Sir Max Hastings and Niall Ferguson: Was Britain right to fight in World War One?

Posted on on 02 March 2014
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As part of the BBC's World War One season to mark the Centenary, historians Sir Max Hastings and Niall Ferguson have laid out different viewpoints on Britain's role in the conflict.

In a one-off documentary, Sir Max argues that Germany's elites were intent on dominating Europe, and that after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914, Berlin encouraged Austria-Hungary to invade Serbia.

Germany's support for Austria-Hungary escalated a local conflict into a global war.

Sir Max also argues that once the Germans decided to invade France through neutral Belgium, it was impossible for Britain to remain out of the conflict.

Safeguarding its own European and global interests, as well as guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality, meant that war was unavoidable for Britain.

Niall Ferguson offers a different reading of the First World War.

In his programme for the BBC, he argued that it was Britain's entry into the conflict which turned it into a global war. The UK's declaration of war on Germany in August 1914, Ferguson argues, paved the way for decades of totalitarianism and genocide.

Source: BBC World War One

Images courtesy of the BBC World War One season

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News