Having defeated the main enemies of Germany—Denmark, Austria, and France—Bismarck decided that the best way to protect Germany was to preserve the peace created after the wars. His plan therefore was to isolate France as much as possible, allying himself with Russia and Austria—both to generate strength as an alliance and to prevent France from a similar alliance. This was referred to as the Dreikaiserbund, or the League of the Three Emperors, when the alliance was formed in 1873 (historyhome). Although the alliance did not include any military measures, co-operation between these three powers were crucial to Germany’s security, preventing rivalry over the Balkans and isolating France.
However, the Drekaiserbund was destroyed after a series of revolts in the Balkans against the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1870s, bringing forward a sense of impending war in Europe. To counter the new divisive atmosphere in Europe at the time, Bismarck secured the Dual Alliance with Austria in 1879, to secure Germany’s southern frontier, and with the intention of intimidating Russia into more friendly relations. Bismarck focused on improving relationships between Germany and its closest neighbors in order to secure a strong alliance and isolate Western European powers.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand greatly disturbed the peace in Europe in 1914, and was a major factor in destabilizing Germany’s security.
Germany began to plan for a simultaneous war on two fronts with Russia and France: The Schlieffen Plan (BBC Bitesize). Because of this, when Russia began to mobilize its army, Germany was forced to initiate war with France, upsetting the delicate equilibrium that Bismarck had orchestrated.
Thus, Bismarck’s plan was destroyed and all hope for security lost. Peace could not last after the events of the early 20th Century, and as Germany had prepared only for war on two fronts, the hostility escalated quickly.
- Bismarck’s Foreign Policy. History Home. Retrieved from www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/bismarck.htm
- The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. History. Retrieved from www.history.com/news/the-assassination-of-archduke-franz-ferdinand
- The Outbreak of War. BBC Bitesize. Retrieved from www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir1/schlieffenplanrev4.html