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BISMARCK 
ANDRÄSSY 
AND THEIR 
SUCCESSORS 



BISMARCK, 
ANDRÄSSY 
and their SUCCESSORS 

★ 

COUNT JULIUS 
ANDRÄSSY 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

1927 


Printed in Great Britain 


CONTENTS 


BOOK I 

BISMARCK AND ANDRÄSSY 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. i. Bismarck's changed attitude after the 
Franco-Prussian War. 2. The Iron Chan¬ 
cellor's Peace Policy. 3. Bismarck and 
Andrässy. 4. Characters of Bismarck and 
Andrässy contrasted .... 3 

II. 1. Gladstone's estrangement from Germany. 

2. Improvement in the strained relations 
between Germany and France. 3. Ex¬ 
tension of Germany’s Colonial Empire. 

4. Renewal of the Three Emperors’ Alli¬ 
ance. 5. The Triple Alliance. 6. Serbia 
and Rumania join the Triple Alliance. 

7. The Weakness of Bismarck's System of 
Alliances ...... 54 

III. 1. The Growth of Revanche in France. 2. 
Salisbury's letter to Bismarck. 3. The 
Bulgarian Crisis and the Great Powers. 

4. The agreement between England, Italy, 
and Austria-Hungary. 5. Renewal of 
the Triple Alliance. 6. The Russo-Ger¬ 
man Secret Treaty. 7. Bismarck's Ex¬ 
planation of the Secret Treaty. 8. Scheme 
for an Anglo-German Alliance. 9. The 
fall of Bismarck . 


V 


99 


VI 


Contents 



BOOK II 




FROM BISMARCK TO BÜLOW 
I. CAPRIVI (1890-1894) 



CHAPTER 


PAGE 

i. 

Renewal of the Alliance . 

• 

171 

ii. 

The Russo-French Treaty 

• 

179 

in. 

Relations with England (Heligoland, Egypt, 
Tunis, the Dardanelles) 

192 

IV. 

England and the Congo Dispute 

• 

212 

V. 

Summary ..... 

• 

220 


BOOK II 




FROM BISMARCK TO BÜLOW 
II. HOHENLOHE (1894-1897) 



i. 

The Triple Alliance of Asia 

• 

223 

ii. 

Strained Relations between England 
Germany ..... 

and 

• 

230 

hi. 

The Boers ..... 

• 

247 

IV. 

Weakening of the Triple Alliance 

• 

258 

V. 

England, Egypt, the Armenian Question, 
Crete ....... 

262 

VI. 

William II and Nicholas II 

• 

279 


Contents 


Vll 


BOOK III 
WELTPOLITIK 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. William II and Bülow .... 287 

II. Opening of Alliances. Italy, Austria-Hungary, 

Rumania ...... 307 

III. Germany's favourable situation . . 318 

IV. The " Free Hand ” Policy. First Overtures 


from England ..... 324 

V. Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 340 

VI. The Boer War and the Chinese Question . 360 

VII. England’s Last Overtures to Germany . 372 

VIII. The Anglo-French Entente . . . 394 

IX. Russian Friendship ..... 407 

X. The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö 

Alliance ...... 415 


XI. Conclusion 


440 

























CHAPTER I 


FROM THE PEACE OF FRANKFORT TO THE GERMAN- 
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ALLIANCE (1871-1879) 

i. Bismarck's Changed Attitude after the Franco- 

Prussian War 

I N publishing its foreign correspondence from 1870 to 
1914 the German Government has rendered an 
immense service to the cause of historical truth. 1 
It is on the basis of that publication that I now propose 
to write on the recent past, in the firm conviction that 
in the past alone can be found the clue to the right 
understanding of both the present and the future. 

The central figure and chief hero of the six volumes 
(1870-1890) that have already appeared is Bismarck, 
the Iron Chancellor, one of the greatest geniuses in 
foreign politics that ever directed the destinies of any 
nation. The chief contents of the books are the record 
of the struggles of the famous German statesman for a 
peace such as would secure to Germany her unity and 
the frontiers she had sealed with so much of her blood. 

These documents conjure up before my mental vision 
the illustrious German patriot whom in the eighties it 
was my privilege frequently to meet; with his tall, 
commanding stature, the piercing gaze of his wise, 
expressive grey eyes, his interesting bushy eyebrows, re¬ 
miniscent to a Hungarian of Francis Deäk, his prominent 
forehead, and his square jaw indicative of an inflexible 
will. Add to these features the air of power and quiet 

1 Die Grosse Politik der europäischen Kabinette, 1871-1914. Sammlung 
der diplomatischen Akten des auswärtigen Amtes, Berlin. 

3 


6 


Bismarck and Andrdssy 

moreover, the fratricidal contest was unpopular in the 
country itself. At length, in his ambition to unite the 
German people, he desired to overcome the final obstacle 
to the realisation of that unity—namely, the French 
Emperor—though the shadow of revenge for Königgrätz 
hung over him like the sword of Damocles. At this 
point of Bismarck’s career the looker-on is overwhelmed 
by the same feeling of awe as were the spectators of 
Blondin crossing the Niagara Falls on a frail tight-rope, 
when had he but slipped or got in the least dizzy he 
would have been precipitated into the yawning abyss 
below. But in his bold adventure Bismarck’s iron nerve 
never for a moment failed him, his indomitable courage 
carried him unflinchingly along the path he had marked 
out. He reasoned and acted coldly and with a stern 
logic amidst circumstances which would have appalled 
an ordinary man. 

When, however, he had attained his positive aim— 
the unity of Germany under Prussian hegemony—he 
changed as by magic, and with consummate skill and 
caution avoided the possibility of an open rupture, 
holding peace as the pearl of great price. He exchanged 
the tactics of a Napoleon for those of a Montecucculi. 
The man who had so often dared to sever the Gordian 
knot of coalitions, who had never been known to quail 
before the strongest, now suffered a very nightmare on 
their account and feared to offend the weak. 

This dual aspect of Bismarck, this change of front, 
was, strictly speaking, only the result of his consistency. 
His altered attitude was not due to his having got tired 
of taking risks, or because he needed rest, or because his 
views as to the morality of war had undergone any 
modification ; he had by no means become a pacifist, 
nor was he disposed to condemn his former actions. 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 7 

The change in him was due to the fact that the world- 
situation had become different, and he always did what 
the interests of the Fatherland demanded in given cir¬ 
cumstances. 

As in winter we need different clothing from that 
which we wear in summer, as children lead a different 
life from that of the grown-ups and invalids from that 
of the robust, as in a blustering north wind we hoist 
other sails than when the soft southern breezes blow : 
so a nation sometimes finds it necessary to change her 
policy. But it requires a truly great statesman to adapt 
himself to such contrary needs, and Bismarck was par 
excellence such an one. 

The works of Goethe or of Shakespeare can be recog¬ 
nised by their style; the paintings of Raphael or of 
Dürer are characterised by the brush-strokes, colouring, 
and style of beauty of the masters ; Szechenyi, Kossuth, 
Napoleon, and Metternich are in all their actions classic 
examples of the same type and qualities of statesmanship. 
Bismarck, however, could display the most opposite 
qualities, he could satisfy the most contrary requirements 
of the life of his nation. 

In the former part of his career we see him as a 
Prussian, regretting and pronouncing impossible the 
situation of his country. Prussia, geographically hardly 
coherent—wedged in amidst hostile Austria, Hanover, 
Denmark, Saxony, and South Germany—was not an 
independent State in any true sense. The days of 
Olmütz might return at any time—those days of shame 
when Radowitz, Prime Minister of Prussia, had to knuckle 
under to Schwartzenberg, the Austrian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs. 

Neither could Bismarck, as a German, feel any sense 
of satisfaction. His German self-consciousness must 



8 


Bismarck and Andrdssy 

perforce revolt against the disunion and supineness of his 
race, and he consequently desired to transform the 
cultural unity into a political unity. That race which had 
bestowed on humanity a Kant, a Goethe, a Schiller, had 
a right to assert itself politically. 

The towering genius of Bismarck also realised that if 
Prussia abandoned utopian dreams and accepted the 
Pan-German idea, she might hope thereby to reap 
constant brilliant successes corresponding to actual 
conditions, to the immense benefit of herself and her 
race. 

Bismarck's ambitions were so lofty, so splendid, and 
at the same time so practical, that he was prepared to 
risk all for them—his own life and the lives of thousands, 
his reputation as a statesman, and, what is more impor¬ 
tant and even more sacred than everything else, the 
very existence of the Fatherland! Convinced that 
without the means to assert themselves politically his 
country and people could not live a life worthy of them¬ 
selves, that they would be debarred from fulfilling their 
high destiny in which he unswervingly believed, but 
would wither and decay amidst futile squabbling under 
pressure of the petty conditions of existence ; seeing 
clearly that inertia would sooner or later only end in 
ruin, while a bold dash—though through the very gates 
of hell—would lead to Olympus, Bismarck was urged by 
the fervour of his patriotism to the policy of the “ forlorn 
hope." 

The classic saying of Deak, the great Hungarian 
statesman, that “ Anything may be risked for the 
Fatherland, but the Fatherland may not be risked for 
anything," is not contrary to Bismarck's policy ; for the 
policy of audacity was also that of far-sightedness. To 
refuse to take risks would have meant cowardly resigna- 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance g 

tion—a resignation the nation could not have tolerated 
for long without a final moral collapse. 

When, however, after his triumph, Bismarck could 
call Germany (to use Mettemich’s expression) “ satis¬ 
fied/' he regarded every risk as criminal, and he led the 
policy of the conservative (or “ satisfied ’’) State with 
just the same zeal and efficiency as previously, when in 
an unnatural situation, he had led the policy of aggres¬ 
sion. Thenceforth his sole object was to retain and, 
if possible, strengthen by peaceful means what he 
had won in war. Waiting, passivity was no longer 
a risk, but wise calculation, while war was but an 
unnecessary adventure, a species of gamble not to be 
entertained. 

Politicians lacking his foresight frequently advised 
Bismarck in these days to attack France or Russia—to 
settle the scores of those hostile neighbours—on the 
argument that sooner or later war would be inevitable 
and would probably break out at a time when conditions 
were less favourable than those now enjoyed by Bismarck 
and Moltke. But he rejected these temptations at the 
outset. He considered it criminal frivolity to start a 
war on the ground of such predictions, for even a wise 
man is not necessarily a prophet, and the best are liable 
to err. How many war-dangers have been averted 
without war actually occurring ! Would any responsible 
statesman dare to say to a dying or wounded soldier : 
“ You must suffer, since I believe that this war, which I 
have made, would in any case have broken out later on ; 
but at the same time I must tell you that no advantage 
to the Fatherland may be expected from victory, while 
the war might certainly have been avoided for the present 
without sacrifice of our vital interests or loss of prestige ”? 
For to Bismarck’s strong mind any war, to be justified, 




io Bismarck and Andrassy 

must stand the test of criticism by the most interested 
party—the common soldier who had to shed his blood 
for it. 

Bismarck considered war justifiable only if it pro¬ 
mised advantages proportionate to the risks incurred, 
or if it were to solve a problem of vital importance to 
the Fatherland which could not be solved by less drastic 
measures. 

Before 1870 there were many such cases, but there 
have been none since. This explains the fact that, as 
Prime Minister of Prussia, Bismarck wrought with 
" blood and iron/' and as German Chancellor he employed 
the milder weapons of diplomacy, patience, moderation, 
and compromise. 

Napoleon I, that great military genius, fell because 
he was unable to govern and restrain his impetuous 
nature, because he could not adapt himself to changed 
conditions, because after the Peaces of Amiens and 
Luneville—which secured for France her independence, 
power, and even European supremacy—he could not 
transform himself into a peaceful defensive statesman, 
like Bismarck after the Peace of Frankfort. But it was 
scarcely the ulterior motive of Napoleon, the Corsican 
fortuitously placed at the head of France, to safeguard 
the real and permanent interests of France : it was rather 
his own glory, his unquenchable thirst for eclat, and the 
exercise of his brilliant talents, to parade his striking 
personality before the admiring gaze of an awestruck 
world. In this respect Bismarck was immeasurably 
superior to Bonaparte. The greatness of the Iron 
Chancellor was rooted deep in a moral foundation, in his 
profound patriotic sense. We might call him rude and 
ruthless, pronounce his methods wrong, but his motives 
could never be impugned: they were honourable, 



Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance n 

majestic, splendid examples of German thoroughness in 
the sphere of politics. 

2. The Iron Chancellor's Peace Policy 

Now let us take a glance at the instruments of 
Bismarck's peace policy. What was his system after 
the Peace of Frankfort ? To what methods did he 
resort in order to accomplish his aims ? 

First of all, he armed. For he was well aware that 
the only absolutely reliable help is always and everywhere 
that of the power of the nation itself. He was guided 
by the fundamental conception of German policy which 
Moltke, the famous strategist, expressed with crystal 
clarity of vision when defending the treaty concluded 
with us, that " the existence of Germany would become 
problematical if ever she should become too weak to fight 
France single-handed ." 

It was Bismarck’s firm conviction that his Gallic 
neighbours would attack the moment they felt strong 
enough to defeat Germany. He detested France from 
the bottom of his heart; he saw in her history nothing 
save an offensive, aggressive spirit; and he held that 
in the many struggles between French and Germans 
since the break-up of the empire of the Carlovingians, the 
Germans had always been wantonly and unjustly attacked. 
He could not believe that the French would ever forgive 
the Germans for defeating them, and was convinced that 
France would begin a new war if ever the time came 
when she had no longer to fear another German victory. 
And though his reasonings were exaggerations rooted in 
his German chauvinism, his conclusions were unquestion¬ 
ably right, for the policy of France could be relied on to 
be peaceful only so long as her defeat was more probable 
than her victory. 


12 Bismarck and Andrassy 

An implicit will to peace was rendered impossible by 
the fact that the Germans had conquered territory in 
Alsace-Lorraine, which resisted germanisation, whose 
French patriotism stood rock-firm to all the onslaughts 
of Berlin. As soon as ever France might reasonably 
expect a favourable issue, she would have to risk war. 
As soon as she was fairly in a position to liberate her 
children, she could not leave them longer under alien 
yoke ; it would be a suicidal act for her to turn a deaf 
ear to their yearning cry to return to “la Patrie 

And indeed the French nation through fifty weary 
years never forgot this duty. France, in spite of the 
loss of Alsace-Lorraine, was able to exist and progress, 
and thus she could afford to wait in patience for the 
day of realisation of her resolve : to redeem (as soon 
as a cold political calculation permitted) her children 
under German rule. This attitude of the French per¬ 
petuated the strained state of European politics, rendering 
it impossible—greatly to the detriment of humanity— 
for these two neighbours sincerely and without mental 
reservation to co-operate. It cost untold millions of 
money and constituted one of the psychological causes of 
the awful World War. Nevertheless we too, who par¬ 
ticularly suffered from the policy of France, recognise 
that it was to her honour and furnishes a glorious example 
of the way in which other nations in a similar situation 
should behave. Only we must profoundly regret that 
it was France who, forgetting her own sorrowful experi¬ 
ences, allowed herself to create so many other Alsace- 
Lorraines, to the constant peril of the peace and progress 
of herself and the world. 

Bismarck felt that the annexation of the purely 
French portion of Alsace-Lorraine was a blunder, and he 
only deferred to the representations of Moltke that the 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 13 

possession by Germany of Metz and Strasburg would 
enable them to dispense with a hundred thousand troops. 
In that respect the great soldier may have been right, 
but it was no just argument for annexation ; for owing 
to the spirit of revenge that it engendered in the French, 
the Germans were obliged for many long years to keep 
far more men under arms than the more favourable 
strategic frontier would have rendered necessary ; and 
the armed peace made permanent by the annexation 
seriously impaired economic development. It fostered 
the constant enmity of France, which at length became 
one of the constituent elements in the recent cataclysm. 
And this mistake influences the second part of Bismarck's 
career to a remarkable degree. All his energies were 
required in the ceaseless struggle against the dangers 
created by the annexation. 

In spite of this, however, Bismarck never thought of 
the one radical solution—the rectification of the error, 
i.e. by returning Alsace-Lorraine to the French on the 
basis of suitable agreements. But we have no right to 
judge him ; the overwhelming majority of the German 
people would have rejected such a proposal with scorn ; 
and even we, their allies, would never have thought of 
any such solution. Even I myself failed to perceive it 
until the Great War was approaching its final stage. 
But to-day, in the light of subsequently acquired wisdom, 
we have to confess that the chief cause of our undoing 
was that the thorn of annexation could not be plucked 
from the world's flesh. 

If only the statesmen of our time would learn this 
lesson, if only they would try to understand that a bad, 
tyrannical peace, with unnatural frontiers, with a regime 
that the subdued nation is unwilling to submit to, with 
impossible economic conditions, will always rob a 


14 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

victorious war of all its fruits, for it obliges the conqueror 
to defend situations unnatural and therefore impossible 
to maintain, and bears within itself the germs of future 
wars of revenge. If only the present victors would see 
that the only effectual remedy is to make amends for 
the wrongs done—which can also be demanded from 
those who stood for the right of nations to self-determina¬ 
tion and severely censured the annexation of Bismarck ! 

But armaments alone were no satisfactory safeguard 
for Bismarck. They merely prevented an isolated France 
from attacking, but not a coalition grouped around 
France which considered itself stronger than Germany. 
The possibility of such a coalition arising obsessed 
Bismarck to the end of his days. Herein we discern 
the real clue to his foreign policy. Against this, the 
far-seeing, cautious Chancellor was constantly on the 
look-out for allies with whose aid he could isolate France, 
or at least ensure that she with her allies should be kept 
unquestionably weaker than Germany with her allies, 
and consequently she (France) could never contemplate 
aggressive movements against Germany. 

For this purpose the ideal solution was an alliance 
with Russia and Austria-Hungary—the so-called Alliance 
of the Three Emperors. This combination kept Bismarck 
from the beginning strong enough to exclude any other 
counter-coalition. At first he considered this also the 
safest. The chief pillar and corner-stone of this alliance 
he considered the intimacy of the Hohenzollern and the 
Romanoff, the personal friendship of these two Emperors, 
the common monarchical principle, the anti-Polish 
policy in vogue in St. Petersburg and Berlin alike—that 
is to say, the common Russo-German traditions which 
had stood the test of history, which had enabled Russia 
to quell the Polish insurrection (1863), and cancel the 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 15 

humiliating Black Sea Agreements (1871), and given 
Bismarck Königgrätz and Sedan. Bismarck sought to 
round off this old, tried friendship by the inclusion of 
Austria-Hungary, lest France should bind us to her 
car; though the basis of the combination would have 
remained the Russo-Prussian sympathy. 

In 1873 Bismarck attained his object. The impulse 
was furnished by us. The Chancellor's wisdom in not 
demanding annexation, against the will of his sovereign 
and public opinion, bore good fruit on the fall of Beust, 
the representative of the revanche policy. Andrässy, 
the Germanophil and friend of reconciliation, now 
became Foreign Minister : exemplifying that a reason¬ 
able and just peace is as wise and useful as an unreason¬ 
able and severe one is dangerous. 

The first step, the rapprochement of those erstwhile 
adversaries, Germany and Austria-Hungary, was natu¬ 
rally followed by another. For as the Russians perceived 
that the rivalry of the two Danubian neighbours (which 
contributed so largely to the Czar's power) had ceased, 
they began to fear that, if they failed to secure a 
closer connection with Germany than hitherto, a Ger¬ 
man-Austro-Hungarian alliance might be concluded. 
Thus the Czar offered a written treaty of alliance to the 
Germans. 

Bismarck hastened to seize the opportunity. He 
concluded with Russia a military convention which bound 
both contracting parties to assist each other in arms 
against an attack from any quarter (24th April 1873). 

This treaty was offered to Andrässy too. As Bismarck 
forced the hand of Russia by approaching Austria- 
Hungary, so he now stimulated us by the Russian 
agreement. Andrässy, however, though aware of the 
fact that if he did not want to be left in the lurch he 


i6 Bismarck and Andrassy 

must join the alliance of the two Emperors, was unwilling 
to accept it in the form offered. For this treaty would 
have bound us to side with Russia even if, on account 
of their conflicting ambitions in the East, the Czar 
should be attacked by England or Turkey; also to 
defend Alsace-Lorraine against the French : in short, 
to jeopardise our existence in the interests of others. 
Andrassy was too careful of the blood and treasure of his 
country to sign such a bond. In case of dire necessity, 
he was not averse to war, but only for the most immediate 
and highest interests of his own nation. 

His first great achievement in foreign politics was his 
success in carrying through his own policy against the 
agreement of his two mighty neighbours. He took 
shelter behind constitutional scruples, and so manoeuvred 
that the negotiations had to be put on a new basis. 

Agreement was reached by the three Emperors at 
Schönbrunn (May 1873), though no one of them would 
accept the obligation to defend the other two ; they 
were in accord only so far that the three conservative 
monarchs, united for peaceful aims, were willing to 
endeavour to adjust their eventual conflicting interests, 
and in case of danger from without would strive to come 
to an agreement with each other before seeking alliances 
elsewhere. 

Thus we escaped being isolated without having 
undertaken any disagreeable or risky obligations, and by 
the same means Bismarck realised his chief aim—the 
isolation of France. 

But by the conclusion of this Alliance of the Three 
Emperors, Bismarck had accomplished only the easier 
part of his task. It was a more difficult matter to main¬ 
tain the Alliance and to supply it with real vital force. 
The new work suffered from the initial mistake of the 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 17 

leading statesmen wanting to use it for realising their 
conflicting ambitions. 

Russia needed no defence. Her immense size, her 
good fortune to be vulnerable only on her comparatively 
narrow western border, secured her from any surprise 
attack, and therefore her Government sought the alliance 
of her western neighbours merely in order to enable her 
to prosecute her Oriental policy under their aegis. On 
one occasion Gortchakoff stated that “ he did not wish 
to take leave of public life like a snuffed-out candle, 
but like the sun, whose last rays shed dazzling radiance 
over the landscape/' The vain old diplomat yearned to 
finish his career in a blaze of glory equal to that of Bis¬ 
marck, and hoped to exploit the Alliance of the Three 
Emperors to that end. With Bismarck’s assistance during 
the Franco-Prussian War he succeeded in eliminating 
the most oppressive measures of the Peace of Paris, and 
now—also with Bismarck’s assistance—he sought to 
put an end to all the baneful consequences of the Crimean 
War and thus make Russia once more the prime factor 
in the East. He was anxious to revive the old Russian 
traditions, the aims of Peter the Great and Catherine, 
to become absolute lord of the Bosphorus and the 
Dardanelles, and to rally the Balkan Christians and Slavs 
around himself. 

Contrary to this, Andrässy accepted the Alliance of 
the Three Emperors in order to get nearer to Germany, 
to win her confidence, and with her assistance to repel 
Russian encroachments. He desired to carry out reforms 
in the Balkans which would ensure the existence of the 
Ottoman Empire and at the same time render con¬ 
ditions more tolerable for the Christian nations, and thus 
gain a halo of popularity for Austria-Hungary in the 
East. Or, in case all these reforms proved futile, if it 

2 



18 Bismarck and Andrassy 

were impossible to save the Ottoman Empire, then he 
would endeavour to have Mohammedan rule superseded 
by formations of Christian States which should be inde¬ 
pendent of the Czar and which would rely on us to 
safeguard their economic and cultural development and 
progress. 

While both Gortchakoff and Andrässy were anxious 
to make use of the Alliance for the promotion of their 
differing Eastern policies, Bismarck had formed it for 
the very purpose of eliminating the Eastern Question 
and isolating France. For Gortchakoff and Andrassy 
the Alliance was an organ of Eastern policy, for Bismarck 
an instrument for pushing it into the background. 

It would have been the most favourable opportunity 
for Bismarck if the Eastern Question had not become 
acute. However, it was child's-play for Russia to have 
prevented this. The parlous Turkish administration, 
the perpetual clash between Mussulman rule and the 
ever-increasing Christian self-consciousness, piled up a 
mass of inflammable material in the Balkans. The 
national ideal, strengthened by the Italian and the 
German unity, facilitated conflagrations—or fed them if 
already existing—in the realm of the Padishah, and 
rendered it difficult to avoid or extinguish them by 
peaceful means. Historical development aggravated 
and complicated the Eastern Question (Bosnian revolt 
1875) and prevented the formation suitable for Bismarck's 
conception. Consequently the future would thenceforth 
depend on his ability to so direct the Eastern Question 
(which could not be burked) as to avoid collision between 
Russian and Austro-Hungarian interests in the Orient; 
or failing that, on whether the conception of the Russian 
or that of the Austro-Hungarian statesman should 
prevail. 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 19 

3. Bismarck and Andrässy 

Andrässy's position in the Three Emperors' Alliance 
was a most difficult one. He was at the head of the 
weakest Power, regarded from the military standpoint, 
while success and brute force are commonly associated 
with each other. Besides this, the Dual Monarchy had 
received a damnosa hcereditas from Austria : she was 
everywhere mistrusted and regarded askance. In Berlin, 
Austria had long been considered the chief foe, and 
Bismarck could not rid himself of the idea that the 
Ultramontanes might come into their own again and 
revive the old Habsburg German policy. Russia, too, 
had neither forgotten nor forgiven us for the Crimea, 
and the antagonism between her and us was shown at 
the London Conference on the Pontus Question. More¬ 
over, the Polish Question constituted another barrier 
between Austro-Hungary and Russia. 

Again, Andrassy's personal position was difficult. 
His political past and his fundamental principles kept 
him aloof from the two Chancellors. They both con¬ 
sidered Andrässy a rebel because he had borne arms 
against his sovereign, who had even sentenced him to 
death ; they ignored the fact that the said sovereign 
had ridden roughshod over the Hungarian laws and 
unconstitutionally abolished the independence of the 
Magyars. Such trifling matters were beneath their 
notice. Andrässy had served from 1848 to 1899, as 
soldier and diplomat, that cause which Bismarck desired, 
with the aid of Prussian bayonets, to crush, and which 
was ultimately defeated by the Russians at Vilägos. 
Nor was Andrässy’s stupendous task by any means 
facilitated by his present role. He was an advocate of 
parliamentarism, while Gortchakoff was a courtier—a 


20 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

servant of absolutism—and Bismarck entertained a 
strong antipathy to parliamentarism and cast on its 
adherents the suspicion of putting party interests before 
those of their country. Both Chancellors were diplomats, 
proud of their craft. Andrässy was an outsider, whose 
diplomatic career had, as it were, commenced in the 
chair of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Would there 
not be a better understanding between the two old 
autocrats, experienced diplomats and old friends, than 
with the tyro-diplomat, the dilettante, the man who 
stood for liberty and constitutionalism ? Yet in spite 
of all this, Andrassy’s policy was carried through ! How 
was it possible ? 

It soon came about that Andrässy got nearer to both 
of his colleagues than did either of them to each other. 
The Iron Chancellor came to appreciate him as the 
straightforward man, the downright statesman, in con¬ 
trast with the senile, petty, gossiping Russian, not¬ 
withstanding all the externals separating him from 
Andrässy and attaching him to Gortchakoff. With 
every passing day Bismarck trusted Andrässy more and 
more, and Gortchakoff less and less. 

On the other hand, the Russian Chancellor found his 
dealings with Andrässy easier than with Bismarck. He 
had no need to be jealous of the Hungarian, as he was of 
the German, whose glory he envied. On their first 
meeting Gortchakoff paid Andrässy the highest compli¬ 
ment that an inordinately conceited person can pay to 
another : he compared Andrässy to himself. A little 
later (in 1878) Bismarck began to betray anxiety lest 
his two colleagues should become too intimate, and 
considered whether he should look to England for a 
counterpoise or negotiate for a separate alliance with 
Austria-Hungary. 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 21 

A serious rupture was caused between Germany and 
Russia in 1875 through Gortchakoff, the avowed friend 
and ally, claiming all the credit for preventing another 
war that, it was alleged, Germany had intended to spring 
upon France. There was not a word of truth in the 
allegation. Both Kaiser William and Bismarck abhorred 
the idea of attacking France. 

In the Eastern Question, too, Gortchakoff neglected 
no single opportunity of driving Bismarck—actually 
against his will—into Andrassy's arms. His deplorable 
tactlessness not infrequently brought the Iron Chancellor 
into the disagreeable situation of having to decline a 
proposition, though every such case of refusal erected a 
new barrier separating the two old friends, provoked 
each against the other, and created in Bismarck a con¬ 
sciousness that their long-standing friendship had waned, 
while it aroused in the Russian the dangerous feeling of 
wounded vanity. 

Such a rebuff was Gortchakoff's fate when, at the 
period of the Serbo-Turkish conflict, he proposed to call 
a congress, though Bismarck feared it, knowing that he 
could not observe in it that neutrality he would have 
liked to secure for himself, and that a rapprochement 
would have been brought about at such a congress between 
Austria-Hungary and England, a rapprochement which 
might upset his political schemes. Bismarck put the 
matter down to personal vanity and lack of conscientious¬ 
ness on the part of Gortchakoff (14th August 1876). 

A further rebuff was administered to the Russian 
Chancellor when the Czar vaguely and in general terms 
invited the co-operation of the German Emperor in his 
Oriental action (26th August 1876). Bismarck was 
indignant, and declared that “ he was not going to sign 
a blank cheque for anyone ; Russia must at least acquaint 


22 Bismarck and Andrassy 

him with the policy in which she desired his assistance.” 
An even more serious blunder was committed when 
Gortchakoff based the application on alleged services 
rendered by Russia to Germany in former years. He 
asked for gratitude from one who knew of nothing he 
had to be grateful for, from one who would have given 
his utmost assistance for a suitable equivalent, but not 
in return for alleged obligations which he declined to 
acknowledge ! 

It shook Bismarck's confidence in Russian friendship, 
especially when the Czar, ostensibly on the best terms 
with Austria-Hungary, enquired of Berlin through the 
German Military Attache in St. Petersburg : “ What 
would be the attitude of William I in the event of Russia 
becoming entangled in a war with the Dual Monarchy ? ” 
This clumsy and tactless question was characterised by 
Bismarck as a piece of pure perfidy ! It excited his 
righteous wrath, and, dreading to be driven into a 
corner, he gave expression to his suspicion that if he 
answered favourably, Gortchakoff would at once inform 
Vienna accordingly ; and if unfavourably, he would egg 
on the Czar against Germany. The suspicion was most 
probably unfounded, but there is no doubt that when 
Bismarck could think so ill of Gortchakoff he could 
no longer have any confidence in his profession of friend¬ 
ship ; and his very caution and foresight obliged him 
to approach those whom he considered incapable of 
treachery. At length Bismarck was embittered by the 
Czar assuming the role of the injured party before the 
German Minister at St. Petersburg and his unjustifiable 
complaint against the conduct of the Germans at the 
Ambassadors' Conference at Constantinople. Bismarck 
then failed not to rub it into the Czar’s representative 
that Gortchakoff and Ignatieff were nearer at heart to 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 23 

France than to Germany, that they desired to encompass 
the fall of Andrässy and to make terms with his successor 
against Germany, and that in those circumstances it 
would be a gross dereliction of his duty to neglect his 
friendship with the States on which he might have to 
rely owing to the policy of Gortchakoff (24th January 
1877). 

While the Russian Chancellor had thus weakened his 
position at Berlin, Andrässy had correspondingly strength¬ 
ened his own. 

In 1875 the latter did not claim any glory for having 
preserved the peace which was not imperilled, and for 
this correct conduct he received the gratitude of his 
friend, while Gortchakoff earned nothing but contempt 
and anger. 

Andrässy was perfectly informed on the Eastern 
Question and Bismarck's interest therein, and he at¬ 
tempted to do justice to the latter as far as possible. 
His task was facilitated by the fact that in not a few 
instances he regarded as profitable for the Dual Monarchy 
what was also compatible with the interests of Germany. 
Like Bismarck, he considered as useless the conference 
proposed by Gortchakoff; more, he considered it even 
dangerous. Like Bismarck, he was willing to agree with 
Russia, but would not veto the Czar's Oriental action 
lest Russian public opinion should turn against us, and 
we should be subjected to the fate of Turkey and have 
to face a very grave Russian war. 

Andrässy did not threaten Bismarck or worry him with 
interminable diplomatic notes, but played his cards in 
suchwise that it should be to the interest of Germany 
to stand by us at the critical moment. Thereby he 
improved his position in the Alliance of the Three 
Emperors. All the same, however, he had many a 


24 Bismarck and Andrassy 

bitter and painful experience before he reached his goal. 
The bitterest of all was when he had to agree with 
Gortchakoff before Russia would determine her Oriental 
policy and engage her army in the Balkans. Then he 
found himself on the horns of a dilemma : If the con¬ 
ditions of the agreement should promise no advantage 
for the Russians, there would arise the danger of the 
Czar seeking the road to Constantinople (according to 
the taste and advice of the Pan-Slavs) through Vienna. 
If, on the other hand, Andrassy should concede too much, 
it would either mean a surrender of the interests of the 
Monarchy or a violation of his pledged word. 

A heavy burden was lifted from Andrassy’s mind 
when at Reichstadt (1875) the first agreement was signed, 
Russia accepting his standpoint, i.e. that the object of 
the Oriental operations was to maintain and improve 
the status quo , or if that were impossible, then the 
erection of Christian States (none of which, however, 
should be a great Slav State), and that the eventual 
territorial changes should be limited to Russia receiving 
Bessarabia and Austria-Hungary Bosnia-Herzegovina, 
without any promise on our part of active assistance to 
Russia. I well recall the exciting days somewhat later 
when the Czar, through Suwarow, urged that common 
military action should be taken against Turkey, and 
Andrassy succeeded in turning down this proposal, the 
object of which was the dismemberment of Turkey, 
without however deterring Gortchakoff from his original 
purpose and inducing him to attack us instead of the 
Ottomans. I well remember the strenuous labour, and 
the resulting satisfaction of Andrassy, of the final 
negotiations before the beginning of the Russo-Turkish 
War, when once more everything hung by a single hair, 
and when, moreover, there was reason to fear that 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 25 

Russia would rather turn against us than commence 
operations in the Balkans with tied hands, and when 
Andrässy again succeeded in averting this disaster 
(Convention of 15th January 1877). Thus Russia 
entered on a war burdened with obligations, in the 
fulfilment of which we knew our own interests to be 
safeguarded. 

Bismarck did not regard Andrassy’s policy with 
unmixed pleasure or satisfaction, since they did not 
represent identity of interests. Whereas the former 
would strengthen the Alliance by the co-operation of 
Austria-Hungary and Russia in a positive form, conclud¬ 
ing with her an agreement as like that on the division 
of Poland as is one egg to another, the latter declined 
to listen to anything of the sort. The ultimate aim of 
Bismarck at this time, as he explained in an interesting 
note, was that Austria-Hungary, Russia, and England 
should agree for each of them to occupy in the East— 
at Turkey's expense—a position satisfying them for the 
time being, and preventing them turning against each 
other as well as preventing any one of them seeking the 
assistance of France; but later setting those Powers at 
loggerheads, so that they all should become dependent on 
the good-will of Germany. With this object in view 
he reserved for Russia (on the basis of a mutual agree¬ 
ment) the east of the Balkan Peninsula, for us Bosnia- 
Herzegovina, and for England Egypt. 

However, so long as Turkey held out, Andrässy 
would not occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina. As Bismarck 
said : “ Bosnia-Herzegovina is no desirable acquisition for 
Andrässy, but merely a pis aller , which he would take 
only if he had to choose between the annexation and a 
Pan-Slav formation which would endanger the other 
dominions of the Dual Monarchy (i.e. Dalmatia, etc.)." 



26 Bismarck and Andrassy 

Andrdssy would not with Russia attack Turkey in 
order to acquire spoils there. He condemned such a 
policy, saying he was ashamed of it. 

On one occasion in the special ministerial saloon-car 
between Tiszadob (the ancestral home of the Andrassy 
family) and Budapest, Andrassy, who always took his 
family into his confidence, addressed to me and my 
brother, his sons, the following query: “ Would we 

approve the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in co¬ 
operation with the Russians against the Turks, as many 
advocated ? ” (He did this partly with the object of 
training his sons to think, and partly also to formulate 
his own thoughts so lucidly that even young and inex¬ 
perienced boys like ourselves might be able to under¬ 
stand.) And then he proceeded to explain with noon¬ 
day clearness that to do so would be a grave mistake; 
for we were no aggressive State, and we ought to extend 
the sphere of our power only if there were no other 
means of defending our present possessions. To that 
we were compelled as much out of respect for the rights 
of others as for our own interests. 

This difference of view, however, did not disturb the 
harmony between the two statesmen. Bismarck had 
no desire to impose his views on us, for he was on the 
whole satisfied with Andrassy and was aware that the 
latter did not want a Russian war. He knew that 
Andrassy would not deceive him, and he had found by 
experience that the Hungarian did not, like Gortchakoff, 
constantly importune him to take sides with one or 
the other ally. Moreover, he knew Andrassy's strong 
convictions too well to attempt to influence him and 
play the role of mentor as against his successor. Thus 
until the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War (24th April 
1877) the internal situation of the Three Emperors 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 27 

Alliance was as follows : Austria-Hungary was on far 
better and more intimate terms with Germany than 
with Russia, and than those two Powers with each 
other. Andrässy communicated more easily with both 
his allies than they did with each other. Austria- 
Hungary had separate agreements with Russia which 
determined in advance what the consequences of the 
war should be. If Russia kept her word, all three 
statesmen might expect to a certain extent to realise 
their aims. Bismarck would be able to continue the 
Alliance of the Three Emperors and isolate France ; 
Andrässy could come into more confidential and friendly 
relations with Germany and be able to protect our 
interests in the East; Gortchakoff, though he would 
not become master of the Balkans, as he hoped, nor be 
able to accomplish the ancient Russian ambitions, yet 
need not be discomfited, as he could swap the Peace 
of Paris—representing the defeat of Russia—for inter¬ 
national agreements securing certain advantages for his 
country. 

All these things, however, would have been possible 
only if Russia had faithfully discharged the obligations 
she had undertaken towards us—and this she failed to 
do. The Czar's Government, counting on the effect of 
the fait accompli —in view of the excited Slav public 
opinion—contemplated exploiting the results achieved 
at such tremendous cost and upsetting the agreement 
concluded with us. At San Stefano (March 1878) 
Russia dictated to Turkey conditions which signified the 
formation of a great Slav State, the occupation for a 
long period of the east of the Balkans by Russian troops, 
and while Bessarabia was annexed, no mention was made 
of Bosnia ! In short she laid the foundation of Russian 
hegemony and coolly repudiated her obligations to us. 



28 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

This meant the miscarriage of Bismarck's carefully 
conceived scheme; whose weakness had been that 
whenever it became necessary to act, to exercise pressure 
on one of its parts, the whole became paralysed, and the 
part against which the pressure was directed sooner or 
later succumbed—that is to say, the State in question 
was driven into the arms of France. Friendship is a 
thing that cannot be enforced, yet Bismarck attempted 
in that manner to secure two friends. 

The future now depended on one fact alone, there 
was but a single question : Which conception would 
prevail, Andrässy's or Gortchakoff's ? Would Andrässy's 
calculations prove correct ? 

In agreeing with Russia with regard to the peace 
terms, Andrassy relied on the Czar's honour, but to a 
greater extent on our own power, on our ability to 
compel Russia to keep her pledges. He was convinced 
that the farther the Russian armies advanced in the 
Balkans, the nearer they got to Constantinople, the 
more effective would be our word, the more critical 
would become their position as represented by the 
Transylvanian mountains and Bukovina behind their 
line of retreat; and he was fully convinced that Bis¬ 
marck would place no obstacle in the way of his exploiting 
this strategical advantage. 

Events proved him quite right. The drama of real 
life unfolded like a play, in a well-thought-out, metho¬ 
dically arranged order: the plot, the counterplot, the 
climax, the happy denouement. 

The Russian forces, exhausted by the prolonged 
campaign, could not contend against us ; their situation 
had become desperate. They would have found them¬ 
selves opposed by England, who had committed herself 
in the negotiations with Andrassy to stand by the interests 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 29 

we were defending in the Balkans ; with the Turkish 
Army, still in fighting trim ; with Rumania, smarting 
under unmerited perfidy and wanton ingratitude in 
that after she had saved the Russians at Plevna, they now 
proposed to rob her of Bessarabia ! Neither could they 
count on aid from Italy, for she was restrained by 
England. This situation could only have been altered 
by Bismarck turning against us and identifying himself 
with Russia ; but in that also Andrassy’s calculations 
proved sound. Bismarck had now less confidence in 
Russia than he had before, and declined to risk himself 
in her behalf. 

He showed his opinion of Gortchakoff s policy when 
he declared that that statesman had “ during the past 
three years perpetrated all the blunders he possibly 
could.” He had alienated all his old friends without 
acquiring new ones; aroused his enemies against him 
without providing himself with the means to oppose 
them. In April 1877 Bismarck stigmatised Gortchakoffs 
attitude as “ impertinent,” and desired the latter to 
know that he could have succeeded far better with him 
(Bismarck) by confidence and good manners than by 
reproaches, objections, and captious criticism. He 
declared that Gortchakoffs lack of sincerity compelled 
him to look to his good relations with the rest of his 
friends. 

In Andrässy, on the other hand, Bismarck placed 
implicit confidence. He emphasised that he would 
always avoid doing anything that might render Andrassy’s 
position untenable, for it was in the best interests of 
Germany that there should be a reliable man at the 
head of affairs in Vienna. How could he (Bismarck) 
know whether Andrässy, if obliged to resign, might not 
be succeeded by some minister who would deviate from 


30 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

his foreign policy ? Therefore Bismarck felt a serious 
responsibility not to allow Andrässy to be tripped up. 
The friendship and confidence that Andrässy had thus 
won for himself became a source of strength for the 
Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. 

And in the actual circumstances Bismarck considered 
us more powerful even than Russia. On 30th January 
1878 Bismarck wrote : “If Austria-Hungary is given a 
free hand against Russia (which she has merited if Russia 
fails to keep her promise), and if Austria-Hungary comes 
to an agreement with England (which has in fact taken 
place), Czar Alexander must perforce realise that the 
work of his valiant soldiers has been discounted by the 
exacting rather than skilful behaviour of his statesmen.“ 
Again, on 2nd February of the same year: “ He could 
exercise pressure on Austria-Hungary with impunity 
only if France were non-existent. In the present 
circumstances, however, by leaning to Russia he might 
find himself up against an Austro-Hungarian-English- 
French alliance, which, if not a desperate, would be a 
dangerous situation.“ 

Bismarck's mind was manifested by his thus regarding 
us as the more powerful and safer State. When Andrässy 
threatened to resign if a Congress were not convened to 
revise the peace forced on Turkey, Bismarck decided to 
refrain from doing anything that might tend to weaken 
Andrässy’s position. He wrote that “ though he had 
no interests in Turkey that he would not be willing to 
sacrifice for Russia, yet in Austria he certainly had such. 
It was in Germany's interest to be on good terms with 
Austria-Hungary and to have in Vienna a friendly and 
reliable minister." This was his starting-point in accept¬ 
ing the proposed Congress because Andrässy desired it 
and in the form that Andrässy desired it. 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 31 

The Czar was brought to his knees, and the Congress 
met (13th June—13th July 1878). Russia—partly at the 
Congress itself and partly during the preliminary negotia¬ 
tions with us and England—surrendered most of her 
acquisitions and proved herself less powerful in the 
Balkans than ourselves. We were appointed by the 
consent of Europe to the administration of the region 
whence Russia had been expelled. 

Bismarck would rather that Andrässy had sent an 
ultimatum to Russia and armed (30th January and 
2nd February 1878) than that a conference should have 
been called “ to argue and reply on the honour of the 
Czar/' as he wrote. From his point of view the Chan¬ 
cellor's attitude was perfectly comprehensible ; as by 
our sabre-rattling he would have escaped the necessity 
of publicly declaring for either side and the odium would 
have descended entirely on us. On the other hand, 
Andrässy was equally right from the point of view of the 
Dual Monarchy. 

It was useful for our prestige that our occupation of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina should not be an ordinary act of 
conquest—the fruit of the war—or of an agreement with 
Russia, but the result of a mandate originating in the 
confidence and consensus of opinion of Europe, entrusted 
to us in the interests of civilisation and humanity. It 
signified an immense moral distinction and positive 
increase of our power and prestige in the East that 
Europe—in that very document by which it abased the 
pretensions of Russia, ordered her troops to evacuate the 
Balkans, and curtailed the privileges she had unilaterally 
acquired—should put us, the heirs of that Austria which 
it was customary to style as a rotten, reactionary, 
oppressive oligarchy, into the foreground “ in the name 
of civilisation and humanity." Thus we were able to 



32 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

defend our interests without resort to brute force, by 
keeping in the path of progress towards world peace and 
solidarity. But, alas ! this “ narrow way ” was ere long 
abandoned, and the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina 
followed. Greatly to our discredit, we sought to have 
this act (which had begun by occupation on the basis 
of the mandate of Europe) ratified by a violation of 
international law. 

It was lucky for us that a great part of the odium 
for what happened at the Congress fell upon Bismarck's 
shoulders. 

Thus the great conception of the Iron Chancellor— 
the Triple Alliance of Emperors based on Russian 
friendship—became impossible to maintain, not only 
because relations between Vienna and St. Petersburg 
had become strained, but further because the Russo- 
German friendship had collapsed. 

For the failure at Berlin the Russians, fortunately 
for us, cast the chief blame on Bismarck—the greatest 
statesman of them all, the illustrious host, and president 
of the Congress. And it added fuel to the fire of their 
rage that they considered Bismarck under obligation to 
them, and affected to see ingratitude in his behaviour. 

Bismarck protested against such injustice; his 
indignation was aroused thereby. It was rather for him 
—he contended—to complain of ingratitude on the part 
of the Russians, for the alliance between them had in 
the past been equally useful for both nations. By it 
Russia was enabled to suppress the Polish insurrection 
and regain her freedom of movement on the Black Sea. 
In the last Turkish War Bismarck had kept Austria- 
Hungary from intervening, and thus made it possible 
for the Czar to defeat Turkey ; while at the Berlin 
Congress he had supported all the Russian claims : so 


Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 33 

why should he be blamed for the pusillanimity of the 
Russians in not having the pluck to insist on demands 
more satisfactory to themselves ? How could he be 
more Russian than the Russians ? 

This was not correct, however ; Bismarck's arguments 
were mere sophisms. Although it is a debatable point 
whether the Alliance could ever have been equally 
useful to both Prussia and Russia, it cannot be denied 
that Bismarck employed his great genius to exploit the 
opportunities presented by this Alliance far more radically 
than did Gortchakoff, and that in this very difference 
lies the superiority of Bismarck over his Russian colleague. 
It is likewise beyond dispute that it was not German 
pressure which had kept Austria-Hungary out of the 
fray at the time of the Oriental crisis. Our Government 
had no intention of entering it. It is also quite certain 
that the political situation to which Gortchakoff had to 
bow, and on account of which, at the Berlin Congress, 
he could not put forward demands satisfactory to 
himself, could easily have been upset by Bismarck had 
he stood by the Czar to the same extent as the Czar 
had stood by Emperor William in 1870. But on the 
point that Russia had no right to demand more from 
him, Bismarck was absolutely justified in his contention, 
as he had never promised active assistance ; but this 
was no solace to the Czar, for “ he had always expected 
more of the Iron Chancellor, and had on more than 
one occasion pointed out to Berlin that the decision lay 
in his [Bismarck's] hands, and Austria-Hungary would 
yield if only Bismarck seriously wished it." 

Therefore we cannot share Bismarck's indignation, 
nor be surprised at the Czar seeing in the Berlin Congress, 
as he expressed it, “ Europe led by Bismarck opposing 
Russia in the interests of Austria-Hungary." But it 
3 


34 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

was unimporant who was right, the salient fact affecting 
the future being, fortunately for Andrässy, that the 
people at St. Petersburg held Bismarck responsible even 
for their own errors, and thus the original moral con¬ 
ditions of the Three Emperors' Alliance disappeared. 

Bismarck would not have been himself—the man of 
finely tempered steel, the many-sided statesman we know 
him to have been—if in the newly arisen situation he 
had not immediately laid his plans for the defence of 
his old aims, when he saw the Russian press (notwith¬ 
standing the Czar’s influence over it) bitterly attacking 
the German Government, Russian troops being despatched 
to the German frontier, Alexander II writing to William I 
hinting at Bismarck that “it is unworthy of a true 
statesman to pursue a policy animated by personal 
sympathies and antipathies.” When he heard of the 
Czar’s declaration, tantamount to a veiled threat, that 
“ the policy of Germany might come to be deeply 
regretted by both countries,” Bismarck decided that the 
time had arrived for breaking with his past and making 
his choice between Austria-Hungary and Russia, and 
substituting the Dual Alliance for the Alliance of the 
Three Emperors. 

Bismarck envisaged two dangers. Firstly, he feared 
an immediate attack on the part of Russia. A precaution¬ 
ary measure against this was to establish a strong 
defensive front with the aid of Austria-Hungary and 
England. He enquired of England how far he might 
rely on British support in the event of an attack on 
account of a policy he had pursued, not for selfish in¬ 
terests, but for those of England and Austria-Hungary. 
Both Beaconsfield and Salisbury replied favourably: 
they would back Germany. But as, in the meantime, 
the danger had removed, Bismarck quietly dropped 



Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 35 

negotiations with the British Government, and contented 
himself with making up to Austria-Hungary. 

The more remote, but more lasting and I think more 
serious, danger was that France, by availing herself of 
the dissolution of the Three Emperors' Alliance, might 
gain an ally in Russia or Austria-Hungary, or possibly 
in both. The only effective safeguard against such a 
contingency was a permanent alliance with Austria-Hun¬ 
gary. If Bismarck, in the altered circumstances, should 
adhere to his former idea and attempt to attack both the 
Emperors, he might only succeed in losing them both. 
If he continued to seek the good-will of the Czar, Austria- 
Hungary might turn away from him ; and for the time 
being there was no hope of Russia, as she was already 
in spirit alienated from him. After the Berlin Con¬ 
gress, in the Germanophobe humour of the Muscovites, 
a French orientation by Russia could only be pre¬ 
vented by giving her to understand that she would 
in that case find herself opposed by superior forces. 
Bismarck was occupied by these problems when he 
received information that Andrässy contemplated resign¬ 
ing his post. He realised that he must act promptly. 
If he could not induce Andrässy (in whom, he says, he 
“ has perfect confidence and easily gets on with ”) to 
reconsider his decision, even a successor following the 
same policy might look to England for help against 
Russia—which would bring him nearer to France, so 
that Germany would remain in a boresome tete-ä-tete 
with a perfidious, excited, antagonistic Russia, and it 
would thus be in the power of the Czar to conciliate 
Austria-Hungary and completely isolate Germany. 

But the German Chancellor, alert to every possibility, 
foresaw the probable eventuality of the Russian stand¬ 
point carrying the day in Vienna, on which a counterpart 


36 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

of Kaunitz's coalition, which even Frederick the Great 
could scarcely contend against, would be immediately 
formed : an Austro-Russo-French Alliance—a veritable 
nightmare to Bismarck! Such a culmination would 
place him in an even worse plight than the great King, 
for it was doubtful whether he could rely on England. 

The experiences of Bismarck, moreover, convinced 
him that an alliance with us would be safer and more 
durable than with Russia. Formerly he had considered 
the friendship of the Muscovites to be more valuable, 
trusting more the asseverations of the autocratic sove¬ 
reign than the pledged word of the constitutional Dual 
Monarchy, which latter was liable to be swayed by the 
whims and vacillating will of the people. But now, in 
his anxiety for the welfare of his Fatherland, he feared 
the awakening of “ a Slav Napoleonism,'' he saw the 
Czar under the influence of demagogy, and concluded 
that our Monarchy was a surer guarantee, in spite of its 
constitutionalism. He was the more inclined to this view 
by Germany's great need of peace, the sympathy of the 
Austro-Germans, and the Slavophobia of the Hungarians. 
All these considerations convinced him that a defensive 
alliance with us would be alone able to restrain the revo¬ 
lutionary movement attendant on Pan-Slavism, and to 
lead back the Czar's policy into the path in which 
Germany had agreed with it in the past, as it desired to 
do also in the future. 

Andrässy received Bismarck's overtures with sincere 
pleasure ; they afforded him peculiar satisfaction. His 
final object appeared to be accomplished at the moment 
of his resignation, and even on account of it. Neverthe¬ 
less he did not grasp the offer too eagerly. 

Bismarck offered him a defensive alliance against 
attack from any quarter. Andrässy, however, showed 



Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 37 

himself as little inclined to accept this in 1879 as h e 
had been in 1873 ; since such a fact would force the 
Monarchy to shed the blood of its subjects for foreign 
interests, to fight against France, when there was 
no cause of quarrel between them, when the debacle 
of France would overthrow the balance of power in 
Europe. In Andrässy’ s view this would drive France 
into the arms of Russia and result in a Franco-Russian 
alliance, which later would be joined by Italy too. Conse¬ 
quently he accepted the casus foederis only in the event 
of war with Russia, or with some coalition of which 
Russia was a member. 

Andrässy preferred to abandon the idea of concluding 
the treaty to accepting it in the form offered. He paid 
homage to the great mind of Bismarck, but preferred to 
remain independent of him. Andrässy was no victim of 
that intellectual snobbery, then in fashion, which was 
manifested in people being ashamed to differ from 
Bismarck, the popular idol, the universally recognised 
political genius—not daring to believe in themselves if 
the Iron Chancellor condemned them. Andrässy did not 
credit any impending Russian attack, and was not afraid 
of the consequences of a temporary want of success. 
He felt that Germany was just as much dependent on 
us as we were on her, and that Bismarck would in his 
own interests be compelled to consider our wishes and 
secure us for his ally. 

Andrässy’s resistance had its reward. Bismarck 
wrote to the Emperor William, with the simplicity and 
sincerity which characterise true greatness, that he 
“ could not withstand the arguments of Andrässy, for 
they were absolutely sound.” 

But the Emperor’s mind was not so quick as his 
illustrious Chancellor’s to grasp the situation. He 



38 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

reminded the new Bismarck of the traditions of the old 
Bismarck ; he attributed his grand triumphs to the 
friendship of Russia and was indisposed to relinquish it; 
he saw therein the old Austrian mentality : he feared 
revanche for Königgrätz, and thought it not impossible 
that we, relying on England and France, might have 
designs on Russia, as was tendenciously asserted in 
St. Petersburg. Yet if in spite of all this it were necessary 
to conclude an alliance with Austria-Hungary, it must 
only be a general alliance against all and sundry and 
not one specially directed against Russia. In his 
opinion, the advantages to be derived from the treaty 
would be unequal if Germany on her part had to defend 
the Dual Monarchy against an attack from Russia, 
while Austria-Hungary could remain neutral in case of a 
conflict with France. He failed to realise that parity was 
ensured by the fact that Russia menaced Germany just 
as much as ourselves, and that both contracting parties 
engaged to assist each other in the case of a common 
danger. In vain did Bismarck point out to the Emperor 
that, according to the terms of Andrassy’s draft, in the 
event of an Italo-Austrian war Germany would not be 
obliged to help ; the old monarch was at a loss to 
understand that, while by the terms of Andrassy’s draft 
Germany had not to draw the sword, in accordance with 
Bismarck’s she would have to do so. Equally in vain 
was it that Bismarck assured William that in the event 
of an isolated attack by France, Germany would need 
no assistance from anyone—just as Austria-Hungary 
would need none against Italy alone—but as soon as 
either had to face a coalition the treaty would come into 
force. Thus the aid would be lacking only when it was 
not required. Moltke was likewise unsuccessful in 
convincing the Emperor that, according to the geo- 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 39 

graphical and military situation, the Austro-Hungarian 
power could be really effective only against Russia and 
not against France. William was obdurate and closed 
his ears to the advice of his famous Ministers. He 
insisted that it would be an act of disloyalty to the Czar 
to make a secret treaty behind his back, when he had 
so shortly before met his Imperial Majesty and exchanged 
vows of friendship with him. This was a truly honourable 
sentiment on the part of William I, but it is to be regretted 
that he manifested no such fine scruples against a secret 
agreement with Russia behind the back of Francis 
Joseph (1887). 

Eventually the old Emperor, though unconvinced, 
was silenced. Bismarck and the entire Cabinet offered 
their resignations. The conscience of the venerable 
monarch would not allow him to part with Bismarck, 
his trusted, albeit troublesome, adviser, the Germans' 
pride, who had made him the foremost among the 
world's rulers. 

Thus, after all, Andrässy's draft was signed (7th 
October 1879), an d that treaty concluded which for 
a period of forty years determined the trend of Euro¬ 
pean policy and continued to be its most important 
instrument, until it was overwhelmed in the sea of blood 
it had been intended to prevent. To throw it over¬ 
board became the tragic duty for me (1918)—for me, 
who had clung to it to the last, not only because I saw 
therein my father's glory, but also because I regarded it 
as a wise and grand work, which had well served our 
interests for so long. 

Andrässy vacated his responsible office on the very 
day on which the treaty was signed, and by his resigna¬ 
tion the direction of the foreign affairs of the Dual 
Monarchy was abandoned by the only man who could 



40 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

influence Bismarck, cross his will, and get him to take 
a way he disliked—and all without forfeiting his confi¬ 
dence and friendship ; the only man who could co-operate 
with the Iron Chancellor without becoming a mere 
dependent on him. 

4. Characters of Bismarck and Andrässy 

CONTRASTED 

Before proceeding further I would like to deviate for 
a moment to sketch the political characters of Andrässy 
and Bismarck by drawing a parallel between the two 
statesmen. While there was much resemblance between 
them, there was also a wide difference. 

Bismarck was at the head of a greater Power than 
his colleague's, he remained for a longer time in office, 
he achieved more important successes, he left deeper 
prints on the scroll of world-history, he manifested his 
genius on more multifarious occasions than did Andrässy, 
though the foreign political campaign of the latter in the 
Eastern Question might justly be recorded by the side 
of Bismarck's most brilliant exploits. 

Both men equally were led by their convictions, their 
patriotism, their sense of duty ; the highest court of 
appeal in the case of both men was their conscience. 
Neither could have sustained the burdens of public life, 
the onerous task that engaged their entire energy, if 
they had not possessed the absolute conviction that 
what they were doing was the only right thing and the 
best for their respective Fatherlands. Both could 
undertake only what their conscience approved ; both 
were ready to face unpopularity, loss of place and 
power and favour; both would feel dispirited and 
weak if dissatisfied with themselves—in vain would 



Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 41 

be the applause of their people or the honours of their 
sovereign. 

A rare example of this sense of duty and conscien¬ 
tiousness was furnished by Bismarck when, though 
persuaded that he could win splendid renown, that he 
could again break France, and humble Russia—the only 
undefeated Great Power—he resisted the temptation 
afforded by these grandiose prospects worthy even of a 
Napoleon, and plodded on along his thorny path for the 
preservation of peace. 

Similar unselfishness on the part of Andrässy was de¬ 
monstrated when the Russian armies lay bleeding in the 
Balkans and before Constantinople. Though absolutely 
certain that his intervention in the struggle would mean 
a brilliant victory, yet, like the German Chancellor, he 
resigned the dazzling role with the glorious reward which 
even in these days can be won only by the aid of Mars, 
because, in his opinion, war at that time was not in the 
interests of his country : victory would be followed by 
a series of wars of revenge until the weakened Dual 
Monarchy became exhausted and fell an easy prey to 
its foes. 

Both men were Nationalists from top to toe. Bis¬ 
marck once retorted to an opponent that "if he ever 
sold his soul to the devil, it would have to be a German 
devil." It was a feature of his fervent race-consciousness 
that, as I heard from his family, when during his last 
illness he had the biography of Napoleon read to him, 
he requested the gloomy episodes of Jena and Eylau to 
be omitted, because (he said) " they distressed him too 
much ” ; though after Sedan he would have been just 
the very man to recall with equanimity that seemingly 
long-bygone age. Bismarck was essentially a Prussian, 
but of the rarest and worthiest type. He understood 



42 Bismarck and Andrassy 

Europe and the foreign mentality. His manners were 
international—they fascinated by their charm : qualities 
seldom found in the average Junker. 

Andrassy was an out-and-out Hungarian. His coun¬ 
tenance was typically Magyar. He ardently loved his 
race, and took pride in being a Hungarian. He entered 
the common Austro-Hungarian service not out of a 
hyphenated (i.e. Austro-Hungarian) patriotism, but be¬ 
cause he believed he could be useful to the Hungarian 
half of the Dual Monarchy under the conditions then 
prevailing. He changed his views in many respects 
during the course of his diplomatic career, but his chief 
motive in all his actions was a specific Hungarian 
patriotism, whether at the Hofburg at Vienna in the 
common cabinet councils, or at Isaszeg, where he fought 
as a honved, or under the walls of Buda, where he was 
struck in the breast by a spent Austrian bullet. During 
his residence at the Ballplatz 1 he brought up his children 
in the most uncompromising Hungarian patriotism. He 
had, however, certain qualities not usually found in 
Hungarians : he was a man of a broad European out¬ 
look ; he was capable of regarding every political question 
in its international aspect, though the chief shortcoming 
of the Magyar race is its absorption in the “ Hungarian 
world,” i.e. its lack of interest in what is going on across 
the frontier. Unfortunately this is true even to-day, 
when the blunders of foreign policy have brought us to 
a critical pass and when only a sound foreign policy 
can save us. 

Both Bismarck and Andrassy were strenuous workers. 
They regarded a problem from every point before taking 
action, but their decisions once taken they never deviated 

1 The Austrian Foreign Office at Vienna, formerly the palace of Kaunitz 
and Metternich. 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 43 

from, but followed calmly and with bulldog tenacity to 
their final results. 

Even genius cannot dispense with hard work ; it 
might even be stated as an axiom that one of the chief 
constituents of genius is the ability to perform more 
work and that more intensively than the ordinary man 
—to put forth more energy—to take an idea and brood 
over it, following it to its ultimate consequences—the 
ability to analyse facts and get at the essence of things 
with greater efficiency than the average human brain. 

It used to be said of Andrässy that he was frivolous 
and superficial. I have seen many statesmen at work, 
yet never one who has acted after so much serious 
consideration, discussion, and conscientious deliberation 
as he ; never one who devoted all his energies and his 
health and strength to the discharge of his duties as he ; 
who spent so many sleepless nights before taking a grave 
decision as he. He often stated that he had lain on the 
hard, cold floor in order to cool his body heated after 
excessive mental effort; only thus could he obtain a little 
much-needed sleep. 

In every line of every project of Bismarck’s can be 
felt the conscientious deliberation, the thoroughness, so 
characteristic of the man. He always considered the 
most widely different contingencies, set out from the 
worst premisses, and decided only after such exhaustive 
analysis. This nerve-racking labour undermined even 
his robust constitution. 

Real practical statesmanship is a rare gift of the gods. 
There are many men who dare, simply because they 
are purblind and lack the insight to perceive the dan¬ 
gers ahead, into which they are madly rushing, like the 
Gadarene swine ; or else because they are irritable and 
lacking conscience. Also there are not infrequently 



44 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

some who, being profound, see the vital part of things 
and are thus able to discern all the possibilities, to balance 
the advantages and the drawbacks, but, having a too 
critical brain, dare not shoulder responsibility, on account 
of the risks contingent upon every human enterprise, and 
especially so when it is the question of grave political 
operations with human material. 

But neither of this type of statesman can be a provi¬ 
dential leader. The hesitating sage may be an acceptable 
adviser for the man of action ; he may be a good thinker, 
writer, and orator ; but he would prove a dangerous 
leader in a time of crisis, because such a man's decisions 
are always made too late. Precipitation and hesitation 
are equally the foes of success. The thoughtlessly rash 
man may sometimes have astonishing success and be of 
more use to his country with his strong will and lightning- 
like decision, if only he can unite those qualities with a 
certain savoir faire , than the halting, wise man. This 
notwithstanding, such a statesman may prove very 
dangerous and lead his country into a morass whence 
it may be impossible to extricate her. 

Fortune's best gift to a nation is a leader who sees, 
knows, and yet dares ; who chooses the way of least 
risk, who weighs the consequences, considers everything 
before making up his mind, and then, shouldering the 
responsibility for the not impossible contingency of failure, 
steers his course boldly and firmly, amidst the rocks and 
shoals. 

Such a statesman was Bismarck ; such also was 
Andrässy ; and such an one must be every true practi¬ 
cal statesman. 

Both of them were honest and sincere ; they re¬ 
pudiated the saying of Talleyrand, that “ words— 
especially those of statesmen—are intended to hide 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 45 

the thoughts/’ In their view, the chief art of politics 
is to form the right conception, that corresponding to 
the actual situation, which on that very account can 
be acknowledged; then the energetic, bold, prompt 
action—and not the skilful use of subterfuge and 
trickery. 

Of the two men, however, Andrässy was the more 
idealistic. Bismarck was a man of muscle and brawn, 
the embodiment of animal strength even to the point of 
roughness, except that interest and insight added modera¬ 
tion and refinement to the natural inflexibility of his 
character. To the power and decision of Andrässy 
were added nobility and refinement, as human qualities 
equivalent to power, as innate instincts which could 
be suppressed only momentarily at the behests of his 
country’s welfare. He brought with him into the 
realm of politics that chivalry which formed one of his 
brightest attributes. 

Bismarck believed himself raised up by Providence 
to lead Germany in the path of progress towards per¬ 
fection. Though directness accorded with his vigorous 
nature, knowing neither fear nor ruth, and though he 
considered straightforwardness in politics the better 
way, yet, if necessary for the successful performance 
of what he conceived his sacred duty, he would stoop 
to trickery, lying, and even insolence—all things of 
which Andrässy was utterly incapable. Bismarck’s 
maxim was to be to a gentleman a “ gentleman et demif 
but to a pirate a “ corsaire et demi .” He held, like 
Cavour, that a minister should be prepared to sacrifice 
even his personal honour for the sake of his Father- 
land. Theoretically Andrässy too accepted that view, 
yet he could never belie his nature : he was chivalrous 
and straight in all his acts. Czar Alexander was no 



46 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

more than just when he said of the Hungarian states¬ 
man : “ Andrässy is too proud to deceive/' Bis¬ 

marck's nature was suspicious; he had a contempt 
for mankind in general; he suspected ill-will in every¬ 
one holding opinions different from his own, or who 
thwarted him; he was constantly seeing intrigue, envy, 
malice, and hatred. In the political arena he was unre¬ 
lenting. Not satisfied with putting his opponents hors 
de combat, he would break them, and had no mercy 
on the weaker beaten to his knees. He gave full rein 
to this unamiable propensity, especially in home politics, 
where in consequence the situation sometimes became 
very bitter, and the Chancellor, in spite of his vic¬ 
tories and unprecedented fame, would find himself sur¬ 
rounded by a host of ill-wishers and foes. He saw in 
his personal enemies, enemies of the Fatherland, which 
was a dangerous and harmful attitude in a statesman ; 
since a man denounced officially as disloyal, and held 
up to public opinion as disloyal, may easily end in 
becoming so. 

In many respects the two statesmen held differing 
views with regard to their ministerial posts. Bismarck 
was full of self-complacency, he was self-willed and 
tyrannical—even towards his Emperor. Yet in spite 
of all he modestly considered himself a mere official, 
a humble servant of his sovereign, and was not in 
the least embarrassed when his services and efforts were 
recognised by special rewards. I happened to be in 
Berlin on the occasion of his jubilee, when there was 
a public subscription for a testimonial to the Chan¬ 
cellor. Some individuals—among them certain who, like 
Bleichröder, had business relations with the State— 
gave an immense sum for this object. Andrässy was 
puzzled about the affair : he could not understand it 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 47 

at all. He considered himself a grand seigneur rather 
than an official, and declined even the pension he was 
entitled to on quitting his post; and when, on the 
occasion of the meeting of the Emperors at St. Peters¬ 
burg, he heard that it was proposed to present him 
with a diamond-studded snuff-box, he did his best to 
escape it. It was repugnant to his self-respect to 
receive valuable gifts from sovereigns when he could 
not return the compliment. 

A special chapter of Bismarck's life-story might 
be devoted to his remorseless war on women who dared 
to cross his plans ; it made no difference though they 
belonged to the Royal Family. He was ever on the 
alert to guard his sovereign from all outside influences, 
and he even managed to make him subservient to 
his will. Bismarck's domineering, unforbearing disposi¬ 
tion is illustrated also in the fact that, finding that 
William II desired to get rid of him, he refused to resign 
and forced upon the young sovereign the tremendous 
responsibility before history of dismissing from his 
high office the greatest statesman that Germany has 
ever known or is ever likely to know. Andrässy would 
never have done such a thing : once he were convinced 
that he had lost the confidence of his monarch, no chains 
would have been strong enough to bind him to the 
velvet chair. 

