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Foreign Policy and Empire. “there is not a diplomatic tradition which has not been swept away... The balance of power has been entirely destroyed.” Benjamin.

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Presentation on theme: "Foreign Policy and Empire. “there is not a diplomatic tradition which has not been swept away... The balance of power has been entirely destroyed.” Benjamin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Foreign Policy and Empire

2 “there is not a diplomatic tradition which has not been swept away... The balance of power has been entirely destroyed.” Benjamin Disraeli


4 After 1871 Germany needed peace and stability in order to consolidate the gains of the Wars of Unification. Bismarck thus needed to persuade Europe that Germany was a “satiated power”. The key to German security was keeping France isolated. There were 5 Great Powers so Germany always needed to be part of a bloc of 3. The nightmare scenario of encirclement and a war on two fronts needed to be avoided at all costs.

5 The Dreikaiserbund (1873) An informal agreement that contained no binding military alliance but committed all three powers to consult on matters of common interest. The Dual Alliance (1879) Signed between Germany and Austria-Hungary. Each agreed to come to the others aid in the event of war with Russia or to remain neutral in a war with any other power. The treaty was to last for 5 years, but in the event remained valid until 1918. The Three Emperor’s Agreement (1881) Germany, Austria-Hungary & Russia agreed to remain neutral in the event of any of them being involved in a war with another power. The Balkans divided into spheres of influence. The Triple Alliance (1882) Between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. Germany & Austria agreed to intervene if Italy were attacked by France. Italy agreed to support Germany if she were attacked by France. The Reinsurance Treaty (1887) Germany and Russia agreed to remain neutral in the event of either one of them being involved in a war with a third power.

6 Bismarck was generally ambivalent about colonial expansion, considering an overseas empire to be an expensive indulgence. But public pressure for a colonial empire led to the acquisition of a number of territories in Africa. The Berlin Conference of 1884-5 laid down the rules for European expansion in Africa and granted colonies to Germany. However, Bismarck’s flirtation with colonialism was short-lived – by 1887 he was resisting pressure to acquire more colonies on the grounds that to do so would needlessly antagonise Britain. Punch cartoon depicting Bismarck as the “irrepressible Tourist” (1885)

7 German Acquisitions in Africa 1884-85 Source: Farmer & Stiles, The Unification of Germany 1815-1919


9 Wilhelm II Imperial Chancellors Leo von Caprivi 1890-1894 Chlodwig zu Hohenloe -Schillingfurst 1894-1900 Bernhard von Bülow 1900-1909 Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg 1909-1917 Minister for the Navy: Alfred von Tirpitz Philipp zu Eulenburg

10 Deutscher Kolonialverein (German Colonial Association): Founded 1882. Campaigned for the establishment of German colonies. Membership had reached 9,000 by 1884. Merged with the Society for German Colonization in 1887 to form the Deutsche Koloialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-German League): Founded in 1891 by Alfred Hugenberg & Karl Peters. Radical right-wing nationalist organization which supported Weltpolitik and saw itself as an unofficial watchdog, critic and advisor to successive governments. Had 8,601 members in 1896, rising to over 20,000 in 1900. Deutscher Flottenverein (German Navy League): Founded in 1898 with just over 14,000 members. Campaigned for an enlarged German fleet and supported Weltpolitik. Had strong links with big business and Conservative politicians. Had over 330,000 members in 1914.

11 Not a coherent policy. Reflected the Kaiser’s anti-Russian and pro-British sympathies. 1890: Germany allows the Reinsurance Treaty to lapse Russia no longer considered Germany’s natural ally. Considered incompatible with Germany’s other commitments. Overtures to Britain Close dynastic relationship. 1890: Anglo-German Convention. Result: pushes Russia into the arms of France.

