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Everything is economics and war is no exception

02 Dec Everything is economics and war is no exception

Everything is economics and war is indeed no exception.
Not many figures will be necessary to remind of Germany’s unprecedented economic expansion after her unification in 1871. The following may suffice: Production in coal between 1871 and 1906, quadrupled; between 1875 and 1913, it increased from 48,530,000 to 273,650,000 tons. Production in pig iron, between 1871 and 1901, quintupled. Production in steel rose from a half million tons in 1871 to twelve millions in 1907. The relative production of iron in Germany and the United Kingdom was as follows:

Germany
United Kingdom

1865
975,000
4,896,000

1890
4,658,000
8,033,000

1913
19,292,000
10,260,000

 

iron production Germany 1870 - 1914

The relative production of iron in Germany

 

Germany’s volume of trade rose from six billion marks in 1878 to ten and a half billions in 1900; to fifteen billions in 1906; and to nineteen billions in 1914. Writing in 1914, von Bulow could say: ” With its foreign trade of 19,000 millions, Germany is to-day the second greatest commercial power in the world; for it is second only to the United Kingdom with her 25,000 millions, and surpasses the United States with her 15,000 millions.” To the rapidity of German development, several things contributed:

  • First, modern machinery, by which output rapidly rises beyond sales and forces search for foreign markets.
  • Second, highly trained technical skill.
  • Third, application of scientific discoveries to production.
  • Fourth, willing adaptation to the wishes of purchasers.
  • Fifth, improved methods of selling.
  • Sixth, governmental assistance.

As Sir Charles Lucas said (prior to the war), ” It is a wonderful work of a great people.” And that the United Kingdom resented the work in seen in the widely expressed desire to put an end, if possible, to what was said to have been Germany’s “unscrupulous competition in finance and commerce.” While economically calamitous, this competition was by itself politically innocuous. Associated with other reasons for antipathy, it was not without effect. A prominent English writer has said: ” There was in the world only one menace to peace and that menace was the increasing population, the increasing prosperity, and the increasing unrest of the German.” The unrest of the German was not so unmistakably obvious as were the population and the prosperity; and if one should ask, Why should those have been a menace? the answer may be found in Bethmann-Hollweg’s statement that the British: ” looked upon a Germany, that kept on growing, as an unwanted and troublesome intruder on the sanctity of British supremacy over the commerce and oceans of the world.” Quite true, but quite unavoidable, for perfectly natural. The man in possession never likes disturbance of the status quo.
Germany had very rapidly become, in various respects, the most formidable of the European rivals of the United Kingdom. Unprecedented development in population, territory, production, trade and especially shipping had aroused British apprehensions and consequent enmity. In the short time frame France nor Russia weren’t no longer a direct threat anymore but the new kid on the block: unificated Germany, as a new independent economic power. The Financial powers of London requested to implement any needed action.  …

src. J. S. EWART 1925  The Roots of wars

 

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