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Arms Race and the First World War: Essential Background - 1. e.g. the Daily Mail ran MANY stories (such as this one by William Le Queux) imagining German invasions. c.f. also John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps (about German spies).
Essential Background - 1
e.g. the Daily Mail ran MANY stories (such as this one by William Le Queux) imagining German invasions.
c.f. also John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps (about German spies).
The Arms Race was as much about nations’ INSECURITY as about their NATIONALISM and EXPANSIONISM.
Increase in Spending
There was a four-fold increase in defence spending of the great powers, 1870-1914.
Attitude towards war
But note that militarism is also a government's attitude of mind, seeing war as a valid means of foreign policy.
(GERMANY was especially militaristic.)
Armies - 1
GERMANY, worried because it was in-between France and Russia, built up the largest land army. The German army was accepted as being the biggest and the best in the world.
Armies - 2
This Russian postcard of 1914 shows Russia (symbolised by a woman) nailing the German eagle to a pillory after a war.
But other countries built up their land armies too – in 1914, the fastest growing army was that of RUSSIA. This worried GERMANY a lot.
Armies - 3
As well as their STANDING ARMIES, the nations introduced CONSCRIPTION, so they also had large numbers of trained RESERVES. All the nations except Britain had HUGE armies.
Essential Background - 2
This British postcard interprets Kaiser Wilhelm’s statement about wanting ‘a place in the sun’ – it shows him making everybody in the world bow down to him.
IMPERIALISM led to an arms race … in 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm said that GERMANY wanted ‘a place in the sun’ – i.e., that Germany wanted an empire as big as Britain’s. This TERRIFIED the British.
Navies - 1
If GERMANY was to have an empire, it needed a navy, so in 1900 Admiral Tirpitz introduced the German Navy Law, which announced a huge programme of building warships.
Navies - 2
Both BRITAIN andGERMANY started building Dreadnoughts – the most advanced class of warship in the world. The Dreadnought essentially reduced everybody else’s number of warships to zero.
Navies - 3
There was a race between Germany and Britain to build the most Dreadnoughts. The graph shows the number built each year.
Navies - 4
Reginald McKenna, First Lord of the Admiralty 1908-11.
In 1909 he told Parliament that the German navy was just about to become more powerful than the Royal Navy, and he instigated the press scare-campaign that forced Parliament to build more Dreadnoughts.
The British government planned to build four Dreadnoughts in 1909, but the British public panicked, demanding: 'We want eight and we won't wait'.
Navies - 5
In the end, Britain’s built many more Dreadnoughts than Germany.
The arms race was tied in to both NATIONALISM and IMPERIALISM. It increased SUSPICION and HATRED of other nations - and it gave the nations the WHEREWITHAL to wage war.