A. Plan of Investigation
The investigation examines Germany during the years of 1870-1914, in order to understand its motives and reasons for going to war in 1914. This will be achieved by looking at the development of the German economy, its military, its foreign policy and political situation at home, as well as important events in the nation’s recent history such as her alliances, crisis and puny wars that may have caused it to enter the conflict.
Two primary sources evaluated this investigation are from the two great leaders of Germany. The first is an extract from a letter sent by Wilhelm 11 to Austria-Hungary indicating Germany’s support for Austria-Hungary in the case of a war with Serbia and possibly the Soviet Union. The second primary source is also an extract, taken from a speech by Bismarck, stating his foreign policy was to stop any ambitions of neighboring countries, and he states how Germany had no desire to expand their territory any further.
B. Summary of Evidence
The Economy: (Layton, 11-12)
• Between 1870-1910 Germany’s population increased from 42 million to 65 million
• Germany’s coal production rose by 213% from 1890 to 1913 in comparison to the British increase of 58.6 % (Layton, 11)
• German steel production rose from 169-13698 thousands of metric tons from and German pig iron production rose from 1391-14793 (1870-1914)
• There were large deposits of iron-ore in Loraine which were taken from the French
• German workers had secure jobs and more consumer goods were available on the domestic market.
• Germany’s army doubled between 1880-1914 making it 791,000 regular land forces and 73,000 sea regulars.
• Naval Laws were passed and huge naval expansion under Alfred von Tirpitz secretary of the navy started in 1897
• The military was loyal to the Kaiser
Politics and Foreign Policy:
• Authoritarian Monarchy but the Reichstag (Lower House) was elected by a male suffrage every 5 years
• The Reichsrat (Federal council and Upper house) was represented by members from the 26 states where Prussian members had a veto over legislation.
• The Kaiser could dissolve the Reichstag with the agreement of the Bundesrat.
• Otto Van Bismarck’s policy was to avoid colonizing and focus on Europe
• Bismarck started diplomatically isolating France, signed the of Dreikaiserbund with Austria-Hungary and Russia in 1873, the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary in 1879, the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1882, and the Reassurance Treaty with Russia in 1887.
• Kaiser Wilhelm II took power and dismissed Bismarck; Bismarck disagreed with him on the treatment of Social Democratic Party and foreign policy toward Russia and England in 1890.
• Wilhelm II did not renew the Reassurance treaty with Russia and began the aggressive policy of Weltpolitik, which involved improving the army and the navy, expanding overseas colonization and increasing nationalism at home.
Events in the nation history:
• The Franco Prussian War of 1870-71, after which Germany became unified. This ended with France paying five billion Francs in war indemnity and giving up Alsace-Loraine, leaving the French with a desire for “revanche” or revenge. (Laver, 25-26)
• Wilhelm II tried but failed to use the Navy as means of pressuring the British into an Alliance because Germany had no large colonies except in the South West and South East Africa.
• Germany was left with Austria-Hungary and Italy as allies after Britain signed the triple entente with Russia and France in 1907
• The First Moroccan Crisis took place in July 1911 demanding that French Congo should be given to Germany, if France gave up its claims in Morocco.
• The outbreak of the Balkan Wars represented an important de-stabilizing factor, particularly as Germany’s main ally, Austria Hungary, was threatened by an increasingly powerful and nationalistic Serbia, which in turn