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Anglo-German relations from 1890 to 1914

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  1. Introduction
  2. Its development over the years
  3. It economic policy
  4. Conclusion

"In Europe there are two major forces which are opposing and irreconcilable; two great nations seeking to expand their influence to the world", writes a journalist from the Saturday Review, a famous British newspaper on 11 September 1897. The Treaty of Frankfurt of 1871, which marked the end of the war between Germany and France, marked hegemony in the continent. From this period began the influence of Europe in all fields. This was the time of the great explorations, the occupation of untapped territories, and evangelization of indigenous policy, particularly by France and Great Britain. The latter had a deep sense of security due to its insularity, the flourishing state of its economy and its most developed navy. With this supremacy, Britain feared no competition.

Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1862 to 1890 and chancellor of the German Empire from 1871 to 1890, preferred to consolidate German unity and dedication to maintain peace between European powers rather than seeking to give Germany a global influence. The decade that followed the proclamation of the German Empire was marked by the hegemony of the latter on the European continent. To what extent can we say that the Anglo-German relations played a role in triggering the First World War?

The two hegemonies, Germany and England did not engage in a true rivalry, since they did not pursue the same goals. Yet from 1890, international relations and therefore the Anglo-German relations, would be profoundly changed with the accession of William II in June 1888 as head of the Reich shortly after the departure of Chancellor Bismarck who was replaced by the Chancellor Caprivi. The new emperor abandoned his role as arbiter of Europe and led Germany to oppose not only France, but particularly England. In 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War, both countries were part of the two antagonistic blocs which consumed Europe. To what extent can we say that the Anglo-German relations have played a role in triggering the First World War?

From 1890, there has been a breach of the international balance: Germany was aware of the dangers of English isolationism. Yet the possibility of rapprochement between the two countries was discussed, but its failure led to the formation in Europe of two antagonistic blocs and the encirclement of the Reich. Germany tried at all costs from 1905 to isolate England, breaking its friendships, but the failure of negotiations led to the declaration of war from England to Germany in 1914.

It does not seemed to be the diplomatic dominance of Germany in Europe, which explained the growing rivalry between Anglo-Germanic from 1890. One cause that has been most often advanced is the colonial and economic competition between the two countries, but it seems that the naval weapons have played a much larger role.

This rivalry was expressed primarily in terms of colonial questions, not because Germany and Britain want to take control of the same regions of the world, but because Germany decided on several occasions to support people who revolted against the British presence in their country.

Tags: Anglo-German relations, encirclement of the Reich, Otto von Bismarck

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