BBC Debate: Was Britain right to go to war in 1914?

Helen Weinstein Chaired this Online debate on BBC on Friday 28th February -  which started at 8pm, continued during the BBC2 programme that was transmited from 9pm until 10.30pm and for the debate with Niall Ferguson following on BBC Radio5 Live between 10.30pm and 11.30pm, as the debate followed the issues afterwards - with Niall Ferguson available via a bbc interactive blog - Twitter users could send in questions and comments via @BBCww1 and tweet using the hashtag #WW1 -  we welcomed all serious input into the debate about #WW1 and more generally about how we navigate the past, especially traumatic pasts, with contested ethical dimensions...

Here are links to resources we have put together to help those who wanted to participate in the debate, with a focus on the work of Ferguson and Hastings, and their clashing views:

A debate scheduled for 8pm on Friday 28th February. Send us your comments or follow @BBCWW1 and tweet using the hashtag #WW1.

Storify of the Twitter Debate

Many of the comments, links, and discussions that arose from the debate on Twitter from 8pm to 11:30pm can be found here:


BBC Blog of the Event

The BBC's live blog from the event, including comments from historians Tom Holland, Katherine Burk, and Jonathan Boff, can be accessed here:

Was Britain right to fight WW1? History Extra readers divided

History Extra, Monday 17 February 2014

A poll asking whether Britain was right to have gone to war in 1914 has revealed a split in opinion among History Extra readers.


Lions and donkeys: 10 big myths about World War One debunked

Dan Snow for BBC News, Monday 20 January 2014.

Dan Snow highlights ten common misconceptions about the First World War.


The Necessary War, BBC Two, review

The Telegraph, Tuesday 25 February 2014.

Max Hastings' BBC TWO documentary comes out victorious against Niall Ferguson's very different approach to the First World War.


Was Britain right to enter the Great War?

The Radio Times, Tuesday 25 February 2014.

An article comparing the views of Max Hastings and Niall Ferguson in relation to the question ‘Was Britain right to enter the Great War?’


Max Hastings tells @jamieowenbbc why #ww1 was not a futile war

BBC Radio Wales audioboo, Tuesday 25 February 2014.

Journalist and historian Max Hastings argues that the First World War was completely unavoidable - because of Germany's ambition to dominate Europe.


Britain entering first world war was 'biggest error in modern history'

The Guardian, Thursday 30 January 2014.

Historian Niall Ferguson says Britain could have lived with German victory and should have stayed out of war



Niall Ferguson: “Britain should have stayed out of First World War”

History Extra Magazine, Thursday 30 January 2014

In an interview with BBC History Magazine, Ferguson says that Britain could not only have lived with a German victory in the First World War, but it would in fact have been in its “interests to stay out in 1914”.


Gary Sheffield on First World War debate: 'A German victory would have been a disaster for Britain'

History Extra Magazine, Thursday 30 January 2014

Gary Sheffield, professor of war studies at Wolverhampton University, has contested Niall Ferguson's suggestion that Britain made a terrible mistake in taking up arms in 1914.





BBC Debate: Was Britain right to go to war in 1914?


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