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The German Naval Office and Public Opinion (September 24, 1900)

To support the construction of a German battle fleet, the German Naval Office established a News Office. It rallied popular sentiment, employing a range of “modern” techniques, such as planting articles in newspapers, paying German professors to speak on behalf of naval construction, and supporting a popular organization, the German Navy League, which grew to several hundred thousand members.

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General background
The News Office was set up in the summer of 1897, when the government had become convinced that the creation of a strong fleet was necessary for Germany, and that, to this end, it was imperative to enlighten and educate the German people about its maritime responsibilities and needs.

The tasks that will fall to the News Office in the future will arise from the general domestic and international political situation, and from the goals that will be set regarding the further expansion of the fleet. In view of the fact that, according to the law of 1900, the number of new ships permitted to be built per year is subject to the decision of the Reichstag, heightened activity on the part of the News Office will occasionally be required in the upcoming budget deliberations.

As far as foreign politics is concerned, it is naturally impossible to predict whether there will be particular incidents (military conflicts, for example) that will have to be exploited for educational purposes. Even in the absence of particular international provocations, attention will have to be paid to the growth of other navies, the spread of imperialistic ideas, and the friendly competition surrounding the world market and global trading routes; moreover, the interest of the German people in such developments will have to be further awakened and actively maintained.

A look back
When it comes to the appropriate exploitation of the future domestic political situation, it is important to take a look back at what has been achieved thus far and the methods that have been employed.

The activity of the News Office has extended in various directions:

a) immediate work in the daily press;

b) supporting existing associations like the Colonial Society and the Pan-German League, the Navy League, the Foreign Association, and related efforts by individual persons or organizations in educational work [Aufklärungsarbeit] in the maritime field;

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