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Naval Arms Race or Politics? Myth-busting...


IrishGunner
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A naval arms race between Britain and Germany has often been cited as one of the causes of WWI. However, this article suggests that not everyone in London was "all in" for building a strong Navy. Other articles have shown that Britain maintained a wide margin of "superiority" over Germany in numbers of ships afloat and in the shipyards. So, is this one of those "myths" ... was there really a feeling of being in an arms race or did politics really rule the waves?

Cabinet Quarrel Causes the Admiralty to Stop All But Imperative Work

Another article, which relates that Winston Churchill is facing a political crisis because many in the Cabinet oppose his shipbuilding programme which would give Britain a "60% superiority" over its next closest rival, Germany.

Majority of Cabinet Said to be with Lloyd George in Quarrel over Naval Estimates

Edited by IrishGunner
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The belief that the arms race was one of the major factors of WWI lead to the failure of Britain to rearm sufficiently prior to WWII. There was a belief that if we didn't rearm then others would also not do so, however AH didn't paly by the rules.

Paul

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Given England's far flung empire it was imperative that she maintained an ability to keep the shipping lanes open. Germany had no such need. The build up of the German Navy was a vain attempt by Willy to mimic Britain. He looked for a fight where one needn't have been.

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It was one of the factors I would say. Germany already had the most formidable army in Europe, and Britain's main defence was always the channel and the Royal Navy. Once the German's appeared to be acting to remove even that advantage (although at no point was the High Seas Fleet a match for the Royal Navy) the alarm bells started ringing, if they hadn't already been doing so with the Reich's ascent in Europe, upwards explosion in economy and some diplomatic and political faux pas by Wilhelm II.

It might also be relevant to consider that this was a time of great technological development, including the navy where dreadnoughts with massive guns could easily destroy ships built just a short time before. Everyone was building new ships in order not to have a navy that might have been good-sized but technologically inferior, and this would emphasise the impression of an arms race.

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