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Teaching the First World War
Teaching the First World War

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3.2 Evaluating historical interpretations

Not everyone is convinced of the central role of the ‘blank cheque’ during the July 1914 crisis, as has already been alluded to in the document analysis in the previous section. In this final audio clip, Christopher Clark discusses whether, in his opinion, the ‘blank cheque’ is evidence for German responsibility for the outbreak of war.

Activity 7 Interpreting the evidence

Timing: Allow around 10 minutes

Listen to the audio clip and summarise Clark’s view of the ‘blank cheque’.

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Christopher Clark 3
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Described image
Figure 11 Christopher Clark

Clark argues that the ‘blank cheque’ made ‘a contribution to the escalation of the crisis’. Germans were no ‘innocent lambs’ – he says that it would be crazy to argue this way and refers to some of the revisionists who tried to make this argument in the interwar years. But he does not believe that Germany ‘bullied’ Austria and put pressure on its ally.

However, he distinguishes here between ‘pressuring for war’, which he does not think the Germans did, and ‘pressuring to secure a swift action’ so that they could then implement a ‘plausible localisation strategy’.