Historians often describe their art by using the German historie and geschichte. They collect historie or the story of what happened from raw materials such as memoirs, lessons learned, command stories, letters, recollections, oral histories, traditions, legends, and sea stories. Then they ask questions about each source, analyze its significance, and try to discover geschichte, that is, “What actually happened?"
“How can we define the meaning of the German naval power in the 20th century?" This is an important question for understanding the German history of pre-World War I. Traditionally, after the unification of Germany, its defense policy was highly defended upon the ‘army power’. Therefore, naval power was the second line of defense in Germany. Since 1890, Germany has been recognized the importance of naval power through some diplomatic crisis at overseas. Under the leadership of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German defense policy was changed. He defined the policy as ‘New Course'. Wilhelm II, Tirpitz and Hohenrohe were three major people who built up the German Navy in the early 20th century.
Chapter Two explores the background of German naval policy. I will describe how Kaiser placed emphasis on the importance of naval power to have more overseas territories for the national interest. Chapter Three examines the process of establishment of German naval policy. In this chapter, I will describe how the naval policy was changed from ‘plan’ to ‘policy’ to secure more national interest as well as naval power. Chapter Four examines the movement of developing the Navy Law after 1898. The Navy League placed an important role to establish the Navy Law in this situation. Chapter Five overviews the influence of German naval policy, not only on Germany but also on the other European countries, especially Great Britain.