World War I has often been referred to as the "Great War." This is a rather deceiving statement being that over 65 million men fought, and over 37 million men died in a war that lasted 4 years. World War I was, also, referred to as the "War to end all Wars." Yet, 20 years later that statement would no longer be true as WWII erupted in 1939. When WWI ended with no real purpose served, it became apparent that a peace conference needed to occur and that someone had to pay reparations for the damage done. So, many representatives from different European and North American countries met and formed the Treaty of Versailles.
The Treaty was harsh and punishing towards Germany, whom the rest of Europe felt was to blame for the war. However, the question asked at that time, and still today, is who is to blame for the "Great War" that is known for its great destruction to a generation? Many historians would agree that Germany was solely to blame for World War I. They would argue that Germany brought other countries (mainly Britain) into the war by invading neutral Belgium. They would, also, argue that by invading Belgium, Germany exercised a nine year old war plan to attack France. The move was offensive by Germany and therefore France and Britain were just defending their allies. Germany was again blamed for the repercussions of World War I because of their shady past with France.
In 1870, Germany and the Prussian Empire defeated a highly confident French army. From this period on until 1914 there was a very unstable peace between the two nations. This tension made for an easy decision to quickly eliminate France as a threat for Germany. Finally, Germany was an easy target for blame because of their acts of nationalism. On the home front, the war was seen as a glorious opportunity for Germans to set themselves apart from other European nations. Despite these tough arguments against Germany, there are some historians today who feel Germany was not to blame.
They would argue that Germany could not be blamed for a war that they did not start. The Serbs were responsible for the assassination of the Arch-Duke of Austria-Hungary, and therefore started World War I. Germany was only protecting its allies against the Serbs. Some historians would also argue that with Germany's economic success and constant expansion of its navy, they were a large threat to Britain. Britain feared that if Germany became any more powerful, they would lose their dominating status in Europe. This made the decision to declare war on Germany and end its current success much easier.
Finally, it would be fair to argue that Germany was forced into declaring war on Russia. After hearing about Germany supporting Austria-Hungary, Russia made the first move of militarism. They were the first ones to mobilize their army, and Germany had to take action. After studying both sides of the issue, I still feel that Germany was largely responsible for the destruction caused in World War I.
The pride they took in war, and the strategies they used were just too offensive for me not to place blame upon them. However, I feel that the measures that were taken by both Britain and France to punish Germany went too far. Through the Treaty of Versailles they looked to take revenge on Germany rather than to amend the damages and seek peace. If the Treaty of Versailles had been drawn up in a different manner, WWI might have actually been the "War to end all Wars.".