Germany–United Kingdom relations
Before the unification of Germany in 1871, Britain was often allied in wartime with Prussia. The Hanoverian kings of Great Britain (from George I through William IV) were also the rulers of the German state of Hanover. Queen Victoria married Albert, the German prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and their grandsons included the rulers of Britain and Germany in 1914. The Mountbatten family is of Hessian ancestry.
Britain and Germany fought two wars--World War I and World War II (against each other), and since 1955 have been military allies in NATO. Trade relations have been very strong since the late Middle Ages, when the German cities of the Hanseatic League traded with England. Both nations are active in the EU.
Nowadays the countries have a very strong relationship of economic and political co-operation, and as of present, the British-German relationship is one of the most functioning consolidations in Europe.
|Area||357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi)||244,820 km2 (94,526 sq mi )|
|Population Density||229/km2 (593/sq mi)||246/km2 (637/sq mi)|
|Largest City||Berlin – 3,439,100 (4,900,000 Metro)||London – 7,556,900 (13,945,000 Metro)|
|Government||Federal parliamentary constitutional republic||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Official languages||German (de facto and de jure)||English (de facto)|
|Main religions||67.07% Christianity, 29.6% non-Religious, 5% Islam,
0.25% Buddhism, 0.25% Judaism, 0.1% Hinduism, 0.09% Sikhism
|59.3% Christianity, 25.1% Non-Religious, 7.2% Unstated, 4.8% Islam,
1.5% Hinduism, 0.8% Sikhism, 0.5% Judaism, 0.4% Buddhism
|Ethnic groups||80.0% German, 4.3% Turkish, 17.7% other||92.1% White, 4.4% Asian, 2% Black, 1.2% Multi-racial, 0.4% Other|
|GDP (nominal)||€2.936 trillion (US$3.66 trillion) €35,825 per capita ($44,660)||£1.695 trillion (US$2.674 trillion), £27,805 per capita ($43,875)|
|Expatriate populations||266,000 German-born people live in the UK||250,000 British-born people live in Germany|
|Military expenditures||€37.5 billion (US$46.8 billion) (FY 2008)||£41 billion (US$65 billion) (FY 2009–10)|
English and German are both West Germanic languages. Modern English has diverged significantly from its continental sister languages, having received substantially more French and Latin influence and perhaps contact with the world outside Europe through trade and imperialism has also influenced English to a greater degree. However, English has its roots in the languages spoken by Germanic peoples from mainland Europe, more specifically various peoples came from what is now the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, including a people called the Angles, after whom English is named. Many everyday words in English are of Germanic origin and are therefore similar to their German counterparts, while more intellectual and formal words are of French or Latin origin, also English is not the only native language spoken in Britain today (for examples Gaelic, Welsh and Cornish) and German is not he only native language spoken in Germany (for example Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian) but the shared origins of much of British and German language and culture are undeniable. Assertions of shared genetic heritage between the United Kingdom and Germany have been more difficult to quantify.
Trade and the Hanseatic League
There is a long history of trade relations between the Germans and the British. The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe. It stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea during the 13th–17th centuries, and included London. The main center was Lübeck, Germany. The Hanseatic League facilitated trade between London and numerous cities, most of them controlled by German merchants. It also opened up trade with the Baltic.
England's first diplomatic relations with Germany were through the dynastic alliance pursued between Æthelberht of Kent and Charibert I, and were significantly augmented later under Offa of Mercia and Charlemagne. Until the late 17th century such marriages between the two nations were only sporadic, due initially to the largely French preference of the House of Wessex, when both the Anglo-Saxons and Franks continually had to contend with severe Danish and Norman Viking attacks and colonisations. Another reason for estrangement was Germany's increasing preoccupation with Italy: the two nations together formed the core Holy Roman Empire. Empress Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England, was married between 1114 and 1125 to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor but they had no issue. She then married Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and tried to usurp the kingdom of Stephen of England; her son became Henry II of England. In 1256, Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall was elected King of Germany and his sons were surnamed Almain. Throughout this period, the Steelyard of London was a typical German community in England. German mercenaries were used in the Wars of the Roses.
