However, the decision of September 3, , was not undone, and Germany did not become a constitutional monarchy. German Empire historical nation, Germany. See Article History. Read More on This Topic. The German Empire was founded on January 18, , in the aftermath of three successful wars by the North German state…. Load Next Page. German Empire. Hawes should note that the euro was not something Germans truly voted for, either. I wonder why this book was not published for a German market. After all, it is Germans who will find it most provocative and for whom the thesis is so politically topical, with elections imminent.
Although this history is fast-paced and refreshingly different, it is also seriously problematic. But then, I come from the Frau Junker school. He publishes and broadcasts on the literary, intellectual and cultural history of Germany. Skip to main content. Google Tag Manager. Telling Trabbies from Junkers. Are Empires Always Bad? Actual industrialization only took off after in the wake of the railroad construction. Historian Thomas Nipperdey remarks:.
On the whole, industrialisation in Germany must be considered to have been positive in its effects. Not only did it change society and the countryside, and finally the world It solved the problems of population growth, under-employment and pauperism in a stagnating economy, and abolished dependency on the natural conditions of agriculture, and finally hunger.
It created huge improvements in production and both short- and long-term improvements in living standards. However, in terms of social inequality, it can be assumed that it did not change the relative levels of income. On the other hand, new problems arose, in the form of interrupted growth and new crises, such as urbanisation, 'alienation', new underclasses, proletariat and proletarian misery, new injustices and new masters and, eventually, class warfare.
After , the urban population grew rapidly, due to the influx of young people from the rural areas. Berlin grew from , in , to , inhabitants in , Hamburg from , to ,, Munich from 40, to , and Dresden from 60, to , The takeoff stage of economic development came with the railroad revolution in the s, which opened up new markets for local products, created a pool of middle managers, increased the demand for engineers, architects and skilled machinists and stimulated investments in coal and iron.
Political disunity of three dozen states and a pervasive conservatism made it difficult to build railways in the s. However, by the s, trunk lines did link the major cities; each German state was responsible for the lines within its own borders. Economist Friedrich List summed up the advantages to be derived from the development of the railway system in Lacking a technological base at first, engineering and hardware was imported from Britain.
In many cities, the new railway shops were the centres of technological awareness and training, so that by , Germany was self-sufficient in meeting the demands of railroad construction, and the railways were a major impetus for the growth of the new steel industry.
Observers found that even as late as , their engineering was inferior to Britain. However, German unification in stimulated consolidation, nationalisation into state-owned companies, and further rapid growth. Unlike the situation in France, the goal was the support of industrialisation. Eventually numerous lines criss-crossed the Ruhr area and other industrial centers and provided good connections to the major ports of Hamburg and Bremen. By , 9, locomotives pulled 43, passengers and 30, tons of freight a day. While there existed no national newspaper the many states issued a great variety of printed media, although they rarely exceeded regional significance.
In a typical town existed one or two outlets, urban centers, such as Berlin and Leipzig had dozens. The audience was limited to a few percent of male adults, chiefly from the aristocratic and upper middle class. Liberal publishers outnumbered conservative ones by a wide margin. Foreign governments bribed editors to guarantee a favorable image. After , strict press laws were enforced by Bismarck to contain the Socialists and hostile editors.
Editors focused on political commentary, culture, the arts, high culture and the popular serialized novels.
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Magazines were politically more influential and attracted intellectual authors. The Sturm und Drang romantic movement was embraced and emotion was given free expression in reaction to the perceived rationalism of the Enlightenment. Philosophical principles and methods were revolutionized by Immanuel Kant 's paradigm shift. Ludwig van Beethoven — was the most influential composer of the period from classical to Romantic music.
His use of tonal architecture in such a way as to allow significant expansion of musical forms and structures was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music. His later piano music and string quartets, especially, showed the way to a completely unexplored musical universe, and influenced Franz Schubert — and Robert Schumann — In opera, a new Romantic atmosphere combining supernatural terror and melodramatic plot in a folkloric context was first successfully achieved by Carl Maria von Weber — and perfected by Richard Wagner — in his Ring Cycle.
University professors developed international reputations, especially in the humanities led by history and philology, which brought a new historical perspective to the study of political history, theology, philosophy, language, and literature. The University of Berlin , founded in , became the world's leading university.
