Germany’s policies and ambitions were mirrored by British achievements in the late 19th Century to a certain extent. Germany was envious of Britain in many ways. An obvious factor was over the British navy, being the biggest and the finest at the time. Also Britain’s valuable possessions overseas, not only gaining global influence of its nation and culture but also using the vast amounts of natural resources provided by the colonies to power its economy.Germany could see Britain’s growth in strength and therefore attempted to imitate aspects of its foreign policy and even its culture.
Germany was ready for expansion and once again stamp down its authority within the continent as it had done during the period of unification, proving to be the most powerful and influential nation on the continent. However, this determinism to become ‘another Britain’ would only draw the two countries into conflict.It was clear that there was a need for expansion and a desire to explore new horizons after the success of the 1860s and 70s, and peace was simply uninspiring. However, the Kaiser and Chancellor were not ready to risk another war with a major power in Europe but instead would look to attack abroad, seeking vulnerable areas to claim as colonies of Germany, providing their country with prestige at little cost. The need for colonies is reiterated by Friedrich Fabri in his writing “Bedarf Deutschland der Kolonien?1″”We are convinced beyond doubt that the colonial question has become a matter of life-or death for the development of Germany. Colonies will have a salutary effect on our economic situation as well as our entire national progress.” The German’s began to take control of numerous areas in Africa and the Far East. These areas consisted of German East Africa (Tanganyika), the Kameroons (Cameroon) and the Chinese port of Wei Hai Wei as well as Kaiser Wilhelm land (Papa New Guinea).
These colonies were attained mainly by Rhenish missionaries in an attempt to spread the ‘light’ of Christianity to the ‘dark continent’. There was also an intension to abolish slavery and to civilise the conquered areas. Therefore by expanding its territories abroad to increase prestige and to spread its faith, Germany was indeed modeling itself on the Britain.In order to protect and secure these new colonies, Germany was in need for a strong naval force. This is strong evidence of Germany modeling itself on Britain.
The idea of building a large naval force in order to protect your colonies was of British origins. The Germans copied this idea and began to build their navy. Admiral Tirpitz was appointed naval secretary in 1897, and demanded an increase in the size of the German navy. A German naval law was passed in 1897 which called for the production of 20 new battleships by 1904. Another naval law was passed in 1900, seeing that 61 battleships and battle cruisers were to be built, along with the development of submarine technology. This growth meant the German navy was now the second biggest naval force in the world. Kaiser Wilhelm encouraged the building of a superior naval force making a speech in Hamburg;”We have fought for our place in the sun and have won it, it will be my business to see that we retain this place in the sun unchallenged, so that the rays of that sun may exert a fructifying influence on our foreign trade and traffic” This is another way of how the Germans modeled themselves on the British.
The importance of prestige and economic development, like Britain, were important factors of German society. Lastly, industry was important for the development of Germany.Its ambitions were to encourage an industrial revolution, like that of Britain, realizing that Britain had become powerful by producing a majority of the worlds materials such as steel and iron, making the country economically developed and therefore powerful and self sufficient. However, Germany saw British isolationism as a downfall and wished to secure lands that were ceased during the 1860s and 70s and needed to be the most powerful country on the continent in order to achieve high levels of security from the surrounding major powers, such as France and Austria.This leads on to unsuccessful attempts from the Germans to model itself on Britain. Germany was never able to create dominions in the same way as Britain.
Many German conservatives actually opposed the idea of colonialism. Few German settlers ever went to the Far East and central Africa, partly because of the reputation for being the “white man’s grave” but also because of the many deadly diseases that were found there, such as malaria and yellow fever. These captured areas in Africa and Asia did not provide prosperous lives, with little opportunity for a successive business. The British however, were settling in their thousands to the colonies of Australia and Canada, until they became the majority and began to develop towns and cities, creating their own governments and laws, much like that of their home land.In Africa the British sent young politicians to be given high ranking jobs in local governments.
This enabled Britain to run their colonies effectively and exactly the way they wanted it. This allowed the exports of raw materials, something Germany was never able to accomplish on a large scale due to the lack of minerals provided in the central and western African colonies it had claimed. Hunting was a favourite pastime for many British upper class men. Africa provided this for many of these men, however, the Germans were not fond of hunting in the same way, which gave them another incentive not to go abroad. This shows that although Germany did model itself on Britain in terms of colonial expansion, however, Germany did not instigate the same authority over the local population simply because Germans were not interested in settling in Africa and Asia. This is how the Germans did not model themselves on the British.
Another way in which Germany did not model itself, to an extent, on the British, is that German intentions were not to match the size of the British fleet. The Germans believed in risk theory, if the German navy was big enough than the British would dare not attack because of the major casualties it would cost them. Instead the British would decide to ally with Germany to protect their own interests. This proves that although the Germans may have modeled themselves on Britain it was for a different purpose, for military security enabling peaceful diplomatic relations, rather than for the protection of its colonies.It is clear form the two point stated earlier on that Germany did not model itself on Britain to some extent, however there were other systems in which were completely different, such as Germany’s domestic policy. Most significantly, Germany was not prepared to become more liberal, the Kaiser remained head of state and above the semi democratically elected body of Parliament. The Chancellor was appointed directly by the Kaiser and could be dismissed by him and only him. The parliament had hardly any power, however Bismarck had tried to come to terms with parliament as many times as possible to prevent the public from supporting liberalism in great numbers.
Bismarck was also very protective of trade interests within the German nation, and by introducing protective German import policies, it would enable alliances with political parties in the Reichstag. Bismarck also rejected free trade ideas of the British and instead set up a series of protective tariffs on imports. This would stimulate domestic economic growth, especially in agriculture as it prevented imports of cheap Russian grain. Bismarck also kept the idea of conscription, the more liberal British governments did not believe in the idea of forcing young men into the military. By keeping conscription, Bismarck was able to keep the populace under his authority. Military positions were a part of social prestige and the majority of the German elite were given military titles.
It is clear that Germany modeled itself on Britain to some extent, however were unable to retain aspects of British government and culture, because they completely opposed their own. Germany was able to accomplish global expansion through colonial powers however were not able to fully exploit these lands. Instead, Germany was adapting to new found policies, keeping its culture, being more militaristic and therefore much more hostile to its surrounding nations.