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   Chapter 23 THE TRADE FEATURES OF GERMANY

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Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


GERMANY THE MOST PROSPEROUS NATION IN CONTINENTAL EUROPE

The greatest and most prosperous commercial nation in the old world after Great Britain is Germany. Its population is 52,000,000, as against France's 38,500,000; and while France's population is scarcely increasing at all, Germany's population is increasing the most rapidly of any in Europe. Since the Franco-Prussian war France has gained in population only a little over 2,000,000, while Germany in the same time has gained 12,000,000. In the middle of the present century the populations of Germany and France were equal, being each about 35,000,000. Since that date Germany's population has increased by about fifty per cent. and France's by only about ten per cent. Similarly, the commerce of Germany not only greatly exceeds that of France, but is growing much faster than that of France. The total exports and imports of Germany, exclusive of bullion, now foot up to nearly $2,000,000,000 a year. The total exports and imports of France, exclusive of bullion, foot up to only $1,500,000,000 a year. The total commerce of Germany is therefore about one third more than that of France. At the close of the Franco-Prussian war the total commerce of France considerably exceeded that of Germany.

THE CHARACTER OF GERMANY'S INDUSTRIES CHANGING

Germany, like England, is rapidly changing the character of her industries and becoming a manufacturing and commercial nation instead of an agricultural nation. This is the cause of her well-known anxiety to secure control of territories in Africa, Asia, etc., as exclusive markets for her manufactures, for, unlike England, Germany is at present a believer in exclusion in trade, both at home and in her colonies. Fifty years ago about four sevenths of the people of Germany were engaged in agriculture; now only about one third of the people are so employed. The growth of the great cities of Germany is eight times faster than that of the rural districts, and in fifty years the aggregate population of the six largest cities of the empire-Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Breslau, and Dresden-has grown sixfold, namely, from 600,000 to 3,600,000. In fifty years, too, the manufactures of Germany have nearly doubled, the commerce nearly trebled, the shipping increased more than fivefold, and the mining output more than sixfold. While all this is true, it nevertheless is also true that the area of cultivated soil in Germany is double what it was fifty years ago. But this is because much land, formerly waste or in pasture, has been brought under cultivation. Yet even now only one half of the land of Germany is cultivated, and thirty-three per cent. of the total food consumption of the people has to be imported. Fifty years ago only five per cent. of the total food consumption was imported, and this small fraction consisted almost wholly of luxuries.

GERMANY'S SUCCESS IN TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Approximate size of the German Empire.

Note.-The population of that part of the United States included within the circle is about 10,000,000. The population of the German Empire is about 52,000,000.

Germany's prosperity and progress cannot wholly be measured by statistics. No one can predict what it will be, for it is partly based upon elements that unfortunately other countries have not taken much account of. Germany pays greater attention to the practical education of her people than any other nation in the world. Her system of technical education extends over the whole empire, and provides technical instruction for every class of the people and for every occupation of the people-night schools for those already engaged in life's work, agricultural schools, forestry schools, commercial schools, mining schools, naval schools, and schools in every branch of manufacturing industry, besides, of course, schools for the education of those intending to follow the learned professions. As a consequence of this very general provision of technical education, there is engaged in German manufacturing pursuits a class of workmen not found in the workshops of any other country-men of industrial skill and experience, and at the same time of the highest scientific technical attainments in the branches of science that bear particularly upon their work. These men work at salaries that in other countries would be considered absurdly low. In almost all other countries the possession of a sound scientific education is a passport to social distinction, and every profession is open to him who is deserving to enter it. In Germany, however, the learned professions, and especially the official positions of the army and navy, are almost the exclusive preserves of those who are born to social rank. The educated commoner, therefore, has to betake himself to manufacture, trade, or commerce. It follows that scientific skill and intelligence are more generally diffused in German commercial industries than in those of all other nations. So far, however, the German artisan has not been the equal in special technical skill of his more rigidly specialised English competitor, and as a consequence of this more than one sixth of Germany's total imports consist of goods brought from England-principally the finer sort of textile fabrics and articles of iron and steel. This inferiority in specialisation in the German workmen cannot continue long, and the successful rivalry of Germany with the manufacturing pre-eminence of Great Britain may soon be a startling fact.

GERMANY'S MINES AND HARDWARE MANUFACTURES

It is in the development of her mines and of manufactures in which minerals are employed that Germany has made most noticeable progress. She produces four times as much coal as France, and she has over 1000 separate iron-mines. Her production of iron has increased tenfold in fifty years. She employs over 400,000 men in her mines, and by the use of labour-saving machinery one man can now produce as much as three men could produce fifty years ago. Her hardware manufactures are one sixth of her total manufactures, and in the past half century they have increased sixfold. They are now double those of France, and are only one fourth less than those of Great Britain. She has 750 factories devoted to the making of machinery alone. Two of these-

Krupp's at Essen, and Borsig's at Berlin-are among the largest in the world. Krupp's employs 20,000 men, has 310 steam-engines, and covers an area of 1000 acres. Borsig's employs 10,000 men, and in fifty years, starting from nothing, has turned out nearly 4000 locomotives. One of Krupp's hammers (a fifty-ton hammer) cost $500,000.