Von Ranke, for example, professionalized history and set the world standard for historiography. By the s mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology had emerged with world class science, led by Alexander von Humboldt — in natural science and Carl Friedrich Gauss — in mathematics. Young intellectuals often turned to politics, but their support for the failed revolution of forced many into exile.
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — Joseph von Fraunhofer , physicist and optical lens manufacturer Alexander von Humboldt — Ludwig van Beethoven — Friedrich Hegel Carl Friedrich Gauss — Two main developments reshaped religion in Germany. Across the land, there was a movement to unite the larger Lutheran and the smaller Reformed Protestant churches. The churches themselves brought this about in Baden, Nassau, and Bavaria. His goal was to unify the Protestant churches, and to impose a single standardized liturgy, organization and even architecture. The long-term goal was to have fully centralized royal control of all the Protestant churches.
In a series of proclamations over several decades the Church of the Prussian Union was formed, bringing together the more numerous Lutherans, and the less numerous Reformed Protestants. The government of Prussia now had full control over church affairs, with the king himself recognized as the leading bishop. Opposition to unification came from the "Old Lutherans" in Silesia who clung tightly to the theological and liturgical forms they had followed since the days of Luther.
The government attempted to crack down on them, so they went underground. Tens of thousands migrated, to South Australia , and especially to the United States, where they formed the Missouri Synod , which is still in operation as a conservative denomination. Finally in a new king Frederick William IV offered a general amnesty and allowed the Old Lutherans to form a separate church association with only nominal government control.
From the religious point of view of the typical Catholic or Protestant, major changes were underway in terms of a much more personalized religiosity that focused on the individual more than the church or the ceremony. The rationalism of the late 19th century faded away, and there was a new emphasis on the psychology and feeling of the individual, especially in terms of contemplating sinfulness, redemption, and the mysteries and the revelations of Christianity.
Pietistic revivals were common among Protestants. Among, Catholics there was a sharp increase in popular pilgrimages. In alone, half a million pilgrims made a pilgrimage to the city of Trier in the Rhineland to view the Seamless robe of Jesus , said to be the robe that Jesus wore on the way to his crucifixion. Catholic bishops in Germany had historically been largely independent Of Rome, but now the Vatican exerted increasing control, a new " ultramontanism " of Catholics highly loyal to Rome.
The government passed laws to require that these children always be raised as Protestants, contrary to Napoleonic law that had previously prevailed and allowed the parents to make the decision. It put the Catholic Archbishop under house arrest. In , the new King Frederick William IV sought reconciliation and ended the controversy by agreeing to most of the Catholic demands. However Catholic memories remained deep and led to a sense that Catholics always needed to stick together in the face of an untrustworthy government. After the fall of Napoleon, Europe's statesmen convened in Vienna in for the reorganisation of European affairs, under the leadership of the Austrian Prince Metternich.
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The political principles agreed upon at this Congress of Vienna included the restoration, legitimacy and solidarity of rulers for the repression of revolutionary and nationalist ideas. The German Confederation German : Deutscher Bund was founded, a loose union of 39 states 35 ruling princes and 4 free cities under Austrian leadership, with a Federal Diet German : Bundestag meeting in Frankfurt am Main. It was a loose coalition that failed to satisfy most nationalists. The member states largely went their own way, and Austria had its own interests.
In a student radical assassinated the reactionary playwright August von Kotzebue , who had scoffed at liberal student organisations. In one of the few major actions of the German Confederation, Prince Metternich called a conference that issued the repressive Carlsbad Decrees , designed to suppress liberal agitation against the conservative governments of the German states. The decrees began the "persecution of the demagogues", which was directed against individuals who were accused of spreading revolutionary and nationalist ideas. In the Zollverein was established, a customs union between Prussia and most other German states, but excluding Austria.
As industrialisation developed, the need for a unified German state with a uniform currency, legal system, and government became more and more obvious. Growing discontent with the political and social order imposed by the Congress of Vienna led to the outbreak, in , of the March Revolution in the German states. But the revolution turned out to be unsuccessful: King Frederick William IV of Prussia refused the imperial crown, the Frankfurt parliament was dissolved, the ruling princes repressed the risings by military force, and the German Confederation was re-established by Many leaders went into exile, including a number who went to the United States and became a political force there.
