Germany was aggressive and warlike in its foreign policy in the years 1899 – 1914
The purpose of this essay is to analyse to what extent do the sources agree that Germany was aggressive and warlike between the years 1899 – 1914. World War One broke out in 1914, and Germany was heavily involved in the war, therefore, the aggressiveness of Germany’s foreign policy at this time could be considered as one of the many contributing factors to the cause of war. Source one shows that it is not really sure if Germany is war like or not, it shows that Germany is very wary of “political envy”.
It shows that Germany is aware of an ultimatum; “In the coming century the German nation will either be the hammer or the anvil” meaning that if there is a war Germany will either be in control if they act now, or they will be defeated. It was written as a speech to the German parliament and therefore may be propaganda. It may be used for propaganda to encourage the Germany parliament into war. It is using persuasive language, and may be a device used by the German Chancellor to persuade the German parliament that war is coming and that if Germany acts now, they will win. If they don’t act they will be defeated.
The Chancellor is giving the parliament an ultimatum, encouraging them to act now. Source two is a secret memo within the British foreign office, this means that it may be more truthful and contain out spoken opinions as it was secret and not mean for anyone else to see. This source shows that Germany is quite warlike, saying that she has had problems with France and that she intends to take parts of Holland and Belgium. Although it says this about her it also shows sympathy towards her, “she is surrounded by governments who distrust her,” suggesting that she has choice but to act warlike due to her situation.
Source three is also a secret memo and therefore may also be more truthful towards the writer’s opinions. This source can’t seem to agree on whether Germany is warlike or not. It shows that they have “sometimes worked comfortably with Germany” showing that they can be agreeable and supportive at times. However, it also shows that “she has been extremely aggravating, sometimes unconsciously so, sometimes with intention”, showing that Germany can be difficult to work with, at times being deliberately difficult.
Source four is also a secret memo, however, this time it is by Kaiser Wilhelm II, and therefore may be more truthful toward the German point of view. This source shows that Germany is not warlike, but that Germany is actually the victim, “I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves – to use the Ausrto Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us” showing that Germany is going to be dragged in war though no fault of her own.
Source five is a poem written by Heinrich Vierordt (German), to the German soldiers after the outbreak of war in 1914. The poem, like the speech in source one, was meant to be used as a method of propaganda. To encourage and rally up the soldiers and make them ready for battle, “O Germany, hate! Slaughter thy millions of adversaries and build a monument of smoking corpses which rise up to the clouds”. This is a very powerful message, source five shows that if Germany were not aggressive and warlike before the war, they certainly were after the outbreak of war.
Especially since it has a small coastline compared to France and Italy, showing that it doesn’t need such a large navy. Also the large growing army shows that perhaps Germany is aggressive and warlike. Before the war she was building up and up an even larger army and navy. This is may imply that Germany were preparing for war, and therefore to be preparing for a war must have been warlike to expect it in the first place. In conclusion, it is in my opinion that Germany was aggressive and warlike in its foreign policy between the years 1899 – 1914.
This is because it is clear from reading the sources that Germany was difficult to work with, that she was aware of a war brewing and that that she appeared to be building up her armed forces. However, although Germany appears warlike, Germany’s aggressiveness may not have her own fault. From reading the sources one can see that Germany was “surrounded by governments who distrust her” and that when Germany was difficult to work with it was “sometimes unconsciously so”. Considering these points one can understand perhaps why Germany was warlike and aggressive.