Andrässy was an optimist with regard to his fellow- 
men ; at least he was far more considerate of them 
than was his illustrious friend. His view in this regard 
may be gathered from the answer he once gave to the 
question : " What is your chief source of pride ? " 

He was proud to say that, knowing men, he could yet 
love them. It is doubtful whether he had any real 
enemies—an unusual situation for a man of strong 


48 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

character like Andrässy. He bore no lasting malice 
or bitterness against anyone. His personal charm won 
all with whom he came into contact—to a certain extent 
even his opponents. He was successful in his dealings 
with men, perhaps on account of his suavity of manner 
and personal influence. In the case of persons with 
whom he was in constant touch, he knew as a rule how 
to stimulate their better sentiments, and thus he got 
more loyalty than usually falls to the lot of a statesman. 

Both men appear to have been special favourites 
of Fortune. Yet may we talk of accident as one of the 
factors in the making of history ? Is it not depreciation 
of great men to say or suggest that their success was 
due, if only partially, to the caprice of the fickle God¬ 
dess ? Not so, in my opinion. The fortuitous plays 
a great part in all our affairs. Men, however great, 
are not omnipotent; they cannot make something out 
of nothing, nor even create the milieu, the conditions, 
under which they are to work. They can neither 
choose circumstances nor fashion them to their taste. 
They cannot change the abilities of their superiors, 
colleagues, subordinates on the one hand, or of the 
sovereigns, ministers, and generals of the enemy on the 
other; although these factors undoubtedly affect in 
a great measure the success or failure of their plans. 
Possibly all these circumstances are the inevitable con¬ 
sequences of Nature’s immutable, eternal law, links in 
the chain of cause and effect; but this does not alter 
the fact that, from the view-point of those playing the 
game, these events may be regarded as the fruits of 
the fortuitous. Who can deny that some statesmen 
and generals are constantly favoured, while others are 
doomed to ill-luck—to the frustrating of their most 
excellent schemes by circumstances entirely beyond 



Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 49 

their control ? This does not detract from the merit 
of the latter. Without merit, any lasting and true 
success is as little to be expected as without the favour 
—or at least the neutrality—of Fate. The really great 
statesman is he who can so use his opportunities as to 
get the utmost profit out of them, he who can best parry 
the rude buffetings of disappointment and misfortune. 
The essence of the political and military art is to seize 
opportunity by the forelock, exploit it, reduce adverse 
consequences to a minimum. Life itself is a sort of 
gamble, in which the winners are those who know how 
to bring skill to the aid of chance. 

It is indisputable that Bismarck could never have 
reached the lofty heights that he did if Roon had not 
reorganised the Prussian Army, if Moltke had not been 
the greatest strategist of the age. Yet notwithstanding 
these, Bismarck’s whole career hung on a thread : he 
could never have achieved his brilliant successes without 
the helping hand of Fortune. In spite of the military 
genius of Moltke and Roon, the battle of Königgrätz 
would have been lost if the Crown Prince had arrived 
but a few hours later—Frederick’s arrival in the very 
nick of time was a circumstance which Bismarck could 
not control; it was a fortunate accident for the Chan¬ 
cellor. Moreover, how fortunate it was for Bismarck 
that he was born to serve such a magnanimous Emperor 
as William I, who tolerated his domineering, his rude¬ 
ness, his tyranny, because he perceived that the often 
odious Junker’s place could not be filled by another! 
Again, how much Bismarck owed to Napoleon Ill’s 
vacillating and idealistic temperament, and his (Napo¬ 
leon’s) period of bad health—to Beust’s and Gortchakoff’s 
weakness and vanity—to the circumstance that they 
were witty diplomats rather than men of action ; that 

4 



50 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Benedek was a mediocre general; that in 1870-1 
there was no Frenchman worthy to be the successor of 
Turenne or Bonaparte ! In any sphere Bismarck would 
have been an interesting, brilliant figure for the con¬ 
templation of posterity; but born under a different 
star, he might have been only another Alberoni or 
Radowitz, and not the illustrious founder of German 
Unity. 

Andrässy owed much to his being a contemporary 
of Francis Deäk, the Flungarian statesman, who was 
his ideal complement and who, with his unprecedented 
popularity and fame, supported him and yielded up 
to him that leadership for which he had no truer voca¬ 
tion than had the great jurist. Andrässy owed much, 
too, to the sound common sense and perspicacity of his 
sovereign, Francis Joseph, who understood au fond 
the policy of Andrässy and supported him loyally, 
though at considerable personal sacrifice, as Andrässy’s 
counsel often brought him into conflict with his tradi¬ 
tions and natural sentiments; the sovereign who could 
appoint him—a revolutionary sentenced to death—as 
his minister, although the impulsive personality of the 
minister was not congenial to the monarch. And how 
much Andrässy owed to Queen Elizabeth, who with 
womanly intuition understood the Hungarians and 
interceded between them and their King! 

Neither Bismarck nor Andrässy experienced such a 
reverse of fortune as that which befell Napoleon I. The 
foundation laid by the great Bonaparte could not have 
endured, because it was designed for a superman like 
himself and was useless to a mediocre person. However, 
his world-empire fell to ruin during his own lifetime like 
a house of cards, and he was destined to end his existence 
in exile, simply because his legendary luck forsook him 


Peace of Frankfort to German- Austrian Alliance 51 

at several critical moments, through no fault of his 
own. The excessive severity of the Russian winter of 
1812 ; the failure of the Russian generals to engage him 
in a decisive battle, according to plan, near the frontier ; 
the devastating conflagration in Moscow ; his desertion 
by his Saxon allies at Leipzig; the defection of Ney 
and Grouchy in his final campaign, which caused the 
French reinforcements to come too late on the afternoon 
of Waterloo, while Blücher appeared on the French left 
wing—the fact that, as Lloyd George said in a speech, 
“ Wellington realised too late that the battle had been 
lost '' : all these circumstances contributed to and 
finally culminated in the tragedy of St. Helena. Never¬ 
theless it must be conceded that Napoleon tempted 
Providence, and that his temerity exhausted the patience 
of his presiding genius (dcemon) ; while, in the case of 
both Andrässy and Bismarck, Fortune continued to 
befriend them because they were not too exacting in the 
demands they made upon her. They, too, had faith in 
their stars and in a good Providence which had bestowed 
power upon them. They did not, however, abuse the 
gift, and therefore were not punished with its withdrawal, 
as was the great Bonaparte. 

Andrässy and Bismarck will descend to posterity as 
the founders of the same system of foreign policy, yet 
their conceptions were entirely different as regards both 
home and foreign policy. Bismarck's cherished idea was 
the Alliance of the Three Emperors ; that of Andrässy 
was the Dual Alliance—a sort of weapon presenting a 
defensive edge towards Russia. Bismarck accepted 
Andrässy' s theory only when he saw he could not do 
otherwise—that is to say, when during the Oriental 
crisis the Czar turned his back upon him. He hoped, 
however, that the severance of the friendship of the three 



52 Bismarck and Andrassy 

Emperors was temporary only, and would be resumed as 
soon as the Czar—thwarted and terrorised by that same 
Dual Alliance—was brought to see his error. In the 
eyes of the Iron Chancellor the Dual Alliance was merely 
a kind of stepping-stone to the resumption of the Three 
Emperors' Alliance. 

Andrassy, on the other hand, from the beginning 
regarded the Dual Alliance as his goal; and when he 
had attained it he desired to break with the Alliance 
of the Three Emperors for good and all. He said he 
" could relish nothing served up by the Alliance of the 
Three Emperors." He was anxious to complete the 
Dual Alliance and assist it to predominance, instead of 
including the Czar, by an entente with Great Britain. 

He strongly believed that an intimate relation with 
England could range Italy on our side, divert the Musco¬ 
vites for ever from their Balkan ambitions, and render 
the result of the Berlin Congress (i.e. our footing in the 
Balkans) firm and durable. Bismarck too was wary of 
coming into opposition with England. In a case of 
imminent danger he was willing to conclude an alliance 
with her, though he preferred the friendship of the 
Russians to that of the English, and had he freedom of 
choice he would have chosen Russia. He was always 
afraid of England exploiting Germany, using her to get 
the chestnuts out of the fire and then leaving her in the 
lurch. He wanted a permanent alliance, and this he 
thought he was unlikely to obtain from a parliamentary 
England. Yet Andrassy, in their final negotiations, 
appears to have won over Bismarck for the English 
orientation. This would appear from the fact already 
alluded to, that at this time Bismarck approached 
London, and also that the two statesmen, meeting at 
Salzburg and Vienna, agreed to try to gain England for 



Peace of Frankfort to German-Austrian Alliance 53 

their policy. At that period, however, the German 
Chancellor was not drawn towards England of his own 
free will, but rather impelled thither by pressure of the 
general situation. He would have joined St. Petersburg, 
though he would have quarrelled with it; and though 
he could not trust England, yet he would go with her, 
co-operate with her (as at the Berlin Congress), and 
solicit her help. Andrässy, on the other hand, from the 
very beginning, saw in Great Britain the natural friend 
and ally of Austria-Hungary and Germany. 

A very important—perhaps the most important— 
question for the future was, which would triumph in the 
end—the powerful, inflexible will of the Man of Iron ? 
or the general circumstances favourable to Andrässy' s 
conception and which at the time of his resignation were 
ready to assert themselves ? 



CHAPTER II 


FROM THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ALLIANCE WITH GER¬ 
MANY UNTIL THE BULGARIAN UNION (1879-1885) 

i. Gladstone's Estrangement from Germany 
OT long after the Berlin Treaty and the conclusion 



of the Dual Alliance three events occurred to 


change the aspect of the political situation. The 


first was the alteration in the foreign policy of Great 
Britain which led to her adventure in Egypt; the 
second, the more vigorous French colonial policy ; and 
the third, the awakening aspiration of Germany for her 
“ place in the sun." In consequence of these events the 
situation overseas came into the limelight, more intensely 
affecting the relations of the European Powers to each 
other than had been the case in the preceding decades. 

The change in the British policy was brought about 
by the general election of April 1880, which overthrew 
Beaconsfield, the imperialistic co-worker with Bismarck 
and Andrässy, and put into power his great opponent 
Gladstone, whose policy differed entirely from that of 
his predecessor. Beaconsfield and Salisbury, the leaders 
of the Conservative England, became in August 1879 so 
Germanophil that they declared in Rome that, should 
Italy assist Russia against Germany or Austria-Hungary, 
England would regard it as a casus belli ; and, on the 
other hand, they promised Bismarck that in the event 
of the Franco-Russian allies getting embroiled in war 
with Germany or Austria-Hungary, England would take 
the side of the latter, i.e. the Central European Powers. 
The Queen held the same views as her ministers, and 


54 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 55 

even the Prince of Wales himself—afterwards Edward VII 
—the inventor of the “ Einkreisung/' adopted the stand¬ 
point of the Conservative Government. Beaconsfield 
said of the Prince that “ though he was fond of the French 
women, he was so Russophobe that he would gladly 
break with the French rather than hold with the Mus¬ 
covites." Gladstone, however, brought into the Cabinet 
quite the opposite political sympathies and tastes. The 
fall of the Conservatives in itself meant that the nation 
had got tired of Beaconsfield’s imperialism, which had 
brought her into antagonism with Russia, involving her 
in the danger of war. 

Moreover, Gladstone, owing to his political past, 
intended to strike out into new paths. As a member of 
Palmerston's Cabinet he had represented the idea of 
Italian unity with great zeal against Austria, and his 
old Austrophobia again asserted itself as the result of 
our Eastern policy, which he regarded as anti-Christian 
and contrary to the interests of civilisation, since it 
attempted to reconcile the interests of Christianity and 
civilisation with the bolstering-up of Turkey—a State 
that he passionately detested. At the previous election 
the famous orator and agitator was carried away by his 
anger so far as to use expressions so offensive towards 
Austria-Hungary that he had, as Premier, to withdraw 
them. With the Turks he dealt even more ruthlessly ; 
he told them plainly that they had better pack up and 
clear off to Asia, “ bag and baggage." 

Bismarck and Gladstone could scarcely understand 
each other. In these men two diametrically opposed 
political views were personified in two perfectly different 
individualities. Bismarck and Gladstone had widely 
different notions of the aims and ethics of politics. These 
two giants had also different political talents. 


56 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Gladstone maintained that the statesman was the 
servant of the people. According to his creed, all 
parties, all statesmen, existed but to enlighten and win 
over the people, and to fulfil or still further enlighten and 
influence the national will as revealed through the ballot- 
box. On the other hand, Bismarck’s highest conception 
of his duty was to serve the Fatherland, if possible with 
the people, but if need be against them. 

According to Gladstone, the King must not interfere 
in affairs of government, this being solely the right and 
duty of the people and the ministers who are responsible 
to them. 

According to Bismarck, however, the King ruled by 
divine right and the ministers were merely his servants 
and responsible to him alone. If the convictions of the 
leading statesman came into opposition with the will of 
his sovereign, there was nothing for him to do but retire. 
The majority of the people, however, must serve the 
interests of the country ; if necessary they must even 
be compelled to do so. The will of the majority produced 
no impression on the Prussian Junker. To him it was 
a matter for surprise if a few persons were found capable 
of understanding the national interest; how then could 
it be supposed that the uninstructed and impressionable 
masses could understand it ? A highly popular policy 
he ipso facto regarded with suspicion. 

Gladstone considered it a serious crime for a statesman 
to resist by force the will of the people, or act contrary 
thereto. To gain popularity was one of his chief ambi¬ 
tions. Bismarck, on the other hand, held in contempt 
the man who would violate his conscience for the sake 
of popularity or in subservience to the national will. 

Bismarck’s power was built up on his conflict with 
the parliamentary majority, when he fought by his 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 57 

King’s side for the extension of the army. Gladstone’s 
success was based on his ability to adapt and trim 
his views to those of his times, so that, from a Con¬ 
servative, he could become a Liberal when the star of 
Liberalism was in the ascendant. 

Gladstone was par excellence an orator—perhaps 
chiefly an orator. Bismarck spoke badly, found his 
expressions only with difficulty, frequently hesitated. 
Just as an overcrowded hall empties itself but slowly 
on account of the multitude thronging out, so Bis¬ 
marck was prevented from expressing his thoughts 
fluently and with ease by the very redundancy of 
his ideas. Before he had finished one thought, an¬ 
other would come surging upon his lips. Gladstone’s 
speeches fairly lifted his audiences from their feet; 
but when read in cold type they failed to arouse any 
enthusiasm. With Bismarck, however, the contrary 
was the case : his speeches were far more captivating 
when read than when delivered. Macaulay, the great 
English historian, wrote of <f young Gladstone ” that 
he had “ one dangerous quality, i.e. his eloquence,” 
which was too majestic, and its very sublimity enabled 
him to dispense with lucidity. All Bismarck’s utter¬ 
ances were crystal-clear, razor-edged, precise, free from 
mere verbiage ; they were not the outcome of senti¬ 
mentality, nor likely to create it in others : in his 
speeches it was his intellect appealing to the intellects 
of his hearers. 

Bismarck was essentially a man of action rather 
than of words. One-sided, eminently practical, his 
education was chiefly in the sphere of history and 
politics. Gladstone was a belletrist, a philosopher. 
Whereas Gladstone was a home politician, Bismarck was 
pre-eminently a foreign politician. 


58 Bismarck and Andrassy 

Gladstone's ruling ambition in internal politics was 
to deliver the oppressed, to improve the economic situa¬ 
tion of the country, and to extend its constitutional 
liberties. Bismarck's aim, on the contrary, was to 
erect a powerful monarchical State, strongly and 
soundly to develop the German and Prussian race. 
These two sharply contrasting life-objects are by no 
means merely the result of different personalities, but 
also of different environments. That favoured land 
guarded by the encircling sea, the cradle of liberty, 
supported by its proud traditions, was in a position 
to serve ideals far different from those of the Continental 
State surrounded by jealous foes, created by kings and 
defended by armies, whose position as a parvenu Power 
was still regarded askance by the world without. 

Gladstone sought to enforce right and justice in 
foreign politics too; while Bismarck disdainfully— 
sometimes even cynically—observed that " the suffer¬ 
ings of other nations left him cold," that he would 
“ consider it a crime to jeopardise the least German 
interest for the sake of the rights of aliens " or for “ the 
peace of others " ; his “ sole guiding rule was the wel¬ 
fare of his own Fatherland and his sovereign's honour." 

Gladstone's school is certainly a more agreeable 
one than that of Bismarck. Its single great fault is 
that it is sincere only in very rare cases, and that it 
can be sincere only in such cases. To-day the “ sacred 
egoism " of nations is so strong, and the service of their 
own country the only recognised duty and desire of 
statesmen, that the slogan of “ Right and Justice " is 
often no more than a cloak to hide national selfishness 
and greed. Even where it is otherwise, some more 
alluring catch-phrase unconsciously and involuntarily 
comes under the influence of national interests, since 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 59 

the average mind can conceive as “ right and just ” 
only such things as are useful and profitable for itself. 

The political idealist, actuated by noble motives, 
is often more dangerous than the political realist with 
his policy rooted in self-interest. It is possible that 
a genuine Utopia may cost too much blood. The 
idealist has usually a finger in every pie and meddles 
with affairs that do not concern him—which, more¬ 
over, he is incapable of understanding. The more of 
an idealist he is, the more tyrannical, the more impatient, 
he will be. He will seek right and reason by violence 
just because of his excellent intentions. The danger of 
clashing interests remains even when the cause is led 
by idealists; and to this peril we may add those of the 
idee fixe y insurmountable prejudices, and the conflict 
arising out of the desire to confer blessings upon others. 
Apart from the infatuation of ambition, egoism, national 
and individual, will often don the disguise of humani- 
tarianism and zeal for righteousness. Even the most 
coldly calculating statesmen will often prate of " right 
and justice.” 

History, at any rate, fails to show that much good 
was ever done by the alleged intentions of men in the 
possession of power to secure the cause of justice and 
humanity instead of the “ sacred egoism ” of the nation. 
King Henry IV of France and his minister Sully perhaps 
sincerely desired to reform Europe along the lines of 
right and justice ; but who dares deny that if the King 
had attempted to carry out this grandiose scheme, rivers 
of blood would have deluged the whole European 
Continent; while in the best case—in the event of 
success—a merely transitory French supremacy would 
have been the sole tangible fruit of this beautiful dream. 

Political idealists should bear in mind that Napoleon I 


6 o Bismarck and Andrassy 

justified his interminable wars, dreadful devastations, 
and unexampled aggressions by his intention to secure 
to Europe a regime of peace and righteousness. He 
expressly avowed that, when finally victory had 
crowned his arms, all the great international problems 
would be solved by congresses and conferences in 
accordance with the principle of justice. The role pro¬ 
posed for the League of Nations to-day, Napoleon 
would assign to an alliance of sovereigns—of course 
on condition that he should be recognised as the most 
potent and exalted among them. 

Napoleon III was far more idealistic than his grand¬ 
uncle Napoleon I. I consider the former the most 
idealistic among the leading statesmen of modern times. 
He opened up the widest field for lofty ideals in prac¬ 
tical politics ; he waged a war for the unity of a foreign 
nation ; he proclaimed from the throne that the fate 
of nations must not be settled without those intimately 
concerned being consulted. Yet even he looked at 
world-events through egoistic spectacles, and saw his 
duty to humanity only where the interests of his country 
were at stake. Certainly he served the cause of justice, 
but only where it was, in his opinion, useful for him and 
his people. For example, he considered Italian unity 
useful; he made war and shed French blood in its 
behalf; only, however—be it noted—in behalf of 
Northern Italy. For the " greater Italy ” ideal of 
Garibaldi he was not enthusiastic : that was not com¬ 
patible with French interests. As for German unity, 
he feared it, and did all he could to thwart it. The 
true cause of the war of 1870-1871 was Bismarck's 
conviction that the French would never be friendlily 
disposed to the idea of German unity, and that the only 
road from Berlin to Munich was via Paris. 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 61 

Napoleon loudly advocated the principle of the 
plebiscite. Only, however, in those cases where he 
knew in advance that the result would be favourable 
from his point of view. He demanded the plebiscite 
in the region taken from the Italians because he had 
already arranged for the necessary majority ; but he 
considered the popular sanction quite superfluous when 
he wanted to get possession of the left bank of the Rhine, 
and also Belgium, well knowing that there was no 
prospect of a majority for him in either of those 
quarters. 

In spite of his idealism, Napoleon III engaged in 
three European wars, i.e. the Crimean War (1854), 
the Italian War (1859), an d the German War (1870). 
Besides these, his calculating egoism contributed to a 
fourth—the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. 

With the exception of Napoleon III, Gladstone was 
the most idealistic political leader. Yet notwithstand¬ 
ing his noble principles, Gladstone too became a con¬ 
queror. He reduced Egypt to subjection to England 
by force; he had Alexandria (an open port) bom¬ 
barded ; and he embarked on the disastrous campaign 
against the Boers for the maintenance of British suze¬ 
rainty, though only a short time before he had de¬ 
clared that he disapproved of the suzerainty, which (he 
stated) " had been acquired by unlawful means and was 
moreover useless/' The consequence of his idealistic 
intervention in the interests of the Bulgarians was the 
sanguinary Russo-Turkish War in which England her¬ 
self barely escaped getting embroiled, in spite of Glad¬ 
stone's excellent intentions. 

The single act of his really in keeping with his 
principles, the solitary unselfish step he ever took in 
the course of his long political career, was the cession 


62 Bismarck and Andrassy 

of Corfu to the Greeks—a proceeding which inflicted 
immense injury upon Great Britain. In the late Great 
War the possession of that island would have been of 
incalculable value to the British cause. 

Wilson, too—the last great political idealist—per¬ 
petrated a tremendous wrong upon humanity. From 
the sublime character of his professed principles and 
the profound depth of his convictions, he had the 
temerity to entangle his nation in the most gigantic 
war ever yet waged and at the subsequent Peace Con¬ 
ference to sit in judgment upon the living and the dead ; 
uninformed, having no competent knowledge of the 
situation, to decide the fate of nations—in short, to 
inflict tremendous ruin in the name of justice. In the 
European labyrinth of geography, traditions, the mani¬ 
fold historical and economic interests, and national 
sentiments, Wilson, intoxicated with the new wine of 
his Fourteen Points, succeeded in working as much 
mischief in Europe as an infuriated elephant let loose 
in a carefully tended flower-garden. 

The Great War was a stupendous event that must 
shatter one's confidence in the efflcacy of an idealist 
policy. We witnessed such a confused conglomeration 
of the most hyper-selfish imperialistic motives allied 
with the purest, noblest, and most exalted, that faith 
in the triumph of right and justice could not help taking 
to her death-bed. Who could believe in altruism, 
when on every hand were heard " the rights of the small 
nations," “ self-determination," and other shibboleths, 
glibly pronounced by the very people who kept—nay, 
still keep—millions under the yoke ?—when those who 
reiterated " a just peace, without penalties or annexa¬ 
tions," have crippled, mutilated, and sentenced to the 
(economic) galleys, to drag out a weary existence, all 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 63 

the defeated nations, by virtue of instruments miscalled 
“ Peace Treaties ” ? 

After such disenchanting experiences, Bismarck's 
philosophy (cold as it is) is more acceptable to me than 
Gladstone's; and I am disposed to believe in those 
politicians who confess sans phrase that they are con¬ 
cerned only with their own country's cause, in preference 
to those who are constantly preaching peace and justice 
and denying their national egoism. 

To-day also I see the highest and most salutary 
service for humanity at large in the apparently narrower 
sphere of service for one’s own people. The cause of all 
mankind can be served most effectually by the uplifting 
of individual nations. Progress towards an age more 
perfect and nobler than the present can only be achieved 
by driving out the ravening wolf from the heart of man 
by the power of Christian morality, and implanting in 
its stead a sense of justice and respect for inalienable 
human rights, so that the observance of those principles 
becomes the true interest of the State. 

The only thing I regret and disapprove in Bismarck 
was that his patriotism was so often mixed with 
cynicism, and his expression thereof always with an 
intentional rudeness. While it was certainly a great 
advantage for England and France to pretend to hu¬ 
manitarian justification for all their most imperialistic 
designs, it was detrimental for Germany that Bismarck's 
attitude gave an egoistic appearance even to the most 
pacific and most moderate steps he ever took, and that 
since he passed from the scene they only were regarded 
at Berlin as real statesmen and worthy disciples of the 
Iron Chancellor who followed a similar policy of harsh¬ 
ness and contempt for mankind in general—who affected 
to despise public opinion and to be ashamed of and 


64 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

disapprove every policy that was not uncompromisingly 
realistic. This tradition and Bismarck’s language be¬ 
came positively noxious after Germany, from being a Con¬ 
tinental Power, had attained the dignity of a World 
Power. This fact itself naturally created much jealousy. 
She came into conflict with new spheres of interest, and 
in Berlin the itch for the limelight became ever greater 
and caution ever less. Bismarck’s ponderous manner of 
speaking and realistic doctrine facilitated the formation 
of that general world-coalition under whose united blows 
the mighty German Empire collapsed. 

The contrasting mentalities of Bismarck and Gladstone 
also led to personal antipathy. At any rate, Bismarck 
severely condemned Gladstone and pronounced him a 
danger to the community. He exclaimed (a propos of a 
note in which a certain Russian minister was styled a 
humbug and fanatic) : “ Then he is like Gladstone ! ” 
The German said of the Englishman that “ he would 
ruin his country and jeopardise the world by his radical 
domestic policy on the one hand and his pandering to 
revolutionary Pan-Slavism on the other.” Young Her¬ 
bert Bismarck wrote with profound contempt of the 
British Premier that “It is not worth while to discuss 
foreign politics with him ” (i.e. Gladstone) : “ he knows 
so little about it .” 

Nothing could be more natural than that the England 
of Gladstone and the Germany of Bismarck should become 
estranged from each other. 

The new orientation of England became apparent 
first of all in the Balkan Question, towards which she 
began to manifest a changed attitude. Whereas formerly 
Great Britain, in both the drafting and the execution of 
the Berlin Treaty, had taken the side of the Turks, 
Gladstone now came out as the advocate of Russian 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 65 

aspirations. Bismarck maintained a cautious defensive 
against this new manoeuvre of England. He would not, 
however, allow himself to be provoked into opposition 
to her. He did everything in his power to frustrate 
any intimate co-operation of England and Russia, lest 
the two rivals should get accustomed to each other in 
their struggle against the third ; well knowing that a 
common foe can the most easily make friends with his 
old antagonists. 

I have no desire to enter into particulars of these 
diplomatic intrigues ; sufficient to emphasise that Bis¬ 
marck attained his object, and in the two chief problems 
of the day—the Albanian and the Greek Questions—he 
managed with consummate skill to effect a compromise 
without the Anglo-Russian and the Austro-Hungarian 
attitudes coming into sharp opposition. He moved so 
skilfully that he won even the confidence of Turkey. 
Though shortly before he had stood for the policy of 
carving up the Ottoman Empire, he now cast his whole 
weight in the scale for the Padishah, and thus brought 
the Sultan into the German sphere of influence. 

2. Improvement in the Strained Relations between 

Germany and France 

England's alienation from us—a political event of 
far-reaching importance—had naturally a visible influence 
upon the French policy of Bismarck. While in the 
preceding years the German Chancellor had attempted 
to stifle the spirit of revanche by means of bluster and 
terrorism, he now laid himself out to gain the good-will 
of the French people and thus appease them as far as 
possible. And in this more benign method he succeeded. 

Up to this period France was fascinated by the 

5 




66 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Rhine to the exclusion of everything else. Since the 
debacle of Napoleon III, all eyes were turned towards 
Alsace-Lorraine. Public opinion and even experienced 
politicians were afraid of that " devilish Bismarck.” 
They lived in constant perturbation lest this new “ Anti¬ 
christ ” should avail himself of some excuse to strike 
them again to the earth and thus retard their ultimate 
recovery. At the time of the Berlin Congress, however, 
this feeling had already somewhat subsided. Bismarck 
had succeeded in creating in the minds of the leading 
French statesmen the confidence that they might 
safely engage in colonial enterprises so far as he was 
concerned. And it was a stroke of luck for Bismarck 
that simultaneously with the accession to power of 
Gladstone, when a hostile England would have done 
much to accentuate the hostility of France, French public 
opinion took a decidedly friendly turn towards Germany. 
The French Premier, Jules Ferry, the most practical, 
the boldest, and most energetic statesman of the Republic, 
understood Bismarck, credited his pacific intentions, and 
dared to direct his (Ferry's) attention to the acquisition 
of the rich country of Tunis. (March—May 1887.) 

The German Chancellor now quickly seized the oppor¬ 
tunity thus presented. Not for weakening his rival, not 
for embarrassing France ; but, on the contrary, he made 
an effort to conciliate her and attach her more closely 
to the Fatherland. With this object he promoted the 
colonial ambitions of Ferry to the utmost of his power, 
and Germany became a sort of rearguard of France. 
German diplomacy undertook to reassure Turkey and 
Italy, whose trade-routes were thus crossed by the 
French advance. In Morocco, too (May 1880), Bismarck 
espoused the French cause : he was willing to support 
France even to an extent where Bülow and Bethmann- 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 67 

Hollweg went to the brink of a war in defence of German 
interests. 

The German Chancellor made it clear that he would 
welcome the spread of French influence on the Latin 
race and would not look unfavourably at the conquests 
of the French overseas. This consummate political 
schemer was aware that to place warnings in the way of 
his defeated neighbours, whether on the Rhine or else¬ 
where, would but fan the smouldering embers of revenge 
and perhaps lead to another war ; while the successes of 
France abroad would divert her thoughts, for the time 
at least, from the soreness of Alsace-Lorraine. 

To our age belongs the honour of creating a precedent 
for the policy of thwarting a defeated enemy everywhere, 
in all his attempts to recover, to regain his health and 
strength—a policy supported by not a few specious 
arguments, but which is nevertheless bad and recoils on 
the whole of humanity. Even the victor is swept away 
by the great moral and material avalanche inevitably 
caused by the demolition and wrecking of serious factors 
in the civilisation and progress of Europe. 

In the Europe of to-day it is impossible with impunity 
to condemn nations to perpetual suffering, misery, or 
slavery. A nation can get rid of her dangerous criminal 
members by executing them; an individual of his 
enemy by killing him ; but it is impossible to eliminate 
entire nations from the ranks of the living. A guillotine 
or a poniard for decapitating or stabbing a whole nation 
has yet to be invented by our scientists. The moribund 
nation, unable to survive, will always be a source of 
infection for her neighbours—if not otherwise, then 
by spreading the deadly diseases of Bolshevism and 
Anarchy. 

All the methods of murdering nations hitherto applied 


68 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

have failed to stand the test. The Jews were dispersed, 
yet they have retained their power, and to-day they are 
even an organised State. The Poles were separated, 
the Serbs, Greeks, and Bulgarians subjected to alien 
tyranny—their very names for a time erased from the 
map—yet these persecuted pariahs have seen their 
resurrection, they have proved stronger than all the 
treaties made for their annihilation ; all the paper pacts 
against them have proved no more durable than such 
material usually is. 

Bismarck was cognisant of these things. The in¬ 
veterate foe of France, he was urged by his nerves or his 
sentiments to drastic measures, yet his wisdom withheld 
him from attempting to frustrate a nation's natural 
development, her economic reinvigoration and indepen¬ 
dence. Bismarck therefore kept aloof from the merest 
semblance of meddling with the internal affairs of France. 
When Gambetta became Premier (November 1881)— 
Gambetta, the uncompromising representative of revanche 
whose dissentient compatriots declared “ Gambetta c’est 
la guerre! ”—the Chancellor proclaimed that he should 
respect French independence. And when somewhat 
later (18th November 1883) the Legitimists sounded him, 
he emphatically assured them that he should never make 
war on France on account of her form of government, 
though he thought a kingdom instead of the Republic 
might eventually lead to war, as the former would the 
more easily obtain allies and would not disintegrate the 
country so much as the latter. He would by all means 
respect the right of France to settle her own form of 
government. “ Should she become a kingdom, he would 
have less confidence in the preservation of peace ; but 
at any rate he would wait and see whether the new 
regime did really mean war. But in any case, he repeated, 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 69 

he would never interfere in the internal affairs of the 
French people ” (26th January 1884). 

In many respects Bismarck was a man of brute 
force, a believer in the efficacy of “ smashing a way 
through ’’—and for this we hear him loudly condemned 
even at this day. But, for that matter, many blatant 
apostles of “ freedom/' of the “ right of self-determina¬ 
tion ’’ and " human solidarity," are disposed to follow 
the example of this out-of-date, retrograde old states¬ 
man. The old-fashioned Man of Iron paid more respect 
to the rights of others than do the modern tribunes of 
the people, who would make a casus belli of the question 
as to who is the rightful King of Hungary according 
to the millennial constitution ; or than do the ranters 
about Wilsonian principles, who restrict our self-deter¬ 
mination by means of that very violence and brute 
force they denounce as so criminal when directed against 
themselves, because we are weak, and at the same 
time approve and applaud the right of the Bolsheviks 
to massacre millions, to wage universal war on the 
bourgeoisie, and to set up the most awful reign of terror 
that this world has ever experienced, because they are 
strong ! 

3. Extension of Germany’s Colonial Empire 

The progress of France in Africa was followed and 
counterbalanced by the British venture in Egypt (where 
Gladstone, so to speak, came a cropper over his own 
principles)—an enterprise not methodically prepared 
by the accumulated wisdom of Downing Street, but 
improvised by the imperialism in British blood and 
the admirable initiative of the Briton himself. This 
imperialistic instinct, by a quick stroke, lays prostrate 
the Egyptian national movement struggling manfully 


70 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

against European influence, hustles aside the French, 
who hitherto were understood to enjoy the same rights, 
and makes the British nation the real lords of the land 
of the Pharaohs (September 1882), 

This bold move became in time an immense advan¬ 
tage for England ; it won for her the point d’appui 
which enabled her to display a tremendous power during 
the Great War, securing her uninterrupted communica¬ 
tion with India ; though this at first involved the British 
Empire in serious danger, since it put her at variance 
with her chief ally, France, who could not look on coolly 
at England establishing herself by force and injustice 
just where her own colonial appetite was so great, when 
she contemplated the foundation of an overseas empire 
on the banks of the Nile in fair Egypt, on the former 
battleground of Napoleon, to which she was attracted 
by many traditions and not a few real interests. 

What ought Bismarck to do in this situation ? 
Should he stand by the French ? Should he bid for 
their good-will by adopting a decided anti-British atti¬ 
tude ? Should he try to humiliate England ? should he 
imitate Palmerston, who was so fond of driving his 
opponent into a corner, to publicly humble him ? in 
order to enhance the glory and prestige of his country 
—as, for instance, on account of the Egyptian imbroglio 
he had humiliated France in 1840 by causing the fall of 
Thiers ? Why should Bismarck not trip up Gladstone, 
to punish him for his Germanophobia ? 

Or should he proceed later, as Germany did in the 
case of Morocco, by demanding compensation for 
Egypt, and on principle refuse to permit others to divide 
up and apportion continents without reckoning with 
him ? 

As Prussian Minister, when he had desired to upset 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 71 

the existing balance of power, he did not scruple to 
exploit the Anglo-French dispute to its lowest depths. 

But he no longer thought of Caesarean operations, 
attended with such grave risks ; he was now as cautious 
as formerly he was bold. He frequently changed his 
instruments, adapted them to the changed and changing 
situation; but his chief aims were rigidly consistent; 
they were never modified to suit merely passing needs. 

And his dearest wish was now to preserve peace, 
to isolate France and avoid antagonism which might 
raise up enemies for Germany and friends for France. 

With this object in view he desired to make use of 
the Egyptian question in the first place for keeping the 
Anglo-French quarrel alive, well aware that as long as 
Paris was afraid of the English, Germany had nothing 
to fear from the French. 

Bismarck, however, abstained from inciting anyone 
to war, as Napoleon III incited Prussia and Austria in 
1866, as now war might disturb the balance of power 
in a way the consequences of which were unforeseeable 
and incalculable, while he was satisfied with the actual 
state of things. The French Emperor, too, had fared 
badly, for the war he desired had disappointed his 
hopes. 

Equally Bismarck was unable to make up his mind 
to afford prompt and vigorous aid to the Quai d’Or¬ 
say and thus win the friendship of France. He feared 
lest by doing so he should make an enemy of Eng¬ 
land without success in winning Paris and making 
her forget Alsace-Lorraine. He thought that the 
alarmed English Cabinet might relinquish its autocracy 
in Egypt and itself make advances to Paris. He 
was apprehensive of the Anglo-French condominium in 
Egypt, the alliance of the two Western Powers, the 


72 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

victim of Gambetta's policy. Bismarck forbore to 
take any particular line of action, or to play any lead¬ 
ing role in the question ; he feared lest open interven¬ 
tion would dispose France and England to settle their 
dispute and become reconciled. Subsequent develop¬ 
ments fully justified his cautious attitude. Under his 
successors the active intervention of Germany in the 
colonial question, together with the extension of her 
navy, drove the Anglo-French antagonism into the 
background : Egypt and Morocco, formerly the hot¬ 
beds of strife in Bismarck's time, now became the nests 
of entente. 

Bismarck approached nearer to England. He re¬ 
assured Gladstone. In London (September 1882) he 
stated his willingness to agree to anything England 
desired in the country of the Pyramids. All the same 
he fought shy of exposing himself for the sake of 
England ; he would not risk arousing the antipathy of 
the Anglophobe nations, and in particular he would 
not be a party to the humiliation of France. Being 
anxious for the success of his work in Russia, he feared 
that an alliance with London would create a bad impres¬ 
sion in St. Petersburg and render difficult a smooth 
running of the new relations, for the Russians were 
strongly opposed to the occupation by the British of 
strong positions near Constantinople, the hub of the 
Mohammedan world. They would look askance at 
Bismarck in this matter harnessing himself to the car 
of Great Britain. Bismarck gave therefore an evasive 
answer (4th September 1882), when Gladstone, seeing 
that without the good-will of the Germans he might 
have to face grave dangers, asked whether the Empire 
was disposed to conclude an alliance with Great Britain. 

By such astuteness Bismarck reached his aims: 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 73 

he improved his relations with England ; the Anglo- 
French antagonism became more and more acute, with¬ 
out either Russia or France gaining any valid excuse to 
charge Germany with hostility towards herself, and 
without the Anglo-German rapprochement driving Paris 
and St. Petersburg into each other's arms. 

An entirely unforeseen circumstance, however, jeo¬ 
pardised the stability of this pleasing edifice, which 
might easily have driven Bismarck willy-nilly to an 
anti-English attitude. 

Apart from his prime object, which was the improve¬ 
ment of his relations with the Great Powers, there was 
also a second consideration. 

French success abroad, the strengthening of British 
power in Egypt, the colonial ambitions of Italy, all had 
a repercussion in Germany. The rising generation of 
Teutons longed to see the flag of the Fatherland waving 
over the shores of Africa and Asia. 

The old Chancellor condemned the aspirations of 
the colonising “ Jungen '' : he wanted no colonies, 
which might necessitate the modification of his conti¬ 
nental policy, and possibly involve him in wars abroad 
and political campaigns at home. In spite of this, 
however, he held that Germany had a right to and an 
interest in the possession of modest colonies, about 
which he hoped there would be no difficulties raised, 
in return for his diplomatic complaisance over Egypt. 

But Gladstone perpetrated an amazing blunder. 
Instead of promoting the German co-operation, which 
he so ardently desired, by acquiescing in the really 
moderate demands of Bismarck, he frustrated Germany's 
efforts at expansion—or rather he winked at his sub¬ 
ordinates doing so. In this he was scarcely actuated 
by any conscious political aim, for at this period Glad- 


74 Bismarck and Andy assy 

stone felt the need of German assistance : it was rather 
that he gave full rein to that instinctive jealousy which 
the English always feel against any Power than them¬ 
selves daring to acquire possessions overseas. His 
attitude, however, was none the less wrong. The 
situation of Great Britain was now too serious to let 
loose British imperialistic instincts in all directions. 
The British arms had sustained defeat in the Sudan 
(November 1883) ; their advance in Egypt was every¬ 
where accompanied by jealousy: in St. Petersburg 
it was feared lest England should control Constantinople 
and the Dardanelles via Egypt, even more strongly 
than formerly, consequently the people on the banks 
of the Neva were considering what would be the most 
effective counterstroke. 

They would try to get to India across Central Asia. 
In spite of Gladstone's Russophilism (or perhaps count¬ 
ing on that very fact, and on the known weakness of 
the English Premier), they attempted to occupy a 
position in Central Asia capable of off-setting the new 
accession of British power in Suez and rendering it 
possible for the Czar to humble another Palmerston 
or Beaconsfield. The Autocrat was anxious to increase 
his influence in Afghanistan equally at least with that 
of England on the Nile. The stronger England might 
be near Constantinople the closer the Czar desired to 
get to the Himalayas. Though his policy was as yet in 
an early and undeveloped stage, its effects could already 
be discerned, and Dilke, as early as September 1882, 
complained to Herbert Bismarck about the Russian 
offensive in Asia. 

The situation of England was not improved by Jules 
Ferry — luckily for Bismarck — becoming Premier of 
France (February 1883). This was the man who had the 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 75 

courage to go hand in hand with the German Chancellor 
and by his assistance to acquire Tunis. It would now 
be seen whether Ferry, supported by the Germans, 
would be able to weaken the British supremacy in Egypt. 
Would Bismarck foreshadow an eventual Anglophobe 
policy by concluding a definite peace-pact with Paris 
under the leadership of Ferry, and thus cause England 
to find herself up against a united Europe ? 

This danger was all the more imminent as the Euro¬ 
pean conference (28th June to 2nd August 1884), whose 
business it should have been to improve the financial 
situation of Egypt, failed to do so, on which the Egyptian 
Question became once more acute. 

Bismarck felt his power. He acted with ruthless 
vigour (spring 1884). He took no pains to soften 
his voice. He, in a manner of speaking, levied black¬ 
mail ; played ä deux tableaux. He stoutly declared 
that if England would not help him to satisfy his 
colonising aspirations, he would turn his back on 
her (April 1884—January 1885). He was willing to 
make terms with England, but if she were adverse to 
him he would throw all his weight into the scale with 
France against England. Hitherto it had not been 
for his own interests in Egypt that he had sided with 
the English, but because he hoped that his attitude 
would induce England to adopt a pro-German policy. 
If he were disappointed in this respect, it was in his 
power to change his policy without the least difficulty 
or drawback. 

Bismarck, however, merely cooked a small joint at 
this large fire. He blustered and thundered, con¬ 
vinced that a display of energy would enable him soon 
to reach his goal—that England would not risk losing 
Egypt for the sake of Angra-Pequena. The English 




76 Bismarck and Andrassy 

attitude was offensive to him ; nevertheless he wished 
to avoid offending British public opinion. He would 
not take any undue advantage of his favourable situa¬ 
tion. He was not afraid of quarrelling with Gladstone, 
but he wished to avoid seriously wounding the amour 
propre of the British people, who after all were the 
real rulers of England. His simulated rage did not 
carry him a hairbreadth further than he intended to 
go. He emphasised the possibility of co-operating 
with Great Britain in the future whenever he wished 
to do so ; he would leave no thorn in the side of England. 
For the moment he would not enter into alliance with 
her, but he wished to leave the way open to do so at 
any time in the future. 

His ideas are best illustrated by his attitude in the 
Heligoland affair. On the occasion of Gladstone's 
friendly overtures Bismarck took the opportunity to 
hint at the exchange of the island, then in the posses¬ 
sion of Great Britain. He argued that the island was 
of no use to England except in the almost unthinkable 
event of a war with Germany, while it was invaluable 
for the Fatherland in that it increased the defensive 
power of the Empire and guarded the estuary of the 
Elbe against attack. He, however, dropped the 
project on perceiving that the British people were 
averse to it. He would not acquire it by any sort of 
violence or pressure, lest he should provoke ill-will. 
Notwithstanding his secure tenure of power, his only 
aim was to preserve the actual colonial possessions of 
Germany from being jeopardised by a quarrel with 
England. With this object he made to France even 
more important advances than before. He launched 
at Paris (4th August 1884) his schemes for a coalition 
(as in the eighteenth century) of all the other States 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 77 

against the maritime supremacy of Great Britain, 
with the slogan of “ armed neutrality.” France, the 
second naval Power, was to be appointed to the 
leadership of this coalition, and thus she would play 
a predominant part in the world-situation. Evidently 
Bismarck designed to use France as a battering-ram 
and to egg her on to a more intensively Anglophobe 
policy. In this he failed, however. Jules Ferry was 
not disposed to burn the bridge connecting him with 
Albion le perfide. He was too astute to be caught 
napping. His new-found friendship with the Germans 
did not blind him to the fact that Germany was the 
chief enemy of France. In spite of all, Bismarck suc¬ 
ceeded in creating a co-operation between the Germans 
and the French—a thing seemingly impossible, and 
which enhanced accordingly the prestige of Germany 
in London. Ferry undertook (October 1884) to take 
no step with regard to Egypt without first consulting 
Germany. In the Congo Question Bismarck acted 
in concert with Ferry, and by their united pressure 
wrung concessions from England. 

The tempers of the two antagonists improved so 
much that Barrere, a French diplomat, remarked to 
Herbert Bismarck that a “ Franco-German alliance 
would be an excellent thing for them ” (the French), 
and Camperon, the French War Minister, even dared 
to express to the German Military Attache the opinion 
that “ a Franco-German Alliance could dominate the 
world and preserve peace ; it would only be necessary 
to let bygones be bygones.” 

Realising this situation, Britain had to yield. She 
had never manifested an open opposition, and had 
only played her cards behind the scenes to frustrate 
the colonial expansion of Germany. The British Pre- 


78 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

mier shifted the responsibility for the Government's 
actions first on to the Foreign Secretary, afterwards 
on to the Secretary for the Colonies, again on to the local 
officials, later on to the individual colonies, until finally 
(7th March 1885) after the negotiations acrimoniously 
carried on by Herbert Bismarck, the Chancellor tri¬ 
umphed. England agreed to accede to all his con¬ 
crete demands, while Bismarck, on his part, once more 
agreed to back the British schemes in Egypt. 

A piquant incident occurred during these negotia¬ 
tions. Dilke publicly announced (5th October 1884) 
his intention of repudiating the international agree¬ 
ments on the plea of necessity! Herbert Bismarck 
was inexpressibly shocked, and pointed out that “ if 
a State thus broke her solemn engagements, no treaty 
would be worth the paper it was written on, and the 
entire structure of international law would fall to the 
ground." 

Ah ! but a few decades later, at a much more tragic 
moment, when the destiny of the European Continent 
hung on a breath, it fell to the lot of a certain other 
German statesman to make a similar declaration to 
that of the Englishman. Then did not the English 
people wax wrath! Such an unheard-of thing! A 
solemn treaty a mere scrap of paper !—as though such 
an announcement were the grossest insult to that 
nation one of whose ministers had been the first to 
propose it! 

Bismarck won in the battle of politics begun by 
Gladstone. The defeat of the British statesman was 
not limited to his having to give way on the question 
of the German colonies ; the world-position of Great 
Britain was shaken when amidst her difficulties in 
Egypt she chose to fall out with the mightiest factor 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 79 

on the Continent. While Beaconsfield, in friendly 
relations with Andrässy and Bismarck, was able to 
stop the victorious Muscovites at the very gates of 
Stamboul, Gladstone alienated Germany and thus 
became powerless to prevent Russia approaching India. 
Nothing remained for him but to sign the most unsatis¬ 
factory agreement at the foot of the Himalayas. His 
own policy was turned against him. He had coquetted 
with Russia, and now she had him in her toils : he 
would be hard put to it to avoid war with her. He 
had fulminated against the Turks, yet now his only hope 
of rescue from his miserable plight lay in the objects 
of his erstwhile scorn allowing the Straits to be opened 
for him, in order that the mighty British fleet might 
reach the Black Sea and come to grips with his re¬ 
doubtable foe. But how dare he hope for this when, 
as Bismarck said, “he had stupidly squandered the 
traditional influence of Great Britain over the Sublime 
Porte ” ? How could he expect to find his way out 
of the labyrinth, when Turkey could only be induced by 
the pressure of Kälnoky and Bismarck to alter her 
anti-Gladstonian course ; and Bismarck, owing partly 
to the policy of Gladstone, was far nearer to Russia 
than to England, and consequently advised entirely 
to the contrary (March—June 1885) ? How could 
Gladstone hope to attain his object when even France 
had been alienated from him by his policy in Egypt, 
so that no one accepted his attitude ? He had isolated 
himself, and so had lost the game, besides having the 
mortification to see that he had “ backed the wrong 
horse.” 

In contrast with Gladstone's failure, Bismarck was 
successful all along the line. He pulled off all his 
colonial demands. He brought it home to England 


8 o Bismarck and Andrassy 

with the logic of cold facts that she could not do 
without him. For Gladstone’s failure British public 
opinion did not blame Bismarck, but rather the inepti¬ 
tude of its own Government; so that the co-operation 
of England with Germany soon came once more within 
the purview of practical politics. And while the road 
between Berlin and London remained open, and while 
the relations between Berlin and St. Petersburg became 
more and more amicable, barriers were erected between 
London and Paris as well as between London and St. 
Petersburg. Thus Bismarck accomplished his prime 
object and also his secondary aims. He strengthened 
his diplomatic position in Europe, set France and 
England at loggerheads, and obtained the colonies he 
coveted. 

4. Renewal of the Three Emperors’ Alliance 

Amidst the daily events of the political world Bis¬ 
marck worked indefatigably, utilising those events 
for building a system of alliances suitable to preserve 
peace as well as to safeguard the spoils of Germany’s 
last war—i.e. Alsace-Lorraine. 

The alliance with us was insufficient for him. He 
returned to his old pet scheme, the Alliance of the Three 
Emperors—not, however, instead of, but as a comple¬ 
ment to, the Dual Alliance. He desired to renew the 
Alliance of the Three Emperors separately from the 
Dual Alliance of 1879, since, in his belief, this would 
form a more effectual guarantee of peace, to which he 
staunchly adhered, as owing to the spread of Socialism 
he was afraid that a world-war would sweep away the 
existing social order. As he subsequently declared 
(1887), “ the defeated nations would hereafter hold their 
Governments responsible for their misfortunes. A de- 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 81 

feated Russian autocracy would be superseded by a 
republic ; a defeated Austria-Hungary would dissolve 
into a number of small republics; and even in a defeated 
Germany the monarchical principle and middle-class 
society would be imperilled. ’' Further, Bismarck adhered 
to the Three Emperors' Alliance because he expected 
therefrom a strong domestic policy which would drive 
the beasts of Revolution and Radicalism back to their 
lairs and prove an impregnable bulwark of Conservatism. 

Was Bismarck right ? Which was likely to prove the 
more effective in counteracting the spirit of destruction : 
force ?—or gradual progress towards liberty and self- 
government ? The iron hand of an autocrat ?—or real 
constitutional life ? 

I do not propose to discuss this interesting problem ; 
but merely to emphasise that though revolutionary 
propaganda should be met with vigorous repression, and 
though at the proper time stern measures are inevitable, 
yet the sole remedy against revolution is personal liberty 
and respect for law founded on a suitable autonomy. 

The famous Junker statesman saw in Gladstone's 
rash reforming spirit the harbinger of revolution ; he 
considered France, Italy, Spain, and England as demo¬ 
cratic States, the sure and certain victims of revolution ; 
and thought that the dominions of the Emperors alone 
were safe from that scourge. 

Events, however, have proved to the contrary. 
Parliamentary England, Italy, and Spain are monarchies 
still; France is the most conservative of European 
States ; Italy the sworn foe of Bolshevism ; while the 
thrones of the Three Emperors have gone down before 
the onslaughts of revolution. In spite of all, revolution 
has proved the most disastrous in those countries where 
the people enjoyed the least liberty ! 

6 


82 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

If anyone should seek to explain this fact by the 
circumstances that the most autocratic States happened 
to be those defeated in the Great War, my answer is : 
Italy, France, Belgium, Serbia, and Rumania also came 
very near final disaster without the critical military 
situation destroying their home fronts ; while in the 
territories of the Three Emperors it was the internal 
disintegration that was the principal cause of their 
absolute military collapse. And the explanation is 
easy. The necessary repressive measures are much 
easier of application in a country where order is main¬ 
tained by a broad-based Government, supported by wide 
strata of the population—by an active law-abiding people 
—than where the government is vested in a few autocratic 
ministers, relying on the passive obedience of the general 
public. The Czarist regime failed to prove itself a con¬ 
servative factor. On the contrary, it was Czarism that 
paved the way for the bloodiest and most devastating 
revolution this world has ever seen. The absolute power 
wielded by the Czars sowed the seeds of Bolshevism, the 
dragon's teeth of Red terror. One extreme engendered 
another, tending downwards towards Avernus. Only 
in a social order based on blind obedience, such as was 
Czarist Russia, could Leninism take root and blossom— 
that Leninism which is but an Asiatic form of Czarism 
plus Anarchy. The Russian people could never have 
escaped their present tribulation by the reactionary 
measures of Czar Alexander III and Nicholas II—nothing 
less than systematic reforms, far-reaching and drastic 
at the proper time, could have saved them. 

But to take up again the thread of the relation of 
events. Badly as Bismarck needed the Alliance of the 
Three Emperors, he did not hurry it on. He patiently 
waited. He knew that if one runs after an alliance, or 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 83 

solicits the friendship of others, he usually finds himself 
at a disadvantage. Though it is true that in 1879 
Bismarck took the initiative with regard to us and made 
overtures to Andrässy, the circumstances were quite 
unusual. At that time he envisaged the possibility of 
an immediate attack. He was afraid that if Andrässy 
resigned before the conclusion of an alliance he might 
have difficulties with his successor. Now, however, the 
situation was different: he had in his pocket the assurance 
of the Dual Alliance ; he had no longer any cause for 
fear from any quarter. To run after the Russians would 
be construed at St. Petersburg as a sure sign of his 
weakness. He knew that he could accomplish his object 
of restoring the Alliance of the Three Emperors if only 
the Czar had learnt his lesson from the past, was duly 
impressed by the Dual Alliance, feared the spread of 
Nihilism and the revolutionary spirit in Russia, and 
looked for aid to his two great and conservative neigh¬ 
bours. In that case he felt convinced that the Czar 
would knock at the door of Berlin. 

And this actually came to pass. The Czar took the 
first step towards Germany. But no sooner had the 
Autocrat done so, than Bismarck proceeded in the matter 
with great vigour and re-established the Alliance of the 
Three Emperors at Vienna (18th June 1881). Haymerle, 
like his predecessor Andrässy, showed a preference for 
the Dual Alliance, but he had not sufficient courage 
openly to contradict the Chancellor. Had he done so, 
it would have been in vain, for Bismarck had a poor 
opinion of Haymerle. 

When the Chancellor first met him, he remarked that 
he had much difficulty in understanding his reasoning, 
for he was by no means lucid. When they differed 
with regard to Egypt, Bismarck dryly observed that 


84 Bismarck and Andrassy 

“ people in Vienna could not see more than a few days 
ahead/' Later on, in conversation with a British 
statesman, he referred with raillery to the vacillating 
character of his Viennese colleague, who—Bismarck said— 
“ always uttered an emphatic ‘ No ' twice on getting up 
in the morning in order to fortify himself against commit¬ 
ting himself to anything during the day." When 
Haymerle addressed a sharp note to Berlin on the eco¬ 
nomic treaty, Bismarck flew into a rage and replied 
that “ Germany was great enough to tolerate such 
insolence for a while, but if Vienna dared to treat the 
minor Balkan States in a similar fashion, she must not 
be surprised to find herself surrounded by enemies." It 
is regrettable that our diplomats not infrequently justified 
Bismarck's scathing remarks by combining a pusillani¬ 
mous action with a braggart pen; too few of them have 
acquired the art of true statesmanship, of uniting the 
suaviter in modo and the fortiter in re. I hope my 
Hungarian compatriots have not inherited this unfor¬ 
tunate trait, but may they ever remember that only a 
combination of lofty courage and never-failing courtesy 
can avail us in our present difficulties. 

The new Three Emperors’ Alliance was different from 
the old one. Unlike the former, it was not entirely based 
on conservative principles, but stipulated a common 
policy in regard to the Balkans, whereby we lost the 
opportunity of exploiting the advantageous situation 
conferred upon us by the Berlin Treaty and our alliance 
with Germany for extending our economic and moral 
influence over the Balkans and finally supplanting the 
Russians. Likewise the new treaty differed from the 
old one, and was unfavourable to us in so far as it was 
directed against England; as in the affairs of the 
Straits, expressis verbis at least it took up a pro-Russian, 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 85 

anti-British attitude, although in the East the interests 
of England were more identical with ours than were those 
of Russia, and England had never been in our way, while 
Czardom signified a positive danger for us. 

The aspiration of Russia has ever been, and always 
will be so long as she is a Great Power, to have a right 
of way for her fleet through the Dardanelles to the 
Mediterranean and the Adriatic, but at the same time 
to close the Straits for foreign vessels and thus preserve 
the Black Sea coast immune from attack. This beautiful 
dream very nearly materialised when the great Czar 
Nicholas I espoused the cause of Sultan Mahomet against 
Mahomet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, and in reward for his 
valuable services the Autocrat demanded that the 
Padishah should, whenever required, open the Dardanelles 
to him but keep them closed against all others—in short, 
that the Sultan should fill the post of gatekeeper to the 
Czar. 

A conspicuous instance of the durability of interests 
wherein geography and power are related is furnished 
by the fact that both Lenin and Tchitcherin in altogether 
different circumstances attempted Nicholas Ps temporary 
achievement, and that Mustapha Kemal indeed undertook, 
like Sultan Mahomet, to guard for a time the south¬ 
western gate of Russia in return for Russia's assistance 
in his revolutionary schemes. 

At the time of the formation of the Three Emperors' 
Alliance, however, the Russians, under the effect of the 
Berlin Treaty, were of necessity more modest. They 
could not think of monopolies ; they had to be satisfied 
with the closure of the Straits being made an inter¬ 
national obligation on the part of Turkey—an obligation 
from which, without the consent of all the signatory 
Powers (of whom Russia was one), Turkey could not 



86 


Bismarck and Andrdssy 

deviate. Yet even this less pretentious demand was 
contrary to the views of England : she desired to make 
the opening and the closing entirely a matter of the 
Sultan's “ free will ”—which, in plain terms, meant that 
Britannia would be able to rule the waves of the Black 
Sea by cajoling or intimidating the Sublime Porte as 
occasion required. 

On this question the Alliance of the Three Emperors 
adopted the attitude of Russia, and declared that, should 
the Sultan open the Straits without the consent of 
Europe, he would forfeit the defence guaranteed to him 
by the Powers signatory to the Berlin Treaty. 

In the Balkan Question the allies agreed to respect 
each other’s rights and interests, and to come to an 
agreement with each other prior to any alteration of the 
status quo. Besides these general obligations, the allies 
also agreed on certain definite questions. They recog¬ 
nised the right of Austria-Hungary to transform the 
occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina into an annexation ; 
they engaged not to prevent the union of Bulgaria and 
East Rumelia if the desire were mutual and spontaneous. 
Further, they bound themselves to oppose the occupation 
of the Balkan line by the Turks, though the latter were 
accorded that right by the Berlin Treaty ; and, more¬ 
over, to protest in the case of Bulgaria attacking Turkey 
or reviving the Macedonian Question. 

Thus Bismarck’s work was complete. He had renewed 
the Alliance that he considered best for his Fatherland, 
but which had hitherto been prevented by the crisis in 
the East. Andrässy’s achievement, the Dual Alliance, 
continued, though with an addition desired by the German 
Chancellor but not by him (Andrässy). The questions 
remained, with what spirit the dead letter of the Alliance 
would be animated ; whether a common policy for the 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 87 

Balkans by Austria-Hungary and Russia would not 
again be found impossible ; and whether the clashing 
interests which had once before wrecked the Alliance of 
the Three Emperors would not again become acute ? 

Which would prevail—the dead letter or the living 
spirit ? 

5. The Triple Alliance 

The colonising successes of the French, especially 
their acquisition of Tunis, gave Bismarck the opportunity 
for a new alliance. Italy had long cast covetous eyes in 
the direction of the port of Bizerta and its valuable 
hinterland. She looked on enviously at the progress of 
France and sought Germany's assistance in checking the 
further expansion of her Latin sister. 

Bismarck had little confidence in an Italian alliance. 
He considered the Italian Government weak, incapable 
of carrying out an unpopular policy and executing a 
treaty denounced by public opinion (October 1880). He 
could not believe that Italy would dare to draw the 
sword against France (December 1881). He did not rate 
very highly the military strength of Italy. In spite of 
these drawbacks, however, the Chancellor desired the 
alliance. 

To decline the treaty would weaken the monarchy in 
Italy, whereas the proposed alliance would strengthen it. 
The far-seeing statesman perceived also that refusal would 
cause Italy to make overtures to France ; and that in 
the event of war the mere ill-will of the Italians would 
lock up the Austro-Hungarian armies on the Isonzo and 
thus prevent their operating on the Vistula. 

And as Bismarck held that if he wanted to get some¬ 
thing out of the Italians it would be a mistake to run 
after them, he first adopted an attitude of indifference 
towards the Italian approach, and proposed as a pre- 


88 


Bismarck and Andrdssy 

liminary that they should first of all come to terms with 
Vienna and abandon their irredentism. 

Kälnoky, Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign 
Affairs—who succeeded Haymerle—was less exacting 
than Bismarck : he did not insist on a formal repudiation 
by the Italians of their irredentist claims. Such modera¬ 
tion brought to birth the Triple Alliance, consisting of 
Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy (20th May 1882), 
side by side with the previously existing alliances—that 
of the Three Emperors and the Dual Alliance. 

The terms of this later treaty were especially 
onerous for us, for they bound us to render military aid 
to Italy in the event of her being attacked by France, 
while Italy undertook no similar reciprocal obligation 
towards any party, promising us military aid only in the 
event of our being attacked by a coalition of Great 
Powers. That which William I erroneously saw in 
Andrassy's Dual Alliance, on account of which he so long 
declined Bismarck's advice, we had now accepted with 
regard to Italy, by shouldering unilateral burdens. It is 
astonishing that Kälnoky neglected to insist on the 
demand that Italy should support us in case of a Russian 
attack. 

Germany fared much better by the treaty, for in 
return for the assistance she was bound to render against 
France, Italy undertook a similar reciprocal obligation 
towards Germany. 

For Italy the treaty was a splendid bargain ; she was 
to be protected against France by both Germany and 
Austria-Hungary, while Italy had merely to assist Ger¬ 
many, and that only against France ! This is all the 
more inexplicable, seeing that Italy was the petitioner, 
as well as the weaker party, as she stood alone against 
the already existing Dual Alliance. 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 89 

By this treaty the Dual Monarchy abandoned the 
principle she had hitherto unswervingly followed, of not 
pledging herself to armed assistance against France. 

With regard to the bitter Magyarphobe spirit now 
manifested by some of the French, it is worthy of note 
here that the Hungarian nation always took the view 
that we should not engage ourselves to fight against 
France. Andrässy advocated this view, and adhered to 
it so tenaciously that, failing its acceptance, he was 
unwilling to conclude the Dual Alliance. When con¬ 
cluding the Triple Alliance, Kälnoky was prevented from 
undertaking more extensive obligations against the 
French by Hungarian public opinion swayed by the 
traditions of Andrässy. 

For without doubt, but for the Hungarian public 
opinion the Foreign Minister would have gone further 
than he did. At first he contemplated an alliance of a 
general character between the three Powers, which would 
have pledged the parties to common united action against 
any attack, including the case of an attack on Germany 
by France. Later the Foreign Minister would have 
consented to the casus foederis being an attack by France 
simply, irrespective of whether Germany or Italy were 
the victim of French aggression. Finally, he did not 
conclude any such agreement because, as he said, the 
Hungarians failed to see how France could imperil the 
Dual Monarchy and consequently they were unwilling 
to engage themselves against France. For the sake of 
completeness I would add that the Francophil attitude 
of Hungary was apparent even at a later period. For 
instance, when it became a question of prolonging the 
Dual Alliance (Austria-Hungary and Germany), Bis¬ 
marck proposed to extend the casus foederis to include 
French aggression. This Kälnoky rejected on the ground 


go Bismarck and Andrassy 

that the Hungarian Premier, Coloman Tisza, had an¬ 
nounced that in that case Hungary would decline to 
prolong the treaty. Kälnoky told the Germans that the 
idea of the French ever coming into conflict with Hun¬ 
garian interests was a contingency that no Hungarian 
brain could take in (27th February 1883). 

6. Serbia and Rumania join the Triple Alliance 

Bismarck and Kälnoky extended their system of 
alliances also to the Balkans. The strong can always 
find friends ; the weak alone have any difficulty about 
that. The Greater Bulgaria conception of Ignatieff and 
the Peace of San Stefano estranged the Serbs from the 
Russians, and the course taken by the Berlin Congress 
convinced Milan Obrenovitch that the will of Austria- 
Hungary would prevail in the Balkans, particularly in 
the west thereof, where, owing to the occupation of 
Bosnia-Herzegovina, our army occupied a predominant 
situation. At Berlin that gifted Prince saw also that 
Austria-Hungary was disposed to agree to defend the 
interests of Serbia. He was indebted to Andrassy that 
the Berlin Congress granted him more than he got from 
the Russians at San Stefano. In consequence of these 
experiences Serbia aligned herself with Austria-Hungary, 
and a treaty was accordingly concluded between the two 
neighbours (28th June 1881). We promised Milan to 
recognise his kingly rank should he eventually assume 
it, and to place no obstacle in the path of Serbian expan¬ 
sion southward, but, on the contrary, to promote it. In 
return the Serbs undertook to stop their irredentist 
propaganda. 

Serbia, in engaging to conclude no political treaties 
without our consent, became completely dependent on us. 
It is true that a few months later (ist October 1881) 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 91 

Milan explained this unusual and, for him, humiliating 
condition to the new Serbian Minister as that it merely 
bound the Serbian Government to conclude with foreign 
Governments no treaties such as would be in opposition 
to their agreement with us. This explanation, however, 
seems to have been a piece of guile to mislead the Serbian 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, since Milan (October 1881) 
renewed, with binding force, his obligation not to 
conclude any treaty whatever with a third party without 
our consent (vide Pribram : Die politischen Geheimver¬ 
träge Oesterreich-Ungarns), and solemnly declared that 
he would keep his princely word. 

Serbia was followed by Rumania. Bratianu, the 
enlightened father of the present Rumanian Premier, 
recognised that Rumania's real danger lay not in the 
numerically small Hungarian nation, but in Pan-Slavism. 
He saw that Rumania must lose her independence if 
Russia held the hegemony in the Balkans, if she obtained 
a permanent influence in Bulgaria : for thus Rumania 
would become the highway between St. Petersburg and 
Sofia, which the former would have at all costs to 
secure for itself. Bratianu stated that the support 
of Austria-Hungary and Germany would be the only 
safeguard of Rumanian independence. Though, like a 
true Rumanian, he never gave up the idea of expansion, 
yet he assured us that Transylvania was not in his mind, 
since, as he admitted, it had never been Rumanian terri¬ 
tory ; but rather Bessarabia, of which the Muscovites 
had deprived their Rumanian ally some years previously. 
Bratianu called personally on Bismarck ; on whom, 
however, he does not appear to have made a good 
impression. The Chancellor wrote of him that “ he is 
too garrulous." Nevertheless Bismarck concluded—in 
spite of his scant confidence in Rumania—that he must 


92 Bismarck and Andrassy 

come to an understanding with him. In a very literal 
sense he saw into the future when he said that by means 
of a treaty it would be possible to bind the Rumanians 
to the end of King Charles's reign at least! Accordingly, 
Kälnoky and Bismarck concluded with Bratianu a defen¬ 
sive treaty directed against Russia. 

As in 1879, however, the German Emperor's Russo- 
phil sentiments awoke once more, and he was most 
reluctant to sign a treaty obviously directed against 
Russia. Now Vienna obediently departed from pre¬ 
cedent and yielded. She allayed the conscientious 
scruples of the old Emperor at the sacrifice of her own 
interests. While we on our part (to avoid naming the 
Russians) undertook to defend her against aggression 
from any quarter—thus binding ourselves to defend 
her against Bulgaria, Serbia, and Turkey also, and 
implicating ourselves in the quarrels of the Balkan 
States—Rumania, on the other hand, was bound to 
render us assistance only in the event of our being 
attacked by one of her neighbours—i.e. Russia, Bul¬ 
garia, or Serbia ; in all other cases she was to remain 
neutral. 

