Name Date Due Grade 10 Modern World History Unit 1: World War I performance Task: Is Germany to Blame for the Start of World War I? Focus Question

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Grade 10 Modern World History Unit 1:

World War I Performance Task:

Is Germany to Blame for the Start of World War I?
Focus Question: What roles did nationalism, imperialism, militarism and alliances play in causing World War I?

Background: The peacemakers at Versailles desired to make the Great War "the war to end all wars". Many believed they were successful in their efforts. However, the Treaty of Versailles has been criticized. One particular sour note is ARTICLE 231 of the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919 that affirms that Germany is the cause of World War I. At the time, many Germans felt that the blame for the start of the war was unjustly placed upon them. The Germans were not alone in their belief; a number of others also believed that it was harsh and unfair.
Task: You will read a few short articles on the causes and start of World War I. Take a position on whether or not Germany should be blamed for the start of the war and write a persuasive editorial for your local newspaper urging others to take your position. In your editorial, you must argue why blame placed or not placed on Germany is the best decision. Your letter should include information from several of the source materials.
Below are the steps you will follow:
1. Read the source materials.

Before taking a position on the issue, it is important that you read all the source materials. As you read the source materials, you may underline information, highlight and write notes on the articles themselves.

2. Think and plan before you write.

Ask yourself these questions:

To what degree have I thought my position through? What is the basis of my position?

3. Prepare to write your letter.

You have been given an organizer that you may find useful as you consider the various arguments on whether or not Germany should be blamed for the start of the war.

Your score will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Position—Did you take a clear position on the issue? Did you address your audience?

  2. Comprehensiveness—Did you use information from a variety of sources?

  3. Support—Did you support your position with accurate and relevant information from the source materials?

  4. Organization--Did you organize your ideas in a logical and effective manner so that your audience will understand and follow your thinking?

  5. Clarity and Fluency—Did you express your ideas clearly and fluently using your own words?

Name________________________________________ Date Due____________

Document Based Questions

Focus Question: Was Germany to Blame for World War I?
Document 1

This chart provides information on the increasing amounts of money spent on armaments from 1870 through 1914.

Per Capita Expenditures of the Great Powers on Armaments







Great Britain










































* Boer War Costs Source: From Europe, 1815-1914, by Gordon A. Craig, 1966.

Which three countries increased the amount of money spent on weapons? How did this increase the chance of war? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________­­­­­_____

Document 2

This map of Europe on the eve of World War I shows the alliance systems.

Who were the members of each alliance system? How did alliance systems contribute to the outbreak of WWI?

Document 3

This is an excerpt from the Austro-Hungarian Red Book No. 7. It is the ultimatum that Austria-Hungary sent to Serbia on July 23, 1914.

... the Royal Serbian Government has done nothing to repress these movements. It has permitted the criminal machinations of various societies and associations directed against the Monarchy, and has tolerated unrestrained language on the part of the press, the glorification of the perpetrators of outrages and the participation of officers and functionaries in subver­sive agitation. ...
. . . [The] Royal Government see themselves compelled to demand from the Royal Serbian Government a formal assurance that they condemn this dangerous propaganda against the Monarchy. ...

... To accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government for the suppression of the subversive movement...

What were the accusations made by Austria-Hungary to Serbia?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________What two demands did Austria-Hungary make on Serbia?

Document 4

This excerpt is from Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty, which Germany signed, thereby ending World War I.

. . . The Allied and Associate Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage. . .
According to the Versailles Treaty who was responsible for World War I ? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Document 5

In this excerpt from May 7, 1919, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, leader of the German delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference, protested.

It is demanded of us that we shall confess ourselves to be alone guilty of the war. Such a confession from my lips would be a lie. We are far from declining all responsibility for the fact that this great World War took place or that it was fought in the way that it was. . . . But we energetically deny that Germany and its people, who were convinced that they fought a war of defense, were alone guilty. No one would want to assert that the disaster began only at that disastrous moment when the successor of Austria-Hungary fell a victim to murderous hands. In the last fifty years, the imperialism of all European states has chronically poisoned international relations. Policies of retaliation, policies of expansion, and disregard for the right of peoples to determine their own destiny, have contributed to the European malady which came to a crisis in the World War. The mobilization of Russia deprived statesmen of the opportunity of curing the disease, and placed the issue in the hands of the military powers. ...
What position did the German delegation leader present? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What did he say caused the war?

Document 6

In his book, Origins of the World War, Sidney Bradshaw Fay stated his position on the causes of World War I.

