Kaiser Wilhelm-II came out with policy of aggressive imperialism in which his emphasised on Welt Politik i.e. World Politics.
Welt Politik of Kaiser Wilhelm-II
There were three pillars of this policy.
1. Naval Empowerment
Kaiser Wilhelm-II said that the naval power would lead this world. So Kaiser Wilhelm-II proclaimed that Germany wanted a place in the sun. He said that future of Germany was on the sea. He also came out with the idea that it was Germany’s mission to spread its Kulture or culture, throughout the world.
As for the sea, Britain was the supreme power ever since Napoleon’s defeat at Trafalgar. To the Britain, it seemed highly improper for Germany or any other nation to challenge its position. The Kaiser Wilhelm-II’s proclamation was very irritating for Britain. What was more irritating than this proclamation was that Kaiser Wilhelm-II actually followed it up by increasing his navy.
This was completely unacceptable for the Britain and they also began to increase their navy. Thus a naval race began between the Britain and Germany.
2. Territorial Expansion
Kaiser Wilhelm-II led his mission to spread German Kulture or culture throughout the world. Britain’s “White Man’s Burden” and France’s “Civilising Mission” more or less were of the same family as Germany’s Kultur. Kaiser Wilhelm-II also said that Germany as a political and economic power also requires a place in the world’s colonialism.
At the end of the 19th century, there were many German colonies existed in African countries. Like: Togo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Namibia etc. Papua New Guinea was also a German colony.
3. Interference in the International Politics
As the economic, political, military and territorial expansion of Germany took place, Kaiser Wilhelm-II started interfering in the international politics. Initially, Britain did not pay any attention to this, but soon Britain realised that it was not a simple theoretical declaration; Kaiser Wilhelm-II was interfering in others causes. Kaiser’s interference in Boer war and Morocco issue most annoyed the Britain and France.
Boer War, 1899
The term Boer meant Dutch farmers. In the last phase of 19th Century, these farmers stood up in South Africa against the exploitation of British Planters. On 11 October 1899, the Boer War broke out when Britain rejected the Transvaal ultimatum. The ultimatum had demanded that all disputes between the two states i.e. Orange Free State and Transvaal or South African State be settled by arbitration.
In this war, the Orange Free State joined the Transvaal according to the alliance of 1897. Here, the British Army was reinforced by volunteer contingents from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape Colony and Natal. In this course of war, Kaiser Wilhelm-II gave moral support to the Dutch farmers and congratulated their chief at Transvaal for his anti-British attitude.
Kaiser Wilhelm-II next interfered in the affairs of Morocco. Morocco is a north African country. It was under the control of France and was strategically important for the Britain. Morocco was the entry gate for the European Nations to enter into their African Colonies.
Britain and France were rivals. Kaiser Wilhelm-II took the advantage of this internal rivalry between Britain and France. In this background, he personally visited Morocco and assured the Sultan of Morocco for all type of help against French imperialism.
This alarmed Britain and Britain immediately stood up in support of France. Kaiser Wilhelm-II was knowing that it was certainly impossible for him to fight the combined forces of Britain and France. So he immediately left the issue of Morocco. He came out with a condition of having the share in National Bank of Morocco.
Both Britain and France agreed to this condition. This condition proved disastrous in future because it increased the enthusiasm of Kaiser Wilhelm-II. Now, he started working on the policy of- “create the pressure and have the economic and political gain”.
In the long run, the behaviour of the Kaiser Wilhelm-II annoyed most of the European powers. Though the rising Germany was giving a tough competition to the other countries, but certainly the greedy and enthusiastic behaviour of Kaiser Wilhelm-II proved disastrous for the old masters. They did not like such kind of interference in their area of influence. These all issues strengthened the ground for the World War-I.
In which the next important developments were Decline of Ottoman Empire, Eastern Question, Crimean War of 1854-1856, Berlin Congress of 1885 and most important was Pan-Slavism Movement. We will go through these developments one by one in our next coming post.
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