FOUR COMMON EXPLANATIONS FOR WWIG.
"Germany caused the war." Three main variants are offered:
The minimalist Germany-blaming view
: Germany risked a great war inJuly 1914 in order to make gains for the German/Austrian alliance.Germany preferred the prewar status quo to a general war, but didknowingly risk a general war.2.
The intermediate Germany-blaming view
: Germany preferred acontinental war to the prewar status quo, but preferred the prewar statusquo to a world war (a war against Britain, France, and Russia). (This isthe view of "Fischer School" moderates, exemplified by Imanuel Geiss.)3.
The maximalist Germany-blaming view
: Germany preferred even aworld war to the prewar status quo. (The extreme "Fischer School" view,)
"Russia, or Serbia, or Britain, or France, or Austria caused the war."
During 1919-1945 many Germans alleged that Britain organized theencirclement of Germany and conspired to cause the war. Germany,they said, was wholly innocent.2.
Sidney Fay and other scholars have put prime responsibility onAustria and Russia; some also focus on Serbia; some blame Franceand Britain for not restraining Russia more firmly; some suspect thatFrance egged Russia on.
"Crisis bungling caused the war."
In this view no European power willfully risked war. Europeanleaders simply mismanaged the July crisis.2.
"Russia began pre-mobilization without realizing that mobilizationmeant war, or that partial mobilization against Austria wasimpossible."3.
"Austria failed to give Russia its evidence showing that Serbia wasresponsible for the death of the Archduke. Had Russia known Serbia'srole it would have sympathized more with Austria's position."4.
"British leaders (Grey) did not realize that mobilization meant war;hence they unwisely failed to restrain Russian mobilization."5.
"German leaders (Jagow) falsely assured Russia that Germany wouldtolerate Russian partial mobilization against Austria."
"The explosive military situation caused the war."
In this view the widespread belief in the power of the offense and thegeneral embrace of offensive plans primed the world for war. Thisexplosive military backdrop magnified the dangers posed by a minorcrisis and the usual crisis blunders it produced.