Where does AJP Taylor locate the blame for the outbreak of the First World War? Is his argument convincing?

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HIST 1801 - MODERN EUROPE, 1900-1945 Tutorial Paper Week 3 - Question 1: Where does AJP Taylor locate the blame for the outbreak of the First World War? Is his argument convincing? The 28th of July 1914 marks the date when Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia, the months that ensued saw the chain reaction like declarations of war by many countries ultimately leading to the outbreak of the First World War. Many historians over the years have tried to determine the causes and reasons as to why the First World War broke out, one such historian was AJP Taylor. Taylor was a British historian who specialised in 20th century European diplomacy; he wrote several books discussing who and what caused the First World War. Taylors views…show more content…
However, Taylor does not consider the September Programme outlining Germanys aim to create a ‘Mitteleuropa.’ Chancellor Bethmann’s programme - created when peace talks were thought to be imminent on the 9th of September 1914, is an important indication of what the German war aims were.10 One of the key German aims was to create a system known as ‘Mitteleuropa’ which involved a unification of central European lands under German control.11 The main aspects of this plan were to make Belgium and Luxemburg vassal states of Germany, have German control over the Russian Baltic areas as well as Poland and possibly some parts of France thus creating a central German controlled union of states.12 Germany also wanted to create a central European economic association through common customs treaties among Europe’s prominent countries such as France, Holland and Denmark. This association would be under German control and would help steady Germany’s economic dominance over Mitteleuropa.13 Taylor does not mention anything about the September Programme or Mitteleuropa, making his argument less convincing. Taylor discusses the outbreak of the First World War in great detail and pins the blame on three key individuals namely, Austria-Hungary’s foreign minister Count Berchtold who sent the Serbs a brutal ultimatum after the assassination of the Archduke.

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