Foreign Policy 1871-1890
World War I
Strategies and Goals

The Kaiserreich
Foreign Policy, 1890-1914

Bismarck retired in 1890, at odds with Kaiser Wilhelm II. (since 1888). When a Russian delegation came to Berlin in 1891 to renew the mutual defense treaty, the German side showed them the German-Austrian mutual defense treaty, pointed out that the German-Austrian and German-Russian treaties contradicted themselves and that the new German administration would stick to it's Austrian ally. Thus, the Russians were dumbfounded. In 1894, Russia and France signed a DUAL ALLIANCE, which later was strengthened in the ENTENTE.
Unlike Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm II. favoured colonial expansion, and supported the rapid expansion of the GERMAN FLEET. This policy had to raise eyebrows in London, for Germany's relatively moderate colonial Empire did not require such a fleet and Germany's fleet was a challenge to the British navy's supremacy on the seas.

Diplomatic blunders committed by Bismarck's successors in the Foreign Office and the Kaiser Wilhelm's (and many others') dream of an Empire, a place in the sun, destroyed all what Bismarck had accomplished. Germany's two remaining allies, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were hanging on to outdated political structures, heading for implosions, ballast rather than assets. Other allies, Italy and Rumania, proved to be unreliable, opportunistically switching sides in 1915/16.
Over the years, Germany continued to alienate other powers : during the BOER WAR, Kaiser Wilhelm II. sent a telegram to London expressing his sympathy with the Boer cause. When France wanted to declare a protectorate over Morocco in 1906 annd again 1911 (and had almost everyone else's approval) Germany interfered, ostensively for the sake of Moroccan independence, only to be bought off by French cession of territory in the jungles at the Congo river.
Germany's ostentative use of it's arms in the suppression of the BOXER REBELLION (1900) did not help to win sympathies either.

DOCUMENTS Documents on the Kaiserreich, from psm-data; scroll down for Foreign Policy
April 7th 1906 : General Act of the Algeciras Conference relating to the Affairs of Morocco, from warflag.com
Letters from the Kaiser to the Czar copied from Government Archives in Petrograd 1895-1914, from World War I Document Archive
December 11, 1899 : Bernhard von Bülow, Hammer and Anvil Speech before the Reichstag, excerpt, from World War I Document Archive
July 1900 : Kaiser Wilhelm II. and German Interests in China, Speeches Wilhelmshaven July 2nd and Bremerhaven July 27th, from H-net
The Schlieffen Plan 1905, from World War I Document Archive
Feb. 8th-12th 1912 : The Lord Haldane Mission, from World War I Document Archive
Dec. 5th 1912 : Amended version of the Triple Alliance, from World War I Document Archive, click here for the French original
Feb. 9th 1909 : Franco-German Treaty over Morocco, from warflag.com
March 31st 1905 : Councillor von Schön reports to the Foreign Office on Kaiser Wilhelm's landing in Tangier, from warflag.com
German Diplomatic Documents : The Sino-Japanese war, and the East-Asiatic Triple Alliance, 1894-1895, from Mt. Holyoke
My Mission to London, 1912-14, by Prince Lichnowsky, from BYU
Botschafter in Paris Münster an Kanzler Hohenlohe-Sch., 1898, from cliotexte, in French, on colonial tensions
Medal : Reception of Kaiser Wilhelm II. in London, 1891, from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
REFERENCE Friedrich von Bernhardi, Germany and the Next War (1911) 1912, posted by Gurenberg Library Online
Paul Kennedy, The Position of the Powers, 1885-1918 : Germany, pp.209-215 in : Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, NY : Vintage (1987) 1989

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 15th 2007

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