Kaiser Wilhelm stint of power projected Germany as a nation with unlimited desire to have control over most aspects/activities of the world. His utterances and Germany’s actions had great significance in catapulting other nations that were unwilling to participate in the war to do against their wish (Sondhau 21).
According to Dowling, the German military expansion and armament threatened peace in the continent (14). The nation equipped the Kaiser’s army with a large force of soldiers, a factor that was to make it possible for Germany to wage war on more than one front. Germany also produced more weapons and even diversified their deadliness just so ensure superiority over the rest of the nations. For instance, they prepared machine guns and flame throwers. Submarines were also developed to assist with surprise underwater attacks. The nation then advanced to make military alliances and pacts with other nations to ensure that it had allies who would help with distracting, provoking and fighting other nations (Mombauer 11). The military expansion created tension across the continent and drove other nations into armament and creation of alliances. The alliances played the biggest factors in starting and continuation of the war (Sondhau 24).
However, the military expansion was not the only factor that inspired the war. Germany’s quest to expand its rule to other parts of the world and acquire more colonies was also a factor in the war (Dowling 35). The nation awoke to the scramble of territorial expansion too late after most European nations had ventured into the field. As such, most territory had been acquired by other nations, and annexation implied the use of force to oust a ruling nation (Mombauer, 51). For instance, Germany had to fight France over Morocco. Such action created tension and unrest and made nations prepare for an eminent war.
The other significant factor in the war was the German Industrial expansion that was three-fold (VanWyngarden 53). Industrialization and creation of technology like the Haber process inspired Germany to participate in the war. Industrialization presented them with the capacity to prepare deadly weapons. On the other hand, their rapid industrialization meant that they required massive supply of raw materials. Considering that the nation had reached the verge of exhausting its supply, it needed supplement. As such, the urge to expand the territory and acquire colonies that would provide the raw materials arose (Watson 29). However, most nations had acquired colonies, and the acquisition of any prime positions meant engaging other nations in war. Finally, expanded industrialization improved the economic status of Germany making them confident of financing and winning the war (VanWyngarden, 53).
Cultural and Sociopolitical Factors that Caused World War I
Germany was driven by the urge to oust Britain as the nation with the ultimate naval power and ability to control operations in the oceans and seas. Britain had established a culture of dominance in the waters, something that itched Germany and drove them to establishing the submarines for naval warfare and dominance.
Nationalism also in several aspects led the up build and even eruption of the war. Apart from various nations making attempts to achieve dominance in varied aspects, there was also the issue of the Slavic peoples desiring to break from Austria to Serbia. Factored together with the Sarajevo assassination of Franz Ferdinand, Austria quickly pulled to war thus pulling the trigger for the war (Watson 21).
The creation of alliances for mutual defense also inspired the war as most nation joining were assured of protection/assistance by the partners (VanWyngarden 39). For instance, Britain joined on the impulse to protect France, who had joined to provide assistance to Russia. The alliances, coupled with the arms race also created tension.
Germany’s Role in World War I
Considering the numerous actions that were taken by Germany before and during World War I, there is clarity that the nation played the biggest factors that led to the outbreak of World War I. Little justifies Germany’s policies and actions/inactions that started and even catalyzed the war. The nation took its best interests in provoking/attacking nations with very unstable and improbable allegations (Collins 45). For instance, German submarines torpedoed American Civilian ship, Lusitania, alleging that it was ferrying ammo to Britain; an allegation that was never confirmed and yet drove the joining of US in the war.
Franz Ferdinand’s (the Austrian Archduke) assassination in Serbia appears to have started the war (Collins 45). However, the public instigating statements that were made by Kaiser Wilhelm urging Austria to handle Serbia ruthlessly gives the pointer that Germany was interested in the war. Prior to such developments, Germany had expanded its military prowess and ensured that it overtook Britain with military might thus giving all the indication that she was preparing for war (Mombauer 57).
A significant factor is the rush with which Germany had engaged other nations like Austria and Italy into pacts and alliances. The allied forces, on the contrary, made their alliances with the realization of the German activities, and only as actions to protect them from any attacks (VanWyngarden 54). Germany had also desired to engage France in the war and prepared the famous Schlieffen Plan with which they would attempt to attack France through Belgium (Watson 14).
According to Mombauer, Germany’s approach to the war inspired other nations to join the war (64). The nation was driven by the primary desire to oust Britain as the most significant nation in military and navy development. Their nationalist politics also projected the desire to broaden their control over other parts of the globe, especially Africa that would provide them with raw materials (Collins, 50).
Collins, Ross F. World War I: Primary Documents on Events from 1914 to 1919. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. Print.
Dowling, Timothy C. Personal Perspectives. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2006. Internet resource.
Mombauer, Annika, and Wilhelm Deist. The Kaiser: New Research on Wilhelm Ii’s Role in Imperial Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
Sondhaus, Lawrence. World War I: The Global Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
VanWyngarden, Greg. Early German Aces of World War 1. Oxford: Osprey Publ, 2006. Print.
Watson, Alexander. Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary at War,1914-1918. , 2014. Print.