Britain and Germany

Key Facts

The British and German Royal Families were closely related - Both King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II were grandsons of Queen Victoria

The countries had a history of being allied against France eg 1815 at Waterloo where Marshal Bluecher had come to Wellington's aid

Germany and Britain were each others best customer

In popular imagination, at least until the 1900s, Germany was seen as responsible, stolid and reliable while France was seen as flighty and unreliable. Paris was where British gents went to be "naughty"

The 20th century saw this completely overturned

In the Boer War of 1899-1902 the Germans openly supported the Boers

The main quarrel was over the respective strengths and roles of the Royal and German navies

The British saw the Royal Navy as essential to the defence of the UK and the Empire - it was not seen as aggressive

The Kaiser and many Germans saw the RN as the symbol of British power which if Germany was to be great they would have to copy

The British saw the German navy as a direct threat to the very existence of the UK and the Empire

The launching of HMS Dreadnought changed everything.


Read page 8 and answer these questions-

Why were many countries angry at British tactics in the Boer War?

What suggestion did the Kaiser make? Why did it not succeed?

What lessons did the British learn from the war?

What lessons did the Germans learn from the war?


Naval Rivalry

Read pages 14 - 17 and answer these questions-

Why did Britain feel that a navy was essential?

When did the Kaiser decide to build up a German navy?

Why did this end the possibility of an Anglo-German alliance?

What new British ship was launched in 1906?

What advantages did she have (see separate sheet)?

Why did this help the Germans in their rivalry with the British?

Who won the naval race?

What new German ship of 1908 caused great concern in Britain?

According to the Kaiser what was the attitude of most Germans to the British in 1908?


Document Exercise

According to Source F what did Churchill think the German navy was for?

According to source I what did Kaiser Wilhelm II say the German navy was for?

Compare the views expressed in sources F and I.



Britain and Germany - Naval Rivalry Help Sheet


Why did Britain and Germany quarrel during the Boer War (page 8)?


Look at Source Q. What is the soldier doing to the woman? Why would this make people angry?


What was the purpose of the British navy? (page 14 source A)


When did the Kaiser decide to build a large German navy?(page 14)


What new ship was launched in 1906? (page 14)


Who won the naval race? (See figures in p15 - add them up)


Why did the Germans want a large navy? (p16 source I )


Document Exercise-

Look at source H-
What is the Kaiser threatening to do to Britain?



© History Man