Germany was not a separated island but the center of fighting forces of global capitalism. Spreading economically, it was closer to being rich while ruining others. In fact, these “others” were themselves full of plans of conquest no less than Germany. It was looked at and observed by its rivals far more closely than it appeared back then. Shallow thoughts of Wilhelm II, who had no sense of a historical reality and was always inclined to exaggerate the value of individual personalities (in particular – the crowned ones), were that – as he repeatedly asserted – the fault of all misfortunes of both Germany and all Europe lies only on King Edward VII. Edward VII was seen as a person who really wanted to start a war. This view was spread through government and newspapers, and consequently it moved from Germany to other countries. Hence, the war views were generated in Germany on a large scale: Wilhelm II put all fault on Edward VII and believed that he was not responsible for the emergence of a military condition. By shifting responsibilities from one person to another, Wilhelm remained to be the ruling center of all actions taken to grab as many territories as possible. In other words, Wilhelm pretended to be naïve and continued spreading hostile views among people not only inside Germany, but abroad. As a result, World War I emerged and brought drastic consequences for which now nobody wants to take responsibility for, but still, is it logical to assume that the one who initiated hostility can be named a war instigator? So is it Germany’s fault that World War I started?
Firstly, there is a need to summarize an aggressive foreign policy of modern imperialism. Imperialist aggressive foreign policy was the financial capital, wearing military uniforms and armed in order to defeat opponents in the immediate trial of strength not only in economic competition, but in the armed forces as well, if it was profitable. German foreign policy was bound to take an aggressive look because some of the needs of financial capital (primarily the acquisition of new colonies) could not be met in the foreseeable future by purely economic means. Holstein again and again led to a war; chancellors sometimes, but not always, softened these tones; the emperor was inclined to give in to Holstein, to this persistent conductor of aggressive imperialist ideas. Influential, dependent on major heavy industry press pushed him further on this path.
In the first after-Bismarck period (1890-1904) German imperialist policy was investigating the ground by performing preliminary exploration in three areas:
- China, and
- the Middle East – the Turkish Empire (Fulbrook 133).
In Africa, Germany met with extraordinary difficulties. First, in 1890 (a few months after the resignation of Bismarck) it was decided to give Zanzibar, Pemba, Uganda, and Boer to England where shortly before a German protectorate had been declared. For these concessions, Germany received a very strategically important island of Helgoland in the German coast in the German Sea, belonging to the UK till 1890. However, in case of the Anglo-German war this island could become a terrible threat to Germany if it remained in the hands of the British, but in 1890 no one thought about a war, and many adherents of active colonial policy of Germany regarded it to be offensive to yield enormous just acquired African land for this very small (in the sense of territorial measure) island. Anyway, here a fatal split of Germany in its position can be seen: it needed to always think about their safety in Europe and to sacrifice a valuable part of their colonial possessions to the idea, and most importantly, to compromise its colonial future. Just taking a look at a map it is clear that after this transaction in 1890 German East Africa (i.e. a country that remained in the hands of Germany) could not apply either to the east of Niassa Lake, Tanganayki and Victoria, not for Kilimanjaro to the north, or in the Belgian Congo to the west (Fulbrook 135). The only – rather vague – possibility for distribution remained the south, i.e. the Portuguese Mozambique. It was necessary to achieve the following: 1. Portugal agreed to sell its colony to German, and 2. the British allowed Portugal to sell and the Germans to buy. Still, not a single talk about it was started. This was not a very encouraging debut of independent Wilhelm II in colonial policy in Africa. Meanwhile, the relations with England at that time were still friendly since England looked at France and Russia as at its main enemy, but not at Germany. With hostility from Britain the colonial future of Germany became even more doubtful and mysterious.
Even before the start of the Boer War, it was clear, first, that the British in a short time in one form or another would impose a hand on both the Boer republics, and, second, that they decisively would not allow anyone to intervene in this case. Hence, the German diplomacy began with more and more attention and interest observe the Far East affairs. Undoubtedly, China could, if circumstances were favorable for Germany, reward it for the lost hopes in Africa. It should be remembered that China was playing (and continues to play now) some kind of a role: European imperialism could not expect to consume it by such a way as division. This was primarily prevented by commercial competition between all the great powers in China; then it was a favorable, relatively to all others, geographical position of two powers – Japan and Russia who could still sometimes think of an amicable demarcation between themselves, but in any case they would like to keep any third parties away. Finally, an enormous obstacle to any project section without exception was the United States that wished to maintain the trading opportunities in the entire China and opposed any special rights of the European powers in this country and its partition for “spheres of influence”.
Therefore, there was a need to come up with other forms of economic exploitation, or, rather, to continue the tactic floated by the British in China in the 40-ies of the 19th century: to capture very small (sometimes quite insignificant in terms of a territorial size) points near the sea, firmly occupying their garrison and making trading excursions into the surrounding country from this fortified point, not moving forward with a military unit. This was an economic expansion based on the presence of military force on these lands at a certain point.
The success of the German capital was brilliant in the Turkey direction. There is no need to mention the fact that, holding railways in their hands, the Germans could actually expect to become the masters of all Asian lands of Turkey, but even in the immediate future the construction of the railway was to bring so much profit, to give orders to factories, to require such intensive and lavishly remunerated work that to German industry it seemed as a golden age. “We are happy, of course, we are happy!” (Wir sind glucklich, freilich, sind wir glucklich!), - exclaimed one of the most widely read progressive bourgeois press “Berliner Tageblatt” (Jefferies 20). In reality, the situation was even more difficult and more dangerous for the millions of lives that were to die in the event of a disaster. In fact, the disaster broke not due to the fact that German capitalism gained ultimate satisfaction till 1890: it was only powerful and confident to try to break out on the global scope to seek to conquer those possessions that were needed for its further heyday. Its representatives started to think of “a trial of strength” without fear, considering that the historic moment for this was favorable.
In short, at the beginning of the 20th century there was a sufficient economic ground for the emergence of an anti-German coalition, but still there were no ideological and political conditions necessary for the speedy establishment of it. Of course, it was not just about the defense, but also about pure conquest. The greater efforts of a persevering will, distant calculation, clear consciousness of purpose, diplomatic extracts and active political intrigue were needed to accelerate the advance of the big event in the history of European international relations. This was a political combination predetermining the whole game of mutually opposing capitalist forces. As a result, a rise was given to the innumerable and fatal event.