7. The Weakness of Bismarck's System of 

Alliances 

The object of the system of alliances formed by 
Bismarck in the period 1879 to 1884 was the main¬ 
tenance of peace, and its character was defensive. But 
the methods he resorted to were various and even 
inconsistent. Firstly, the treaties were intended to 
erect a bulwark against east and west—i.e. against the 
single or combined attacks of France and Russia ; while, 
secondly, they were to isolate France by winning over 
Russia. 



The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 93 

It was a complicated affair. It could hardly have 
been otherwise. Such varying aims could be safe¬ 
guarded only by a complicated system. It was based 
on five separate treaties entirely independent of each 
other and expiring on different dates. And six 
sovereigns were involved : those of Germany, Austria- 
Hungary, Italy, Russia, Serbia, and Rumania; on 
each of whom were imposed different obligations. Some 
of these rulers, though they had concluded no treaties 
with each other, found themselves in a certain relation¬ 
ship, merely by virtue of their agreements with third 
parties ! The final results of the system may be summed 
up as follows : 

In the event of France attacking Germany, Italy 
alone must assist the latter ; in the event of France 
attacking Italy, both Germany and Austria-Hungary 
would have to go to her aid. In the case of Russian 
aggression against Germany, Austria-Hungary, or 
Rumania, all three Powers were bound to stand 
together. A similar obligation existed also in the case 
of Austria-Hungary and Germany in the event of either 
of them being attacked by a third Power, if Russia 
joined the latter or threatened military measures. 
Should Serbia attack Austria-Hungary, a casus foederis 
would thus arise for Rumania and Germany. The 
most effective defence fell to the fortune of Rumania, she 
being the only State which, in the event of attack, could 
depend on the support of the two Great Powers, Austria- 
Hungary and Germany. If Germany, Austria-Hun¬ 
gary, and Italy were attacked by two or more Powers, 
then these three States were obliged to stand by each 
other. 

Benevolent neutrality and moral support were 
promised each other by Germany, Austria-Hungary, 


94 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

and Russia in respect of any wars against a Great 
Power without regard to the question of who was the 
aggressor. An exception to this, however, was made in 
the case of a dispute with Turkey, against whom the 
obligation could apply only if an agreement had pre¬ 
viously been concluded by the Powers with regard to 
the war aims. Austria-Hungary and Serbia promised 
each other mutual support in all hostilities without 
exception. A similar obligation obtained in the case 
of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy if one of them 
should be attacked by two or more Powers, or if one 
of them should deem it necessary to declare war on 
some Power on account of actions menacing their own 
safety. An exception to this was made in the case of 
Great Britain, against whom Italy was, by virtue of 
a special agreement, released from all obligations. 

The contracting parties engaged themselves to pur¬ 
sue a common policy in exceptional cases only. Ger¬ 
many, Austria-Hungary, and Italy on the one hand, 
and Austria-Hungary and Rumania on the other, were 
bound to discuss with each other all political and 
economic questions that might arise, and to support 
each other's policy in so far as it was compatible with 
their own interests. A more particular limitation was 
contained only in the Alliance of the Three Emperors 
and the Austro-Hungarian-Serbian Treaty for the 
precise purpose of eliminating antagonisms arising from 
conflicting interests. 

By such a complicated structure Bismarck consti¬ 
tuted himself master of Europe. As in the past 
Napoleon I, Metternich, and Napoleon III, it was now 
his turn to direct European politics. Not only his 
personal influence but his peculiar fame as a statesman 
and diplomat earned for him his unique position. Not 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 95 

only the unchallenged superiority of the allies and the 
absence of any counter-alliance, but also the fact that 
Germany was the most favourably situated Power 
within the Triple Alliance, gave that Power and its 
Chancellor the decisive voice in the affairs of the Con¬ 
tinent. Germany formed the connecting-link in the 
chain of alliances, she being nearer to all the others 
than they to each other. 

Austria-Hungary fared scarcely so well in the new 
system. It may even be said that the Dual Monarchy 
fell considerably from the lofty position she had held 
up to the time of Andrassy’s resignation. The decisive 
influence we exercised on the Balkans during the Con¬ 
gress enhanced our prestige to a remarkable degree. 
The hopes and fears of the Balkan peoples were begin¬ 
ning to be centred in us. They saw us with free hands 
to assert our rights and protect our interests in the 
East; they saw, moreover, that we were strongly 
backed by the principal Powers. They saw England 
following an Oriental policy identical with our own, 
while Germany supported us so vigorously as even to 
cause the Czar to cool towards her. Now, however, 
the peoples of the East began to observe that we were 
again seeking the friendship of the Russians ; that we 
intended to pursue a policy parallel with that of the 
Czar. This brought into the foreground the question 
whether we should not have eventually to pay for this 
by the sacrifice of either some of our own Oriental 
interests or those of our Balkan friends. The suspi¬ 
cion was aroused in some of them that the Pan-Slav 
idea would be strengthened by the fact that the Western 
Powers sought the friendship of the Czar. 

But the structure had serious weaknesses even from 
its creator’s point of view. Such were, e.g., the care- 


g 6 Bismarck and Andrassy 

less draftings of the treaties. On the conclusion of the 
Italian Alliance Bismarck announced that he was not 
responsible for the text; nevertheless he accepted it, 
as it would be a mistake to reject the essence on account 
of the imperfection of the form. In international law, 
where the execution of a treaty depends entirely on the 
good-will of the contracting States, words have less 
importance than in civil contracts, where the will of the 
parties must be carried out according to the words, 
which in the event of dispute will be interpreted by an 
impartial court of justice placed above the contracting 
parties—in some cases even against the will of one of 
them. Notwithstanding, a faulty text in an international 
agreement is injurious, as it tends to laxness in its 
execution. An obligation clearly set forth in unam¬ 
biguous terms is not so easy to wriggle out of as when 
the text is carelessly drafted and susceptible of mis¬ 
interpretation. 

However, the real Achilles’ heel of the achievement 
lay in the fact that the alliance of Italy and Austria- 
Hungary on the one hand, and of Russia, Germany, and 
Austria-Hungary on the other, was not in keeping with 
the sentiments of the peoples concerned ; it was an 
artificial plant, having no root in public opinion. 

Italy could never forget the role played by the 
Habsburgs in the past, nor in her heart of hearts become 
reconciled to the frontiers laid down in 1866. Though 
we had no hostile intentions towards Italy, though 
Francis Joseph had generously abandoned all ideas of 
revenge together with the dominating position he had 
enjoyed in Italy, yet in Austria there was still great 
bitterness against the foe of 1848, 1859, and 1866. The 
Italian alliance was a sort of manage de convenance, 
and in Vienna regarded as on the whole degrading and 


The Austro-Hungarian Alliance with Germany 97 

unnatural, while in Rome it was considered a fetter 
demanded by necessity. The political temperament 
of the Italians generally was not in accord with us. 
We were thoroughly conservative; Italy desired to 
expand. We were perfectly satisfied with the status 
quo in Europe and the Mediterranean. But Italy 
decidedly was not; for her the status quo was simply 
a necessary evil, which had to be made the best of. 
If we acquiesced in the Italian aspirations, we might 
only saddle ourselves with awkward complications, 
aims far from our mind. By restraining our ally we 
should alienate her, and might drive her into the oppo¬ 
site camp, there to seek opportunities for expansion. 
Andrässy disapproved of the Triple Alliance ; he was 
not familiar with its contents, but was nevertheless 
convinced that it had an anti-French edge (a thing he 
wished by all means to avoid) and therefore would 
lead to a Franco-Russian alliance. He too attached 
immense importance to the friendship of Italy, but 
was of opinion that this could be secured better by 
proceeding in harmony with England than by a written 
treaty with Rome ; the desired result could be achieved 
sooner by good relations with Great Britain than by a 
definite alliance with Italy. 

The awkward position of Russia in the Alliance 
was apparent in the fact that while one of the treaties 
bound her and her two neighbours to follow a friendly 
policy, in the other treaty the same two neighbours 
were arrayed absolutely against her. 

Czar Alexander III very pertinently asked what 
was the value of friendly relations as regulated by 
treaties two of whose members were already in hostile 
alliance against the first ? Did not this show that 
between the allies there was a lack of confidence and 

7 


98 Bismarck and Andrassy 

a conflict of interests which annulled the real value of 
the contract ? 

A further embarrassing feature of the Alliance was 
that the treaties in their entirety were known only in 
the Wilhelmstrasse and the Ballplatz, the rest of the 
allies being acquainted only with the documents they 
had themselves signed. Would such a system be able 
to stand when questions came up for debate in which 
the interests of the several allies were found to be opposed, 
if the Eastern Question should lead to complications ? 
And would the rapprochement of Austria-Hungary and 
Germany to Russia not induce in the Czar's Government 
a course of conduct calculated to raise just such ques¬ 
tions ? Our strong defensive position at the Berlin 
Congress and the hint of the Dual Alliance would have 
depressed, and perhaps in due time even suppressed, 
Pan-Slavism. Would not the surrender of this position 
and the renewal of the Three Emperors' Alliance mean 
the ascendancy again of the traditions of Peter the 
Great ? Would not that Alliance attract to it all those 
dangerous animosities which aforetime had rendered the 
Alliance impossible, and which Bismarck had attempted 
to prevent by this later Alliance ? 


CHAPTER III 


FROM THE EAST RUMELIAN CRISIS TO THE FALL OF 

BISMARCK (1883-1890) 

i. The Growth of Revanche in France 

T HE year 1885 was a turning-point in the political 
situation. The influences discussed in the pre¬ 
ceding chapters—influences which in some 
measure altered the relations of the European Powers 
to each other from 1879—now ceased, and the circum¬ 
stances resulting from the Peace of Frankfort and the 
War in the East once more asserted themselves. Import¬ 
ant permanent interests and intellectual currents proved 
stronger than passing passions and the will of indi¬ 
viduals. 

France again became what the annexation of Alsace- 
Lorraine had made of her. The nation could not follow 
Jules Ferry along the path of rapprochement with Ger¬ 
many. Though the great German Chancellor had, by 
his diplomacy and real services rendered to France, got 
nearer to some of her leaders, he was nevertheless unable 
to get any nearer to the French national instincts. Had 
such a thing been at all possible, the sine qua non thereof 
would have been a lustre in Bismarck's home policy as 
brilliant as in his foreign ; that is to say, he would have 
had to succeed in conciliating the population of Alsace- 
Lorraine and winning their loyalty under the new con¬ 
ditions. But so long as murmurs and complaints reached 
Paris from over the new frontier, neither Tunis, Morocco, 
nor the Congo could heal the bleeding wounds freshly 

99 



ioo Bismarck and Andrdssy 

inflicted, and the Peace of Frankfort was like a millstone 
round the neck of Germany and indeed of all Europe. 

To-day also the situation is similar. A durable 
peace, sincere friendship between victors and vanquished, 
can never be reached until the rights of the minorities 
have passed from the stage of paper to that of reality. 
So long as Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks, Turks, Bul¬ 
garians, and others have cause to fear for their language, 
culture, and property in the series of new Alsace- 
Lorraines created by the various peace treaties, neither 
the Great Entente, Little Entente, League of Nations, 
economic boycotts, nor any treaties can end the 
tension now prevailing. Would that the political leaders 
of to-day might only study world-history! On the 
same rock that wrecked the mighty genius of Bismarck 
will also split the schemes of our modem imperialists. 

Ferry at the height of his success was swept away 
by an unfortunate, albeit transient, military accident 
(31st March 1885)—anxiety lest further colonial enter¬ 
prise should allure the power of France overseas, weaken 
her on the Rhine, and thus under these influences cause 
her to forget her most sacred duty to Alsace-Lorraine. 
A victorious ultra-nationalist and chauvinist movement 
was led by “ Clemenceau the Tiger/' who, it must be 
admitted, felt with the keenness of a great patriot the 
defeat of his people and the mutilation of his country ; 
who lived but for the fulfilment of revanche with admirable 
consistency, until in his old age he not only saw it but 
himself to a great extent achieved it. It was given to 
this obdurate man not only, like Moses, to see the 
Promised Land, but to enter therein and plant his 
standard on the soil for which millions of hearts were 
yearning. 

Which was right in the question of the colonies ? 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck ioi 

Whose views were justified by subsequent events—Ferry's 
or Clemenceau's ? 

It cannot be denied that the French colonial empire, 
founded by Ferry with so much pains, did not hinder 
the revanche —on the contrary, it promoted it. The 
fears rife in certain quarters lest these colonies should 
play a role similar to that played in Mexico in the time 
of Napoleon III—lest they should demoralise the army 
and render it incapable of performing its duty in Eur¬ 
ope—proved groundless. Indeed, the African negroes 
proved valuable auxiliaries on not a few critical occasions 
during the course of the World War. It might even be 
said that to a great extent the fate of the war was 
decided by the extra-European forces—those of the 
United States, Japan, and the Entente colonies—since on 
the European continent the Central Powers were un¬ 
doubtedly the superior. Ferry was, moreover, justified 
by events, as Bismarck had no intention of taking 
advantage of the momentary weakness caused by the 
colonial question to begin another war. In fact Bis¬ 
marck, having succeeded in alienating France from 
England and Italy, had no thought of ensnaring or 
injuring her further, as Clemenceau believed. 

It is, however, equally certain that this favourable 
result was not a mere matter of course ; if events had 
taken a different course, the colonies might have seriously 
hampered the subsequent achievement of the revanche . 
Had the idea of preventive war asserted itself in Germany, 
France might have had to pay dearly for her colonial 
policy, as the risks of German aggression were on 
more than one occasion increased by the enterprises of 
the French overseas. I will even go so far as to assert 
that if, when the day of reckoning arrived, France had 
lacked the support of Great Britain and had her enemies 





102 Bismarck and Andrassy 

been stronger on the sea, the forces in the colonies would 
have been wanted very badly on the battle-fields of 
Europe. Thus Ferry's enterprise was exceedingly risky, 
though in the long run, owing to his luck and the skill 
of his successors, it proved for the good of France. 

But the same may be said for nearly every great 
human undertaking. The very best mind is so limited 
that it is incapable of foreseeing every result of its 
actions. The wisest and most correct combinations 
even may turn out badly if, in consequence of error and 
ill-luck, the subsequent developments take a wrong 
direction. I say this, not to encourage men of action to 
heedlessness: I only wish to point out that in all mundane 
affairs it is impossible absolutely to exclude the element 
of chance, all uncertainty ; there is always the unknown 
quantity to be reckoned with, and the man who is un¬ 
willing to take risks ought never to enter the political 
arena. 

The French elections (October 1885) proved a vic¬ 
tory for the Germanophobes. Immediately afterwards 
Clemenceau secured the portfolio of Minister of War for 
General Boulanger—the advocate of the doctrine that 
only by a vigilant anti-German policy accompanied by 
the piling up of armaments could the dignity of the 
French nation and her safety be preserved ; that France 
should be prepared for an attack by Germany at any 
moment, and therefore desist from wasting her energies 
in unprofitable and embarrassing enterprises abroad. 

I do not know whether Boulanger really thought that 
the time for revanche had now come, but it is certain that 
he lived in the hope of it and directed all his attention 
to arousing his nation to the imminence of the great 
reckoning day. Boulanger himself was but a mediocre 
man : the power and influence of politicians, however, 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 103 

is not always in proportion to their personal value, their 
spiritual and moral worth, but more often than not to 
the currents and ideals they represent; it depends 
largely on the disposition of the public for the time 
being. The popular “ Brave General ” understood the 
soul of the French people, and himself shared it. With 
his martial figure and air, astride his white steed, he 
constituted excellent propaganda material, impressing 
the Gallic mind with the idea that he was another Man 
of Destiny—to avenge Sedan and restore the faded 
gloire of the French nation. This superstition secured 
his political influence for a number of years. The shafts 
aimed at him by statesmen far more capable than he 
failed to pierce the armour of his popularity. When he 
fell as minister, he became even more powerful as a 
party leader. The elections proved his popularity to be 
so great that the entire republican system was shaken 
to its foundations by it. After his fall, learning of the 
Government’s intention to arrest him, he fled dis¬ 
couraged; but when he disappeared from the political 
stage he had already created a public opinion which 
rendered a policy according to Jules Ferry impossible 
for a generation. The “ Boulanger disposition ” of the 
French people on the occasion of the Schnäbele frontier 
incident (April 1887) nearly precipitated war and made 
Franco-German antagonism once again the chief and 
most potent factor of the international situation. 

This neither took Bismarck by surprise nor found 
him unprepared. He had always borne the contingency 
in mind, and never had much confidence in the durability 
of Ferry’s regime. When the tension was renewed, the 
Chancellor immediately reverted to his previous policy. 
He did not insist on co-operation. His aim was now to 
stave off the French attack as long as possible—to 



104 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

temporise. His attitude towards Paris was usually one 
of frigid politeness, avoiding all provocations ; sometimes 
he was even amenable, as in the Schnäbele incident. At 
other times he was inflexible and could menace—as in 
his speech of February 1887, in which he announced that 
if ever it fell to his lot to defeat France again, he would 
utterly crush her and effectually prevent her for all 
time from being a danger to the Fatherland. 

It is possible that for the moment the speech had 
the desired effect. But the time came, after long 
years, when it proved a disadvantage. In the World 
War it was seized upon by the German and the French 
nationalists and chauvinists as a pretext for cloaking 
their severe peace conditions—although the speech 
had been delivered for the sole purpose of scaring the 
French out of their warlike attitude, as Bismarck 
explained in London and St. Petersburg and also to 
Count Waldersee, Deputy Chief of the German General 
Staff. The Chancellor's real convictions were summed 
up in the words that “ it was impossible to destroy a 
nation of forty millions with the talents and self-con¬ 
sciousness of the French ; and therefore, in the event 
of another German victory over them, a peace as lenient 
as that he made with Austria-Hungary in 1866 would 
be advisable." 

However, the feasibility of Bismarck’s chief aim— 
the safeguarding of peace and German supremacy— 
depended not so much on the effect of this speech and 
the details of the policy to be pursued towards France, 
as on the willingness of Europe to tolerate the supre¬ 
macy of Germany ; it was a question whether the other 
Powers would not instigate France—whether an anti- 
German disposition would not take root there—against 
the predominant Power. 




East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 105 

2. Salisbury's Letter to Bismarck 

It was of the utmost importance for the world-situa¬ 
tion that the second chief event of the year 1885 was 
the swing of the pendulum of British policy away from 
France and towards Central Europe led by Germany. 
Peace was the securer for the fact that, while France 
was worshipping at the shrine of Mars Ultor, in 
England the Germanophil spirit had taken root and 
was spreading. 

When Gladstone had ridden to victory on a tre¬ 
mendous wave of popularity, Bismarck shook his head, 
believing it impossible to depend on England owing 
to her foreign policy being rendered unreliable by the 
caprices of public opinion. Subsequent events, how¬ 
ever, testified to the contrary. It became clear that 
such disturbing circumstances and fleeting changes 
of the popular humour could not for long sway the 
British people, so famous for their common sense, and 
divert them from the path of their traditions and 
interests. Above all, a temporarily estranged Power 
will not do violence to her self-consciousness, nor pro¬ 
voke by a policy that might jeopardise it. As Bis¬ 
marck guarded against this, England soon returned 
to the policy dictated by her then existing interests. 
As we have seen, Gladstone himself discovered that 
his Germanophobia was a mistake and offered an alliance 
to Bismarck. The other liberal leaders of foreign 
policy—Chamberlain, Dilke, Rosebery, Harcourt—all 
united in condemning the out-of-date policy of their 
chief. One of the best authorities on foreign politics 
in the Liberal Party, Lord Rosebery, who subsequently 
became Premier, characterised Gladstone's orientation 
as an attempt to make friends with Russia, which 



io6 Bismarck and Andrassy 

however proved impracticable. This Russophilism 
became quite discredited by Gladstone's policy. The 
consequences thereof were isolation, a barely averted 
war with Russia, and the return of British public 
opinion to the old path. The failure of its foreign 
policy even formed one of the causes of the downfall 
of the Liberal Party. Therefore it was natural that 
Gladstone's successor, Lord Salisbury, when he became 
Premier (July 1885), should return to the traditions 
of the Conservative Party and its late leader, Beacons- 
field, and desire the friendship of that confederation of 
States which constituted the natural support of Great 
Britain, and which, while the strongest military Power 
on the Continent, formed no menace to the security 
of the British Isles, like their next-door neighbour in 
the times of Louis XIV and Napoleon I ; nor threatened 
India, as Czar Nicholas I had done; nor yet was 
ambitious to challenge the British sea-power, like 
Spain, Holland, France—or in our own day William II, 
thereby manifesting the English blood in his veins. 

Salisbury had hardly taken the seals of office when 
he wrote to Bismarck (July 1885) in terms so cordial 
that his colleague, Lord Randolph Churchill, saw in 
the letter the suggestion of an alliance, and had Bis¬ 
marck wished, it might even have led to an alliance. 
Unfortunately Bismarck did not then entertain the 
idea. Loyal to his former creed, he attached greater 
importance to keeping the good-will of Russia than to 
obtaining that of England. But though, owing to the 
Chancellor's lack of interest, the change in British 
policy failed to lead to a formal Anglo-German Alliance, 
it at any rate had the valuable effect of bringing Eng¬ 
land nearer to us. The impression was produced that 
probably the greatest navy and the most efficient army 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 107 

in the world would co-operate in preserving peace. 
If Boulanger had any thought of attacking us, this 
reflection must have cooled his courage and caused 
him to think twice about it. At the same time German 
supremacy aroused no ill-feeling anywhere such as 
might endanger peace. 

For this happy result we are indebted to Bismarck's 
wisdom and moderation, and especially to the fact 
that he never hankered after cheap laurels by diplo¬ 
matic coups, lest the humiliated (though not defeated) 
party should become an enemy of Germany. He had 
the laudable habit of never standing in the way of 
others, unless important national interests left him no 
alternative. On the contrary, he was always ready 
to flatter the vanity of other nations, to encourage with 
words their desires for expansion, so that they might 
not see in him an obstacle to their aspirations and thus 
turn against him. The Iron Chancellor usually wel¬ 
comed any ambitions not directly opposed to the 
interests of the Fatherland, for they generally set the 
Great Powers at variance and drove them to seek the 
good-will of Germany. 

He was very far from the purblind mentality so 
common since the World War, which leads victorious 
States to exploit their conquests to the utmost, without 
regard to reason or humanity—for which those States will 
yet have to pay dearly, as the Greek Venizelos already 
has done. Bismarck was never overcome by vanity ; 
he was not affected by considerations of prestige, like 
Napoleon III, and to a certain extent also William II. 
His fame was so genuine, so great, while he regarded 
Germany as so powerful, that he could clearly distin¬ 
guish the permanent and abiding from the superficial 
and evanescent; he was never deceived by appearances. 



io8 Bismarck and Andrassy 

He was great enough to be moderate when he saw it 
was to the interests of the country to be so. He never 
unduly or wantonly flaunted his dominant position, 
nor strove to play the leading role for its own sake. 
He preferred to shift the burden to another's shoulder 
unless the welfare of Germany necessitated his bearing 
it himself. He never meddled in affairs which were 
not directly his, lest he should create enemies which 
he might otherwise avoid. 

Bismarck said of Napoleon III that " people attri¬ 
buted to him everything that happened in the world, 
even holding him responsible for the bad weather in 
China." Not being ambitious to occupy a similar 
position, the Chancellor preferred to avoid becoming 
so unpopular and disliked, as a man usually does who 
holds so much power in his own hands. 

Bismarck promoted the progress of Austria-Hungary 
in the Balkans, assisted the colonising aspirations of 
France, encouraged England in Egypt (he refrained from 
humiliating Gladstone over Egypt), notwithstanding 
his antipathy towards the British statesman and his 
secure position of power), and supported Italy in Africa 
and Albania. This procedure succeeded in getting 
England, Russia, and Italy involved in disputes, which 
enabled Bismarck to set Ferry against Gladstone, to 
gain over Italy, and even to come to an understanding 
with England in spite of the Gladstone episode. The 
rising States saw no obstacle in the envy or insatiability 
of the Germans. 

If the Iron Chancellor had acted otherwise, had he 
always domineered, had he thwarted the projects of 
other nations, had he demanded—with the excuse of 
preserving the balance of power—compensations for 
the conquests of others, had his policy been to have a 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 109 

finger in every pie, then the Entente would have been 
formed even in his lifetime and the situation would 
have been changed to his disadvantage. His successors 
in office also did not want war, they also pursued no 
aggressive policy, but they were unable to maintain 
that appearance of pacific moderation which renders 
an attitude of superiority tolerable. 

3. The Bulgarian Crisis and the Great Powers 

The third important event of the year 1885 was the 
recrudescence of the Eastern Question. Though in 
a new form, it was essentially the same, for Russia 
was now again contending for supremacy in the Balkans. 
This time, however, the Czar was not concerned with 
Turkey, but turned his efforts against Bulgaria, which 
he had founded. 

Russia had always looked askance at a free Bul¬ 
garia : she desired a subservient and grateful Bulgaria, 
which should be an advance-guard of Czarism. No 
sooner did Russia perceive Bulgaria aspiring to inde¬ 
pendence than she turned against her. The weapons 
of the Autocrat were plots, incitement to revolt, and 
undermining the national sentiment, all in the name 
of Pan-Slavism and Orthodoxy. Such weapons, how¬ 
ever, are double-edged. They wound not only him 
against whom they are directed, but also the wielder 
himself. During the Great War the Autocrat of All 
the Russias, representative of the principle of de¬ 
spotic authority, had to pay the penalty of the intrigues 
committed for decades by his officials in his name. 
By such tricks abroad and its reactionary methods 
at home, Czarism played with fire and was finally con¬ 
sumed in the resultant holocaust. 

By a wrong provision of the Berlin Treaty a special 


no Bismarck and Andrdssy 

weapon against Bulgaria was given to Russia. Instead 
of one strong Bulgaria, the Congress created two which 
were too feeble to thrive, and consequently the people 
were discontented. Beaconsfield was chiefly responsible 
for the blunder, since it was he who, with Andrässy, 
frustrated the foundation of the Bulgaria of Ignatieff 
because it was considered too great; but who, in spite 
of Andrässy, formed two small States out of the territory. 
Either of these extremes would have had precisely the 
same result: a Bulgaria too large would have come 
under Muscovite tutelage because of her size, and the 
two small Bulgarias because of their inability to stand 
alone. The former would have had to seek the protection 
of Russia from her many jealous foes, as well as to fulfil 
the demands made upon her by her size ; while the latter 
had to apply to the Czar for the revision of the impossible 
frontiers forced upon her. Ignatieff's Bulgaria could not 
have contended with her enemies except with Russian 
support. So near to Constantinople, with her too 
numerous Serbian, Greek, and Turkish subjects, and strug¬ 
gling with initial difficulties, the new State would have 
been powerless against her hostile neighbours, Turkey, 
Serbia, Rumania, and Greece, without the active assist¬ 
ance of the Czar. And the two Bulgarias born of the 
Berlin Treaty could look for union only to the same 
imperial source, since it was against the Czar's will that 
Bulgaria had been divided, while he further stood for 
the idea of revolution in the East. What is more, 
Russia intended to exploit this advantage. She was 
ready to play the part of conciliator. She had already 
taken the first step towards upsetting the Berlin Treaty. 

The Czar had renewed the unpopular Three Emperors' 
Alliance, partly with a view to regaining in the Balkans 
the power he had lost a short time before through the 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck m 

action of the two other allies, and partly to restore with 
their aid the interrupted union. This alliance could by 
no means have been forgiven by Pan-Slav public opinion 
unless it demolished, partially at any rate, the work of 
the Berlin Congress. Czar Alexander took the first 
steps in this direction by persuading his two imperial 
friends to adopt the union, in principle at least, and also 
by having it advocated by his agents on the spot. 

There was one circumstance, however, which re¬ 
strained him from any rash action. As the Battenberg 
Prince of Bulgaria failed to prove himself a docile viceroy 
of Russia, but kept loyal to his oath to serve the cause 
of the Bulgarians, the Czarist Government, counting on 
Bismarck's assistance and Kalnoky’s complacency, pro¬ 
posed to dethrone the ingrate Prince before the union 
was carried into execution. They aimed at presenting 
the union to a Bulgaria they were satisfied with. 

In this, however, they were forestalled. The union 
became a fait accompli ere Russia had time to transform 
Bulgaria according to her taste or to break Battenberg. 
What the Czar intended to perpetrate for his own glory 
and profit, Prince Alexander achieved by way of a revo¬ 
lutionary coup. He proclaimed Bulgarian union (20th 
September 1885); and thus the seed sown by Russian 
hands and watered by Russian gardeners yielded fruit 
that was bitter in their mouths. The situation was 
complicated by the fact that Serbia and Greece, jealous 
of the sudden access of power and territory of Bulgaria, 
demanded compensations. 

The trend of foreign policy during the following years 
was due to this event, which formed the subject of 
diplomatic wrangling. Under its influence the Concert 
of Europe underwent an unprecedented change. As by 
the touch of a magic wand the policies of almost all the 


112 Bismarck and Andrassy 

Cabinets were modified, and the Great Powers, like the 
partners in a quadrille, changed places. 

The situation of Russia became exceedingly difficult. 
She saw herself obliged to thwart the very thing she had 
herself prepared; she had to defend what she had 
condemned ; she had to compel Christians to submit 
themselves to the supremacy of the Sultan, though only 
a short time before she had resorted to bloodshed to 
deliver them from the Ottoman yoke. The very thing 
that Russia would have greeted with jubilation as 
justice and the will of the people, if wrought by Kaulbars 
or Enroth in her name, she had to pronounce breach of 
treaty obligations and revolution because it was the 
work of the anti-Russian Alexander of Battenberg. 

The newly elected British Government also got into 
an awkward position. Salisbury had been Secretary of 
Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet which created East 
Rumelia and demarcated the Balkan frontier in order 
to keep the balance level between the East and Turkey. 
Must he now come into opposition with his former self ? 
Should he now destroy what he had formerly built up ? 
Or must he subserve the policy of the Czar, encompass 
the fall of Battenberg, and thereby thrust Bulgaria back 
again under the tutelage of Russia ? Consistency in form 
would be inconsistency in essence; for the English 
Conservatives in 1878 objected to “ Great Bulgaria” out 
of fear that Russia would thus increase her power and 
influence in the vicinity of the Dardanelles and the 
Bosphorus. If England under the changed circumstances 
now demanded what she had insisted on at Berlin, she 
would jeopardise the object she strove for both then and 
now—namely, that Constantinople and the Straits 
should be surrounded by Powers independent of Russia. 

The Sultan, too, was on the horns of a dilemma. He 


East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 113 

must either sanction the revolution directed against 
himself, or comply with the wishes of Russia and throw 
over Battenberg, who had emancipated himself from her 
thrall. 

Austria-Hungary was somewhat better situated, 
though she, too, at the Berlin Congress, had voted for 
East Rumelia ; but only for the sake of England and 
against Andrässy's inclination. Austria-Hungary's sanc¬ 
tioning of the union was the less inconsistent as, in the 
Three Emperors' Alliance, Kalnoky, under the impression 
that Greater Bulgaria would be more independent of 
Russia, in signing the Alliance of the Three Emperors, 
accepted the idea of the union of the two parts. Not¬ 
withstanding this, however, our position was neither 
simple nor easy. It was difficult for us, on the one hand, 
because, according to the provision of the Three Emperors' 
Alliance, we had to consider the interests of Russia in 
the Balkans, and on the other hand, because, according 
to the clause in the treaty with Serbia, we had promised 
to support the expansion of that State southwards. If 
we stood by Milan and his anti-Bulgar policy, we should 
miss the opportunity of winning the good-will of Bulgaria; 
if, on the other hand, we left Milan in the lurch and broke 
our promise to him, it would prove that it was bad business 
to go with us, while at the same time we should endanger 
the throne of our ally. 

How did the various Cabinets act in such moments 
of grave difficulty ? England and Russia conformed most 
completely to the new circumstances. 

Salisbury was not the excellent party leader and 
brilliant orator that his opponent and predecessor 
Gladstone had been ; he had not the genius of Disraeli; 
but he had more of the English common sense than the 
pair of them, while he was not, like them both, under 

8 


114 Bismarck and Andrassy 

the disturbing influence of personal vanity. This fact 
was of immense value. For Bismarck was right when 
he said that “ the true value of a statesman is the residue 
of intellectual faculty and power remaining after the 
subtraction of his vanity.” Salisbury proved the truth 
of this. At the decisive moment, of all statesmen in 
responsible positions, he was perhaps the first to discern 
the right way when, breaking with his past, he stood by 
the union. In so doing he not only served the cause 
of Great Britain abroad, by weakening the Russian 
influence near Constantinople, but at home too, by 
basing his genuine profit on pleasing, insinuating argu¬ 
ment—the right of nations to their self-determination 
and the great force of the fait accompli —when he con¬ 
vinced both the imperialists and the idealists among his 
countrymen at the same time. He made a clever move 
against the Russians and disarmed Gladstone at the 
same time. To the idealism of the latter the new policy 
was much nearer than that represented by Disraeli and 
Salisbury at the Congress. 

Russia also broke with the past. Unfortunately for 
her, however, the step was prompted by the wrath of the 
offended Autocrat, rather than by her real interests. 
Giers, the honest bureaucrat, the humble servant of 
his master, obstinately turned upon Battenberg and 
attempted to enforce the status quo ante with the mental 
reservation that the union should be realised later by 
the Czar himself in the interests of a regime dependent 
on Russia. 

Kälnoky approximated to Salisbury's view. His first 
idea at least (29th September 1885) was to protest against 
the union effected by violence, but to sanction it by virtue 
of a new international agreement. The situation was 
doubtless facilitated for him by the fact that his prede- 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 115 

cessor, Andrässy, was in accord with him. The ex- 
Foreign Minister, who was painfully aware that the 
Alliance of the Three Emperors had turned the attention 
of the East once more to the Czar and shattered the 
favourable position of power he had acquired, saw that 
now was the time to repair the error we had committed. 
Only we must take advantage of the even greater mistake 
made by Russia turning against her own work. 

Andrässy explained his policy in a memorandum 
submitted to the Emperor-King Francis Joseph (24th 
November). Like Kälnoky, he would protest from the 
legal standpoint against the violence committed, but 
at the same time he was for recognising the union. As 
at the Congress, he still held that Bulgaria should be 
made perfectly independent in order to avoid quarrels 
with the Porte. He suggested a certain rectification of 
the frontiers in favour of Serbia and Turkey, granting 
the latter the small part of East Rumelia populated chiefly 
by Mohammedans. The main difference between the 
projects of Kälnoky and those of Andrässy was that, 
while the former sought a solution within the Alliance 
of the Three Emperors together with Russia, the latter 
considered the Powers signatory to the Berlin Treaty 
the competent Court, and claimed the initiative for 
Austria-Hungary. Andrässy contended that Europe was 
the sole rightful as well as the most suitable judge of 
the matter. He believed implicitly that England, Italy, 
and France would accept his view, that Germany would 
not quibble over it; while, on the other hand, he was 
afraid lest, within the Three Emperors’ Alliance, Bismarck 
should vote in favour of the Czar and against us. 

But this accord in the views of Kälnoky and 
Andrässy had no effect; for while Andrässy was writing 
in that sense, Kälnoky had abandoned his original 


n6 Bismarck and Andrassy 

intentions and was listening to Bismarck, who regarded 
events from an entirely different angle. As with 
Tunis, Morocco, and Egypt, the fate of Bulgaria had 
no interest for the German Chancellor. He desired to 
exploit the Bulgarian Question without regard for 
justice or the interests of the peoples concerned, simply 
that he might maintain and strengthen his position 
among the Great Powers and keep France isolated. 
As in the past, now also he took advantage of the 
ambitions of others in order to exploit the complica¬ 
tions he foresaw would arise. Firstly, he succeeded in 
alienating France and Italy over Tunis ; next, England, 
France, and Italy over Egypt; and now he was hoping 
to estrange Russia from France over Bulgaria. 

During his visit to Paris the Emperor Napoleon III 
justified the Crimean War before him, by pointing out 
that he could not allow the Russian fleet to play in the 
Mediterranean a role which rightly belonged to France. 
Bismarck hoped that the French Republic would 
neither approve of Russia laying hands on the key 
to the Mediterranean, the Dardanelles. He especially 
hoped that the forward movement of Russia in the 
East would put a stop to the rapprochement between 
the French and the Muscovites. There was, however, 
a wide difference between the case of Tunis and Egypt 
and that of Bulgaria. 

Whereas Bismarck had formerly been quite indif¬ 
ferent as to whom the French and English schemes 
backed by him came into opposition with, his whole 
system might now be wrecked if Russia came into 
collision with Austria-Hungary—if he had again to 
choose between the two Emperors—if the friend he 
had neglected were to become his foe—if the Three 
Emperors' Alliance went to pieces on the rocks of the 




East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 117 

Balkans ere the Russian and French ambitions in the 
East had had time to clash with each other. Bismarck 
certainly wanted the Czar to quarrel with France over 
the Balkan affair—but not with us. 

Consequently he desired to bring about an agreement 
between Austria-Hungary and Russia, and with this 
object he urged us to obsequiousness. He acted differ¬ 
ently from this in the seventies, when in a similar situa¬ 
tion. Then he did not dream of coercing Andrässy 
to adopt his foreign policy, well knowing that the 
Magyar magnate was difficult to handle, as he would 
resign his post rather than undertake the responsibility 
for a policy he disapproved, and that the changing of 
Austria's Foreign Minister would be more damaging for 
Germany than letting Andrässy go his own way. Now, 
however, Bismarck did not consider Kälnoky capable 
of such independent action ; he had no misgivings 
about the consequences of his pressure on Vienna ; his 
sole fear now was on account of the Russians—they 
were his only anxiety. He sought to avoid the develop¬ 
ment in that quarter of a disposition like that of 1879 
which had forced him to conclude an alliance with us. 

This event forms a classic illustration of the import¬ 
ance of the personality of the leading statesman, and 
the caution with which we should receive the attempts 
of a Foreign Minister to justify his failures on the 
ground that they were inevitable ; for the skill of the 
leader is one of the most important factors in any and 
every situation ; the mere opinion of his talents enter¬ 
tained by his friends and enemies has a considerable 
influence upon the results of his actions. Not only are 
the staying power and will-to-victory of the nation 
influenced by the personality of the man who guides 
the ship of State, but, on the other hand, the attitude 



n8 Bismarck and Andrassy 

of other nations towards it—their pride or humility— 
is also influenced by the prestige of the competitor and 
the opinion held by others with regard to him. 

That which Kälnoky failed to achieve—that which 
the situation rendered impossible for Kälnoky be¬ 
cause Bismarck understood his limitations, knew exactly 
what he would dare and would not dare—could have 
been accomplished by Andrassy. Under the latter's 
leadership the Dual Monarchy would probably have 
acquitted herself very differently in the political arena. 

Consequently Bismarck paid little attention to the 
Austria-Hungary of Kälnoky and adopted the Russian 
attitude against him. He would have preferred the 
union of Bulgaria and East Rumelia undone : whence 
he thought would follow the disarmament of Serbia 
and Greece, the satisfaction of the Czar, the safeguarding 
of the peace of the Balkans, and the fall of Battenberg, 
whom the Chancellor now detested more than ever 
since, notwithstanding his shaky political position, 
he had dared to aspire to the hand of Princess Victoria, 
granddaughter to the German Emperor. 

It was a tribute to the Chancellor's immense power 
that at the meeting of Ambassadors at Constantinople 
(November) the European States decided in accordance 
with his views and that Kälnoky —in spite of himself— 
adopted his attitude. But all in vain ; the question 
remained unsettled. England declined her consent, 
and without England the Sultan (in whom was invested 
the execution of the decision) dared not move. 

Amidst this diplomatic bickering the cannon of 
Milan began to roar. He had the peculiar advantage 
that both rivals, Russia and Austria-Hungary, regarded 
his adventure with equal pleasure, though for different 
reasons. Both desired Milan's victory and believed 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 119 

in its certainty. Both opponents put their money on 
the same horse, and felt sure of winning, though they 
intended to use their gains for different purposes, i.e. 
Russia to damage Austria-Hungary, and Austria- 
Hungary to damage Russia. 

Kälnoky hoped that Milan (and through him Austria- 
Hungary) would obtain the leading role in the Balkans 
and that at the same time Bulgaria would get such 
favourable peace terms as would attach her to us. On 
the other hand, Giers hoped that victory for Milan 
would seal the doom of Battenberg, when Russia would 
step in to the rescue of Bulgaria and give her a govern¬ 
ment under Russian protection. 

They were both disappointed, however. Serbia 
was defeated by the Bulgarians under Prince Alexan¬ 
der of Battenberg at the decisive battle of Slivnitza. 
Kälnoky intervened with an attempt to bring about 
an armistice to be followed by peace. The role the 
Czar coveted in Sofia now, much against our will, fell 
to us—to defend Serbia. The Ambassador of the 
Dual Monarchy, the brilliant but shallow-minded 
Khevenhüller, put a rash interpretation upon the 
intentionally vague and ambiguous instructions of 
Kälnoky and checked the Bulgarians by pure threats. 
Subsequently the Foreign Minister endorsed the atti¬ 
tude of his delegate and thus obliged himself to oppose 
Battenberg by force of arms in the event of his prose¬ 
cuting the war further. 

With this the Oriental Crisis entered a new phase. 
What would Russia do if our troops defeated her former 
protege Bulgaria, whom she hoped eventually to win 
over to herself ? In the event of our army appearing 
in the Balkans, would not the Czar be obliged to occupy 
Bulgaria in order to restore the balance ? Would not 


120 Bismarck and Andrassy 

the Serbo-Bulgarian campaign be thus transformed 
into a duel between Austria-Hungary and Russia ? 

At any rate, Bismarck feared so, and roundly 
denounced Kälnoky's policy. With prophetic vision 
he advised us to beware of pandering to Serbia's mega¬ 
lomania, which in changed circumstances would cause 
her to pursue in the Banat of Hungary the same irre¬ 
dentist policy now preached by her with our encourage¬ 
ment in Bulgaria. Serbia—he warned us—would 
manifest no more gratitude to us than she did to Russia. 
His chief objection, however, was that the procedure 
of our Foreign Minister was not in harmony with the 
spirit of the Three Emperors' Alliance. He considered 
it an alarming step on the part of Kälnoky to threaten 
Prince Alexander without first consulting Russia ; and 
he would regard our one-sided military action in the 
Balkans as a simple breach of treaty. For the agreement 
obliged Austria-Hungary to respect the interests of 
Russia in the Balkans, and prescribed that any change 
in the territorial status quo of Turkey should only be 
effected by mutual consent. And Bismarck interpreted 
the temporary occupation of Serbia as such a change 
in the status quo . Would Kälnoky not consider—he 
asked—the occupation of Bulgaria by Russia without 
the consent of Austria-Hungary a breach of treaty ? 
The dissatisfied Chancellor also blamed our policy for 
driving the Bulgarians—who had proved themselves 
the stronger antagonist—into the arms of Russia without 
making sure of the Serbians : for these latter, if we 
delivered them, would certainly declare that they 
would have won but for the interference of Austria- 
Hungary. 

But more effective than all these arguments was 
Bismarck's statement that he would not consider him- 






East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 121 

self bound to help us if we got entangled in a war with 
Russia on account of the mistake of Kälnoky. 

This hint caused Kälnoky to execute, as it were, a 
fighting retreat. He admitted that Bismarck was in 
the right. In spite of all his previous arguments to the 
contrary, Kälnoky condemned his own action in ack¬ 
nowledging that, according to the terms of the treaty, 
he would have been compelled to agree with Russia 
before proceeding with his intervention. 

Undoubtedly the Alliance of the Three Emperors 
was a serious burden, and it was a difficult matter to 
square our former conduct with that clause of the 
treaty which obliged all the parties to respect each 
other's interests. Yet Bismarck overshot the mark 
by interpreting our projected military measures in 
Serbia as a territorial change with regard to European 
Turkey, as referred to in the treaty of the Triple Alliance; 
for there was no territorial change whatever contem¬ 
plated, but merely military action for the purpose of 
defending the territorial status quo . 

Fortunately for Kälnoky, however, peace was con¬ 
cluded between the two belligerents on the basis of the 
status quo ante before he had to make a final decision 
as to whether he should, under pressure from Bismarck, 
abstain from carrying out his severe threats, or defy 
the Chancellor. Hereupon the acute conflict between 
Austria-Hungary and Russia ceased, though the Bulgarian 
problem with all its complications remained. 

Battenberg’ s victory failed to save him. Shortly 
afterwards he fell a victim to a Russian military con¬ 
spiracy : he was captured and forcibly removed from 
Bulgaria. This knavery, however, had only a short¬ 
lived success. It rather conduced to Prince Alexander’s 
greatest triumph. His people loyally supported him and 


122 Bismarck and Andrassy 

fetched him back. But alas ! at this trying moment 
the Prince lost his nerve, and with that the game, for 
he ended his career by placing his abdication into the 
hands of the Czar (7th September 1886). Prince Alex¬ 
ander possessed many fine qualities. He was a good 
soldier and a skilful diplomatist under difficulties ; but 
his end proved that he lacked tenacity, the resolute will, 
and the iron nerve, without which great deeds, such as 
the successful leading of a nation in times of storm and 
stress, are impossible of achievement. 

Battenberg himself was responsible for the fulfilment 
of Bismarck's prediction that " his reign would become 
a pleasant memory of his youth." 

Regarded, however, from the standpoint of world- 
politics, this tragedy meant no real change. It brought 
no solution to the problem. Battenberg's place was 
taken by a strong man, Stambuloff. This muscular 
Bulgarian was the first representative of the great 
political talents of his nation. He championed the 
cause of his country's independence against Russian 
aggression, and, backed by the bulk of his compatriots, he 
succeeded in maintaining the union until the Sobranje, 
under his leadership (7th July 1887), elected another 
prince in the person of Ferdinand of Coburg, who, more 
skilful and able than his predecessor on the throne, 
steered his course safely through the treacherous cross¬ 
currents and whirlpools of Oriental politics and finally 
succeeded in fixing his rule firmly on the country. 

For a while, however, each player on the diplomatic 
chessboard continued his previous game. Russia carried 
on her campaign against the Bulgarian union, against 
the regency of Stambuloff, and later against Coburg— 
against everything that could strengthen and stabilise 
the union effected without her consent. Giers would 


East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 123 

have liked a Russian Governor to prepare the election 
of the Sobranje and place on the Bulgarian throne a 
prince amenable to the Czar—to make the union legal 
under Muscovite protection. All his efforts were vain ; 
his paper protests were of no use, for there was no one 
to enforce them. The situation of mighty Russia 
was similar to that of France after the armistice of 
Villafranca. 

Napoleon III, before drawing the sword against 
Austria in 1859, promised the Italians full liberty from the 
Alps to the Adriatic. After Solferino, however, he 
stopped half-way—at the Mincio instead of the Adriatic. 
But he omitted Italian patriotism from his calculations 
—he forgot that he had to reckon with the indefatigable 
Victor Emmanuel, the great Cavour, the heroic Garibaldi. 
The Italians worked on to cement the unity of their 
country. They resolved to finish without Napoleon's aid 
the task they had begun in co-operation with him—if 
need be, even against him. The French Emperor was 
furious, but he could not go against his own programme 
and his own protege. Thus he was compelled to allow the 
work begun by him from egotistic motives to be finished 
without him and at the cost of his prestige. Like the 
new Czar, Alexander III, Napoleon III found England 
in his way. England there and then took over the role 
relinquished by France and Russia. England protected 
Piedmont and Bulgaria ; and England reaped the harvest 
from the seed sown by the French and the Russians. 

The two events differed only in so far as Napoleon III 
adhered to his original view more steadfastly than did 
Alexander III ; since the former would not permit Austria 
to use armed force against the Italians to exact the peace 
conditions he had imposed upon them, whereas the Czar 
came into such opposition to himself that he was even 



124 Bismarck and Andrassy 

willing to resort to the Turks to frustrate the union of 
Bulgaria. 

This difference, however, had no decisive conse¬ 
quences, for the Sultan was ill-disposed to be the catspaw 
to take the chestnuts from the fire for the Czar. The 
Sublime Porte distrusted the Autocrat and saw quite 
clearly that, after Battenberg, Stambuloff and Coburg 
also would have to yield to the Russians if the Padishah 
himself took a Russian general to Sofia ; in which case 
not only Bulgaria but Turkey too would become a vassal 
of the Czar. Consequently the Russian policy was 
unable to assert itself. It contented itself with a mere 
diplomatic action when it was seen that the status quo 
could only be changed by force of arms. As on Italian 
territory, also here the fait accompli proved stronger than 
law, the only trouble being that (the Czar’s antipathy 
to his own former programme being more deeply rooted 
than was that of Napoleon III—as the Czar displayed a 
more obstinate resistance against the Bulgarians than 
did Napoleon against the Italians) the legal recognition 
of the fait accompli took longer in the case of the Balkans 
than in the case of Italy, and the estrangement between 
the Russians and the Bulgarians was more profound 
than that between the French and the Italians. 

After the final fall of Battenberg, Bismarck continued 
his old game. As in the past, he backed Russia. He 
sought to persuade his two friends to divide the sphere 
of influence—the west of the Balkans to fall to Austria- 
Hungary and the east to Russia. He had plenty of 
arguments for his idea. Was he ever at a loss for argu¬ 
ments to prove anything that his interests required ? 
According to him, the division of power in the Balkans 
was the direct logical consequence of the Berlin Treaty 
as well as of the renewed Three Emperors' Alliance. This 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 125 

interpretation was, however, quite arbitrary. While it 
is true that Bismarck advocated the division in question 
under the Foreign Ministry of Andrässy, it is equally 
true that the latter never accepted, and that Bismarck 
himself did not insist. And if we admit that the mission 
of the Russian General Sumarokoff, prior to the Russo- 
Turkish War, had reference to such a division of power, 
it never went beyond the stage of a desire. As we have 
said, Andrässy never accepted the suggestion. And 
even if, before the Russo-Turkish War, an agreement 
was come to between the two empires which confined 
the operations of the Russian army to the west, stipulating 
that it should not cross the Serbian frontier, that also 
is no proof that it had reference to anything but military 
operations, becoming invalid at the end of the war and 
never contemplating a permanent division of power at 
the expense of the Porte. Neither did the Berlin Treaty 
contemplate Bulgaria belonging to the Russian sphere of 
influence. For it was on the very account of Bulgaria 
that desperate conflicts had taken place between Russia 
and her enemies ; that the Berlin Congress altered the 
Treaty of San Stefano, which (i.e. the treaty) accorded 
with the views of Russia. It was Bulgaria that it 
divided and reduced, contrary to the will of the Czar, 
at the time of the occupation of the country by the 
Russian forces. How could all this have happened if at 
Berlin we had recognised Bulgaria as being within the 
Russian sphere of influence ? We may observe, in 
passing, that Bismarck never produced a single document 
or viva-voce declaration to support his contention. 

The German Chancellor entirely misinterpreted the 
foreign policy of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy under 
Andrässy’ s direction. Not the division of the Balkan 
Peninsula, but the very opposite thereof, was our inten- 


126 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

tion. After Plevna and San Stefano, Andrässy avoided 
a military solution of the problem, in spite of his firm 
confidence in our victory, because he believed himself 
able, by a proper policy, to attain without war our chief 
aim in the Balkans : the abolition of Russian supremacy. 
This was at the back of Andrassy’s mind when he had 
inserted in the peace treaty everywhere the words " the 
rights of Europe " instead of " the rights of Russia ” ; 
when he strove to create a Bulgaria independent and 
contented; and attempted to conclude a system of 
alliances to secure us a free hand in the Balkans, enhance 
our prestige there, and counterbalance the Russian 
advance. That he tolerated for the time being the 
Russian possession of certain powers acquired by them 
through their victorious campaign by no means signified 
that he recognised them as permanent and indefeasible 
rights, but that he thought it better to wait patiently for 
the inevitable reaction against Muscovite tyranny and 
the desire for liberty on the part of the people concerned. 
His chief aim—the elimination of the last remnant of 
Russian influence—remained unchanged. 

Moreover, there is no proof that the Dual Monarchy 
since Andrassy’s resignation had accepted the idea of 
division into spheres of interest. The Three Emperors' 
Alliance had no intention of according privileges to us 
in the west and to Russia in the east of the Balkans, 
while it recognised our right to annex Bosnia-Herze- 
govina and in certain contingencies accepted Bulgarian 
union. Kälnoky justly pointed out that Austria- 
Hungary had acquired no rights by virtue of this agree¬ 
ment, which had merely recognised the situation created 
by the Czar at Reichstadt prior to the Berlin Treaty. 
Neither did Russia acquire any privileges in Bulgaria, 
for the Czar had, in the treaty, just the same rights as 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 127 

the other parties to the alliance. All special rights and 
privileges were excluded by the text of the treaty, 
which supported a union created solely by internal 
natural development, thereby denouncing the legality of 
any union resulting from foreign influence, whether 
Russian or other. 

But Bismarck advanced political arguments also to 
justify the division into spheres of interest. He asserted 
that the military position of the Dual Monarchy with 
regard to Russia would be improved by the occupation 
of Constantinople and Bulgaria by the latter; as Russia 
would, on the one hand, come into conflict with Great 
Britain, and perhaps even with France (Bismarck's 
fervent hope); and on the other hand, the forces 
engaged in the Balkans would be lacking in Galicia, 
so that we could easily cut off from their base of 
operations the Russian troops that had advanced 
towards the Straits. 

These arguments of Bismarck were just as fallacious 
and futile as his others had been. If Austria-Hungary 
had given Russia a free hand, the occupation of Bulgaria 
could have been effected with but a small force, and 
without such a prolonged campaign as would have 
exhausted Russia there and considerably weakened 
her on the other fronts. In that event England would 
not have been in a position to cause Russia any serious 
trouble ; for—by herself—she would never have under¬ 
taken hostilities on behalf of Bulgaria, and would have 
been obliged to come to terms with Russia, as we also 
had. Further, had the Russophil party in Bulgaria 
come into power, Russia might easily have put the 
Bulgarian troops under Russian officers, to train them 
and educate them in the Muscovite spirit, and thus get 
us between two fires. 



128 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Our influence in Serbia would not have provided 
a satisfactory equivalent nor restored the balance of 
power. Our influence in Serbia could never have taken 
such deep root as did Russia's in Bulgaria, especially 
if the Muscovites had succeeded in presenting the latter 
with the coveted union after the failures of their bid 
for independence. Bismarck himself emphasised this 
fact when he stated that the Russian influence could 
be extended to Serbia even more easily than to 
Bulgaria. The natural yearning of the Serbs for the 
deliverance of their brethren scattered throughout 
Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Turkey ; the slogan 
of Slavdom and Orthodoxy; the fascination of the 
“ rolling rouble ” ; the astute Russian diplomacy— 
specially adapted for the Balkan situation—all these 
constituted powerful weapons of the Czar in Serbia ; 
so that Russian supremacy in Sofia and the Straits 
would sooner or later have meant Muscovite hegemony 
over the whole Balkan Peninsula. The Russian triumph 
in Sofia would have had a moral influence extending 
throughout the region. 

Would Bismarck have preserved his equanimity if 
France, for example, had driven a wedge into Den¬ 
mark—or Poland—and assumed the military power 
there ? Would it have been any adequate consolation 
to the Chancellor to be told that the French forces in 
Denmark—or Poland—would correspondingly weaken 
Gallic armies on the Rhine ? Certainly not. When the 
interests of the Fatherland were in question, and when his 
own reputation was involved, Bismarck thought quite 
otherwise than when he had simply to advise. Then his 
utterances were not scientific disquisitions for arriving 
at truth, but political actions intended to arouse, to in¬ 
timidate, or to convince, as the circumstances required. 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 129 

The only unanswerable argument of Bismarck was 
that, if our non-consent to the Russian occupation 
should lead to war, the casus foederis fixed in 1879 would 
not become operative. It was possible to challenge the 
justice of that statement, but after all, the importance 
of the pronouncement was not dependent on its abstract 
truth but on the will behind it. The Chancellor was 
within his rights in interpreting the obligations of the 
German Empire, and therefore his view prevailed in 
this case. 

Yet notwithstanding all these arguments, the pres¬ 
sure he brought to bear, his extensive authority and 
power, Bismarck failed to score a decisive success. 
Nowhere outside Germany was this theory accepted. 
He failed with the Czar, who was bored at the repeated 
requests that he would safeguard our interests in Serbia 
(November 1888). He had no better success with 
Russian public opinion either. Herbert Bismarck was 
right in asserting that most Russian statesmen wished 
to subject the whole Balkan Peninsula to Muscovite 
rule. To which remark his father added sarcastically : 
“ Including Bohemia ! ” 

Neither did the Chancellor succeed any better with 
us. Even the obsequious Kälnoky left him in the 
lurch. Our Foreign Minister did not share Bismarck's 
views, and produced serious arguments against them, 
though he would probably have yielded to his more 
powerful colleague had he not been subjected to counter¬ 
pressure. The proud Austrian noble was a man of 
common sense, an experienced and shrewd diplomat 
with excellent accomplishments, but he lacked initia¬ 
tive, courage, suggestive ability, and consequently he 
involuntarily came under the influence of the superior 
individuality of Bismarck. He must finally have suc- 

9 


130 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

cumbed to it but for the counter-pressure of Andrässy 
and the Hungarian public opinion which forced him 
into the opposite path. 

Hitherto there had been differences of view between 
Andrässy and Bismarck, but so long as both of them 
were in office they had generally agreed in the end. 
Now, however, personal communication was inadequate 
to bridge the gulf of antagonism, and they came into 
violent conflict. Andrässy no more desired war than 
did Bismarck, but was convinced that it was easier 
to avoid war by an independent Eastern policy than 
by truckling to the Russians. He believed that were 
Austria-Hungary — supported by Germany, Great 
Britain, and also Italy (who could be relied upon in 
this case)—strenuously to resist the Russian expansion, 
were Pan-Slavism to be disappointed in Bulgaria and 
find that the Balkan nations desired their independence, 
then the Muscovites would turn their attention to 
Asia, where they had more at stake than in the Balkans, 
while they would not have the courage to attack us. 
France might be expected to restrain Russia to her 
utmost, having no mind to expose herself to the united 
power of Great Britain, Germany, and Italy in the 
cause of Pan-Slavism. 

Division into spheres of interest— Andrässy held— 
though it might postpone war, would not render it any 
the less inevitable. It would simply be the means of 
creating new antagonisms. The eastern and western 
Balkans constituted a single political unit in a certain 
sense coherent, and if Russia should become master of 
the strong strategic base of the Black Sea, her progress 
could not be arrested by any artificial paper frontier : 
like an ink-blot on a piece of blotting-paper, it would 
spread until it had covered the whole region. 




East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 131 

If we permitted this hypertrophy of power by 
Russia, we should become her slave ; if we now fell 
without striking a blow, we should later have to shake 
off our fetters by fighting under conditions far less 
favourable. At the fateful moment we should find 
ourselves between the devil and the deep sea—attacked 
from Warsaw and the Belgrade-Cettinje line, and with 
disintegration at home. 

It was Andrassy’s deep-rooted conviction that the 
fate of the Dual Monarchy would be decided in the 
Balkans, that her vitality and strength would be in¬ 
creased by the absence of Russian rule in the Balkans 
and the dependence of the Balkan peoples on us ; while, 
on the other hand, our existence would be jeopardised 
should Russia manage to get us between the Slav shears 
and be able to count on the obedience of the Balkan 
nations, whose racial kinsmen were very numerous in 
the Dual Monarchy. The recent fate of the Monarchy 
has proved that Andrässy was right. Its existence hung 
by a thread from the moment when the influence of 
Russia on the Yugoslavs was definitely established. 

Andrässy was convinced that Bismarck could be 
won over to the more active Eastern policy of Austria- 
Hungary. He knew from experience that the Chan¬ 
cellor had really no confidence in Russian friendship, 
and was unwilling to be left to the tender mercies of the, 
at bottom hostile, Muscovites as his chief supporters. 
Though aware that Bismarck would domineer over us 
as far as he dared, Andrässy implicitly believed that, 
if only we stood firm, the Chancellor would eventually 
choose the more reliable friend of the two, as in 1879, 
when he supported us without any obligation on his 
part and even against his real inclination. 

Andrässy also believed that in the event of Russia 


132 Bismarck and Andrassy 

incurring the risk of war for the attainment of her 
ambitions, we should be victorious. He considered 
the giant with the feet of clay to be corrupt, disor¬ 
ganised, anaemic from the blood-sucking of the revolu¬ 
tionary vampire. He knew that she would nowhere 
find sufficient allies to conquer the Central Powers 
supported by Great Britain. 

The correctness of this forecast seems to be proved 
by the fact that Moltke, the famous strategist, and his 
Chief-of-Staff, Waldersee, at the end of 1887 held the 
same view and advised the provoking of a war then on 
the ground that the conditions of victory would never 
again be so auspicious as they were at that time. 

On the basis of this conviction Andrassy expected 
more energy and initiative on the part of our Govern¬ 
ment. He foresaw that if Europe failed to bring 
the question to an issue on account of Russia, the Prince 
of Bulgaria would sooner or later be compelled to make 
a pilgrimage to St. Petersburg (which Ferdinand actu¬ 
ally did in 1896, when he won, at the cost of his son's 
religion, that recognition which the united good-will of 
Europe failed to procure for him). To avoid such a 
humiliation Andrassy advised the recognition of the 
new Prince and the fulfilment of the union in the Con¬ 
cert of Europe. 

In this Andrassy was supported by the majority of 
the Hungarian public. The opposition, led by Count 
Albert Apponyi and Szilägyi, entirely agreed with 
him ; and even the Premier, Coloman Tizsa, with 
his infallible tactical sense, perceived that it was a 
matter that must be reckoned with. Thus the defence 
of the independence of the Balkan nations became the 
watchword of the entire public opinion of Hungary. 
Kälnoky, his hands strengthened by this movement— 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 133 

or perhaps forced by it—abandoned the idea of spheres 
of interest. 

Nevertheless Kälnoky was far from following An- 
drässy’s policy. The official policy was the via media 
between the policies of Andrässy and Bismarck—skilful 
manoeuvring between the pressures from each side. 
Kälnoky referred the Hungarians and Andrässy to Bis¬ 
marck—Bismarck to us; he identified himself with An- 
drässy's policy so far as it prevented Russian aggression 
and military occupation, and openly proclaimed that the 
independence of the Balkan peoples was his object. But 
he limited himself to defence and made no attempt to 
settle the Bulgarian Question positively; he did not 
even object to the efforts at solution on the part of the 
Russians, in the hope that they could not be executed 
without force, to which he thought the Russians would 
not dare to resort. Kälnoky, however, made no attempt 
to exploit the opportunity of ousting the Muscovites 
from the Balkans and solving potential questions accord¬ 
ing to his own will and the interests of the peoples con¬ 
cerned. He contented himself with the negative success 
of maintaining the status quo disapproved by the Rus¬ 
sians, so that the Czar might not ultimately triumph and 
we, on our part, might avoid an intolerable situation. 

Even so, Bismarck was dissatisfied and angry with 
the Hungarians, and with Andrässy especially. He had 
got so used to reliance on Vienna, he held us Hungarians 
(and quite rightly) primarily responsible for the indepen¬ 
dence of the Dual Monarchy. He charged us with 
seeking revenge for Vilägos (1849), forgetting that if 
such had been the Hungarian mentality Andrässy 
could have attained it more easily after Plevna than 
at the time referred to. Bismarck retorted (September 
1886) that he had concluded the alliance with the 




134 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Emperor, and not with men like Apponyi and Iränyi, 
the Hungarian Winthorst and Richter. This was a most 
scathing denunciation from Bismarck, for the individuals 
mentioned were doughty opponents whom the Iron Chan¬ 
cellor would never forgive ; they were the standard- 
bearers of Catholicism and Liberalism, preachers of doc¬ 
trines and principles which the ultra-Protestant and 
autocratic Bismarck held in abhorrence. He objected 
to subordinating the German policy to Hungarian 
“ Strebers ” (pushful persons—a term of contempt) ; 
suiting it to the convenience and tactics of the Hungarian 
parties and the tomfooleries of the empty-headed 
chauvinistic Hungarian Parliamentarists. Now — he 
said—the extravagant role played by the Hungarian 
Parliamentarists was revenging itself: ignoring the fact 
that he himself, by his destruction of Austrian Absolutism 
(1866), had put those same Hungarian Parliamentarists 
into the saddle and given them his blessing. 

When the Czar enquired of Schweinitz (August 1887) 
whether Bismarck still entertained his former high opinion 
of Andrässy, the Ambassador returned an evasive answer. 
Bismarck would probably have replied with strong lan¬ 
guage ; at any rate, his opinion certainly was changed. 
According to him, Andrassy's attitude had wrought great 
mischief. He directly accused him of political ambitions. 
He attributed his policy to a desire for power and place. 
Such a charge was in keeping with the character of the 
old tyrant, who could brook no contradiction. How could 
Andrässy have been animated by a desire to win back a 
post he had quitted at the first favourable opportunity 
entirely of his own free will ? He was ever actuated only 
by the firmest conviction that the interests of the Dual 
Monarchy demanded the policy he pursued—the legal 
sequel to the policy that had led to the treaty of 1879, 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 135 

and that as Foreign Minister he had pursued even to 
Bismarck's satisfaction. He would of course have under¬ 
taken, if necessary, to carry out his programme, but only 
if Francis Joseph had invited him to do so. The personal 
relations that had arisen during the long period of ser¬ 
vice alone rendered it impossible for him to coerce the 
Sovereign by the weapon of Parliamentarism to accept 
his (Andrässy's) policy. 

But Bismarck, in spite of his bluster, found himself 
unable to carry through his programme. In December 
1886 he stated officially that the “ spheres of interest ” 
idea had been rejected by Austria-Hungary and Russia 
alike, and that although he would eventually recognise 
in Serbia the Austro-Hungarian, and in Bulgaria the 
Russian, demands, he did not intend to try to obtain 
other converts to that doctrine. 

4. The Agreement between England, Italy, 

and Austria-Hungary 

When Bismarck saw that the scheme of spheres of 
interest had failed to put an end to the Austro-Hungarian 
and Russian rivalry in the Balkans, and that his pet idea, 
the Alliance of the Three Emperors, had come to be a 
mere empty form, he concocted a new and most ingenious 
plan. He was no Rechthaber, he had none of that vanity 
often associated with authorship, his actions were 
always such as the actual circumstances rendered neces¬ 
sary or advisable. He had several irons in the fire at once, 
and as soon as one grew cool he took up another which he 
had been keeping warm for the occasion. As soon as he 
realised his inability to bring the views of the two Em¬ 
perors into line so that he need not fear conflict between 
them, he revised his entire plan of action and, with a two¬ 
fold purpose in view, elaborated a new grouping of States. 


136 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

One of his aims was to strengthen Austria-Hungary 
in view of a potential conflict, another to preserve Ger¬ 
many's freedom of action as long as possible, so that he 
might enjoy cordial relations with St. Petersburg till 
the last moment and frustrate the Franco-Russian 
Alliance in spite of the disunion between Russia and Aus¬ 
tria-Hungary. It is illustrative of Bismarck's conscien¬ 
tiousness and sense of duty that, notwithstanding his 
strong subjectivity and passionate nature, while strenu¬ 
ously combating the political ideal of Andrässy, when he 
perceived that he could not completely defeat it he cast 
round for a means of exploiting it in the interests of the 
Fatherland. And this means he found in the alliance 
of Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Great Britain in defence 
of their common interests in the East. Though Germany 
remained outside, yet she gave the alliance her tacit good¬ 
will and blessing. 

