I'm not well-read, but I got the impression that Europeans (e.g. Gilbert and Sullivan, Bizet, Smetena) rejected German art while they pulled ahead in engineering and mathematics. Stephenson may have built the Rocket but Prussia built the first superheated express engines (i.e., no water in the cylinders) and diesel submarines.

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    I think you may have to narrow down the timespan, or move it. Germany was not much ahead of anything in the 1830s, I think. I also believe your comments re. German arts may not be totally true. Heine (literature), C.D. Friedrich (painting), Semper (architecture) all seem to have been somewhat popular outside of Germany (for some definitions of Germany, in the case of Semper)
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 0:36
  • I don't recall Prussia being a naval power because of those inventions.
    – Jos
    Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 0:56
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    I believe this question can be answered with citations. E.g. Hawes, The Shortest History of Germany, p. 94f and 126 (universities as the only way to achieve social.mobility, low-wage economy with well-educated workforce). At least if one replaces "far ahead of its contemporaries" with "so successful" or something similar.
    – Jan
    Commented Mar 30, 2023 at 23:18