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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

And also a concession for building railways


Welt-Politik.

The "mailed fist."

Meanwhile the emperor had set himself the task of doing for the German fleet what his grandfather had done for the army. The acquisition of Heligoland enabled a new naval station to be established off the mouth of the Elbe; the completion of the canal from Kiel to the mouth of the Elbe, by enabling ships of war to pass from the Baltic to the North Sea greatly increased the strategic strength of the fleet. In 1890 a change in the organization separated the command of the fleet from the office of secretary of state, who was responsible for the representation of the admiralty in the Reichstag, and the emperor was brought into more direct connexion with the navy. During the first five years of the reign four line-of-battle ships were added and several armoured cruisers for the defence of commerce and colonial interests. With the year 1895 began a period of expansion abroad and great naval activity. The note was given in a speech of the emperor's on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the empire, in which he said, "the German empire has become a world empire." The ruling idea of this new _Welt-Politik_ was that Germany could no longer remain merely a continental power; owing to the growth of population she depended for subsistence on trade and exports; she could not maintain herself amid the rivalry of nations unless the government was able actively to support German

traders in all parts of the world. The extension of German trade and influence has, in fact, been carried out with considerable success. There was no prospect of further territory in Equatorial Africa, and the hope of bringing about a closer union with the South African Republic was not fulfilled. On the Pacific, however, there were great gains;[7] long-established plans for obtaining a port in China which might serve as a base for the growing trade at Tientsin were carried out at the end of 1897; the murder of two Catholic missionaries was made the pretext for landing troops in the bay of Kiao-chau; and in amends China granted the lease of some 50 sq. m. of territory, and also a concession for building railways. The emperor showed his strong personal interest by sending his brother, Prince Henry, in command of a squadron to take possession of this territory, and the visit of a German prince to the emperor of China strongly appealed to the popular imagination. The emperor's characteristically rhetorical speeches on this occasion--particularly his identification of his brother with the "mailed fist" of Germany--excited considerable comment. In Turkey the government, helped again by the personal interest of the emperor, who himself visited the sultan at Constantinople, gained important concessions for German influence and German commerce. The Turkish armies were drilled and commanded by German officers, and in 1899 a German firm gained an important concession for building a railway to Baghdad. In Brazil organized private enterprise established a considerable settlement of German emigrants, and though any political power was for the time impossible, German commerce increased greatly throughout South America.


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