March 19: Samuel R. Williamson, Jr. on July 1914 Revisited and Revised, or “The End of the German Paradigm”

The issue of German responsibility has long dominated discussions about the July 1914 crisis that preceded the First World War. That paradigm is now eroding. Recent research shows a more aggressive Franco-Russian alliance, a more placid Anglo-German relationship, a more assertive Austria-Hungary, and internal crises among all of the great powers on the eve of Sarajevo. In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, Samuel R. Williamson, Jr. addressed this paradigm shift, noting findings that suggest different approaches to 1914 and suggesting new, comparative ways to conceptualize the July crisis.

Williamson has taught at West Point, Harvard, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the University of the South. He has written frequently about the origins of the First World War. His books include The Politics of Grand Strategy: Britain and France Prepare for War (1969) and Austria-Hungary and the Origins of the First World War (1991). His recent articles have focused on the roles of General Henry Wilson and Count Leopold Berchtold in the July crisis. He has often argued that Russian actions in 1914 require reevaluation and that German actions should be judged from a comparative, rather than unilateralist, perspective.

A webcast and podcast of his seminar are available at July 1914: Revised and Revisited.

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center (an initiative of the American Historical Association) and the Wilson Center. Wm. Roger Louis and Christian Ostermann are the co-directors. The seminar meets weekly during the academic year, January to May and September to December. See for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts. The seminar is grateful for support given by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.