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The illusion of limited war: chancellor Bethmann Hollweg's calculated risk, July 1914

Die Illusion eines begrenzten Krieges: Bethmann Hollwegs Politik eines kalkulierten Risikos in der Julikrise 1914
[journal article]

Jarausch, Konrad H.

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Abstract "The central figure in the Fischer controversy about Germany's responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War was the imperial chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg. On the basis of the controversial diary of his personal assistant Kurt Riezler, this article revisits the policy of the civilian leader of the German government, characterized by a 'defensive aggressiveness'. Fearing the growth of Russian power and closer Anglo-French cooperation, Bethmann was willing to run a 'calculated risk' by backing a local Balkan war in which Austria could defeat Serbia, while risking a continental war with Russia and France in order to split the Entente. This gamble failed due to the Russian decision for general mobilization, German military pressure to invade Belgium and the British entry into the conflict that expanded the conflict to a European war which Berlin was unlikely to win. With such arguments the article tries to sketch a complex intermediary position between critics and apologists of German 'war guilt.'" (author's abstract)
Keywords First World War; war; German Empire; Germany; responsibility; outbreak of war; role; government; Austria-Hungary; attempted assassination; Serbia; crisis; Russia; decision; risk
Classification General History; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Method historical
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
Page/Pages p. 53-79
Journal Historical Social Research, Supplement (2012) 24
Issue topic Contemporary history as transatlantic project: the German problem 1960-2010
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works