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“The First World War Was Lost By Germany Rather Than Being Won By The Allies”. Discuss.

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Germany had the potential to win the First World War. Germany had the Austro-Hungarian Empire as an ally, a Kaiser who supported the development of Germany’s army and navy, a navy that threatened Britain’s naval supremacy and U-boats that successful destroyed Allied shipping. However, because of events that occurred and the mistakes Germany that made with these factors, Germany lost the potential to win the First World War. Hence, Germany lost the First World War rather than the Allies winning the First World War.

The allies that Germany had were a factor that caused Germany to lose the First World War. A prime example of this was the surrender of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who was Germany’s main ally. In 1879, the Dual Alliance was signed between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. During the First World War, the good internal communication lines between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany assisted with the supply of the Central Power’s army and the movement of soldiers (Tomkinson 2005, page 52). Despite the good communication lines, the alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire became ineffective for Germany when the Austro-Hungarian Empire started to collapse. This meant that the German war effort was being weaken, as the quotation below shows.

Germany was badly let down by her allies … When Austria was defeated … and Turkey surrendered, the end was near. (Lowe 2005, page 31)

The quotation above shows that alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire weakened the German war effort. Germany’s alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire had the benefited the German war effort but when the Austro-Hungarian Empire surrendered to the Allies on 30 October 1918, this damaged the German war effort. The alliance between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, which damaged the German war effort when the Austro-Hungarian Empire surrendered, was a factor contributed that to Germany losing the potential to win the First World War.

The leadership of Germany was another factor that caused Germany to lose the potential to win the First World War. A prime example of this was the influence that Kaiser Wilhelm II had over Germany and its armed and naval forces, which decreased during the First World War. Kaiser Wilhelm II was Germany’s ruling monarch from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. Kaiser Wilhelm II was a strong supporter of German militarism and his interest in developing the navy led to Germany’s naval expansion. Germany was also said to have the best army in the world (Tomkinson 2005, page 52), as the quotation below shows.

He [Kaiser Wilhelm II] has the strongest army in the world and the Germans don't like being laughed at … she [Germany] is very strong … (Sir Edward Grey in Kaiser Wilhelm II, 2007)

The quotation above shows that Kaiser Wilhelm II had produced a strong army for Germany. However, the influence that Kaiser Wilhelm II had over Germany and its armed and naval forces declined as Germany started to turn into a military dictatorship, which was under the control of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. The military did not use the political decision-making process and the ideas that the military produced for the German war effort were unrealistic (Kaiser Wilhelm II, 2007). This meant that Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German people depended on the fortunes of the German army for Germany’s success in the First World War. Kaiser Wilhelm II helped to increase the military and naval strength of Germany but when Germany started to turn into a military dictatorship, this contributed to Germany losing the potential to win the First World War.

The resources that Germany had were another factor that caused Germany to lose the potential to win the First World War. A prime example of this was the failure of the Imperial German Navy to destroy Britain’s naval supremacy. Before and during the First World War, the Imperial Germany Navy posed a major threat to the British Royal Navy’s naval supremacy. In 1897, the Imperial German Navy’s naval strength was increased with the German Naval Laws of 1898 and 1900 (Overy 2005, page 275). This led to the Anglo-German naval arms race that occurred before the beginning of the First World War. During the First World War, the German naval threat led to an increasing number of the British Royal fleet to remain in London. However, as the war progressed, the Imperial German Navy only had one major engagement with the British Royal Navy, which was the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. Germany believed it needed to destroy a section of the British Royal Navy to stop the British economic blockade on Germany (Evans 1981, page 40), as the quotation below shows.

… all our [German naval] forces had been made ready and concentrated, an attempt was to be made with our fleet to seek battle under circumstances unfavourable to the enemy [the British Royal Navy]. (Admiral Reinhard Scheer in Battle of Jutland, 2007)

The quotation above shows that Germany believed it could defeat the British Naval Fleet by attacking them in conditions that suited to the Imperial German Navy. However, when more battleships came out than the Imperial German Navy had anticipated, the German fleet returned to base after a short battle with the British Royal Navy. The Battle of Jutland did not damage Britain’s naval supremacy nor remove the British economic blockade on Germany. The Imperial German Navy failed to destroy Britain’s naval supremacy or the British economic blockade on Germany, and so this contributed to Germany losing the potential to win the First World War.

The war strategies that Germany had were another factor that caused Germany to lose the potential to win the First World War. A prime example of this was the unrestricted U-boat warfare that occurred during the First World War. In August 1914, Germany had twenty operational

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