GERMANY'S INTERNAL TRADE

Germany's commercial energies up to the present have been mainly concentrated on her internal trade. The total amount of this trade foots up to $7,000,000,000, against France's $6,000,000,000, and in fifty years it has trebled, while that of France has scarcely doubled. Germany has more miles of railway than any other country in the world except the United States, her mileage being nearly 30,000, against France's 25,000 and Great Britain's 21,000. Her natural and artificial waterways are also the best in Europe, and her vast production of mineral wealth is transported from mine to foundry and factory, and her vast production of lumber and grain is transported from forest and field to seaport, largely by means of water carriage. The Rhine, the Elbe, the Oder, and the Vistula are all navigable throughout their whole courses through German territory, while the Weser and the Danube are also navigable throughout great parts of their courses. All these navigable rivers are interconnected by canals. The total length of possible river navigation is nearly 6000 miles, while the total length of canals and canalised rivers is 2700 miles. Besides, in 1895 there was completed the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, a lockless sea-going vessel canal, twenty-nine feet six inches deep and sixty-one miles long, connecting the North Sea and the Baltic, and constructed at a cost of nearly $40,000,000. This canal effects a saving of almost one whole day for commercial steamers, and of three days for all sailing-vessels, engaged in the Baltic and North Sea trade.

GERMANY'S FOREIGN TRADE

But while it is true that Germany's internal trade is her most important trade, it is also true that her foreign trade has during the last half century made more progress than that of any other European country, and during the last three or four decades more progress than even that of the United States. Since 1840 it has increased six and two third times, while that of Great Britain has increased six times, and France only four and one fifth times. It is now second in the world, being more than half of that of Great Britain, ahead of that of the United States,[1] and very considerably ahead of that of France, while in 1860 it was much less than half of that of Great Britain, less than that of the United States, and considerably less than that of France. Germany, however, is not well favoured with respect to seaports, for in its transmarine trade it is largely dependent on foreign seaports-namely, ports in Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, and Austria. Rotterdam in Holland and Antwerp in Belgium are much more favourably situated with respect to the commerce of its chief mining and manufacturing regions than any of its own ports. There are only two German seaports with water of depth sufficient to accommodate the deep-drawing vessels in which foreign commerce is now mainly carried on-namely, Cuxhaven, the outport of Hamburg, sixty-five miles from Hamburg, and Bremerhaven, the outport of Bremen, thirty-five miles from Bremen, though recent improvements in the navigation of the Elbe allow vessels of even twenty-six feet draught to ascend the Elbe wholly to Hamburg. But Hamburg (625,000), for the reason that for centuries it was a free port of entry, has built up a very large foreign trade, being the fifth in the world in this respect, London, New York, Liverpool, and Rotterdam, alone being ahead of it. Hamburg's foreign trade is almost one half greater than the whole foreign trade of all other German ports put together, while the foreign trade of Bremen is about one fourth that of Hamburg. Bremen, like Hamburg, was for centuries a free port of entry, but in 1888 both Hamburg and Bremen gave up in great part their free port privileges and entered the general customs union of the empire. Both cities were extremely loath to give up their ancient unique commercial privileges, for they feared an immense loss of trade in doing so, but it was hoped that what they lost in foreign commerce would be made up to them in increased commerce with other parts of the empire. One reason for the great development of Germany's foreign trade in late years is found in the facilities that it possesses for rapid transit to and from Italy by means of tunnels through the Alps.

North central Germany, showing the ship canal and the leading commercial arteries.

FOOTNOTE:

[1]During the last two or three years the foreign trade of the United States has greatly expanded and has exceeded that of Germany, and is making a close push upon that of Great Britain. The above statement was intended to represent the situation as existing during a period of some years.

THE SPECIAL TRADE CENTRES OF GERMANY

Berlin (1,700,000), the capital of the empire, is a chief seat of machinery manufacture. For many years Frankfort-on-the-Main enjoyed the pre-eminence of being next to London the greatest money market in the world; but since the establishment of the German Empire Frankfort's financial business has been absorbed by Berlin. Leipzig (400,000) has the distinction of being the seat of a book-publishing trade that turns out over 60,000,000 volumes in a year, amounting in value to $30,000,000. Leipzig has also the honour of being the greatest fur market in the world. Dantzig (120,000) is Germany's chief port on the Baltic, and the chief seat of its great export trade in timber, grain, flax, hemp, and potatoes. Its harbour, however, is closed in winter because of ice. Dresden (330,000) is noted for its porcelain manufacture, but the porcelain is not manufactured chiefly in Dresden, but in Meissen, fifteen miles from Dresden. Munich (407,000) manufactures largely the national beverage, beer. Finally, Nuremberg (162,000), in southern Germany, is remarkable for its continuance into modern days of manufactures for centuries carried on domestically. Of these the most noted are watches, clocks, pencils, and toys.

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