The Germans, who ended the greatest empire in history to the west of the Roman Empire, rarely united in history. When Charlemagne, who was crowned by Pope Leo III in Rome on December 25, 800, appeared on the scene as the Holy Roman German Emperor in Central Europe, he aimed to continue Rome and spread Roman Catholic Christianity. But it wasn’t really an empire. It did not represent a single state or a confederation of states with its German (German) and Roman designation. Its citizens did not have an imperial identity. The boundaries were not clearly defined. It lacked a centralized bureaucracy, regular and standing armies, and administrative structure.
2000 YEARS OF SEPERATION
With the Treaty of Verdun at the end of the war between their descendants in 843, the Empire divided the divisions between the Germans into spheres of influence to this day. The King, nicknamed Louis the German, was to the west of Limes Germanicus (German Border), which is located in today’s Germany and built between the Danube and the Rhine river to protect the Roman Empire from the barbarian Germans coming from the east. The great cities of future Germany and Austria, such as Cologne, Stuttgart, Vienna, Bonn, Mainz, and Frankfurt, would grow up in the cultural and religious shadow of the Roman Empire. This area was Catholic. It was 650 years before the Reformation appeared. While the French and the British were turning into united nation states, Germany failed to do so. For almost 2000 years Central Europe was made up of German-speaking peoples, but the region we call Germany today consisted of hundreds of small states, duchies, and free cities. Extensive religious and dynastic divisions failed to unite the Germans under the nation-state, despite the long-term monopoly of a powerful family like the Habsburgs. German princes constantly fought with each other.
THE RELIGIOUS DIVISION OF THE GERMANS
After 1517, the German Pastor Martin Luther’s initiation of Protestantism and the Lutheran movement started the religious division. The rebellion against the Vatican had come from the north and east of Limes Germanicus. Germans were divided into Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist. The division devastated German cities of unprecedented proportions in the religion-based 30 years’ war (1618-1648). Half the population had died in wars. After the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the wars of religion, German-speaking Europe was divided into 100s of independent statelets. The largest of these for 200 years were Prussia and Austria.
THE RISE OF PRUSSIA
Prussia began to gather its real energy and power after 1740, during the reign of Emperor Frederick II (the Great), one of the famous statesmen of the 18th century. By allying with the British in 1759, it gained large tracts of land from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and most importantly acquired most of Poland. After the mid-1790s, they defeated Napoleon’s France, which was the biggest threat to Europe at the time, with Russia, with which they formed an alliance, in the Battle of Leipzig (1813) and expelled them from German lands. Napoleon’s greatest favor was that he abolished many petty states. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the number of states in German territory had decreased to 40. The European revolutions of 1848 increased the pressure for unification in Germany. Although it was desired that this unification be under the largest kingdom, the Kingdom of Prussia, the King saw this as a threat to its existence and the unification was not achieved.
After the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, on January 18, 1871, the Germans managed to unite and turn into an empire during the reign of King Wilhelm I of Prussia. Austria was excluded from this merger. They had captured the French Emperor Napoleon III at Sedan. It was neither a coup nor a revolution that brought about unification. It was a success. As a result, his armies humiliated the French enough to besiege Paris for 4 months in 1870. Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian aristocrat from a conservative landowning (Junker) family, had managed to unify using the power of nationalism. Bismarck, who became Prussian Prime Minister (Chancellor) on September 28, 1862, emphasized in his first speech that big problems could only be solved with iron and blood. The capital was Berlin. The engine of the New Empire was Prussia. Thanks to the Junker farms here, they were doing the most productive and lucrative agriculture in Europe and on the one hand, they were covering the country with railways. The fact that they had previously abolished the serfdom system between 1811 and 1848 also improved the supply of skilled labor.