Bismarck, indeed, was towards us the deus ex machina. 
Only a short time previously he had brought us into 
closer relations with the Russians and won for us the 
alliance with Italy ; now he desired to get Italy and Eng¬ 
land to support our Oriental interests. He was well 
aware that Italy would regard with some uneasiness the 
flag of the great Slav Power in the Mediterranean and 
the Adriatic, that the tradition of Cavour, who had par¬ 
ticipated in the Crimean War, was partly on that account 
still alive in Rome and that therefore Italy would be 
willing to challenge the supremacy of Russia in the East. 
But he knew further that we could, apart from that con¬ 
sideration, depend upon the Italians : the alliance with 
Italy would be reliable if only she could count on England 
too. Therefore, with a view to realising his project, he 
must first of all bring about amicable relations between 
Rome and London. With that object he used the lever 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 137 

first against the Consulta : he recommended the Italian 
Government to take steps to win England permanently 
(December 1886). He emphasised the reports of mili¬ 
tary experts, according to which Italy would find herself 
in a grave dilemma on the French front, if she were 
obliged to storm the hills and defend her own long coast¬ 
line at the same time, unless she had command of the sea 
and were able to get round the Alpine forts by water, 
by effecting a landing at Marseilles. The Anglo-Italian 
conversations thus begun soon came back to their origi¬ 
nator. That is to say, England naturally applied to Bis¬ 
marck for information regarding the suggestions of Italy, 
since the German Chancellor was the most powerful 
man on the Continent, the very man with whom Salisbury 
desired to be on good terms, and who seized the oppor¬ 
tunity thus presented for realising his own scheme. In 
eloquent terms he explained to Sir Edward Malet, the 
British Ambassador (3rd February 1887), that England 
could not afford to isolate herself from the great European 
problems, since, if she did, no one would mind her, no 
one would consider her interests, and consequently she 
would be left out in the cold. If England were indisposed 
to render reciprocal services, Germany would have no 
alternative but to support the French in Egypt and 
the Russians in the East. “ Germany/' said Bismarck 
(and subsequent events proved him perfectly right) 
“ must be in close touch with either England or Russia." 
If England cannot be approached, he must gravitate 
towards St. Petersburg. Neither could Austria-Hungary 
oppose Russia unless she could rely on England and Italy ; 
the latter being needed by the Dual Monarchy also for 
the second important reason that, without British naval 
support, Italy could not risk exposing herself and her 
lengthy littoral for the sake of her alliance with Austria- 


138 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Hungary. The Chancellor clinched his arguments with 
the promise that if England would support him, she would 
find willing co-operators in the Central Powers, and more¬ 
over Germany, in the event of the Oriental crisis, would 
undertake to coerce France to keep neutral and thus save 
England from the only serious danger that would menace 
her. 

These arguments went home to the English with 
convincing force. As Salisbury keenly desired the help 
of German diplomacy in the Egyptian Question, which 
was again becoming complicated, he asked Bismarck 
whether he was prepared to afford the same support if 
he (Salisbury) adopted the standpoint desired by the 
Chancellor. Bismarck's answer was an unreserved and 
unequivocal affirmative. He had at first used Egypt as 
a means of alienating England and France in order to 
obtain England's good-will in the matter of the German 
colonies, but now he exploited the difficulty on the Nile 
in order to induce England and Italy to support the 
Balkan policy of Austria-Hungary. In his zeal to win 
Salisbury, the Chancellor even engaged not to use his 
influence at Constantinople in favour of the Russians. 

Further than this, however, he made no promise 
to the British Premier regarding Bulgaria, and candidly 
confessed to him that he should persist in his plan of 
spheres of interest. In regard to Serbia he adopted the 
Austro-Hungarian, in Bulgaria the Russian, and in 
Egypt the English attitude. 

This should not appear surprising, for he could not 
do otherwise without abandoning his scheme. It was 
on the very account that he desired to enlist England 
and Italy for our cause, that he might in the first place 
avoid opposing Russia and not be compelled to take 
sides at the beginning, as the prime object of the whole 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 139 

manoeuvre was to furnish us with a rearguard without 
driving Russia into the arms of France by offending her 
at the outset. 

Bismarck's assurance satisfied Salisbury. He con¬ 
cluded with Italy (12th February 1887) the agreement 
proposed by Bismarck, thereby becoming a sleeping 
partner in a mighty continental political firm. 

He did not accept all the far-reaching recommenda¬ 
tions of the Italian Premier, Robilant; he declined to 
stand solid with Italy as regarded all wars against France; 
nevertheless he bound himself by an exchange of notes, 
avoiding the appearance of a formal alliance. Therein 
the two Powers actually undertook to maintain the 
status quo on the shores of the Mediterranean, the iEgean, 
and the Black Sea ; to oppose all foreign occupation 
there—this being directed as much against French 
expansion in Morocco and Tripoli as against the Russian 
in Bulgaria. In their respective notes Italy promised 
England expressis verbis a free hand in Egypt and 
England the same for Italy in Tripoli. 

However, this Anglo-Italian rapprochement was in¬ 
sufficient for Bismarck. From the beginning his real 
object had been to strengthen the Eastern policy of 
Austria-Hungary, and therefore he informed the Ball- 
platz confidentially of the Anglo-Italian Treaty concluded 
through his intermediary and suggested that the Dual 
Monarchy should join the alliance as a tertium quid 
(15th February 1887). 

In making this offer Bismarck manifested a striking 
change of front. During the autumn of 1886, when a 
similar combination was mooted on the part of England, 
he had testily called it “ Bauernfängerei ”—an attempt 
to jockey him. For Kälnoky, however, who still enter¬ 
tained the suspicion felt by Bismarck so shortly before. 



140 Bismarck and Andrassy 

the plan seems to have had some difficulties. This 
would appear from the Foreign Minister’s statement that 
he was willing to agree with England only when 
circumstances rendered such a step necessary. It is 
somewhat astonishing to find that he should consider 
such valuable advice rather as an evil pressed upon him 
than as a positive advantage. 

Bismarck did not care to make himself conspicuous 
in the negotiations. If Russia were to discover that he 
had brought about the arrangement, he would expose 
himself to the vengeance of the Czar and find himself 
metaphorically in the first-line trenches, where he had no 
desire to be. Neither did the Chancellor wish to play 
the principal role as intermediary, lest his doing so 
should render it impossible from the beginning to settle 
the Eastern Question separately without the participation 
of France (nth March), a plan which would be frustrated 
if his secret were known on the Neva. He thought the 
best thing for Austria-Hungary to do would be—as he 
had so often urged before—to adopt the Russian attitude 
in Bulgaria. If, however, she were unwilling to do that, 
the only other thing he could advise would be to agree 
with England and Italy. Kälnoky did not long hesitate, 
but signed the pact with England and Italy on 23rd 
March 1887. 

The contents of this Triple Agreement are more 
ample than those of the Anglo-Italian Double Agreement, 
the aim of the latter being the maintenance of the status 
quo “ on the coasts ” only, whereas the former provides for 
the preservation of the status quo on “ all the territories 
and regions adjacent to the coasts.” 

For this achievement the credit is due to Bismarck ; 
it is the proof and the fruit of his intellectual elasticity, 
his skilful opportunism. He was listened to alike in 




East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 141 

Rome, London, and Vienna ; his influence was felt in 
all three places; his advice was solicited from all quarters, 
and, what is more—it was even followed. 

5. Renewal of the Triple Alliance 

Now began the onerous labours of the negotiations 
for the renewal of the Triple Alliance: Germany, 
Austria-Hungary, and Italy. 

Robilant, the Italian Premier, and Kälnoky took 
opposite sides, the former stipulating for a new agreement 
and the latter standing out for the prolongation of the 
life of the old one. Bismarck acted as umpire in the 
dispute ; he was not unbiassed, however. The Italian 
manifested more decision of character : he was the more 
resolute, more fascinating in his manner ; and therefore 
Bismarck, not desiring to fall foul of him, deferred to 
him, admitted his premisses, brought pressure on us in 
his interests, and in general was complaisant towards 
him. The eminent judge of mankind once more cut his 
cloth according to his colleague's yard—and again at our 
expense. 

Robilant opened the negotiations with consummate 
adroitness. He boasted of offers he had received from 
the French, and made much of the circumstance that 
Italian public opinion was displeased with the Triple 
Alliance and could only be won for it by its securing to 
Italy not only a favourable defensive position, but also 
the opportunity to prosecute her policy of expansion. 

In this Robilant was quite right. It was true that 
the Italians could not easily be won for friendship with us. 

Apart from the question of her integrity, Italy was 
offended with us on account of Francis Joseph's neglect 
to return the visit of Victor Emmanuel to Vienna, the 
Austro-Hungarian Monarch's regard for the Pope causing 



142 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

him to avoid visiting Rome. During Andrässy's ministry 
the Emperor visited the ceded territory, but since the 
former's resignation nothing of the kind had taken 
place. In such circumstances the Alliance could be 
made popular in Italy by tangible results only. If, in 
spite of the Triple Alliance, Italy were to suffer from 
further French successes in Africa, the Alliance would be 
killed by the general antipathy. 

Robilant therefore proposed to extend the casus 
foederis , at the expense of the hitherto purely defensive 
character of the Alliance, to the contingency of Italy 
making war on France on account of her expansion on 
the coast of Africa. He further insisted on our engaging 
to follow a common policy with Italy in the Balkans, 
lest Italy should be unexpectedly faced by the Three 
Emperors' Alliance with disagreeable faits accomplis. The 
treaty should set forth that it was the mutual object of 
the contracting parties in their Eastern policy to preserve 
the status quo ; and that if its modification in respect of 
the Asiatic and iEgean coasts or the Turkish islands 
should at any time become necessary, the same could 
be effected only by mutual consent on the basis of 
compensation. 

Kälnoky's idea—the maintenance of the original 
treaty—would have been more favourable for us. But 
as Bismarck declined to support it, the former soon 
withdrew it, and accepted the amended treaty, though 
he would have liked to change certain particulars of the 
Italian project. Our Foreign Minister was willing to 
accept Robilant's demands with regard to France on 
condition that Italy should agree to defend us against 
Russia, thus making amends for the omission in the 
original treaty. He accepted also in principle the 
Italian proposal on the Eastern Question, but suggested 


East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 143 

certain modifications. He approved the common defence 
of the status quo , and was even willing to extend it 
from the coasts to the entire Balkan Peninsula, pointing 
out that the interests of Austria-Hungary were more 
endangered there than on the coast—this, however, only 
on Italy agreeing to relinquish her claim to compensation, 
since he saw in that a real danger and the source of 
endless complications. 

Owing to Bismarck's insistence, the agreement was 
after lengthy negotiations concluded. Robilant yielded 
on the African Question, though we got no fresh assurance 
of aid in the event of Russian aggression. This com¬ 
promise was brought about by the Chancellor, on this 
occasion, exceptionally, at the cost of sacrifices on his own 
part, in undertaking for himself alone the obligation 
that Robilant had stipulated also for us—to assist Italy 
in the event of her waging war with France on account 
of her expansion in North Africa. Bismarck explained 
his complacency in this matter by the statement that he 
undertook no more than his interests compelled him ; 
for whatever might be the cause of the conflict, as soon 
as France and Italy came to blows, the interests of 
Germany necessitated the victory of Italy. 

But in the agreement regarding the East we got 
decidedly the worst of the bargain. The final result 
was even worse than if we had accepted the original 
Italian proposal; for the Italians adopted our own 
recommendation that the status quo be extended to the 
entire Balkan Peninsula, instead of merely to the coast, 
while we accepted the principle of compensations not¬ 
withstanding we had proposed the extension in the hope 
that the compensations question would be dropped. 
Kälnoky perceived the drawback and would have pre¬ 
ferred the original Italian proposal. But it was too 


144 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

late. Bismarck pressed him so hard that Kälnoky was 
obliged to sign the text he had hitherto refused. He 
was not even permitted to get his modest desire that 
any compensations exacted might be effected from 
foreign territory only, and not from that of the con¬ 
tracting parties. The Chancellor defeated our pro¬ 
posal with the jest that “ such a thing would not do : 
it would be like unconditionally trusting your gambling 
partner with the bank and at the same time requiring 
his word of honour not to pick your pocket.” 

And yet such an agreement would have been ad¬ 
visable, though it might have failed to be adequately 
effective. It is conceivable that a gambler willing to 
entrust the bank to his partner might consider the 
contents of his pocket his own property by a prescrip¬ 
tive right superior to any treaty. 

This unfortunate treaty was avenged at the out¬ 
break of the World War. In consequence of its bad, 
careless, and faulty drafting, Italy was in a position 
to demand that we should arrange with her, before 
every military operation in Serbia, regarding the com¬ 
pensation to be awarded her. And it was owing to 
this defective instrument that the hesitation of the 
Dual Monarchy to concede the said demand was con¬ 
strued by Italian public opinion as an offensive and pro¬ 
vocative breach of treaty—a construction which the 
Jingoes did not fail to exploit to the utmost. 

When during the war this came to my knowledge, 
I was surprised at what appeared to me the shallow¬ 
ness of the Italian argument. To-day, however, know¬ 
ing the antecedents better than I did then, I must 
admit that the Italians were not without justification 
for their standpoint. 

The argument that, according to the treaty, Italy 



East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 145 

0 

could demand compensation only if our operations took 
place on the Turkish coast, looks very feeble when we 
reflect that it was no accident that the agreement was 
extended to the entire Balkan Peninsula—to which 
Serbia also belonged ; there was no error in the drafting, 
but it was done at our own proposal, because we con¬ 
sidered the Turkish coast not a sufficiently wide sphere 
and intentionally contrived to include in the treaty not 
only the littoral but also the hinterland. 

Our further contention that “ temporary occupation 
in war-time signifies no territorial change and therefore 
cannot be made by Italy a basis for compensation ” was 
rendered nugatory by Bismarck's interpretation, which, 
as we have already seen, regarded the temporary occupa¬ 
tion of Serbia as a territorial change. 

Without this explanation it would have been unjust 
to reproach Kälnoky for accepting the carelessly drafted 
treaty instead of insisting on the elimination of the 
absurd proviso that in a war actually in progress the 
enemy could not be attacked on his own ground, his 
defeated troops followed across the frontier without 
the previously obtained consent and satisfaction of a 
neutral State. But in view of such antecedents the 
acceptance of such a nonsensical text is seen to be a 
prodigious blunder, incomprehensible in a statesman. 
After the interpretation of Bismarck, the Italian inter¬ 
pretation could not very well be regarded as an absurdity 
against which it was not necessary to defend ourselves. 
Our blunder was all the graver as, according to docu¬ 
mentary evidence, Kälnoky could have been successful, 
since at the beginning Italy did not insist so strongly 
on the principle of compensation, but rather was soli¬ 
citous about getting more support in North Africa 
than formerly; in the Balkans she was merely con- 

10 


146 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

cemed in preventing Austria-Hungary from confronting 
her unexpectedly with unilateral conquests. 

Our position in the negotiations was generally favour¬ 
able. We were not bound to conclude agreements at 
any price. The relations between Italy and France 
were at that time so hostile that we had no fear of Rome 
changing places in the world-order by joining France, 
as she subsequently did. Kälnoky’s responsibility is 
even more aggravated by the circumstance that he 
could have rendered our tactical situation much easier 
by making the Balkan Question one of those to be 
discussed with the English ; for England would certainly 
never have agreed to compensations the object of 
which was not apparent and which might tie her hands 
in the event of a war. 

At all events, it cannot be denied that the Triple 
Alliance, as concluded, was the loss of another part of 
the precious heritage bequeathed by Andrassy. 

The Alliance of the Three Emperors had already 
bound us hand and foot in the Balkans, where our fate 
was eventually to be sealed. Yet now we must don 
new fetters. Henceforth, no matter how urgent, how 
pressing, some defensive measure might be, we must 
first of all come to terms separately with two States 
whose interests were opposed, of which one was our 
chief rival, while the other was easily capable of becom¬ 
ing so ! Now in the Balkans we had got on a similar 
footing not only with Russia but also with Italy, though 
for neither of these Powers was the situation of the 
Peninsula so paramount, so vital as for us. 

At this period (May 1887) Bismarck’s powerful peace 
league obtained a new recruit, a most valuable one, 
owing to its geographical situation : Spain concluded 
an agreement with Italy in which the former engaged 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 147 

not to enter into any compact with France directed 
against Italy, Austria-Hungary, or Germany, especi¬ 
ally with regard to the North African coast; and also 
to enter, if necessary, into closer relations with the 
Triple Alliance in order to preserve the status quo in 
the Mediterranean (Pribram, Geheimverträge Oesterreich- 
Ungarns) . 

6. The Russo-German Secret Treaty 

Scarcely had the old lion achieved his arduous task 
of renewing the Triple Alliance, scarcely had he secured 
once more the old line of defence against the French, 
than another delicate piece of work stared him in the 
face. The time of the expiration of the Three Emperors' 
Alliance was drawing near—that Alliance by virtue 
of which Bismarck attempted to make war impossible 
by the isolation of France. 

The Three Emperors' Alliance was badly worn out 
by the course of events. Two of its members (the Dual 
Monarchy and Russia) were pursuing contrary policies 
and day by day violating their obligation to respect the 
interests of each other. Its predecessor (concluded in 
1873) had been automatically ended by the Russo- 
Turkish War and the antagonism thereby caused be¬ 
tween Russia and Austria-Hungary. Would the new 
Three Emperors’ Alliance formed by Bismarck share 
the same fate ? Might not a new crisis arise in the 
East to prevent the renewal of the treaty ? 

The German Chancellor had long foreseen this 
danger ; the leading motive of his whole policy was to 
counterbalance it, and to give the Eastern Question a 
direction which would facilitate the co-operation of these 
two allies. He desired to maintain his favourite scheme 
—the Alliance of the Three Emperors—even when all 


148 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

real co-operation was plainly impossible, sincerity being 
lacking. He would rather have a mere formal existence 
than a complete break-up. And seeing he could not 
manage even the former—that St. Petersburg was 
indisposed to conclude an alliance with us, that even 
Kalnoky's complaisance failed to disarm the Czar's 
court—when he had to decide whether to put an end to 
his connection with St. Petersburg or agree with Russia 
without us, Bismarck chose the latter course (10th 
January 1887). 

At first he had no intention of concealing his deci¬ 
sion. He informed Kälnoky (17th January) of his 
willingness to agree with the Russians if necessary 
without us. Later, however, he entirely ignored Kal- 
noky and did not inform him of his having opened 
negotiations with Giers, and concluded the treaty 
behind Kalnoky's back (15th June). He did not even 
condescend to mention the treaty after it had been 
concluded. He observed strict reticence towards every¬ 
body. The appendix to the treaty is marked “ trbs 
secret” Giers referred to it as “la partie archi-seerete.” 
Accordingly Bismarck advised Emperor William to 
answer evasively and conceal the truth if taxed by 
Francis Joseph with the matter. 

This secret agreement bound the two parties thereto 
to benevolent neutrality in all wars, except in the event 
of France attacking Germany or Russia attacking us. 
Apart from these duo-lateral commitments, the treaty 
imposed unilateral obligations on Germany. Bismarck 
committed himself to the Russian policy in the Balkans. 
He recognised the historic right of the Russians in that 
region, especially their decisive influence in Bulgaria 
and Eastern Rumelia. He promised to object to any 
alteration of the status quo without Russia being first 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 149 

consulted, and even pledged the moral support and 
diplomatic assistance of Germany in the event of Russia 
considering it necessary to take possession of the key of 
her house—the Dardanelles. 

7. Bismarck's Explanation of the Secret Treaty 

By this agreement Bismarck entered upon untried 
paths, ways which were in opposition to the obligations 
he had taken to himself. The secrecy itself was flagrantly 
opposed to the Triple Alliance, which provided that it 
was the duty of the Allies to inform each other of the 
plans of foreign States with regard to the status quo 
in the Balkans. Germany's obligation of benevolent 
neutrality towards Russia, if we attacked the latter, was 
a violation of Article 1 of the Triple Alliance Treaty, in 
which we swore eternal amity and declared we would 
never be privy to any agreement against any one of us. 
Such an obligation might also bring him into conflict 
with another obligation originating in the Triple Alliance, 
according to which he was bound to display benevolent 
neutrality towards us in the event of our attacking any 
Power (including Russia) owing to the Power in question 
menacing our safety by its behaviour {vide Article 4). 
The friendly contractual relations between us were 
violated by the very fact that Bismarck engaged to 
promote Russian schemes in which, as he well knew, we 
saw great danger and against which he himself had 
formed the Alliance of the Mediterranean Powers. The 
treaty was unfair for Salisbury too. He—who had 
joined the Mediterranean Alliance because it had been 
proposed by Bismarck, because the latter had declared 
that he would not exercise in Constantinople any influence 
in a direction objectionable to the Alliance—might 
rightly have objected, if only he had been aware of it, 





150 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

to Bismarck having undertaken an obligation at variance 
with this promise to support the Russian plan. Salisbury 
—who signed the treaty on Bismarck’s promise to keep 
France from intervening should England get entangled 
in a war with Russia in consequence of the treaty— 
would lose confidence if informed that his friend had 
wittingly allowed himself to get into a situation in which 
he would be unable to fulfil this promise. For the 
English Premier might justly have asked : How could 
Bismarck make a casus belli out of France’s going to 
the defence of Russia when the Chancellor had himself 
adopted and would be compelled to support the Russian 
attitude ? 

What was the object of this secret treaty ? What 
did Bismarck expect to gain by it ? Was it a change 
in the direction he had hitherto followed ? Did he 
perchance desire, as in 1872, to fix the centre of his 
defensive policy once more on the banks of the Neva 
until he had done with Gortchakoff, lost his confidence 
in the Russians, and found his chief support in us ? 

All the signs pointed to the contrary. Bismarck 
deceived Russia rather than us and England. He did 
not wish to change the alliances. He was not in need 
of any support on the Neva. Russia remained his 
potential adversary, against whom he armed and whom 
he mistrusted. His sole desire was to maintain the 
contractual relations with her in order to avoid the 
raising of the casus foederis against her which was fixed 
in several treaties which Bismarck considered binding 
and meant to enforce also in future. The secret pact 
contemplated no ally for the eventuality of war. 

The agreement aiming at the prevention of hostilities 
was merely a compromise between enemies, nothing 
more. Bismarck’s opinion was that the vital interests 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 151 

of Germany were bound up with our position of power. 
Lest the Czar might conclude an alliance with the 
French, which should result in a world war—a contin¬ 
gency which Bismarck with remarkable prophetic vision 
foresaw with horror as the prelude of a mighty social 
upheaval—he set himself to beguile the Czar with fine 
phrases and fair promises, the strict fulfilment of which 
would have brought him into conflict with his obligations 
to others. He had, however, no intention of keeping 
them strictly, or of rendering Russia any really valuable 
service. He was not going to leave us in the lurch for 
the sake of the Muscovites. He neither promised nor 
intended to render any positive military assistance ; he 
confined himself to diplomatic and moral support. And 
such elastic terms could always be interpreted by the 
wily old diplomat—who whenever necessary was a first- 
class sophist—in such a manner that he would get no 
trouble, Russia no profit, and we no harm therefrom. 

The experienced statesman had no fear that within 
a measurable distance of time any decisive step would 
become necessary in which his tried skill would be inade¬ 
quate to bridge the gulf of opposing duties. For the 
Russians themselves held that the solution of the Straits 
problem was unlikely to be arrived at within a brief 
period. The Ambassador Schuvaloff announced that 
the Black Sea fleet would have to be built twenty or 
thirty years before it was fit for a decisive action in the 
Dardanelles. Giers regarded the occupation of the Straits 
as such a remote contingency that the German promises 
with reference thereto had, in his opinion, no great value. 
Why, then, should not Bismarck promise for the next 
three years a platonic support that would probably not 
be required for several decades ? 

Further, Bismarck foresaw that the Russian Govern- 




152 Bismarck and Andrassy 

ment, owing to its indecision, would not resort to those 
means whereby it might attain its object; he foresaw 
that the megalomaniac schemes of the Muscovites would 
only make them foes in the Balkans, and that they 
would certainly turn England and Italy—perhaps also 
France—against them. Why should Bismarck prevent 
Russia weakening herself and making a mess of her affairs, 
when he knew that he would get no thanks for so doing ? 
His good advice would only be resented. 

Bismarck's mental reserve is manifested in his 
pencilled observations on the diplomatic notes. They 
are of decided importance, since they were intended for 
the guidance of the Foreign Office. For instance, one 
such marginal note states that it was superfluous to 
inform the Russians of the futility of their plans—German 
diplomacy should be confined to giving the Russians 
certain assistance in times of crisis. This dissimulation 
is also seen in his argument to Kälnoky (17th June 
1887) : on the latter declaring his unwillingness to stand 
godfather to the still-born children of the Russian 
Government, Bismarck assured him that that was quite 
unnecessary, and it was one thing to promote the wild 
schemes of Russia and another thing to interfere to 
prevent her carrying them ad absurdum. 

The Chancellor, with his cool judgment of the situa¬ 
tion, calculated on the discomfiture of the Russians, and 
he had no mind to quarrel with St. Petersburg in order 
to save them from the fiasco. His dissimulation is 
again shown in his discussion with Kälnoky on the 
casus foederis ; explaining his attitude to his own Foreign 
Office with the remark that he should only foster 
the Dual Monarchy's will for war if he were to clear 
up the question as to when he should support it— 
which evidently signified that such clearing-up would 




East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 153 

be favourable to the Dual Monarchy. On still another 
occasion Bismarck betrayed similar craftiness when he 
explained the pressure he had put on Vienna by saying 
that he had only meant it as an inducement for Austria- 
Hungary to arm (6th and 15th December 1887). 

It is noteworthy that Bismarck did not say that he 
would not support us if we should be the attacking party 
—he only stressed the point that in that case he would 
not be bound to do so, because of his promise to the 
Russians and because it would be an incitement to us 
to war. The long and the short of it was that he reserved 
to himself all decision regarding the casus foederis , on the 
ground of his considering the case upon its merits when 
it arose, without committing himself further in the 
meantime (19th and 20th December 1887). 

The same spirit of dissimulation is shown in Bismarck's 
declaration that as soon as he saw that a Russo-Austrian 
war was inevitable, he would not take the casus foederis 
too strictly, but would quickly mobilise and intervene 
(8th, 19th, 24th January 1888) ; and that in interpreting 
the terms of the alliance he should not be guided by the 
letter but rather by the fact that it was the vital interest 
of Germany to prevent our defeat (17th January 1888). 

Everything that Bismarck did at this period was 
strictly in keeping with this fundamental idea. When¬ 
ever the Russians applied to him for active assistance 
he could always find a pretext for a non possumus. The 
kind of support he rendered to the Muscovites consisted 
of lecturing us on the innocuousness of the Russian policy 
and the errors of our own. He knew he could depend 
on us to receive his disagreeable scoldings with an 
appearance of respect, and he wanted to keep us from 
getting at loggerheads with Russia. As soon, however, 
as she wanted positive help, he took refuge in evasions. 


154 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

This was quite consistent with his deliberate intention 
to avoid promoting the Russian policy and at the same 
time to eliminate antagonism between the Russians and 
ourselves, and to keep for himself as long as possible 
their good-will, lest the counter-attraction of Paris should 
weaken the connection resulting from the blood-relation¬ 
ship of the German Kaiser and the Russian Czar. 

After the Anglo-Italian Mediterranean pact already 
referred to, Bismarck, on the ground of his promise to 
Salisbury, directed Radowitz, Ambassador at the Sublime 
Porte, to refrain from advocating the Russian attitude, 
as previously, but to appear indifferent and impartial 
(17th February 1887). And after the Russian secret 
agreement, too, Bismarck acted in the spirit of this 
instruction, notwithstanding it was a breach of the said 
secret agreement and the Russians demanded the pro¬ 
mised aid. In short, the Chancellor acted in accordance 
with his promise to England and not with that to Russia 
in the treaty. 

When the Ottoman Minister for Foreign Affairs 
(in order probably to sound Bismarck’s real intentions, 
and to comply with the Russian demands only if the 
Chancellor seriously wished it) asked Bismarck to recom¬ 
mend in Rome, Vienna, and London the Bulgarian 
mission of Enroth, a Russian General, the Chancellor 
replied (3rd September 1887) that he would do so only 
if it were “ officially and publicly 0 proposed by Russia 
and Turkey jointly, though he knew perfectly well that 
that was the very thing they sought to avoid, as they 
expected its success solely from Bismarck’s initiative 
and did not wish to court its rejection. 

Also when (December 1887) the Russians asked the 
Chancellor to support their action in Constantinople 
(where the counteraction of Great Britain, Austria- 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 155 

Hungary, and Italy was encouraged by Bismarck and 
where his hitherto displayed reserve and caution 
strengthened the passive resistance of the Turks), the 
Chancellor ca'cannied, stating that he had no interests 
in Constantinople and that Russia should take the 
initiative. He might possibly help, but not lead. He 
was the less disposed to take any prominent part in the 
matter as the tone of the Russian press was then so 
unfriendly to Germany that any services Bismarck might 
render to Russia would only be construed as a sign of 
cowardice. 

When Robilant demanded that the casus foederis 
should be extended against France, Bismarck had con¬ 
sented, as previously mentioned, with the motivation 
that, no matter what had precipitated the conflict, 
he would not allow Italy to be defeated. On the very 
same ground it now became desirable that Bismarck 
should stand by us in any resort to arms in connection 
with the Balkan Question. The balance of power in 
Europe would just as certainly be shifted ; Russia would 
be just the same menace if she were to defeat us on 
account of Bulgaria and the Straits as of Serbia. In 
such an event Germany's interests would not be com¬ 
promised by the cause but by the consequence of the 
war. Bismarck must surely have realised that. 

I am sure that Bismarck was absolutely sincere in 
telling Salisbury after signature of the secret treaty 
(27th July 1887) that the alliance with us would be 
permanent irrespective of the fixed number of years 
for which it was concluded, for any German Chancellor 
who should abandon us for the Russians would certainly 
come to grief with his own people ; and also in writing 
to Emperor William I on July 28th 1887, when the ink 
was scarcely dry on the treaty, that the sentiments and 


156 Bismarck and Andrassy 

the interests alike of the German people rendered it 
“ impossible ” for Germany to conclude a pact with 
Russia which would imperil Austria-Hungary and that 
the Fatherland would never sacrifice the Alliance with 
the Dual Monarchy, deep-rooted in mutual sympathy, 
for the friendship of Russia, which possessed no such 
source of strength. Out of sincere conviction somewhat 
later the venerable statesman, on the occasion of the 
young Emperor William IFs visit to St. Petersburg, 
wrote that the German Emperor's conduct towards the 
Russians ought to be subordinated to the consideration 
of not breaking the bonds of friendship with Austria- 
Hungary, as it was better and safer than that of the 
Muscovites, since the former was dependent on Germany 
while the latter were not; moreover, the one already 
existed, and the other had yet to be acquired ; and, 
finally, Francis Joseph's pretensions were more modest 
than those of the Czar. 

If Bismarck failed to promise us unconditional assist¬ 
ance, as he did to Italy, his reasons for the omission 
were purely tactical. He had no intention of doing 
less for us than for Italy, in whom he had less confidence 
than in us, and whose alliance he considered less valu¬ 
able than ours. He promised the Ballplatz less than 
the Consulta simply because he considered the first 
promise disadvantageous and the latter indifferent. 
He had at this time no reason for sparing France, and 
therefore he could extend the casus foederis against her 
for the sake of the Italians ; but he was anxious to avoid 
offending the Czar, and so he would undertake no new 
casus belli against Russia in our interests. He expected 
the France of Boulanger and Deroulede to pursue an 
anti-German policy whatever might be the text of the 
agreement with Italy ; and he thought it would drive 


East Rumdian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 157 

Russia into the arms of France if he openly declared 
at the outset against her Oriental ambitions, and bound 
himself in advance to solidarity with us absolutely 
unconditionally, even for the contingency of aggression 
on our part. This differential treatment was due also 
to the circumstance that Bismarck was convinced that 
Kälnoky would neither seek nor find the way to St. 
Petersburg, however dissatisfied he might be with 
Berlin ; while he was afraid that Robilant, if neglected, 
might easily win the friendship of the French, and 
accept it in lieu of that of the Germans. 

We were absolutely at Bismarck’s orders—we had no 
alternate choice, and therefore he did not spare us. 
But Italy might desert Germany, if she were disposed ; 
she could get along without us ; therefore Bismarck 
humoured her. 

This policy does not appeal to one’s sympathy ; it 
was not straight, yet it did not spring from vanity, nor 
from a desire for enhanced prestige or extension of 
territory, but solely from a laudable endeavour to avert 
a terrible catastrophe—that world war from the dire 
consequences of which all humanity is suffering to-day. 

8 . Scheme for an Anglo-German Alliance 

The intentions of Bismarck at the time of concluding 
the secret treaty are illuminated as if exposed to a 
searchlight by his later actions. The supposition that 
he sought to make Russian friendship the basis of his 
political system is quite excluded by the fact that, after 
the treaty was signed, he thwarted Russia with the 
same pertinacity as before. Even now Bismarck was 
not content with allowing Russia to dash her head 
against a wall—he even took care to raise the wall for 
that purpose. 





158 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

Salisbury (probably in order to discover whether 
the German Chancellor had any suspicion that if he 
made a rapprochement to Russia, Great Britain also 
might change the trend of her policy) had a conversa¬ 
tion with the German Ambassador (17th August 1887) 
which gave the impression that instead of the previous 
Austro-Hungarian orientation England desired a rap¬ 
prochement with Russia. 

If the Chancellor really wanted to change his direc¬ 
tion and incline towards Russia, he would have welcomed 
with pleasure the British Premier's implied hint. In 
the then state of affairs, however, he feared it. He 
wrote in a marginal note that (< primo loco he desired the 
maintenance of the Anglo-Austro-Italian Agreement, 
and only in case that were impossible would he enter¬ 
tain Salisbury's idea." It was solely on that account 
that he did not speak openly against it, because then, 
he said, Salisbury would perceive that Germany could 
be intimidated by his coquetting with the Russians, and 
Bismarck was averse to placing in the hands of the 
British Government such a weapon to be used against 
the Fatherland. 

Notwithstanding this, however, his every word was 
directed against an Anglo-Russian rapprochement. He 
openly warned the Court of St. James's that Germany 
must decline to have any hand in agreements antagoni¬ 
stic to us. He pointed out also that if England sought 
the friendship of the Czar, it might happen that Austria- 
Hungary and Turkey would forestall her and that 
Italy would incline to France. Germany, he said, 
would not be affected by this change of British policy, 
for she could revive the Alliance of the Three Emperors 
against western democracy. In the course of con¬ 
versation Bismarck observed that he doubted whether 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 159 

Russia would keep her promise, and especially recom¬ 
mended Salisbury, instead of changing his policy, to 
stick to the friendship of Austria-Hungary and Italy 
and try to approach St. Petersburg together with them. 

Bismarck did his utmost to turn the attention of 
the British Premier to all points calculated to keep 
him from changing his policy ; and Salisbury under¬ 
stood. Being aware that Germany intended to adhere 
to the old orientation, he decided to do the same (18th 
August). 

That, however, was not enough for Bismarck. His 
entire political direction was marked by the fact that 
he was dissatisfied with having merely persuaded Salis¬ 
bury not to change his policy—he was bent on increas¬ 
ing the power of the Mediterranean Entente protecting 
the Dual Monarchy. Influenced by his father's con¬ 
viction that this Entente could be best completed by 
the co-operation of the Turkish army, Herbert Bismarck 
in London launched the idea of the Ambassadors of the 
Allied Powers at Constantinople endeavouring to gain 
over the Sublime Porte and emancipate it from the 
influence of Russia. And by virtue of this suggestion, 
the Ambassadors actually agreed upon the project of 
a new treaty. 

According to this project, the Three Powers should 
jointly and severally declare that they would use all their 
endeavours to prevent the Sultan giving Russia any 
privileges in the Balkans and allowing Russia to obtain 
the same by force. If the Sultan should get involved in 
war with Russia on this account, the Three Powers should 
come to an arrangement as to the amount and quality 
of the assistance to be afforded him. They further 
decided that should the Turks yield to Russian pressure, 
the Powers should provide for the defence of their inter- 


i6o Bismarck and Andrdssy 

ests by occupying suitable positions (20th October 1887). 
This scheme, like most important political movements, 
came before completion to the Wilhelmstrasse, the centre 
of European diplomacy. Before making his final decision, 
Salisbury applied to Bismarck—the virtual leader of 
the Continent—for a clear understanding, free from all 
ambiguity and subterfuge, as to whether he approved 
of the new grouping : whether the young Prince William 
would, in spite of his well-known Russophilism, follow 
Bismarck's policy. The Chancellor, with the approval 
of the venerable Emperor William, was anxious to 
“encourage" his English colleague; and so he sent to 
Downing Street an extract from the treaty of alliance 
between Germany and Austria-Hungary, thereby proving 
that Germany was attached to us by firm bonds which 
each Emperor must respect. 

Besides this, the Chancellor in a lengthy private letter 
admirably summed up the reasons which rendered the 
anti-Russian grouping necessary in the common interest 
of both Germany and England. 

In this document, which later became deservedly 
famous, the Chancellor explained that the Enperor, 
altogether irrespective of his personal tastes and inclina¬ 
tions, could at all times only follow a policy in keeping with 
the interests of Germany, seeing that it was solely with 
the consent of the millions of his people that he could 
resort to compulsory military service, and the German 
nation could not afford to permit the position of Austria- 
Hungary as a Great Power to be destroyed, since Ger¬ 
many could not do without her aid. Without that she 
would be exposed to the risk of a coalition of France and 
Russia without any continental defence. He explained 
that England, Austria-Hungary, and Germany were 
“ saturated ” (i.e. consolidated), while France and Russia 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 161 

were discontented, and therefore the former must be 
prepared against any outbreak on the part of the latter. 
France always had been—and was now—aggressive, 
and Russia was beginning to imitate the role of Louis XIV 
and Napoleon L The revolutionary party wanted a war 
in order to exploit it for the overthrow of Czarism ; and 
on the other hand Czarism wanted a war in order to curb 
the revolutionary ardour by victory. Bismarck preferred 
to avoid war, but so long as Austria-Hungary and Eng¬ 
land did not change their direction, Germany would 
continue to be their trusty friend, ready to defend the 
independence and status of the Dual Monarchy as well 
as of England and Italy and prevent their defeat by 
French arms. But with Russia and against her natural 
allies (Austria-Hungary and England) Germany would 
never draw the sword. 

He entirely approved the definite suggestion and 
advised his friends to form a coalition for the defence 
of their special interests in the East. He hoped that the 
alliance would be powerful enough to keep the Russian 
sword in its sheath, or, if drawn, to break it. 

Bismarck prompted also the union of the Mediterra¬ 
nean Powers by advising his friend Crispi, the new Italian 
premier—an enthusiastic supporter of the Francophobe- 
Germanophil policy, a veteran revolutionary who carried 
with him into his new post all the fire and zeal of his 
youth—to agree with Kälnoky in regard to the Eastern 
Question. Crispi's confidence and courage were in¬ 
creased by the Chancellor's declarations that if the 
alliance formed by him between Italy, England, Austria- 
Hungary should get involved in hostilities on account 
of the Eastern Question, he would act as their rear¬ 
guard, prepared to intervene with arms, and that there 
was no cause to fear Russia, who had an Achilles' 

n 



IÖ2 Bismarck and Andrassy 

heel in Poland. The foundation of an independent 
Poland under an Austrian archduke had already 
been decided upon, with a view to giving effect to 
the plan. 

Our situation in the Great War would have been con¬ 
siderably alleviated if the successors of Bismarck had 
discerned their interests as quickly as did the Iron Chan¬ 
cellor and taken the way proposed by him. Instead of 
this, however, with what hesitation, shilly-shally, and 
vacillation they weakened that lever which Polish 
national sentiment might have afforded us! 

Thus it was due to Bismarck’s untiring energy that 
the new agreement between England, Austria-Hungary, 
and Italy was concluded—an improved and enlarged 
edition of the first agreement proposed and carried through 
by him. This new agreement was also, like the former, 
directed against Russia. Salisbury, in his note (30th 
November), emphasised that it would not be the least 
of Bismarck’s brilliant merits that he had scotched 
Russian aggression. The contents of the treaty were 
identical with the proposals of the Ambassadors (De¬ 
cember 1887), with the addition that, with regard to 
the defence of the Straits, it extended not only to the 
Balkans but also to Asia Minor. 

This was, however, not the only achievement demon¬ 
strating that the great German strove, even after the 
conclusion of the Russian secret treaty, at the main¬ 
tenance of our position ; equally manifest was the role 
he designed for the Fatherland if the alliance formed 
by him were compelled to attack Russia on behalf of 
its Oriental interests. 

The General Staffs of Austria-Hungary and Germany 
attempted to make mutual military agreements which 
would soon have led to war. Moltke, swayed by the 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 163 

conviction that the Muscovites were preparing for 
hostilities, and that the military situation of the Central 
Powers could only become worse by waiting, wished to 
avert the threatened danger by prompt action against 
Russia. Bismarck, however, shook his head—not be¬ 
cause he did not desire our victory, for he had invariably 
sought to make us strong, and urged upon us the necessity 
of increasing our army—not because he altogether con¬ 
demned such a step, for he had stated (15th December) 
that if he were the leading minister of the Danubian 
Monarchy, with the prospect of being backed by Eng¬ 
land, Italy, and Turkey, he might even be willing to 
precipitate such a conflict—but because he intended a 
special role for Germany therein. 

He thought (15th December 1887) that in such an 
event Germany should turn against France, not against 
Russia, and should intervene in an Oriental war only 
after she had settled accounts with the Gauls. 

He desired to avoid a campaign on two fronts, and 
would prefer to use the undivided military strength of 
Germany first of all against France—and only after 
routing her, against Russia. 

I am not competent to judge, from the military view¬ 
point, who was right—Bismarck or Moltke. But one 
fact is clear : that this conception of the Chancellor was 
not influenced by the Russian alliance, but meant as an 
execution of the Mediterranean alliance against the 
Russians, and had its roots in loyalty to us. 

This conception, in my opinion, contained all the 
principles by which Bismarck was guided. He was chary 
of promises ; he promised us nothing ; he refrained from 
advising us to commence hostilities; but if ever we 
found ourselves at war, he would fulfil his engagement 
as rearguard and keep France out. He would have done 




164 Bismarck and Andrassy 

even more than he engaged to do : after defeating France 
he would have settled with Russia. 

The same orientation is manifested in the fact that 
Italy at the same time became attached more closely to 
the anti-Russian coalition. Hitherto Italy, apart from 
the obligations upon her by the Mediterranean alliance, 
was not bound to assist Austria-Hungary or Rumania 
in the event of Russian aggression. Now, however, 
decided progress has been made in this respect. 
Italy joined the alliance of Austria-Hungary and 
Rumania (1888), and undertook that when the casus 
foederis provided for in the treaty arose, she would im¬ 
mediately take counsel with us with regard to common 
action (Pribram). 

Accordingly Bismarck did not become more Russo- 
phil but the reverse. The friendship of England was 
now more important in his eyes—the plan he had striven 
to carry out in 1879 in co-operation with Andrassy. This 
led to the new Mediterranean alliance. And this orienta¬ 
tion became so valuable that, contrary to his former view, 
the Chancellor (nth January 1889), made to England a 
formal offer of alliance, for the contingency of an attack 
on her by France. He referred to the fact that such an 
alliance would render war impossible, since neither 
France nor Russia would dare to provoke hostilities if 
they were aware that England was with us ; and that, 
moreover, it would protect England from invasion, 
which, considering the present high development of 
science, would, failing the proposed alliance, be merely 
a matter of the weather and the number of ships in the 
English Channel at the decisive moment. 

Salisbury, however, was indisposed for an alliance 
against France ; and thus it was no fault of Bismarck's 
that the friendship of England he had so carefully 


East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 165 

cultivated did not blossom forth into a closer political 
relationship. 


9. The Fall of Bismarck 

The scheme for an alliance with England was Bis¬ 
marck's swan-song in foreign policy. Even when issu¬ 
ing it, the Great Chancellor was on the eve of his fall; 
his fate was already sealed. 

In theory Bismarck recognised one sole form of 
government—that of a monarchy in which the supreme 
leadership is vested in the sovereign; in practice, how¬ 
ever, his own powerful personality led to this ideal 
being transformed into the omnipotence of the Chan¬ 
cellor himself. 

William II, who had now come to the throne, in all 
the vigour and ardour of his gifted youth, preferred to 
rule according to the pure and undiluted doctrine of his 
famous political schoolmaster. The young Emperor's 
model was Frederick II of Prussia, who always under¬ 
took everything personally, and gave decisions and 
issued orders on every possible matter connected with 
the government of his country. Like his great ancestor, 
William II held the firm conviction that he exercised 
the royal powers and prerogatives by Divine right, 
considering himself responsible for his actions to God 
alone. In thus interpreting the rights and duties of his 
exalted station, the young Emperor left no place for 
the exercise of that authority which the famous Chan¬ 
cellor had wielded, by virtue of his commanding person¬ 
ality, by the side of the patriarchal William I and after¬ 
wards by that of the fatally stricken Emperor Frederick. 
The new Emperor William required an obedient instru¬ 
ment, a servant, not a tyrannical master such as the 
old statesman had always been towards everybody. 


i66 Bismarck and Andrdssy 

William IFs lofty sense of duty, his personal ambition, 
irrepressible energy, his peculiar opinions on various 
matters besides home and foreign politics, which 
differed widely from those of the Chancellor, all combined 
to cause him to govern the empire inherited from his 
father according to his own views. And swarms of 
sycophants were not wanting to help by their flatteries 
to lead him into that fatal course. 

The regime of Bismarck had lasted too long ; it was 
now out of date. It had been glorious, but remorse¬ 
lessly harsh towards the opponents of the Iron 
Chancellor, who had treated everybody with suspicion 
and intolerance. His enemies were compelled to 
denounce his methods, as otherwise they could not be 
sure that the “ Bismarck era ” would terminate even 
with his decease. They saw in his son Herbert a suc¬ 
cessor who was to be feared perhaps even more than the 
old man. Count Herbert Bismarck was gifted with a 
fresh and alert mind, broad experience, and an excellent 
capacity for routine ; he had been educated by the 
best teacher imaginable—his incomparable father; he 
was a staunch friend, an implacable foe (especially 
towards his father's enemies) ; a pleasant, worthy, 
useful man : yet withal multitudes were anxious lest 
he should continue the regime of his father, with the 
inherited tyrannical tendency but lacking the excep¬ 
tionally rare genius of the Teutonic Titan. 

The young Emperor, easily influenced by flattery, 
was urged on all sides to get rid of his old Chancellor. 
But how was this to be done ? Bismarck stuck to his 
post with the tenacity of a leech. Though he knew he 
could never work with William II, yet he refused to 
resign—he would cast on his young sovereign the odium 
and the responsibility for his dismissal, before both his 



East Rumelian Crisis to Fall of Bismarck 167 

contemporaries and posterity. He considered it would 
be a dereliction of his duty to stand aside ; he was 
indispensable ; there was no other Bismarck at hand 
with his experience, his prestige, such a pillar of Ger- 
mandom. Who can condemn him for this attitude ? 
Who can be surprised at his persistence ? Quite 
mediocre holders of power who are no Bismarcks very 
often think and act in this manner when the time comes 
for their retirement from public service. Hangers-on, 
who fall with them, proclaim the doctrine that the 
country will surely go to the dogs if others take the 
place of their chief and themselves, and they repeat 
it in season and out of season until they end by believing 
it. In the course of my own political career I have 
often observed that one motive for the stubborn cling¬ 
ing to office is the megalomania engendered by the 
flattery of toadies. As those about him stand to lose 
by the fall of their patron, and as he mistakes his clients 
for the nation itself, the falling leader is apt to regard 
his personal misfortune as a national tragedy. He 
discovers his error only when the anticipated catastrophe 
does not take place, when he sees that the world revolves 
as before and he does not appear even to be missed. 

But Emperor William's position was rendered very 
difficult by the obstinacy of the old Chancellor. The 
sovereign himself had actually to dismiss—in plain 
terms, to “ turn out ”—the man to whom he owed his 
imperial throne, the founder of the empire, the man 
whom the entire German nation honoured as her most 
illustrious son. 

The Bismarck era closed in depressing discord, 
amidst all the signs of human imperfection. The sun¬ 
flowers — the " mamelukes ” — abandoned him ; like 
one of old, they denied their fallen lord. Those men 



i68 Bismarck and Andrassy 

who owed everything, emoluments and honours, to 
Bismarck now turned from him to the Emperor for 
confirmation in their offices. On the occasion of the 
wedding of Count Herbert at Vienna I witnessed not 
a few conspicuous instances of this shameful disloyalty, 
which justly aroused the indignation of his family. 

On that occasion I realised for the first time in my 
life the depth of ingratitude, opportunism, time-serving, 
coat-turning, and utter lack of principle, under the 
crushing weight of which during the latest revolutions, 
the dynasties, rulers, and constitutions of so many 
States have been ruthlessly swept away ; and in their 
stead have been set up Governments supported by the 
faithful adherents of whatever party might be in power 
for the time being, together with the ever-numerous 
crowd of mean-spirited, backboneless place-hunters. 


BOOK II 


FROM BISMARCK TO BÜLOW 


I. CAPRIVI (1890-1894) 





CHAPTER I 


RENEWAL OF THE ALLIANCE 

B ISMARCK'S successor, General Caprivi, aimed 
in every particular at following the path taken 
by that illustrious statesman. His chief object 
was the maintenance of peace and German supremacy 
bound up with it. He advocated peace, not only 
because Germany, as Bismarck had said, was “ satu¬ 
rated ” and had more to lose than to gain by wars, but 
also because William II was a peace-lover from his 
impulsive nature and warm heart, not to speak of his 
lofty sense of duty, as one may realise not only from 
his public utterances, but also from the private mar¬ 
ginal notes he was accustomed to make on official 
documents. When, for instance, he was informed that 
the Italian Foreign Minister was surprised that the 
Kaiser, a young man, with such an immense army, had 
no warlike aspirations, he made the significant rejoinder 
that he “was not a condottiere , but a Hohenzollern." 
And when on 20th February 1902 St. Petersburg was 
disturbed, lest he should commit the “ madness ” of 
attacking Russia, William wrote that such an action 
would be “ meanness ,” not “ madness." 

A simple event of this period is recorded that might 
perhaps have cast a shadow of doubt over his pacific 
disposition. This, however, was based on a misunder¬ 
standing ; it does not in the least prove any aggressive 
intention on the part of the Kaiser, but merely the 
will-to-peace of his ally, Francis Joseph. On the 
occasion of the military manoeuvres at Szombathely, 


172 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

after exhaustive conversations had taken place between 
the two imperial friends, Francis Joseph observed to 
the German Ambassador that it was a mistake to belittle 
the power of the Russians, as the German Kaiser had 
done, for though not faultless, it might, if only numeri¬ 
cally, prove a formidable factor. The aged ruler appeared 
anxious lest his young colleague should fail to take the 
Muscovite power seriously and decide on war without 
counting the cost. But the German Emperor wrote 
on the margin of his Ambassador's report of the incident, 
that Francis Joseph had misunderstood him. The 
words he had spoken in praise of the Austro-Hungarian 
troops were intended only to banish the pessimism of 
Vienna and not to incite his ally to war. He added 
that he could not help it if Francis Joseph, who had 
lost so many campaigns, interpreted an appreciation 
of his forces as the desire to start another war. 

It seemed at first as if William II had attempted to 
put an end to the constant and deep-seated Germano- 
phobia of the French, or at least considerably to miti¬ 
gate it. He could not in the least be blamed for Sedan ; 
he had various characteristics similar to the French ; 
he entertained a lively sympathy for his genial Gallic 
neighbours, like whom he was often influenced by his 
sentiments : thus he had hoped to be understood in 
Paris. His amiability won all the Frenchmen with 
whom he had opportunity to come into contact. M. 
Jules Simon, the redoubtable leader of the Left, was 
quite charmed with the Emperor on meeting him at 
the Labour Congress at Berlin. Why might William 
not equally succeed in winning the whole French nation ? 
Of course the young Emperor had many flatterers. His 
attendants assured him, and even persuaded them¬ 
selves, that he was capable of accomplishing whatever 


Renewal of the Alliance 173 

he would. It was therefore natural for him to think 
he could capture Paris by pacific means. A splendid 
idea ! A noble ambition, worthy of a magnanimous 
young monarch! And at first sight the experiment 
seemed very promising of success. 

The Emperor's participation in the mourning of the 
French people for the loss of their idolised painter 
Meissonier had a tremendous effect in Paris. Moreover, 
a benign influence was exercised by the German Govern¬ 
ment's alleviation of the passport regulations with regard 
to the annexed provinces, which had hitherto caused 
great friction and bitterness of spirit among the popula¬ 
tion affected. 

Count Münster, Ambassador to Paris, on the 19th 
February 1891, reported that the French Germanophobia 
had visibly abated and that improved relations were 
apparent between the nationals of the two countries. 
The diplomats of the old school, however, were beginning 
to show anxiety for these new tactics of William II. 
Kiderlen, a chief-of-section in the Berlin Foreign Office, 
declared (18th April 1890) his fear that such coquetting 
with the French would lead to no good : it would only 
excite the jealousy of England and Italy, and thus 
bring about a rapprochement of the Powers with France. 

But the Emperor continued the even tenor of his way. 
He chose his mother—Emperor Frederick's shrewd and 
tactful yet withal charming and high-souled widow 
(whose wondrously lovely, expressive eyes I recall even 
at this distance of time)—to promote a good under¬ 
standing between the Teuton and Gallic neighbours in 
the sphere of culture. With this eminently worthy 
object the Empress-mother visited the French metropolis, 
to invite the co-operation of the French artists in a pro¬ 
jected Berlin Exhibition. At first the lady, exalted as 


174 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

regards both birth and station, was cordially received, 
but ere long a reaction set in. The chauvinism of the 
French began to awake ; the artists who had promised 
their participation took fright and withdrew from the 
scheme, which resulted in a fiasco. At any moment a 
" regrettable incident ” might have occurred. Even the 
contingency of war was not excluded. 

Later also William II attempted to get nearer to the 
soul of the French by certain friendly overtures. He 
sent his representative to the funeral of Marechal Mac- 
Mahon. In July 1894, after the assassination of President 
Carnot, he set at liberty two French spies. These things, 
however, were no longer regarded as signs of a policy 
but merely as isolated acts rightly intended to allay the 
violence of the contrasts. 

Since the visits of the Empress Victoria (widow of 
Frederick III) to Paris, it was clear to William that the 
French would never become reconciled to the Peace of 
Frankfort, and that their Germanophobia was so deep- 
rooted that even those statesmen of the Republic who 
in their inmost hearts desired peace and friendship with 
Germany lacked the courage to proclaim their convictions 
and oppose the popular prejudice. Since that fiasco 
it became evident that the only policy open to Germany 
was that of Bismarck, and that the only right aim was 
to render the antipathy of the French innocuous, as 
Bismarck had done. 

And the successor of Bismarck desired to use the 
same means as the Iron Chancellor. Under Caprivi, as 
under Bismarck, the Triple Alliance formed the basis of 
German policy, whose object was to maintain such a 
superiority of force as effectually to quench the thirst 
of the French for an eventual revanche. 

But it was impossible to renew the Triple Alliance 


Renewal of the Alliance 175 

without serious difficulties. As in the past, Italy now 
also expected to reap fresh advantages. Like Robilant, 
who in 1887 succeeded in improving the status of Italy 
within the Triple Alliance, now Rudini was out for new 
acquisitions without, however, the acceptance of new 
burdens. Up to that period Austria-Hungary alone was 
bound to co-operate with Italy for the maintenance of 
the status quo in the Balkans. In this matter Germany 
reserved for herself a free hand. Now, however, Rudini 
aimed at making Germany accept the same obligation 
and pledge herself also to protect the Balkan status quo. 

And even that was not enough : he insisted on more 
favourable terms with regard to North Africa. Robilant 
had improved Italy's position there by inducing Bismarck 
to promise that he would support Italy if she were com¬ 
pelled to attack France over the question of her expansion 
in North Africa. Now Rudini went further. He desired 
Germany to support Italy even in the event of her 
demanding compensation for the expansion of any other 
Power in North Africa, should such demand lead to 
war—the excuse being the maintenance of the balance 
of power. 

German diplomacy was not disposed to undertake 
either obligation. As to the Balkans, Marschall, the 
Foreign Secretary, pointed out the inexpediency of 
Germany binding herself in that manner, since by so 
doing she would be depriving herself of every weapon 
against the Magyar chauvinists if they should show a 
disposition to commit some crass stupidity, such as 
meddling in the Bulgarian Question. And Kiderlen, 
another leading light of the Foreign Office, said that 
such an amendment of the treaty would be equivalent 
to a written confession of the weakness of Bismarck's 
Balkan policy. Neither was Berlin disposed to undertake 


176 The Chancellorship oj Caprivi 

further obligations with regard to North Africa. For 
on the ground of the obligation demanded of Germany 
by the Italians, the former would be bound to assist the 
latter even in the event of their violating Turkish terri¬ 
tory—Tripoli, for instance—though in the eyes of 
Berlin such a step would be sheer " brigandage and 
injustice.” Such an alliance might even compel Germany 
to fall out with England for the sake of Italy—a prospect 
which Germany could not view with equanimity. 

It would seem that a blunder on the part of the 
French made it easier for the friends to agree. The 
French minister Ribot, who, as we shall presently see, 
did so splendidly at St. Petersburg, made a sorry mess 
of things in Rome by his terroristic experiments. He 
attempted to force Rudini to betray the secrets of the 
Triple Alliance. He assured Rudini that not only 
would France not attack Italy, but would even engage 
to respect the status quo in the Mediterranean if only 
she (France) were satisfied that certain articles of the 
Triple Alliance were no more dangerous for France than 
the provisions of the Austro-German Alliance. If 
Rudini refused that satisfaction (that is to say, if he 
declined to divulge the secrets of the Treaty), then 
France might become disagreeable. Subsequently Ribot 
tried the same bluff on the King of Italy himself—with 
similar unsuccess. The King coolly answered that such 
a matter could not form the subject of a bargain and 
was beneath his dignity. Ribot then fell back on 
Rothschild. The banker-prince offered Italy a loan on 
generous terms on condition that Rudini would inform 
France in strictest confidence of the precise terms upon 
which Italy was bound to support Germany. To-day 
international loans have become the most approved 
means of suborning European States, but at that time 


Renewal of the Alliance 177 

the offer of a loan with such a degrading condition 
attached cut Rudini’s sensitive conscience to the quick. 
Referring to the matter in conversation with the German 
Military Attache, the Italian statesman said he had a 
great mind to kick out the “ dirty Jew ” who had dared 
to bring him Rothschild’s message ; however, he was 
checked by the reflection that such an act would be 
unworthy of a Marchese di Rudini, so he let the man off 
with a good wigging, demanding of the emissary how he, 
an Italian, could lend himself to such a degrading mission. 

These importunities on the part of France probably 
induced Rudini to be more complacent towards us. He 
dropped his Balkan scheme and made co-operation in 
North Africa contingent on a precedent formal agree¬ 
ment. And as the treaty set forth that England should 
be won for the North African agreement, it was impossible 
to represent the treaty as an anti-British instrument. 

The renewal of the Triple Alliance was followed by 
the alliance with Rumania. At the negotiations in 
connection therewith the discontent of the Rumanians 
in Hungary caused trouble. King Charles manoeuvred 
to get the party antagonistic to the Triple Alliance into 
power, in the secret hope that (as Bülow, who subse¬ 
quently became Chancellor and who was at that time 
Minister at Bucarest, reported) the new Government 
would not last long and that after its demise the treaty 
could be renewed. 

Emperor William was disgusted with King Charles’s 
trick. He pronounced it " immoral ”—a characteristic 
remark. It illustrates the Emperor’s high sense of the 
duty of a prince ; but at the same time it shows that 
impatient, stern, superficial criticism he would often pass 
on actions differing from his own and which gained him 
many enemies. 

12 


178 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

In William's view, the minister is the instrument of 
the sovereign, the executive of the latter’s policy ; if 
the ruler has no confidence in a statesman, he ought not 
to invest him with power. But having once appointed 
a minister, the sovereign should identify himself with 
him. This is a fine, admirable principle, but only in a 
case where the prince himself rules and is master of the 
situation. In parliamentary government the sovereign 
is sometimes compelled to appoint a cabinet he considers 
harmful to the interests of the country, and in such 
circumstances it is no reproach for the sovereign to 
rejoice at its eventual fall, as he has done nothing 
derogatory to his constitutional duty. 

However, the affair of the treaty was satisfactorily 
concluded without any change of parties. A change of 
persons sufficed. The policy of the Alliance was certainly 
strengthened by the treaty, signed by Bratianu the 
Liberal, being renewed by the Conservatives Catargi and 
Lahoväri. We must here remember sympathetically 
Carp, who did so much to promote the conclusion of the 
treaty and stood by us so staunchly throughout his life. 
This exceptionally gifted and strong statesman became, 
during the war, a martyr for his principles. Rumanians 
to-day ought to feel proud of him, even though they may 
not be able to share his views. He was no time-server, 
but a real upright man among a band of opportunists— 
a credit to the country he loyally served. 

The treaty was renewed (27th July 1892) without 
alterations of any importance. 

Shortly after this success, this new consolidation of 
the east wing of the Central European front, the situation 
became stabilised also on the west. The Hispano-ltalian 
Treaty was renewed, by which means that bulwark of 
Bismarck’s defensive policy retained its old strength. 


CHAPTER II 
THE RUSSO-FRENCH TREATY 


B ISMARCK'S system had two main supports. 
One of these was the powerful continental 
alliance ; the other the cordial relations with 
the two great World Powers outside the alliance: 
Russia and England. 

As we have already seen, Caprivi managed to renew 
the defensive alliances founded by Bismarck. But how 
did he fare with regard to that other legacy of Bismarck, 
the isolation of France ? 

Let us first see how the relations with Russia developed. 
Bismarck had bound Russia by a secret treaty, obliging 
the Czar to neutrality in the event of a French attack, 
Germany to remain neutral in the event of an Austro- 
Hungarian attack, and to support Russia in the affair of 
the Dardanelles. 

Caprivi was averse to such an alliance with Russia. 
He thought the obligations involved therein too onerous. 
The pledge with regard to the East was in conflict with 
the fact that Germany had already persuaded both her 
allies, Austria-Hungary and Italy, to conclude an agree¬ 
ment in order to counteract the Oriental policy of Russia. 
It was contrary to the promise and statement of Bismarck 
to Salisbury, when mediating in the interest of the 
treaties between England, Italy, and Austria-Hungary 
(1887). 

Certain points of Bismarck's pacts for mutual security 
were in flagrant opposition to the terms of the Triple 
Alliance. The new Chancellor feared that Russia might, 
by publishing the treaty, at any moment wreck the 

179 


180 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Triple Alliance and make Germany appear perfidious. 
Another argument against Bismarck’s treaty was the 
fact that, in spite of its ambiguity, it could not even fully 
achieve its object. Though it might prevent the Czar 
from concluding a written treaty with the French 
Republic, Russo-French friendship became stronger day 
by day. The consciousness of a common fate had by 
this time brought together the two neighbours of Ger¬ 
many. Bismarck himself had no faith in Russian 
neutrality and set himself to prepare for a war on two 
fronts. 

For this reason Caprivi wanted no secret treaty with 
the Muscovites. In all essentials, however, he adhered 
to the Bismarckian traditions and aims with regard to 
Russia. He desired to pursue the same course towards 
that country as did Bismarck, his aims there were 
identical with those of the Iron Chancellor, the sole 
difference being that he was unwilling formally to pledge 
himself to carry out his intention. 

Like Bismarck, Caprivi recognised Russia’s peculiar 
rights in Bulgaria and in the matter of the Straits, and 
declined to accept the standpoint of Austria-Hungary 
and England. We have seen that Italy’s demand for 
the protection of the status quo in the Balkans was 
refused by Caprivi just as it had been by his more famous 
predecessor. 

The new regime was quite as keen on securing the 
friendship of Russia as the old one had been. The 
young Emperor sent the Czar a message to the effect 
that amity with Russia was not only Bismarck’s policy, 
but equally that of his grandfather William I and no 
less of himself. He advised Austria-Hungary to try to 
come to an agreement with St. Petersburg. At Köszeg, 
during the military manoeuvres, he preached this doctrine 


The Russo-French Treaty 181 

to Kälnoky ; and when he saw a rapprochement between 
Vienna and the Nevski Prospekt he, in a marginal note, 
takes credit to himself for this happy fruition of his good 
advice. Let the Russians have Constantinople and the 
Austrians Salonica. 

The new regime was perfectly right in pleading that 
it was unable to continue Bismarck's system, which was 
too complicated and involved the risk of Germany falling 
between two stools. For any man less gifted and less 
respected than Bismarck it would have been absolutely 
inadvisable to have followed his path. The attitude of 
William II was worthy of sympathy and evinced an 
upright character. 

But it was a pity that by a faithful adherence to 
the former Russophil policy it was rendered exceedingly 
difficult to substitute the friendship of England for that 
of Russia, and to make the Triple Alliance as close as it 
would have been had its members pursued a concerted 
policy towards the East, and had England remained a 
reliable supporter of the Triple Alliance. 

The results of this defect were the more damaging as 
Caprivi, in carrying out this policy, committed certain 
grave blunders which imperilled the friendship of Russia 
far more than the dissolution of the Bismarckian secret 
treaty by itself could have done. 

According to the report of Schweinitz, Ambassador 
to St. Petersburg, Giers, the Russian Foreign Minister, 
who was no friend of the French orientation, attached 
great importance to the late secret treaty being replaced 
by another, no matter how vague it might be. Such a 
treaty, the consciousness that the names of the two 
sovereigns were signed to the same document, would— 
in the Ambassador's opinion—have kept honest Czar 
Alexander III from concluding a treaty with the French 


182 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Government. Caprivi, however, would not hear of it, 
and in fact declined to entertain an agreement of any kind, 
so that the slight thread connecting St. Petersburg and 
Berlin was snapped for ever. 

The Chancellor had thereby overshot the mark. 
Schweinitz was probably right: the mere fact of an 
agreement between Czar and Emperor would have 
rendered a Franco-Russian pact exceedingly difficult. 
On the other hand, a treaty not in opposition to the 
Triple Alliance and not engaging Germany for any anti- 
English or anti-Austrian Oriental policy, as the Bis- 
marckian secret treaty had done, would have presented 
no drawbacks nor imperilled the other friendships of 
Germany in the least. But the rupture of the treaties 
between St. Petersburg and Berlin removed all obstacles 
from the path between Paris and the city on the Neva 
and led to the Russo-French alliance (June 1890). The 
reluctance displayed by the Germans to conclude any 
treaties caused Czar Alexander III to suspect that 
Emperor William was preparing a war; consequently the 
former thought he had better agree with the French. 
His impression was confirmed by the unusually ostenta¬ 
tious publication of the renewal of the Triple Alliance. 

Here I must place on record that, strictly speaking, 
the Triple Alliance was the first step to the dividing of 
Europe into two hostile camps. The 1879 P ac ^ between 
Bismarck and Andrässy cannot be so regarded ; not 
only because it was not de facto followed by the formation 
of an opposing group, but also on account of its content. 
The 1879 Dual Alliance was purely defensive—only 
against Russia. It did not affect the position of France 
as a Great Power. Germany acquired no ally against 
isolated France and left perfectly intact the natural 
superiority of the French over their weaker Italian 



The Russo-French Treaty 183 

neighbours. The case of Russian aggression only 
excepted, the Dual Alliance of 1879 was founded as a 
protection against a coalition. Thus it could not promote 
the formation of coalitions, but, on the contrary, it 
prevented their formation by providing in advance the 
means of defence against them. 

The Triple Alliance changed all this. It secured for 
Germany the support of Italy, and for Italy the support 
of Germany and Austria-Hungary against an isolated 
France. It confronted a single attack on the part of 
either Russia or France with a coalition of the Central 
Powers. And this creation of a united front to repel an 
attack from either Russia or France caused both these 
Powers to form an alliance as a natural and logical 
counter-stroke. The Dual Alliance of Germany and 
Austria-Hungary was defensive only, whereas the Triple 
Alliance in certain contingencies supported the Italians 
also in an offensive against the French. 

It is true that the Triple Alliance was secret, yet it 
constantly disturbed the Quai d’Orsay, for there it was 
felt that Italy’s joining the Central Powers against the 
French gave the Triple Alliance a more dangerous char¬ 
acter, as it meant a member who, since the success of 
France in Tunis, had followed a distinctly anti-French 
and pro-English policy. 

This idea, as we have seen, was expressed by Ribot, 
the French minister, when at the renewal of the Triple 
Alliance he announced his willingness to change his 
attitude towards Italy and to give guarantees for the 
maintenance of peace, if only he were satisfied that the 
provisions of the Triple Alliance were not more menacing 
than the Austro-German Alliance. The French, however, 
failed to get such satisfaction, and thus their mistrust 
and nervousness were aggravated. 


184 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

The announcement of the renewal of the Triple 
Alliance and the plain fact that England was in sympathy 
with it caused the necessity of a rapprochement to be felt 
in an increased degree at Paris and St. Petersburg, at 
the moment Russia's hands became definitely free and 
the relations fixed by treaties between Berlin and St. 
Petersburg were deliberately put an end to by the policy 
of Germany. 

