Kaiser Wilhelm Ii Essay

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To what extent was Kaiser Wilhelm ll responsible for the outbreak of the Great War? Kaiser Wilhelm ll contributed to the outbreak of the Great War through a failure of diplomacy. There were many additional factors that contributed to the outbreak of war including, the alliance system, the arms race, war plans, and the immediate cause: the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. However, the decisions and policies put in place by Wilhelm ll including his involvement in the Moroccan and Bosnian crisis, the Balkan wars, his choice of alliances and his policy change from Bismarck’s ‘Realpolitik’ to his own ‘Weltpolitik’ all contributed to a breakdown of diplomatic relations which led to WW1. Germany became a nation in 1871 through the leadership of Otto Von Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor”. Bismarck’s ‘Realpolitik’ policy meant that he based politics on diplomacy and alliances. When Wilhelm ll came to power he changed to a more aggressive policy ‘Weltpolitik’; a policy of world power (Cummins, McAndrew and Thomas, 1997, p7). The German foreign minister Berchard von Bulow stated that this policy would “...claim our place in the sun” (Fitzgerald, Pickard and Stewart, 1995, p24). This policy, along with Wilhelm ll’s decision to create a colonial empire, caused rivalry between the major European powers, particularly Britain. In the 19th century colonialism was very popular as major European powers tried to increase their territory, resources and power. By the 20th century the British Empire had 1/4 of the world’s land surface which gave them trade opportunities and transport advantages (McCallum and Ringer, 2005, p237). Wilhelm ll, with a nation only thirty years old, wanted an empire but had missed out on the overseas colonies such as India and Nigeria which belonged to Britain. Germany’s new colonies in China and Africa made Britain concerned. Wilhelm ll’s
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