Evidence or advice on history analysis essay (in-class, tomorrow)

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OscarF
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Hi all,

Basically I have in-class essay to write tomorrow however we're allowed to have gathered all of our evidence, made our conclusions (and to an extent almost seem to write the whole essay) beforehand to use when we write our essay up in the one hour allotted. I just thought it would be great if anyone had any knowledge or evidence on the topic that I could improve or how they think I should structure my essay / what it needs to include. Below I'll add the question as well as our given planning sheet and mark scheme.

The question is: Which historian’s argument about the origins of the First World War do you agree with most? (Out of Max Hastings, Richard Evans and Gerhard Hirschfeld).

For each historian we are expected to discuss: How much responsibility they think the country (or countries) should take, what evidence there is to support that and if we agree/think it's a fair judgement.

As mentioned previously below will be a copy of both the planning sheet and mark scheme.

I would be absolutely delighted if any one of you were to help.

All the best,
Oscar.
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OscarF
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This is the planning sheet and mark scheme previously mentioned...
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by OscarF)
Hi all,

Basically I have in-class essay to write tomorrow however we're allowed to have gathered all of our evidence, made our conclusions (and to an extent almost seem to write the whole essay) beforehand to use when we write our essay up in the one hour allotted. I just thought it would be great if anyone had any knowledge or evidence on the topic that I could improve or how they think I should structure my essay / what it needs to include. Below I'll add the question as well as our given planning sheet and mark scheme.

The question is: Which historian’s argument about the origins of the First World War do you agree with most? (Out of Max Hastings, Richard Evans and Gerhard Hirschfeld).

For each historian we are expected to discuss: How much responsibility they think the country (or countries) should take, what evidence there is to support that and if we agree/think it's a fair judgement.

As mentioned previously below will be a copy of both the planning sheet and mark scheme.

I would be absolutely delighted if any one of you were to help.

All the best,
Oscar.
I'm too late to help with your essay - sorry.

However, I'm interested in the choice of the three historians. Who came up with them?
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OscarF
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
I'm too late to help with your essay - sorry.

However, I'm interested in the choice of the three historians. Who came up with them?
Never mind - it went fairly well in the end. I think the historians were chosen by my teacher from a textbook which talked about 10 or so - then he picked 3. Anyway, if you're interested in reading the end result, I'll add it below.
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OscarF
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Here it is!
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by OscarF)
Never mind - it went fairly well in the end. I think the historians were chosen by my teacher from a textbook which talked about 10 or so - then he picked 3. Anyway, if you're interested in reading the end result, I'll add it below.
I can almost guarantee that your teacher came up with the list from here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26048324

The main reason I asked is that I had doubts about the selection of historians used. One of your three (Max Hastings) isn't really an academic historian. He's a journalist who writes very well on historical subjects, particularly on military history. A better choice for blaming Germany would be David Stevenson, also mentioned in the BBC article. He is particularly good in comparing Germany's recklessness in 1914 with their similarly dangerous gamble to resume unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917.

Of the others, Richard Evans, is an excellent historian but is in no way a specialist on the origins of WW1. His argument that Serbia was mostly to blame is very superficial and not really echoed by any other historian I know - though Christopher Clark's book Sleepwalkers is very good on the Serbian role. Clark also comes to similar overall conclusions as Hirschfeld.

If you want a better contrary view then there's always Sean McMeekin. The BBC article characterises him as blaming everybody, but that's not really his opinion. The final chapter of his book July 1914 analyses the responsibilities of all parties and casts blame accordingly. Yet he is quite clear as to where he thinks the major portion lies: "The decision for European war was made by Russia on the night of 29 July 1914, when Tsar Nicholas II, advised unanimously by his advisers, signed the order for general mobilisation."
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by OscarF)
Here it is!
It's a long time since I did A-level history and I would be interested to see what mark you get, especially under the timed conditions.

Without treading on your teacher's toes, there's a few specific points I would make...

The first Hastings paragraph says that Germany declaring war on Russia brought France and GB in as well - which isn't true for the latter, as you explain elsewhere.

The Schlieffen Plan wasn't 3 years old. It was devised in 1905 and modified over the next 9 years. It's somewhat of an exaggeration to say that it's aim was to kill ALL the opposing French troops in 6 weeks! More seriously, while the Schlieffen Plan can be criticised in many ways, it's not fair to say that it meant that Germany was planning the war for years in advance. All nations drew up detailed plans for war, including Russia and France.

I think that the main problem with the Evans section is that his basic thesis is rubbish, as I said in my post above. You are therefore left struggling to marshal your argument. That said, you can't really say that "all" Serbs "had and still have" a strong sense of nationalism. You also go over the top in arguing that Serbia had many powerful allies; they didn't, they were reliant on Russia alone. You also say that Serbia should have been aware of their powerful position. Again this isn't true, Serbia was a relatively small, weak country and when faced with Austro-Hungarian demands panicked to such an extent that the prime minister was afraid to receive them personally. You are also clutching at straws when you mention a couple of times that Serbia longed for and needed independence - it was already an independent country.
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OscarF
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(Original post by ageshallnot)
It's a long time since I did A-level history and I would be interested to see what mark you get, especially under the timed conditions.

Without treading on your teacher's toes, there's a few specific points I would make...

The first Hastings paragraph says that Germany declaring war on Russia brought France and GB in as well - which isn't true for the latter, as you explain elsewhere.

The Schlieffen Plan wasn't 3 years old. It was devised in 1905 and modified over the next 9 years. It's somewhat of an exaggeration to say that it's aim was to kill ALL the opposing French troops in 6 weeks! More seriously, while the Schlieffen Plan can be criticised in many ways, it's not fair to say that it meant that Germany was planning the war for years in advance. All nations drew up detailed plans for war, including Russia and France.

I think that the main problem with the Evans section is that his basic thesis is rubbish, as I said in my post above. You are therefore left struggling to marshal your argument. That said, you can't really say that "all" Serbs "had and still have" a strong sense of nationalism. You also go over the top in arguing that Serbia had many powerful allies; they didn't, they were reliant on Russia alone. You also say that Serbia should have been aware of their powerful position. Again this isn't true, Serbia was a relatively small, weak country and when faced with Austro-Hungarian demands panicked to such an extent that the prime minister was afraid to receive them personally. You are also clutching at straws when you mention a couple of times that Serbia longed for and needed independence - it was already an independent country.
A-Level History - a bit off there, only year 9 History... Anyway, my teacher did point out 1 or 2 of the things you mentioned but overall I got quite a solid mark - 24/25.
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ageshallnot
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(Original post by OscarF)
A-Level History - a bit off there, only year 9 History... Anyway, my teacher did point out 1 or 2 of the things you mentioned but overall I got quite a solid mark - 24/25.
Ah! In that case I can see why your mark is so high. Your essay looks like an A-level essay. I also understand why your teacher used those 10 historians rather than some others of greater relevance. Congratulations!
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