Make your own free website on

Kaiser Wilhelm II -||- Wilhelm's Chancellors -||- Admiral von Tirpitz and the Naval Race -||- Alliance with Austria-Hungary -||- Relations with Europe -||- Internal Discontent and new Social Orders -||- Industry and Economy -||- The Schlieffin Plan -||- World War I

~~~~~-To Wilhelm II's Germany-~~~~~

Tirpitz, Mahan, and the Naval Race

It can be argued that the American Naval Admiral Mahan instigated the mess.  His book spoke of the importance of a Navy to be a world power.  He drew examples from Great Britain, whose Navy was the greatest in the world.  He credited the Navy as the reason why Britain was a great world power, with colonies all around the world. 

            The Kaiser read this book many times.  He eventually said that he was ‘not reading but devouring Mahan’s book’. 

The German Secretary of the Navy- Admiral von Tirpitz, used the opportunity to increase Naval funding and perhaps for a brief time, make the navy more important than the army.  Tirpitz was a masterful politician, and often found ways to pass Navy Laws before the Reichstag’s approval. 

The Kaiser fell for the bait, and propaganda was spread to increase German nationalism in Imperialism and the Navy.  The Navy they said, would be used to increase Germany’s already powerful standing in the world.  Lands would be taken in Africa and Asia, as was the German right.  Back then, there was the widespread belief that the German/Aryan race was superior.  However, Germany entered the Colonial race too late (since Bismarck thought it unimportant) and only gained a few worthless colonies in Africa, a few small islands in the Pacific, and a tiny part of China. 

The Navy did increase nationalism, and it became trendy for middle class sons to join it.  The German Navy would soon become the second largest in the world.

Yes, second largest, because Britain saw the numbers of battleships multiplying and shot back with more of their own.  They feared Germany, as the country had continuously shown great economic and political growth, outdoing that of Britain.  They also had a policy to have a Navy twice as large as any other nation’s in the World.

The British started to built Dreadnoughts.  These were battleships so technologically advanced that all other battleships were rendered obsolete overnight.  Try as they might, the German’s could not catch up, for they did not have the money to compete with Britain.  They had already squandered enough wealth on the army, navy and only heaven knows what else. 

The Navy Wars were a major defeat for Germany; socially, economically and politically.  Socially, the Germans had lost the battle and were not pleased.  It did however, increase nationalism against Britain.  Economically, the German’s exhausted their wealth, but this was easily recovered through industry and trade.  It was politically that the damage could not have been repaired.  Until that time, Britain had been willing to deal peacefully with Germany, but German fears of ‘encirclement’ brought upon the Navy wars and other diplomatic mistakes that severed true positive political ties with Britain.  Such fears would lead Britain to join the allies and be involved in the war.