• Richard Scully
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


In asking again to what extent Britons came to imagine Germany as their enemy ‘Other’ before the outbreak of the Great War, it is apparent that British perceptions of Germany were generally much more complex and multifaceted than has hitherto been fully appreciated. Rather than a straight-forward transition from regarding Germany as a ‘model’, to a growing awareness of Germany as a ‘monster’, a far more ambivalent mixture of attitudes developed towards the end of the nineteenth century, as Britons debated what Germany could and should mean for them and their nation. The tendency (albeit with some reservations) to imagine Germany positively — as a model of excellence in education and culture, coupled with recognition of the racial, dynastic and religious ties which bound Britain to Germany — survived well into the period when diplomatically, relations between the two countries were becoming strained. These feelings continued to coexist along-side and interact with a newer sense of Germany as a competitor and rival of Great Britain: ‘admired for its economic success and social welfare provision, it was also regarded as illiberal, militaristic, and technocratic’.1 In the wider popular discourse, a significant debate raged over whether Germany itself might be considered an ally, or an adversary; and whether this new German model should indeed be accepted, as had the older one, as worthy of emulation.


German Model Social Welfare Provision Outright Antagonism Diplomatic History Political Cartoon 
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  1. 3.
    F. Weckerlein, Streitfall Deutschland: Die britische Linke und die Demokratisierung des Deutschen Reiches, 1900–1918, Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1994; G. Ritter, ‘Die britische Arbeiterbewegung und die deutsche Sozialdemokratie, 1900–1923’, in Ritter and Wende (ed.), Rivalität und Partnerschaft, pp. 93–132; A. M. Birke, ‘Der Englische Krankheit’, in Deutschland und Großbritannien, pp. 102– 26; S. Berger, ‘Between efficiency and ‘Prussianism’: stereotypes and the perception of the the [sic] German Social Democrats by the British Labour Party, 1900–1920’, in Emig (ed.), Stereotypes in Contemporary Anglo-German Relations, pp. 172–84.Google Scholar

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© Richard Scully 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Scully
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New EnglandAustralia

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