Bernhard von Bülow on Germany's “Place in the Sun”



In 1871, Germany became a united nation-state, formed around Prussia and by Prussian militarism. Over the course of a series of short wars with Denmark, Austria, and France, the Prussians united with several neighboring principalities to score a series of spectacular victories that instantly accorded the new nation status as the world's most formidable land-based military power. It also upset a balance of diplomatic power in Europe that had been in place since the Napoleonic Wars and reinforced by the stalemated Crimean War (1854–1856). To add to the anxiety, the new state punished the last of its military foes, France, by forcing it to pay an outrageous sum in reparations over the course of five years and annexing two border provinces, Alsace and Lorraine. It was an auspicious and audacious start.

From 1871 to 1890, nearly twenty years after the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), German power and ambitions were circumscribed by Germany's own wily Prussian chancellor,...

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Bernhard von B├╝low (Library of Congress)

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