To What Extent Was the Nature of the Schlieffen Plan Responsible for the Outbreak of a General European War in August 1914?

884 words 4 pages
There are three main factors that would be considered as the cause of the outbreak of war in August 1914, these including; the nature of the Schlieffen Plan, Russian mobilisation and the arms race. The Schlieffen Plan was produced in order to defeat Germany’s allies without having to be in conflict with them all at once, this was extremely important for Germany as it was surrounded by it’s powerful allies, with both France Russia on its borders. The plan itself stated that Germany were to defeat France at its, moving quickly before Russia were able to mobilise, expecting the French to surrender within 6 weeks. Many have argued that the Schlieffen plan was the sole cause of the outbreak of war as whilst the mobilisation of other countries …show more content…

Source 3 provides a very different interpretation of the causes of the outbreak of war. Grenville, introduces this idea amongst the sources that the “inevitability of war was spreading among those who controlled policy” suggesting that war would have occurred without the ‘forced war’ approach demonstrated by the Schlieffen plan. The phrase “those who controlled policy” refers implicitly to those with autocratic power and emerging leaders such as the Kaiser and the Tsar, suggests that there is expectations of war, amongst many of the leaders, which would have subsequently resulted in the increase of military expenditure etc, as demonstrated by the arms race, acknowledged by Grenville “larger armies were being trained for this eventuality”. Similarly to Martel, Grenville also draws attention to the Russian mobilisation; “the Tsar and his ministers took to mobilise, which made war inevitable” acknowledging the issue as a significant factor but goes further by including the Alliance system, in the reasoning for the Tsars decision to mobilise in the first place. This is crucial as it demonstrates the importance of the Alliance System, particularly between France and Russia, and the Dual Alliance.
In conclusion; although the aggressive and urgent nature of the Schlieffen plan, increased tensions between countries, it could be seen more as a catalyst for the war rather than a cause. Similarly, Russian mobilisation could also be seen as a