Despite the existence of ports formed by the Hanseatic system in its region, Prussia was a landlubber, its character was land. In the 200 years that passed until 1888, Prussia was a land state in every sense. Although it had the coast, it did not have a navy. The Imperial Admiralty was established in 1872. The fact that this department was commanded by German army generals until 1888 is an indication of how the navy was seen in Germany at that time. Under Bismarck, Germany neglected its navy so much that they even sold their last warship to create an infantry battalion . They were so far from the sea that, when they were victorious in the war of 1870, when French warships were offered as compensation, they rejected the offer on the grounds that there would have no qualified personnel to man them. Bismarck believed that the seas belonged to the British and the land belonged to the Germans and said that the British Navy was the guarantor of peace and balance on the seas. Bismarck never saw the Royal Navy as a threat to German interests during his tenure. Three Chiefs of Staff, Waldersee, Schlieffen, and Moltke, who served between 1888 and 1914, also opposed the development of the navy for the sake of other forces. But the flourishing German industry and trade made England their enemy, even if they didn’t want to. They took their place on the stage of history as a continental state. They had a parliament (Reichtag). Protestant religion was dominant. The Parliamentary Monarchy empire was founded by aristocrats, landlords (junkers), financial and business elites, bureaucracy, Protestant clergy, and a highly prestigious military. The opposition consisted of the Roman Catholic Church’s Center Party, the Socialist Party, and liberals opposed to Prussian domination. They claimed that the empire was ruled by the House of Hohenzollern, that the wealthy states of the west and south fed Lutheran Prussia and its army and Junker aristocrats. Bismarck would later dissolve parliament.
BECOMING A SUPER POWER IN A SHORT TIME
The second industrial revolution, which started after 1875, carried Germany forward in every field, acting with the reflex of the land and the continental state. Thanks to the fertile coal deposits and iron mines in the Rhur Region, they developed their new state on iron and coal. In 1880 they became world legends in iron and steel production. While the German Krupp company had 17 workers in 1826, this number had increased to 70,000 in 1910. This situation caused large capital accumulation and they started to import production tools, especially from the USA. They imitated the USA in industrialization. Their leadership in the iron and steel industries continued later in the chemical industry. The Central Bank, which they established in 1846, provided economic discipline. When gold, which was found in California in 1848 and in Australia in 1851, increased the world money supply, a significant part of this accumulation flowed to Germany. This accumulation multiplied the factories like mushrooms. The increase in financial resources, the accumulation of capital, which in turn improved the industrial move, the efforts to access more resources, especially the French iron basin, turned into a geopolitical ambition.
NECESSITY TO EXPAND IN SEA
Now it was time to go from the continent to the ocean. The process that would change the course of world history in both world wars and bring Germany into the arena of global power struggle had begun. The new state of hardworking people who met with energy and industry, ensured their unity, had to go to sea. Germany gained colonies in Africa after the 1878 Berlin Conference. That wasn’t enough. After 1884, he sought colonies outside of Europe. The outward orientation made the exit to the sea and the oceans essential. Kaiser Wilhelm II, who took the throne in the summer of 1888, made Germany a maritime state, in stark contrast to the Founder Kaiser Wilhelm I and Bismarck. The young Kaiser knew very well that Germany needed a large navy to achieve its “Weltpolitik” goals. In this context, he was greatly influenced by the American strategist Alfred Mahan.
TOWARDS A MARITIME NATION
After 1888, German maritime power took its historical energy from the preservation of the tradition originating from port cities such as Dortmund, Lübeck, Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel, which were included in the economic confederation called the “Hanseatic League” in 1143. In the Second Schleswig-Holstein War in 1864, the capture of Wilhelmshaven, Kiel and Danzig in order to develop naval bases and shipyards facilitated Prussia’s exit to the Baltic and North Sea. Combining the Protestant morality of these regions with maritime after 1888 made Germany a sailor in a short time. From the outset, the Germans brought up the children of noble families, mostly from the Prussian and Hanseatic cities (Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen) to use on their ships for officer cadres. Therefore, the German Navy was founded and led by the Protestant Admiral and officers. In 1888, they had no battleships and had only 534 officers and 15,000 sailors. In the same year, England had 17 battleships and France had eight. The German Fleet grew tremendously between 1890 and 1914. In 1890, the German Navy, which had three battleships, increased this number to 19 dreadnoughts when entering the First World War. There were also 20 pre-dreadnought battleships and seven battlecruisers. Between 1885 and 1914, the German merchant fleet had grown 8 times. There has never been such a record growth in world maritime history. The Berlin-Baghdad railway, which started its project in 1892, was the most important tool for their rapprochement with the Ottoman Empire, while at the same time, it was a means of landing in Kirkuk and Mosul Regions, where rich oil resources were found, during this period when the transition from coal to oil began. The rapprochement with the Ottoman Empire was initiated purely for geopolitical reasons. Germany was growing on coal and steel only on land. By having the Kiel-Canal built in 1895, Wilhelm II carried out a geopolitical maneuver that brought the North and Baltic Seas together. Starting in 1888, they created a navy that could challenge the world’s largest navy in 26 years. There is no other example in the history of the world, apart from partly Japan, that could build up naval power and become a maritime state as quickly as the Germans. The only wall in front of them now was England. GOING TO OCEANS The leader of German maritimization on the ground was Admiral Von Tirpitz, who became Minister of the Navy in June 1897 and remained in the post for 17 years. He said: “Germany must have such a powerful war fleet that even for an enemy with the largest navy it would be to jeopardize its own position in the world to go to war with it, … Germany’s most dangerous enemy at sea at the moment is England.” Another biggest supporter of Tirpitz in this process was Foreign Minister Von Bülow. In 1897, when the First Naval Act was being debated in parliament, he replied to the phrase “The British Empire Where the Sun Never Sets”: “Now we also demand a place in the sun.” By 1905, the German Navy had reached the size of affecting global geopolitics and reaching the oceans.
