European conquest of the First World War

European conquest of the First World War

Throughout the years after the European conquest of the First World War, there have been several historians, students, and nations seeking to identify the truth behind the Great War. What events contributed to the fallout that would cause the five Great Powers of Europe to erupt into a four-year Armageddon? More importantly, which nation or nations are to blame for this great and tragic event? There have been a multitude of historians who have conjured theories as to the actual truth of these inquiries; however, there are two historians whose speculations were held in a higher regard than their peers. So much so, that their allegations have created a great contradictory divide amongst their fellow and future historians who have debated this era. These two historians are Sidney B. Fay and Fritz Fischer. Both Fay and Fischer are notorious for their idealism that has sparked the historical community in the aftermath of World War I, and consequently their ideology has created an erudition revolution amongst even the greatest of debates.

Sidney Bradshaw Fay was an American historian, who is most notably recognized “for his classical reexamination of the causes of World War I.”[1] “Fay was the first U.S. historian to challenge the widely held notion that Germany alone was responsible for initiating World War I.”[2] Fay’s thesis places a shared blame for the fallout of the Great Powers on a collective scale. He named that responsibility for this tragic war was not only shared in part by every other nation involved, but also that Serbia and Russia held the greatest portion of the handle to the bloody knife. Fay also recognized that the organization of secret alliances were another root cause of the evil that stirred.

Fritz Fischer was a German historian who is closely marked as the single most point of friction to the historian community claim that Germany’s involvement in the origin of World War I was not just partially their fault, but solely their intentional desire for annexation over European territory. Fischer lay claim to the truthfulness of his thesis with exalted evidence gained during his service in the German military and in the post-war year of 1950, “when Fischer was given access […] to the East German archives at Potsdam, where he came across an explosive set of files relating to war aims and annexationist plans that the Reich government had drawn up in World War I.”[3]

It is evident by both historians that where there is an exaction of evidence marking a specific entity as the sole conspirator, or even taking blame away from another, there is relevant truth that each party had a dire motivating factor to plan for war. It is remarked beautifully by Samuel R. Williamson, Jr. “peace is more easily maintained if one avoids even the smallest incursion into war, for, once the barrier of peace is broken, the process of diplomacy in restoring peace or preventing a larger war is infinitely more difficult.”[4]Inferences of future historians following the insights made by the implications of Fay and Fischer, denote that the aftermath of World War I is simultaneously linked by the origins of the war. Restitution settles in the exaction of all the evidence provided, making neither Fay, nor Fischer wrong in their testaments. It is by a cumulative collection of hard evidence and insight that form the basis in which historians prove their interpretations. Even hard evidence can be difficult to produce the desired results for either side of the controversy, as noted by the “arguments about the authenticity and interpretation of primary evidence…” found by Fischer.[5] “[A]s Fischer’s critics, finding themselves faced with overwhelming amounts of primary source evidence, contended that Fischer was either using the wrong type of evidence, or reading it in the wrong way.”[6] However, if neither is wrong in their accounting for the origins then one must be more correct than the other. In the penance of blame to be beseeched for the origin and the aftermath of World War I, I would concur that more accurate evidence and conjecture has been made into the query that equal measure be taken by all parties of the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente. It is also stated by Williamson that “… most scholarship has eschewed a broader focus, such as that used by Fay and Albertini, concentrating instead on single countries […]; too much concentration on Berlin’s role slights developments taking place in Austria-Hungary, Russia, Serbia, and the Balkan states in the months before July 1914.”[7]

As history progresses further, our understanding of the events long passed remain prevalent in our attempts to overcome future obstacles and escape the folly of war. Where their ideology and concentration to reach their end goals differed between each of the Great Powers, the “limited options available – […] alliance loyalties, the pressures of the military bureaucrats, and the juxtaposition of different perceptions with personal motivations made the chances of peace extremely remote in the last days of July… [1914].[8] It is not so much the understanding of who to pinpoint the blame of the past on, but rather an all-encompassing responsibility to look together to prevent the past from repeating itself.


[1] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015. “Sidney Bradshaw Fay.” Encyclopædia Britannica. November 12. Accessed February 07, 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Berghahn, Volker R. 2000. “In Memoriam: Fritz Fischer (1908-99).” American Historical Association. March. Accessed February 08, 2018.

[4] Williamson Jr., Samuel R. 1988. “The Origins of World War I.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History (The MIT Press) 18 (4): 818. Accessed February 07, 2018. doi:10.2307/204825.

[5] Mombauer, Annika. 2013. “The Fischer Controversy, Documents and the ‘Truth’ About the Origins of the First World War.” Journal of Contemporary History (Sage Publications, Ltd.) 48 (2): 301. Accessed February 07, 2018. doi:10.1177/0022009412472711.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Williamson, op. cit., p. 796.

[8] Williamson, p. 816.

Additionally, a word document has been attached to represent original format.


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