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The Rivalry Between Germany And Britain

2171 words - 9 pages

The Rivalry between Germany and Britain

The direct cause of the First World War, the spark that set it off in other words, was the assassination of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand, who was heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife by a Serbian student in Sarajevo in June 1914. A month later Austria declared war against Serbia. This local warfare brought Russia, Germany and France straight into fight, and in the end got other European Powers such as Britain, and even Japan and America involved thus became a world wide armed conflict. There are many arguments that have been made among historians about grounds of such war. So many theories have been found, and discussed ...view middle of the document...

In the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, both industrial and democratic revolution dominated the power map of the world. Britain was the largest empire in the world at the time. Her advanced technology enabled her to have remained the premier of European Powers for a long time. Although, in the late nineteenth century Europe saw Germany's sustained economic growth backed by her own version of successful industrial revolution. "Germany", in Bismarck's words, was "saturated" with advantage in population, Geographical position, and army and industrial strength. Under Wilhelmine dynasty she took off into the slot of the leading continental nation. At this point Britain had seen Germany's sustained expansion as a threat, and there began international competition between Germany and Britain. By 1914 Germany had become Europe's industrial superpower. She had caught up with, and in some areas already exceeded, Britain's level in terms of production.

The most competitive aspect of this rivalry could be seen in their naval expansion. Britain always had been proud of her world-largest navy. The navy was made bigger and stronger than any other powers by far. This was because the British thought having effective sea power crucial to protect their empire and to maintain the sea routes between the different colonies. According to Robert Wolfson and John Laver, Britain had thirty-three battleships and one hundred- thirty cruisers in 1896, while Germany had only six battleships and four cruisers in the same year. Then so-called the Navy Laws were passed in Germany in attempt to provide more warships and men-power, and to maintain ports. Admiral Tirpitz, the secretary to the navy and chief of the German Admiralty, operated this plan and was responsible for naval construction. "The first Navy Law (1897) proposed the building of seven battleships and nine cruisers before 1904.... A second Navy Law, approved in 1900, proposed building three battleships each year over a 20-year period. The third Navy Law (1906) increased the tonnage of the ships and added six cruisers to the annual programme" (Robert Wolfson and John Lever, 1996). On maintaining German sea power, Tirpitz was convinced that German Navy should be so strong that other powers would not consider risking a war against her. He believed that this would paradoxically result in keeping her out of war. While following the plan, Tirpitz and his minister always had Britain in mind. Such extreme naval expansion policy made Britain and other Powers suspicious hence built up a degree of anxiety throughout Europe in the long run.

Why did Germany want to have such strong navy in the first place? What was the Germans' intention? Historians' opinions vary on this matter. In his book James Joll suggests that the German naval expansion was an aspect of both her ambition to pursue the premier status and superpower of European countries and of her domestic situation within the empire,...

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