What challenges did Germany face after becoming a nation-state in 1871?

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Germany faced many problems following unification in 1871.

Militarily, the country was in constant fear of a Franco-Russian alliance that would have resulted in a two-front war. This had long been deemed a no-win scenario for Germany, and Bismark worked tirelessly to stop this alliance from forming.

To this end, the Three Emperor’s League was signed in 1872 in which Austria, Russia and Germany all pledged mutual dislike of republicanism and socialism. It brought some measure of cooperation between Russia and Germany. Germany also played peacemaker for the Russians after their successful war with the ailing Ottoman Empire in 1878. These measures successfully isolated France, and prevented what could have been a two-front threat . . . for a little while at least.

Germany also began to flex its muscles as a global power by establishing several colonies. Colonies in Africa and Oceania gave what German peoples called, “a place in the sun,” and led to what historians have called, “The Scramble for Africa.” Bismark tried to lessen the effects of impending imperialist competition by holding the Berlin Conference of 1885, which created rough agreements about who could colonize what on the dark continent.

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