Talk:Causes of World War I

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Former good article nominee Causes of World War I was a History good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
May 1, 2009 Good article nominee Not listed

Poincaré[edit]

There seems to be a major contradiction here. First, the article states:

"The new French President Raymond Poincaré, who took office in 1913, was favourable to improving relations with Germany.[7] In January 1914 Poincaré became the first French President to dine at the German Embassy in Paris.[7] Poincaré was more interested in the idea of French expansion in the Middle East than a war of revenge to regain Alsace-Lorraine."

So, 1913 and early 1914, Poincaré is more or less a dove who wants to improve relations with Germany and is not terribly interested in Alsace-Lorraine.

Yet a few paragraphs later in the article, the next section about France, reads:

"Prime Minister and then President Poincaré was a strong hawk. In 1913 Poincaré predicted war for 1914.[19] In 1920 at the University of Paris, thinking back to his own student days, Poincaré remarked, "I have not been able to see any reason for my generation living, except the hope of recovering our lost provinces (Alsace-Lorraine; Poincaré was born in Lorraine)."

and

"(In France) A "good old war" was seen by both sides (with the exception of Jean Jaurès) as a way to solve this crisis thanks to a nationalistic reflex. For example, on July 29, after he had returned from the summit in St. Petersburg, President Poincaré was asked if war could be avoided. He is reported to have replied: "It would be a great pity. We should never again find conditions better."[17]"

So in 1913 and 1914 Poincaré is not merely a hawk but obsessively, almost maniacally so. Could someone who understands the situation better than I please make some edits to better explain: Did he change his position? When and why? Was he simply keeping his options open and earlier on responsibly trying to prevent war, yet in so doing coming to the conclusion it was inevitable? Might it have been his own contradictory statements that undercut his efforts to make peace? Is this he or someone else rewriting history after the fact? Were his earlier actions and statements designed to trick the Germans as to France's intentions? We need something more here to elucidate the context of these contradictions, as to what he indicated and/or people actually had reason to believe at the time, even as it is relevant to history what he said later (though should again be clearer whether this is presented as a complete break with the reality of his earlier statements). Thanks, Abrazame (talk) 06:27, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

I read the article recently, and I completely agree with you. This article badly needs to be clarified. I hope that somebody who knows something about this topic (which isn't me) will step up to the plate and make the necessary additions to this article in order to clarify the seemingly contradictory statements. It has been over 4 months since you entered these comments, and it appears that nobody has responded. That is why I am sending out a 2nd request that somebody edit and clarify this article.JDefauw (talk) 02:09, 3 June 2012 (UTC)JDefauw

i tried to clarify some of the ambiguity on such an important topic as the causality of the great war; i would have done better had english been my native language, hope it'll suit. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.2.30.195 (talk) 00:06, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

Your contribution is greatly appreciated. Thank you. Over the next week I will work on improving it. We will also need to supply references (books that verify what is being stated in the article). I will work on that as well. If you can recommend any books or journal articles, that would help as well. I think that more people should be interested in this topic.JDefauw (talk) 02:01, 22 July 2012 (UTC)JDefauw

Thank you for the language check, i had feared my english would be too frail for a debate so punctilious. I believe my viewpoint on the subject is accurate enough but most of the knowledge i got for WWI is Milza and Bernstein's Histoire du XXe Siècle, Fritz Fischer's War aims of Imperial Germany and Pierre Renouvin's La Crise européenne et la Première Guerre mondiale and his short book on WWI in the Que- sais-je collection. I have had trouble with referencing previously, as i wrote the french article of general Henri Mordacq notably. How can one support a thesis when another reference could disagree entirely on the matter? wikipedia indeed is demanding... Thank you for your interest nonetheless. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.2.30.195 (talk) 00:38, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia may not be as demanding as you think. The goal that we are striving for is to create articles in which every significant point of view is stated. However, I am sure it is not normally the responsibility of one or two editors to make sure that every significant point of view has been stated in a given article. Wikipedia is a work in progress. Other people can always add more material to the article.
I think that your contribution to the article provided a more balanced perspective than the material that was in the article before. The material that was there before vastly oversimplified what the situation was in France prior to WWI. Also, it is not necessary to provide references for everything that we contribute, only those statements which are likely to be called into question and challenged by another contributor. At the same time, it is not a good idea to leave an entire section without any references. So even though English Wikipedia has a preference for English sources, I would still recommend that you provide citations to your French sources (and I saw that you had one English source as well). Over time, we may be able to add more English sources.
If anything I say is not clear, you can ask a question on my user talk page.JDefauw (talk) 21:51, 23 July 2012 (UTC)JDefauw