THE FIRST GEOPOLITICAL DRIFT: WORLD WAR ONE
In the First World War, the German Navy could not achieve its strategic goals. Although they defeated the British in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, they did not follow and did not go to the ocean. Until 1917, when the USA came to rescue the British, they brought England almost to the point of extinction with their submarine fleet of 375 ships. (They sank about 6 million tons of ships in total.) However, they were pushed back from the sea to land after the USA joined the war following Russia’s withdrawal from the alliance. However, they experienced the real geopolitical drift within themselves. In October 1918, the German High Seas Fleet was ordered to operate against the British blockade, with a sudden exit from the Danish Straits. However, instead of obeying this order, the German Navy rebelled and started a short-lived communist revolution. Therefore, the operation was cancelled. This revolt of the German Navy hastened the end of the war and the acceptance of the armistice by Germany on 11 November 1918. The Kaiser fled to the Netherlands. According to the Treaty of Versailles, which concluded the war, it was requested that the German Navy be handed over to England. In protest of this treaty, the Ship Commanders sank 74 ships of the interned German Navy, most of them very new, at Scapa Flow off the coast of Scotland on 21 June 1919.
MARITIME REFLEXES AND HITLER
The Treaty of Versailles allowed Germany to own only six pre-dreadnought battleships and a few light cruisers. They were removed from the seas and pushed ashore. The construction of aircraft and submarines was prohibited. When National Socialism combined with Haushofer’s Lebensraum geopolitical theory, they moved on to a resemblance of military capability growth and expansion at the beginning of the 20th century. The navy began to grow after Hitler came to power. With the Z Plan, which went into effect in 1938, they aimed to have 13 battleships, four aircraft carriers, 100 cruisers and destroyers, and 250 submarines by 1947. However, Hitler, who started the war on land early, did not wait for the conclusion of Plan Z. Fascinated by the lightning war on land, Hitler neglected the Navy. He did not listen to admirals. Therefore, the surface fleet could not be effective. However, the Submarine fleet managed to blockade the island of England in the Battle of the Atlantic. When they reached the border of hunger and lack of fuel, the USA again rushed to help to Brits. With the convoy system and warships, they borrowed from US Navy they succeeded against the German U-Boats. Having originally 55 submarines, the Germans built 1153 submarines during the war and sank around 3000 ships for a total tonnage of 20 million tons. However, at the end of Anglo-American supremacy, 754 German submarines were sunk, and 32,000 sailors were lost. It was known that the submarines that moved to the front during the most intense period of the war could not return to the port again. History has never recorded another naval battle with such a high rate of intentional death. Despite this, the petition of 82,000 sailors who were willing to become submariners was waiting in the file.
THE SECOND GEOPOLITICAL DRIFT AND DETACHEMENT FROM THE SEA
The Second World War ended with the occupation of Germany by the USA, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Thus, Germany was divided into East and West Germany according to the Soviet and Euro-Atlantic spheres of influence. In the war-torn and spiritually devastated Germany, the USA, Soviet Union, England and France made arrangements to maintain a permanent military presence. Not only under the pretext of the Cold War, dozens of US, NATO and Warsaw Pact bases were established in West and East Germany to prevent this war machine nation from ever going to ocean again and to prevent it from developing armies capable of attack. around 200,000 American and British soldiers; Tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers settled in West and East Germany with their families. West Germany’s most strategic ports became NATO reception ports of the European front in a future war. Thus, the defense of West Germany is entirely left to the US strategists’; The East also had to entrust the minds of Soviet strategists. Since the Americans took over the defense of West Germany, they did not devote large resources to defense until the 1990s. Thus, they were able to devote resources to development and healing the wounds of war. With NATO membership in 1955, they were dictated to have an army and a navy formed entirely according to NATO plans and objectives. Germany’s next development of global or continental naval power was put on hold for a long time. The Anglo-Saxon school could never again allow German naval power to rival it in the Atlantic or the North Sea. They became one of the founding states of the EEC in 1958.