Thus in both Paris and St. Petersburg simultaneously 
the intention became ripe of giving the intimate relations 
which had so long subsisted between the two countries 
the form of a treaty. 

Negotiations with this object were opened by Giers. 
But the leading role therein was of course played by the 
French Government, who were more interested than 
Russia in the conclusion of a formal treaty. An intimate 
friendship without a treaty would, in my opinion, have 
been of more use to Russia than the treaty ; for the 
latter when concluded did not bind France to render 
her any active assistance, since, according to the French 
Constitution, war could only be declared with the consent 
of Parliament and the Russian Government were un¬ 
willing to publish the treaty. The Czar had indeed 
said that the treaty would become null and void by 
publication. 

Russia obtained no new advantages by the treaty. 
For long she had been aware that as soon as she could 
pick a quarrel with Germany the guns of France would 
go off of themselves and that the Republic would never 
look on calmly at a German war on the banks of the 
Vistula ; while Russia could easily keep out of a French 
war of revenge and need participate in a struggle for the 
Rhine only if her interests at the moment rendered it 
desirable for her to do so. The former “ free love ” 


The Russo-French Treaty 185 

had, as it were, placed at the Czar's disposal the forces 
not only of Russia but also those of France; so that he 
had two diplomacies, two armies, two navies, and two 
treasuries. 

Giers suggested an agreement simply because he 
feared lest Germany might attack Russia at a time when 
France should have grown tired of the long waiting and 
her love have waxed cold just when her assistance would 
be most valuable and necessary. 

Owing, however, to the above-mentioned interests, 
it is easy for us to understand that Giers desired to under¬ 
take as few obligations as possible and merely to declare 
that in the event of imminent hostilities the two Powers 
would enter into such negotiations as both parties might 
deem necessary at the time. But the French were not 
satisfied with this diplomatic “ holy water ” ; such 
verbiage was no guarantee of the defence they required. 
They wanted more, and got it. 

In the preamble of the agreement it was especially 
emphasised that the main object of the two signatory 
Powers was the maintenance of peace, and that the 
principal raison d'etre thereof was, on the one hand, the 
renewal of the Triple Alliance, and on the other the fact 
that England had gravitated towards the said Triple 
Alliance. The document itself consisted of two parts: 
the first setting forth that the two Powers would nego¬ 
tiate on all questions involving the risk of war ; while in 
the second part it was declared that in the event of one 
of the signatory Powers being in danger of attack, both 
contracting parties would come to an agreement with re¬ 
gard to the measures necessary to be taken. Here more 
than mere negotiations were in question. The contract¬ 
ing parties undertook a positive obligation to agree 
regarding the measures necessary to be taken. True, 


i86 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

the treaty does not define a casus belli, but during the 
negotiations both the French and the Czarist Govern¬ 
ments declared their intention of standing shoulder to 
shoulder in the event of war. 

The alliance thus concluded was formally even more 
defensive than the Triple Alliance, which in the interests 
of Italy acquired a certain offensive edge ; the Russo- 
French pact, however, was wider in its scope than the 
Triple Alliance, being directed against all States without 
exception—against Japan and Great Britain equally 
as against us—whereas the Triple Alliance was directed 
solely against the Powers designated in the document 
or a coalition of Powers. 

Yet even this favourable result failed to satisfy the 
French. Freycinet, then War Minister, one of the best 
brains of modern France, sought (November 1891) to 
determine at the outset the extent and direction of the 
forces with which, in the event of war, the allies should 
assist each other. Giers boggled at this. On different 
pretences he attempted to procrastinate. He mentioned 
to the German diplomats that the French were feverishly 
anxious to come to terms with him, but he assured them 
(so he said) that nothing would be done. 

But the Russian went back on his word. And the 
French accomplished their object. Paris, the stateliest 
city in the world, which had for so many years influ¬ 
enced the trend of European politics—which had so 
often claimed to be the world metropolis—did not in 
vain adopt the cult of everything Russian. It was not 
for nothing that “ la grande nation ” confessed her affec¬ 
tion for the rude Muscovite. Even the frigid, haughty 
Czar could not long remain insensible to such homage, 
which was of historic importance. As somewhat earlier 
the Autocrat had stood bareheaded as a mark of respect 













The Russo-French Treaty 187 

to the strains of the revolutionary " Marseillaise ,” so 
now he complacently signed the desired military conven¬ 
tion with his adversary in home politics, the French 
Republic, against his imperial kinsman with whom his 
interests were common. Under the glamour of the 
French naval celebrations at Toulon, and influenced by 
the latest military law of the German Empire, the Russian 
Government at length (December 1893), after a delay of 
two years, signed the treaty. 

However, the treaty did not give the French every¬ 
thing they craved. Just as we, in 1879, had been reluc¬ 
tant to promise Germany assistance in the event of French 
aggression, so France now hesitated to bind herself to 
support Russia if she got involved in war with Austria- 
Hungary. The French were well aware that the power 
of Francis Joseph's Dual Monarchy was not inimical to 
French interests, and was even desirable from the point 
of view of the balance of power in Europe. But the 
French diplomats were not so independent with regard 
to the Russians as Andrässy had been with Bismarck in 
1879. Then Bismarck gave way; now Ribot, who 
promised the same assistance to the Russians against us 
as against Germany, though he was aware that there 
were no conflicting interests and sentiments between the 
Republic and the Dual Monarchy. As a set-off to this 
concession France achieved the important result that 
whenever the Triple Alliance or even one member thereof 
should mobilise, Russia and France were likewise bound 
to mobilise. Another great coup for France was the 
specifying in the treaty of the precise number of troops 
to be called up and rushed to the German frontier, so 
that the German Empire should be simultaneously 
attacked from both east and west by an overwhelming 
majority of the forces of France and Russia. 


i88 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

It was an important feature of this military convention 
that it was aimed solely against the Triple Alliance, 
obliging no common action against either England or 
Japan. Thereby France avoided the risk of having to 
take sides on account of Russia's operations in Asia and 
having to draw the sword on her behalf there. 

The obligation with regard to mobilisation is also 
important in that thereby the revanche could be connected 
with the policy of the treaties and draw Russia in with it. 
For if France, through an aggressive policy, should suc¬ 
ceed in making Germany mobilise, the Czar also would 
be obliged to mobilise ; which would mean his participa¬ 
tion in the war, since it would then be clear that general 
mobilisation of conscript forces could have no other 
significance than war. 

This alliance and military convention caused a great 
change in the political situation. Though they did no 
more than give a form to what had already existed for 
years, yet it constituted a new factor for power by having 
converted a political probability into a legal fait accompli , 
thereby raising the courage of Paris to a remarkable 
degree. Giers was partly right in telling the French 
Ambassador that the alliance put an end to German 
supremacy and restored the balance of power. There 
was no doubt that it tended in that direction, though it 
is doubtful whether peace had become more firmly estab¬ 
lished thereby. The supremacy of Germany had hitherto 
preserved peace for the simple reason that no one had 
been bold enough to assail the Triple Alliance—neither 
France nor Russia, who could not safely rely on each 
other—while the leading members of the Triple Alliance, 
Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Great Britain had 
their hands so full that they could not think of provoking 
a breach. Much less could they think of doing so as 


The Russo-French Treaty 189 

Bismarck considered the Franco-Russian friendship 
itself without the alliance so strong that he preferred to 
avoid falling foul of it if possible. He thought the risk 
too great to attempt, by warlike means, to consolidate 
German supremacy, as his military advisers so often 
urged him to do. 

Now, however, that France and Russia knew that 
they could henceforth safely rely on each other, would not 
a war be more likely to break out ? Since both France 
and Russia had their great historic ambitions to be 
realised at the expense of the status quo —the former in 
Alsace-Lorraine, and the latter in the Dardanelles—what 
would happen should these two Powers feel themselves 
strong enough to try conclusions ? 

Czar Alexander III observed to the French Ambassa¬ 
dor that the French would not deserve the name of 
patriots if they failed to look forward to getting back 
their lost provinces ; he consoled himself, however, with 
the hope that the spirit of revenge was not in their minds 
and that they would be able to " wait with dignity.” 
But would this be possible for long if they felt a reason¬ 
able hope of being able to deliver their suffering brethren ? 
The Czar, too, envisaged this danger, and trusted only 
that his great influence might outweigh the chauvinist 
longings of Paris. 

Who could say whether he would not be disappointed 
in this laudable hope ? The only thing certain was that 
France would become bolder and more self-conscious 
with time. She would cease to be the defeated country 
with which no other cared to seek an alliance ; she would 
escape from the magic circle of Sedan. And being able 
to conclude alliances, she would adopt a more definite 
and bolder foreign policy than before. Her unremitting 
efforts at home, the gradual development of her army, 


190 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

her careful, assertive, in its main features consistent 
foreign policy, yielded their first fruits. The secret mis¬ 
tress became the openly acknowledged legal wife ; the 
denied liaison was superseded by marriage, a union con¬ 
fessed in the sight of God and man. 

The French General Staff (February 1890) estimated 
the forces of the two allied Powers to be somewhat more 
numerous than those of the Triple Alliance, i.e. 3,150,000 
as against 2,180,000. Notwithstanding this favourable 
disclosure, the French were not disposed to rashness. 
They took into consideration that the numerical dis¬ 
advantage of the Central Powers was off-set and com¬ 
pensated for by their quicker mobilisation. Probably 
also they realised that the central situation of their 
opponents had other valuable advantages; so they 
resolved that to begin a war would be inexpedient. 

Even granting, however, that the new allies sincerely 
desired to avoid hostilities, would not the opposing 
policies of the apparently equal and self-assertive Powers 
and their constant collisions aggravated day by day, 
precipitate a conflict ? France could resume her over¬ 
seas expansion without being, as in Jules Ferry's day, 
dependent on the good-will of Germany. She would not 
have to submit at any price if she fell out with her Teuton 
neighbour on the colonial question, as she could now 
depend on Russian support. What would become of the 
peace of Europe if the nations opposed on the Rhine were 
to come into antagonism overseas ? 

For a long time our Governments refused to believe 
in the conclusion of the new alliance. The Russians 
denied the treaty (May 1893). Giers even told Kal- 
noky he would not listen to the French, nor undertake 
any obligations towards them, as they were dominated 
by the spirit of revenge. When our Governments 


The Russo-French Treaty 191 

could no longer ignore the fact, they pretended to be 
glad of the alliance and to see in it a safeguard of peace. 
But that attitude could not have been sincere. 

Münster and Schweinitz reported from Paris and 
St. Petersburg respectively that although there was no 
reason to fear an immediate rupture, yet they were 
troubled about the future. Münster (October 1893) 
said that though the French were not anxious for war, 
they were preparing for that contingency by seeking 
to alienate Italy from Germany through economic 
pressure, and Austria-Hungary by strengthening the 
Slav influence. 

The news of the alliance (October 1893) depressed 
Emperor William. He was apprehensive lest the mis¬ 
trustful French should sooner or later display an inten¬ 
tion to precipitate a war. He likened the existing 
peace to a person suffering from heart-disease ; though 
such an one may live for years, yet, on the other hand, 
he may drop dead at any moment. 

The formation of the Dual Alliance was the first 
relapse from the position of power we had reached under 
Bismarck, a relapse to be followed in due time by a 
further fall. 


CHAPTER III 


RELATIONS WITH ENGLAND (HELIGOLAND, EGYPT, TUNIS, 


THE DARDANELLES) 



HE Franco-Russian treaty necessitated more 
than ever the maintenance of Bismarck’s 


A bequest:—the friendship of the Triple Alliance. 
The division of power would have kept the Russian 
and French allies from hostile projects only if they had 
to reckon with England as a potential enemy. Unfor¬ 
tunately Caprivi was not so successful as Bismarck had 
been in influencing the British Government, although 
the chances were as good as ever. 

Thanks to the Chancellor’s wisdom, the Germanophil 
policy had gained ground in England. In the last 
years of Caprivi’s chancellorship the young Emperor 
William was ostentatiously feted in London. The 
Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII), toasting 
the imperial guest, referred to the possibility of the 
British navy and the German army together main¬ 
taining peace. The Emperor, on the other hand, re¬ 
minded his English host of their comradeship-in-arms 
at Malplaquet and Waterloo. At the time of Bis¬ 
marck’s fall Salisbury presided over the British Cabinet. 
This statesman was the greatest authority of his day 
on English foreign policy, who had till then striven to 
conduct a Germanophil policy, and he could now follow 
his convictions the more easily since his opponents in 
foreign policy—the Liberals—no longer attacked his 
foreign policy with such unity and consistency as in the 
past. In those days the parliamentary struggle was 
not dominated by foreign politics as it was before and 


192 




Relations with England 193 

after the Berlin Congress, when Beaconsfield was 
defeated at the polls by Gladstone’s slogan of " No 
imperialism.” The eternal Irish Question was forcing 
itself more and more into the foreground. 

Gladstone himself was not the man he had once 
been. When he was last Premier, on account of his 
Egyptian venture he had been compelled to follow a 
Germanophil and anti-French policy. And Lord Rose¬ 
bery, by far the best informed, with regard to foreign 
politics, in the Liberal Party, one of its most distin¬ 
guished members and an ambitious statesman, preferred 
to follow the conservative policy of Salisbury rather 
than remain loyal to the Liberal tradition. He was as 
great an imperialist as the Tory leader himself. He 
went so far as to confess that he accepted the post of 
Foreign Under-Secretary in Gladstone’s Cabinet solely 
in order to maintain the continuity of British policy and 
to keep England in the path trodden by Salisbury. 
On becoming Foreign Minister in the victorious Glad¬ 
stone Government, he emphasised that, like his prede¬ 
cessor, he would have the Triple Alliance for his support, 
and that he would conduct foreign policy according to 
his own convictions, even if differences should on account 
thereof arise between him and his chief, the Grand 
Old Man—who, by the way, was ignorant of foreign 
affairs and did not deny it. Moreover, he had already 
become senile and unable to lead with that vigour and 
decision he had displayed so brilliantly in the past. 
The root idea of Salisbury—and after him of Rosebery 
—was free co-operation between England and the 
Triple Alliance, based on community of interests, mutual 
confidence, and good-will, but not fixed by treaty and 
involving no legal obligation. Such a policy would not 
provoke Britain’s two rivals, France and Russia, while 

13 



194 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

it would be strong enough, in the event of hostilities, 
to be immediately transformed into a war alliance. It 
gave England a free hand ; it did not compel her to 
take part in a war that might perhaps prove unpopular, 
dangerous, and difficult; it avoided the risk of isola¬ 
tion, and prepared the way for a powerful alliance at 
a critical time. It seemed to combine the advantages 
of both isolation and alliance while avoiding their draw¬ 
backs ; and raised up a mighty bulwark in defence of 
peace and the status quo. 

Caprivi was not satisfied with this English view. He 
wished to go further than Salisbury. He attached 
great importance to the friendship of England—greater 
than he did to that of Russia, with whom he regarded 
a war as sooner or later inevitable. He had, however, 
less confidence in England. He aimed, therefore, at 
bringing about a binding treaty—yet not between 
Great Britain and Germany, but between Great Britain 
and the continental allies of Germany, i.e. Austria- 
Hungary and Italy, with a provision regarding the 
Eastern Question. He was ambitious to follow the 
example of Bismarck, who had succeeded therein. 
Indeed he desired even to surpass Bismarck in the sense 
of giving the treaty more volume, to render it more 
stable and definite. This scheme would set England 
directly against Russia and indirectly against France, 
the latter’s ally, without Germany losing her chance 
to intervene in the event of a conflict between her own 
allies on the one hand and Russia and France on the 
other, even of playing the role of umpire between them. 
In short, he was scheming to reserve to himself the 
opportunity to intervene in a potential resort to arms 
at the moment most auspicious for his country. 

The new regime started well. William II saw the 


Relations with England 195 

fulfilment of his long-cherished wish. England (July 
1890) exchanged Heligoland for certain German pos¬ 
sessions in Africa. Some of the British Cabinet minis¬ 
ters objected to this transaction on the ground that “ the 
contingency of war between England and Germany 
was not excluded for all time/' and, in such an event, 
Heligoland would constitute an invaluable weapon 
in the hands of Germany for the defence of her coast¬ 
line. When, notwithstanding these objections, England 
consented to the exchange, she proved thereby that such 
a war was far from her thoughts ; she considered it in¬ 
deed quite out of the question that Britons and Teutons 
should ever meet as foes. For this very reason the ex¬ 
change might well have paved the way for greater trust and 
led to the consolidation of an Anglo-German friendship. 

Unfortunately German public opinion failed to 
realise the value of Heligoland, considering it a barren 
rock not worth Zanzibar and the other territory ceded 
for it. Thus the initial result of the new regime did 
not improve the situation between Britain and Germany. 
It even made it worse ; especially as Bismarck cen¬ 
sured the exchange and attacked it with all the vehe¬ 
mence of opposition. It was the irony of fate that the 
ruthless critic of the deal was far more highly respected 
among the people than the man who spoke in the name 
of the Fatherland and whose duty it was to lead it. 
Bismarck’s scathing condemnation of the transaction 
gave rise to the universal belief in Germany that they 
had been imposed upon by the wily English ; though 
the fact was that the military power of Germany was 
enormously strengthened thereby. What should have 
brought the two countries close together only served 
to estrange them from each other. 

The Egyptian Question, too, might at this time 


196 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

have favourably influenced Anglo-German relations. 
The salient features of the situation were as follows : 
France could not reconcile herself to the idea that the 
shopkeepers of perfide Albion should hold sway over 
that enchanted land of hoary antiquity that had been 
the scene of the glorious victories of the immortal Bona¬ 
parte. She aimed at the gradual ousting of Great 
Britain from the valley of the Nile. On the other hand, 
England sat tight on her new seat of power and refused 
to budge or surrender an inch of the soil of Tut-ankh- 
amen. She perceived in the Suez Canal the connecting- 
link with her overseas empire. Thus for the time being 
Egypt formed a dangerous bone of contention between 
the two neighbour Powers. 

The best assistance against France could have been 
rendered to England by Germany, the Teutons having 
no interests worth mentioning in the Nile Valley, and 
so they might easily have adapted their Egyptian 
policy to the exigencies of British friendship. Bismarck 
availed himself to the full of the opportunity thus 
afforded. He consistently supported the English in 
Egypt. He won over Gladstone and fed the Anglo- 
French quarrel thereby. Nevertheless, whenever he 
could do so without risk, he never failed to exploit the 
Egyptian situation for the purpose of extorting colonial 
concessions from England. 

William II and Caprivi equally desired to follow the 
same path. When informed that great lack of con¬ 
fidence existed between Paris and London on account 
of the Egyptian Question, the Emperor remarked that 
he “ hoped it would last a long time.” Also when he 
heard that the Sultan was being encouraged by Paris 
to demand the evacuation of Egypt, William ordered 
that London should be informed thereof without delay. 


Relations with England 197 

Caprivi did much to influence the Sultan in favour 
of England. He would have liked to bring about an 
agreement between the Sublime Porte and Great Britain 
by which the latter would recognise the Sultan's suze¬ 
rainty over Egypt, and the Sultan, on his part, would 
withdraw his demand for the British evacuation. But 
as the German Government failed in this object, and 
Caprivi, following Bismarck's example, took several 
occasions to exploit rather inconsiderately England's 
difficulties in Egypt to extort concessions, it may justly 
be supposed that an Anglo-German friendship was not 
thereby promoted. Münster, the German Ambassador to 
Paris, though he trusted in the Egyptian situation pre¬ 
venting any co-operation between France and England, 
nevertheless proved very far-seeing when he hinted to 
his Government that the barrier formed by Egypt between 
Paris and London might after all collapse at a moment 
of some great crisis. 

Anglo-German relations were at this time consider¬ 
ably affected also by the North African territory to the 
west of Egypt. These relations were especially important 
on account of the conviction prevailing in Rome, London, 
and Berlin that France was out to acquire Morocco and 
Tripoli, as well as to strengthen her position in Tunis, 
both by proclaiming her annexation of the territory and 
by constructing a naval harbour at Bizerta. 

Such monopolisation of Northern Africa by France 
was viewed by England with suspicion and by Italy 
with grave anxiety. Would not this state of affairs 
then unite Italy and England for common action in the 
protection of mutual interests, thereby creating a link 
between the Triple Alliance and Great Britain which 
would in some measure bind Germany too and thus 
stabilise friendly relations between the two last-named 


198 The Chancellorship oj Caprivi 

countries ? It had a bad influence in Italy that the 
African provinces of the ancient Roman Empire were 
mostly in the hands of France, though she (Italy), the 
natural heir and successor to the great world-empire, 
had claimed them, and as she had inherited the great 
commercial and military interests which had actuated 
the Scipios and Caesars and compelled them to expand 
into Africa. 

Italy had joined the two Emperors and dissembled 
her antipathy to Austria in order that she might prevent 
the possessor of Carthage laying her hands on the other 
old Roman provinces as well and secure for herself a 
considerable portion of Northern Africa in the event of 
a collapse of the status quo in that region. Crispi was a 
vigorous exponent of this policy. Just as Bismarck had 
been haunted by the bugbear of coalitions, so Crispi 
passed many sleepless nights in his anxiety lest another 
Power, France—already too powerful, in his view— 
should seize the most natural and legitimate sphere of 
influence of his own country. Germany had to reckon 
with this instinct and anxiety of Italy. Bismarck had 
observed that being on good terms with Italy implied 
making concessions in her favour in either Africa or 
Albania, or in the direction of Trieste. With a vision no 
less acute Bülow (who had exchanged Bucarest for the 
Quirinal) remarked that “ if Italy were allowed no oppor¬ 
tunities for expansion in Africa she would be forced to 
‘ exploit her irredentism ' at the expense of the tran¬ 
quillity of Europe.” 

The probable alteration of the status quo in Africa 
brought Germany into somewhat of a dilemma. By 
ignoring Italy’s aspirations and her resolute will, Germany 
risked the loss of Italian friendship. If, on the other 
hand, Germany identified herself with the Italian ambi- 



Relations with England 199 

tions, she might get entangled in a way by no means 
approved by the German people, and thus fail to arouse 
that enthusiasm which, as the Chancellor had said, was 
the primary condition of success. To such a deplorable 
event Caprivi would have preferred even the dissolution 
of the Triple Alliance. A war on account of North 
Africa—especially without the aid of England—was not 
to be thought of. As Bismarck had once declared, 
amidst the applause of the nation, that “ all Bulgaria 
was not worth the life of a single Prussian soldier,” why 
should not the nation now say the same of an African 
oasis the name of which was unknown to many an 
educated German ? And would not such a policy on 
the part of Germany but tend to stir up the fire of 
French revanche ? Would not the combustible material 
be increased by the very fact that Germany had become 
the antagonist of France not only in Europe but in 
Africa also ? 

Caprivi would have liked to escape from the difficulty 
of choosing by bringing England forward and enlisting 
her in the cause of Italy in Africa. For England, like 
Germany, would prefer the growth of Italian power in 
the Mediterranean to that of her Gallic neighbour, 
already powerful enough, who even then looked askance 
at British rule in Egypt, who had become allied with 
Russia, another great rival of England, who menaced 
her Indian empire. If Caprivi could succeed in per¬ 
suading England to support the Italians against the 
French, then France and England would be once more 
at loggerheads ; England would be obliged to incline 
towards Germany, while Italy could adhere calmly to her 
former political orientation. 

This was the Chancellor's motive when informed by 
Crispi (August 1890) that France intended to annex 




200 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Tuat, an oasis on the Moroccan border, and to make a 
naval station of Bizerta. Then Caprivi manoeuvred to 
keep the Italian statesman inactive and make England 
nervous. He said that he thought the naval harbour at 
Bizerta would mean a greater danger to the power of 
England in the Mediterranean than to that of Italy. 
He emphasised the importance of England extending to 
the Mediterranean the treaty concluded in 1887 with 
Italy and Austria-Hungary relating to the ^Egean and 
the Black Seas. He did his utmost to persuade the 
British Premier to promise Crispi that he would at least 
institute enquiries with reference to Bizerta, and if 
convinced that it was going to be transformed into a 
naval base, then he would seriously consider what steps 
he could take in the matter. 

Caprivi sought also to egg on England when it appeared 
(January 1891) that France was contemplating “ frontier 
rectification ” at the expense of Tripoli. He then sug¬ 
gested to Salisbury that he should protest to the Sultan 
against any such proceedings. 

The same desire actuated the Germans in the Morocco 
affair too. As soon as Germany got the impression that 
England coveted Morocco, and when Salisbury informed 
the German Ambassador that England had an appetite 
for that territory, Caprivi thought it a lucky chance. 
He much desired England to pursue a more vigorous 
policy in Northern Africa, and feared only lest his 
keenness in this respect should be perceived in London. 

But while he fanned the flame of British cupidity, 
he to the same degree restrained Italy, lest Rome, with¬ 
out England, should fall out with the French. In the 
Morocco dispute he advised Rome and Madrid (October 
1891) not to provoke the French without first assuring 
themselves of the certainty of British support. 


201 


Relations with England 

He planned to drive England into a corner by advising 
the Spanish Government (November 1891) to ascertain 
direct from London what steps the British Government 
were disposed to take over Tuat, which was menaced 
by the French, but not to take any risks without a 
definite reassuring declaration from Albion. England 
must know, he said, that no nation would jeopardise 
herself for the sake of British interests, though if England 
would shoulder a part of the burden, supporters would be 
forthcoming. 

England, however, saw through the trick and declined 
to be drawn. She replied that she objected to the over- 
vigorous expansion of France between Egypt and 
Gibraltar ; her sympathies lay rather with Italy than 
with France ; in the contingency of a world war she 
saw her place beside the Triple Alliance, and conse¬ 
quently she made a point of Italy continuing her orienta¬ 
tion ; she was aware that a preliminary to this was that 
Italy should not have to suffer insults from France such 
as those she had endured when in a position of isolation ; 
nevertheless, England was unwilling to expose herself 
for the sake of those interests. Both Salisbury and 
Rosebery in turn stated quite frankly in Berlin that 
British public opinion would not tolerate such a war, 
and consequently they were unable to bind themselves 
to such a policy. They were willing to go the way desired 
by the Germans, but must stop short of pledging them¬ 
selves to positive military assistance. They were like¬ 
wise willing to support Italy, but not to the extent of 
entering into definite obligations. When therefore the 
Italians feared that the French were about to invade 
Tripoli and conceived the idea of stealing a march on 
them, Salisbury, in spite of his declaration that it would 
be against British interests to allow Tripoli to share the 


202 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

fate of Tunis and that it must be prevented, took no 
steps to that end ; he even cautioned Italy to refrain 
from everything calculated to worry the Sultan, the 
lawful sovereign of Tripoli. 

A similar aim was followed by Ferguson, Under¬ 
secretary for Foreign Affairs, in his answers to two 
interpellations. To one (August 1891) he said that the 
Italian statesmen were aware that the British Govern¬ 
ment agreed with them in regard to the need of main¬ 
taining the status quo in the Mediterranean, and that 
the sympathies of England would be with those who 
defended the situation so important for her; but he gave 
no promise of assistance. 

In the other case (July 1891) Ferguson stated that 
the good relations between England and France remained 
unimpaired, but England would sympathise with those 
who desired peace and respected international treaties 
(i.e. the Italians), though he was careful to promise no 
more than sympathy. 

Again, the same aim was followed by Rosebery when 
he stated that if France were to attack Italy, it was his 
personal view that England would support the latter— 
prompted by her interests both in the Mediterranean and 
in India, as well as by the sympathy she felt for the 
cause of Italian freedom ; but at the same time he would 
not bind himself to this. He was, he said, only expressing 
his private opinion that, if and when danger arose, the 
defensive alliance so desired by the Italians would be 
brought about. 

These cautious statements nevertheless accomplished 
their object in reassuring the Italians, who for that time 
sought no new means, but contented themselves with 
their reliance on England and the Triple Alliance. 

The fate of Caprivi’s policy towards England was 


Relations with England 203 

finally settled in the negotiations which took place 
on the Eastern Question in the strict sense of the 
term, on the one hand between the German Chan¬ 
cellor, England, and Turkey, and on the other between 
England, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, on 
the question of the agreement which Bismarck had 
concluded with them in 1887. 

The first negotiations were opened by Salisbury, 
taking the standpoint of the status quo on condition 
that the assistance of Turkey should be secured for the 
contingency of having to defend the status quo by 
force of arms. He remarked to Hatzfeld that, in order 
to prevent Russia from producing a fait accompli , he 
always managed to keep the British fleet so near to the 
Dardanelles that it could always get there before Russia, 
and that all he feared was lest the Sultan should allow 
the Russian fleet to enter the Straits ere the British 
fleet could appear on the scene. 

For the Cyprus Treaty bound England unilaterally 
to defend the integrity of Turkey, leaving the Sultan 
free as regards England. It would therefore have 
been important for the latter to remedy this serious 
defect in her armour, to off-set England’s obligation to 
Turkey by obtaining Turkey’s pledge to guard the 
Straits and to solicit England’s aid to that end. 

If Caprivi could prevail upon the Sultan to give such 
a pledge, he might thereby succeed in binding England 
to the policy which had brought Disraeli alongside 
Andrässy and Bismarck, Salisbury alongside Kälnoky 
and Crispi, and at the same time prepare the way for the 
extension and confirmation of the Mediterranean Treaty 
concluded by the three statesmen last named without 
Germany herself having to undertake any further 
obligation in the East. Consequently when Caprivi 


204 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

intervened between the Porte and England on the 
question of Egypt, he mentioned the matter of the 
Straits too. The undertaking of permanent obligations, 
however, did not fit in with the system of the hyper- 
cautious and wily Abdul Hamid; his fundamental 
conception of governing was by playing off the different 
European Powers one against another. His desire was 
always to be in a position to join whichever party 
proved the stronger. Had Germany attached herself 
to the political car of England, she (Germany) would 
probably have drawn the Sultan with her ; but since 
Caprivi had failed in that, Abdul Hamid was chary of 
exposing himself, without German backing, to the 
risk of war with Russia. 

Thus the German intervention was fruitless as 
regarded the Straits and did not tend to improve the 
relations between London and Berlin. The result was 
no better in the matter of the English-Italian-Austro- 
Hungarian Agreement of 1887. 

In this matter Caprivi found a staunch supporter 
in Kälnoky. The rapprochement between France and 
England caused anxiety at the Ballplatz lest Russia, 
emboldened thereby, should thenceforth pursue her 
aims more vigorously ; lest some fine day she should 
present Europe with the fait accompli of the Straits. 
Austria-Hungary and Italy did not feel themselves 
strong enough to cope with a united Russian and 
French pressure and to maintain the status quo of the 
tottering Ottoman Empire if they were deprived of the 
aid of England. The former situation afforded no 
sufficient guarantee ; as England's obligation to stand 
by them, in accordance with the agreement concluded 
in Bismarck's time, was too elastic and indefinite for 
Vienna and Rome. 


Relations with England 205 

Kälnoky proposed to compensate for this by the 
conclusion of a more satisfactory agreement with Eng¬ 
land. Should this prove impracticable, and he could not 
say beforehand whether England might be relied upon 
at the moment of crisis, he thought it better to come 
to a timely agreement with the Muscovites ; for that, 
according to his view, had become feasible since Russia 
did not attribute such a decisive importance as previously 
to the Bulgarian Question, in which the Dual Monarchy 
was more closely interested, and since the Russian 
aspirations in the Balkans were confined to the Straits, 
which interested England rather than Austria-Hungary. 

Hatzfeld, German Ambassador to London—a clear¬ 
headed statesman whom Bismarck had styled " the 
best horse in the diplomatic stable of Germany ”—felt 
the reasonableness of Kalnoky’s ambitions and desired 
to promote them to the best of his ability. He argued 
that it would be detrimental if Austria-Hungary had 
to come to terms with St. Petersburg ; for the con¬ 
sequence of that would be that Russia would rule 
in Constantinople, Austria-Hungary would forfeit her 
position as a Power in the East and fall to a secondary 
place in the world-order, while even England would 
have ultimately to abandon her present Oriental policy 
(December 1893). To avert this danger the German 
Ambassador explained to Rosebery that if Great 
Britain did not wish to see Italy and Austria-Hungary 
forced into the Muscovite camp she would have to 
declare her mind more plainly than she had done 
hitherto. Hatzfeld thought London saw the matter 
in this light and was disposed for a more energetic 
policy in the East. Nevertheless all efforts would be 
futile—reported the Ambassador—if England got the 
impression that she could not rely on the assistance 




2o6 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

of Germany, even though she on her part fulfilled all 
the desires of the German Government. 

Unfortunately, however, Caprivi did not see the 
situation so clearly as did Hatzfeld, and accordingly 
acted in such a manner that, as the Ambassador justly 
points out, he rendered success impossible. 

Rosebery (February 1894) informed Kälnoky that 
England could hold her own against Russia at sea, and 
therefore all she asked of the Triple Alliance was to 
keep France from meddling if she (England) got in¬ 
volved in war with the Czar on account of the Straits. 
It is to be regretted that Caprivi considered this proposal 
excessive. He hesitated to give the desired promise, 
suspecting that Rosebery and Kälnoky were in league 
to impose upon him, and that their scheme was to get the 
German Empire to endorse their political bills. He 
objected that, should he promise, England would be 
under no obligation to resist Russia and could make 
terms with her; she might frustrate the design of 
Russia or not, as she chose, while Germany would be 
bound at any time to protect England against France. 
Moreover, Germany would incur the risk of a war on 
two fronts without affecting the casus belli, as that 
would depend entirely on England's will. Caprivi held 
tenaciously to his fundamental idea—he desired to avoid 
discouraging Austria-Hungary and Italy, but to keep 
his own hands free to intervene for peace as soon as 
the British ships had fired their first shots (March 1894). 
Much less did he desire to bind himself with regard to 
England, as the English parliamentary Government 
was unable to speak in the name of the country : it 
could only speak for itself as a Government, while the 
voice of the German imperial Government was the 
voice of all Germany. 


Relations with England 207 

In these circumstances Kälnoky had to withdraw. 
Without Germany he could not win England. Nothing 
short of the pressure of the whole Triple Alliance would 
be powerful enough to force the French sword back 
into the scabbard, or to break it. Without the entire 
Triple Alliance, England regarded it as too risky to under¬ 
take a war against France and Russia, with the possi¬ 
bility even of Turkey joining the coalition against her. 

Thus Kälnoky was reluctantly compelled to close 
his negotiations started with such high promise, by 
simply stating that since it was, after all, scarcely 
probable that Russia would attempt a forcible solution 
of the Straits question, it would be sufficient if they 
could agree with regard to the steps to be taken in the 
event of peaceful action on the part of Russia. 

These proceedings made the impression in England 
that she could not depend upon Germany and that 
therefore it would be unsafe for England to bind herself 
for the maintenance of the status quo in the East. The 
attempt to enlist England more closely in the anti- 
Russian policy ended in failure and a set-back. 

Caprivi's policy was decidedly wrong. Kälnoky 
was right in insisting that England should be taken on 
her own terms, and if we could not conclude with her 
a formal agreement valid for a long period, we must 
do without it. The fact that the Liberal Government, 
including Gladstone himself, agreed with us, and further 
that England and ourselves had followed parallel policies 
for a number of years past, should have created a favour¬ 
able atmosphere for us with the British public opinion, 
which is the sole arbiter of England's policy. 

The fatal error of the German Government con¬ 
sisted in reasoning that, since it was impossible to con¬ 
clude with England a legally binding long-term secret 


2o8 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

treaty, it was better to conclude no agreement at all. 
Such a view was wrong ; for it would have been easy 
to give the treaty a form which would not have legally 
bound Germany either, signifying merely a temporary 
moral obligation for both parties. There are many 
examples of similar covenants. The very treaty whose 
extension was now contemplated, concluded in 1887-8 
at Bismarck's suggestion by Salisbury, Kälnoky, and 
Crispi, was such an one in its original form. Though 
such a treaty was not permanently binding on the 
States signatory thereto, yet the policy of all the parties 
had since then been directed by this document. Even 
after the fall of Salisbury his successor, Rosebery, 
desired to proceed in accordance with it, stating that 
he considered himself bound by it until it should 
be rescinded. 

The Russians and French were less difficult and 
pedantic than Caprivi. The former, as above men¬ 
tioned, had absolutely bound themselves to France, 
though the signature of the French Government imposed 
on them no obligation to declare war. Nevertheless 
this one-sided pact proved strong enough to stand the 
test even of the Great War. The sleep of the Russian 
diplomats was not disturbed by the theoretical possi¬ 
bility that the French Chamber might at the last moment 
not vote for the declaration of war. The Anglo-French 
and the Anglo-Russian Ententes had no written bases 
whatever, and there were no clauses binding the parties 
to support each other ; yet those Ententes played an 
important role in deciding world-history, uniting in 
one camp all the parties signatory thereto. These 
agreements, corresponding to the sentiments and 
interests of the nations concerned, caused them to 
recognise their common fate, brought their peoples 


Relations with England 209 

closer to each other, made their Governments accus¬ 
tomed to following a common policy; so that the 
formally defective and legally objectionable treaties 
succeeded better in uniting the nations than did not a 
few perfectly valid and secret treaties, like, for instance, 
that between Rumania and Austria-Hungary, which, 
in spite of its secrecy and undoubted validity, proved 
to be of no effect whatever. 

Caprivi was led astray by the teaching of Bismarck, 
who had often asserted that the pledge of a parliamentary 
Government was not of equal value with the pledge of 
the Emperor, and that consequently it would not be use¬ 
ful to conclude an alliance with a country like England. 
If, however, Caprivi had witnessed the deeds of Bismarck 
and could have risen to their height, the effect of the 
Iron Chancellor's example would have been quite 
different. 

In 1887 and 1888 Bismarck was in a situation similar 
to that of Caprivi at this time. Before concluding with 
Austria-Hungary and Italy the treaty suggested by 
Bismarck, Salisbury had enquired of the latter the same 
thing as his successor now enquired of Caprivi, i.e. 
whether he could rely on German support if he should 
get involved in war over the treaty. And Bismarck 
succeeded in reassuring him. He proved with the 
clearest and soundest logic that Germany's interests were 
bound up with the maintenance of the position of 
England and of Austria-Hungary as Great Powers, and 
that no German Government could afford to neglect the 
defence of those interests. That was sufficient for 
Salisbury. He saw in Bismarck's letter and declarations 
such a moral obligation and guarantee that he forthwith 
concluded the agreement with Bismarck's allies. Hatz¬ 
feld, who had already been the Ambassador under 

14 


2 io The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Bismarck’s regime, reminded Caprivi of this precedent 
and of the fact that he then, at the request of the Chan¬ 
cellor, declared in London that should England on account 
of the alliance become entangled in war she could safely 
depend on the support of Germany. 

But Caprivi lacked the courage to go even such a 
short distance as this. He coldly emphasised the 
statement that he could take no responsibilities towards 
England and was unable to sign any treaty binding him 
to render her assistance. It was not surprising, therefore, 
that he failed where Bismarck had succeeded, though the 
Iron Chancellor’s situation was exceedingly more un¬ 
favourable than Caprivi’s. Bismarck was obliged, by 
virtue of the secret treaty with Russia, to support the 
latter in the matter of the Straits, while Caprivi was 
perfectly free. He was not expected to do even as much 
as Bismarck had thought when asked the thing people 
were now trying to induce his successor to do. When 
persuading Salisbury to conclude the Oriental agreement, 
Bismarck entertained the idea of turning immediately 
against France and, after defeating her, of intervening 
in the Oriental war ; whereas now all that Rosebery 
asked of Caprivi was to keep France quiet. 

Caprivi could have all the easier satisfied the desire 
of the British Premier as he would in any case have 
acted in accordance with its spirit. Whenever the time 
of peril arose, he would have as little thought of leaving 
in the lurch the Powers that Germany inclined towards 
and whose assistance she needed, as did the Iron Chan¬ 
cellor. Many declarations of the period go to prove 
this (March 1894). 

At the very time when declaring his attitude on the 
Eastern Question, the Chancellor stated that he would 
always support Austria-Hungary, as it was a necessity 


Relations with England 211 

for Germany that the Dual Monarchy should continue 
to be a Power. 

The Emperor, however, expressed himself with even 
greater clearness. At Abbazia, in March, Kaiser William 
assured Francis Joseph that if, as was to be expected, 
England should fire the first shot in the Mediterranean 
and a single member of the Triple Alliance should partici¬ 
pate in the war, the whole of the Alliance would do its 
duty. This statement was probably mere verbiage on 
the part of the young Emperor and prompted by friend¬ 
ship and admiration for his senior imperial colleague, but 
on that account it may be taken as a sincere expression 
of the German policy. 

But however we may judge the attitude of the 
German Government, the fact remains that owing 
thereto no further or more intimate relations were 
established between Great Britain and the Triple Alliance. 
And even the experiments and futile interventions with 
the object of making intimate co-operation in the Eastern 
Question possible between Germany (or at least the 
other members of the Triple Alliance) and England made 
a decidedly adverse impression in London. The old 
Russophobe spirit notwithstanding, the idea became ever 
stronger and stronger that it would be well to open the 
doors towards Russia and render it possible for England 
to come to terms with the Czar also on the question of 
Turkey. 


CHAPTER IV 


ENGLAND AND THE CONGO DISPUTE 

I N the closing years of Caprivi's chancellorship there 
was unfortunately a danger of England and Germany 
becoming enemies. In my opinion, this danger was 
the natural result of the British policy. While the forging 
of firmer links had become impossible chiefly through the 
defects of the German policy, the collision in question 
was, in the first place, the direct consequence of the 
imperialistic tendencies of the English. One of the 
most striking traits in the English character is the 
unshakable conviction that the sea is their special and 
peculiar possession—that Britannia alone has the right 
to rule the waves—and further that to England has been 
awarded “ the white man's burden " of maintaining and 
spreading European civilisation to the remotest corners 
of the globe : a mental attitude which Rosebery vividly 
and with classical exactness set forth when he said in 
the course of a public speech : “ They should acquire 
not only the colonies they needed just then, but also 
such as they might need in the future," and that “ it was 
their duty to press the British stamp upon the world 
before some other nation anticipated them." 

This conviction, amounting to an obsession, has done 
far more to develop the world-empire of the British race 
than the acts of all their Governments. The British 
Empire did not arise from the conception of any individual 
sovereign, dynasty, or statesman : like Prussia, who 
owed her origin to the Hohenzollems and Bismarck ; like 
Russia, whose rise can be traced back to Peter the Great, 


212 


England and the Congo Dispute 213 

Catherine II, and Nicholas I; like France, built up by 
the constant struggle of her kings against their vassals 
and provinces ; or like the Austrian Empire, created by 
the Habsburgs. The British Empire, on the contrary, 
owes practically everything to the all-pervading initiative 
and imperialistic talents of the British race. Their 
strong instinct of domination is demonstrated most 
vividly in their colonies, those busy hives of imperial 
development. Most colonies desire to conquer and to 
expand in their own interests. They all take jealous 
care that no foreign Power shall be allowed to thrive in 
their neighbourhood; that they and no one else shall 
secure all the ports, economic markets, important 
strategic points, etc., which serve to promote—or in the 
hands of foreigners to prevent—their development. 
This trait in the British character has often proved 
highly advantageous and always promoted the cause of 
the Empire. But it is nevertheless a two-edged sword. 
It has sometimes brought the Empire to a serious pass: 
into conflict with nations with which she would prefer 
for general considerations to go hand in hand. It has 
rendered it difficult for her to make and keep friends, 
as the British instinct of domination might at some 
unlooked-for moment bring them into opposition with 
some Power or other. Individual initiative might 
imperil peace at a most critical time and place the 
Government in embarrassment: compelled either to 
make a stand against the public opinion of the colonies 
(sometimes even against that of the Mother-country), or 
else quarrel most inopportunely with a Power with 
whom she had intended to follow a common policy. 

In the period now under review (the eighties and 
nineties) Britain's colonial interests and aspirations more 
than once ran counter to the paths of France, Italy, 



214 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Portugal, Germany, and America. In Caprivi's time 
occurred the first serious colonial dispute between 
England and France. 

Just when the German Emperor was enjoying a good 
time in England (August 1895), Rosebery, with dramatic 
solemnity, sought immediate contact with the Germans. 
He impressed upon them that he was faced with a problem 
of tremendous gravity, in that the French demanded the 
immediate withdrawal of the British ships from the 
Siamese ports—a demand with which he simply could 
not comply. 

In this situation a war between England and France 
loomed so palpably that Hatzfeld enquired of Berlin 
whether such a contest would be in the interests of 
Germany, since she would scarcely be able to keep out 
of it. Caprivi did not regard the contingency as un¬ 
favourable from the standpoint of his domestic policy, 
and thought that from the military point of view it would 
not matter much whether the struggle took place then 
or later on. In his opinion, it would be certainly the 
best for Germany that hostilities should be opened by 
shots from an English warship. By no means should 
England's suggestion be entertained, that Italy should 
intervene and get pushed into the foreground. No 
intervention should take place until after the anticipated 
Anglo-French war had actually broken out. 

The other ministers likewise came to the conclusion 
that it would be inexpedient to assist Great Britain 
diplomatically, as in that case France would withdraw 
and vent her wrath on the Triple Alliance instead 
of on England. They could come forward only when 
England had fired the first shots, or concluded a binding 
treaty with the Triple Alliance regarding the war. 

These highly important negotiations, however, soon 


England and the Congo Dispute 215 

appeared to be futile. Rosebery neither ordered the 
firing of the first shots nor showed a disposition to come 
to an agreement with the Triple Alliance, but came to 
an agreement with France instead. In a few hours the 
French ultimatum was pronounced a “ mistake ” and 
the more important differences were amicably settled. 
Somewhat later Rosebery attributed this compromise to 
the fact that the Siamese Question was " not yet ” ripe 
enough for a settlement with France owing to the state 
of British public opinion. In Berlin and Rome, however, 
Rosebery’s proceedings had created a very bad im¬ 
pression : both considered it a rather undignified backing 
out. They were particularly disappointed at England’s 
neglect, after so imminent a peril, even to endeavour to 
make clear her attitude towards the Triple Alliance and 
thus ensure to herself its assistance for a future similar 
contingency. Berlin conceived the impression that, as 
Marschall said, “ London wanted Berlin merely as a 
lightning-conductor—not as an ally.” 

I must confess that I consider this suspicion and 
anger to have been without justification. Rosebery 
had not taken a single step which could justly lay him 
open to the charge of duplicity. Fearing the outbreak 
of war, he made overtures to Berlin, certainly with 
the object of enlisting her aid. But as soon as the 
immediate danger was past, desiring to avoid war, 
he returned to the policy of not continuing permanent 
treaties, and only desired to keep on sufficiently good 
terms with Germany so that an alliance might result 
therefrom if necessary. Germany had no right to reproach 
Rosebery for his unwillingness to declare war on account 
of the Siamese question ; the differences in that affair 
were really not worth the shedding of blood. The 
safety of India was in nowise menaced by the agreement 



2 i6 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

concluded. The English Foreign Minister first thought 
of war only because his country would have been 
humbled and her prestige in Asia lowered by surrender¬ 
ing to the French ultimatum. On the other hand, it 
is intelligible and to be approved that he seized with 
pleasure the timely offer of a peaceful solution, that 
he declined to risk the position of Britain as a Great 
Power for comparatively minor considerations and to 
undertake the awful responsibility involved in a resort 
to arms. 

Britain's jealousy at the colonial expansion of other 
nations endangered her good relations also with Italy. 
When the latter gained a footing in Abyssinia, the 
Italians found that the English regarded them as inter¬ 
lopers, and were afraid they might cast their eyes on 
the Sudan too, which was claimed by Egypt and which 
Britain was absolutely indisposed to cede to any other 
State. This jealousy, however, led to no grave complica¬ 
tion, and the community of interests between the two 
rivals bridged over the gulf caused by the differences, 
so that eventually (5th May 1894) an agreement was 
concluded rendering it possible for England and Italy 
to co-operate. 

Only a few days after this settlement Britain found 
herself in opposition simultaneously to both Germany 
and France, the first named having concluded with the 
Congo Free State (12th May 1894) a treaty which was 
considered by both the other Powers mentioned to be 
prejudicial to their interests. Hatzfeld soon got an 
estimate of the significance of the affair and with unerr¬ 
ing judgment established that Germany could act 
firmly and boldly without serious risk. He based this 
confident conviction on the fact that Germany was 
then in a position to place a variety of obstacles in 


England and the Congo Dispute 217 

Britain's way in Egypt by raising adroit objections to 
the latter’s propositions before the international forums ; 
besides which France also was dissatisfied with the 
Congo Treaty and would be sure to try to upset it. 

Emperor William concurred with his Ambassador. 
The latter spoke after William’s own heart; and on 
the margin of the report appeared the imperial auto¬ 
graph : “ Vorzüglich ! ” (Excellent!) The numerous 

petty pin-pricks with which England had annoyed 
Germany in several colonial questions and the final 
break-down of the negotiations with regard to the 
more important political questions seem to have affected 
the Emperor’s nerves, and he entered the arena of the 
dispute with all the ardour and excessive zeal so char¬ 
acteristic of him. 

The injury that Germany had sustained in this 
matter was particularly serious and profound. England’s 
proceedings could not fail to produce the impression 
of her ignoring the German interests and desires. 
Such an impression was inevitable from the leasing by 
England of the Congo region surrounding German 
East Africa and cutting it off from the Congo Free State, 
and at the same time bringing British East Africa and 
British South Africa into immediate touch with each 
other ; this in spite of the fact that Great Britain had 
once before abandoned this deal in deference to the 
protests of Germany. Thus Berlin could only con¬ 
clude that England intended deliberately to cross the 
will of Germany. 

The friction between the two Powers became acute. 
Both threatened to change the direction of their world- 
policy. Berlin and Paris aligned themselves against 
England. Kälnoky and Crispi took alarm and hastened 
to offer mediation. At length (18th June) the British 


2 i8 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

Government yielded to the combined pressure of France 
and Germany and agreed to the desired concessions, 
modifying the treaty in such a manner that German 
interests should remain intact. 

This incident, however, had a deleterious aftermath. 
Mutual confidence became ever more shaken in both 
Germany and England. Each Government felt a sense 
of having been injured by the other. Rosebery denied 
that he had been actuated by ill-will; he stated that 
certain subordinate officials had blundered through an 
insufficient acquaintance with the antecedents of the 
question. Though freely confessing that “ a stupid ” 
error had been committed, he was wantonly angry with 
Germany for the failure. He was particularly aggrieved 
and unfavourably impressed by the Emperor's exhibi¬ 
tion of himself with unwonted heat and impetuosity. 
On two occasions (ist and 14th May) William 
administered personal castigation to Sir Edward Malet, 
British Ambassador to Berlin. He alluded to the 
disloyalty of England; declared that Rosebery had 
not deceived him, as he had always been aware that 
he was no friend of Germany. His Imperial Majesty 
called attention to the irreparable consequences of the 
collision—and this in a somewhat threatening manner. 
William remarked afterwards that Sir Edward bit his 
lip and blushed scarlet; he appeared taken by sur¬ 
prise and made no answer to the imperial ebullition. 
That was quite comprehensible. Such a personal 
interference with diplomatic affairs on the part of a 
sovereign ruler was quite unprecedented. In London 
the Kaiser was labelled an Anglophobe. His bitter 
outburst had a momentary success, but it affected the 
future in a sinister way. 

The Congo affair was the last of Caprivi's official 


England and the Congo Dispute 219 

tasks. A few weeks later (29th October 1894) the 
Emperor dismissed him. The chief cause of his fall 
was his domestic policy. The Chancellor was an 
honest soldier, a man of sound common sense, but 
withal was not a genius, and unequal to supporting 
the heavy burden of the legacy bequeathed to him by 
the great Bismarck. After the departure of the diplo¬ 
matic giant, he appeared a veritable pigmy. 

Caprivi was succeeded by old Prince Hohenlohe, 
Bismarck's former henchman, who as Premier of 
Bavaria had played a prominent role in the foundation 
of the German Empire after the events of 1870-1. The 
Kaiser turned to him especially in the hope that he would 
restore cordial relations with Bismarck. The rage of 
the old lion had become intolerable. An imperial 
Government to which Bismarck was opposed had 
ipso facto no authority and was powerless to achieve 
anything useful. The consequences of the crushing 
blow Caprivi had inflicted on the Man of Iron by con¬ 
triving that, on the occasion of Count Herbert's 
marriage in Vienna, Kaiser Francis Joseph should refuse 
to receive the famous statesman—who had concluded the 
Alliance between Austria-Hungary and Germany—were 
wellnigh irreparable. Therefore Kaiser William ex¬ 
pected first of all that Hohenlohe would put an end, 
as speedily as might be, to that dangerous antagonism 
so ruinous to the prosperity of the Fatherland. 



CHAPTER V 


SUMMARY 


HE final account of Capri vi's activities in the 



sphere of foreign politics was by no means 


pleasing. The successor was unable to main¬ 
tain fully the prestige handed down from his prede¬ 
cessor. Though our group was still the stronger, our 
influence and prestige had begun to wane. 

Formerly France was less isolated than in Bis¬ 
marck's time. Once more an alliance had been con¬ 
cluded between France and Russia, who in 1807 at 
Tilsit had wanted to divide the world between them¬ 
selves, and in 1830 had proposed to give the Bourbons 
the Rhine for a frontier and make the Muscovite lord 
of Turkey. Would not this third alliance foster 
dangerous ambitions both in the east and in the west 
of Europe ? 

In these circumstances it was impossible to regard 
as important the fact that the relations between the 
Russian and German Governments were at this time 
more confidential than they had been in the last years 
of Bismarck's regime ; since this arose solely from the 
fact that just at this moment there existed no sharp 
antagonism between Austria-Hungary and Russia in 
the Balkans. But the future was darker and more 
uncertain than hitherto ; for the alliance with France 
placed Russia in the anti-German camp, rendering 
difficult any attempt at an intimate permanent agree¬ 
ment. Thenceforth German Governments would have 
to deal not only with St. Petersburg but also with 


220 


Summary 221 

Paris when desiring to come to terms with the former. 
Moreover, we lost ground in England just when British 
friendship was becoming more valuable for us owing 
to the Russo-French Alliance, and Caprivi was on less 
good terms with England than Bismarck had been. 
Our chief aims continued the same; English and 
Germans had to apprehend the same dangers—the 
Russians and the French—but mutual confidence had 
been undermined. Berlin and London began to 
threaten each other with new hostile orientations; and 
in such cases words are often followed by acts. While 
diplomatic negotiations were in progress (though under 
the cloak of the customary secrecy) sharp passages-at- 
arms occurred which left an indelible impression on 
the memories in exalted circles, making subsequent 
cordial relations difficult. Each party of course re¬ 
criminated the other. England had to pocket the rude¬ 
ness of Germany, but the unpleasantness left a lasting 
impression and prepared the way for the change of 
orientation. The Emperor became a victim of Anglo¬ 
phobia. 

Perhaps he, in his regrettable outspokenness, was 
animated by the conviction he has since expressed 
in his Memoirs , that “ the important thing when deal¬ 
ing with the English is to be quite frank.” " The English 
are not usually offended at rudeness, being themselves 
rude. They are indignant only when they discover 
that someone has tried to deceive them/' However, 
it is plain that the egotism and domineering spirit of 
Britain overseas were getting on William's nerves. 

This slight though perceptible change in the balance 
of power at the expense of the Triple Alliance brought 
forth its fruits everywhere. Spain, who had been bound 
to the Triple Alliance by a treaty arranged by Bismarck, 


222 The Chancellorship of Caprivi 

showed a disposition to gravitate towards France. 
England and Italy were powerless to counteract the 
French influence in Morocco, because Spain (without 
whom neither was willing to take any decisive step 
against France) seemed to desire to come to an agree¬ 
ment with her neighbour beyond the Pyrenees rather than 
with us. The Madrid representatives of the Triple 
Alliance complained that Spain was " sailing entirely in 
French waters/' The Germans were very dissatisfied 
with the economic policy of Spain. In the Balkans also 
the shifting of power was observable. The mercurial, 
would-be autocrat of Bulgaria grew tired of the dictatorial 
Stambuloff, the main prop of the Central Powers, and 
dismissed him, appointing in his stead a Government of 
Russophil propensities, anxious to propitiate the Czar. 
In Serbia—which, as we have seen, had become entirely 
a dependency of Austria-Hungary—there was likewise a 
change of direction. Sultan Abdul Hamid manoeuvred 
between the two groups of States even more cautiously 
than before. 

With what changes would the chancellorship of Hohen¬ 
lohe be fraught ? Would he be able to restore the 
position of power as of old ? 



BOOK II 

FROM BISMARCK TO BÜLOW 
II. HOHENLOHE (1894-1897) 

















CHAPTER I 

THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE OF ASIA 
HE third Chancellor of the German Empire 



accepted the logical consequences of Caprivi's 


A policy. As, in spite of the laudable intentions 
of his predecessor, it was impossible to cement more 
cordial relations with England, and since finally the 
relations between London and Berlin had become 
exceedingly strained, Hohenlohe decided to approach 
St. Petersburg. 

This step was hastened by Berlin's impression that 
Rosebery was preparing for a change of front and himself 
wanted to gain over Russia. Berlin drew this inference 
from the British Premier's speech (November 1894), in 
which he stated that he had come to an understanding 
with the Russians regarding Central Asia and had reason 
to hope that the agreement would not be limited to 
remote parts of the globe ; as well as from the satis¬ 
faction and approval with which the British public 
received this declaration. A similar effect was produced 
by Great Britain and Russia uniting to urge immediate 
reforms in Armenia on the occasion of the excesses and 
atrocities reported from that region. It is true that 
this co-operation (December 1894) was fully explained 
by England and Russia being the first to occupy them¬ 
selves with this question. Russia herself had an Arme¬ 
nian population adjoining the Armenian territory of 
Turkey ; while England, since the Cyprus Treaty of 
Beaconsfield, was protector of Asia Minor, and thus felt 


224 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

morally responsible for the state of affairs prevailing 
there. All the same, the united action of these two 
rivals seemed an event of the highest significance and 
the forerunner of an important change in the political 
outlook. 

The German Government, however, had no faith in 
the genuineness of the Anglo-Russian rapprochement. It 
did not believe that England could acquire the confidence 
of the Czar, being well aware how she had always en¬ 
deavoured to thwart the most modest colonial ambitions 
of Germany, and it scouted the idea that England would 
be so generous as to make such concessions to Russia as 
would induce her to become estranged from France ; or 
that England could satisfy France as well as Russia. It 
was apparent that there were many difficulties in the 
way of rapprochement between England and Russia. 

That it was nevertheless realised some years later 
was simply in consequence of the blunders of Germany. 
Nothing but Germany's founding of a great navy, her 
increasing colonial appetite, and Britain's intelligible 
though mistaken anxiety lest Germany should destroy 
her world-empire could have made bed-fellows of such 
inveterate rivals as Britain and Russia. 

Yet no matter how little value the German Govern¬ 
ment set upon the stability of the rapprochement between 
London and St. Petersburg, the increasing mistrust 
towards England, the failure of Caprivi's Anglophil 
policy, and the wounded susceptibilities of the Emperor, 
all induced the German Government to abandon the 
Anglophil for a Russophil policy. 

The Emperor William was so irritated by the 
English that on being informed from Constantinople 
(November 1894) that the mere appearance of a British 
officer in Armenia would suffice to cause the Armenians 


The Triple Alliance of Asia 225 

to revolt, his Majesty testily remarked that “ he wouldn’t 
mind that in the least, if only England burnt her fingers 
in the fire of the rebellion.” 

In such a state of things it was but natural that 
Hohenlohe should eagerly seize the opportunity afforded 
by the Far East to make advances to Russia without, 
as in the past, having to sacrifice the interests of Austria- 
Hungary or Italy for the sake of them. True that he 
had to run the risk of still further alienating England, 
but Berlin, in its then frame of mind, did not care much 
about that. 

To this an opportunity was presented by the Chino- 
Japanese War. In its initial stage (October 1894) Great 
Britain was inclined to mediate between the two foes, 
but Germany refused the request. Now that, after the 
final triumph of Japan, Russia resisted the demands of 
Tokio, Germany immediately identified herself with the 
Czar’s action. This aroused such indignation in England 
as might easily have been foreseen. The Kaiser (April 
1895) wrote on the Russian proposal a marginal note 
to the effect that it must be erst recht accepted if refused 
by England. 

The leitmotif of this highly important decision was 
as follows: It was desired to divert the attention of 
Russia to the Far East; to break up the Franco-Russian 
understanding before it could be consolidated by a suc¬ 
cessful joint enterprise ; and to compel the French to con¬ 
tinue a common action with the Germans. The Kaiser 
also counted on winning, in Russia, the support of the 
most powerful factor in Asia, and thus on being able to 
spread German influence in China. Russia would not be 
so jealous as England, who had always exploited Germany 
and left her in the lurch at a critical moment (April 
1895). His chief object, however, was to change the 

15 


226 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

political situation in Europe. He sought to put the 
Triple Alliance plus Russia in place of the Triple Entente 
plus England—as he said in a marginal note. 

His scheme was only partially successful. Japan 
could not oppose the combined might of Russia, France, 
and Germany, and consequently she yielded. England 
stood aside and, for a time at least, seemed isolated. 
Germany, Russia, and France (the last against her will, 
as it were) continued the common action in Asia, and the 
Czar's attention was for a considerable time attracted to 
the Far East. 

Nevertheless these pleasing results were discounted 
by serious drawbacks. A new controversy arose between 
England and Germany. The ill-humour for which the 
wretched Congo incident was responsible caused further 
bad blood and exercised a sinister influence upon the 
subsequent course of events. 

The Germans had miscalculated the rival forces in 
Asia. In the long run Japan remained the stronger. 
Emperor William predicted that England’s standing 
aloof would be resented by the Japanese—but it did not 
so turn out. She had put her money on the better 
horse. Her temporary isolation was rewarded by her 
subsequent alliance with Japan. The Germans had also 
committed the perfectly wanton blunder of having 
offended the Japanese during the war—and that the 
yellow men could not forgive or forget. The German 
Ambassador was the only one to use threatening terms 
in delivering the common demarche at Tokio. When 
later (April 1895) the Japanese Government reproached 
Germany for this, she shifted the entire blame of the affair 
on to the shoulders of the Ambassador. But this was 
palpably unjust, as the Ambassador only carried out the 
instructions of his Chief. 




The Triple Alliance of Asia 227 

Nor was the hope realised that Russia would prove 
more reliable and generous than England. Hardly had 
they achieved their common success, when Berlin was 
surprised to discover that France and Russia, in spite of 
the claims of comradeship, had excluded her from con¬ 
tributing to the loan granted to China, and that the loan 
had been all arranged by these two Powers behind 
Germany's back. France being indisposed to Germany's 
participation in the loan negotiations, Russia left her 
comrade in the lurch and slyly excluded her from the 
advantages of a splendid bargain. 

Henceforward the German policy was rather frigid 
towards the Muscovites. Berlin declined to support 
Russia in the fresh complication that arose. There was 
an acrimonious squabble between the German Ambas¬ 
sador and the Russian Foreign Minister. The Russians 
attributed the new difficulties to the lukewarm attitude 
of the Germans. Hatzfeld, Ambassador to London, 
accused the Czarist Government (18th July) of being 
willing to use Germany as a catspaw while they felt not 
the slightest gratitude if the Germans were unable to 
give way to them in everything. He had, by the way, 
previously said the same of the English. 

Of Lobanoff, the successor of Giers, Hatzfeld wrote 
that he was neither reliable nor sincere. William had 
but little confidence in his friend and cousin " Nicky." 
He suspected that France, in collusion with Russia, 
was arming against Germany. At that time the Czar 
held a restraining hand upon his Gallic ally—he did not 
consider her strong enough—but as soon as the situation 
became ripe, he would no doubt give the word. The 
Czar, said William, had no idea of the real state of things. 
If the letter he had written should impress the Czar, 
either Lobanoff or Witte would next day put an end to 


228 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

its influence. He was aware—he said—what to expect 
from Russia. 

It became evident that no relation resembling the 
Three Emperors' Alliance could be restored since the 
independent foreign policy of Russia had been super¬ 
seded by the Russo-French foreign policy. Berlin was 
attached to St. Petersburg by a long-standing friendship, 
but not to St. Petersburg and Paris ; and at this period 
the two capitals were inseparable, one body and one soul. 

When Lobanoff visited France, attended the mili¬ 
tary manoeuvres at Longchamps, and when in the 
Chamber it was resolved to transfer the Algiers army 
of occupation to Europe, the suspicions of leading circles 
in Berlin were naturally confirmed. William addressed 
a reproachful epistle to his imperial cousin. He reminded 
him in impassioned terms of the awful responsibility 
of starting a European conflagration. Berlin took it 
for granted that Lobanoff—who prosecuted an astute, 
independent, and ambitious policy, but who (as I see 
it) desired for the time being to expand in Asia and 
consequently preferred no European complications, but 
to be on good terms with Austria-Hungary—had far- 
reaching anti-German aims. Marschall, Under-Secre¬ 
tary of State, explained that Lobanoff sought to follow 
an anti-German policy on the one hand with France 
and on the other hand with Austria, i.e. the old Aus¬ 
tria desirous of supremacy over Germany—not with 
Hungary. By means of such an alliance he would 
restore the Rhine-Main frontier of 1866, so that little 
Prussia might be reduced to an obedient vassal of his 
protege (November 1895). 

When, in the affair of the Armenian massacres, 
William despatched a personal telegram to the Czar, 
the latter returned such an evasive answer that, as the 



The Triple Alliance of Asia 229 

Chancellor said, it showed little friendship or trust. 
The Czar had no desire to settle the Armenian Question 
in conjunction with Germany, as William wished, but 
with the whole Concert of Europe. 

To sum up, the campaign in Asia failed to bring 
about the consummation desired by Kaiser William, 
i.e. the Triple Alliance plus Russia; but rather 
strengthened the undesired Triple Alliance minus 
England and Russia, from which gradually developed 
the Triple Alliance versus England and Russia. 


CHAPTER II 


STRAINED RELATIONS BETWEEN ENGLAND AND 

GERMANY 

W HILE our relations with Russia did not 
materially improve and her friendship for 
us remained an unknown quantity, the 
antagonism between England and Germany unfor¬ 
tunately became very bitter. The political situation 
in England underwent a change. Rosebery had to 
resign (June 1895) and Salisbury came to power once 
more. The latter was a man open to conviction ; and 
it was an auspicious sign that the new British Premier 
sought to discuss his foreign policy first of all with 
his old friend Hatzfeld. Unfortunately, however, their 
first conversation was censured most severely in Berlin. 
It engendered all sorts of unworthy suspicions. 

Hatzfeld mentioned to Salisbury the desire of the 
Italians that England should alleviate the position of 
their compatriots in Abyssinia, where France and 
Russia were working against them simply because 
Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance and sym¬ 
pathised with England. Salisbury considered it im¬ 
portant to do something for Italy, but was unwilling 
that England should pay for it, and therefore suggested 
making Italy a present of Albania. 

This most unfortunate suggestion sent Berlin wild 
with rage. It could be explained only on the assump¬ 
tion that perfidious Albion sought to set Austria-Hun¬ 
gary and Italy at loggerheads, to slice up Turkey, and 
thus cause a general conflict. Holstein, the evil genius 

230 


Strained Relations with England 231 

of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was " profoundly 
convinced '' of Salisbury's Machiavellism. This re¬ 
markable German did incalculable harm to the cause 
of his Fatherland. A man without vanity, devoid of 
ambition, despising rank and decorations so coveted 
by almost all his colleagues, he led practically a recluse 
life, never donned evening dress, morosely declined to 
appear before his Emperor, and saw an enemy in every¬ 
body : he was a man who could and did influence all 
his official superiors, usually for the worse. He con¬ 
demned Salisbury equally with Lobanoff: neither of 
them (he said) considered anyone but himself; neither 
of them recognised that any States had rights except 
his own. Salisbury was diabolically scheming to set 
the continental Powers at each other's throats. Eng¬ 
land was at her old game again. The British Premier 
wanted to enjoy, as from a box at the theatre, the 
spectacle of mutual throat-cutting, and when it was 
all over to make a bargain with the survivor. Thus 
this champion misanthrope! (August 1895). 

