Causes of World War 1 – Militarism: Military Leaders and Their Influence


Military leaders are also to blame to a greater extent for the immediate outbreak of the First World War

Germany’s naval officers were ready to fight the Triple Entente in 1914 since they knew the Triple Entente would be stronger by around 1917.

It was better for them to fight soon than later.

The German General Moltke promoted conscriptions and preparations for war because by 1917 Russia’s military was to be equipped with modern hardware and was to be strong and quick in entering Germany.

To General Moltke 1914 was the year Germany was supposed to defeat her enemies or they would be defeated in the future.

Therefore, the German military officials wanted war as soon as possible.

They took advantage of the July Crisis to fight France and then Russia.

Germany’s military leaders promoted expenditure towards a powerful German Army and Navy.

Since 1907 the German army’s decisions were respected in the Parliament for the army was responsible for making Germany safe.

The German military came first and then the input of the influential politicians on the issues of state security and survival.

The politicians of Germany had already agreed that the Schlieffen Plan was the war plan to the extent that when the opportunity for war came in 1914 the military leaders had the major decision roles in Germany.


During this period the civilian government only offered advice whilst the Kaiser and his top military officials made the major decisions.


After the Sarajevo incident, Germany’s military leaders like Erich von Falkenhayn were encouraging the Kaiser to declare war.

Most of Germany’s military leaders were expecting a very short war.


The Russian Generals were highly influential in getting Tsar Nicholas II to mobilize and face their enemies Austria-Hungary and Germany.


Czar Nicholas II was told of the dangers of not mobilizing in 1914.


This would lead to the defeat of Russia and her allies of which the Russian Generals were not ready for such to happen.


France’s General Victor-Constant Michel was fired for proposing a defensive war against Germany.


Most members of the military leadership wanted a military offensive against Germany which explains why Plan 17 was adopted by the French leaders.


Military officials gained power in France as in other states.


In Austria-Hungary, the army leader Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf had planned the invasion of Serbia but was against fighting two fronts with Russia and Serbia.

Franz Conrad expected victory in 6 weeks only.


He expected Russia to mobilize in 30 days whilst Austria-Hungary defeat Serbia in two weeks.

Immediately after the Sarajevo Franz Conrad was advocating for the invasion of Serbia early in July 1914.


Military leaders were seen as heroes in their respective nations.

The military leaders in all the great power states are also to blame for the outbreak of the First World War


It is them the military leaders that promoted armaments as early as 1900.

Besides building strategic railroads, they came up with war plans and got their governments to be involved in the Naval and Arms races.

They influenced the increase in military expenses as well as conscriptions and large reserve forces.

They also took over the leadership positions from the politicians.


The influence and advice of the military leaders could not be avoided in the July of 1914 after the Sarajevo Incident.
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