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The war lasted 6 years, it killed more people, destroyed more property than any other war in history.World War 2 not only involved Germany but most of central and Western Europe, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, Japan, China, and eventually the United States.
The historical dialogue on this issue is vast and distorted by substantial biases.
Vague and undefined schemes of reckless expansion were imputed to the German leadership in the immediate aftermath of the war with the ‘war-guilt’ clause.
That event precipitated the July Crisis, which saw the major European powers hurtle toward open conflict.
The M-A-I-N acronym is often used to analyse the war – militarism, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. The late nineteenth century was an era of military competition, particularly between the major European powers.
AJP Taylor’s ‘timetable theory’ emphasises the delicate, highly complex plans involved in mobilization which prompted ostensibly aggressive military preparations.
Every point has some merit, but in the end what proved most devastating was the combination of an alliance network with the widespread, misguided belief that war is good for nations, and that the best way to fight a modern war was to attack.
It’s possibly the single most pondered question in history – what caused the unbound, senseless slaughter that was World War One?
It wasn’t, like in World War Two, a case of a single belligerent pushing others to take a military stand.
However the suggestion that Germany wanted to create a European empire in 1914 is not supported by the pre-war rhetoric and strategy.
Nationalism was also a new and powerful source of tension in Europe.