SEA POWER SUBJECT TO US PERMISSION
Anglo-Saxon influence distanced the Germans from their history. The navy had its share of this, too. However, the deep-rooted institutions of the defense industry preserved their experience and knowledge. Today, Germany’s leading position in the European Union is not powered only by the post-1990 reunification of the two Germanys or their economic size. Although they have forgotten or even rejected their recent military history, the effects of the military legacy they rejected on the defense industry remain very evident. American pressure could not prevent their shipyards and defense industries from developing and becoming leaders in the design and construction of selected warship types in the world. The existence of the German Navy outside the Baltic and North Seas was only possible with the unification of the two Germanys and NATO itself under the will of the USA, starting from the 1990s. Since the 2000s, German Naval Task Groups have been deployed to the areas such as West Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean at different times for presence missions. After 2008, they took an active role in EU and NATO task groups in the fight against piracy in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The ability of the Germans to become a leader in the field of naval power in a short time continued to be a function of geopolitical preference due to political and US influence.
USA IS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH GERMAN-FRENCH-RUSSIAN RAPPROACHMENT
After the Cold War ended and the two Germanys were united, they acted together with their arch-rival France in the European Common Security and Defense Policy. So much so that they even formed a joint corps. This was not an acceptable perspective for the USA and the UK. If this union went to get closer and cooperate with Russia and China, the edge of the Atlantic system in the rimland to contain Russia and China could be seriously injured. One of the biggest concerns for the USA was that the economic giant of the EU, such as Germany, had uninterrupted energy with Russian gas. The fact that Germany had energy security through the Nord Stream-I natural gas pipeline, which carried Russian gas under the Baltic Sea starting in 2012, disturbed the USA and the Anglo-Saxon world. On the eve of the completion and commissioning of the second line Nord Stream II in 2021, the provocation of the Ukraine crisis by the USA and the UK and Russia’s encouragement of military action created one of the biggest post-cold war breaks in global geopolitics. NEW DRIFTING AFTER FEBRUARY 24, 2022 Russia started special military operations in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. While the Merkel Governments were keeping the German-Russian and German-American relations in balance in a way that would protect the German interests, the new Chancellor Olaf Scholz completely bowed to the US policies and signed Germany’s new geopolitical drift. In both world wars, Germany wanted to become a global maritime state with geopolitical desire to transform itself from a continental to a maritime power thru reaching the oceans. In both world wars, as a continental state, it fought with the maritime states, but lost. In the 21st century, this time, not by war, but by his own will, accepted to be the vassal and proxy of the naval hegemon, the USA. Germany now plays a leading role in all sanctions against Russia. Knowing that his own people and industrialists will face great difficulties this winter, Scholz continues to volunteer to protect Washington’s interests in the Ukraine crisis. The situation of Germany; which increased its defense budget to $100 billion just because the USA wanted and encouraged to go out of the Baltic/North Sea; is similar to Japan. Despite the provisions to prevent armament and especially offensive armament in their constitutions, which were written by the USA for the interests of the USA, both Germany and Japan, World War II loser states, accelerated their armament processes. The German Chief of Staff says they are planning to send frigates to the South China Sea. They built new ports for LNG ships carrying expensive American shale gas. This gas, which is much more expensive than Russian gas, fills American treasury and lowers the German budget. While German companies are shutting down one by one because of their energy bills, inflation is increasing and they are running a budget deficit. However, anti-Russia and anti-Chinese rhetoric and actions continue uninterrupted. Germany, as a federal republic, is in pieces. The presence of state institutions and organizations that consented to the Atlantic hegemony and the American occupation that has continued since 1945, as well as the presence of leaders who rebelled against the US hegemony and implemented independent policies in the past, is a sign that the division of Germany will continue for a long time. The fact that they have turned into a welfare society in the last 70 years and that they have moved away from the impulse of national value and independence is an indication that the pledge to America will continue in the 21st century. However, the coming winter period may bring new developments. As a result, the political spectrum can be turned upside down when the masses, who have moved away from consumption and welfare habits and become impoverished, realize that these sacrifices are made for the interests of the USA. However, the reality is that the Germans, who could not achieve unity for 2000 years, seem to continue to act with the same socio-genetic codes today. The USA uses this feature to its advantage.