on the naval race leading up to World War I -->
The document this exercise focuses on comes from a report to London by Hugh Watson, Naval Attaché (naval expert); at the British Embassy in Berlin, dated 12th March 1913. Watson is reporting on German attitudes towards the German policy of naval expansion and towards Britain's reaction to it.
In this exercise, you must use your knowledge and understanding of the situation to anticipate what Watson might have said. Each part of this exercise includes questions about what the next section of the document might contain. Decide which answer sounds the most probable, and then follow the link to the next section of the document to see how close you were.
N.B. There may well be more than one correct answer.
Report by Hugh Watson, Naval Attaché at the British embassy in Berlin, 12th March 1913.
Crown copyright. Reference: Churchill Papers, CHAR 13/19/44-6.
Watson goes on to say something about the attitude of German taxpayers towards the cost of Germany's naval expansion. Which attitude(s) would he be more likely to report?:
a) Germans were prepared to pay any price to maintain a large fleet
b) The cost was beginning to bite, but on the whole Germans were still prepared to pay it.
c) The cost was beginning to turn Germans against the policy of naval expansion.
d) The heavy cost had now turned German public opinion heavily against naval expansion.
Watson then goes on to talk about the attitudes towards naval policy of the various political groups in the Reichstag. What do you think would have been the most likely situation that he had to report?:
a) All parties were opposed to further naval expansion, though for different reasons.
b) All parties were worried about the continuing costs of naval expansion.
c) Opposition to naval expansion was largely confined to the liberals, socialists, and other left-wing parties.
d) Opposition to naval expansion was largely voiced by the conservatives and other right-wing parties.
Watson then puts forward various ideas about why political and public opinion is turning against the policy of naval expansion. Which of these is or are the most likely?:
a) The programme was proving too expensive.
b) Germans did not want to create bad feeling between Germany and Britain.
c) There was a strong feeling that money should be concentrated on the army rather than the navy.
d) Many Germans recognised that Britain's arguments about why she needed a large fleet and Germany did not were essentially correct.
To talk about changes in public opinion is one thing, but the British government would need to know how strong the swing might be, and when, if ever, it might be expected to influence German policy. What would Watson be most likely to suggest about the speed and extent of this change in German attitudes?:
a) Public opinion in Germany was by then too scared of war with Britain and was strongly opposed to further naval expansion which might make relations even worse.
b) Despite all the worries, public opinion remained solidly behind the policy of naval expansion.
c) Public opinion was shifting, but could swing back in favour of naval expansion at any time.
d) Public opinion was turning against naval expansion, but only very slowly.
Watson also reported on the effect in Germany of Churchill's speeches, like the one in the Document analysis. What would you expect he had to say about the impact of Churchill's words on German attitudes?:
a) They were a major factor in turning the Germans against naval expansion.
b) They had no effect on German attitudes whatsoever.
c) They were a relatively minor factor.
d) If anything they served to harden German attitudes against Britain and to strengthen support for naval expansion.