Nevertheless, a European war broke out. Why? Because in each country [of Europe] political and military leaders did certain things which lead to the mobilization [of their armies for war] and [finally] to the declarations of war, or [these leaders] failed to do certain things which might have prevented [the war]. In this sense, all the European countries in greater or lesser degree were responsible [for the outbreak of World War I].
According to this author, who was responsible for the outbreak of World War I?


What did he cite as evidence to support this claim?


Document 7

This is an excerpt from The Century of Total War by Raymond Aron (Doubleday & Co. 1954).

. . . The rise of Germany, whose supremacy France dreaded and whose navy menaced [or threatened] England, had created among [England and France] an alliance which claimed it was defensive in nature but was denounced by German propaganda as an attempt at [the] encirclement [of Germany]. The two armed camps alarmed each other, and each grew heavy with multiplied incidents, which spread East [with the assassination of the Archduke Ferdi­nand], where Russia and Austria were advancing contradictory claims. ...
What role did the assassination and the ultimatum play in the outbreak of the war?


What responsibility did the alliance systems play in the outbreak of the war? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
From Document-Based Assessment Activities for Global History Classses. J. Weston Walch, Publisher ©1999.

Document 8

The Germans were also furious about the various terms of the Treaty. They hated clause 231 - the 'War Guilt' clause - which stated that Germany had caused 'all the loss and damage' of the war. Firstly, the Germans did not think that they had caused the war (for the Germans, the war was a war of self-defense against Russia, which had mobilized 31 July 1914). During the 1920s, the Germans published all their secret documents from 1914, to prove they had tried to stop the war. Secondly, the Germans hated clause 231 because accepting it gave the Allies the moral right to punish Germany - it validated all the harsh terms of the Treaty.

Were the German’s ready to accept the terms of the ‘War Guilt’ clause in the Treaty of Versailles? Why or why not? _____________________________________


What was the war really a result of, according to the Germans? _______________


Document 9

Britain continued to be concerned about the rise of German naval power and feared German predominance on the Continent. The British, facing severe domestic unrest (an Irish rebellion and a miners' strike), remained uncommitted for most of the crisis, but the German invasion of Belgium forced them to enter the war.

In Germany, fear of growing isolation dominated. Austria-Hungary was Germany's last ally and thus seemed to deserve support at all cost (Italy was no longer committed to its alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary).
The Germans wanted Austria-Hungary to wage war on Serbia in order to prevent the breakdown of the Habsburg Empire. The Germans feared, moreover, that the modernization, population explosion, and industrial growth of Russia would transform their eastern neighbor into a superpower that would sooner or later crush Germany. This appeared all the more threatening to the German General Staff, since their only war plan would not work any more once the Russian railroads were completed.

Source (with modifications):

Why was it important for Germany to support Austria-Hungary? _____________


What were the two fears Germany had, according to Document 9? _____________



Document 10

In the 1960s a German historian, Fritz Fischer, argued that Germany had to bear the main responsibility for the outbreak of the war. Fischer's three main theses were: 1) that the German government under the Kaiser's direction deemed a European war inevitable since 1911/12, prepared for war, and decided to seize the next opportunity to start it. Fischer points out the expansive aims of the industry and Junkers; 2) that the German government and general staff precipitated an escalation of the Austro-Serb crisis in order to launch what they considered a preventive strike against Russia and France.

If war did not come about, Germany at least hoped to weaken the Entente and win a moral victory that would increase the prestige and stability of Germany and the Habsburg Empire. Bethmann embraced a calculated risk of escalation; 3) that a long-term continuity existed in German aims for expansion, leading right up to the Second World War: an eastern empire, predominance over Belgium and France.

Source (with modifications):

According to Fritz Fischer, was Germany responsible for the war? Why or why not? ___________________________________________________________________




Document 11

US Secretary of State Robert Lansing's complete report establishing war guilt, December 1918:

'The War was premeditated by the Central Powers together with their allies, Turkey and Bulgaria, and was the result of acts deliberately committed in order to make it unavoidable. Germany, in agreement with Austria-Hungary, deliberately worked to defeat all the many conciliatory proposals made by the Entente Powers.'

Source (with modifications):

What do you think Mr. Lansing meant when he said the war was premeditated by the Central Powers? _______________________________________________________________________



Name______________________________________________________ Date Due____________

World War I DBQ Graphic Organizer

Point 1

Evidence and Source

Point 2

Evidence and Source

Point 3

Evidence and Source

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