Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Richard Weigel, Hugh Phillips, Jack Thacker

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


From 1871 to 1914, Germany experienced its first taste of world power and the failure of controlling and retaining that power. German power after 1871 had sought only a dominance of continental politics and a maintenance of a status quo in Europe favorable to Germany. Following 1890, however, the German course deviated to include a vision of world power. German foreign policy until 1890 was based on two things: hegemonic control of the heart of Europe and the force of will of one man, Otto von Bismarck. Yet despite relative control of the European situation and a cautious and able statesman at the helm, Germany was quickly intoxicated by its new power as much as reacting against the almost oppressive control of Bismarck. By all measures, the German appetite for power was growing faster than ordinary diplomatic conquests could satisfy it. The need for instant gratification caused a recklessness in foreign policy and diplomacy best characterized by Krisepolitik, or crisis diplomacy. This dilemma not only resulted from a growing appetite for power, but also from a lack of understanding of international politics. The European reaction to the new German aggressiveness and to the lack of direction in German policy was one of suspicion. With the cancellation of the Reinsurance Treaty with Russian in 1890, every German move was viewed by increasingly hostile eyes. Axes of power began to form which much threatened the growing world power of Germany, a Germany which saw the need to contest the powers on as many points as possible, while avoiding war, to retain its power in the 1890s and the first years of the twentieth century.


Arts and Humanities | European History | History | International Relations | Political History | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences