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). The Arms Race was as much about nations’ INSECURITY as about their NATIONALISM and EXPANSIONISM.
Arms Race and the First World War: Increase in Spending There was a four-fold increase in defence spending of the great powers, 1870-1914.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.)
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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.
Arms Race and the First World War: Navies - 3 There was a race between Germany and Britain to build the most Dreadnoughts. The graph shows the number built each year.
Arms Race and the First World War: 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'.
Arms Race and the First World War: Navies - 5 In the end, Britain’s built many more Dreadnoughts than Germany.
Arms Race and the First World War: Effects 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.