Subsequently Anne of Cleves was the consort of Henry VIII. The Habsburg Philip II of Spain in 1554, was another consort of the English monarch of German stock. It was not until William III of England that a king of German origin came to reign, from the House of Nassau. The consort of his successor Queen Anne was Prince George of Denmark from the House of Oldenburg, who had no surviving children, yet a cadet dynastic successor[clarification needed] in Mountbatten-Windsor today. Philip, William and George each failed to provide heirs for England and Britain.
In 1714, succeeding Queen Anne, George I, a German-speaking Hanoverian prince of mixed British and German descent, ascended to the British throne, founding the House of Hanover. This was descended from the Wittelsbachs who descended from Elizabeth of Bohemia. For over a century, Britain's monarchs were also rulers of Hanover (first as Prince Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, then as a separate Kingdom). This was a personal union rather than a political one, with the two countries remaining quite separate. Hanover was occupied during the Napoleonic wars, but some Hanoverian troops fled to the United Kingdom to form the King's German Legion, a unit within the British army made up of ethnic Germans. The link between the two kingdoms finally ended in 1837 with the accession of Queen Victoria to the British throne: under the Salic Law women were ineligible for the throne of Hanover.
Every British monarch from George I to George V in the 20th century, took a Royal German consort (the consort of Edward VII was Alexandra of Denmark); George VI chose a Scotswoman but his daughter Elizabeth II married a Prince of Greece and Denmark who is of German heritage and is a patrilineal relative of Prince George of Denmark mentioned above; a further indication of German heritage is the name Mountbatten. The British Royal family retained the German surname von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha until 1917, when, in response to anti-German feelings during World War I, it was legally changed to the more British "Windsor". In the same year, members of the British Royal family members gave up any German titles they held, whilst their German relatives were stripped of any British titles they held by an Act of Parliament.
Coming to power in 1888, the young Kaiser Wilhelm dismissed Chancellor Bismarck in 1890 and sought aggressively to increasing Germany's influence in the world through his Weltpolitik. Foreign policy was controlled by the erratic Kaiser, who played an increasingly reckless hand, and by the powerful foreign office under the leadership of Friedrich von Holstein. The foreign office in Berlin argued that: first, a long-term coalition between France and Russia had to fall apart; secondly, Russia and Britain would never get together; and, finally, Britain would eventually seek an alliance with Germany. Germany refused to renew its treaties with Russia. But Russia did form a closer relationship with France in the Dual Alliance of 1894, since both were worried about the possibilities of German aggression. London refused to agree to the formal alliance that Germany sought. Berlin's analysis proved mistaken on every point, leading to Germany's increasing isolation and its dependence on the Triple Alliance, which brought together Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. The Triple Alliance was undermined by differences between Austria and Italy, and in 1915 Italy switched sides.
The British Royal Navy dominated the globe in the 19th century, but after 1890 Germany worked to achieve parity. It never did catch up, but the resulting naval race heightened tensions between the two nations.
The German Navy under Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz had ambitions to rival the great British Navy, and dramatically expanded its fleet in the early 20th century to protect the colonies and exert power worldwide. Tirpitz started a programme of warship construction in 1898. In 1890, Germany traded the strategic island of Heligoland in the North Sea with Britain in exchange for the eastern African island of Zanzibar, and proceeded to construct a great naval base there. The British, however, kept well ahead in the naval race by the introduction of the highly advanced new Dreadnought battleship in 1907.
In the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905, Germany nearly came to blows with Britain and France when the latter attempted to establish a protectorate over Morocco. The Germans were upset at having not been informed about French intentions, and declared their support for Moroccan independence. William II made a highly provocative speech regarding this. The following year, a conference was held in which all of the European powers except Austria-Hungary (by now little more than a German satellite) sided with France. A compromise was brokered by the United States where the French relinquished some, but not all, control over Morocco.
Coming of the World War
In Germany left-wing parties, especially the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) made large gains in the 1912 German election. German government at the time was dominated by the Prussian Junkers (landed elites) who feared the rise of these left-wing parties. German historian Fritz Fischer famously argued that they deliberately sought an external war to distract the population and whip up patriotic support for the government. Other scholars argue that German conservatives were ambivalent about a war, worrying that losing a war would have disastrous consequences, and even a successful war might alienate the population if it were lengthy or difficult.
