Was Germany to blame?

Immediately after the war, the Treaty of Versailles blamed Germany for 'all the loss and damage' of the war.

During the 1920s, however, Germans vigorously denied this, and - during the period of appeasement in the 1930s - many people were prepared to blame other factors:

  • Sydney Bradshaw Fay laid the emphasis on the underlying tensions of nationalism, imperialism, militarism and alliances.
  • The British prime minister Lloyd George blamed the war on the failure of the politicians who, he said, lacked the ability to negotiate their way out of war.

After World War Two, historians were less prepared to excuse Germany. In the 1960s, the German historian Fritz Fischer argued that the German leaders had a 'will to war', that they wanted to expand German power, and they wanted the situation in Europe to deteriorate into war. This is the view still held by many historians today.