Who was to blame for starting ww1?



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Who was to blame for starting WW1?

Read through the information and complete the table at the end of this document. Then complete these three tasks:



Which countries formed alliances?

Which was the stronger alliance?

Write a judgement paragraph.


Divide the class into five groups. Each group will defend one of the countries below in a debate over who was most to blame for starting WWI. Make sure each group had a proposer, and a seconder and someone who can sum up. These people will lead the debate for their group, but other members of the group are free to join in the open discussion. Each group should try to defend their given country explaining why they are not to blame for starting the war, and more importantly why other countries are! There will be a secret ballot at the end, in which students can vote for the country they think was most to blame.



France
Number of soldiers: 1.25 million

Number of battleships: 28

Money spent on arms in 1913-14: £37 million
Reasons for wanting to ‘pick a fight’ with another country:
France had lost a war against Germany in 1871. She was angry about this and wanted revenge. She also wanted to get back the land she had lost to Germany (Alsace-Lorraine). She was scared that Germany could beat her in another war if she did not have strong friends to help her. She was determined to keep her large empire, e.g. lands in Africa and Asia
Britain
Number of soldiers: 711,000

Number of battleships: 64

Money spent on arms in 1913-14: £50 million
Reasons for wanting to ‘pick a fight’ with another country:
Britain had been the first nation to have an industrial revolution. This had made her very rich. She also had a massive empire, spread across the world in places such as India, Africa, Australia and Canada. She needed to be sure that her powerful navy could control all sea routes, especially in the English Channel. She hoped that the other nations in Europe would keep each other quiet so that none of them could grow powerful enough to challenge her.
Germany
Number of soldiers: 2.2 million

Number of battleships: 40

Money spent on arms in 1913-14: £60 million
Reasons for wanting to ‘pick a fight’ with another country:
Germany had only existed as a nation since 1871. In that year, she proved that she had the strongest army in Europe when she beat France in a war and took rich areas of land from her. She was determined to catch up with Britain’s wealth and power, so she built many factories. From 1900 she also built many battleships. Kaiser Wilhelm, the emperor of Germany from 1888, wanted to have a world-wide empire. He also feared that Germany was being encircled by an enemy alliance.
Russia
Number of soldiers: 1.2 million

Number of battleships: 16

Money spent on arms in 1913-14: £67 million
Reasons for wanting to ‘pick a fight’ with another country:
Russia had a large empire in Asia, but she wanted to have more influence over south-east Europe. This would give her access to essential supplies via the Mediterranean Sea. Austria-Hungary was a great force in south-east Europe and so was Germany. Russia had been going through hard times since 1900 and the Tsar (emperor) was unpopular. The Russian people had much in common with the Serbs and the Tsar believed his country would like him more if he supported the Serbs against Austria-Hungary.

Austria Hungary
Number of soldiers: 810,000

Number of battleships: 16



Money spent on arms in 1913-14: £22 million
Reasons for wanting to ‘pick a fight’ with another country:
Austria-Hungary ruled over many different races, such as Serbs, who wanted their own independent nations. The Austrians wanted to stop nationalism breaking their large empire in central Europe. They were also scared that Russia might gain great influence in south-east Europe.



Country

Army

Navy

Expenditure on defence before WWI

Reasons for ‘picking a fight’

France












Russia












Britain












Germany












Austria-Hungary














Information drawn from ‘Modern Minds’ by Jamie Byrom et al, 1999


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