The s were a period of extreme political reaction. Dissent was vigorously suppressed, and many Germans emigrated to America following the collapse of the uprisings. Frederick William IV became extremely depressed and melancholic during this period, and was surrounded by men who advocated clericalism and absolute divine monarchy. The Prussian people once again lost interest in politics. Prussia not only expanded its territory but began to industrialize rapidly, while maintaining a strong agricultural base. Although conservative, William was very pragmatic.
His most significant accomplishment was the naming of Otto von Bismarck as Prussian minister president in In —64, disputes between Prussia and Denmark over Schleswig escalated, which was not part of the German Confederation, and which Danish nationalists wanted to incorporate into the Danish kingdom. The conflict led to the Second War of Schleswig in Prussia, joined by Austria, easily defeated Denmark and occupied Jutland.
The subsequent management of the two duchies led to tensions between Austria and Prussia. Austria wanted the duchies to become an independent entity within the German Confederation, while Prussia intended to annex them. The disagreement served as a pretext for the Seven Weeks War between Austria and Prussia, that broke out in June Prussian superior logistics and the modern breech-loading needle guns superioity over the slow muzzle-loading rifles of the Austrians, proved to be elementary for Prussia's victory.
The battle had also decided the struggle for hegemony in Germany and Bismarck was deliberately lenient with defeated Austria, that was to play only a subordinate role in future German affairs. Austria was excluded and its immense influence over Germany finally came to an end. The North German Federation was a transitional organisation that existed from to , between the dissolution of the German Confederation and the founding of the German Empire.
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck determined the political course of the German Empire until He fostered alliances in Europe to contain France on the one hand and aspired to consolidate Germany's influence in Europe on the other.
His principal domestic policies focused on the suppression of socialism and the reduction of the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church on its adherants. He issued a series of anti-socialist laws in accord with a set of social laws, that included universal health care, pension plans and other social security programs.
His Kulturkampf policies were vehemently resisted by Catholics, who organized political opposition in the Center Zentrum Party. German industrial and economic power had grown to match Britain by In , the young and ambitious Kaiser Wilhelm II became emperor. He rejected advice from experienced politicians and ordered Bismarck's resignation in He opposed Bismarck's careful and delicate foreign policy and was determined to pursue colonialist policies, as Britain and France had been doing for centuries.
The Kaiser promoted the active colonization of Africa and Asia for the lands that were not already colonies of other European powers. The Kaiser took a mostly unilateral approach in Europe only allied with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and embarked on a dangerous naval arms race with Britain. His aggressive and erroneous policies greatly contributed to the situation in which the assassination of the Austrian-Hungarian crown prince would spark off World War I. When Prussia suggested the Hohenzollern candidate, Prince Leopold as successor, France vehemently objected. The matter evolved into a diplomatic scandal and in July , France resolved to end it in a full-scale war.
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The conflict was quickly decided as Prussia, joined by forces of a pan-German alliance never gave up the tactical initiative. A series of victories in north-eastern France followed and another French army group was simultaneously encircled at Metz. A few weeks later, the French army contingent under Emperor Napoleon III 's personal command was finally forced to capitulate in the fortress of Sedan. The new government resolved to fight on and tried to reorganize the remaining armies while the Germans settled down to besiege Paris. The starving city surrendered in January and Jules Favre signed the surrender at Versailles.
This conclusion left the French national psyche deeply humiliated and further aggravated the French—German enmity. The act unified all ethnic German states with the exception of Austria in the Little German solution of a federal economic, political and administrative unit. Bismarck, was appointed to serve as Chancellor. The new empire was a federal union of 25 states that varied considerably in size, demography, constitution, economy, culture, religion and socio-political development.
However, even Prussia itself, which accounted for two thirds of the territory as well as of the population, had emerged from the empire's periphery as a newcomer. It also faced colossal cultural and economic internal divisions. The Prussian provinces of Westphalia and the Rhineland for example had been under French control during the previous decades.
The local people, who had benefited from the liberal, civil reforms, that were derived from the ideas of the French Revolution, had only little in common with predominantly rural communities in authoritarian and disjointed Junker estates of Pommerania. As advocates of free trade, they objected Prussian ideas of economic integration and refused to sign the renewed Zollverein Custom Union treaties until The citizen of Hamburg, whom Bismark characterized as extremely irritating and the German ambassador in London as the worst Germans we have , were particularly appalled by Prussian militarism and its unopposed growing influence.