In explaining why neutral Britain went to war with Germany, Paul Kennedy, in The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (1980) argued that it was critical for war that Germany become economically more powerful than Britain. Kennedy downplayed the disputes over economic trade imperialism, the Baghdad Railway, confrontations in Eastern Europe, high-charged political rhetoric and domestic pressure-groups. Germany's reliance time and again on sheer power, while Britain increasingly appealed to moral sensibilities, played a role, especially in seeing the invasion of Belgium as a necessary military tactic or a profound moral crime. The German invasion of Belgium was not important because the British decision had already been made and the British were more concerned with the fate of France. Kennedy argues that by far the main reason was London's fear that a repeat of 1870—when Prussia and the German states smashed France—would mean Germany, with a powerful army and navy, would control the English Channel, and northwest France. British policy makers insisted that would be a catastrophe for British security.
In 1839 Britain, Germany and other powers agreed on the Treaty of London to guarantee the neutrality of Belgium. Germany violated that treaty in 1914—calling it a "scrap of paper," so Britain declared war.
Britain and the Allies won the World War, as Germany virtually surrendered in November, 1918. In the Khaki Election of 1918, coming days later, Prime Minister David Lloyd George promised to impose a harsh treaty on Germany. At the great Versailles Conference, however, Lloyd George took a much more moderate approach. France and Italy however demanded and achieved harsh terms, including forcing Germany to admit starting the war (which humiliated Germany as it is only partially true), and a demand that Germany pay the entire Allied cost of the war, including veterans' benefits and interest.
In 1920-33 Britain and Germany were on generally good terms, as shown by the Locarno Treaties and Kellogg–Briand Pact which helped reintegrate Germany into Europe. At the Genoa conference in 1922, Britain clashed openly with France over the amount of reparations to be collected from Germany. In 1923 France occupied the Ruhr industrial area of Germany following German default in reparations. Britain condemned the French move, and largely supported Germany in the ensuring Ruhrkampf (Ruhr struggle) between the Germans and the French. In 1924 Britain forced France to make major concessions in regards to the amount of reparations Germany had to pay.
With the coming to power of Hitler and the Nazis in 1933, relations turned tense. In 1934 a secret report by the Defence Requirements Committee identified Germany as the "ultimate potential enemy" and called for Continental expeditionary force of five mechanised divisions and fourteen infantry divisions. However, budget restraints prevented the formation of this large force. In 1935 the two nations agreed to the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, designed to avoid a repeat of the pre-1914 naval race.
By 1936 a policy of appeasement began under Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in an effort to prevent war, or at least postpone it until the British military was ready. Appeasement has been the subject of intense debate for seventy years among academics, politicians and diplomats. The historians' assessments have ranged from condemnation for allowing Hitler's Germany to grow too strong, to the judgement that he had no alternative and acted in Britain's best interests. At the time, these concessions were very popular and the Munich Pact in 1938 among Germany, Britain, France and Italy prompted Chamberlain to announce that he had secured "peace for our time".
World War II
Nazi Germany and the United Kingdom fought each other during World War II, and this confrontation continues to loom large in the British public consciousness. War was brought to British skies in the Battle of Britain, but after their aerial assault was repulsed, the Germans postponed the planned invasion of Britain. Following D-Day, British forces contributed substantially to the defeat of Germany, and occupied part of it.
Since 1945 Germany hosts several British military installations in Western part of the country as part of British Forces Germany. Both countries are members of the European Union and NATO, and share strong economic ties. In 1990, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification, but eventually accepted the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany.
Nowadays the countries have a very strong relationship of economic and political co-operation, especially within the EU, although of course disagreements inevitably arise between the two once every so often.
- Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and Regensburg, Bavaria
- Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales and Kronberg im Taunus, Hesse
- Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England and Schongau, Bavaria
- Amersham, Buckinghamshire, England and Bensheim, Hesse
- Ashford, Kent, England and Bad Münstereifel, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Barking & Dagenham, Essex, England and Witten, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and Schwäbisch Gmünd, Baden Württemberg
- Basingstoke, Hampshire, England and Euskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Bath, Somerset, England and Braunschweig, Lower Saxony
- Bedford, Bedfordshire, England and Bamberg, Bavaria
- Belfast, County Antrim/ County Down, Northern Ireland and Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Birmingham, West Midlands, England and Frankfurt, Hesse
- Bolton, Greater Manchester, England and Paderborn, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Bracknell, Berkshire, England and Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Brentwood, Essex, England and Roth, Bavaria
- Bristol, Bristol, England and Hannover, Lower Saxony
- Bromley, London, England and Neuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England and Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg
- Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales and Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg
- Chelmsford, Essex, England and Backnang, Baden-Württemberg
- Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England and Darmstadt, Hesse
- Christchurch, Dorset, England and Aalen, Baden-Württemberg
- Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England and Itzehoe, Schleswig-Holstein
- Carlisle, Cumbria, England and Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein
- Colchester, Essex, England and Wetzlar, Hesse
- Coventry, West Midlands, England and Dresden, Saxony
- Coventry, West Midlands, England and Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein
- Crawley, West Sussex, England and Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Darlington, County Durham, England and Mülheim an der Ruhr, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Derby, Derbyshire, England and Osnabrück, Lower Saxony
- Dundee, Dundee, Scotland and Würzburg, Bavaria
- Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland and Munich, Bavaria
- Elgin, Moray, Scotland and Landshut, Bavaria
- Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, England and Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg
- Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and Brackwede, Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland and Nuremberg, Bavaria
- Glossop, Derbyshire, England and Bad Vilbel, Hesse
- Guildford, Surrey, England and Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg
- Halifax, Yorkshire, England and Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia,
- Hemel Hempstead and Borough of Dacorum, Hertfordshire and Neu Isenburg
- High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England and Kelkheim, Hesse
- Kendal, Cumbria, England and Rinteln, Lower Saxony
- Kettering, Northamptonshire, England and Lahnstein, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England and Husum, Schleswig-Holstein
- Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland and Kulmbach, Bavaria
- Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland and Ingolstadt, Bavaria
- Knaresborough, Yorkshire and Bebra, Hesse
- Lancaster, Lancashire, England and Rendsburg, Schleswig-Holstein
- Leeds, Yorkshire, England and Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Leicester, Leicestershire, England and Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Leven, Fife, Scotland and Holzminden, Lower Saxony
- Lichfield, Staffordshire, England andLimburg an der Lahn, Hesse
- Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England and Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Rhineland-Palatinate,
- Liverpool, Merseyside, England and Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia
- London, London, England and Berlin, Berlin
- Manchester, Greater Manchester, England and Chemnitz, Saxony
- Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England and Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England and Bernkastel-Kues, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland and Schweinfurt, Bavaria
- Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England and Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Norwich, Norfolk, England and Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England and Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg
- Oakham, Rutland, England and Barmstedt, Schleswig-Holstein
- Oxford, Oxfordshire, England and Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Perth, Perth and Kinross, Scotland and Aschaffenburg, Bavaria
- Peterlee, County Durham, England and Nordenham, Lower Saxony
- Portsmouth, Hampshire, England and Duisburg, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Reading, Berkshire, England and Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Rossendale, Lancashire, England and Bocholt, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England and Wiesbaden, Hesse
- Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England and Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia
- South Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, England and Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Spalding, Lincolnshire, England and Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate
- St. Helens, Merseyside, England and Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg
- Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England and Ingelheim am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Stockport, Greater Manchester, England and Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg
- Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England and Erlangen, Bavaria
- Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, England and Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales and Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg
- Todmorden, West Yorkshire, England and Bramsche, Lower Saxony
- Thurso, Caithness, Scotland and Brilon, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Truro, Cornwall, England and Boppard, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Uckfield, East Sussex, England and Quickborn, Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein
- Ware, Hertfordshire, England and Wülfrath, North Rhine-Westphalia
- Wellingborough, East Midlands, England and Wittlich, Rhineland-Palatinate
- Workington, Cumbria, England and Selm, North Rhine-Westphalia
- York, North Yorkshire, England and Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia
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- Anglo-German Relations: Paul Joyce, University of Portsmouth
- Anglo-German Club in Hamburg
- Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft in Berlin
- Anglo-German Foundation
- Anglo-German Trade
- British-German Association
- German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce in London
- German Industry in the UK
- UK-German Connection
- British Embassy in Berlin
- German Embassy in London
- Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations
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