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Contestability worksheet 2014

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The BIG IDEAS
in History
Contestability
Contestability refers to the debate that occurs when
historians interpret past events differently.
1. Read the explanation of Contestability.
2. Below are summaries of opinions put forward by
historians on who was responsible for World War
One. These are an example of contestability.
Which country was most responsible for the outbreak of WW1?
a) Germany was responsible for World War One because it offered a ‘blank cheque’ to Austria-Hungary giving it
the support to start a war against Serbia. (Sir Max Hastings, Military Historian)
b) Serbia bore the greatest responsibility for the war because of it nationalism, expansionism and support for the
Black Hand Movement. Austria-Hungary bore only slightly less responsibility because of its over reaction to the
assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. (Sir Richard J. Evans, University of Cambridge)
c) Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia were responsible for the war. Assassinations of political figures were
relatively common before 1914 and did not usually lead to war. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand provided
Austria-Hungary with an opportunity to crush Serbia. Germany encouraged Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia. This
threat led to Russia, Serbia’s ally putting its armies on a war footing. Germany was frightened by Russia’s move
and declared war on Russia and France. (Dr Heather Jones, London School of Economics)
Source: World War One: 10 Interpretations of who started WWI. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26048324
Why might historians disagree on which country was most responsible for the outbreak of WW1?
© Tirine Publishing. Web: www.tirine.com
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