The Funeral of the Archduke and his wife[edit]

I added a bit about the funeral of the murdered couple, as any attempt to derail peace is a step towards war. Kaiser Bill did indeed try to stop this whole mess but the other Kaiser wouldn't let him.Ericl (talk) 19:26, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

I removed it and you reverted me without addressing my reason for removal. Please don't do that, it is not how wp:BRD works. No doubt the assassinations precipitated the July Crisis. That is extensively discussed in the article already. But the idea that the handling of Sophie's funeral was a major factor on the road to war is a fairly novel one. This is one of the most-analyzed months of all human history. We should not be creating our own synthesis of what mattered, nor should we cherrypick obscure sources. If we can't find a reliable source which ranks that factor as significant in the overall development, we should not include it, per wp:UNDUE. LeadSongDog come howl! 16:42, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Background: "France"[edit]

The first section Background states the relationship between Europe, Russia and the Balkans. This particular sentence, "To reinforce this point, R. B. Haldane, the Germanophile Lord Chancellor, met with Prince Lichnowsky to offer an explicit warning that if Germany were to attack France, Britain would intervene in France's favour," suddenly talks about 'attacking France'. Shouldn't this be clarified? Dongiello (talk) 22:53, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 30 January 2014[edit]

216.220.18.15 (talk) 21:21, 30 January 2014 (UTC) Change date on paragraph one to 1912.

Not done: The war began in 1914.
Dmelc9 (talk) 22:27, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 February 2014[edit]

The following sentence needs to be deleted or rephrased:

"On January 17, 1964 Ritter wrote a secret letter to the West German foreign minister, asking him to deny Fischer a passport to the United States, a request that was granted".

This is a muddled sentence with a bizarre logic: What exactly is meant by "deny Fischer a passport to the United States"? The travel-bound country can deny entry and the passport-issuing country can revoke a person's passport. Neither of which seems to have happened.

I cannot find any source which states that the West German foreign minister revoked the passport of Fritz Fischer. In the German Wikipedia entry it says that public funding for the trip was withdrawn and that the trip was cancelled for this reason; for this there are plenty of sources.

The issue is quite important because an article in the Daily Telegraph has now claimed that the West German government revoked the passport (not explicitly but quite possibly making use of this Wikipedia page). As far as I can see revoking a valid passport is totally illegal under the German basic code, hence the seriousness of the matter.


88.211.15.150 (talk) 05:45, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

that muddled passage was removed long ago. Rjensen (talk) 06:56, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Sometime before May 2010, when the Historiography of the causes of World War I was hived off into a separate article. - Arjayay (talk) 09:32, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Causes for Germany?[edit]

You go to war only when you feel injustice. What exactly German people felt unjust about their current situation? The article lists only their supposed goals (of their higher ranks specially), but it omits their perceptions of injustice; goals are not enough to risk life and defeat morals. Do I misunderstand something? - 91.122.12.137 (talk) 11:11, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't see how 'morals' or 'justice' have anything to do with the pursuit of power. Can you explain your reasoning? --MAI 742 (talk) 11:16, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

The common perception in Germany was that it was encircled by enemies and therefore had to act loyally and come to the aid of its only remaining powerful ally, Austria-Hungary. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.61.212.198 (talk) 10:07, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

First section too one-sided[edit]

I think the "Background" section is too one-sided. Putting all the blame on Germany/Austria (to the point of claiming that the war was basically planned beforehand) doesn't correspond to current historical understanding. At least some statements should be put into a more conditional and less definitive form. (E.g. that Germany before the war could have improved relations with France but didn't want to, preferring war.) Sorry, I don't have the background to contribute to a rewriting, just wanted to point it out. Greetings, 79.2.203.151 (talk) 14:33, 12 July 2014 (UTC)

our job as editors is to report what the current scholarship has to say--and scholars (including Germans) are tough on Germany. Rjensen (talk) 10:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Berlin Bagdad Railway[edit]

In this section, the closing statement (of the resolution of the issue by the summer crisis) could be referenced, and say as well exactly what was resolved - the financing? the anticipated ecomomic consequences? the imperial concerns?

