Weltpolitik and German Nationalism

By Dr Colin Storer, published 13th November 2019

In this podcast Dr Colin Storer of the University of Warwick looks at the significance and legacy of the German nineteenth century foreign policy known as Weltpolitik (or ‘world politics’).

In contrast with Bismarck’s continental Realpolitick which juggled alliances and politically isolated France in order to keep Germany safe and maintain peace in Europe, Weltpolitick sought to build up Germany’s navy in order to protect interests on the seas as she penetrated foreign markets in search of raw materials and markets to export German manufactured goods to. Her colonial acquisitions in this period meant not only little economic gain for Germany, but furthermore Germany earned the ire of her European neighbours as France and Britain became increasingly nervous of her strong navy, coupled with her industrial might, and conflict looked increasingly likely.

1. What was Weltpolitik?
2. What was the difference between Weltpolitik and Realpolitik?
3. To what extent did Germany achieve its colonial objectives?
4. How is this change in foreign policy perceived by the other powers?
5. Does German nationalism change during this period?
6. What was the significance of Weltpolitik?

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