College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)


Martin Catino


History, World War I, Germany, Fritz Fischer, Michael Neiberg, Sean McMeekin, Christopher Clark, Niall Ferguson, Sleepwalkers, Iron Kingdom, Kaiser, Franz Ferdinand, Black Hand, Schlieffen Plan, Blank Check, September Program, September Programme, Mitteleuropa, Middle Europe, War Aims, Otto von Bismark, Wilhelm, Leopold Berchtold, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg




By examining the events that led to the outbreak of the First World War, one can determine whether any one nation was responsible for starting the war or failed to exercise its ability to prevent it. The origins of The First World War have seen no shortage of attention from historians in the hundred-plus years since its conclusion. Nevertheless, none have successfully presented a case that explains how what should have been a relatively minor diplomatic crisis transformed into the First World War. Instead, the traditional stance of blaming Germany for the war has been the de facto argument since the Treaty of Versailles included the “War Guilt” clause. Several historians, especially in recent years, have presented credible alternative theories that claim the blame lies with the other powers such as Russia or Britain. However, modern historians collectively fail to supplant Germany as the bearer of responsibility because they narrow the scope of their research only to documents and sources that support their arguments while marginalizing or ignoring contrary sources. However, by breaking down each theory and analyzing them side-by-side, it becomes evident that combining the most substantial arguments from each approach makes a universally compatible narrative emerge.

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