BCameron54 07:04, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for adding a reference that states an agreement was made - I added others which source and detail the content of the agreement. Better to say that the issues were addressed, than were resolved - but happy to agree this was contextual background, not part of the summer crisis.

BCameron54 17:34, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

My reading of these references do not suggest agreement and closure. Documents limiting the railway were signed, which underline the issue. Your presumption of settlement or resolution is an inference, and your reference is a simple didactic statement without content. My reference states "However these agreements, at the last eleventh hour, just prior to the outbreak of the Great War, were not turned into practical actions, but remained to be unreal." These issues remained in the background, and could not have been 'resolved' by a signature, as the rivalry and the railway and its implications remained. With respect, I do not think your categorical statement is balanced, rjenson, and revision without discussion is unjustified. The railway remained a manifestation and context of the rivalry, as evidenced by the British creation of Kuwait, the British presence in Mesopotamia during the war, and the post-war treaty which awarded the railway to Britain.

BCameron54 03:37, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

the issue was closed in June 1914 says McMurray, Jonathan S. (2001). Distant Ties: Germany, the Ottoman Empire, and the Construction of the Baghdad Railway. p. 101.  . Margaret Macmillan's The War that ended Peace (2013) pp 540-41 calls it detente. Otte July Crisis (2014) p 149 says the aqreement solved the RR issue. Clark, Sleepwalkers (2012) says the agreement "did much to neutralize tension over the Baghdad Railway." ( p 338). It is true that old books written before the archives opened in the 1920s assumed it was a cause of the war, but scholars now have seen the documents. To my knowledge no historian in recent decades says the RR issue played any rule in the debates of July that led to the war in August. I am not sure what recent scholarship that BCameron54 is relying upon??? He needs to tell us. Rjensen (talk) 14:51, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Racism and lebensraum[edit]

Some authors point out to German demands to pursue lebensraum and racism against Slavs as one of the causes of the war. The German Emperor himself spoke of the need of "holy war against Slavs" and one of German chancellors before the war argued that war is necessary to ethnically cleanse Slavic populations further East. It won't be a problem finding these sources and this should be added to German domestic policies.--MyMoloboaccount (talk) 11:24, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

There used to be a section on this exact topic, but it seems to have been cut at some point. I've cut and pasted it from an old version. It isn't properly cited, and could probably be tightened up, which may be why it was cut, but I'll have a look around for good sources. Thanks for pointing this out.Peregrine981 (talk) 09:32, 29 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. I will work on this further.--MyMoloboaccount (talk) 12:20, 30 September 2014 (UTC)
This is a claim that is mainly supported by Russian nationalists. In fact, the German Empire aimed to create buffer states in Eastern Europe. These states should be independent, but governed by a "German-friendly" regime. The Slavic population should not be evicted from their country or something else. Differently from the WWII, there is no evidence that the German government wanted new "lebensraum" for the German "race". On the other hand, the German Emperor spoke about a war against the Slavs before the beginning of the WWI (I think it was in 1912). But you have to consider that Russia joined the Entente in 1907 (resp. in 1892) and there was a conflict between Austria and the Balkan Slavs. So, the anti-Slavic sentiment of the German Emperor was not a cause of the war (it was just the result of the conflicts which caused the later war). Similarly, it is inadequate to say that Wilson joined the war due to his anti-German sentiment.--153.96.12.26 (talk) 14:36, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Editing Restriction?[edit]

This is one of those pages that could use some sort of editing restriction in my book. Just a restriction to registered users only would be great. Iamheredude (talk) 03:37, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

I agree, although I would extend it to autoconfirmed. Anonimski (talk) 08:13, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

social darwinism[edit]

The treatment of Social Darwinism is inadequate. It's much more complex, as many ministers found in Darwin the evolution of cooperation. And there's the related phenomenon of Muscular Christianity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.66.247.53 (talk) 16:56, 6 February 2015 (UTC)