Historians increasingly argue, that the nation-state was forged through empire. Bismarck's domestic policies as Chancellor of Germany were based on his effort to universally adopt the idea of the Protestant Prussian state and achieve the clear separation of church and state in all imperial principalities. In the Kulturkampf lit. The Kulturkampf antagonised many Protestants as well as Catholics and was eventually abandoned. The millions of non-German imperial subjects, like the Polish, Danish and French minorities, were left with no choice but to endure discrimination or accept   the policies of Germanisation.
The new Empire provided attractive top level career opportunities for the national nobility in the various branches of the consular and civil services and the army. As a consequence the aristocratic near total control of the civil sector guaranteed a dominant voice in the decision making in the universities and the churches.
The German diplomatic corps consisted of 8 princes, 29 counts, 20 barons, 54 representants of the lower nobility and a mere 11 commoners. These commoners were indiscriminately recruited from elite industrialist and banking families. The consular corps employed numerous commoners, that however, occupied positions of little to no executive power.
Power increasingly was centralized among the aristocrats, who resided in the national capital of Berlin and neighboring Potsdam. Berlin's rapidly increasing rich middle-class copied the aristocracy and tried to marry into it. A peerage could permanently boost a rich industrial family into the upper reaches of the establishment. For example, of the mines in Silesia were owned by nobles or by the King of Prussia himself. The middle class in the cities grew exponentially, although it never acquired the powerful parliamentary representation and legislative rights as in France, Britain or the United States.
The Association of German Women's Organizations or BDF was established in to encompass the proliferating women's organizations that had emerged since the s. From the beginning the BDF was a bourgeois organization, its members working toward equality with men in such areas as education, financial opportunities, and political life. Working-class women were not welcome and were organized by the Socialists.
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The rise of the Socialist Workers' Party later known as the Social Democratic Party of Germany , SPD , aimed to peacefully establish a socialist order through the transformation of the existing political and social conditions. From , Bismarck tried to oppose the growing social democratic movement by outlawing the party's organisation , its assemblies and most of its newspapers. Nonetheless, the Social Democrats grew stronger and Bismarck initiated his social welfare program in in order to appease the working class. Bismarck built on a tradition of welfare programs in Prussia and Saxony that began as early as the s.
In the s he introduced old age pensions, accident insurance, medical care, and unemployment insurance that formed the basis of the modern European welfare state. His paternalistic programs won the support of German industry because its goals were to win the support of the working classes for the Empire and reduce the outflow of immigrants to America, where wages were higher but welfare did not exist. Bismarck would not tolerate any power outside Germany—as in Rome—having a say in domestic affairs.
He launched the Kulturkampf "culture war" against the power of the pope and the Catholic Church in , but only in the state of Prussia. This gained strong support from German liberals, who saw the Catholic Church as the bastion of reaction and their greatest enemy. The Catholic element, in turn, saw in the National-Liberals the worst enemy and formed the Center Party. Catholics, although nearly a third of the national population, were seldom allowed to hold major positions in the Imperial government, or the Prussian government.
After , there was a systematic purge of the remaining Catholics; in the powerful interior ministry, which handled all police affairs, the only Catholic was a messenger boy. Jews were likewise heavily discriminated against. Most of the Kulturkampf was fought out in Prussia, but Imperial Germany passed the Pulpit Law which made it a crime for any cleric to discuss public issues in a way that displeased the government. Nearly all Catholic bishops, clergy, and laymen rejected the legality of the new laws and defiantly faced the increasingly heavy penalties and imprisonments imposed by Bismarck's government.
Historian Anthony Steinhoff reports the casualty totals:. As of , only three of eight Prussian dioceses still had bishops, some 1, of 4, parishes were vacant, and nearly 1, priests ended up in jail or in exile Finally, between and , numerous Catholic newspapers were confiscated, Catholic associations and assemblies were dissolved, and Catholic civil servants were dismissed merely on the pretence of having Ultramontane sympathies. Bismarck underestimated the resolve of the Catholic Church and did not foresee the extremes that this struggle would attain.
In the following elections, the Center Party won a quarter of the seats in the Imperial Diet. The Center Party gained strength and became an ally of Bismarck, especially when he attacked socialism. Chancellor Bismarck's imperial foreign policy basically aimed at security and the prevention of a Franco-Russian alliance, in order to avoid a likely Two-front war.
