Date of Award
University or Center
Atlanta University (AU)
School of Arts and Sciences
The question of German responsibility for the first world war is
one that still produces considerable debate among historians. Although it
appears that many present day scholars place the war guilt at Germany’s
door, some have produced cogent arguments designed to relieve Germany of
This paper does not propose to present a definitive answer to the
intricate question of German responsibility. Rather an attempt will be
ma4e to examine the historic role of Germany prior to and during World
War I. It is believed that such an analysis will be a valuable study,
inasmuch as it will point out, in a capsule form, some of the issues in
volved in the debate on German responsibility.
In approaching this question, a brief examination will be made of
several selected factors influencing Germany’s conduct on the eve of the
war. This will include such potent factors as resurgent nationalism, en
tangling alliances, increasing militarism, intense conmiercial rivalry, and
repeated involvement in international disputes. These factors seem to be
necessary essentials for a clear understanding of motivactions that promt
ed German behavior in the face of war.
Also Austro-German diplomatic relations will be examined, with
especial emphasis being placed on the aftermath of the Sarajevo incident.
Since this is the period that most firmly supports the proponents of
German war guilt, it will receive considerable attention. The outbreak of
the hostility and German’s reaction will be briefly discussed.
While this short paper cannot be expected to answer such an
intricate question, the writer feels that a presentation of pros and cons
in this debate will point up many issues which should be of value to novice
historians. Herein lies the real worth and purpose of this research.
Wilson, Shirley Marie, "The question of German responsibility for the First World War" (1968). ETD Collection for AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library. 1016.