was afraid of the Russian army modernization. And Serbian answer to the Austrian ultimatum was given with a view of Russian support. From the very beginning it was clear that this is potentially not a local conflict. – Alex Dec 8 '15 at 1:19
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    @Mags Germany was allied to Austria. Russia was allied to France against Germany. If Germany lets Russia take out Austria, who will stand with Germany when Russia and France attacks? Strategic concerns dictated that Germany had to protect Austria. – Semaphore Dec 9 '15 at 4:35

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