Essay on Germany The start of WW1 in 1914 came from the build up of many shifting attitudes in Europe, particularly in Germany whose unstable society and old fashioned political order made Germany ripe for involvement in the war. This along with the Kaiser's unusual personality and prejudices set the stage for conflict.
The years 1880-1914, was one of the most explosive periods of industrial growth. Cities mushroomed. For example, Berlin went from a population of 600,000 in 1870 to 2 million by 1910. This rapid growth brought with it social problems. There were clashes over power, over ideas, over religion, over language, and a growing dissatisfaction with the monarch - type of rule. Germany was becoming modern and yet it was still archaic. This led to the formation of the German Social Democratic Party. It created a state within the state, hostile to the Kaiser's regime and dedicated to its overthrow.
Kaiser Wilhelm II had absolute power over the army. He alone presided over the nation's foreign affairs. It was his decision to say if Germany went to war. He felt that since Germany had the best steel mills, were the leaders during the machine age, had the most powerful engineering industry, the best chemists, and the mighty German Army, superior to any other army, that Germany should share in world affairs by expanding abroad, and become more imperialistic. He felt economic power should be reflected in political power. He ordered the build up of the Navy, which poisoned his relations with England.
The Kaiser had deep affection for things English and was even made a British Admiral of the Fleet in 1889 (his grandmother was Queen Victoria). However his determination to strengthen the German Navy alienated Great Britain. When the British built a new class of battleships the Kaiser insisted that Germany have one too. The German Fleet was ordered to double its size. This led to an arms race between Germany and Britain to determine which nation would dominate northwestern Europe. This also prepared the way for France to be an ally of Britain. The Kaiser's attitude toward the British changed according to his mood. He was capable of being sensitive one moment and obscene the next, which affected his decision- making. His anti - semitism was well known and his prejudices were spread throughout German society. He showed a sinister side of his character, which shocked people, especially foreign leaders. Therefore the underlying causes that led to Germany's involvement in the war-not just the fact that it was bound by its treaty with Austria-Hungary. Political and social problems faced by a society growing through massive and rapid industrialization, along with many people in positions of power feeling gloomy about the future, and the personality and prejudices of the Kaiser set the stage for a war.