12 “We definitely do not feel the need to have a finger in every pie. But we believe that it is inadvisable, from the outset, to exclude Germany from competition with other nations in lands with a rich and promising future.... We see it as our foremost task to foster and cultivate the interests of our shipping, our trade and our industry, particularly in the East.” Bernhard von Bülow (1897)

13 A more aggressive and assertive foreign policy after 1897. A clear rejection of Bismarck’s ‘continental policy’ in favour of the ‘World Policy’ (Weltpolitik). The emphasis on the expansion of Germany’s overseas empire – intended to demonstrate her power and prestige to the other Great Powers. 1897: Seizure of the Chinese port of Kiao-Chow & Shantung province claimed as a German ‘sphere of influence’. 1898: Purchase of Pacific islands (the Carolines, Marshalls and Marianas) from Spain. 1899: Acquisition of the Samoan Islands. 1900: Germany leads multi-national intervention force after the Boxer Rebellion.

14 Fritz Fischer et. al. → Three main aims of Weltpolitik: to create a large German Navy demonstrating her claim to be a world power, a Central African Empire (Mittelafrika) and a Central European customs union (Mitteleuropa). All part of a master plan to achieve World Power (Weltmacht). Wehler, Berghahn, Geiss → Weltpolitik motivated by domestic concerns and a substitute for unwanted social change (‘Social Imperialism’). David Kaiser → Weltpolitik was ‘a patriotic umbrella, not a magic wand’ – rather than being designed to outflank the Socialists, it was a means to unite the Conservatives, National Liberals and the Centre Party behind the government. Appearances more important than realities.

15 A world empire required a strong navy to defend it. In the 1890s Germany had only the world’s 7 th biggest navy, but its share of world trade was almost as large as Britain’s. 1898: Alfred von Tirpitz appointed State Secretary for the Navy. 1898: First Navy Law – provided funds for the construction of 16 new battleships. 1900: Second Navy law – allowed for the construction of 3 ships a year for the next 6 years. 1906: Britain launches HMS Dreadnought, a revolution in naval technology which was thought to have made all existing battleships obsolete. 1908-1912: Naval building stepped up, leading to a dangerous and expensive arms race with Britain.

16 1902: Anglo-Japanese Alliance Marked an end to Britain’s isolation. Led to negotiations with France, as Britain feared that growing Russo- Japanese tensions would drag the UK and France into war. 1904: Entente Cordiale Not an alliance as such. France agreed to give Britain a free-hand in Egypt in return for acceptance of her domination of Morocco. Opened the way for future co-operation. 1907: Anglo-Russian Convention Persia, Tibet and Afghanistan divided into spheres of influence. Further aligned Britain with France and Russia against Germany and the Triple Alliance. Cartoon depicting Britain walking off with the ‘trollop’ France, while Germany pretends not to care.

17 July 1911: Germany sends to gunboat Panther to the Moroccan port of Agadir in an attempt to force territorial concessions from the French. Alarmed by these bullying tactics Britain threatens to intervene. Austria makes it clear that she will not fight over Morocco and Germany is forced to back down. An example of Weltpolitik at its worst.

18 First Balkan War (1912): Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro wrest control of Macedonia from Turkey. Second Balkan War (1913): Bulgaria attacks Serbia and is decisively defeated by the Greeks and Serbs. Anglo-German co-operation secures a settlement in the Balkans at the London Conference. Germany initially restrains Austria, But after 1913 she agrees to back her ally in any future confrontation with Serbia (and by extension Russia).

19 All the Great Powers entered into an arms race after 1900. There was a desire for some kind of military advantage over the most likely opponent in a future war. Germany was particularly concerned that Russia’s military reforms (due to be completed in 1917) would make her unbeatable. Source: Farmer & Stiles, The Unification of Germany 1815-1919

20 German Unification upset the balance of power. Despite Bismarck’s best efforts, Weltpolitik convinced the other Great Powers that Germany was dangerous to the peace and stability of Europe. But Germany’s foreign policy based on the principle of the search for security. By 1914 Germany felt surrounded by hostile powers, was slowly being bankrupted by the arms race, and under pressure from social change at home. War was thus seen by some as the ideal way out of Germany’s problems.

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