The question states to what extent was Germany’s foreign policy aggressive and warlike; we must define what warlike and aggressive are in order to form a criteria. To be “aggressive” is to generate a harmful action towards another country and be belligerent and quarrelsome. “Warlike” is the adjective used to depict being ready or fit for war. With these definitions it is clear that Germany’s foreign policy was aggressive and perhaps warlike yet with these sources, one will assess how far it is true. In the past, countries have been aggressive yet not warlike.
From source 1, Prince von Bulow, the German chancellor says that Germany does not want to play second fiddle and instead take the role of a more dominating, leadership role:
“We do not intend again to be the slave of humanity.”
Von Bulow’s world policy is ambitious with an aggressive tone: “slave of humanity” which means that they are not leading and are being dictated as to what to do.
These words have strong power reckoned with them, as their previous “political impotence,” as well as their “economic insignificance” must not return therefore the underlying tone they manifest show aggression and a desire to succeed.
Source 3 also complements the notion of an aggressive world policy. In response to a memorandum of Eyre Crowe, Lord Sanderson of the British Foreign Office in 1907 gives an insight into the German negotiation techniques. Sanderson states that the German’s, politically, are very “tight bargainers” by means of portraying them as “intensely disagreeable” with there being times where they were “extremely aggravating.” It is clear that German politics are aggressive.
A warlike foreign policy can be seen through the naval and armament expansions in source 6. This source is a table of army and naval estimates of the Great Powers involved in the war. It shows that the Germans have increased their expenditure on the navy from ï¿½2.4million to ï¿½22.4million, an 833% increase, and more significant 386% in arms spending from ï¿½18.2million in 1880 to ï¿½88.4million in 1914. Such growth shows a warlike intent as such expansion in militia capacities signifies “warlike” tendencies. In theory, to engage in a war a criteria consisting of opportunity of war, an opposition, money and military support need to be met. From source 6, the latter two are met: an increased amount in military spending complemented with a substantial growth in army and naval fields, respectively.
Source 1 also describes Germany’s foreign policy as warlike:
“The means of fighting the battle for existence in this world without strong armaments on land and water.”
This shows signs of a warlike nature as they are prepared to do anything to attain a leading position in world democracy.
Similar to this, sources’ 4 and 5 also hint at warlike foreign policies. In source 4, the Kaiser is dealing with the crisis in the Balkans. He suggests that he should declare war and support Austria-Hungary against the “mercy” of Russia. The warlike attitudes shown though are through an act of desperation and therefore provocation: a mix of insecurities and ambitions. Source 5 offers Germany recommendations to a warlike nature: “Gird thyself with brass and with thy bayonet pierce the heart of every enemy; take no prisoners!”
Not Aggressive nor Warlike
Source 2 is an example of German foreign policy, which is clearly not warlike. Logically thinking, it would be suitable to have an ally when in a war with another country; such is not the case in source 2. Bertie describes Germany’s support as lacklustre as the Austro-Hungarian alliance is not too prosperous due to “internal troubles of the Austro-Hungarian empire” and the Italian connection, politically, militarily and economically is, as Francis Bertie said: “not much to inspire.” This lack of support from other powers shows they have no reason to be warlike as they would be in a perpetually weak position.
Source 3 also complements this, as it doesn’t show any need for Germany to be warlike, only aggressive in pursuit to gain ambition and eventually find a cause to have warlike characteristics.
To similar extents source 5, the poem written by a German poet in 1914, also shows that the foreign policy of Germany was not warlike. It mentions that Germany’s ancient folly, its past Achilles heel in a way, was its “love for foreigners.” This is somewhat contrary to a “warlike” nature in its foreign policy, thus the source is recommending that Germany should have a more aggressive and malicious approach.
In conclusion, it seems that from the sources that only source 1 shows that they have aggressive and warlike credentials in their foreign policy.
There are some omissions and negligence in the sources. Source 1 is from the German chancellor speaking to his parliament in 1899 in a period of rising prosperity hence he is ambitious and belligerent in his appraisal of Germany. Contrary to the German view is that of a British diplomat, be it Bertie or Sanderson, in which another extreme view, this time of criticism and cynicism, has taken influence over the foreign policy of Germany.
In summary, one must note the dates in the provenance giving particular reference as to it’s order and if at all any surrounding events for example source 4 gives the thoughts of the Kaiser concerning the Balkan conflict in July, 1914 where he is wary and uncertain of any German role, as in not aggressive and geared to war, but is also critical of France “playing off” all other powers to keep her “balance of power.”
On the other hand source 1 is contradictory and portrays German foreign policy as aggressive and semi-warlike to some extents. To end, in the early stages from 1899 Germany is building up her aggressive nature such as her “wants” in source 2 and from 1907, she is moving to a more warlike pose with a toned down aggression, further complimented in source 6 by the army and naval estimates.