North Wales Western Front Association

41. So, who is to blame?

The monarchs were well-meaning and peaceful, and related to one another, but were under the power of their politicians who had their own agendas.

Kaiser Wilhelm did make constructive attempts to avoid the war. Tsar Nicholas made efforts as well but conveniently was not around after the war to explain his side of the story.

All the continental great powers had huge armies which were meant as deterrents. At the end of the day, the deterrent armies failed to deter!

There was much rivalry between all the great powers and jockeying for position on the world stage, especially in regard to colonies and natural resources like oil. The international treaties were very much marriages of convenience, which could end in a rapid divorce, if that was the intention of one of the parties.

In July 1914, the eyes of many of the major countries were on matters other than the Balkan crisis. Key individuals were on holiday or otherwise away from base. This made communication between governments much harder, as this was the age of the telegram and primitive telephones.

Governments underestimated the gravity of their actions and the consequences.

Governments and generals did not understand the changed nature of modern warfare, ie the increased power of the defender, and the likely result of a stalemate and a war of attrition.

Ultimately, the men in the governments of various countries in July 1914 were prepared to use a war for their own political ends, when frankly it could have been avoided.

In the “Guardian” newspaper of 5th March 2018, in an article by Ivan Krastev there is a quotation from a Turkish official:

     “The Second World War is over but the First World War is not yet finished.”


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