It stated that republicanism and socialism were common enemies and that the three powers would discuss any matters concerning foreign policy. Bismarck needed good relations with Russia in order to keep France isolated. Russia fought a victorious war against the Ottoman Empire from to and attempted to establish the Principality of Bulgaria , that was strongly opposed by France and Britain in particular, as they were long concerned with the preservation of the Ottoman Empire and Russian containment at the Bosphorus Strait and the Black Sea.
Germany hosted the Congress of Berlin in , where a more moderate peace settlement was agreed upon. In , Germany formed the Dual Alliance with Austria-Hungary, an agreement of mutual military assistance in the case of an attack from Russia, which was not satisfied with the agreement of the Congress of Berlin. The establishment of the Dual Alliance led Russia to take a more conciliatory stance and in , the so-called Reinsurance Treaty was signed between Germany and Russia. In it, the two powers agreed on mutual military support in the case that France attacked Germany or an Austrian attack on Russia.
Russia turned its attention eastward to Asia and remained largely inactive in European politics for the next 25 years. In , Italy, seeking supporters for its interests in North Africa against France's colonial policy, joined the Dual Alliance, which became the Triple Alliance. In return for German and Austrian support, Italy committed itself to assisting Germany in the case of a French attack. Bismarck had always argued that the acquisition of overseas colonies was impractical and the burden of administration and maintenance would outweigh the benefits.
Consequently Bismarck initiated the Berlin Conference of , a formal meeting of the European colonial powers, who sought to "established international guidelines for the acquisition of African territory" see Colonisation of Africa. Emperor William I died in His son Frederick III , open for a more liberal political course, reigned only for ninety-nine days, as he was stricken with throat cancer and died three months after his coronation.
His son Wilhelm II followed him on the throne at the age of Wilhelm rejected the liberal ideas of his parents and embarked on a conservative autocratic rule. He early on decided to replace the political elite and in March he forced chancellor Bismarck into retirement. After the removal of Bismarck, foreign policies were tackled with by the Kaiser and the Federal Foreign Office under Friedrich von Holstein.
Wilhelm's increasingly erratic and reckless conduct was unmistakably related to character deficits and the lack of diplomatic skills. First a long-term coalition between France and Russia had to fall apart, secondly, Russia and Britain would never get together, and finally, Britain would eventually seek an alliance with Germany.
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Subsequently Wilhelm refused to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia. Russia promptly formed a closer relationship with France in the Dual Alliance of , as both countries were concerned about the novel disagreeability of Germany. Furthermore, Anglo—German relations provided, from a British point of view, no basis for any consensus as the Kaiser refused to divert from his, although somewhat peculiarly desperate and anachronistic, aggressive imperial engagement and the naval arms race in particular. Von Holstein's analysis proved to be mistaken on every point, Wilhelm, however, failed too, as he did not adopt a nuanced political dialogue.
Germany was left gradually isolated and dependent on the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary, and Italy. This agreement was hampered by differences between Austria and Italy and in Italy left the alliance. In Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz , state secretary of the German Imperial Naval Office devised his initially rather practical, yet nonetheless ambitious plan to build a sizeable naval force. Although basically posing only an indirect threat as a Fleet in being , Tirpitz theorized, that its mere existence would force Great Britain, dependend on unrestricted movement on the seas, to agree to diplomatic compromises.
Wilhelm entertained less rational ideas on the fleet, that circled around his romantic childhood dream to have a "fleet of [his] own some day" and his obsessive adherence to direct his policies along the line of Alfred Thayer Mahan 's work The Influence of Sea Power upon History. Britain considered the imperial German endeavours to be a dangerous infringement on the century-old delicate balance of global affairs and trade on the seas under British control. The British, however, resolved to keep up the naval arms race and introduced the highly advanced new Dreadnought battleship concept in Germany quickly adopted the concept and by the arms race again escalated.
In the First Moroccan Crisis of , Germany nearly clashed with Britain and France when the latter attempted to establish a protectorate over Morocco.
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Kaiser Wilhelm II was upset at having not been informed about French intentions, and declared their support for Moroccan independence. William II made a highly provocative speech regarding this. The following year, a conference was held in which all of the European powers except Austria-Hungary by now little more than a German satellite sided with France.
A compromise was brokered by the United States where the French relinquished some, but not all, control over Morocco. The Second Moroccan Crisis of saw another dispute over Morocco erupt when France tried to suppress a revolt there. Germany, still smarting from the previous quarrel, agreed to a settlement whereby the French ceded some territory in central Africa in exchange for Germany's renouncing any right to intervene in Moroccan affairs.
