Germany's Responsibility for World War I Essay Example



From a broad perspective, Germany does not deserve the obligation to accept full responsibility for the crippling cost of WWI since that single-handedly caused a global catastrophe, which was WWII. It would be unjust to put Germany at the forefront of the war, especially since all countries were involved and should be equally responsible. The Treaty of Versailles did not promote peace though it only caused severe conflicts for Germany. In particular, The Treaty of Versailles led to Germany's economic crash. As a result, the rise of fascism in the nation occurred, provoking WWII. Therefore, forcing Germany to accept full blame triggered anticipated conflicts explicitly documented throughout history. 

Since several countries were involved in the tragic events of WWI, it is only fair that they all bear equal blame. Historians provide several interpretations, each showing their varying viewpoints on who they believe is responsible for the war. For instance, it is reasonable to conceive that Russia and France assisted in the outbreak of WWI. Russia was considered one of the culprits (like Germany and Austria-Hungary) with a conquest goal instead of a security goal. Subjectively, the government of St. Petersburg should bear a considerable amount of accountability for the war. It tried to win for foreign policy purposes, and yet that was based on weakness. Russia demonstrated its contribution by helping Serbia defend its interests in the Balkans. Additional to Russia, France's role also questionable. Before the war, French Foreign policy was committed to amplifying the Franco-Russian Alliance, and as a result, France was willing to back up the Russian policy in 1914. The French President, Raymond Poin-caré, yearned to bring political victory amongst the Entente, not through maximizing their weaponry for battle, but by maintaining preparation in case things escalated. It is undeniable that both governments were willing to secure a once-in-a-lifetime diplomatic success while remaining open to the prospect of war. Germany responded defensively in retaliation to Russia and France's collusion, feeling threatened and having no choice but to defend and protect itself. Furthermore, the blank check compelled Germany to intervene in the war because Austria-Hungary was under threat and required assistance (Mombauer, Annika). Moreover, in the modern-day world, it is crucial to view past events through a prism that is not inherently contextual but rather situational. Knowing the subsequent incidents that have happened, it is inarguable to state that The First World War was inevitable. The war would have never happened if it were not for group coalitions and alliances. Along with Germany, the other allied nations are equally responsible for WWI. (transition) 

The Treaty of Versailles that ensued at The Paris Peace Conference intended to promote peace, but that was not the case since it only provoked conflict. Article 231, known as The War Guilt Clause, was the argument that sparked controversy and feud. The clause set to put direct blame on Germany for the entirety of WWI. It was expected of Germany to make reparations as a means of retribution. The considerable amount of reparations payments led Germany to handover several colonial lands and its military disarmament (Johnston, Matthew). Looking back on the Treaty of Versailles, The notion of " The War Guilt Clause" should have been dismissed, provided that pointing fingers and assigning blame is a relatively narrow-angle to view such an intricate and complex situation, especially in this day and age. The Germans may be guilty, but they are not more so than the rest of the world. Countries were willing to go to great lengths to win the war, and governments helped enable its acceleration (Mombauer, Annika). The Guilt clause made by the Treaty of Versailles had many extensive and detrimental effects on Germany.

The Treaty of Versailles was fundamentally the most economically agonized crisis for Germany. The nation faced an extensive shock due to many factors. Specifically, Germany was required to pay £6,600 million in reparations, an enormous amount that Germans believed was solely to undermine their economy. Additionally, Germany lost ten percent of its land area while being forced to surrender its colonized territories. The absence of lucrative coal production and prosperous agricultural lands negatively further affected its economy. Besides, Germany lost sixteen percent of its coalfield and lost half of its iron and steel industries (“Why was there…”). Thus, this adversely impacted its industrial state as German manufacturing was heavily reliant on coal and metal (Johnston, Matthew). It is inarguable that these conflicts that occurred within Germany were the outcome of the Guilt Clause. In several aspects, the Guilt Clause weakened Germany. The financial crisis Germany faced further intensified tensions with the rise of fascism.

The rise of the Nazis occurred due to economic difficulties that Germany faced after the First World War. The critical economic contraction eventually led to spiraling hyperinflation in 1923.  The government printed money to pay internal war debts. As a result, hyperinflation became a big issue, ripping apart the life savings of millions of citizens from the middle class. Subsequently, political parties expanded across Germany, and the Germans regarded their government as distrustful (Johnston, Matthew).