Kaiser Wilhelm II was accused of harrying the Austro-Hungarian government into attacking Serbia; German militarism was condemned for fuelling the pre-war arms race; German nationalism was accused of poisoning foreign relations and diplomacy.
One of the first scholarly accounts to assert these views was , published by French historian Pierre Renouvin in 1925.
In 1928 American historian Sidney Fay published , after spending several years examining European government archives and documents.
Fay contended that while the Central Powers were, on balance, more responsible for the war, Germany should be burdened with all of the blame.
The historiography of World War I is extensive, diverse and often complex.
As might be expected of a significant historical event lasting four years and spanning many parts of the globe, studies of the Great War has raised many questions and issues.It even handed out free copies from German embassies.While historians in the Weimar Republic sought to clear Germany’s name, others chose their own path.An American historian, Barnes was initially anti-German but he later switched positions to argue against US involvement in the war.In his controversial 1926 book, , Barnes named France and Russia as the two nations most liable for the cataclysm of 1914.Seldom have attitudes and beliefs regarding the causation of an event changed as rapidly or as continually as with that war.Hardly a decade has passed that has not witnessed a significant shift in the dominant interpretation.The Kaiser’s role in the July crisis had been drastically overstated, Fay argued; it was the governments of Austria-Hungary, Russia and Serbia who were chiefly responsible for taking the final steps toward war.Fay’s more balanced perspective delighted the , which rushed a German-language edition into print.This was politically motivated: Berlin hoped to undermine or invalidate Article 231 (the ‘war guilt’ clause) of the Treaty of Versailles and force renegotiation of Germany’s reparations debt.The project was the funding of research by Harry Elmer Barnes.