This confirmed French control over Morocco, which became a full protectorate of that country in By the economy continued to industrialize and grow on an even higher rate than during the previous two decades and increased dramatically in the years leading up to World War I. As the growth rates for the individual branches and sectors often varied considerably, and periodical figures provided by the Kaiserliches Statistisches Amt "Imperial Statistical Bureau are often disputed or just assessments.
Classification and naming of internationally traded commodities and exported goods was still in progress and the structure of production and export had changed during four decades. Historian J. Perkins argued that more important than Bismarck's new tariff on imported grain was the introduction of the sugar beet as a main crop. Farmers quickly abandoned traditional, inefficient practices in favor of modern methods, including the use of artificial fertilizers and mechanical tools. Intensive methodical farming of sugar and other root crops made Germany the most efficient agricultural producer in Europe by Even so, farms were usually small in size and women did much of the field work.
An unintended consequence was the increased dependence on migratory, especially foreign, labor. The basics of the modern chemical research laboratory layout and the introduction of essential equipment and instruments such as Bunsen burners , the Petri dish , the Erlenmeyer flask , task-oriented working principles and team research originated in 19th-century Germany and France. The organisation of knowledge acquisition was further refined by laboratory integration in research institutes of the universities and the industries. Germany acquired the leading role in the world's Chemical industry by the late 19th century through strictly organized methodology.
In , the German Chemical industry produced almost 90 percent of the global supply of dyestuffs and sold about 80 percent of its production abroad. Germany became Europe's leading steel-producing nation in the s, thanks in large part to the protection from American and British competition afforded by tariffs and cartels. Steel corporation in the United States. The new company emphasized rationalization of management structures and modernization of the technology; it employed a multi-divisional structure and used return on investment as its measure of success.
By , American and German exports dominated the world steel market, as Britain slipped to third place. In machinery, iron and steel, and other industries, German firms avoided cut-throat competition and instead relied on trade associations. Germany was a world leader because of its prevailing "corporatist mentality", its strong bureaucratic tradition, and the encouragement of the government. These associations regulate competition and allowed small firms to function in the shadow of much larger companies. Germany's unification process after was heavily dominated by men and give priority to the "Fatherland" theme and related male issues, such as military prowess.
Founded in , it grew to include separate women's rights groups from until , when the Nazi regime disbanded the organization. Working-class women were not welcome; they were organized by the Socialists. Formal organizations for promoting women's rights grew in numbers during the Wilhelmine period.
German feminists began to network with feminists from other countries, and participated in the growth of international organizations. The largest colonial enterprises were in Africa. Historians are examining the links and precedents between the Herero and Namaqua Genocide and the Holocaust of the s. Ethnic demands for nation states upset the balance between the empires that dominated Europe, leading to World War I , which started in August Germany stood behind its ally Austria in a confrontation with Serbia, but Serbia was under the protection of Russia, which was allied to France.
Germany was the leader of the Central Powers, which included Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and later Bulgaria; arrayed against them were the Allies, consisting chiefly of Russia, France, Britain, and in Italy. In explaining why neutral Britain went to war with Germany, author Paul M. Kennedy recognized it was critical for war that Germany become economically more powerful than Britain, but he downplays the disputes over economic trade imperialism, the Baghdad Railway, confrontations in Central and Eastern Europe, high-charged political rhetoric and domestic pressure-groups.
Germany's reliance time and again on sheer power, while Britain increasingly appealed to moral sensibilities, played a role, especially in seeing the invasion of Belgium as a necessary military tactic or a profound moral crime. The German invasion of Belgium was not important because the British decision had already been made and the British were more concerned with the fate of France. British policy makers insisted that would be a catastrophe for British security. In the west, Germany sought a quick victory by encircling Paris using the Schlieffen Plan.
But it failed due to Belgian resistance, Berlin's diversion of troops, and very stiff French resistance on the Marne , north of Paris. The Western Front became an extremely bloody battleground of trench warfare. The stalemate lasted from until early , with ferocious battles that moved forces a few hundred yards at best along a line that stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss border.
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The British imposed a tight naval blockade in the North Sea which lasted until , sharply reducing Germany's overseas access to raw materials and foodstuffs.