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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems
Germany & Baltic

The history of Germany’s relations with the Baltic States is both a history of violence as well as of flourishing commercial, economic and cultural links. The knights of the Teutonic Order and German soldiers occupied and plundered the region in the medieval ages and during the two world wars of the 20th century. In contrast to these eras of great violence, German settlers, soon followed by the merchants of the Hanseatic League and their successors, established close cultural, economic, and commercial relations with the Baltic States with mutual benefits for both sides. Moreover, until 1940, their descendants played an important role not only in the Baltic but also in the Russian Empire as well as in the Baltic states founded after the end of World War I. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Germany supported the newly independent Baltic states and their entry to the European Union and NATO in the 2000s. Since 2015, Germany has been following NATO commitments in regularly deploying troops to the Baltic in order to deter Russian aggression. Germany’s longstanding support for the Baltic, however, sharply contrasts with its attitude in keeping up political and commercial links with Russia.


Professor Michael Epkenhans was Director of Research at the German Office for Military History at Potsdam. He is the author of numerous works on German political and military history, including Tirpitz: Architect of the German High Seas Fleet (Potomac Books, Washington DC, 2008). 

Register here for this in-person event.

Thursday, 21 October, 2021 - 17:30 to 19:00
Event location: 
Leslie Stephen Room, Trinity Hall, Cambridge