Please click here for an excellent article from the This Week website. It outlines the historical debate well, and then considers which country should take most of the blame.
“The question of which country or countries caused the war is sometimes flipped on its head by scholars who have asked which countries – had they conducted themselves differently – could have prevented it.
On the BBC website, military historian Sir Max Hastings says that while no one nation deserves the blame alone, Germany is more guilty than most, as “it alone had power to halt the descent to disaster at any time in July 1914 by withdrawing its ‘blank cheque’ which offered support to Austria for its invasion of Serbia.”
Sir Richard J Evans, Regius professor of history at the University of Cambridge disagrees, arguing that Serbian nationalism and expansionism were the root cause of the conflict. “Serbia bore the greatest responsibility for the outbreak of WW1,” Evans says, “and Serbian backing for the Black Hand terrorists was extraordinarily irresponsible,”
Other leading scholars believe the blame should be shared equally between all the main players: Austria-Hungary, Germany, Serbia, Russia, France, the Ottoman empire and Britain. The “fatal mixture of political misjudgement, fear of loss of prestige and stubborn commitments on all sides of a very complicated system of military and political alliances of European states” led to the descent into all-out war.”
Please read and note with care.