All this was, of course, mere piffle ; Salisbury never 
dreamt of setting Austria-Hungary against Italy. Had 
he so intended, he would have whetted the Italian 
appetite for Albania and not have suggested in advance 
the idea to Hatzfeld. And why should he be regarded 
as perfidious, seeing that Bismarck had previously 
made Crispi a similar offer ? The Iron Chancellor was 
never suspected of inciting or desiring to play off 
his two friends against each other; he was, on the 
contrary, labouring to bring them closer together. 
Salisbury, too, proved by his conduct that he had no 
ulterior motive—no arriere pensee —as he immediately 
took Hatzfeld's hint and allowed the matter to drop. 

He invited the German Ambassador to draft a plan 



232 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

suitable, in the event of the imminent collapse of the 
Ottoman Empire, to satisfy all the Powers concerned 
therein. 

Holstein read the history of England through spec¬ 
tacles coloured by hate. It is true (he said) that 
England did not participate in all the local disturbances 
in Europe of which she had been directly or indirectly 
the cause (e.g. the Italo-Austrian War, 1859 ; the 
Danish War, 1864; the Russo-Turkish War, 1876) ; 
but she had never remained neutral in a world war ; 
from the time of Louis XIV to Napoleon I she had 
entered them all with her entire strength. Thus their 
own experiences were by no means likely to encourage 
the English to set the four corners of Europe ablaze 
merely in order that they might warm their hands 
comfortably without the risk of getting burnt. 

Salisbury well knew that in a great war he could 
no more avoid having to make momentous decisions and 
wage struggles of doubtful issue than could Chatham 
and Pitt; that it is comparatively easy to cause a 
war, but often difficult to keep out of it, however much 
one may desire to do so. 

Hatzfeld also announced that Salisbury was aware 
that the defeat of the Triple Alliance in a general con¬ 
flict would finally deliver England over to her enemies ; 
that her rivals France and Russia would gain the pre¬ 
cedence; and in a peace concluded without her, her 
interests would be ignored by the victors. Salisbury 
had no Machiavellian plans—he might rather be re¬ 
proached for the lack of any definite object with regard 
to Oriental policy. On the whole, during his entire 
term of office he halted between two policies: one 
originating in the possibility and even the necessity of 
maintaining the status quo in the East—if necessary 


Strained Relations with England 233 

even by the sword, lest the Turkish capital and the 
Straits should fall into the hands of the Russians ; the 
other being founded on the conviction that the Ottoman 
Empire was doomed and therefore should be divided, 
and that it was essential for England to maintain at 
all costs the road to India via the Suez Canal. In 
the Beaconsfield Government at the period of the 
Russo-Turkish War he inclined to the latter solution. 
But his chief, Beaconsfield, bolder and more imagina¬ 
tive than himself, convinced him that it was in the 
highest interest of Great Britain—with regard to the 
Mussulman millions of India—to court the friendship 
of the Sultan, and above all to let the Sublime Porte 
see in England her faithful supporter. Beaconsfield 
converted Salisbury to the view that it would be a 
tremendous catastrophe for England if the Mohammedan 
world came under the “ protection ” of St. Petersburg ; 
for then the Czar's influence would extend to Suez and 
Bombay, troubling the internal peace of India, and 
menacing all the lines connecting England with her 
empire in Asia. 

When Salisbury formed his first Government, he 
adhered to the fundamental principle of Beaconsfield. 
At that time this best suited his domestic political 
interests. Bulgaria especially was menaced by 
Russian encroachment, and it was an easier task for 
Salisbury to excite public opinion in England in behalf 
of this small Christian State than it had been some 
years before for Beaconsfield to champion the Turks 
who stood in the way of the liberation of the Christians. 
Besides this, he thought he could then support Turkey 
and oppose Russian ambitions at the same time without 
any great risk ; for Bismarck succeeded in convincing 
him that he could rely on the greatest military Power 


234 TÄ 6 Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

in Europe—the Triple Alliance—if compelled through 
Muscovite aggression to draw the sword. Now, how¬ 
ever, on taking office a second time, the Prime Minister 
found the position altered. 

The Armenian Question was in the forefront. Should 
he elect to support the Turks, a small Christian nation 
must be sacrificed to Moslem fanaticism. Besides this, 
he hardly had any choice. A fait accompli confronted 
him. Rosebery, his predecessor, had already enlisted 
England in the cause of the Armenians. Gladstone's 
fiery eloquence had converted every man, woman, and 
child in England into an enthusiastic pro-Armenian. 
Salisbury, if he attempted to follow a Turkophil policy, 
would most certainly be defeated. 

Salisbury on more than one occasion told Hatzfeld 
that foreigners very frequently misunderstood the 
foreign political aims of British ministers ; they could 
not realise that the principal object of the latter was 
to remain in power as long as possible. 

But, moreover, England was under the influence 
of her past. Since Beaconsfield's time she had become 
the protector of the Christians in Asia Minor, with the 
double object of strengthening the Turks and reassuring 
the Sultan's Christian subjects. 

If Beaconsfield had remained longer in power after 
the Berlin Treaty he might have witnessed the fruits of 
his policy : Turkey, the “ Sick Man," put on his legs 
again under the aegis of England, reconciled to the accep¬ 
tance of her leadership, and, besides, the Christian popula¬ 
tion well looked after. But after his fall Gladstone's 
anti-Turk policy rendered all this impossible. The 
Beaconsfield traditions were dropped, England lost her 
influence at the Sublime Porte, and thus was powerless 
to induce the Turks to carry out any serious reforms. 



Strained Relations with England 235 

But the burdens of the Beaconsfield policy remained : 
a heavy moral responsibility rested upon England in the 
view of the Christians of the East; and the conscious¬ 
ness of this responsibility excited the public opinion of 
England and made it—much to its disadvantage—anti- 
Turkish. The torture of the ill-fated Armenians by the 
Bashi-Bazouks and Kurds was regarded both in the 
East and England as a foul blot on the fair name of 
the latter, and the British Government was looked for 
to help. 

Salisbury, too, was exasperated by the Sultan, and 
turned against him. He saw that Abdul Hamid was 
perfectly untrustworthy. The Turkish unfitness for 
rule, the chaotic conditions prevailing throughout the 
Ottoman Empire, all reconverted him to his former 
faith that Turkey was past redemption. He no longer 
relied on the assistance of Germany in exposing himself 
for the sake of Turkey. Since the efforts of Rosebery 
and Kälnoky to enlist the help of Germany, at least to 
cover their line of retreat, had been entirely frustrated, 
since a bitter antagonism had sprung up on the Congo 
Question between England and Germany, and since in 
Asia Germany had gone over to the policy of Russia 
instead of that of England, Salisbury came to the con¬ 
clusion that he could no longer count on the aid of the 
Germans against the Muscovites. 

He therefore cast about for a solution which would pre¬ 
serve peace as well as defend British interests without 
having to draw the sword for the Sultan. This did not 
signify, however, that he desired to follow an Oriental 
policy directed against the Triple Alliance. He would 
prefer to attain this latest aim also, which pressure of 
circumstances had compelled him to choose, in co-opera¬ 
tion with the Triple Alliance. For this reason he first 



236 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

of all turned to his old confidant, Hatzfeld ; listened to 
his advice, and on that advice abandoned the idea above- 
mentioned. 

Probably he was himself by no means sure as to the 
best thing to do. He tried to formulate more clearly 
his definite opinion and to find the right way. The 
French Ambassador during the negotiations well de¬ 
scribed Salisbury in saying that he (the British Premier) 
liked to consider the problems of the future and to discuss 
them. He was vacillating, undecided. He was less 
conspicuous for lofty initiative than for patiently plod¬ 
ding, cautious progress. He possessed none of the inspired 
boldness of the Pitts and Cannings, nor of the imagina¬ 
tion of Beaconsfield. He was circumspection and hesi¬ 
tancy personified. 

The conversation with Hatzfeld had an interesting 
sequel. No sooner had the German Ambassador pointed 
out to his Foreign Minister that at any eventual carving 
up of Turkey Salisbury was disposed to satisfy Russia, 
than the German attitude to Salisbury’s plan underwent 
a change. Even Holstein said (5th August) that this 
new information altered the position of things entirely, 
and since it appeared that Salisbury would really satisfy 
Russia in regard to the Straits, thereby disposing of the 
raison d’etre of the Franco-Russian Alliance, he should be 
directly encouraged in his project. 

Holstein’s view was accepted not only by the Chan¬ 
cellor but also by the Emperor. The latter proposed to 
Szögyeny-Marich, our Ambassador to Berlin, that Austria- 
Hungary should also accept Salisbury’s scheme, and 
consent to Russia having the Straits and keeping Salonica 
for herself. 

It was an interesting moment. There seemed a hope 
of England and Germany coming to an understanding 


Strained Relations with England 237 

on the basis of Bismarck’s old idea of satisfying Russia, 
agreeing with Austria-Hungary, and solving the Eastern 
Question by peaceful means. 

This delightful picture, was, however, only a mirage. 
Fate decreed otherwise. It so happened (5th August) 
that before the Emperor had become fully acquainted 
with the altered state of affairs, his Majesty had met 
Salisbury in England and categorically rejected the 
scheme which a few days later was discovered to be so 
attractive. This being so, it was difficult to reopen the 
matter now. And all the more difficult would have been 
co-operation with England as the meeting between the 
German Emperor and the British Premier had left behind 
it a certain bitterness. To this day not all the particulars 
of this fateful interview are known, but one fact at least 
is clear—that the English statesman took umbrage at the 
disdainful refusal of the Kaiser to consider and study his 
scheme for the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. On 
the other hand, William was indignant with Salisbury 
either because that statesman failed to keep an appoint¬ 
ment with his Majesty aboard the imperial yacht Hohen- 
zollern, or else, as Holstein afterwards affirmed, on 
account of the sharp correspondence occasioned by the 
incident. 

But this agreement as to the division of the spoil 
could hardly have been carried out without accident 
and in a peaceful manner. In all probability Salisbury 
had sounded St. Petersburg and Paris and convinced 
himself that the demands of those two Powers could 
not be satisfied. He doubtless discovered the truth— 
that it was sheerly utopian to contemplate a peaceful 
distribution of the effects of the (to be) late “ Sick Man of 
Europe,” and that an unseemly scramble for the tit-bits 
would be inevitable. 



238 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

However, it would have been quite as difficult for 
Berlin to have made the division, since Austria-Hungary 
held tenaciously to the idea of the status quo and would 
not hear of the proposed change thereof. Thus the whole 
scheme was shelved and remained a barren theory. 

Salisbury returned to the beaten track. When, 
owing to the Sultan's promised reforms in Armenia 
(October), the situation somewhat improved for the 
moment, Salisbury declared to Hatzfeld that he desired 
to maintain the status quo , and if Russia caused a crisis 
in the Eastern Question, he would try first to come to an 
agreement with Berlin and Vienna. 

Such an announcement buried the scheme for distri¬ 
bution, but at the same time failed to restore cordial 
relations between London and Berlin. After that, the 
Emperor could feel no confidence in the British Govern¬ 
ment. He always associated it with risky plans. He 
kept an eye on his mother, " The Englishwoman," and 
found in her utterances the key to the mysteries of British 
policy. At one time he entertained the suspicion that 
Salisbury would have liked to entice the Russians to 
Constantinople in order that they might there come into 
opposition with Moslem fanaticism ; and that the colli¬ 
sion might furnish England with pretext for the occupa¬ 
tion of the Dardanelles. At another time (November) 
he gathered from the words of the Empress-Dowager 
that Salisbury intended to divide up the Ottoman Em¬ 
pire ; and that he had no objection to the Russians 
getting the Dardanelles provided they agreed finally to 
let the English have Egypt in exchange. Then (Decem¬ 
ber) he thought he had discovered that the real aim of 
England was to foment a war between the continental 
Powers. He used the simile of England shaking the 
Turkish apple-tree to set the continental nations squab- 


Strained Relations with England 239 

bling for the possession of the fallen fruit. On another 
occasion the Emperor William, who could even “ hear 
the grass grow,” was convinced that Salisbury had a 
diabolical plot for playing off Austria-Hungary and Italy 
against Russia in order to withdraw when his friends had 
fallen out with each other. 

At length, influenced by the gossip of the Russian 
Ambassador Osten-Sacken, he got the idea that Salisbury 
was planning a secret agreement with Lobanoff behind 
the backs of the Germans ; he even charged the British 
Military Attache with “perfidy” (December). He in¬ 
formed that unfortunate officer that such a trick was 
unqualifizierbar . Gladstone was " a mean person.” “ If 
England was out to upset the status quo , she should not 
resort to back-stairs secrecy, but act openly and above¬ 
board, as was customary with the continental Powers. 
England's dubious and hypocritical attitude, her remark¬ 
able manoeuvres, gave the impression that she wanted to 
spur on the Powers against each other—but she would 
not succeed. The Powers of the Continent remained 
loyally by each other, while England had so often backed 
out of her obligations that no one believed in her ability 
to make up her mind. If England had a new Oriental 
policy to introduce, let her trot it out and not insidiously 
attempt to induce her friends by diplomatic chicanery 
to join her, only to find themselves deceived in the end.” 

This was serious language, serious in anyone's mouth, 
and especially so in that of a monarch. If a minister 
thus speaks, the party attacked is free to reply ; but 
what can a simple military officer do against a foreign 
sovereign, to whose Government he is accredited, to say 
nothing of the fact that the august personage happens 
to be the grandson of his own Queen ? If a minister 
acts so indiscreetly there is always the hope that he may 



240 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

resign and thus leave the way clear for the restoration 
of friendly relations between the two Governments con¬ 
cerned. But one can only count on a state of perpetual 
enmity between nations one of whose sovereigns can 
speak with such contempt of the other. Moreover, the 
Emperor's amazing blunder was rendered all the more 
serious as he was unable to substantiate the charges he 
made. When the matter was investigated, all the evi¬ 
dence went against him and he was decidedly worsted. 
Salisbury denied having offered Lobanoff any agreement, 
and the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs confirmed 
the denial. 

The strained relations between England and Germany 
affected also the inner life of the Triple Alliance, starting 
Berlin, Vienna, and Rome on divergent paths—a state 
of things which boded no good for the authority of the 
Alliance. 

At this time the historic mansion in the Ballplatz got 
a new tenant. Kälnoky came into conflict with Bänffy, 
the Hungarian Premier, and so was quietly dropped by 
Francis Joseph. He was succeeded by Goluchowsky, a 
man who, while neither highly educated nor so keen an 
observer as Kälnoky, certainly possessed more initiative 
and force of character than his predecessor, and there¬ 
fore made a better leader of the foreign affairs of the Dual 
Monarchy. Kälnoky had hardly that audacity so indis¬ 
pensable to the successful prosecution of foreign policy. 
For none will trust, no one fear, no one befriend a man 
who is afraid to trust even himself, afraid of everyone 
else, and who is irresolute and vacillating. 

The aims of Goluchowsky’s policy were to some 
extent different from Kälnoky’s. He rather inclined to 
those of Andrässy than to those of his immediate prede¬ 
cessor. Like the Hungarian statesman, he was ambitious 


Strained Relations with England 241 

to distinguish himself by his activities on the Ballplatz. 
He was anxious to counteract the Russian influence 
there, and to maintain the status quo in the Balkans. 
The division of the Ottoman Empire, or the idea of 
" spheres of influence/' to which Kälnoky —under the 
pressure of Bismarck and later of William II—had at 
times almost become reconciled, his successor rejected, 
as Andrässy had done. He approximated to the personal 
views of Francis Joseph, who held it most important 
that Constantinople should not be allowed to fall into 
the hands of Russia and always adhered to the principles 
by which he had been guided in the Crimean War and 
at the Congress of Berlin. Goluchowsky saw more clearly 
than did his predecessor that the western Balkan region 
offered to us in the projected apportionment would be 
no real source of strength ; rather it would weaken 
us. We should acquire a barbarian population, difficult 
to govern, unwilling to live under the rule of the Dual 
Monarchy and gravitating outward. The new acquisition, 
as proposed, could never be shaped to fit the frame of 
dualism. On its account the Dual Monarchy would be 
compelled to look for quite new solutions in common 
law. But should we be able to find such ? Would 
not federalism —the only conceivable substitute for 
dualism—give rise to an international quarrel that might 
in the end destroy the position of the Dual Monarchy 
as a Great Power ? 

While the entire Orthodox and Slav world would 
rally to the Czar, who would now have become master 
of Constantinople, the Dual Monarchy would be crushed 
under the Slav influence by means of internecine strife. 
Consequently Goluchowsky was prepared to draw the 
sword in the cause of the status quo. But for this, it 
would in the first place be necessary to enlist the aid of 

16 



242 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

England. And could there be any hope from that 
quarter, seeing that England and William II were not 
on speaking terms, that Berlin followed a Russophil 
policy, and, as was supposed in England, Austria- 
Hungary was led by Berlin ? 

In Italy, on the whole, a similar view prevailed. 
Blanqui, Crispin successor, remarked to Bülow that 
Constantinople was too near Trieste for him to look 
calmly on at Russian rule there. If the French and 
Russians joined hands across the Mediterranean, Italy, 
crushed between them, would soon lose her independence, 
and therefore she had no alternative but to adhere to 
the status quo. Consequently she too desired above all 
to win England and, side by side with her, proceed to a 
solution of the Eastern Question. 

Owing to these considerations, Austria-Hungary and 
Italy, in the Armenian Question now to the fore, followed 
aims differing from those of Berlin. It is true that the 
warm heart and impulsive nature of the German Emperor 
had at first been sadly shocked at the massacre of the 
Armenians by the Turks, and he wrote that Sultan Abdul 
Hamid was a hideous monster into whose residence, 
Yildis Kiosk, a few bombs thrown would not be an ill 
act, and that merely to touch such a wretch would be a 
defilement for a Christian. Yet in spite of this, William 
showed a disinclination to back his sentiments by 
appropriate deeds and put pressure on the Sultan, 
because by so doing he would be rendering the task 
of England all the easier! That he would not do 
at any price. He gloated over the scrape into which 
England had got. The English had encouraged the 
Armenians, and now they should see what would come 
of it. The Triple Alliance should if possible simply 
stand aside and look on, letting the English bear the 


Strained Relations with England 243 

whole burden of the affair, for, after all, they were the 
real culprits! 

England would have succeeded only by coercing the 
Sultan ; and as she could not gain access by land to the 
territory inhabited by the Armenians, and the British 
fleet might fall into a trap on the Black Sea if the 
Dardanelles remained in the hands of the Turks, she 
could only accomplish her object by threatening the 
Sultan himself in Constantinople. But how was even 
this possible, seeing that the Dardanelles were closed by 
international treaty regulations ? Would her violation 
thereof lead to war ?—a war in which England might 
find herself opposed by the combined forces of Turkey 
and Russia. And yet, should she allow the Armenian 
horrors to continue, her prestige would suffer. These 
weighty decisions could only be avoided if all Europe 
supported her and, together with her, put pressure upon 
Abdul Hamid. This the Emperor William wished to 
frustrate if possible. 

He did everything he could to keep the other Powers 
from exposing themselves on behalf of England. Let no 
one do England's work for her. Let her do it herself. 
Let her act first. One can never be sure of England 
unless she is cornered and sees that no one else is disposed 
to take the chestnuts out of the fire for her, and, instead 
of and without her, defy the Russians. Until she has 
been made to see that, England will always play the 
egger-on and try to saddle the backs of other people 
with her proper burdens. 

Russia shared the Kaiser's view in this matter. She 
manifested no enthusiasm for the Armenian cause ; 
rather she attempted to defend the alarmed Sultan and 
to gain him to her side, as Nicholas I had done in the 
days of Mahomet Ali. 


244 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

William's policy, however, did not coincide with the 
views of his most intimate ally, Austria-Hungary. 
Goluchowsky's policy was by no means anti-English ; 
it was rather anti-Russian. He did not regard the 
Eastern crisis as an opportunity to embarrass England ; 
he had personal interests in the Eastern Question. 
Contrary to his ally at Berlin, he considered that his 
only chance of winning England lay in acting in concert 
with her and assisting her in defence of their mutual 
interests. 

The members of the Triple Alliance therefore went 
different ways. Goluchowsky proposed that the Powers 
should proceed side by side. He took the initiative 
instead of England, but in the interest of the latter. Up 
to that period England had co-operated with Russia and 
France only, two antagonists, jealous lookers-on ; but 
now someone with interests common with their own had 
joined the movement, and that could not fail to improve 
the situation. Salisbury counted, moreover, on Russia 
being disposed more gladly to follow the advice of 
Austria-Hungary than that of England, and believed 
that the Sultan would after all tread the path of reform 
if all Europe united to put the screw upon him. 

Italy concurred with Goluchowsky. She was resolved 
to play her part in all the Oriental and African questions, 
lest, when it came to the division of the spoil, she would 
remain empty handed. 

The German Emperor strongly disapproved of Golu¬ 
chowsky's initiative. He called Count Deym, Austro- 
Hungarian Ambassador to London, a “ consummate 
ass," and devoutly hoped for Goluchowsky 's failure. He 
said that the young Pole “ ought to go to school again." 

Goluchowsky began independent action also in 
London. The cooler the relations between Berlin and 


Strained Relations with England 245 

London, the more important he thought it to get nearer 
to Salisbury and to bind him by a new treaty. Like his 
predecessor, Kälnoky, he wished to have the accord of 
1887 with the Italian Government in detail and more 
clearly defined. He would like to fix a distinct casus 
belli for the contingency of a Russian attack, whereas 
the only obligation so far undertaken consisted of Austria- 
Hungary, Italy, and England discussing together the 
further steps to be taken in such case. 

However, this step of Goluchowsky’s was as futile as 
Kälnoky’s had been. It was wrecked on the very same 
rock : England would not hear of undertaking obliga¬ 
tions against Russia except in conjunction with Germany ; 
and Germany was equally chary of making any promises. 
Salisbury declared (February 1895) that in the then 
state of British public opinion he dare not undertake to 
defend the integrity of Turkey. If the Czar were willing 
to concede in favour of England all the rights in the 
Straits that she claimed therein, he would be able to 
come to an agreement with him. But, he added, this 
did not mean that England intended to be a passive 
spectator of the advance of Russia. She would deter¬ 
mine her attitude according to the requirements of the 
situation. If Russia sought to obtain one-sided advan¬ 
tages for herself by means of aggression, Salisbury trusted 
that the British public would demand resistance. But 
he would not bind himself in advance. 

This had been Salisbury’s attitude once before, when 
he had rejected similar overtures from Kälnoky. He 
deviated from their chief proviso in 1887 solely because 
he trusted that, should necessity arise, the greatest 
European Powers—i.e. the Triple Alliance—would sup¬ 
port him. Now, however, he had no ground for any 
such confidence. Germany’s frigid attitude gave not 


246 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

the slightest hope of her assistance in any complication 
arising out of the Eastern Question ; as a few days 
before the decisive negotiations the relations between 
England and Germany had become even worse, and the 
former had to regard Germany in the light of a potential 
foe rather than as a friend. 


CHAPTER III 


THE BOERS 

A T this period the British imperialists cast their 
covetous eyes on the country of the Boers, 
which was highly valuable on account of the rich 
gold- and diamond-mines with which nature had blessed 
—or cursed—it, besides its peculiarly advantageous 
geographical position. If only this favoured land were 
brought under British overlordship, the star of Great 
Britain in Africa would have reached its zenith. Her 
rule would then extend from Cape Town on the south 
to Alexandria on the north coast; thus, by means of 
the iron road already partly constructed, joining the 
Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean and bringing the 
two great seaports within a few days' journey of each 
other. What splendid visions of economic development 
were thus conjured up before the ravished eyes of Britons 
of a certain sort! It was a dream of empire worthy of 
a Julius Caesar or an Alexander the Great. 

Cecil Rhodes, the magnate of Cape Colony, was 
obsessed by such grandiose ideas, and set his fertile 
brain to work to encompass the overthrow of the Boer 
Government and to bring the Transvaal Republic under 
the British flag. The central Government in London 
could not openly identify itself with the adventurous 
schemes of Rhodes, though it was certain that in the 
event of their success it would not be averse to accept¬ 
ing and exploiting the fait accompli. It was certain 
that it would resist all counteractions and discounten¬ 
ance all attempts at intervention, since in its view the 

247 


248 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

Transvaal was already a quasi part of the British Empire, 
England being its suzerain. 

The German policy and the British policy differed 
materially. The Germans aimed at bringing both 
Dutch and German East Africa into intimate relation¬ 
ship under German protection. They keenly resented 
British supremacy in South Africa and insisted on 
the independence of the Boers. 

Either of these two conceptions excluded the other. 
Both were born of interests of immense importance ; 
but while that of the British corresponded with the 
existing circumstances, as regards power, and was 
therefore in accordance with reason, that of the Germans 
was opposed to both fact and reason, and therefore 
constituted a dangerous ignis fatuus. For the time 
being, however, the German Government chased this 
will-o'-the-wisp and vigorously protested against the 
violence and rascality of the Jameson Raid. It loudly 
declared that if the British Government should seal its 
approval of such an act of lawlessness, the German 
Ambassador in London should ask for his passports. 
It further incited President Krüger to resistance against 
British tyranny. It assured him that any alteration 
in the status quo would never be tolerated by Germany. 
England was naturally much disturbed by these pro¬ 
ceedings. Sir Edward Malet, at Berlin, bitterly criticised 
the German Foreign Minister on the occasion of the 
former’s visite de conge prior to his departure from the 
German capital (November 1895). He informed the 
Foreign Minister that England could not countenance 
the coquetting of the Germans with the Boers ; that 
such conduct might have grave consequences, as Eng¬ 
land was not in the mood to allow any foreign Power 
to meddle in the affairs of the British Empire. 


The Boers 


249 

The Emperor, on hearing of this, fumed with 
rage ; though the British Ambassador had merely used 
language similar to that he himself so often used in 
London. But to an Emperor was permissible what 
was forbidden to less exalted persons. And he admin¬ 
istered a stinging castigation to Swain, the British 
Military Attache, who had perforce to serve as whip¬ 
ping-boy for Malet’ s offence. The British Ambassador 
had had the astounding audacity (said the Emperor) 
to threaten him , the grandson of the Queen of England, 
with war ! But Germany would not brook such an 
outrage from England. He should be compelled to 
make overtures to Russia and France. If England 
wanted the support of Germany, she had better sue 
for an alliance with her. 

The cautious Salisbury lost no time in disavowing 
Malet’ s utterances, declaring that he had given the 
Ambassador no authority to make such statements. 

William II was delighted with the result of the 
dressing-down he had administered by proxy to Sir 
Edward Malet. He afterwards boasted of the success 
which had attended his bullying. He ordered the 
Government to make what capital they could out of the 
incident; if it should have no other effect, it would at 
least be useful as propaganda for the German navy. 
What incredible infatuation! What playing with 
fire—to promote the building of the German navy by 
means of Anglophobe propaganda ! This was the first 
step towards that fatal error which constituted one of 
the fundamental causes of the Great War. 

But the South African crisis was precipitated after 
all. Jameson’s filibusters wantonly violated the terri¬ 
tory of the Boer Republic (January 1896), to be dis¬ 
gracefully routed by a handful of the intrepid burghers. 



250 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

Kaiser William appeared to be favoured by fortune. 
His standpoint was maintained. The independence of 
the Transvaal Republic had been vindicated without 
the necessity of German intervention ; so that relations 
with England need not be permanently strained. Here, 
however, Germany added to her initial blunder by 
perpetrating another. 

It was not on his own initiative (as was believed 
for a long time), but on the advice of his Government, 
that the Emperor wired his congratulations to Krüger, 
the imperial telegram being published in the press and 
thereby arousing the ire of the British public. The 
English were mortified by the Emperor's blatant cele¬ 
bration of the victory of another nation over them¬ 
selves—and such an insignificant nation too !—by his 
meddling with a peculiarly British affair such as the 
question of Boer independence, which the British denied 
in principle ; by his reference to " the friends of the 
Boers,” who would have helped them had they only 
applied. This, the English considered, should be a 
lesson to them for the future. It was not so much the 
telegram itself that the English resented, but the deep- 
laid conspiracy it revealed to establish German hege¬ 
mony in East Africa and to frustrate the consolidation 
of British power in that region. 

The British press discharged its batteries of 
vituperation against Germany, and the public opinion 
of the island kingdom became nervous with regard to 
the Emperor. This excitement was quite compre¬ 
hensible. Germany's action did not emanate from 
African local interests exclusively, but rather from her 
growing distrust of the English and a greater political 
conception. This conception was averse to war with 
England, though it sought, by isolation, to compel the 




The Boers 


251 

British to a more modest policy. Its aim was to invite 
the whole Continent without England to join the Triple 
Alliance and Double Entente in a programme for the 
solution of certain important questions against England. 
According to this conception, the continental Powers 
ought to have agreed to the Transvaal's absolute 
independence of England ; to France's acquisition of 
the Congo ; Russia getting Corea ; Italy, Abyssinia ; 
and Germany a harbour in China : to all of which 
stipulations Britain of course objected. It meant 
further to satisfy Austria-Hungary by the maintenance 
of the status quo in the Balkans. An interesting and 
rare phenomenon. The Power destined within the 
next few years to be accused by the Entente of unwar¬ 
rantable aggression, which was destined to be torn 
to pieces and sentenced to death by “ unbiassed judges " 
in the cause of world-peace, was found so satisfied, so 
conservative and peaceable, by her best friend, who 
knew her most intimately, that she was not offered the 
chance of her least expansion, the least chance of con¬ 
quest. She was not offered Salonica—out of her alleged 
longing for which her enemies' diplomats spun such 
veracious yarns. They well knew that Austria-Hungary 
never coveted Salonica ; that the German Government 
since Bismarck's days has more than once tried in vain 
to stimulate in her a desire for the Western Balkans, 
and that the sole thing that Austria-Hungary ever 
cared for was, in fact, the maintenance of the status quo 
in the East. 

The German politicians did not contemplate war 
with England, and therefore freely and openly declared 
that their plan did not affect British possessions; that 
they sought no changes which might jeopardise the 
vital interests of England, such as represented by India 



252 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

and the routes thereto. All they desired—said the 
Chancellor—was to check England’s perpetual and 
boundless expansion and insatiable appetite for all the 
still unoccupied tracts of earth. The trend of German 
thoughts was even then towards friendly relations with 
Britain. According to the leading statesmen of Ger¬ 
many, England had up to that time omitted to conclude 
an agreement with the Triple Alliance because she 
imagined that the Franco-Russians would never manage 
to come to terms with the latter, consequently England 
would be always in a position to play off one group 
against the other in order to defend herself against 
attack and to have the final word in all important ques¬ 
tions of world-policy. Should England fail to realise 
her expectations in this respect, she would be com¬ 
pelled to seek the assistance of one or other of the 
European groups—even to sacrifice something to gain 
it—and the group chosen would certainly be the Triple 
Alliance, since she was separated therefrom by lesser 
differences than those separating her from the Franco- 
Russian group. 

This mentality of the Germans reminds one of the 
vulgar cynical English proverb : 

“ A wife, a bitch, and a walnut-tree— 

The more they’re beaten the better they be.” 

In their view England would not become amenable 
until after a good thrashing. When, however, they 
sought to bend England by constant pressure and 
menaces—to worry her into becoming friendly, as it 
were—they forgot that while such a method might 
answer for a time with a federated nation led by weak- 
kneed politicians, it would assuredly fail in the case of 
a proud, triumphant, imperialistic race like the British. 


The Boers 


253 

And so it proved : the result of the persistent nagging 
was that England, instead of becoming the friend, 
became the enemy of Germany. 

Moreover, this policy was still-born. If one had 
not read it in official documents, it would be difficult 
to believe that such a fanciful offspring would have 
exacted the homage of serious-minded people. It was 
wrong from its starting-point, i.e. the assumption that 
two groups of European Powers could come to terms 
with each other more easily than with England. Wrong 
also was the view that all the continental Powers would 
be ready to unite against England because, forsooth, they 
all shared the German opinion that England was never 
useful, while she was sometimes harmful. It made no 
allowance for the possibility of an inimical Government 
arising which would decline to go against England be¬ 
cause she regarded Germany as never useful and always 
harmful! The French Ambassador to Berlin soon put 
the damper on Holstein, the father of this strange child. 

Why should France, he demanded, come to terms 
with Germany on questions in which the Germans them¬ 
selves are primarily interested, if she may not in ques¬ 
tions which concern herself (France) most of all—such 
as, for instance, the Egyptian Question ? It was 
reported from Rome that the French Premier, Bour¬ 
geois, had remarked to an Italian friend that France 
would never forget Alsace-Lorraine, that in the course 
of events those provinces would have to be returned 
to France, and that all their energies would be directed 
to the realisation of that patriotic aim. By this he 
justified France's inability to range herself on the side 
of Italy, so long as the latter was the ally of Germany. 
How, then, could she participate with Germany in a 
common action against England ? 





254 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

At first the French press sympathised with the 
Boers, but when the Anglo-German antagonism became 
so acute it took on a decided Germanophobe (and con¬ 
sequently a less pro-Boer) complexion. The semi¬ 
official publications warned the people against unnatural 
alliances. 

Thus the Anglo-German controversy did not, after 
all, lead to a rapprochement between Germany and 
France, as Holstein had fondly hoped ; but rather to 
a rapprochement between France and England. Courcel, 
French Ambassador to London, said that France had 
only one enemy—Germany ; and that in the event of war 
between England and Germany, England could absolutely 
rely on the good-will, and probably also on the support, 
of France. 

Actual developments proved the correctness of the 
English thesis—that England was nearer to either of 
the two groups than they were to each other, and hence 
a written alliance would have been much more advan¬ 
tageous for us than for England. But even within 
the Triple Alliance itself it would have been impos¬ 
sible to accept Holstein's proposition. Goluchowsky was 
averse to taking part in any anti-English coalition. 
As we have already seen, notwithstanding the Anglo- 
German dispute, he continued in London the negotia¬ 
tions for the alliance. For in the friendship of England 
he very rightly saw one of the fundamental conditions 
or bases of the stability of the Dual Monarchy. What 
a pity his successors did not follow the trail blazed by 
him and more successfully intervene between England 
and Germany! That would have been the historic 
vocation of Austria-Hungary. 

The new plans of Germany caused tremendous 
excitement also in Italy. Rome, while condemning 



The Boers 


255 

Salisbury, had not the temerity to oppose England. 
The Italians feared lest the rapprochement between 
France and Germany should lead to an increase of the 
power of the former and lest they should prove unable 
to defend their interests in the Mediterranean and 
North Africa against France. 

The German Government, however, did not push 
its ideas too insistently. It soon woke up to the fact 
that they were untenable. It shortly found a new 
direction and laid down the principle that the Triple 
Alliance should seek no new ally, neither in England, 
France, nor Russia, but should go its own way alone, its 
members adhering the more closely to each other. Cer¬ 
tainly a better plan than Holstein's, based on division. 
Even this, however, could be no more than provisional. 

The only true object of German policy (especially 
since the Franco-Russian Alliance had made relations 
with the Czar impossible) was an alliance with England. 
Without British support it was difficult for the Triple 
Alliance itself to hold together. It was originally 
conceived with the idea of British support: would it 
not degenerate without it ? 

Goluchowsky was pessimistic. He thought that 
harmony within the Alliance could be secured only by 
Germany identifying herself more closely with the 
interests of Austria-Hungary and Italy than she had 
been wont to do in the past. Welsersheimb, Foreign 
Under-Secretary (February 20th), strongly complained 
to Prince Lichnowsky, Councillor of Embassy. Austria- 
Hungary was in sad straits ; England and Germany 
had both withdrawn from Eastern affairs, and Italy 
was unreliable. Germany had always preached to 
Vienna that they should come to an understanding with 
the Russians regarding the division of the Balkans; 





256 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

but such a thing was impracticable : it would mean 
the hegemony of the Czar from the Black Sea to the 
Adriatic. The sole necessity for Austria-Hungary of 
the Triple Alliance was afforded by the Russian peril. 
If the Triple Alliance failed in that respect, it would 
thereby lose its raison d'etre so far as the Dual Mon¬ 
archy was concerned. For the latter it was not of the 
slightest consequence to whom Alsace-Lorraine belonged. 
Therefore, in his opinion, it was necessary for both 
Berlin and Vienna to review the situation, to discuss 
it frankly together, and to come to an agreement there¬ 
on. Emperor William was, needless to say, displeased 
with Welsersheimb's view. He said it seemed as 
though the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister aimed 
at becoming a second Bismarck; the Polish Count 
was still a very young man ; he could be useful to 
the Monarchy ; only let him try not to be so foolish 
{töricht). 

Goluchowsky's soundings, as may be supposed, 
failed of their object. Germany resolved to undertake 
no new obligations in the Eastern Question, and 
Austria-Hungary was not firm and influential enough 
to press Berlin to change her intention. 

Hohenlohe had a queer idea for composing the 
differences. He gave us permission to offer England 
an alliance, if necessary even at the price of throwing 
overboard the Triple Alliance. He counted upon 
London's rejection of the proposal, which would show 
Goluchowsky that his (Goluchowsky's) efforts to win 
England had not been frustrated by any fault of Ger¬ 
many's, but because she was averse to binding herself 
to an anti-Russian policy. Hohenlohe, however, could 
hardly make Goluchowsky see this. The latter was 
quite well aware that an agreement between London 


The Boers 


257 

and Vienna was not rendered difficult by the fact that 
we were an ally of Germany, but rather because our 
alliance with Germany was not far-reaching enough : 
it did not include the East, and therefore all agreements 
with us on the Balkan Question would fail to secure 
the support of the entire Triple Alliance, whereas 
England would bind herself to protect Constantinople 
and help against the Russians only if she could count 
absolutely on the bayonets of the entire Triple Alliance, 
as she had ground for hope in Bismarck's time. Golu- 
chowsky might have been convinced of his error if the 
German Government had promised to guarantee the 
neutrality of France in the event of hostilities in the 
Near East, as Rosebery had asked and Salisbury expected 
of Bismarck ; and if England, in spite of this promise, had 
been unwilling to follow a common Oriental policy with 
Austria-Hungary and Italy. But I believe that Golu- 
chowsky did not avail himself of Berlin's permission. 
He surely knew that such an extraordinary proceeding 
would not have had the least effect for good, while it 
would have done much harm to the prestige of the 
Triple Alliance. 


CHAPTER IV 


WEAKENING OF THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE 
T this time the Triple Alliance met with much 



adversity. Misfortune dogged it everywhere. 


The defeat by King Menelik of the Italian 
forces in Africa came as a bolt from the blue. This 
event led to the fall of Crispi, the staunchest adherent 
of the Triple Alliance, the representative of the anti- 
French policy. He was succeeded by Rudini, who, 
through the influence of Visconti Venosta, Minister 
for Foreign Affairs, desired to restore good relations 
with France. Nevertheless, the new Italian Govern¬ 
ment had no intention of breaking with the Triple 
Alliance : it even renewed the old bond (May 1896). 
He had, however, no longer any confidence in Italy. 
Bülow described the new departure as following Guic¬ 
ciardini, who had advised the nation to “ endeavour 
to be always on the winning side.” 

In the negotiations for the prolongation of the Triple 
Alliance there was an interesting episode : a diplomatic 
success on our part which subsequently took its revenge 
to our discomfiture. The Italian Government, with a 
frankness and loyalty worthy of all respect, offered to 
renew the official declaration made at the original 
conclusion of the Triple Alliance to the effect that the 
casus foederis was not to be applied to the event of war 
against England. That declaration was not renewed 
in 1887 simply because then—on the initiative and 
advice of Germany—was concluded the Anglo-Italian 
Mediterranean Agreement, which excluded the possi- 

258 



Weakening of the Triple Alliance 259 

bility of the allies demanding the aid of Italy against 
England. 

Goluchowsky very properly wished to acknowledge 
the Italian declaration. But Hohenlohe entertained 
a contrary opinion. He managed that the two allies 
should reject the offer of Italy, on the ground that it 
was unnecessary, since the Triple Alliance, even without 
the declaration, was never likely to quarrel with Eng¬ 
land ; moreover, the declaration was harmful, as such 
a reservation would give the Triple Alliance an anti- 
Russian complexion, which would only provoke the 
Czar. Thus the Italian Government had no alternative 
but to yield, and the matter could not be put into 
documentary form. Hence the weakness of the Triple 
Alliance was that it afforded no protection against 
England without the fact being publicly acknowledged 
—a fact with which all the Ministers of Foreign Affairs 
had to reckon and which was perfectly clear to the 
various nations concerned. In 1914 Italy acted as 
though her declaration, above referred to, had actually 
been put into documentary form. In my opinion, it 
would have been better had the treaty not seemed 
to mean more than life was able to afford. A policy 
of self-delusion, or refusal to face cold facts, is always 
most dangerous. 

At this period the Triple Alliance was further weak¬ 
ened by the expiration, in May 1896, of our con¬ 
vention with Spain and the failure of our efforts to 
renew it. The Madrid Government most probably 
considered our position to be no longer as stable as in 
1887, when it had first concluded the pact with us. It 
no longer desired to be a member of the anti-French 
group, and therefore coupled its willingness to renew 
the convention with the quite unacceptable condition 



2Öo The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

that the Triple Alliance should guarantee to it Cuba, 
then menaced by the United States. 

Not on the west alone, but also on the east, the Triple 
Alliance lost strength about this time. Ferdinand of 
Coburg, Prince of Bulgaria, after the dismissal of 
Stambuloff, prepared for a change of front, and sought 
(February 1896) to curry favour with the Czar by the 
conversion of his sons Boris and Alexander to the faith 
of the Orthodox Church. 

The German Government attributed this important 
loss to the policy of Kälnoky. They contended that the 
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dual Monarchy had 
failed sufficiently to support his Balkan friends. King 
Milan was dropped by him just as Stambuloff had been 
—from personal antipathy—at the expense of the Triple 
Alliance. The German Government likewise found 
fault with Burian, at that period our Charge d'Affaires 
in Sofia—who was later destined to become Foreign 
Minister—because he was against Stambuloff, and also 
because he had failed to see that, with Stambuloff's 
fall, the party leaning on us would also fall. 

Goluchowsky himself admitted that the German 
Government was in the right and condemned the pro¬ 
cedure of his predecessor. He stated that he had had 
a sharp dispute with Kälnoky with regard to Stambuloff. 
Thus we are compelled to the belief that the policy of 
both Kälnoky and Burian was unsound. Our acts 
were by no means bold and firm enough to inspire our 
friends with confidence and our foes with fear. 

However, for the radical cause of our failure we must 
look to anterior events. Owing to Bismarck's pressure, 
Austria-Hungary was unable either to save Battenberg 
or to secure for Ferdinand the recognition of the Sublime 
Porte, and thus establish him in a safe international 




2ÖI 


Weakening of the Triple Alliance 

position. Had not Bismarck, in the eighties, scotched 
the freedom of action of the Dual Monarchy, we should 
by the end of the century have been much stronger in 
the Balkans than we were ; and as we thus might have 
been expected to be capable of doing more, we should 
have had more friends. It is comprehensible that Fer¬ 
dinand, who failed by our intervention, even when we 
were stronger, to attain the consolidation he so badly 
needed, should now, when our power had to a certain 
extent fallen, endeavour to reach his goal by cementing 
a friendship with the Russians. His success justified 
his calculations. 

Lobanoff, the Russian Foreign Minister, drew a veil 
over the past, took Ferdinand’s case in hand, and pro¬ 
cured his recognition. Fortunately, in spite of our great 
indignation, partly as the result of Berlin’s sensible 
advice, we refrained from following the example set by 
Alexander III towards Battenberg and Coburg, but 
recognised Ferdinand ; so that the road between Sofia 
and Vienna remained open without any obstacles of an 
insurmountable nature. 






CHAPTER V 

ENGLAND, EGYPT, THE ARMENIAN QUESTION, CRETE 

A MONG the many unfavourable events a pleasing 
incident occurred on the banks of the Thames. 
As already pointed out, relations with England 
since Bismarck's retirement had become gradually worse 
and worse, both when Caprivi thought winning her 
friendship was the all-important thing and also when 
under Hohenlohe the Russophil orientation prevailed. 
Fortunately, there were always hopes of improvement, 
as the two great Germanic Powers had no wish to become 
finally and completely estranged. In spite of her anti¬ 
pathy against London, Germany desired no actual 
breach in that quarter ; she really wanted to improve the 
relations between Berlin and London. The ultimate 
object even for her anti-British policy was to stimulate 
Great Britain into becoming more reliable and amenable 
towards Germany. 

The English leader, Salisbury, with consummate 
adroitness avoided any acts or utterances likely to offend 
the susceptibilities of the Germans. At this time Salis¬ 
bury’s basic motive was the policy of the “ free hand,” 
of splendid isolation, of manoeuvring between the two 
European groups, but with the conviction that he was 
nearer to the Triple Alliance than to its antagonist, and 
that in the event of a European conflagration it would 
most probably be found to Britain’s interest to side with 
the Triple Alliance. Salisbury was inclined to this view, 
on the one hand because he knew that two members of 
the Triple Alliance (Austria-Hungary and Italy) were 
staunch friends who saw in England’s power their own 

262 


England , Egypt , Armenian Question , 263 

safeguard, and on the other hand he was equally aware 
that Russia and France were the two chief rivals that 
England had to fear. One of them had threatened 
India ever since Napoleon I had turned the thoughts of 
the Muscovites in that direction ; and the other would 
like to be able to force England to evacuate Egypt. 

Thus the way to a rapprochement between Great 
Britain and ourselves remained open, and the possi¬ 
bility thereof was about to be transmuted into fact under 
the influence of the disaster suffered by the Italian army 
in Africa referred to in the previous chapter. Though 
at first England watched the advance of Italy towards 
the Nile with a certain amount of jealousy, she now 
became alarmed at the victory of Menelik, King of 
Abyssinia, behind whom she strongly suspected the 
machinations of France and Russia ; and nothing could 
have thwarted Britain's ambitious schemes in East Africa 
more effectively than the French and Russian rule in the 
vicinity of the Nile, supported by the Dervishes and the 
Abyssinians. This would have severed the Suez-India 
line, which, now that the British influence over the Turks 
had waned and she could no longer depend on the Triple 
Alliance for the guarding of the Straits, had become more 
important than ever. Therefore Salisbury intended to 
help Italy and at the same time strike a blow at the 
Mahdi, the lord of the Sudan, the conqueror of Gordon, 
by the occupation of Dongola. 

For a long time before the German Government had 
vainly advised London to take the steps now con¬ 
templated. Now, immediately after the defeat of the 
Italians, Kaiser William called on the British Ambassador 
and depicted in a most vivid manner the peril that the 
new situation in Africa would have for England. He 
asserted that Menelik was being backed by both Russia 




264 * The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

and France, gravitating towards the Nile. He pointed 
out that England could place no reliance on France, since 
the Republic was entirely under Russian influence ; also 
that England and Austria-Hungary both were regarded 
by Russia as her enemies, whom she would crush even at 
the cost of a ten-years’ war. The Muscovite aim was to 
destroy Austria-Hungary and Turkey and unite under 
the sceptre of the Czar all the Slavs of those regions. 
France would be appeased by the offer of Egypt; an 
attempt would be made to neutralise Germany by divert¬ 
ing the French attention to Egypt and thus removing 
from the Teuton mind that nightmare fear of an invasion 
of Alsace-Lorraine. And besides all this, it was proposed 
to offer German Austria to Germany. The Czar himself 
—said the Kaiser—had been won over to the conspiracy. 

This imperial hotch-potch of fact and fiction might 
well produce an effect on Salisbury. The amount of 
truth in the Emperor’s statement was enough to render 
Salisbury cautious; for it was unquestionable that the 
Russian Foreign Minister, Lobanoff, the sworn foe of 
England, wanted to bring forward the Egyptian Question. 
He loudly proclaimed that it would work serious damage 
to Russian interests if the Suez Canal, the shortest sea- 
route between Europe and Asia, should be permanently 
dominated by England. This alone was sufficient to cause 
Salisbury to ask himself whether it would not be better 
to make Italy stronger in Africa and to make friendly 
advances to Germany. 

To the Emperor’s intense delight, Salisbury decided 
on a military advance towards Dongola, thereby alle¬ 
viating the situation of the Italians. Once more Egypt 
occupied the position she had in Bismarck’s time, as a 
connecting-link between England and Germany. Wil¬ 
liam II and his allies once more stood by Great Britain, 




England, Egypt, Armenian Question, Crete 265 

and defended her freedom of action, while France and 
Russia again presented obstacles, and were again in the 
opposite camp. The Dongola expedition was bound to 
be disliked in Paris and St. Petersburg at any time, but 
especially now that, on account of the conversation with 
Salisbury and the differences between England and Ger¬ 
many, they were beginning to count on the possibility 
of England relinquishing her valuable spoils, while they 
interpreted the latest action as signifying her intention 
to strengthen her position in Egypt. When, therefore, 
England proposed that Egypt should pay the expenses 
of the expedition, Paris and St. Petersburg were against, 
while the Triple Alliance was for, the proposal. Again, 
when England intended to use Indian troops in Africa, 
the Double Alliance protested, while the Triple Alliance 
approved the idea. When Lobanoff suggested that the 
question of Egypt should be dealt with by an international 
conference, Emperor William objected in the interests 
of England and immediately reported the matter to 
Salisbury. 

William II was quite satisfied with the course of 
events. He says (21st March 1896) that he had accom¬ 
plished his purpose : England was suspect in the eyes of 
Paris and St. Petersburg ; an end had been put to Franco- 
Russian and English philandering. The Kaiser’s joy can 
be understood ; but it is nevertheless regrettable that 
he should have considered his purpose attained when, 
as subsequent events proved, he was merely through the 
less difficult part of his task. 

At this period William could always have stopped 
the coquetting of London by not giving England the 
impression that he bore her ill-will. The difficult stage 
of the task would have been reached when the good 
disposition had to be made permanent and the rapproche- 


266 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

ment on the Egyptian Question fructified in the con¬ 
stant co-operation of the two Powers. But the Emperor 
seemed to have forgotten these things entirely. For 
the time being he was quite satisfied with the estrange¬ 
ment of England from France and Russia, and with 
the consequent impossibility of her turning against 
Germany. He need not now conclude an alliance 
with her. 

It is often said that policies are dictated by self- 
interest and that nations always take the course that 
is best for themselves. Would that this were true ! 
Unfortunately it is a mistake. Certainly nations gene¬ 
rally act in accordance with their seeming interests—but 
their seeming interests are not always their real ones. 
Moral myopia, political passion, hatred, and prejudice, 
frequently start a nation on the downward track. 
Lucidity of judgment is the indispensable but, alas ! 
not the peculiar attribute of the statesman. Many 
a nation has been ruined because she failed to perceive 
in which direction her true interests lay. Had the 
various nations been guided by their real interests, a 
cataclysm like the late World War would have been 
impossible. The genuine, important interests of the 
nation are often lost sight of, obscured by constant 
frictions, petty insults, ill-humours, mutual recrimina¬ 
tions, suspicions and jealousies, cowardice, pessimism, 
hyper-caution, and personal ambitions. 

The case of Germany and England is a deplorable 
example of this truth. Both Powers earnestly desired 
peace ; and both of them might easily have agreed with 
each other. Each played a leading role in a sphere 
in which the other could not justly lay claim to leader¬ 
ship, in which the supremacy of the one could by no 
means weaken that of the other. No real ground for 



England, Egypt, Armenian Question, Crete 267 

antagonism existed between these two Empires, 
kindred to each other. Neither the true power of 
Germany on the European Continent nor her colonial 
ambitions did or could have done the least injury to 
Great Britain. Germany’s political conviction that 
overseas possessions were essential to her progress 
rendered British friendship of paramount importance 
for her and strengthened England’s influence over Ger¬ 
many. Side by side with the naval supremacy of 
England, Germany might have continued to enjoy the 
position of the first military Power of Europe and at the 
same time have achieved a reasonable maritime expan¬ 
sion. The Government of each country saw this truth ; 
but petty squabbles, ruffiings of vanity, want of tact, 
and instances of trifling local antagonism all combined 
to render them ill-disposed towards each other and 
destroyed their confidence in each other, so that although 
they became once more united by the Egyptian Ques¬ 
tion, the further development of Anglo-German relations 
was not satisfactory. Small errors counted for more 
than great interests. 

Notwithstanding the temporary and purely local 
rapprochement between these two great Powers, one of 
the chief motive forces of diplomatic life still consisted 
in the Anglo-German antagonism. This became remark¬ 
ably evident during the new Oriental crisis, which 
without the collision of local interests arose from this 
antagonism. 

The first of the later differences between England 
and Germany arose out of the Armenian Question. 
After a demonstration of Armenians in Constantinople 
occurred a wholesale massacre of Armenians through¬ 
out the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan, calculating 
on the impotence of Europe—the various nations being 



268 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

so divided against themselves—sought to solve the 
Armenian Question in the most drastic fashion, by a 
general slaughter of these troublesome subjects. Here, 
once again, was the imperative necessity of energetic 
measures of intervention on the part of Europe ; and 
once again they proved to be impossible. Russia, the 
hereditary foe of the Turks, was afraid of a premature 
collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Since Lobanoffs 
day she saw her mission in the Far East, gravitating 
towards China and Corea. Until her object there was 
accomplished, she thought it expedient to spare the 
Sultan, the obedient doorkeeper of her house. 

These events again disgusted the German Emperor. 
He wrote : ^ It is shameful for us Christians to look 

on idly at such wicked deeds ! ” And later (August 
1896) he wrote : “ The Sultan ought to be dethroned.” 
This, however, was only a passing mood—empty phrases 
with no will to back them. He had not the slightest 
intention of coercing the Turks, or of appearing as the 
friend of England and the foe of Russia. 

He would not lighten the burden of Salisbury or 
share his failure—which he foresaw. He preferred to 
stifle his sense of shame and let the massacres proceed. 
He turned a deaf ear even to his own Government when 
(8th-2gth August) they recommended him to despatch 
warships to protect the Christians. He preferred not 
to advise the Sultan to be more moderate, lest he (Wil¬ 
liam) should be held responsible for the latter's crimes. 
Though he denounced the Turkish Government, his 
endeavours to preserve it were becoming more and more 
apparent. 

Nothing less than the most ruthless and energetic 
action could have stopped the massacres, but the timid 
Salisbury had not the nerve to run the risk of isolated 




England, Egypt , Armenian Question , Crete 269 

intervention. He confined himself to bold words, 
which made not the slightest impression on Abdul 
Hamid, who was well acquainted with the situation and 
knew that these words would not be followed by corre¬ 
sponding actions. 

Thus the horrible slaughter continued daily undis¬ 
turbed. Events justified Emperor William in sarcas¬ 
tically dubbing the Powers “ les Impuissances ” 

Meanwhile another conflagration had broken out 
among the combustible material piled up in the East— 
the Oriental disease had made its appearance at a new 
point. The Turks and Greeks on the island of Crete 
found they could not live together without quarrelling. 
Here, again, the numerically stronger Turks massacred 
the weaker Christians. But in this case the situation 
was even more dangerous for peace and for the Turks 
than in the regions inhabited by the Armenians ; for 
the independent and kindred State of Greece was nearby, 
and her people made haste to succour their persecuted 
brethren, whose sufferings commanded the strong 
sympathy of all Europe. The Greeks aroused the 
interest of Europe more readily than did the Armenians. 
The heroic exploits of the ancient Hellenes, the thrilling 
story of the struggles of their more modern descendants 
in the days of Kanaris, the martyrdom of Byron in their 
cause, the intervention of Canning and the French to 
mitigate their fate, were moral forces and precedents 
pleading for the Greeks with which the European Govern¬ 
ments, especially in the democratic States, were bound 
to reckon, even against their will. 

Generally speaking, the Powers were actuated by 
the same interests and views as in the Armenian Ques¬ 
tion. The Czar, having his hands full in Asia, desired, 
for the time being, to prolong the life of " the Sick 




270 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

Man of Europe ” and to put off the settling-day until 
his hands were free, and when he could thus devote 
his whole attention and forces to the matter. 

Salisbury was certainly a Philhellene and against 
the Sultan, whom he regarded as incapable of bringing 
about a lasting peace by proper measures of reform. 
And English public opinion was with him. In France 
also Philhellenism was very strong. 

Germany, who had hitherto shown herself quite 
indifferent to the fate of Turkey and willing to sacrifice 
the Ottoman Empire to the Powers’ appetite for expan¬ 
sion, and thereby haply ensure peace, now turned to 
a strongly Turkophil policy, and, of all the Powers, she 
manifested the most pronounced anti-Hellenic ten¬ 
dency. In doing so she, on the one hand, ranged her¬ 
self on the side of Russia and estranged the latter from 
France, whose sympathies were for Greece; on the 
other, she administered a rebuff to England which 
raised difficulties for the island empire. 

Of all the European Powers, the most objective and 
sincere was perhaps Austria-Hungary. Goluchowsky’s 
policy sought only to secure rest and peace and had 
no subsidiary aim. Unfortunately he was not strong 
enough to unite the other Powers. 

After a brief interruption early in 1897, the Cretan 
Question once more loomed on the political horizon, 
and in a more dangerous form than before. Greece 
now became bolder, the Czar having declared (doubtless 
under the influence of his relations and in opposition to 
his Government) that he did not mind what happened 
with regard to Crete. On the strength of this declara¬ 
tion Greece despatched troops and ships to the aid of 
the insurgents. A conflict between Turkey and Greece 
could have been avoided only by prompt and success- 


England , Egypt, Armenian Question , Crete 271 

ful action on the part of Europe. But that was again 
frustrated by the same old obstacles. 

Salisbury refused to make the Greek forces evacuate 
the island until the Powers had agreed to guarantee its 
autonomy; while English public opinion also refused 
to tolerate an action the aim of which was the bolstering 
up of Turkish misrule. 

Germany adopted a vigorous anti-Hellenic policy. 
She declined to proceed against the Turks in conjunction 
with the other Powers unless they declared in advance 
that Crete should remain under the sovereignty of the 
Sultan. William II took part personally in the negotia¬ 
tions and proposed that the Powers should blockade 
not only Crete but also Greece. He was so proud of his 
idea of intervention that he became very angry when 
Marschall, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, an¬ 
nounced in the Reichsrath that the Chancellor Hohen¬ 
lohe would in due time render account with regard to 
recent events, and he (the Kaiser) emphatically pro¬ 
tested that since he personally had evolved the idea for 
the preservation of world-peace, so he himself would 
furnish the necessary information and would summon 
the Reichsrath before him for that purpose. He was 
dissuaded from this purpose only by the calm and 
determined, yet perfectly correct declaration of Hohen¬ 
lohe that, since the foreign policy of the Fatherland 
must be subject to free criticism, and since it was not 
permissible to criticise the utterances of the Emperor, 
he, as the responsible Chancellor, intended, after due 
notice being given to him, to submit the foreign policy 
to the Reichsrath. 

In the whole Cretan affair and throughout its dura¬ 
tion William favoured the most ruthless action. At 
the very outset he proposed to blow the Greek warships 


272 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

out of the water ; he suggested the capture of Prince 
George of Greece while en route for Crete and holding 
him a prisoner until the Greeks had evacuated the island. 

Russia could not follow the impetuous Kaiser, 
and intervened in company with Austria-Hungary. 
Lobanoff at length (March 1897) succeeded in bringing 
about an agreement between the Powers on the basis 
of Turkey’s being asked to grant autonomy to Crete 
in a manner satisfactory to the English, and Greece 
to withdraw her troops according to the demand of 
Germany. 

Various difficulties, however, remained unsettled. 
As Turkey accepted the autonomy proposal and Greece 
proclaimed her annexation of the island, the Powers 
had to settle the new question of how to compel the 
Greeks to obedience, how to unite the discordant 
Powers in such concentrated action as would bring the 
Greeks to unconditional compliance. 

England was willing to carry out a naval blockade 
of Greece and to demand a strict evacuation of the 
Greek troops occupying Crete, provided that internal 
order could be preserved after their withdrawal. So 
long as the island was the scene of massacres by the 
Turks, which the presence of Greek troops alone could 
stop, England would, however, decline to acquiesce 
in their withdrawal. How could order be restored and 
maintained without them ? 

The first plan was for the Powers to furnish their 
own troops in equal quotas for the purpose. But this 
was rendered nugatory by a number of obstacles. 
Germany and Austria-Hungary were unwilling to offer 
more than 600 men each—a quite inadequate number 
—and even these they stipulated must be used only 
for policing the ports and not employed in the interior. 


England , Egypt , Armenian Question , 273 

The other Powers could not see why they should under¬ 
take the greater part of the risk and expense, getting 
no glory, but playing a purely altruistic role ! 

The idea was then mooted that one or two Powers 
should be charged by the rest with the restoration of 
order. This, too, was found impracticable; as, on 
the one hand, no one was eager to take up the task, 
and, on the other, each Power objected to any one 
of the others occupying the island ! 

At one time it seemed as though the deadlock might 
be removed by Salisbury's accepting the mandate of 
Europe; but Russia would not have that at any price. 
She suspected that England would make herself at 
home in Crete, just as she had done in Egypt and 
Cyprus ; when once British troops got a footing any¬ 
where, that place usually became a British possession 
in the end ! 

So of course Europe had to sustain a fiasco, and 
had to try a solution by force, since diplomacy was 
unable to reach the goal. 

The Greco-Turkish War broke out in April 1897. 
The Turks obtained a decisive victory, and Europe had 
again to face a new situation. The Powers had to 
intervene for peace before Greece should entirely col¬ 
lapse, lest the Philhellenic disposition of almost all 
Europe should make an anti-Turkish intervention 
inevitable. 

England then—probably in the hope of neutralising 
the Grecophobe influence of Germany—proposed that 
those Powers only who had guaranteed the existence 
of Greece when the Hellenic State was formed should 
join England, Russia, and France in arranging the 
peace. This proposal had no success. St. Petersburg 
immediately rejected it. It was made at an inopportune 

18 



274 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

moment, at the very time when Francis Joseph was in 
St. Petersburg and the Russians and Austro-Hungarians 
were hoping for an agreement. 

There was a united intervention of all the Powers. 
But Germany, in conformity with her previous policy, 
joined the others only when, prior to the armistice, 
Greece abandoned her intention to annex Crete and 
recognised its autonomy. This formed the basis of the 
armistice concluded in May 1897. 

All the Powers were agreed in principle upon the 
peace terms, which expressly stipulated that the Chris¬ 
tians de facto liberated from the Turkish yoke should 
never again be allowed to be brought under it. 

Emperor William was enthusiastic in his congratu¬ 
lations to Francis Joseph and the Czar, which he wired 
from Hungarian soil—the beautiful deer-park of Arch¬ 
duke Frederick. He boasted, in an Anglophobe vein, 
that the peace was due to the efforts of the continental 
bloc. The Czar, in reply, referred to the unity among 
the continental Powers. Francis Joseph, however, 
with characteristic tactfulness, replied expressing the 
hope that all the Powers would stand together in the 
cause of peace and international amity. This epilogue 
was in complete harmony with the political nature of 
the whole campaign. The entire affair was a diplo¬ 
matic competition arising out of the alienation of 
England and Germany—of Salisbury and William II. 
The latter did his utmost in order that England, whom 
he considered the enemy of peace, and whom he charged 
with dangerous intrigues, should be isolated and kept 
as far as possible away from Russia. 

The Emperor William's Anglophobe mind was 
clearly manifested by his groundless mistrust of London 
when (October 1896) he suddenly began to express his 


England , Egypt , Armenian Question , 275 

fear that England had designs on the German colonies. 
He demanded the opening of negotiations with Paris 
and St. Petersburg with regard to the common defence 
of their colonial possessions. The German Government 
was fortunately able to dissuade him from this glaring 
indiscretion, of which England would have become 
immediately cognisant, and which would have con¬ 
stituted another grievance on the part of English 
diplomats against the Emperor. 

Later he and his Government came to the conclusion 
that England was bent on war in the East so that Russia 
might thereby become opposed to the Triple Alliance, 
and thus would be crippled from carrying out those 
of her plans in Asia which ran counter to the schemes of 
Great Britain. The Germans reminded Italy that 
England was no friend of hers and that she was working 
to thwart her African aspirations by opposing her to 
Russia and France. 

Marschall, Foreign Under-Secretary, wrote (March 
1897) that England was scheming to bring about a war 
between continental States in order by that means to 
regain the predominance she had enjoyed in the age 
of Napoleon. Kaiser William held the same view, 
and thought that Salisbury wished to set Austria-Hun¬ 
gary and Russia at variance in the hope that the entire 
Triple Alliance would intervene in the affair. And in 
that event, said the Emperor, then “ Adieu , Africa ! ” 
(January 1897). “ Salisbury worked against the Sultan 

only because he thought Prussia would make the fall 
of the latter a pretext for occupying Constantinople, 
which would bring Francis Joseph into action.” 
William further accused England of financing the 
Armenian insurrection. The Chancellor took a some¬ 
what more reasonable view. He recognised that 


276 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

England was useful, her mere existence serving to 
maintain the balance of power in Europe, as she was 
a sort of lighting-conductor, though her policy was 
without character—it caused her to be hated and forced 
Germany to a defensive against her. 

At this period, as in the past, Holstein was actuated 
by his fantastic and unnatural suspicions. He averred 
that Salisbury had spread a report to the effect that he 
wanted Crete for England, for the purpose of provoking 
the other Powers into demanding slices of Turkish 
territory, in order that a great war might result. Hol¬ 
stein never could see anything but trouble in store for 
us ! Even in the things he had formerly regarded with 
favour, he now saw potential disaster. He gloomily 
predicted the alienation of Russia and France—formerly 
devoutly desired by Germany, and now feared by him. 
According to him France would come to an understand¬ 
ing with England regarding Egypt; Italy and Austria- 
Hungary would join the Western Powers, and Germany 
would be left alone with the treacherous Muscovites. 
He justified this view by pointing out that the real 
aim of Goluchowsky was to restore the former Crimean 
Coalition—England, France, and Austria-Hungary— 
in one camp, against Russia, and not the Triple Alliance. 
And that was in effect true—that Goluchowsky as a 
Pole had naturally a sympathy towards France and 
would have liked to see all Europe, including Germany, 
united in an anti-Russian policy. On one occasion 
Goluchowsky even hinted to Eulenburg the idea of 
Germany restoring Alsace-Lorraine to France as a 
preliminary to concluding an alliance with her against 
Russia. But Goluchowsky did not contemplate for 
a moment following a Francophil and anti-Russian 
policy without or against Germany. 


England , Egypt , Armenian Question , 277 

It was as clear as the noonday sun that the prime 
condition of any anti-German policy would be friend¬ 
ship with Russia, whereas his policy was mainly anti- 
Russian in tendency. Goluchowsky well knew that 
should Germany and Russia unite, we were lost! 

Russo-German co-operation would have swept the 
Balkans into the orbit of those two Great Powers, so 
that we should have been surrounded and crushed 
from three sides ere either France or England could 
have come to our rescue. 

The German premisses were all wrong. Salisbury 
was entirely innocent of the charge of fomenting a 
continental war. The British Premier was aware how 
impossible it would be for England to stand aloof from 
a war once begun, and the odds were that she would 
lose too much and win too little for him to find pleasure 
in starting a conflagration for the pleasure of assisting 
to put it out. Britannia ruled the waves ; she could 
defend her colonial empire, even extend it if necessary 
—why, then, should she want a world war ? 

Salisbury's Greek policy was just as easy to under¬ 
stand as his Armenian, without the necessity for adven¬ 
turous explanation. With regard to domestic policy, 
it would have been too costly and risky to co-operate 
with the blood-stained Sultan Abdul Hamid, who was 
so detested in England by the nickname of " Abdul the 
Damned ” Salisbury would most certainly have fallen 
if he had had the temerity to propose to maintain 
Turkish domination over Christian peoples. Apart from 
this, it was to the real interest of England to strengthen 
Greece. The latter lived entirely from maritime com¬ 
merce ; and England, commanding the seas, could 
always depend on her assistance, since, if at any time 
she should turn refractory, England could strangle her. 


278 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

Seeing that the Turkish rule in Crete could not be 
restored at the cost of defeating and massacring the 
insurgents, the best solution of the problem was the 
cession of the island to Greece. The British policy at 
this period was therefore perfectly comprehensible, 
without the least Germanophobe mental reservation 
or Machiavellian hope in a general clash of arms. Why, 
then, fall back on suspicions of plots and schemes which 
would have been contrary to the real interests of the 
British, and to the character, habits, well-known caution 
and circumspection of Salisbury ? Why apply improb¬ 
able explanations when there was an explanation that 
was simple, clear, logical, and to the point ? 


