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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail
The Origins of the First World War
Taught by: Volker R. Berghahn

Description
The First World War, 1914 to 1919, has been called the "primordial catastrophe of the twentieth century." It was the largest global conflict yet seen, leading to the deaths of millions and the devastation of parts of Western Europe. Europe's dominance as a world power was destroyed, and the war's political, economic, and social repercussions were felt throughout the century. In this e–seminar Volker R. Berghahn, Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University, explores the international developments and pressures, and the decisions made by German leaders that inexorably led to this disastrous war. Photographs, maps, and primary documents complement Professor Berghahn's dramatic and lucid account.



E-Seminar Trailer (RealVideo Clip) Video Preview
Professor Berghahn welcomes students to his e-seminar.

E-Seminar Length: 3-5 hours
Start Date: Anytime
Credits: Not-for-Credit
Prerequisites: None
Moderator: None
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni: FREE

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E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•   Gain an overview of European developments between 1900 and 1914 that led to the First World War.

•   Learn about German and Austro-Hungarian strategies and decisions made during the "July Crisis" of 1914.

•   Consider Germany's degree of responsibility for the start of the war.

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Outline
1. Introduction
2. Precipitating Scenes
3. June 28, 1914: Sarajevo
4. August 1, 1914: Berlin
5. Structural Origins: 1900–1914
      Greeting the New Century
      Colonization and Competition
      Arms and Alliances
      The Idea of "Preventive War"
6. June 28 to August 1
      All-Out War or Limited Strategy?
      The Limited War Strategy Fails
      "Making Us Appear as the Attacked"
7. Conclusion

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
Volker R. Berghahn grew up in Hamburg, Germany. He began his studies at Gottingen University. He holds graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of London, and Mannheim University. Professor Berghahn has been on the faculties of the University of East Anglia, Warwick University, and Brown University, where he was given an endowed chair in 1992. In 1998 he joined the faculty of Columbia University as the Seth Low Professor of History.

Professor Berghahn's research interests have ranged over most periods of modern German and European history. He has written on the sociopolitical origins of the German naval buildup prior to the First World War, paramilitarism in the Weimar Republic, army propaganda during the Nazi period, German business elites and the Americanization of German businesses after 1945, and the role of American philanthropic foundations in Europe during the Cold War. His most important publications include Der Stahlhelm: Bund der Frontsoldaten, 1918–1935 (1966); Der Tirpitz-Plan (1972); Germany and the Approach of War in 1914 (1973; 2d ed. 1993); Militarism: The History of an International Debate, 1861–1979 (1982); Modern Germany: Society, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century (1987); The Americanization of West German Industry, 1945–1973 (1987); Otto A. Friedrich: Ein politischer Unternehmer, 1902–1975 (1993); Imperial Germany, 1871–1914: Economy, Society, Culture, and Politics (1994); and America and the Intellectual Cold Wars in Europe (2001).

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Recommended Reading
Berghahn, Volker R. Germany and the Approach of War in 1914. 2d ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1993.

Fischer, Fritz. War of Illusions: German Policies from 1911 to 1914. Translated by Marion Jackson. New York: Norton, 1975.

Herwig, Holger H., ed. The Outbreak of World War I: Causes and Responsibilities. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

Joll, James. The Origins of the First World War. 2d ed. New York: Longman, 1992.

Koch, Hans W., ed. The Origins of the First World War: Great Power Rivalry and German War Aims. London: Macmillan, 1984.

Lieven, Dominic. Russia and the Origins of the First World War. New York: St. Martin's, 1983.

Turner, L. F. C. Origins of the First World War. New York: Norton, 1967.

Williamson, Samuel R., Jr. Austria–Hungary and the Origins of the First World War. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.

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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

IBM-COMPATIBLE PC
Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MACINTOSH
MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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