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.