The Historiography of the Origins of the First World War

1 January 2018

Historiography is American German relations from the end of the Civil War up to the First World War is a rather obscure subject. Rather than having its own specialized and narrow individualized study, it is studied primarily in thematic articles dealing with specific events that marked such relations or in contrast to growing British-American rapprochement during this period, written in the context of European foreign relations historiography. There is little written about the structural continuity in the relationship between the United States and Imperial Germany between the years 1871 and 1918, unless it is in the context of the First World War and then only between the start of the war to its end and the subsequent period. While there are many parallels between both the United States and Germany during this time, such as the stresses of industrialization, urbanization, the search for national unity following a period of war, and the search for a world policy, there is little written about such similarities and about the shift from amiable relations to the growing antagonism that occurred during this period.

In the period of following the outbreak of the First World War and the entry of the United States into European affairs, there is an immense amount written about American German relations. However, much of this is written in the context of the First World War and does not stress any sort of continuity in foreign relations from the period that preceded this general conflagration. Nonetheless, while there is a lack of attention in reference to the relations between these two great nations, simultaneously undergoing similar processes of industrialization, urbanization, and a world foreign policy, there are some key works that address their relationship during the period following German unification and the American Civil War and before the First World War, which saw them emerging as enemies from a period of them being once erstwhile allies.

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