The Foreign Policy pursued by Germany in the years preceding 1914 was decisive in the build-up and eventual breakout of war. Although it is far from being the sole cause of the war it was the most influential and significant. The aggressive policy shown by Germany to other nations instigated the tense international relations, which meant that war was inevitable during the July crisis of 1914. The sources agree to a large extent that the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 was due to an aggressive German foreign policy with the sources agreeing that Germany was 'obsessed' with European domination, which was strengthened with the domestic issues which would be resolved if they had won the war. However, the sources also highlight, though small, the events caused by the German's fear of encirclement since the 19th century, also contributed to the outbreak of war in Europe.
Germany's aggressive foreign policy, in the long term, can be seen as a key underlining factor of war as stated by Blackbourn in source W that 'built a battle fleet aimed at the British', implying they wanted to assert their military strength which is, to a certain extent, agreed with in Source X that 'the German plan to unleash a continental war.....was fully realised.' Indeed, since Germany's unification in 1871, the Junkers had fully devoted themselves to the formulation of an effective foreign policy that was primarily concerned with the growth of their empire via annexation. As seen with the numerous bills the Reichstag and the army passed in order to ensure this would happen. For example the passing of the Navy Bill which meant the expansion of German's naval size. Equally, Fisher also supports the fact that German's foreign policy can be seen as a significant cause of war as he argues the Schleiffen plan of 1905 was a clear example of Germany's plan for European hegemony. This highlights their aggression led to war because it deliberately brought the war to west. Furthermore, he argues that the 1912 war council significantly illustrates Germany's foreign aggression. These factors show how the outbreak of WW1 in Europe in 1914 was due to an aggressive foreign policy which had been waged since the 19th century. This is because the Schlieffen Plan and Navy expansion was an attempt to show their dominance in Europe by making a conscience decision to assert their military strength.
The complex alliances formed were purely defensive at heart, they were designed and signed in order to prevent the outbreak of war, however, it should be noted that Germany's aggressive history could be the contributing factor to why these alliances collapsed and amplified the 'growing tensions' within Europe, therefore, leading to the outbreak of war in Europe. More significantly there were not particularly binding; Russia showed this in 1913 when it failed to support Serbia. In 1914 the majority of the powers that were to become involved preferred peace and in the case of Austria it only wanted a localised war in the Balkans. Germany manipulated its ally and it was the aggression Germany showed therefore that persuaded the other 'great powers' that they had to make a stand. It should be argued that German Foreign Policy that played the instrumental role in the escalation of war had its roots in the 19th century. Otto von Bismarck had unified Germany in 1871 as a result of the Prussian victory over France. The victories in the 1860's and the knowledge that Germany had the best army in the world gave them an arrogance and confidence that helped push Germany into war in 1914. Yet, some historians argue how easy it is to place undue emphasis on Germany in some respects, and under exaggerate its significance in others. Though some have suggested that Germany precipitated war by offering Austria-Hungary support in its conflict with