CHAPTER VI 


WILLIAM II AND NICHOLAS II 

T this period (February 1894) Emperor William's 
cherished ambition was personally to win the 



^ friendship of the new Czar and keep him under 
his influence. He had no thought of an alliance with 
Russia—that had been rendered impossible by the 
Franco-Russian Entente—though he contemplated 
Russia and Germany following a united policy on various 
questions of world-import; and he even entertained 
the idea that he—a stronger-willed personality—might 
contrive to guide and hypnotise his imperial cousin 
Nicholas through the medium of regular correspondence, 
to prevent him, in conjunction with France, from pro¬ 
secuting an anti-German policy. The cooler the rela¬ 
tions between Downing Street and the Wilhelmstrasse, 
the more important it was that the Kaiser should keep 
the Czar under his influence. Knowing that con¬ 
fidence begets confidence, he wrote in the most frank 
and unrestrained manner to “ Nicky," freely criticising 
his own people and foreigners alike. William treated 
his cousin with the frankness and sincerity of a beloved 
brother. A thorough autocrat himself, he knew how 
to play with consummate skill on the delicate chords 
of sentiment of his fellow-autocrat. For example, he 
confided to " Nicky ” (February 1895) that Bismarck was 
<f quite a common person ” ; and that " the Ultramontanes 
and Jew-ridden Socialists were ripe for the gallows ” ! 
Referring to the French, he expressed the hope that if 
Nicholas must make friends with those “ damned 


279 




280 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

rascals/' he would at least endeavour to make them 
behave themselves. On another occasion, also referring 
to the French, he expressed the conviction that they 
were “ cursed for their sin in shedding the blood of their 
divinely appointed monarch." How—asked Kaiser of 
Czar—can the latter have Russian revolutionaries and 
republicans hanged when he is at the same time con¬ 
sorting in Paris with other revolutionaries and repub¬ 
licans ? Moreover, William was constantly reminding 
" Nicky " of his (the latter's) aspirations in Asia and 
encouraging him to prosecute them. He painted in 
vivid colours the glorious destiny of Russia to conquer 
the yellow race. He (William) would be her shield in 
the West, while she in the East distinguished herself as 
the redoubtable champion of European culture. What 
effect might all this be expected to have on the impres¬ 
sionable mind of the degenerate Czar ? The fact is that 
for a long time it rather alarmed than attracted him : 
“ Nicky " became afraid of his more vigorous kinsman 
and fellow-autocrat. Witte, in his Memoirs , says: 
“ The physically and mentally weak Czar entertained 
an insensate jealousy of his cousin William." A photo¬ 
graph representing the tall, strong, imperious, 
soldierly figure of “ Willy" side by side with the 
emaciated, weary, listless “ Nicky" made such a 
sensation as soon as it was seen that it was forbidden 
to take copies of it. Such a striking contrast between 
strength and weakness would have wrought irreparable 
mischief to the authority of the Czar. He was for 
years obsessed by the feeling that the Kaiser desired to 
exploit him and lead him astray. 

The German official policy was entirely in harmony 
with the personal efforts of the Emperor. Under 
Hohenlohe' s Chancellorship the guiding motive of 



William II and Nicholas II 281 

German foreign policy was the cultivation of friendly 
relations with Russia. This was what actuated Germany 
when she, together with France and Russia, took up an 
anti-Japanese attitude in the Far East; just as it had 
been with regard to the Armenian and Greek Questions 
some time earlier. But this attempt at rapprochement 
also failed to set Russo-German relations on a firmer 
basis than that represented by the personal efforts of 
the Kaiser. As we have seen, the after-effect of the 
Asiatic Triple Alliance was not fortunate ; the combined 
action left a certain mistrust behind it. The permanent 
weakness of the Russian orientation constituted a 
kind of Damocles' sword hanging over it. 

The possibility of a conflict between the aims of 
Austria-Hungary and Russia in the Balkans was not 
to be ignored ; Russia could not depend on Germany, 
as she felt in the event of a war with Austria-Hungary, 
Germany would be found in the opposite camp, even if 
—as in the time of Bismarck—the Balkan policy of 
Russia were nearer to Germany than to Austria-Hun¬ 
gary. True it was that, since the Bulgarian Question 
was settled, there had been no acute antagonism 
between the two rivals in the Balkans, but it might 
break out at any time, the ultimate aims of Austria- 
Hungary and Russia—especially in the matters of the 
Straits and Constantinople—being still diametrically 
opposed. This contingency Emperor William was 
anxious to eliminate, to promote friendship with Russia, 
and safeguard the peace of Europe, by solving this 
dangerous problem peacefully by way of compromise. 
With this object he enquired confidentially of England 
whether it were not possible to have all the forts guard¬ 
ing the Dardanelles dismantled and to have the Straits 
thrown open to the vessels of all nations. 



282 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

But this suggestion led to nothing. It was largely 
based on a misconception, as the idea suited the interests 
of the English alone, whereas the Emperor wished to 
follow a Russophil and not an Anglophil policy. It 
was against the interest of Russia, for whom the Mare 
Clausum was more profitable than the opening of the 
Straits, which would have extended the power of the 
British navy to the Black Sea. The proposal was even 
less welcome to Turkey, who could not preserve her 
independence without the means of defending herself 
at sea. If the Russian or the British fleet could at 
any moment sail up to the very gates of Dolma Bagtsche, 
defence would be impossible. Neither was the proposal 
compatible with the interests of the Dual Monarchy, 
who desired the preservation of the integrity of the 
Ottoman Empire. Furthermore, the proposal was 
inopportune. England, who could the most easily have 
accepted it, lacked confidence in Germany, whose ruler 
had mooted the idea ; and she preferred not to raise 
needlessly the question of the Straits. The Czar like¬ 
wise was reluctant to put the question on the agenda. 
It is true that on one occasion Lobanoff (August 1896) 
made a statement to Eulenburg, from which he might 
draw the inference that he was occupied with the 
Straits problem, but it was only a passing impression, 
that was never confirmed by any single act on the part 
of Russia. And at the unexpected death of Lobanoff, 
which occurred a few days after the conversation 
alluded to, Russia decided to let the matter drop. 

Nelidoff, Russian Ambassador to Constantinople, 
recommended that they should occupy the Straits; 
the majority in the Russian Government, however, 
voted against the proposal (December 1896). Lobanoff s 
successor was that very Muravieff who, as Minister of 


William II and Nicholas II 283 

Justice, together with Witte, Finance Minister, had 
most resolutely opposed the Ambassador's recommenda¬ 
tion. The policy of Russia stood entirely for expansion 
in the Far East, and therefore sought in the first place 
to maintain the status quo in the Near East; so that 
it was not a matter for surprise that the Emperor’s idea 
was barren of result. 

Then, however—no thanks to the diplomatic skill of 
either William or his Government, but entirely to the 
credit of Goluchowsky—a rapprochement was achieved 
between Austria-Hungary and Russia. As Russia at 
this period took care to avoid European complications 
and the Dual Monarchy defended the status quo , following 
a strictly conservative policy, it was possible for both 
these Powers to come to an agreement, which was reached 
through the assistance, intelligence, and influence of Cap- 
nist, Russian Ambassador to Vienna. When Francis 
Joseph, in the company of his Foreign Minister, visited 
St. Petersburg (April 1897), the main provisions of the 
agreement were as follows: the question of Constantinople 
and the Straits, being a purely European affair, should 
not be brought up; the status quo in the Balkans should 
be maintained by the two Powers, or, should this be 
found impossible, they undertook not only not to acquire 
territory themselves in that region, but also to prevent 
any third party from doing so. 

It seems there was some misunderstanding with 
regard to details between St. Petersburg and Vienna. 
Goluchowsky summed up the gist of the verbal resolutions 
as that they had agreed that in the event of a change of 
the status quo , Austria-Hungary should annex Bosnia- 
Herzegovina and the Sandjak of Novi Bazar, Albania to 
be created an independent State, and no one of the 
Christian States of the Balkans to have the preference 


284 The Chancellorship of Hohenlohe 

over the others. According to Muravieff, however, no 
agreement was reached on the two last-named points. 
They constituted matters for future consideration on 
which it was impossible then to occupy any definite 
standpoint. Separate negotiations and agreements 
would be necessary in their case, as with regard to the 
annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the delimitation 
of the boundaries of the Sandjak. 

Though the German Government rejoiced to see 
these differences between Russia and the Dual Monarchy 
happily composed, it was far from content with the 
transaction as a whole. It could not regard the future 
as sufficiently safe. Holstein, the eternal croaker, gave 
his opinion that the after-effect might be dangerous, 
as Russia would not be really satisfied because the agree¬ 
ment failed to secure for her a favourable solution of the 
Dardanelles Question; while Italy would be equally 
disappointed when she learnt that the agreement put 
a stop to her aspirations in the Balkans ; consequently 
it might turn out that Russia and Italy would both 
come to the conviction that their Oriental schemes could 
be realised only through opposition to Austria-Hungary. 
However, this adverse criticism notwithstanding, it can¬ 
not be denied that the diplomacy of Goluchowsky for a 
long time warded off the infection of the Balkan an¬ 
tagonism between Russia and Austria-Hungary, thereby 
rendering valuable service to Germany also. 


BOOK III 
WELTPOLITIK 


















CHAPTER I 
WILLIAM II AND BÜLOW 


I N October 1897 William II appointed Prince Bülow, 
erstwhile Ambassador to Rome, as his Minister for 
Foreign Affairs. This was an event of far-reaching 
importance, as it inaugurated the period of German policy 
in which the extra-European world-interests caused the 
interests of the Continent to be relegated to the back¬ 
ground. Hitherto the Emperor had chosen his advisers 
from the senior ranks, from men who adhered more or 
less to the fundamental principles of the Iron Chancellor 
and followed a strictly continental policy, with the main 
object of preserving the continental supremacy of Ger¬ 
many that had been won at the cost of so much blood 
and treasure. 

Now, in the person of Bülow, who took charge of the 
Foreign Office under the Chancellorship of the old Hohen¬ 
lohe, there came into its own for the first time in modern 
history the generation which, reared in a victorious 
Germany, instinctively followed the star of newer and 
higher ambitions. William II and Bülow complemented 
each other. The Emperor's political conceptions took 
definite shape in Bülow' s time alone, for prior to his 
taking office the sovereign had been unable to find a 
suitable instrument for their execution. 

Here, then, is the proper place to say a few words 
with regard to the personality and political importance 
of William II. 

The Emperor was unquestionably a man of no mean 
talents. A patriot of the first order, Bismarck could 

287 


288 


Weltpolitik 

not have loved his country more sincerely than his 
imperial master. A chauvinist to the backbone, William 
held the Germans to be the finest and first race on God's 
earth—while he was, of course, the first German ! Who¬ 
soever injured Germany, wounded him. He even de¬ 
spised his illustrious mother, the Dowager-Empress 
Frederick, for the sole reason that he thought her more 
English in sentiment than German. He came very near 
hating her for her ‘ perversity/ as he viewed it, in remain¬ 
ing in her heart and soul English after having become the 
wife of a German Emperor—the supreme representative 
of the German nation. It was a monstrous thing ! The 
whole English people had become hateful in his eyes. 

I once had an opportunity personally to observe the 
Emperor William in his quality as a German chauvinist. 
In the spring preceding the outbreak of the memorable 
World War I happened to be at Corfu with certain mem¬ 
bers of his Imperial Majesty's suite. Excavations were 
in progress, and it was inspecting these that the Kaiser 
called my attention to the fact that the ground-plan of 
the ancient Greek houses was exactly identical with that 
of the primitive German dwellings, which (he said) was 
a clear proof that the Hellenic people had received their 
culture from the creations of the original Germanic 
genius ! 

Emperor William had by no means the “ single-track 
mind of a certain prominent statesman recently de¬ 
ceased. He was exceedingly versatile, many-sided, and 
broad-minded. He could grasp the importance and the 
preliminaries of the economic development and cultural 
progress of his country better than most others. He 
extended his attention to the politics of the whole world. 
He rose to the height of studying the united interests 
of entire continents and of the races en masse. At one 


William II and Billow 289 

time he represented the Pan-Europe view-point, to rally 
all Europe against America. Later he identified him¬ 
self with the white races and saw the enemy in " the 
Yellow Peril/' Of course he invariably envisaged him¬ 
self as the head, centre, and representative of these great 
truths and grand moral forces. He possessed literary 
talent of the first order, good rhetorical ability, an excel¬ 
lent acquaintance with the classics, and a profound 
knowledge of the best scientific works. In Corfu he 
astonished us all by speaking for hours at a time, without 
preparation, on the subject of the excavations. His 
speech, teeming with brilliant remarks, enlivened by 
flashes of wit, and delivered in a lucid, easy style, mani¬ 
fested an exceedingly fine scholarship. When I ex¬ 
pressed to His Majesty’s entourage my admiration of the 
Kaiser’s oratorical gift, I was assured that he could 
speak with similar fluency and erudition on almost every 
branch of art and science ; the catholicity of his learning 
had often surprised savants of world-repute with whom 
he had come into contact. 

It was really remarkable that, in spite of the tremen¬ 
dous amount of work he accomplished and of his multi¬ 
farious duties, he could yet devote so much time to the 
most widely different branches of culture. What quick 
perception, excellent memory, and great staying power 
were necessary for all this ! The Emperor’s letters were 
always entertaining, often beautiful literary examples, 
and bore the impress of a virile character. He was a 
real charmeur. His moral character, moreover, was 
elevated ; his nature at bottom reliable, honest; he was 
ever actuated by the loftiest motives. He considered 
that he fulfilled a Divine vocation in leading the most 
gifted and upright nation on earth (i.e. the Germans) to 
that position of precedence and leadership to which de- 

19 


290 Weltpolitik 

stiny intended them and from which all humanity would 
profit. In this sacred mission he believed he was upheld 
and blessed by the Almighty Himself. When during the 
Russo-Japanese War he contemplated an alliance with 
Russia, after much anxious pondering (as he wrote to the 
Chancellor Bülow), he prayed to God for His guidance, and 
the Lord vouchsafed to answer his prayer. “ He would 
bring together them that should be brought together.” 

The miracle came to pass in the subsequent meeting 
of the Kaiser and the Czar ! The Czar had never been 
so friendly and confidential towards him before. And 
on his return home after the first day’s conversation, 
William opened his Bible at random and read: “ He shall 
reward every man according to his works.”* From that 
he drew renewed strength and confidence in the Lord’s 
guidance. And behold! next morning his cherished 
desire was fulfilled—the Czar and he signed the treaty of 
alliance. His heart overflowing with joy, William wrote : 
“ How near to us must have been the spirits of our com¬ 
mon ancestors at that solemn moment so fraught with 
importance for the future ! ” How little, however, did 
William know then that the Czar’s signature was utterly 
worthless, that the treaty would remain a dead letter, a 
mere “ scrap of paper,” that that event of “ far-reaching 
historic importance ” would prove nothing but a farce ! 

Emperor William’s intentions were always eminently 
pacific. It was his laudable ambition to raise his 
country to the highest pinnacle of culture that she was 
capable of attaining and thus to enrich her. But at the 
same time he was a soldier from the crown of his head to 
the sole of his foot. He placed unbounded faith in his 
army, which he petted in every possible way and delighted 
in leading, though he never yearned for martial glory, 

* St. Matt. xvi. 27. 



William II and Bülow 291 

even in his youth. With his high sense of duty, life to 
him was not mere ostentation and pleasure, pomp and 
circumstance, but strenuous work and constant study 
to keep abreast of the times. 

In spite, however, of his good intentions and excel¬ 
lent qualities, William lacked the essentials of a great 
statesman and soldier. He was an artist rather than 
a politician. He was not by any means as bold and 
resolute as he liked to believe himself, and as it was 
absolutely necessary that he should be, in order to 
accomplish his sublime aims and reach the goal he had 
set himself. Behind the awe-inspiring Imperator Rex 
was hidden a vacillating, undecided, irresolute spirit 
more akin to Hamlet than to Caesar. The ruthless 
proclamations he at times issued were probably only 
intended to cover his real state of indecision. His uncle 
King Edward VII once gave him the testimonial that 
he was " the most brilliant failure on record ”! He 
was undoubtedly a dilettante to a certain extent: he 
meddled too much, made speeches too often, and 
insisted on leading in matters in which he was incom¬ 
petent. Louis XIV of France on one occasion said 
that “ Kings should take heed to their words, for it is 
impossible to speak overmuch without making mistakes, 
and kings should endeavour to avoid making mistakes/' 
More than once the late Kaiser Francis Joseph said to me, 
with a shake of his venerable head : “ Wenn nur der 
deutsche Kaiser schweigen könnte! Er spricht zu viel, 
zu oft. Es ist besser, dass wir schweigen und lassen 
unsere Minister reden ” (“ What a pity the German 
Emperor cannot hold his tongue ! He talks too much 
and too often. It is better for us to be silent and let 
our ministers make the speeches/') 

Both these exalted rulers were unquestionably right. 


292 Weltpolitik 

Though opposed in many respects, they resembled each 
other in the one thing, of thoroughly understanding their 
profession of governing nations. 

William II was impetuous, easily influenced, and 
sometimes weak. There were occasions, not seldom, 
when he yielded to the advice of others against his own 
better judgment and knowledge. Too impressionable, 
a passing whim, a mood, a symptom, a mere sign, were 
sometimes sufficient to captivate him and cause him 
to regard what was merely possible as a certainty. 

Such impulsiveness made him appear fickle. What 
to-day he said was proper would to-morrow be quite 
inadmissible—he would declare for the very opposite. 
He would erect complete systems on the flimsiest 
premisses. From the most trivial exterior symptoms 
he would pretend to read the inmost secrets of the 
hearts of others. He had a too vivid imagination, 
which sometimes ran riot and caused his policy to be 
inconsistent, reckless, improvised, and based on merely 
superficial observations. 

Imagination is a very necessary quality in a states¬ 
man ; without it no really successful statesman can 
be conceived. In political life one cannot always work 
with positively known factors, figures, and data which 
can be tested by any scientific process. Unlike the 
scientist, the politician cannot make experiments ; he 
must often, from the known facts, deduce conclusions 
with regard to the unknown. The void between the 
known and the unknown must be filled in solely from his 
imagination, his intuition. The wings of imagination 
often help the statesman to mount above the mists of 
uncertainty to the serene regions of light and truth. 
Yet the most valuable quality of the armour of every 
statesman is pure common sense, in order to form sound 


William II and Bülow 293 

judgment. Wherever there exists no just balance 
between cold reason and imagination, and the visionary 
world of the latter disturbs and obstructs clarity of 
vision, it is only too easy to make mistakes and arrive 
at false conclusions on grave questions for which nations 
may have to pay the price in their blood and perhaps 
even the loss of their liberty. 

That gifted statesman Disraeli, in one of his novels, 
puts into the mouth of one of his characters the follow¬ 
ing : “ Cyprus is necessary to England.” Beaconsfield, 
as Prime Minister, brought this seemingly venturous 
idea into line with the requirements of practical politics 
and carried it out. In this case we have imagination 
and hard-headed thinking supplementing and balancing 
each other so evenly that neither quality prevented the 
healthy exercise of the other. 

In Hungary Stephen Szechenyi was perhaps the 
statesman par excellence who was endowed with the 
most useful imagination, and whose imagination, 
inspired by his heart which beat so passionately for 
his country, felt and appreciated the dangers which it 
was scarcely possible by scientific means alone to foresee 
and combat. Just as a loving mother’s intuition warns 
her of peril menacing her children, so Szechenyi per¬ 
ceived the ailments of his country earlier than anyone 
else. The Emperor William had unfortunately not the 
mental equipment necessary to his difficult task, and 
his imagination sometimes led him astray. Thus, when 
he conceived the idea of arraying Europe against 
America, he forgot that the former, as a moral unity, 
simply had no existence—that England, e.g., was 
nearer in sympathy to America than to any European 
country ; and Emperor William himself would have been 
only too happy to gain the support of the Transatlantic 



294 Weltpolitik 

Republic in his fulminations against the Yellow men. 
He forgot further that Japan was nearer in sympathy 
to England than to Russia, the representative of the 
white race ; that Japanese officers were studying in 
German colleges, and that the assistance of Dai Nippon 
might some day be invaluable also to Germany. Many 
interesting and useful books might have been written 
on these theoretical generalisations of the Emperor, as 
they could throw light upon and prepare the way for 
the realisation of existing forces ; they were, however, 
most unsuitable as the utterances of a practical states¬ 
man—more especially of a sovereign—being profoundly 
offensive and calculated to create a permanent anti¬ 
pathy where previously had been merely a temporary 
conflict of interests, for they presented the problems of 
the future as though they were those of the present 
day. 

William IDs inordinate vanity and fondness for the 
limelight unnecessarily exposed him to not a few failures, 
rebuffs, and aspersions. He could not suppress the 
theatrical in him ; he liked to strut about as on a stage. 
Quick of temper, in his anger he was apt to lose sight 
of the high importance of his words, and utterances 
escaped him which ought never to have been spoken, 
and for which he had to pay the penalty in misunder¬ 
standing and loss of respect. 

I have often had occasion to refer to the sharp per¬ 
sonal attacks he made, so unworthy of and degrading 
to his exalted rank and station, and which increased 
the number of Germany’s enemies. 

Sometimes his inconsiderate outbursts caused the 
imperial policy to appear in a wrong light. As an 
example of this gaucherie, once, in conversation with 
the Boer Envoy, the Emperor remarked that Delagoa 



William II and Bülow 295 

Bay, connecting the Transvaal Republic with the sea, 
should be either Boer or German. This was merely 
a thoughtless personal utterance of the Kaiser’s ; the 
German Government did not dream of acquiring the 
Bay by conquest or otherwise. Yet it caused the seeds 
of suspicion to be sown among Boers, British, and 
French, all three being interested in the question. So 
little did Germany think of the acquisition of Delagoa 
Bay that Holstein said “ she was not so stupid as to 
wish to be bothered with it.” 

William’s impulsiveness frequently led to his dis¬ 
comfiture : as when he made statements and brought 
accusations that he found himself unable to substantiate. 
Such indiscretions naturally had the effect of weakening 
his authority. It had a deleterious effect on the develop¬ 
ment of his character that he had been on bad terms with 
his parents ; he had come to the throne too young, he 
was surrounded by flatterers, and by so very few who 
had the courage to tell him the plain truth. Never¬ 
theless, take him altogether, William II was a man of 
parts, from whom much good might have been expected ; 
born in any sphere, he would undoubtedly have made 
his mark and left a name behind him. 

His importance was not due to his rank alone, but 
to his innate personal qualities. He was a splendid 
representative of his then rising Fatherland before the 
forum of the world. His versatility, genuine patriotism, 
and fine natural talents, had in not a few directions a 
beneficent influence on the welfare of his nation. It 
was due to him in a great measure that Germany up 
to the outbreak of the war was able to show such wonder¬ 
ful progress in most branches of her cultural and 
economic life ; that her production had risen by leaps 
and bounds ; that her army was the first and best- 


296 Weltpolitik 

equipped in the world, unequalled for moral, discipline, 
and intelligence ; that her latest offspring—the German 
navy—was healthy and growing rapidly ; and finally, 
that the age of William II had achieved a worthy place 
in the spheres of art and science. The Kaiser's personal 
merits had exalted the German self-consciousness and 
awakened confidence in the future of the Teutonic race. 
The verdict of posterity on his reign would undoubtedly 
have been favourable if only he could have confined his 
ambitions within proper bounds ; if only he could have 
averted the crowning disaster and preserved the peace 
of the world, he would in spite of his foibles have been 
acclaimed as one of the best of rulers and awarded an 
illustrious niche in the temple of fame. 

However, the time has not yet arrived to deliver 
a correct judgment on the character of William II. 
We lack all the evidence and are too close to the events 
to be free from the bias of personal experiences and 
a too vivid tradition. Future ages will certainly judge 
William more leniently than the present, which is unjust 
to him, losing sight of his unexampled tragedy and 
awful penance under the effect of the universal suffering 
and distress associated with his name, but for which 
he was only partly responsible. The Germans will 
never forget that he was a sincere lover of the Father- 
land, devoted heart and soul to the welfare of his people, 
and therefore they will not withhold their meed of 
sympathy for their fallen monarch sitting disconsolate 
within the shadow of adversity. When the scales of 
prejudice no longer obstruct our eyes, we shall see that 
William was a man of peace who sought his true glory 
in enriching and elevating his people, and that the abomi¬ 
nable World War was not his doing (though the cataclysm 
may perhaps have been contributed to by his errors and 



William II and Billow 297 

fallacious calculations—like those of so many other 
statesmen and patriots), and that his moral reprobation, 
the desire to take revenge upon him, is, or was, the intel- 
gible but insensate exasperation of his enemies : a mental 
aberration, which history will certainly correct and of 
which many are already beginning to feel ashamed. 

It was the fate of William II and the world that he 
should be moved to strike out new paths for his people, 
that he should be ambitious to be numbered among the 
great Hohenzollerns and to mark an epoch in the history 
of the German race. Not content with keeping what 
his ancestors had acquired and to go steadily forward 
along the well-beaten track, he would play the part of 
pioneer in uncharted regions of political activity and 
add his own contribution to the lustre of his imperial 
House. But he was lacking in the strength of charac¬ 
ter and statesmanship necessary to achieve a task so 
stupendous. 

In removing Bismarck, his erstwhile mentor, his politi¬ 
cal model until then, the genius who had founded the 
German Empire, the man to whom the Hohenzollerns 
and all Germany owed a debt of gratitude they could 
never repay, young William was actuated by the motive, 
comprehensible in princes, of ruling alone, of sharing his 
power and prestige with no other man. It was no more 
than Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, had done 
when he dismissed his uncle, Michael Szilägyi, to whom 
he owed his crown ; than King Louis XIV in getting rid 
of Cardinal Mazarin, the victor of the Fronde campaign— 
the last serious rebellion of the powerful vassals—the 
man who had made him (Louis) the mightiest among 
the rulers of the world. In William's case, however, 
the act avenged itself upon its author by swelling his 
self-conceit and obsessing him with the idea that he was 



2 gH W eltpolitik 

predestined to accomplish infinitely more glorious deeds 
than could be expected of a Chancellor ; he had to justify 
his harsh and arbitrary act by splendid achievements in 
the field of statesmanship—a task, alas ! too great for 
his limited powers. 

The great Elector, by his wise policy and firm adminis¬ 
tration, founded Prussia and made her one of the strongest 
of the German States. Frederick II, the most renowned 
political and military genius born to the throne in the 
last centuries, raised the Kingdom of Prussia to a Euro¬ 
pean Power capable of holding its own in a seven years' 
struggle against three Powers and which eventually 
became one of the leading factors in European politics. 
William I—aided by his faithful lieutenants, Moltke and 
Bismarck—welded together the loose components of 
the German race under Prussian hegemony into the 
mightiest State of continental Europe. 

William II wished to go a step—or a series of steps— 
further. Of this first continental Power he would make 
a great World-Power. He announced that the “ future 
of Germany is on the sea." Germans scattered all over 
the globe were to be gathered into a higher moral unity. 
Not in Europe alone, but in every part of the world, 
German culture, German power, German prestige, should 
be accorded their just due. His ambition was perfectly 
comprehensible and, though so grandiose, was not with¬ 
out justification. The German nation could not pro¬ 
perly develop all her powers and resources, increase in 
wealth to the limit attainable, manifest her qualities of 
statesmanship, make her influence felt upon the future of 
humanity to the extent to which her cultural and moral 
standard entitled her, and make her voice heard on ques¬ 
tions of world-import, except by possessing a powerful 
navy and considerable colonies—by representing on and 




William II and Billow 


299 

over the seas a World-Power with which even mighty 
Britain would not care to try conclusions, which (given 
a suitable ally) might even defeat Britain, and to look 
askance at which might entail serious consequences. 

Remarkable as it may seem to English readers, it was 
William's English blood that impelled him along this 
road towards collision with England ; the subconscious 
effect of English traditions. His own experience, how¬ 
ever, also taught him the high importance of naval power. 
It was his poverty in warships that had obliged him to 
play second fiddle in the Eastern Question, the German 
naval strength being inadequate to sustain an inde¬ 
pendent role before Greece, Crete, and Constantinople. 
William realised that England was master of the situation 
in Africa simply because of her predominant position at 
sea. In the Boer Question she adopted a solution repug¬ 
nant to everybody and against the interests of Germany, 
without anyone being in a position to gainsay her. Ger¬ 
many was of no account in most questions affecting the 
fate of mankind at large. In vain were the Emperor’s 
great qualities and power ; he must remain in the second 
rank unless he could become important at sea. The 
real Lord of the World was not he, nor yet Germany, but 
his odious uncle King Edward VII and the proud British 
nation over whom he reigned. Until he had a strong navy 
he would have to bear much from England. He was not 
even master of his own fate. Therefore he must have a 
navy as soon as possible. Then he could command the 
attention of other nations. Then he would be accorded 
precedence. Then the German people would become 
what God destined them to be—the leaders of the world. 

William’s was a grand and beautiful ideal. What 
historic importance it lent to his own person ! Its suc¬ 
cess would relegate his scurvy treatment of Bismarck to 



300 Weltpolitik 

oblivion. It was, however, incompatible with the actual 
conditions and situation of world-politics. The trial 
would be too great for his country to sustain, it being, 
apart from that, already sufficiently handicapped by its 
geographical position. Catastrophe might overtake his 
scheme ere it had time to fructify. It would create new 
enemies, arouse new clashings of interests, when even the 
existing ones taxed a considerable part of the strength of 
Germany. She would be no longer able to give atten¬ 
tion to her vital interests in Europe alone—the preserva¬ 
tion of peace and the maintenance of the balance of power 
—but she would have to give ear to her distant interests 
in Asia, Africa, and America, which might often come 
into conflict with her interests in Europe. 

Hitherto the overseas ambitions of all the other 
Powers had worked for the good of Germany. Bismarck 
used the British plans in Egypt and those of the French 
in Tunis for the purpose of winning England and isolating 
France, if only temporarily. The Iron Chancellor would 
have similarly exploited the French appetite for Morocco ; 
but in that age of Weltpolitik the ambitions of France in 
that quarter had become a source of bitter struggle, 
pernicious rivalry, and dark suspicion. Germany lost 
the ascendancy derived from her interests and prestige 
not being everywhere affected. In Central Europe, with 
many enemies east and west, with few to understand and 
sympathise with her, her upward path was almost as 
thorny as it had been in Bismarck's time, when the union 
of the German people was in question. Notwithstanding 
this, William II was anxious to accomplish his object by 
pacific means, though it was hardly probable that he 
would succeed. Such a position of power as he contem¬ 
plated was difficult to attain and retain short of fire and 
sword and the smile of fortune—the latter a factor on 




William II and Billow 301 

which no one ought absolutely to rely. Bismarck was 
persuaded that war alone could place him in possession 
of the object of his desires, and he therefore directed all 
his efforts to bringing about the—as he believed—in¬ 
dispensable conflict. In the earlier part of his career 
he had schemed to prosecute such campaigns as were 
most profitable for his country at the moment that 
promised the best chances of success, and at the same 
time to shift the odium for the bloodshed on to his foes. 
William would have preferred to reach the necessary 
position of power without war ; and for that very reason 
he had to face the risk of his enemies choosing the moment 
most auspicious for themselves to attack him ; or else 
owing to the universal rivalry, loss of confidence, and 
anxiety caused by the Weltpolitik , the overstrained cord 
might snap at an inopportune moment. 

In determining his aim the Emperor omitted also 
to reckon with the impossibility of securing the desired 
result by the single-handed efforts of his own country, 
even though she were willing to sacrifice everything for 
it. There was the contingency—even the probability— 
that other States would make up their minds to efforts 
similar to his ; especially England, the island kingdom, 
which for so many centuries had never been burdened 
with the maintenance of immense standing armies. Rich 
as she was, she was capable of enlarging her navy to an 
extent that Germany could not dream of ; and the final 
result of the wild competition thus initiated would be no 
change in the proportion of power, but the overburdening 
of all the nations, without Germany being one whit nearer 
the naval standard of the historic Mistress of the Seas. 
Britain’s naval supremacy was the chief guarantee of her 
safety, of her very existence, and it might well be believed 
that she would sacrifice her last farthing in its behalf. 





302 Weltpolitik 

William's new conception brought the development 
of Europe under a new constellation, multiplying the 
contingencies of war and casus belli. It meant a long 
step downwards towards the abyss. After the triumphs 
of Bismarck the only aim of the new Empire should have 
been to maintain peace, without prejudicing of course 
the authority and honour of the nation. Two of the 
Iron Chancellor's successors—Caprivi and Hohenlohe — 
had followed in the footsteps of the great empire-builder. 
But now things had changed. Though William II 
equally wanted peace, not satisfied with that alone, he 
had advanced a new pretension: the acquisition of 
power in world-politics. He aimed at founding a new 
world-empire, thereby changing and jeopardising the 
whole European situation. 

This Weltpolitik was not the result of inevitable 
necessity. The colonies acquired in Bismarck's time 
and subsequently, as well as the spoils already marked 
out for future acquisition, were trifling matters compared 
to the great economic markets which German productions 
needed, and which could only be found within the bounds 
of Germany and under alien sway, and not on the newly 
acquired, newly conquered, thinly populated, uncivilised 
territory. Germany's economic future depended not 
on her colonising achievements, but on a proper customs 
and commercial policy, and especially on her avoiding 
a foreign political competition which might have 
disastrous consequences for her. Her economic develop¬ 
ment was not and could not be based on the number, 
size, and wealth of her colonies, but on the work done 
in Germany herself, on the learning of the German race, 
on her ability to organise her industry, and on her 
commerce, maintained not only by the home market but 
also by the immense consuming areas of the cultured 


William II and Bülow 303 

nations abroad. The almost incredible economic de¬ 
velopment upon which the colonisers based their 
arguments for expansion proved just to the contrary, 
that Weltpolitik was unnecessary, since it was possible, 
without extensive colonies, to grow rich at a rate and to 
a degree seldom experienced in history. 

The Weltpolitik piled up plenty of explosive material, 
nervousness, and suspicion, and added to the risks of 
collision, which were especially facilitated by the 
Emperor’s obtrusiveness, waywardness, swollen head, 
and sabre-rattling, the elusiveness of his entire per¬ 
sonality, and his imperious barrack-room manner—all 
apparently belying his pacific proclivities. 

Unfortunately Bülow was powerless to do anything 
to tone down these blemishes. Since Bismarck, he was 
the most talented minister of William II, the most 
talented of German diplomats, resourceful and sagacious, 
with the knack of presenting his aims and actions in the 
light rendered necessary by the situation of the moment 
or for the composing of conflicting interests. He was 
never at a loss for a bridge over any difficulty that might 
arise, if necessary to beat a retreat and cover up his 
tracks. Quick-witted, highly educated, he was one of 
the most brilliant causeurs I have ever met. His conver¬ 
sation was enlivened by the scintillation of intellectual 
pyrotechnics, with which none of his audience could dare 
to compete. He had an elegantly polished literary style ; 
his official reports were models of clear, interesting, and 
brilliant diction. He had diplomatic history at his 
finger-tips. An excellent orator, his speeches were 
always full of colourful, illuminating similes, quick 
repartee, sharp, clear epigram. Not a few of his bons 
mots found their way to the general public and became 
household words. With all these rare gifts, he possessed 



304 Weltpolitik 

consummate skill in handling the press and in disarming 
political opponents. He desired popularity, and he 
certainly knew how to get it. A disciple of Bismarck 
and one of the confidants of that great statesman, yet he 
did not fall with him. A proof of his skill is furnished 
by the fact that he could keep in the good graces of the 
Emperor without being cut by the ex-ChancelJor ; and 
when he became minister it was this very friendship 
with Bismarck which added to his importance and 
facilitated his task. 

Unfortunately, however, Bülow was a diplomat, a 
parliamentary tactician rather than a far-sighted states¬ 
man, who must stand high above the changing moods of 
the people, and be able to recognise, analyse, and assert 
the true interests of the nation in accordance with their 
value and importance, even if necessary in defiance of 
the popular opinion. Bülow could gauge to a nicety 
the odds on diplomatic contests; he could skilfully 
choose suitable instruments for the jobs on hand, and 
possessed strong nerves capable of sustaining perilous 
responsibility. And if he could act with resolution, he 
knew also how to climb down gracefully and put a 
smiling face on a lost game. He had a fund of native 
astuteness ; but though his cunning sometimes succeeded, 
it was too transparent, too obvious ; it created mistrust 
—which was to be regretted, since the new ambitions 
would remain in a peaceful groove only if the new policy 
of the Fatherland avoided causing general anxiety and 
mistrust. Bülow was rather an alarming, disturbing 
element in the rivalry of the Cabinets ; he created fear 
and uncertainty rather than calm reassurance; for 
though he was known to be a strong man, yet he was at 
the same time not regarded as a safe man. The chief 
trouble, however, lay in his failure to understand the 


William II and Bülow 305 

highest interests, the real situation and strength of his 
country. He pointed the Germans to ambitions involv¬ 
ing too great risks. He lost sight of the fundamental 
truth of the policy of his Fatherland that so long as the 
French problem remained unsolved, so long as France 
must be faced as a potential enemy in all wars in which 
Germany might be engaged, it was not permissible for 
the latter to pursue a policy calculated to estrange 
England, particularly if she were not convinced of her 
ability to alienate Russia from France and attach the 
Muscovites to herself against England. 

The Weltpolitik , by adding new antagonism and 
hatred to the old, to an extent which the sentiment of 
solidarity of the civilised world was powerless adequately 
to counterbalance, had rendered inevitable the final 
division of continental Europe into two opposing hosts. 
It added to the Franco-German and German-Slav 
antagonism the Anglo-German, which as a recently 
developed force gave the old antagonisms (which were 
beginning to subside) a new impetus and thus rendered 
the situation far worse than before. Whereas up to this 
time we had, since the Peace of Frankfort, witnessed no 
more than duels between single nations and diplomatic 
squabbles which did not necessarily involve all Europe 
in them, now, since the great progress of Weltpolitik, 
diplomatic disputes frequently arose in which all the 
Great Powers were concerned and in which not merely 
separate States were opposed, but mighty groups of 
States, alliances, and coalitions. This was just what 
prepared the way for the World War. And more, this 
piling of Pelion upon Ossa—in antagonisms and hatreds 
—was responsible for that other crying shame of modern 
history—the tyrannical Peace : a perpetration so mon¬ 
strously unjust that it could never have been possible 

20 


306 Weltpolitik 

had there been any neutral Powers whose impartiality 
could have been relied on—as had been the case since 
1815 up to that time. Only after the defeat of Napoleon I 
could conquerors have behaved in a fashion so dis¬ 
gracefully ruthless, callous, and savage as now. For in 
deciding the further fate of the Corsican, nearly all the 
States of any consequence took part. But then the 
Bourbons succeeded in saving France, by putting their 
country under the protection of the sentiment of solidarity 
animating the sovereigns. Now, however, the defeated 
States sought in democratic and republican sentiments 
that protection afforded in the past by legitimism. In 
vain ! The feeling of antagonism and hatred was more 
rabid in the democracies than in the former monarchies ; 
and the calculations of those who expected to be pardoned 
and saved if only they would place themselves beneath 
the protecting folds of the banner of Democracy proved 
a childish dream. 

Only by such machinations could have arisen the 
impossible situation in which we exist to-day : nations 
with full rights, nations with half rights; nations 
officially innocent, nations officially guilty; nations 
armed to the teeth, and nations stripped to the skin,— 
a situation that was fondly expected to usher in an era 
of righteousness and peace, on frontiers and economic 
conditions bound up together with the most unjust 
punitive measures ! 




CHAPTER II 


OPENING OF ALLIANCES. ITALY, AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, 

RUMANIA 

G ERMANY could have achieved a more conspicuous 
success with the new world-policy on and over¬ 
seas and accomplished her object only by pre¬ 
serving her European supremacy and her predominant 
continental situation. Consequently it was Billow's 
chief care to strengthen the Triple Alliance. This was 
a difficult task, however, as by this time the old structure 
had not a few defects and was becoming decrepit. 

The policy of Italy was not what it had been in the 
past. The regime of Crispi—the age when Italy was 
the most ferocious member of the Triple Alliance, when 
it was difficult to restrain her from attacking France— 
was now over. The failure of Crispi's policy had weakened 
in Rome the adherence to the Triple Alliance. The 
defeat of the Italian troops in Abyssinia ; the failure to 
realise the expansion expected from the assistance of 
the Triple Alliance ; the fact that England (regarded as 
an external member of the Triple Alliance) appraised 
the interests of Italy at a lower rate than did the Italians ; 
the economic losses resulting from the tariff war against 
France ; the tremendous burden of armaments, which, 
though having nothing whatever to do with the Alliance, 
was demanded in its interests and therefore put to its 
account,—were all things which deterred Crispi's suc¬ 
cessors from following his example. 

They, however, had no wish to desert the Triple 
Alliance, or to change their direction. The old Alliance 

307 



308 Weltpolitik 

had maintained the balance of power in Europe, and 
with that the peace which Italy so badly needed, 
especially after the debacle in Africa. Would not Italy 
risk forfeiting valuable advantages by turning her back 
on these tried friends and accepting the leadership of the 
French ? The domestic policy of France might change 
at any moment; Catholicism might triumph over 
Liberalism once more, and align itself with the Pope, 
thereby jeopardising Italian unity achieved at the 
expense of the Pope and by exploiting the political 
disabilities of France. 

Though the Governments succeeding Crispi would 
certainly not have concluded the Triple Alliance, never¬ 
theless they dared not take the responsibility of changing 
their direction and seeking new allies. Their aim was 
to make overtures to France, to restore friendly relations 
with that country, and thus facilitate an eventual change 
of direction without disputing the Triple Alliance and 
thus losing the protection it afforded. 

They sought, in the first place, to improve their eco¬ 
nomic relations with France, to open for Italy the rich 
French money market, to create the opportunity for 
Italy to have the choice of two directions, to keep two 
irons in the fire—either to improve her position within 
the Triple Alliance by exploiting the possibility of an 
alliance with France, or to increase her own importance 
in French eyes by virtue of her membership of the Triple 
Alliance. Italy elected to occupy a middle place in order 
that both groups might be obliged to court her favours. 

This political direction or theory was considerably 
enhanced by the skill and zeal of Barrere, the French 
Ambassador to Rome, who in his youth had taken part 
in the Paris Commune. Later in life he had been en¬ 
trusted with several missions, in which he had proved 



Opening of Italian and other Alliances 309 

himself a born diplomat. Thoroughly acquainted with 
the psychology of the masses, he not only observed and 
reported thereon, but acted. Besides negotiating with 
the Italian Government, he influenced the press and the 
general public. Not content with observing and taking 
advantage of changes in public opinion, he even created 
them. Diplomats are frequently the means whereby 
foreign ministers win glory and renown. Barrere has 
written his name on the scroll of French history. 
During his long term of office he exerted an immense 
influence on Italian foreign policy and became a powerful 
factor in the transformation of the political views of 
the Italians. 

His work was advanced by the assassination (June 
1900) of King Humbert—a staunch adherent of the 
Triple Alliance, whom we too trusted—by an anarchist, 
and this monarch's successor, Victor Emmanuel II, 
favouring a more active and ambitious foreign policy. 
His wife, Princess Helen of Montenegro, enlisted his 
interest in the Balkan Question, and excited his sympa¬ 
thies for the Slav aspirations, which were inimical to us. 
The King became envious of our successes in the Balkans 
and our intimacy with Russia. He was anxious lest 
Austria-Hungary should manifest a disposition to expand 
towards Albania or Salonica and thereby disturb the 
position of power on the Adriatic at Italy's expense. 
Thus he was without difficulty won for a policy diametri¬ 
cally opposed to that of King Humbert. He was troubled 
more about Balkan affairs than his father had been. For 
the time being, however, his objective was North Africa, 
where he hoped to achieve greater things than the pre¬ 
ceding regime had done. The first tangible result of the 
new policy—good relations with the French—was a 
secret agreement between Italy and France with regard 




3io Weltpolitik 

to Tripoli and Morocco, concluded behind the backs of 
the two other members of the Triple Alliance; a treaty 
followed, as regards Tripoli, by another with England, 
setting forth that there was no conflict of interest be¬ 
tween the two contracting parties in the Tripoli Question. 

This double agreement meant a great step towards 
the attainment of the old aims, the sacro egoismo of the 
Italians. Crispi had designed the Triple Alliance with 
a view to preventing the spread of France in North Africa 
without any equivalent expansion on the part of Italy ; 
and to procure for the latter eventually suitable compen¬ 
sation in respect of Tunis. But this result was not com¬ 
pletely realised, and instead of positive assistance, Italy 
had to be content with a promise to defend the unfavour¬ 
able status quo . She could not even bind the Triple 
Alliance as a whole to so much. As to North Africa, she 
could gain the support of Germany, but that only in the 
event of France violating the status quo. 

Italy made an excellent beginning with her new policy. 
She was able to agree with France in positive aims. She 
was at liberty to take to herself Turkish Tripoli on 
condition that she gave France a free hand in Morocco, 
where the latter asserted priority of claim. 

By this means Italy acquired and accorded to others 
the right, contrary to obligations as a member of the 
Triple Alliance, to defend the status quo in North Africa ; 
and got nearer to the realisation of her old true ambition— 
expansion in Africa. 

She approached with circumspection the victim 
selected for her repast. Her most redoubtable rival, 
her Gallic neighbour, had given her a free hand in Tripoli. 
And if the latter should ever repent of her bargain and 
quarrel with Italy, Germany would be obliged to support 
the Italians and defend them against an attack from the 


Opening of Italian and other Alliances 311 

French. Holstein, in his customary piquant style, 
wrote : “ Italy is setting out in company with France 

on a burgling expedition ; and she wants to put the swag, 
for safety against everybody (even her accomplice, 
France), under the protection of the Triple Alliance " 
(December 1901). 

The terms of this agreement were secret. Subse¬ 
quently, however, the Italians informed Bülow about it. 
He, of course, disliked the whole affair, but put a good 
face on a bad job, and made use of a simile, which after¬ 
wards became famous : “ Though a husband/' he said, 
“ should not object to his wife's favouring an admirer with 
a dance, he should endeavour to make her find her hap¬ 
piness in his own [i.e. her husband's] company." Truly 
sententious ! Bülow, however, resembled somewhat that 
type of husband who euphemistically terms his wife's 
deliberate unfaithfulness as “ merely a dance," either 
because he is unwilling to notice it lest the affair should 
end in the divorce court, or because he is foolishly blind 
to what everybody else can see with their eyes shut. 
For by this time the innocent “ dance " has been followed 
by clandestine assignations. Bülow was not told the 
real truth. Prinetti, the Italian Foreign Minister, pro¬ 
tested that in his view it would be disloyal to make any 
far-reaching treaty with France without informing his 
allies of the fact. Nevertheless he committed this 
disloyalty! He concluded with Barrere (November 
1902) a treaty providing that Italy should remain neutral 
if France were to be attacked by one or more Powers, or 
even if France were provoked into attacking Germany 
in defence of her honour or interests. A few years 
afterwards (1906) Foreign Minister San Giuliano acknow¬ 
ledged to the German Ambassador that he would never 
have concluded such a treaty. 


312 Weltpolitik 

And I can believe him ; for indeed it was not in keep¬ 
ing with the spirit of the Triple Alliance, and therefore 
not a sincere policy. 

In spite of the transformation of the Italian soul and 
her political aspirations, the Triple Alliance remained 
externally the same ; and Bülow and Goluchowsky even 
succeeded in renewing the Alliance by dint of skilful 
and deliberate tactics and without undertaking any 
further burdens. 

This time, too, Italy advanced a number of preten¬ 
sions. She demanded the renewal of the expiring 
economic agreement simultaneously with the conclusion 
of the new political treaty ; for only thus could she hope 
to carry the important wine duty clause in the teeth of 
the clamour of the wine-producers of the Dual Monarchy, 
and of Hungary in particular. Further, the Italians 
wanted an agreement with regard to the Balkans, in which 
they wished it expressly set forth that the status quo could 
only be changed in granting autonomy—especially to 
Albania, in which direction they feared the expansion 
of Austria-Hungary. Italian diplomacy also sought to 
give the Triple Alliance an anti-Russian complexion, 
though there was at that time a rather close co-operation 
between Austria-Hungary and the Czar in the Balkan 
Question. The Italians, e.g., tried to compel the Triple 
Alliance to defend the status quo also in the question 
of the Dardanelles. They sought to have a clause 
inserted in the treaty to the effect that Germany was 
absolutely disinterested in Tripoli. They also stipulated 
that the term of denunciation of the treaty should be 
shortened. 

In the end, however, the Italian Government yielded 
all along the line. The treaty was simply prolonged. 
With regard to Tripoli and the Balkans the Italians were 



Opening of Italian and other Alliances 313 

reassured by the identity of aims among the different 
contracting parties as demonstrated during the course 
of the negotiations. They dropped the economic 
agreement, and the commercial treaty was concluded 
only after a tremendous disputation by way of a 
compromise. 

Italy yielded because, though she did not want to 
break with the Triple Alliance, she did want to preserve 
the opportunity of choosing from the two combinations. 
By picking a quarrel with her old allies she would be 
left entirely at the mercy of France. Therefore she must 
be careful to retain the confidence of the French. Con¬ 
sequently Barrere was given such a version of the alliance 
as would reassure Delcasse, the French Foreign Minister. 
The latter was able to state in the Chamber that, accord¬ 
ing to the Italian Government, the policy of Italy was 
not directed against France ; that there was nothing 
menacing in the Triple Alliance, neither in the military 
measures nor in the diplomatic protocols thereof ; that 
Italy would never lend herself or be a party to an attack 
upon France,—all of which, though not quite true, was 
consonant with the views and aims of the Italians and 
would allay the misgivings of the French. 

Italy's new mentality was further manifested in her 
emancipation from her allies in the contingency of a crisis. 
According to the military convention in force up to that 
time, the Italian Third Army was immediately on a 
declaration of war to be despatched via Austria to the 
French front, to join in the offensive against the French. 
From the view-point of strategy this measure was quite 
correct; for the struggle would have to be decided on the 
French front; and unless the Italian troops wanted to 
shed their blood to no purpose on the Alpine heights, 
fortified by the French, or to play the inglorious role of 



314 Weltpolitik 

passive spectators, they had no alternative but to proceed 
to the Rhine. Such eminently wise and justifiable action 
would have created common cause between Italy and 
her allies from the moment of mobilisation, and on that 
account it would have been very objectionable to the 
changed soul of the Italians. 

The new Government regarded this old obligation as 
rather disturbing. When the German General Staff 
became aware of this, they relinquished their claim to 
the fulfilment thereof by the Italians, well knowing that 
to enforce the pledge would reduce it to a mere “ scrap 
of paper ” which would be even dangerous in creating 
illusions and leading astray. In this manner the King 
of Italy received a free hand in the event of war to 
dispose of his troops as seemed to him best. He was 
bound by no pledge any longer, and he could decide 
according to circumstances where his military forces 
should be sent. They might—said the Italian Govern¬ 
ment—make an effort in the Alps ; or they might either 
invade Switzerland (violating neutrality) or reach France 
by way of Austria. 

From this period the German General Staff were 
convinced that no positive assistance from Italy could 
be relied on. The only value of the Alliance in their 
eyes was the fact—an important fact, however,—that 
it at least would prevent Italy from turning against us, 
so that the entire Austro-Hungarian military strength 
could be devoted to the common cause. 

Italy managed her diplomatic action with admirable 
skill. She succeeded in retaining the protection of the 
Triple Alliance, while at the same time leaving a loop¬ 
hole by which she could, if it suited her interests, join 
its enemies. Legally and formally she was bound; 
politically she retained her freedom to choose between 




Opening of Italian and other Alliances 315 

the two groups of States. Thus her vote had acquired 
an enhanced value. 

It omened ill for us that public sentiment between 
Austria-Hungary and Italy became cooler from day to 
day. Rome, as may be understood, could not forget 
that Francis Joseph (owing to Vatican relations) had 
never returned King Humbert's visit to Vienna. The 
absolutely unfounded suspicion that Austria-Hungary 
had designs on Albania gained more and more credence ; 
and as, on the other hand, Rome certainly wanted 
Albania in the Italian sphere of influence, this meant 
a collision with the aim of the Dual Monarchy to play 
the leading part in that region. On the ground of an 
ancient right as protectors of the Catholics in Turkey, 
we exerted a certain influence over the Albanian schools. 
Without any such treaty right, but solely in virtue of 
her proximity, Italy commenced a competition with us 
to serve her own political interests ; and this had a bad 
effect on the cordiality of the relations between the two 
countries. The maintenance of true friendship was 
rendered exceedingly difficult by the anti-Italian temper 
of the Austrian Slav population and the irredentist 
tendencies of the Italian Youth movement, manifested 
in a number of demonstrations in both Italy and Austria. 

Once, on the occasion of the annual military 
manoeuvres, the Italian King himself became involved 
in the irredentist demonstrations—an incident which 
gave great offence to Goluchowsky, the Foreign Minister 
at Vienna, and caused him to consider whether the 
“ free-handed ” policy would not be preferable to the one¬ 
sided obligation towards Italy into which the Triple 
Alliance had now fallen. 

The alliance between Austria-Hungary and Germany 
was at this time without difficulty prolonged—auto- 




3 i6 Weltpolitik 

matically, as it were—though a few difficulties still 
existed between the two States. Of late the home 
policy of Austria had assumed a Slav tendency, and that 
circumstance might endanger the future of the Alliance. 
The rising Czech and Polish influence was viewed with 
mistrust at Berlin, and there was a sharp dispute in 
connection with the Polish exiles between the Austrian 
and Prussian Governments in their respective Parlia¬ 
ments, a dispute which decidedly exacerbated the 
prevailing sentiments. The Sovereigns and Foreign 
Ministers, however, adhered firmly to the old direction 
and German supremacy was gradually re-established in 
Austria. The Alliance was durable, though Germany 
looked with coolness on the development of Austria, the 
Polish influence, the struggle between the two halves of 
the Dual Monarchy culminating in the Ausgleich (com¬ 
promise) and the military problem agitating the 
Hungarian parties and the Austrian Germans. Ambassa¬ 
dor Wedell (September 1903) gave vent to his anxiety on 
the matter. Everywhere were misgivings felt with 
regard to the future of the Dual Monarchy. 

Goluchowsky was a man of greater independence 
than Kälnoky had been, and the good relations cemented 
by the former with St. Petersburg to no small extent 
disturbed the German Ambassador and even the Emperor 
himself. William feared lest the friendship of Austria- 
Hungary and Russia should reduce Germany to second 
rank and create in Vienna the mistaken idea that German 
friendship was less valuable than heretofore. 

This was but a passing mood, however. The real 
permanent conviction was, as the Emperor wrote in a 
marginal note (February 1902), that Austria would 
always obey him and the Czar, for the two made history 
and directed fate. 


Opening of Italian and other Alliances 317 

This tone, as may be supposed, dissatisfied Vienna 
and strengthened the hands of those in the Imperial 
City who desired another orientation, who complained of 
the prcepotentia of the Germans and of the fact that even 
in the Balkans Germany was scheming for economic and 
political connections behind the back of Austria-Hungary. 

Rumania, moreover, desired to alter the old relations, 
though at this time she appeared thoroughly reliable. 
So far she had concluded a treaty of defence only with 
Austria-Hungary, which was accepted separately by 
Italy and Germany. But now Stourdza, the Rumanian 
Premier, would have liked his country to join the Triple 
Alliance as a fourth. This would have flattered the 
vanity of King Carol far more than the hitherto secret 
role. Most probably the Rumanian public, too, would 
have been gratified, and they would have helped to root 
more firmly the idea of international friendship. But 
Germany was unwilling, especially as such an enlarge¬ 
ment and alteration of the Triple Alliance might create 
a bad impression in Russia, causing the latter to take 
more pains than hitherto to win Rumania and exert in 
Bucarest a livelier activity. Goluchowsky was willing 
to yield, for the sake of the King of Rumania, but he too 
finally adopted the German standpoint and the 
Rumanians withdrew their application. 

Another demand of Rumania was more important. 
Owing to the ambitions of the Bulgarians in Macedonia, 
Rumania desired the casus foederis to be extended to the 
contingency of Rumania attacking Bulgaria on account 
of the latter's schemes for the conquest of Macedonia. 
Bülow, however, very rightly objected to the Triple 
Alliance being given an offensive character. Thus 
Rumania failed also again, and could do no more than 
renew the Alliance in the old form (April 1902). 


CHAPTER III 


GERMANY'S FAVOURABLE SITUATION 

T first the general situation was favourable for 
Germany's programme of a new world-policy. 



The Powers who might stand in the way of 
German expansion, on whose jealousy it was necessary 
to reckon, became on bad terms with each other. Their 
extra-European interests and antagonisms came upper¬ 
most, disturbing the Powers' connections with each other. 
A return to the situation of the early eighties was expected, 
when Gladstone's Egyptian and Ferry’s Tunis adventures 
rendered the good-will of Germany a valuable asset for 
them both. 

The one fact of prime importance emerging therefrom 
was that, since Lobanoff’s day, Russia had gravitated 
towards Eastern Asia, thereby arousing the jealousy of 
England and Japan and giving to Russian sentiment an 
anti-British and anti-Japanese turn. This necessitated 
that St. Petersburg should court the friendship of Berlin 
and Vienna. 

The perennial sources of Oriental trouble were still 
active, but the entente between Russia and Austria- 
Hungary stood the difficult test. In the Balkans was an 
external cause of unrest: Bulgaria, who was ambitious 
to become “ Great Bulgaria " and who was counting on 
a Macedonian rising accompanied with atrocities which 
would result in Russian or British intervention. But 
there were also internal causes for the return of the former 
anarchy. The Turkish administration was utterly cor¬ 
rupt. Its treasury was empty, so that it could not pay 
the salaries of its officials. Neither could it carry out 


Germany's Favourable Situation 319 

reforms for the benefit of the community. The control 
of the administration, the final decision in all matters, 
rested with the cowardly, cunning, and cruel Assassin of 
Stamboul, or with his scarcely less contemptible ministers, 
wretches devoid of character or convictions, whom 
Marschall, the German Ambassador, correctly described 
when he wrote that (under Ottoman rule) “ the minis¬ 
terial office and convictions were incompatible, an 
independent-minded man with convictions being the 
most unsuitable person for a minister/’ 

The problem of administration was wellnigh impos¬ 
sible of solution. Even a good bureaucracy would 
scarcely have been equal to the task, to say nothing of 
the rotten Turkish tyranny misnamed government . For 
peace had to be preserved and justice meted out among 
savage races imbued with hatred against each other—* 
not striving for right and liberty, law and order, but 
each for himself, those lofty and noble watchwords 
being used only to throw dust in the eyes of Europe. 
The Turks dare not openly resort to military measures 
to suppress the rebellion, since that was forbidden by 
the public opinion of Russia and England. The European 
Powers, in their jealousy of each other, had been con¬ 
stantly meddling with the domestic affairs of the Ottoman 
Empire, and thus had weakened the authority and power 
of the central government just when its authority and 
power were essentially necessary for the suppression of 
anarchy. The advice offered to Turkey by the various 
Powers was mostly contradictory, countering each other, 
being not the result of the objective deliberations of 
experts but of selfishness, mutual jealousy, and rivalry. 

At this time the Macedonian disturbances were 
agitating the public mind. The situation was particu¬ 
larly complicated, as the region in question was popu- 





320 Weltpolitik 

lated by a conglomeration of the most heterogeneous 
peoples of the Balkans. Goluchowsky and Lobanoff 
were fortunately able to avoid a conflagration by agreeing 
(December 1902) on a moderate programme by which 
it was possible to save the Sultan’s authority and give 
him a free hand to act with that vigour and promptness 
the case demanded. But when, notwithstanding, the 
potentate of Yildiz failed to restore order, and Bulgarian 
intervention still seemed likely, Russia and Austria- 
Hungary made new demands upon him. These too, 
however, were reasonable and, after some bluster, the 
Sultan accepted them (November 1903). 

This likewise, alas ! led to no rest and tranquillity. 
The Macedonian problem had still to experience many 
trials, and for a long time kept on tenterhooks all the 
diplomats of Europe. Nevertheless, the peace of 
Europe was not seriously disturbed : for Austria-Hungary 
and Russia held together, Germany backed them up, 
and England—though she insisted upon radical reforms, 
in order to maintain her prestige and embarrass the 
Russians, whose policy she detested—refrained from 
any particular action. Now also the Germans affected 
to see veiled malice in every step that England took. 
Their pessimism, however, had no serious consequences; 
the Balkan imbroglio was unable to disturb the rather 
favourable European situation, proving that it was not 
the controversies on the Balkan Question that were 
the real reasons for the great complications, but, on the 
contrary, the Balkan situation became critical as the 
relations of the European Powers became unpropitious. 

The accomplishment of Bülow’s great plans was not 
favoured by the good relations between Russia and 
Austria-Hungary alone, but also by the sharp antagonism 
subsisting between France and England. 


Germany's Favourable Situation 321 

In 1897 a small force of Frenchmen from the East 
African coast turned up, after an adventurous march 
lasting several years, in the neighbourhood of the Nile 
Valley, with the avowed intention of proclaiming the 
sovereignty of the French Republic over that tract. 
This, of course, was in opposition to the English point 
of view that England alone was entitled to occupy the 
riparian region so vitally important for the British Empire. 
In the following summer (1898), Major Marchand, of 
the French army, hoisted the tricolor at Fashoda. The 
British commander, General Kitchener, hurried to the 
scene and protested against the act (19th September). 
A serious diplomatic collision ensued, and hostilities 
came within a hair-breadth. But France at length 
yielded. Indeed she could not do otherwise, for British 
power exceeded that of the French. Kitchener was on 
the spot with the victorious troops with which he had 
smashed the Mahdi, reconquered the whole Sudan, and 
thereby extended the military might of Britain in Egypt 
held since Gladstone's time. 

Against such a Great Power, France could not 
depend on any serious support from any quarter. She 
could not transport her troops to the scene of action, 
since Britain held the seas. France realised that ever 
since Napoleon I the Island Kingdom had been able 
to inflict upon her far greater wounds than she could 
hope to return. This explains why, in spite of the hate 
of the French for the English since the defeat of the 
former at Waterloo, their Gallic neighbours have never 
dared seriously to oppose them. And how could they 
hope to do so now, when they were in permanently hostile 
relations with their big continental neighbour ? After 
Sedan, they could not risk another Trafalgar. The credit 
for England's swift and stern action was due chiefly to 
21 


322 Weltpolitik 

Chamberlain, who possessed greater will-power and higher 
perspicacity than Salisbury, though he had less diplo¬ 
matic skill and experience. He was rather a type of 
the modern, egoistic, bluff, but straight and practical 
business-man than a suave diplomatist of the Metternich 
or Talleyrand school. 

The antagonism of England, which became so critical, 
lay heavily on the French idea of revanche for 1870-1. 
Now was the time—if ever—when France must beware 
of offending Germany. If she must bend before England 
on account of Germany, she must be equally cautious 
towards Germany on account of England. 

For the time being neither France nor England could 
continue an anti-German policy. The Fashoda incident 
eased the situation of Germany also by loosening the 
ties binding France to Russia. When the French, in 
their hour of humiliation, needed the support of their 
ally, they had to make the bitter discovery that she was 
a broken reed. Though the Muscovites were ready to 
identify themselves in principle with the cause of France, 
yet they declared that, owing to affairs in Asia requiring 
their present attention and in view also of the approach 
of winter, they would be unable to assist France for some 
time at least. This discounted the practical value of 
the friendship and dissipated the blind confidence of 
the French in their Russian Ally. 

The fact that England, besides having incurred the 
wrath and animosity of the French, also had her hands 
full with the South African problem was exceedingly 
opportune for Germany at that time. The differences 
between the Boer Republic and England were becoming 
daily more acute. The indefatigable Chamberlain, the 
most energetic member of the Salisbury Cabinet, had 
made up his mind to annex the peasants’ commonwealth. 



Germany s Favourable Situation 323 

He might have been content with consolidating the 
British power there, instead of the Dutch, by constitu¬ 
tional means, through the enfranchising of the English 
fortune-hunters, employers and employes, who dwelt 
in considerable numbers in the Transvaal. But President 
Krüger seeing that in the long run the granting of the 
franchise was the surrendering of the independence of 
the Boers, and that to comply with the demands of the 
British Government would mean British supremacy 
over the Republic, there was but little prospect of 
arriving at an agreement. A war followed (October 
1899), which was not without danger for England, in 
view of the valour, excellent military training, and (at 
the beginning) numerical superiority of the burghers. 


CHAPTER IV 


THE “ FREE HAND” POLICY. FIRST OVERTURES FROM 

ENGLAND 

I N this situation Bülow deemed himself strong enough 
to make a bold bid for colonies ; openly to declare 
his ultimate aim: the building of a powerful 
navy, without seeking new allies, without limiting his 
freedom of action by new trammels, without fear of 
any war against a Great Power. In his opinion, the 
best plan was to choose the middle path between England 
and Russia and wait. The good-will of Germany was 
important for everybody, and therefore she could afford 
to wait and demand for herself a “ place in the sun.” 
She risked little by acting boldly. 

Bülow, unlike Bismarck, was not perturbed by the 
nightmare of coalitions. He thought it out of the 
question for the time being that England, France, and 
Russia should come to any understanding ; and so long 
as the difference existed between France and England, 
he just as little feared that France and Russia would 
follow any active policy against Germany. * 

Emperor William and Bülow made their debut on 
the political stage when Germany had already become a 
Great Power. Both men were reared in an atmosphere 
of German supremacy, and thought that much more was 
in their reach than did Bismarck, to whom German 
supremacy on the Continent was a sort of miracle ; for 
he well remembered the time when Prussia had to defer 
to the Habsburgs in regard to the domestic affairs of 
Germany. Bismarck's aspirations and ambitions were 
within more modest limits than those of his successors, 

324 



The “ Free Hand ” Policy 325 

who had obtained from his very successes the opportunity 
and the impetus for greater and bolder pretensions. 

William and Bülow thought that, without undue risk, 
Germany could by increasing her navy rise to be the first 
military Power in the world—just as she was already the 
first in Europe. This was an achievement that Bismarck 
had never dreamt of. When in the eighties the other 
Powers were seized with the itch for acquiring posses¬ 
sions overseas, Bismarck took advantage of their pre¬ 
occupation by enhancing Germany's political importance 
on the Continent, to arrange alliances, and to play off 
the Powers against each other by constantly suggesting 
new enterprises in which they should engage. 

In the question of colonies Bülow acted quite differ¬ 
ently. He did not seek to strengthen still further his 
continental position, as the Greatest German would have 
done ; he was ambitious to take part in the race for 
possessions overseas, as well as on the Continent. Conse¬ 
quently he followed the policy of the “ free hand," and 
declined new alliances. The conclusion of a new alliance 
was the equivalent of forging new fetters ; and Bülow 
preferred freedom to act. A new alliance was tantamount 
to new casus belli and new restrictions—all of which 
Bülow feared and avoided as much as possible, even if 
the casus belli were, properly speaking, theoretical, if 
peace was secured by the defensive character of the aim 
and the impressiveness of the forces arrayed in defence 
of it. Yet Germany could never have made her conti¬ 
nental position so strong as at this period, never at any 
other time could she have concluded such advantageous 
alliances as now when the three Powers outside the Triple 
Alliance so badly needed the good-will of Germany on 
account of their extra-European interests. At this 
period even France was contemplating coming to an 






326 Weltpolitik 

agreement with her. Münster, German Ambassador to 
Paris (November 1898), reported that the conviction was 
spreading in the French capital (owing to England’s 
inflexible attitude on the Fashoda incident and Russia’s 
coolness) that a rapprochement with Germany was de¬ 
sirable. To encourage this idea, the Ambassador 
advised that the compulsory use of passports for Alsace- 
Lorraine, which was a source of much friction, should be 
abolished. It is to be regretted that, though the Emperor 
himself favoured this step, the corps commanders of the 
districts concerned all vetoed it. Nevertheless the 
arguments for rapprochement with Germany were so 
cogent that, in spite of the courtesy advised by Münster 
being refused, Paris manifested a certain tendency to 
make overtures to Berlin. Even Delcasse, the newly 
appointed Foreign Minister, who later initiated the 
bitterest anti-German policy, made secret enquiries as to 
whether it were possible to get nearer to Germany. Only 
a short time previously the enquiry addressed by Germany 
to his predecessor as to the possibility of co-operation 
with France in the question of the Portuguese colonies 
had been left by Delcasse in the drawer of his writing- 
table—his answer being rude silence. Now, however 
(December 1898), he explained to a German journalist 
that as England wanted to pick a quarrel with France 
as a pretext for destroying her fleet, there was only one 
remedy for that—a French rapprochement with Germany. 

Many persons abroad also believed in the feasibility 
of a Franco-German Entente. A Spanish minister 
(April 1899) expounded his view that the continental 
Powers could be combined against England ; and was 
convinced only after exhaustive investigation that the 
time for a Franco-German Alliance was not yet ripe. 
The Queen-Regent of Spain—a Habsburg archduchess 



The “ Free Hand ” Policy 327 

with excellent political insight—(August 1899) thought 
the rapprochement not impracticable. She suggested 
for this purpose that Alsace-Lorraine should be made an 
independent principality. That would flatter Gallic 
vanity and pave the way for further steps. 

But the Emperor unfortunately declined to entertain 
the idea. He dismissed the recommendation with the 
abrupt marginal note : " Stupidity ! " Alsace-Lorraine, 
he said, was German : he should do as he liked there ; 
it was no business of the French. 

In Russia also the idea took root that the continental 
Powers, including France and Germany, should unite 
against England. As early as September 1897 Obrutseff, 
Russian Chief-of-Staff, recommended to Bülow the 
conclusion of a Russo-Franco-German Alliance with an 
anti-English point. The German diplomat, however, 
declined to take the recommendation seriously. 

Witte, the Russian Finance Minister, the most 
prominent figure in the political life of Czardom, perhaps 
its only real statesman at that time, also deemed it 
worth while to consider the question of a continental 
alliance, which in his view was not only possible but 
necessary, as without such protection England would 
become dictator of all Europe. By competition, in the 
constant increase of their land-forces, the continental 
States were doing immense harm to each other. Instead 
of that, their navies should be increased, and efforts made 
to put an end to England’s dominion over the seas 
(December 1898 and April 1899). 

Germany, however, had her doubts on the matter. 
She mistrusted the advances of France. Radolin, the 
new German Ambassador to Paris, expressed the views 
of Berlin in stating that “ Germany was not so simple as 
to suppose that France would not avail herself of the 


328 Weltpolitik 

first opportunity to turn on Germany. Though Germany 
wished to live at peace with everybody, she must look 
to her own power for safety.” 

The same superior sense of certainty was mani¬ 
fested some years later (1903) by Kaiser William, when 
Radolin reported that French sentiment was improving 
and that the Alsace-Lorraine question might be amicably 
solved by the exchange of that province for Madagascar. 
The Kaiser ironically remarked that “ he would rather 
be elected Emperor of the French by plebiscite. In 
which event he would undertake to spend six months of 
every year in Paris and the other six months in Berlin. 
The Empire of Charlemagne would thus be restored, and 
France as a part thereof would recover Alsace-Lorraine/* 

Though this remark was probably only intended as 
a witticism, it was characteristic satire, revealing the 
spirit which constituted a permanent obstacle in the 
way of good relations between Germany and France. 

But Russia attempted to gain Germany over to 
herself, without France. Osten-Sacken, the Russian 
Ambassador (April 1899), asked Bülow whether it would 
not be wise to come to an agreement in the Turkish 
Question by means of a written treaty. If Germany 
would undertake to back the Russian claims in the matter 
of the Straits and Constantinople, Russia, on the other 
part, would promote Germany's economic expansion in 
Asia Minor. But, for a complete agreement, Bülow' s 
personal promise to continue the Bismarckian policy and 
not to thwart the expansion of Russia was not sufficient 
—a written document was absolutely necessary. Mura- 
vieff explained that though he would not upset the 
Sultan's throne, he should nevertheless object to Turkey’s 
rehabilitation and reconstruction, and therefore asked 
to be enlightened as to the Oriental policy of Germany. 


The “ Free Hand ” Policy 329 

“ If the influence of Germany in the East should 
continue to increase without her coming to an under¬ 
standing with Russia,” continued Muravieff, “ the Czar 
would be compelled to make overtures to England, to 
make the best bargain he can.” 

Russia, however, failed to attain her object, either by 
promises or threats. Emperor William was disgusted at 
Muravieff's cynicism, which was indeed shocking. Ger¬ 
many would conclude an alliance with Russia only on 
the condition that France also would join it, and mutually 
guarantee each other's territorial integrity. Failing 
that, Russia could offer nothing but economic advantages 
while Germany would be undertaking political obligations. 
So long as he had to apprehend a French attack, Bülow 
declined to discuss a Russophil policy which appeared 
Anglophobe, for such might lead to an entente cordiale 
between France and England. Even if the treaty were 
secret, the danger would still be there ; enough might 
leak out to bring Germany into opposition with those 
two Powers. Hatzfeld, Ambassador to London, pointed 
out that there was no need for new alliances, as the 
actual friction between Great Britain and Russia created 
an exceedingly favourable situation for Germany, and 
Berlin could afford to wait. The time would come when 
she would be able to come to an agreement with either 
Power under much more favourable conditions—that is 
to say, if she should want to come to any agreement 
at all. 

He was quite right. The only trouble was that Berlin 
desired no agreement with either of them ; she objected 
to binding herself either then or in the near future. The 
Germans intended to make no new promises to anyone ; 
above all, they preferred not to expose themselves to the 
enmity of one Power by making overtures to another. 


33 ° W eltpolitik 

Emperor William, moreover, was influenced by the 
profound dislike he felt for Muravieff, the Russian 
Minister for Foreign Affairs. In his marginal notes he 
frequently stigmatised the Muscovite diplomat as a 
“ liar " ; sometimes as a “ mendacious rascal.'' The 
Emperor always read hidden menaces between the lines 
of Muravieff s statements, and this added to his anger. 
“ Let him," wrote William (July 1899), “ stand at the 
salute when he addresses the German Emperor. The 
time is long past since the Czar Nicholas I could issue 
orders to the King of Prussia." 

On the Russian Foreign Minister complaining of two 
German officers attending a review of Turkish troops 
near the Russian frontier, the Emperor wrote : “ This 
is an impertinence. No one has any right to attribute 
to my officers intentions which are far from their thoughts. 
I protest against the base insinuation, and Muravieff 
should be told of my protest. What right has the 
Russian Government to object to what takes place on 
Turkish territory ? " This was equivalent to telling 
Muravieff to mind his own business. 

So no Russo-German Treaty was concluded. There 
was not the remotest prospect of France assenting to 
Germany's demands—of France guaranteeing Germany's 
possession of Alsace-Lorraine. Bülow subsequently 
informed certain English statesmen that he had made 
this stipulation only as a polite way of declining 
advances which did not suit him, knowing that the 
French would never consent to such a condition. This 
was so, in fact. Bülow knew the French too well to 
expect them seriously to guarantee to another Power 
the provinces the annexation of which they had always 
denounced as an act of lawless brigandage. It re¬ 
mained for our day to witness such political depravity 



The c< Free Hand ” Policy 331 

as, after the World War, the conquered nations being 
solemnly required in the Covenant of the League of 
Nations to assist in the defence of a status quo made 
against their own interests ; and, moreover, to do so 
after being rendered incapable even of defending them¬ 
selves while their enemies are armed to the very teeth. 

Had Bülow avoided concluding a treaty with Russia 
because he wanted an agreement with England, he would 
have acted wisely. But unfortunately he was just as 
averse to the latter as to the former. At this time the 
latter was possible ; he could have really concluded an 
agreement with England. Even before the Fashoda 
crisis (March 1898) Chamberlain proposed an alliance to 
Hatzfeld. It must be stated that this was done unof¬ 
ficially, in Chamberlain's private capacity only. Eng¬ 
land, he said, would be willing to join the Triple Alliance 
on condition that Germany undertook to defend England. 

Chamberlain justified his proposal as follows : Russia 
menaced the interests of the British Empire in the 
Far East; France gravitated towards the Nile; the Boer 
Question had become critical; thus England needed a 
friend. Her former isolation no longer corresponded 
to the present situation. 

Germany was averse to an agreement with Russia, 
being afraid lest she might thereby provoke England and 
cause her to support France. Neither did Germany 
favour an alliance with England, lest she might provoke 
Russia ; for Great Britain, with all her warships, was 
powerless to defend the smallest village of Posen against 
an inroad of Cossacks. This view was only partially 
correct, and by no means relevant; as the chief object of 
German policy was not to save Posen villages from the 
Cossacks, but to effect an alliance powerful enough to 
ensure peace, or, if war must come, to secure the victory. 


332 Weltpolitik 

This double aim was attainable by British help. 
Though British warships might be unable to defend Posen 
villages, yet the naval prestige and power of England 
would probably compel Russia to desist, while Germany's 
military superiority on land combined with a naval 
blockade would, in the event of war, be practically 
irresistible. 

Though Biilow desired to be on good terms with 
both Powers, he preferred not to be under obligation 
to either of them ; choice was invidious, since by choosing 
either he would be certain to make an enemy of the other. 

Against Chamberlain he defended himself by skilful 
arguments. He demonstrated that the proposed alliance 
with England failed to afford adequate guarantee ; it 
signified less for Germany than for England ; for whereas 
the signature of the German Emperor would bind Ger¬ 
many for all time, that of the British Government would 
bind England temporarily only—merely for the lifetime 
of the particular Government contracting. Instead of 
concluding the alliance as proposed, the German Chan¬ 
cellor would have liked to use Chamberlain's declarations 
as means to induce England to follow a policy calculated 
to alienate France and Russia from each other. He 
advised Chamberlain to try to satisfy Russia in Asia 
without considering France, because then Great Britain 
could easily settle her account with France. In such a 
conflict Germany would remain neutral—which alone 
would be sufficient to provide occupation for the land 
forces of the Gallic Republic. In the event of England’s 
position becoming precarious, Germany would hasten to 
her aid. So much would be due to her own interests— 
and interests are stronger than treaties. To wait would 
not be good for England. If Russia could only finish 
the Trans-Siberian strategic and commercial railway-line 



The “ Free Hand " Policy 333 

and France build her navy, England would be in a far 
more serious plight. 

In vain Chamberlain protested that England was 
unable to satisfy Russia in Asia, as the latter was con¬ 
stantly putting forward new demands, which in the long 
run were bound to damage British interests. He denied 
that he had any aggressive designs against Russia ; he 
was perfectly willing to recognise her acquisitions in Asia, 
all he desired being to save the so far still intact and 
independent China. He emphasised his willingness to 
conclude with Germany an open treaty, ratified by 
Parliament, which would bind England equally with 
Germany. Bülow refused to budge ; he was fertile with 
counter-arguments. According to him, the publication 
of the proposed treaty and its passage through the 
British Parliament would provoke Russia, and if after¬ 
wards—as might easily happen—Parliament were to 
decline to ratify the treaty, the result would be that 
Germany had made an enemy of Russia without securing 
England’s obligation to assist her. The publication of the 
treaty might cause hostilities between Germany and 
Russia before the obligation of England had been declared. 
However, this was the situation at the moment only; 
with a change in the public opinion of England, the situa¬ 
tion also would be changed. At some time or other a 
favourable change of public opinion might occur, influenc¬ 
ing the British Parliament, and thereby securing the 
sanctioning of the treaty. Then it would be possible 
to conclude it. Apart from that consideration, England 
must know that she had no truer friends than the Ger¬ 
mans and that the interests of the latter would suffice to 
deter them from allowing England to be defeated. All 
that Germany now desired of England was that she would 
be reasonable with regard to the solution of concrete 



334 Weltpolitik 

colonial questions. This would prove the safest means 
of preparing the way for subsequent co-operation and 
alliance. 

German diplomacy applied in London the identical 
tactics that it had used towards Russia : polite words, 
friendly speech, but no undertaking of new obligations, 
no new alliances; final decisions to be delayed as long 
as possible. The Emperor observed (June 1898) that 
“ he would not make an agreement with England until 
she begged for it on her knees ! ” 

Besides Chamberlain, Balfour, another member of 
the Cabinet, also negotiated at this time with Hatzfeld. 
He acted more cautiously, however, without positively 
proposing an alliance. Nevertheless Hatzfeld, in spite 
of the more cautious tactics of Balfour, was of opinion 
that Chamberlain’s move was made with the full know¬ 
ledge and approval of the entire British Government; 
and the Ambassador went so far as to add that some of 
the leading members of the opposition also declared that 
they would have no objection to an alliance with Germany. 
Even the hyper-cautious Premier, Salisbury, was not 
averse to such an alliance. 

Bülow’s attitude and the rejection of the proposed 
alliance were not justified by the arguments he advanced. 
Had he genuinely desired a closer connection with Eng¬ 
land, he could easily have found a means of eliminating 
the obstacles in the way. For instance, a temporary 
agreement might have been concluded, valid for the 
duration of the two Governments only, and at the same 
time a declaration made that they would settle the 
colonial questions in a friendly manner, the projected 
alliance not being laid before Parliament until a favour¬ 
able juncture should have been secured by the removal 
of all colonial differences and by practical co-operation. 


The “ Free Hand ” Policy 335 

The real cause of the rejection was that for the time 
being Bülow was indisposed to the conclusion of any 
new alliances, even with England ; that both William II 
and Bülow agreed (10th April) in their desire to remain 
in a position to decide the balance of power. The object 
of the negotiations with the English statesmen was, 
instead of seeking at the conclusion of the treaty to 
obtain better conditions than those offered by the English, 
to postpone it, but to do so in such a manner as to lead 
the English to hope for its conclusion at some future 
time, and to renew their efforts for such an alliance. 

Hatzfeld would have to employ in England the tactics 
described by Madame de Maintenon, who said that “ she 
never fully satisfied Louis XIV, but always gave him 
hope ! ” Thus Hatzfeld must keep England in a state 
of discontent with regard to a prospective alliance, but 
be careful not to extinguish the bright flame of hope. 
However, the task of the diplomat was far more difficult 
than that of the courtesan. The infatuated lover, led 
by the nose, has no eyes for anyone except his goddess, 
and becomes more and more compliant and lavish of his 
presents as the ardour of his passion increases ; whereas 
the cold-shouldered, mistrusted statesman is by no 
means so limited or prejudiced in his diplomatic love 
affairs, but will soon seek and find consolation elsewhere. 

Chamberlain quite frankly remarked to Eckhardtstein, 
an official of the German Embassy in London, that if 
he were thrown over by Germany he should have to 
make overtures to the enemies of Germany, for he had 
no intention of remaining in isolation. Berlin, however, 
did not take this hint seriously. Bülow considered it 
improbable that England would find an ally elsewhere. 
Overtures to France would simply prepare the way for 
friendship with Germany, as the negotiations would soon 


336 Weltpolitik 

show England that she could not choose one of the allies 
and leave the other out, and she could not come to an 
agreement with France and Russia. What a delusion ! 
And how different the lesson taught by facts ! 

For a while, however, Chamberlain made no move 
towards putting his threat into execution, but still 
adhered to the idea of an alliance with Germany. In a 
public speech (13th May) he suggested the advisability, 
in view of the Chinese menace, of coming to an agreement 
with those Powers who concurred with England in the 
matter (i.e. the Triple Alliance). 

In spite of this plain invitation, the decision of the 
Germans remained unaltered. No alliance was concluded. 
So little value was set by Berlin on the desired alliance 
that the Emperor informed the Czar of the English offer 
—most probably in order to prevent England finding 
consolation for his rejection by turning to Russia. 

The Czar, replying, referred to the fact that three 
months previously England had proposed an agreement 
with him—a piece of information which caused William 
to suspect English good faith more than ever. 

Yet even then the English would not abandon their 
cherished idea—the German Alliance. Before the 
threatening Boer War it seemed advantageous and 
became even urgent during the war, conducted with 
immense sacrifice and attended with grave perils. When, 
in the course of the struggle, William evinced a somewhat 
sympathetic attitude towards England, and paid a visit 
to the country, where he had not been seen for several 
years (i.e. since 1891), Chamberlain seized the opportunity 
to repeat the offer to his Imperial Majesty in person 
(November 1899). He observed that he was convinced 
a triple alliance comprising America, Britain, and Ger¬ 
many the wisest combination. He predicted that ere 


The “ Free Hand ” Policy 337 

long Europe would have to reckon with the Russians 
enlisting the millions of Chinese and Tartars under their 
flag—a prophecy that seems destined to be fulfilled even 
in our own day. 

For at the present time the Soviet Republic is near 
to realising what the Czars had hoped for and Chamber- 
lain had feared—the subjection of Asia to Russia ; and 
then with revolutionary catch-words the hurling of their 
millions against the old-established order of Europe. 
Perhaps this most ominous turn of the wheel of history 
was perceived by the clairvoyant mind of the squire of 
Highbury—the peril which, by the irony of fate, has 
now to be faced by his son Austen, the present Foreign 
Minister of England ! 

Chamberlain then offered the Germans an agreement 
with regard to Morocco, where shortly afterwards the 
bitterest antagonism burst out between Germans and 
English. What a different course history might have 
taken if only Berlin had accepted the offer! It is 
regrettable that the words of the English statesman once 
again fell upon deaf ears in the Fatherland. Bülow said 
that though England needed Germany, Germany had 
no need of England. And when Chamberlain again 
(November 1899) proclaimed his idea, in spite of so 
much discouragement, and advocated an alliance of the 
three Germanic Powers, the German Foreign Minister 
returned a most unfriendly answer in the Reichsrat. He 
would not even use the term “ alliance/' but merely 
referred to good relations, and urged that Germany must 
have a navy powerful enough to resist all attacks—a thrust 
directed of course against England and tantamount to a 
threat. The effect of Bülow's speech in London was the 
more painful as Chamberlain had interpreted the German 
statesman's previous utterances as a distinct encourage- 

22 









338 Weltpolitik 

ment to put his views before the public. Bülow, in his 
Reichsrat speech, had yielded to the pressure of the 
Anglophobe public opinion then prevailing in Germany 
on account of the Boer War. He caused Chamberlain 
to be informed of this, adding that he was still an advo¬ 
cate of an Anglo-German rapprochement. We cannot, 
however, be surprised that this message obtained but 
little credence, and at Chamberlain closing the corre¬ 
spondence with the remark that “ After what had 
happened it would be a long time before he reopened 
the subject of an alliance with Germany. At the end of 
the war the situation might be different.” 

Bülow took full responsibility for the failure of these 
negotiations. Germany was strong, and England was 
at the time in danger ; she had a bitter struggle before 
her in South Africa. Germany was on good terms with 
Russia, and France did not manifest a hostile spirit; 
consequently Bülow had no need of London and was not 
inclined to undertake new obligations on her behalf. He 
exemplified his own witty saying that " the relations 
between man and horse are good—for the man ; and he 
preferred to play the role of the man/’ He feared an 
alliance with England, because in that case the preferred 
role might not be secured for Germany. Further, it was 
certain that the scale of the German fleet would have to 
be modified to please England. Why should Germany 
submit to that, when there was no burning necessity for 
England's support, which Germany would almost cer¬ 
tainly get when she wanted it, without an alliance ? 
Though the Fatherland did not intend to abuse her 
freedom of action, she considered herself and her actual 
allies strong enough to justify her in maintaining it. 

But might she not have been deceiving herself ? Is 
it not better to conclude an alliance while the other 


The “ Free Hand ” Policy 339 

party is in the humour for it, even though one has no 
absolute need of it at present ? Is it not good to take 
time by the forelock—to act in the living present in 
order to avoid future danger ? For a State to postpone 
an alliance until trouble has overtaken it is to risk being 
left in the lurch, without a friend. 





CHAPTER V 


WELTPOLITIK SUCCESSES. THE GERMAN NAVY 

I N order to reach his aim and enhance his importance 
in world-politics without new obligations, Biilow 
wished to exploit the differences existing between 
the Powers, and not, as Bismarck in a similar situation 
had done, by concluding new alliances. And Billow's 
first idea as a means to his end was to get a footing in 
China. 

Japan's victory over the Celestials had upset the 
internal balance and order of the most populous empire 
in the world ; and an immense commercial market might 
now be opened up for the European Powers. The pro¬ 
spect was an alluring one. Germany must not miss her 
part in the inevitable division. A short time before 
Germany had helped to save China from Japan ; now 
China must pay the bill for the service rendered on that 
occasion. 

Bülow accomplished this object with masterly skill; 
his unerring estimate of the situation, quick decision, and 
diplomacy—not over-scrupulous as to means, astute, 
formidable—revealed him as a perfect master of his craft. 
The Emperor shared the merit with his minister. Per¬ 
haps it was William who first thought of the spoils to be 
gathered in the Flowery Land. When Russia turned 
upon Japan, and Germany, in co-operation with the 
Muscovites, stopped Japanese action in China, Kaiser 
William already counted on substantial reward and took 
steps to prepare the Czar for his demands. During a 

340 



Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 341 

visit to the Czar, the Emperor astonished his cousin 
“ Nicky,” taken unawares and in the absence of his 
advisers, by bluntly asking whether he had any objection 
to the port of Kiao-Chau being occupied by the Germans. 
The courteous host could not be so impolite as to return 
an unfavourable answer; but according to Witte's 
Memoirs the Czar afterwards (August 1897) bitterly 
complained of the sharp practice of which William had 
made him the victim. In moments of crisis the Emperor 
stimulated his Government to resolute and courageous 
action without rashness. Though inflexible in essentials, 
he was sufficiently complaisant in minor details ; though 
firm, he was neither impatient nor inconsiderate. As a 
lawless aggression without the basis of previous provo¬ 
cation would damage his prestige far more than the 
conquest would be worth, he waited patiently for the 
Chinese to afford him a pretext for the presentation of 
his bill. And he had not long to wait. Several German 
missionaries were murdered. The pretence of desiring 
to punish the murderers served to cover the annexation 
decided on long before and so eagerly awaited. The 
Emperor (November 1897) applied directly to the Czar, 
and, reminding him of their recent conversation and the 
latter's promise, demanded permission to land marines 
at Kiao-Chau from German warships, in order that from 
thence he might obtain satisfaction for the outrage. 

The Czar was embarrassed. His answer to the 
request was neither assent nor refusal, but was to the 
effect that “ he believed that he had some years before 
lost his right to the seaport in question.” Muravieff, 
the Russian Foreign Minister, was, however, of a different 
opinion, and ordered the Russian fleet to follow the 
German ships and lie at anchor in the bay, as Russia had 
a prior claim there. Moreover, he aimed at Russian 




342 Weltpolitik 

intervention to induce China to offer Germany suitable 
amends without delay, and thus upset the Kaiser's 
apple-cart, depriving him of both pretext and opportunity 
at one stroke. 

It was a moment to hold one’s breath ; the slightest 
hesitation spelt failure—perhaps even war with the hosts 
of Muscovy. 

But there was no hesitation about Emperor William : 
he acted with the speed of a lightning-flash. Not for a 
moment did the Russian menaces make the slightest 
impression upon him. He held unswervingly on his 
course. The German fleet entered the harbour of Kiao- 
Chau and the German troops were promptly landed. 
Neither William nor Bülow feared war. Russia could 
not do without Germany and she would therefore bow 
to the fait accompli. 

And so it came to pass. Russia sulked, but yielded. 
Nor was England by any means delighted at Germany’s 
claim to certain economic advantages in the hinterland 
after grabbing the port. Both Japan and China were 
furious at this latest example of European expansion by 
illegal annexation. In the end, however, Germany suc¬ 
ceeded in pacifying them all. 

Russia, instead of challenging Germany’s acquisition, 
consoled herself by occupying Port Arthur ; while Great 
Britain followed suit by taking Wei-hai-wei. Bülow 
(January 1898) concluded with the Chinese Government 
a lease of the occupied territory for one hundred years, 
thus technically acknowledging the Chinese sovereignty 
over it. He attempted to appease Japan by giving her 
a written promise to change his policy towards her, and 
by declaring that he would no longer place obstacles in 
the way of her expansion in the interior of China as in the 
past. England he stuffed with the announcement that 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 343 

he intended to make Kiao-Chau a free port, so that 
British commerce too might use it. Out of regard for 
England, he said, he had refrained from taking a more 
southerly port, near to the British sphere of influence. 
At the same time, with similar plausibility, Bülow proved 
to the Russians that in establishing himself near the 
Russian sphere of influence he had decided on a Russophil 
policy and identified himself with the interests of Russia. 
He admitted the claims of Russia in Manchuria when, at 
the request of the Russians (January 1898), he had for¬ 
bidden German officers to undertake the instruction of 
the native troops there. 

These manoeuvres resulted in a splendid success : 
Bülow had avoided making a single declaration involving 
positive obligations ; and Germany owed it all to him, 
to his energy and determination, and to no one else. His 
Chinese policy was the same as the European at that 
time—the policy of the “ free hand.” He balanced 
himself very skilfully between England on the one side 
and Russia on the other, without offending or allying 
himself with either. However, his brilliant achievement 
had its drawbacks, like all other successes of importance 
in the sphere of Weltpolitik. The German initiative and 
the land-grabbing resulting therefrom created envy and 
ill-will all round. It was a particularly disturbing pro¬ 
ceeding to hoist the German flag where it might prove 
necessary to use force to defend it; where Germany 
might become involved in a world war without a navy 
strong enough to protect her new acquisitions. 

For a while, however, the situation presented no great 
dangers, for the simple reason that the after-effects of 
the German action brought England and Japan into more 
acute antagonism with Russia than that existing between 
Germany and those Powers. Witte, the Russian Finance 





344 kP eltpolitik 

Minister, best forecast the future when he said that the 
acquisition of Kiao-Chau by the Germans would compel 
Russia to commit the blunder of occupying Port Arthur, 
which would certainly entangle her with Japan. As 
everyone knows, this prophecy was fulfilled to the very 
letter. 

The occupation first of Kiao-Chau and then of Port 
Arthur started the avalanche which led to the despoiling 
of China, as a reaction to the Boxer Rebellion and the 
Russo-Japanese War; during the world war to the 
intervention of Japan, the new Japanese conquests in 
China ; and in our own day to the Washington Conference 
(1921), at which America endeavoured to undo the effects 
of this policy of encroachment. 

Rooted in these encroachments is the hatred prevail¬ 
ing to-day on the part of Asia against Europe. And it 
must be confessed that the conduct of Europe at the 
period referred to was far from praiseworthy, presenting 
indeed a sorry spectacle rather evocative of shame and 
regret. 

This ignoble scramble for economic advantages and 
veritable highway robbery makes an ugly chapter in 
contemporary history. The Powers were as beasts of 
prey snarling and snapping at each other in their mad 
greed to devour the most appetising morsels of the 
carcase of China. An empire boasting one of the most 
ancient civilisations in the world was, in the name of 
civilisation, torn to pieces by nations who happened to 
have superior brute force at their disposal. Their loud 
protestations of unselfishness, of lofty and righteous 
motives, were but so much camouflage, behind which 
was consummated the sacrifice to the golden calf. 

A further result of Billow's policy was the abolition 
of the Anglo-American condominium over the Samoa 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 345 

Islands, a disadvantage for Germany dating back to 
Bismarck's time. Germany first succeeded with England, 
offering her an exchange as an inducement to withdraw ; 
then she shared with America. This by no means 
important result had, however, to be extorted by dint 
of much threatening and pressure. Hatzfeld, the 
Ambassador, conducting the negotiations in London, 
said that the threats failed of their effect owing to constant 
repetition. Finally, this had a bad influence upon the 
relations between England and Germany. 

The most interesting and typical incident in these 
negotiations was the correspondence of Emperor William 
with his grandmother, Queen Victoria of England. In 
a private letter he roundly abused Salisbury. “ He had 
better treat the Germans with more respect," he wrote ; 
“ he (Salisbury) simply ignored Germany in the matter of 
the Samoa Islands." His grandmother replied that he 
(William) “ seemed to be carried away by his feelings in 
his outburst against her Prime Minister. She, on her 
part, might make many complaints against Bismarck, 
yet she refrained from doing so." 

The old Queen was right. Such a virulent attack on 
the Prime Minister of another sovereign—especially of 
his venerable grandmother—exceeded the bounds of all 
propriety. It tended to destroy good relations between 
Germany and England ; it was without precedent; it 
caused the Emperor to be cordially disliked by persons 
of decisive influence and prepared the way for that 
Germanophobe temper which subsequently came to pre¬ 
vail in English political life. 

But, as I have said, the Samoa affair was settled in 
spite of all. When the Boer War broke out, England 
became less exacting in certain respects, and even if the 
Samoa Agreement was not of much value to Germany, 




346 Weltpolitik 

at any rate it meant political success and eliminated the 
potentialities of a future quarrel. 

Besides this, England and Germany came to an 
arrangement in regard to the Portuguese colonies in 
Africa. The essence of this agreement was that the two 
Powers named should grant a loan to Portugal, as security 
for which the latter should mortgage her colonies equally 
between her two creditors. When (June 1898) England 
seemed likely to move in the matter by herself alone, 
Bülow thought to ascertain the views of Paris and if 
possible prevent the English action. As soon, however, 
as he found that Salisbury was disposed to treat with 
him, Bülow quickly made up his mind. There was the 
usual dispute over the details. Salisbury charged 
Germany with constantly threatening and hardly ever 
uttering a friendly word for England ; Bülow retorted 
that though the failure of the present negotiations might 
not necessarily destroy the friendly political relations 
between the two countries, he felt that they had reached 
a critical stage. Their relations would either improve 
or deteriorate. 

The Emperor, too, must appear upon the stage in his 
customary flamboyant manner. He imparted to the 
British Ambassador “ some unpleasant truths. He did 
not wish to humiliate England—England had indeed 
humiliated herself by her policy in China, where Russia 
had obtained all the best concessions. If England did 
not show a more considerate attitude towards him, his 
Ambassador in London would soon have nothing to do 
there ! He (the Emperor) would be compelled to look 
towards other Powers.” One may well imagine the rage 
of this self-conceited Imperator Rex had the position 
been reversed ! 

In August 1898 the treaty was concluded. Though 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 347 

it never became anything more than a " scrap of paper/' 
for Portugal backed out of the loan in question, yet it 
was nevertheless highly important and useful. It did 
away with the Anglo-German antagonism in Africa, and 
accordingly altered the German attitude towards the 
Boer War. From that time on she ceased to support and 
encourage the Boers, which she must have done if she 
had had to fear that England would not only abolish and 
suppress the independence of the Boers but also acquire 
the Portuguese colonies, Germany getting nothing to 
counterbalance the enormous accession to power on the 
part of England. It was only the prospect of Germany 
getting her share of the Portuguese colonies which put 
an end to the perilous tendency that, on the occasion of 
the famous “ Krüger telegram," nearly plunged the two 
Great Powers into war, and which sooner or later would 
certainly have caused war. 

Another diplomatic stroke of Bülow was his acquisi¬ 
tion of the Caroline Islands. Before the Spanish- 
American War the Emperor William wished a vigorous 
anti-American policy on the part of Europe in general. 
He would have liked to keep America from declaring war 
on Spain (September 1898) ; but Bülow did quite right 
in dissuading him from interference. The Foreign 
Minister manoeuvred to push others into the foreground 
instead of Germany, lest she might draw down upon her 
the ill-will of America. In this, however, he failed, the 
result being the mistrust of Germany by the most power¬ 
ful republic in the world—a mistrust which was only 
aggravated by his action during the war in despatching 
a powerful fleet to the Philippines, thereby arousing the 
suspicion that Germany, eluding the contending parties, 
wished to be offered the protectorate over the revolting 
natives. 


348 Weltpolitik 

The object of Germany’s naval expedition was, in 
fact, to enable the German admiral to study the situation 
on the spot and to take such action as might be necessary 
to secure Germany’s interests in the eventual division of 
the territory. Her hunger for colonies might here again 
have brought her into trouble. Not only America, but 
also England, France, and Russia might have turned 
against Germany. Should Germany be too pushful in 
her claims, an anti-German coalition might be the result. 
Instead of Europe versus America, as the Kaiser had 
intended, it might have been America plus Europe versus 
Germany ! A truly pitiable plight for the Fatherland. 

The Emperor considered that the Philippines group 
of islands ought not to be ceded to any other Power—at 
any rate not without Germany obtaining a suitable quid 
pro quo . This agreed with the views of the new regime, 
which was anxious to seize every single opportunity of 
getting an island or a port or a strip of territory, however 
small, anywhere ; and which held that whenever any 
other Power expanded in the least, Germany had a right 
to compensation. German policy at this time was com¬ 
pletely pervaded with the idea of colonial imperialism : 
the Empire was ready to draw the sword in the cause of 
the balance of world-power, finally breaking away from 
the Bismarckian traditions, according to which German 
blood should be shed only in defence of hearth and home— 
that is to say, for continental safety. 

With regard to the islands coveted by Germany, the 
first stage of her policy was to temporise, to postpone the 
decision until the German navy had become stronger ; 
till then the Germans would prefer the islands neutralised. 
This also, however, was not without its dangers. It 
disposed England and America alike to be antagonistic to 
Germany. England, influenced by the rejection of 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 349 

Chamberlain's offers by Berlin, desired to secure herself 
against the potential dangers from that quarter and, by 
intimacy with America, even to compel Germany to make 
overtures to England. 

In order to counteract this tendency, Bülow sug¬ 
gested to America that the friendship of Germany would 
be much more valuable for her than that of England ; 
as the pretensions of the former would always be more 
modest, having to keep her forces on the Continent. If 
Washington should conclude an alliance with London, 
the European Continent would be obliged to combine 
against it, immense activity in enlarging and reinforcing 
the respective navies would result, and thus America 
would be involved in international strife. On the other 
hand, by satisfying the reasonable claims of Germany, 
German neutrality would render any European action 
against America a priori impossible, thereby enabling 
America to remain in her hitherto comfortable situation. 
The neutrality of Germany would check Anglo-Russian 
and Anglo-French rivalry and thereby make for the 
peace of the world. 

But all Bülow's arguments fell flat before the not 
easily explicable presence of the German fleet in the 
vicinity of America's military and naval operations. 
The admirals of the two fleets came to high words, and 
it was by sheer luck only that their verbal battle was 
not followed by the ultima ratio. 

In the end all the German combinations were broken 
up by America claiming the centre group of islands and, 
moreover, getting them from defeated Spain by virtue 
of the peace treaty. Germany now applied to Spain 
with a proposal regarding the Carolines (February 1898), 
and finally succeeded in acquiring the islands by purchase. 

However, among all these colonising endeavours and 


350 Weltpolitik 

efforts at expansion, the most significant as regarded the 
future was the Kaiser’s inauguration of a vigorous policy 
in the Near East, i.e. in Turkey-in-Asia. The Drang nach 
Osten began. The sentimental, lively spirit of the Emperor 
was smitten with the glamour of the Orient. Who 
that loved the beautiful, that was interested in human 
history, could resist the lure ? Who could be deaf to 
the appeal of the marvellous, gorgeous East, with its 
splendour, its picturesque population, its slender minarets 
and crescent-crowned mosques ? Who could fail to be 
captivated by the cradle of religion—as well as the 
primeval home of every form of superstition—the resplen¬ 
dent, the incomputably ancient yet withal ever-youthful 
and unsophisticated world of the Arabian Nights ? 
The great Napoleon saw in Europe nothing but a mole¬ 
hill ; in the home of Alexander and Mahomet he saw a 
land of limitless possibilities. How could William II 
remain unmoved and cold at the prospect of impressing 
his name upon the land associated with such paladins 
as the immortal conqueror of Persia and the Indies, the 
illustrious prophet of Mecca, and, in more modern days, 
with the soldier-genius Napoleon I ? 

Apart from such idealistic motives, the Emperor was 
also attracted to the Ottoman Empire by its immense 
economic and military advantages. He perceived that 
enormous profits would accrue to the man who could 
put this naturally wealthy country on its feet—profits 
not only for himself but for the whole world ; to the man 
who could win the good-will of the Mussulmans; to the 
man able to reorganise the military forces of the empire of 
the Padishah ! Why should this role not be played by the 
Germans, and the profits reaped by them ? Why should 
not the Germans, whom fate had barred from valuable 
colonies, enjoy these advantages ? Who had the 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 351 

necessary organising ability like the honest, efficient, 
reliable Germans, his own people ? 

William proceeded (1898) to put his new idea into 
practice with his usual self-assertiveness. He made a 
tour of Constantinople and Palestine ; visited Jerusalem ; 
bumptiously declared in Damascus that “ three 
hundred millions of Mohammedans could count on his 
friendship/ 1 It was certainly a far-reaching announce¬ 
ment, of interest to other Powers, in view of the fact that 
the three hundred million followers of Islam are scattered 
over, not only Turkey, but Asia, India, Africa, Egypt, 
and under British, French, and Russian rule. What 
would be the consequence if they all decided to pin their 
faith to the German Kaiser, expecting his support in 
their various, often conflicting, troubles ? 

The Emperor promoted the Sultan (of whom he had 
not long before expressed his abhorrence) to the rank of 
his friend. The good-will he had up to this time mani¬ 
fested towards Abdul Hamid, in spite of the latter's cruel 
persecution of his non-Moslem subjects, became general, 
and Germany appeared as the champion of the status quo 
in the Near East. 

William's pilgrimage to the burial-place of the Saviour 
was not merely an act of piety or even of policy—it was 
also a good business stroke : it won over the Turks to 
the idea that they could safely accept the aid of Germany 
since she had no interest in the dismemberment of their 
country. It made Germany popular in the East, 
obtained her a front seat, as it were, procured her a 
number of valuable concessions from the Porte—par¬ 
ticularly the concession for the Berlin-to-Bagdad railway 
line, destined to be one of the greatest traffic enterprises 
in the world. 

Germany's plans in Asia Minor were lofty, justifiable, 



352 Weltpolitik 

and no more aggressive than Germany's original scheme 
of expansion, though the political consequences might 
be far-reaching and dangerous, especially if unaccom¬ 
panied by a foreign policy calculated to reassure the 
world as to Germany's real intentions. 

Foreseeing this, the Emperor attempted to win the 
Czar for his Oriental policy. As we have seen, Russia at 
this time was not at all willing to bring the Near East 
Question to a head. She was on bad terms with England 
and might perhaps live to see that her best card to 
play against England would be the sympathy of the 
Mohammedan world. England by her new policy had 
lost the authority she previously had at the Sublime 
Porte. The Czar could now exploit this situation and 
open up new opportunities for himself by co-operation 
with the German Emperor. 

From Constantinople William wrote to the Czar a 
letter containing a glowing description of the advantages 
to be derived from Turkish friendship. If, said the 
Emperor, the Czar should allow England to follow in the 
Cretan Question the same policy as before, the Sultan 
would be assassinated and his blood would be on the 
Czar's head. If, however, the Czar would defend the 
Turks, the Moslems would prove incredibly useful to him, 
especially in the event of a quarrel with England. 

Biilow supported his master by announcing in St. 
Petersburg his intention to continue the old Russophil 
Oriental policy in the question of the Straits and would 
throw no obstacles in the way of the Czar. 

But those efforts were doomed to failure. They could 
hardly have succeeded. St. Petersburg could not help 
feeling that, as Germany intended to develop the Turkish 
resources by persistent labour, all her promises were but 
windy words. For even though Germany herself might 


Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 353 

not stand in the way of Russia’s progress, she was working 
to put the Turks in a position to do so. The German 
Emperor (December 1899) wrote : “ We want to put the 
brave Turk in a position to defend himself in the future.” 
How could St. Petersburg misunderstand such a clear 
statement ? Would not the Czar’s Government realise 
that an extensive use of European capital for the en¬ 
hancement of the economic and military situation of 
Turkey would cause all Europe to be interested in the 
maintenance of the integrity of the Turkish Empire ? 

Moreover, Russia was opposed to Germany’s economic 
schemes for the simple reason that she had no share in 
them. She had no capital to spare for the purpose of 
putting foreign nations on the road to prosperity ; and 
thus she had to be a passive spectator of others getting 
a firm footing where she had hoped sooner or later to be 
master. Russian friendship for the Turks had been 
temporary only, depending on certain circumstances. 
Though at one time she would not have the Sultan’s 
throne upset, she could not stomach the idea of his 
becoming more powerful. She desired to remain in a 
position to subject the Balkans and Asia Minor to her 
domination when the questions of the Far East had 
ceased to interest her. She had never relinquished this 
ambition, and for that very reason she viewed with 
anxiety and dissatisfaction the movement to restore and 
reinvigorate “ the Sick Man ” and make him a power to be 
reckoned with between Russia and the Mediterranean. 

I have previously shown that under the influence of 
these considerations Muravieff wanted to come to an 
understanding with Bülow, that the latter was averse 
thereto, and that consequently Russia viewed with 
antipathy the Oriental plans of the German Emperor. 
Germany might more easily have won England, for the 

23 


354 W eltpolitik 

latter could have shared the profits, apart from which 
consideration it would have been useful for England to 
be on good terms with the Sultan, who was not only the 
head of the Ottoman Empire but also the supreme Caliph 
of the Moslem world. It is true that the friendly feelings 
of England for Turkey had cooled down, and that at one 
time Salisbury had even thought seriously of dismem¬ 
bering Turkey ; but in those circles where more attention 
was devoted to foreign politics the old traditions were 
still in vogue, and those of the Turkophil Beaconsfield 
might easily, with the assistance of Germany, have been 
revived. 

Let us bear in mind that the Turkophobe policy 
prevailed in London only when a Turkophil one seemed 
dangerous, because England would have found no 
support sufficiently strong if it had caused complica¬ 
tions. This would not be so if Germany undertook the 
task of reconstructing Turkey and were prepared to 
co-operate with England. 

When, in spite of all this, Germany sought the 
support of Russia, and not that of England, she ran the 
risk of turning both Powers against her, and of the 
Drang nach Osten creating an agreement between 
England and Russia, notwithstanding it ought to have 
promoted friendship between England and Germany, 
and prevented rapprochement between St. Petersburg 
and London. 

We have reviewed the colonial acquisitions and 
successes of the first years of Bfilow's regime. Very 
valuable as they all undoubtedly were, yet I think 
they were not worth losing British friendship for. They 
failed to increase the power and prestige of Germany 
to such a degree as an alliance with Great Britain would 
have done ; and it is even conceivable that if Germany 


Weltpolitik Successes . The German Navy 355 

had only concluded an alliance with Britannia she might 
have acquired more or bigger colonies by that means. 

I think Bülow could have made a better use of his first 
auspicious years if, instead of devoting his energies to 
acquiring colonies and overseas possessions, he had striven 
with similar zeal to come to an agreement with London. 

To be precise, however, Bfilow's chief activities were 
not directed to colonising, but to navy-building. He 
did not shut his eyes to the important fact that until 
Germany had a first-class fleet, it was foolish to think 
of playing the role of a World-Power. The indispensable 
condition of gaining—and keeping—colonies was a 
powerful navy. Without that, every new colony 
acquired would be simply another Achilles' heel, another 
vulnerable part of the German policy, which could 
scarcely be healed by the most consummate skill and 
diplomacy, obsequiousness, bluff, and—finally—good 
luck to turn the scales in her favour. Until this sine 
qua non were a concrete fact, it was absolutely futile 
to contemplate a colonial empire ; for such would only 
involve the Fatherland in a constant struggle for which 
she was so inadequately equipped—a veritable unarmed 
gladiator in the arena. 

With this truth staring him in the face, William had 
some time before (1897) said that it would be a stupid 
blunder to acquire overseas possessions without a fleet 
to protect them. Such a proceeding would only make 
Germany dependent upon England and engage her in 
a life-and-death struggle with British industries. The 
German press, said the anxious Emperor, was constantly 
boasting of German achievements without reflecting 
that their mercantile marine, growing day by day, was 
utterly defenceless. Against one hundred and thirty 
British warships Germany could put four ! As soon as 





356 W eltpolitik 

ever England realised the superiority of German industry, 
she would stick at nothing to destroy it unless they 
created an adequate naval force in the meantime! 

The Emperor had not the remotest idea of hostile 
operations against England ; though he wanted to be 
able to put up a successful defence (perhaps an alliance 
with another Power) even against the “ Mistress of the 
Seas ” should the occasion unfortunately arise, and to 
continue his colonising policy in spite of her ill-will. 

The long-cherished hope crystallised into the will as 
soon as the Emperor found a suitable man whom he 
could entrust with the execution of his plan. About the 
time that he chose Bülow to carry out his foreign policy, 
seeing in him a man capable of understanding and 
making his own the ideas of the Kaiser, Bülow also 
discovered in Admiral Tirpitz the right man to be his 
able lieutenant in building the navy. 

Tirpitz was an expert in his profession. He was 
animated with the sacred flame of an enthusiast in all 
matters pertaining to seamanship. A man of brains, 
of resource, and of firm convictions, he was able to instil 
his own faith into the minds of others, and carry the 
entire nation with him. He could raise to an all-con¬ 
quering national sentiment the desire of the Kaiser's 
heart for a mighty navy that should be second to none 
on the ocean. The German navy would be the source 
and emblem of German wealth and power, of the security 
and glory of the Fatherland. Unless the Germans could 
liberate themselves at sea, they must be for ever under 
British bondage, and enjoy the fruit of their industrial 
and commercial labours only so much and so long as 
proud England chose to allow them. England—mean, 
avaricious, perfidious—would afford to Germany no 
more than a bare pittance ; she would exclude Germany 


Weltpolitik Successes . The German Navy 357 

from all the blessings of colonial empire so long as she 
(Germany) was not strong enough to break her chains 
asunder and stand forth free and unfettered, to guard 
her birthright! 

Thus, to Germany's ultimate undoing, the movement 
for the navy was inaugurated in an anti-British spirit 
—not with the object of breaking England, but of being 
able to do so if necessary. They failed, however, to 
consider whether England would look calmly on, waiting 
until their preparations were all complete, though the 
leading men of England could correctly count on Ger¬ 
many's ambition for overseas empire culminating in 
conflict. They knew that the Emperor mistrusted 
England ; and that Prussianism was but another name 
for hereditary rudeness and ruthlessness. Would not 
England be placed in an impossible situation if ever she 
were faced by the armed chauvinist Kaiser, hankering 
after precedence, who might again be overcome by the 
spirit he manifested on the occasion of the Krüger tele¬ 
gram and more than once since evinced in his impatient 
sallies and ill-mannered reproaches levelled at English 
statesmen and diplomats ? Would not England be 
tempted to act upon William's own suggestion—to take 
him at his word—as he had once said, before the realisa¬ 
tion of his naval programme, that she (England) could 
with one gesture as it were wipe the German colonies 
off the map, and with a single grasp strangle the life out 
of German commerce and industry, and annihilate the 
German navy which might in time challenge her supre¬ 
macy on the waves ? And even though England might 
not contemplate war, would she not make an alliance 
likely to offset the dangerous preponderance of Germany ? 
How could Germany expand abroad if the seas were 
ruled by an apprehensive England ? 


358 Weltpolitik 

Neither Bülow nor Tirpitz feared these dangers; 
at any rate, they deemed them avoidable by a skilful 
and proper policy. Under the guidance and with the 
blessing of William they set about their great task of 
acquiring colonies, of enriching the Fatherland, develop¬ 
ing export, bringing Asia Minor under German influence, 
and at the same time constructing their proud bulwark— 
the Imperial German Navy. Their minds entertained 
no thought of evil; they had no greedy designs on the 
property of others ; they never dreamt of achieving their 
object by “ blood and iron/' as Bismarck had done in 
the foundation of German unity. At this period each 
of the Powers was following an imperialistic policy and 
trying to increase its power at sea—why should not 
Germany do likewise ? Why should Germany be the 
only one to resign the chances that Providence would 
certainly put in her way if only she had colonies ? Why 
should it be accounted to the Germans as a crime what 
when practised by others was “ a noble work in the 
cause of humanity and civilisation ” ? 

Tirpitz accordingly laid himself out to reorganise 
the German navy. He must have a powerful fighting 
fleet instead of merely swift cruisers for use in distant 
waters. He must have a navy that could efficiently 
play its part in the balance of naval power between the 
Thames and the Elbe. 

The first step in this direction was taken in 1898, and 
the next step followed hard on its heels in 1900. The 
second Navy Bill was especially remarkable for the proud 
aims expressed therein. While it was unnecessary, it 
stated, to reach the standard of the greatest navy in 
the world (the British), yet a fleet should be built on the 
near seas that " the most formidable navy” (namely, the 
British navy) “ could not hope to attack with impunity.” 



Weltpolitik Successes. The German Navy 359 

This was a great step forward. It opened out quite 
a new political prospect. It was an official announce¬ 
ment that Germany intended to become a World- 
Power, instead of remaining the continental Power she 
had been hitherto ; that besides being a great military, 
she would also be a great naval Power. Germany, 
said Bülow, must occupy such a strong position that 
she need not have to pocket insults from any quarter— 
not even from England. The Fatherland ought not to 
remain so weak as to seem contemptible in the eyes 
of any Power. In the words of the old Chancellor 
Hohenlohe : “ We must rid ourselves of this bugbear 

of England and learn to stand on our own feet.” 

The Boer War, with the keen Anglophobia aroused 
thereby, was fully exploited at this time by the German 
Government, who used it as a text for a homily on the 
beauty of sacrifice in the sacred cause of one's country. 
The Anglophobia of the Germans, Bülow himself con¬ 
fessed, far exceeded in virulence the antipathy of the 
English for the Germans. 

But was it not to be expected that such hatred 
would provoke animosity in England and lead in time 
to a more serious counteraction ? 


CHAPTER VI 

THE BOER WAR AND THE CHINESE QUESTION 


D URING the Boer War the policy of Germany 
followed the lines indicated. Now also it did 
not favour an alliance with England, though at 
the same time it had no thought of exploiting the troubles 
of the Island Kingdom for the purpose of attacking 
and breaking her. Its consistent aim was to maintain 
cordial relations with her while building the navy and 
extending the colonial empire of the Fatherland. These 
cordial relations served as a shield while the Anglophobe 
public opinion in Germany was used as a lever, both 
promoting the schemes of the Big Navyites. 

Their task was not easy, however. Could official 
cordiality exist side by side with the popular animosity 
necessary to bring the work of navy-building to a 
successful conclusion ? When Bülow came to an 
agreement with England regarding the Portuguese 
colonies and abandoned his former pro-Boer policy, 
when (August 1901) he counselled Krüger to submit 
as he was surrounded and his cause was hopeless, he 
found himself at issue with German popular sentiment. 
Bülow swam against the stream ; he tried to influence 
the national press and save it from committing a similar 
error to that perpetrated in the Spanish-American 
War—the mistake of being on the losing side. But all 
his efforts were weakened by the fact that the Emperor 
himself was at the bottom of his heart in sympathy with 
the Boers, as was clearly shown when, e.g., the British 
protested against German pro-Boerism and the Kaiser 

360 


The Boer War and the Chinese Question 361 

warmly retorted : “ Thank Heaven the sense of justice 

of the German people cannot be stifled by an order ! ” 

The official Anglophil policy also was rendered diffi¬ 
cult by the efforts of many to play Germany off against 
England. At the very inception of the war (October 
1899) the Russian Ambassador observed to the Emperor 
at the theatre, that the time had perhaps arrived to unite 
against England. William rejoined that “in that case 
the British navy would make short work of German 
commerce. He might act differently when his fleet was 
ready ; now, however, he could only say what his father 
had once said to the Grand Duke of Hesse, when the 
latter was on the point of following him into the toilet- 
room. He slammed the door in his face with the words : 
' Pas encore fertig ! ’ ” A witty sally, though not quite 
innocuous, as it clearly revealed the Anglophobe desti¬ 
nation of his naval activities, notwithstanding his 
ostensible Anglophil policy. He was useful for England 
certainly, but if the British Government came to hear of 
the incident above recorded their confidence in him 
would be considerably diminished. 

The Czar’s Government attempted also to incite 
Berlin with a report of England’s alleged intention to 
occupy the Portuguese colonies, to which Germany was 
by treaty entitled, in order to cut off the Boers from the 
sea, and enquired whether Bülow would not frustrate 
this. Fortunately Bülow was at that very time in 
receipt of reassuring information from London ; and so, 
as a counterstroke, he asked the Russians whether France 
could not be induced to join them in the protest. He 
explained that, Germany turning against England with¬ 
out adequate cause would be an exceedingly grave matter, 
since the former was not strong enough to protect her 
commerce. 


362 Weltpolitik 

Later (March 1900) the Russian Government 
addressed to Germany the official enquiry whether the 
latter would not exert friendly pressure on England in 
the interests of peace ; to which the Emperor himself 
replied that he would do so only on condition that France 
should conclude with him a pact to defend the actual 
German integrity. Here again, as we see, Russia got 
the customary retort courteous. This was of great 
service for England, enabling her to continue the fight to 
a finish without foreign intervention. 

When Muravieff sought to justify his action by stat¬ 
ing that, according to his knowledge, the Emperor had 
declared his intention to intervene, William wrote: 
“ The foul-mouthed rascal! He lies.” 

Replying to a request of the German Government, 
the Russian Foreign Minister said that the idea of a 
French Government becoming a party to a pact guar¬ 
anteeing Alsace-Lorraine to the Germans was not for a 
moment to be entertained. And this was of course the 
case. The Germans were ever sensitive with regard to 
their honour and should now understand others being so. 

The Prince of Wales (later King Edward) at the period 
of these diplomatic passages, spoke in warm terms of his 
nephew the German Emperor, and stated that it was to 
him mainly that the credit was due that no intervention 
had taken place. “ Donnerwetter ! ” exclaimed William, 
always as appreciative of a kind word as he was resentful 
of an offence, “ that is the first time the English Prince 
has ever done me justice ; and I am much obliged to 
him ! ” 

The Prince of Wales, in correspondence, on various 
occasions emphasised his friendly sentiments. “ We 
all,” he wrote, " consider Germany as our best friend so 
long as William rules there.” 


The Boer War and the Chinese Question 363 

How far away was his mind then from the policy of 
Einkreisung —which yet was even near in regard to 
time ! 

On the Czar observing to the Dutch Minister that he 
considered the German Emperor the most fitting person¬ 
age to lead intervention, William commented: "If 
that rogue Muravieff wants peace, let him seek it, either 
alone or with France." On Krüger appealing direct to 
the Emperor, the latter informed England that he should 
not interfere unless agreeable to both sides. 

At this time the Queen of Holland, actuated by her 
sympathy for the sufferings of the Boers, also applied to 
William in their behalf. The Emperor, in an interesting 
reply, wrote : " If he were to intervene he would be 
cold-shouldered, as in 1896 after the Krüger telegram, 
when he had to face the contingency of a war with Great 
Britain. Injustice had often to be endured, but God 
would surely sooner or later punish the oppressor, and 
it was the statesman's duty to be prepared to act, if 
called upon, as the instrument of Divine Providence to 
this end. Therefore the German navy was a paramount 
necessity. If only that were ready, the German and 
Dutch flags might fly proudly side by side. Till then, 
however, they must be content to wait and work in 
silence." 

These words furnish a deeper insight into the future 
than diplomatic notes do as a rule. They show us the 
Emperor's firm resolve assiduously to avoid any and 
every difference with England so long as she was so much 
stronger at sea ; but some day the situation would change 
—the boot would be on the other leg—and then Germany 
could follow an independent policy, even though it 
might lead to war. 

But would England wait Germany's convenience ? 



364 Weltpolitik 

Would she not attempt to forestall her either by some 
powerful defensive alliance or by a preventive attack ? 

The favourable mood created by Biilow’s unpopular 
yet loyal attitude was, we regret to say, soon dissipated 
by the incidents arising from the want of forbearance 
displayed by the English naval authorities and aggra¬ 
vated by the brusque manners of the Germans. The 
British had (January 1900) on insufficient ground seized 
three German merchant-ships, and their release could 
not be obtained for a considerable time. Germany con¬ 
sidered her honour impugned by the affair, and threatened 
a change of direction, or even a short-time ultimatum. 
The British Government pointed out that differences 
occasionally arose with other States too, yet they could 
always be settled in a courteous manner and without 
that friction which invariably accompanied dealings with 
the Germans. The publication by the English Govern¬ 
ment of the diplomatic notes exchanged in connection 
with this affair only added fuel to the fire and caused the 
British people to consider their honour at stake. Thus 
the final outcome of the German policy with regard to 
the Boers was not particularly profitable ; though it did 
the British cause a service, it reached nothing, gained 
nothing, accomplished nothing ; it failed even to secure 
the gratitude, confidence, and good-will of the English. 

During the course of the long Boer War (October 1899 
—May 1902) the Chinese problem once more cropped up, 
affecting the Powers in their relations to each other. A 
general systematic movement against the Europeans 
arose and quickly spread throughout the Celestial Empire; 
murder, robbery, and arson became so rife that the out¬ 
rages could no longer be tolerated. The Legations of the 
European States were besieged, and the German 
Minister to Pekin was assassinated. The sanguinary 


The Boer War and the Chinese Question 365 

Boxer Rising was the awful climax to more than a century 
of wrong, cruelty, and tyranny of Europeans over 
Asiatics. The bloody protest of the Chinese was not 
without provocation : they had only too many just 
causes for complaint against the " foreign devils/' In 
Palmerston's time England—to her eternal shame, as 
thousands of her best people hold to this day—forced a 
war upon China for the nefarious purpose of compelling 
her to take that fatal poison, opium, so largely cultivated 
in British India, and from which of course such a hand¬ 
some revenue is derived. The anarchy following the 
Japanese victory was wantonly exploited by the European 
Powers to carve up the body of China in their own 
interests, in the name of the balance of power. The 
most flagrant example of the doctrine that Might is 
Right was the Czar's action, who, immediately after 
pledging himself to defend the integrity of China from 
the rapacity of Japan, himself invested Port Arthur and 
grabbed Manchuria ! The Emperor of China esteemed 
so highly the Czar's autograph, attaching such exalted 
value to the Autocrat's written word, that he kept the 
letter constantly before his eyes in his sleeping-apart¬ 
ment instead of depositing it in the State archives 
according to custom. Alas ! what the simple Manchu 
had venerated as the most sacred palladium became the 
proof of the basest perfidy. 

The Emperor William waxed wrathful over the Boxer 
outrages. In the heat of his rage he proposed to have 
Pekin levelled with the ground. Addressing his depart¬ 
ing troops, he advised them to “ take no prisoners, but 
slaughter all who crossed their path." This, however, 
was only a passing fit of frenzy and not to be taken too 
seriously. The revolt of the Chinese people imperilled 
the honour and dignity of Germany, the commerce 



366 W eltpolitik 

founded on German prestige, and lastly (though, we trust, 
not least) the labours of the German missionaries— 
therefore the Kaiser demanded heavy amends, stern 
retribution, reprisals. He was inexorable in his resolve 
to humble and terrify the Chinese, “ so that for ages to 
come no Chinaman should dare to look askance at a 
German '' ! 

He, however, was bent only on punishing, not 
dismembering, China. He stood for the status quo ante 
(June 1900). He intended military action to last only 
until the Chinese had yielded, apologised, and executed 
condign punishment on the actual criminals. He was 
not out for material profit or conquest—as said Holstein 
—but to maintain the honour of the Fatherland. 

But that policy presented certain serious drawbacks. 
Though keenly ambitious to win Russia, he must now 
oppose her, her views being entirely different, her com¬ 
mercial interests hardly worth mentioning, while she 
sought to exploit the Boxer Rebellion to acquire Man¬ 
churia and Corea and extend her political sway over the 
whole of China. The Russian Government cared little 
for the prestige of Germany, or of any other part of 
Europe, or for the safety of European commercial in¬ 
terests ; they aimed solely at preserving for themselves the 
possibilities of expansion and the local interests of influ¬ 
ence and power Russia possessed as China's neighbour. 

The Russians took part in the punitive expedition 
merely for the sake of appearance ; it was all the same 
to them whether it succeeded or not. Though the Czar, 
out of compliment to the Emperor, proposed Count 
Waldersee as Commander-in-Chief of the international 
force, Russia's aims were different from those of Germany 
and consequently lent a different orientation to her 
policy. 



The Boer War and the Chinese Question 367 

While Waldersee was en route to China, the Czar 
executed a lightning move and occupied Pekin (August 
1900), and with that act proposed to terminate the 
military operations and turn the settlement of affairs 
over to the diplomats. The cunning scheme of the 
Autocrat was to save China from the loss and suffering 
entailed in the international punitive expedition, and to 
get Manchuria in return for the valuable service thus 
rendered. 

The Emperor William was furious at this Russian 
trick. The Czar, he said, was “ an ignorant person, and 
the Muscovites were hypocrites and considered none 
but their greedy selves. They had availed themselves of 
European intervention to annex Manchuria, and would 
now fling Europe away like a squeezed lemon ! ” 

Subsequently, when the Russians again displayed 
a desire to divide up the Celestial Empire, William 
exploded with rage and disgust; “ the idea was 

barbarous, impertinent, unmitigated blackguardism, a 
monstrous outrage, which only the cunning brain of a 
Muscovite could conceive ! ” 

After all these agitations and ebullitions it may well 
be supposed that, though an agreement was eventually 
reached with China (January 1901) by which the Ger¬ 
man objects were accomplished, the friendly relations 
hitherto existing between the Russians and the Germans 
were shattered beyond hope of repair. 

On the other hand, however, the Chinese affair did 
just as little to promote amity with England. Generally 
speaking, the British interests were nearer to those of 
the Germans. The Prince of Wales (to William’s in¬ 
tense delight) strongly advocated the arrest of Li-Hung- 
Chang (“ that dirty dog ”—“ that arch-rascal ”) who 
had treated with the Russians. But there was no real 


368 Weltpolitik 

harmony between Germany and England. Already 
at the very outset the Emperor took umbrage at the 
reluctance of the English to accept Waldersee's leader¬ 
ship of the expedition. Berlin feared that England 
intended to annex the Yang-tse Valley, the richest and 
most densely populated region in the Flowery Land ; 
and it was for this very reason that the Germans objected 
to independent action on the part of Britain, and urged 
the desirability of a treaty providing for equal rights 
to all the European Powers. They succeeded in coming 
to an understanding with England (October 1900) on 
the basic principle of the “ open door ” in China. 

But, alas ! this agreement abounded with the germs 
of new dangers. England and Germany each started 
from a different point of view. Bülow wanted to pin 
England down to a policy of self-abnegation in China— 
to abstain from acquiring privileges and making con¬ 
quests, while he would not be bound to an anti-Russian 
policy. On the other hand, England wanted to use 
Germany as a foil to the intrigues of Russia in China. 
Bülow scored the better at the negotiations. In the 
first article of the treaty England engaged nowhere to 
endeavour to obtain a monopoly and to allow no mono¬ 
polies. Thus Germany obtained all she sought without 
having to give any undertaking to act counter to the 
Russian policy in Manchuria. There an exception was 
made in Russia's favour in restricting the principle of 
the “ open door ” to that part of China where England 
and Germany could exert their influence. 

So far, however, as the observance of territorial 
integrity was concerned, England seemed to achieve 
more, as the contracting parties set forth the principle 
of Chinese integrity without exception of any kind in 
favour of Russia. Nevertheless England failed really 


The Boer War and the Chinese Question 369 

to reach her aim in this matter also, the obligation under¬ 
taken therein not being enforced by sanctions. The 
treaty stated no casus belli ; it merely provided that the 
parties should direct their respective policies in such 
wise that the integrity of China might be preserved, 
and that in the event of a third party violating this 
principle and acquiring Chinese territory by any means 
whatever, “both Powers should agree together upon 
the best course of action to protect their interests/' An 
elastic text, full of loopholes, rendering the principle of 
compensations just as valid as those of active resistance 
or intervention. This very vagueness caused the Anglo- 
German Treaty to be, in the long run, harmful, a 
fruitful cause of misunderstandings and misconstructions. 

The contrary views of London and Berlin came to 
light when Japan and China complained that the Czar 
had exerted improper pressure on the latter State in 
order to compel her to accept an agreement placing 
Manchuria under Russian suzerainty. England declined 
to allow this and expected Germany's support therein, 
in accordance with their agreement. It would seem 
that the Emperor himself was disposed to accept 
England's view, but he was restrained by Biilow. 
William was certainly disappointed with the Czar; 
though he felt and also said (February 1901) that if 
the shilly-shallying continued much longer between 
England and Russia, Germany would fall between two 
stools with a serious bump. Finally, however, the 
advice of the Foreign Minister was followed, and Ger¬ 
many went on her vacillating course, manoeuvring 
between the two Powers. 

Biilow declared that Germany could not go to war 
for the sake of Manchuria, and that she must remain 
neutral in an eventual Russo-Japanese War, whether 

24 


370 Weltpolitik 

England supported the Japanese or not. He explained 
that he thought he could in that way be more useful to 
England. He wanted to go no further than to let China 
know that she would do better by not negotiating with 
any of the Powers individually before coming to terms 
with them all collectively. 

Bülow's policy really strengthened England's case 
and correspondingly weakened that of Russia against 
England and Japan, yet failed to satisfy England, who 
demanded more and expected Germany to render 
positive assistance in accordance with the treaty provi¬ 
sions. Salisbury regarded the German attitude as a 
flagrant breach of treaty obligations. And if Bülow 
was correct in stating that he was not bound to declare 
war on account of an annexation of Manchuria (for the 
treaty fixed no such obligation) and also that he had 
not identified himself with the policy of the “ open door " 
in Manchuria, yet he was nevertheless wrong in his 
contention that the entire treaty referred only to the 
territory circumscribed by the Great Chinese Wall. 
By demanding and carrying the insertion in one section 
of the treaty of a special saving clause guaranteeing 
Manchuria against the “ open door " policy, he himself 
recognised that where this limitation was not expressed, 
the treaty referred to the Chinese Empire as a whole, 
including Manchuria. And it was certainly not in con¬ 
formity with the spirit of the treaty that Bülow informed 
the Russians that he had nothing to do with Manchuria, 
and would by no means stand in their way there. 

This over-smartness did Germany no good, for it 
created discontent in St. Petersburg and London alike. 
The Russian Ambassador to Berlin (March 1901) gave 
expression to his anxiety lest Russia should be seriously 
offended at Germany's attitude ; while Salisbury and 


The Boer War and the Chinese Question 371 

Biilow interpreted the treaty differently before their 
respective Parliaments. 

England would no longer trust Biilow ; his policy 
was considered hypocritical. He had in fact deceived 
Salisbury in binding him to the policy that Germany 
desired to follow in China and giving nothing in return 
therefor. The Anglo-German friendship was damaged 
further by the circumstance that, at the conclusion of 
peace in China, those two Powers took opposing stand¬ 
points in certain matters of detail. 

Thus Germany ultimately succeeded by the expedi¬ 
tion to China in securing her “ free hand ” policy there, 
though Biilow had to pay dearly for it. He failed to 
become really intimate with either of the Powers ; both 
were dissatisfied, and consequently there was the danger 
of their turning against him. He had his “ free hand ” 
certainly, but the other Powers also had it. In both 
simultaneously the desire might arise to exploit against 
Germany the possibilities of their freedom of action in 
China. 


CHAPTER VII 

ENGLAND’S LAST OVERTURES TO GERMANY 


T this time the differences between England and 



Germany might have yet been amicably com¬ 


posed. England had not yet finally turned her 
back on Germany. No decision had as yet been taken, 
though it was impending. The relations between the 
two countries could not remain long as they were ; as 
Bülow had said, they would have to be “ either mended 
or ended.” 

England likewise felt this, and wanted the situation 
cleared up. Her great interests demanded that she 
should emerge from her splendid isolation and be able 
to rely on one of the two factions into which Europe was 
divided. The British were beginning to be alarmed 
lest their isolation should cease to be “ splendid ” and 
become mere ostracism. During the Boer War the 
British public had had some unpleasant experiences. 
The position of absolute superiority that England 
had for so many generations enjoyed on the sea and in 
colonial questions ; the constant jealousy with which 
the Island Realm regarded the successes of other nations 
at sea or oversea ; her continual growth in size, power, 
and prestige ; her imperialism, which had become so 
pronounced during the last few decades ; her skilful 
manoeuvring between the two opposing groups of 
alliances (sometimes with disagreeable results for both), 
aroused envy and enmity against her everywhere : in 
the language of the poet, she was verily " the dread 
and envy of them all.” No sooner did trouble overtake 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 373 

her than the curs of ill-will began yelping at her from 
every side. Europe was practically unanimous for the 
Boers. Not merely because the heroic struggle of the 
small farmer-nation to preserve their hard-won liberty 
struck the chord of universal sympathy—not merely 
because brute force exercised by others than ourselves 
can never be justified ; but really because people almost 
everywhere rejoiced to see that proud England was at 
last in distress, and they all charitably hoped that she 
was about to get her deserts. Except the Scandinavian 
States, the Liberals of Italy and Hungary (in which 
countries Anglophil sentiments were traditional), all the 
nations wished the Boers to be victorious. Navy¬ 
founding and augmenting having become so general 
in Europe, it was by no means excluded that some 
continental Power or Powers, burning with jealousy 
and hate against England, might seize the occasion to 
assemble a naval force capable of striking a serious blow 
at “ that God-blessed isle amidst the cerulean sea.” 

Therefore isolation could not be the last word of 
English policy. It was tenable only so long as other 
Powers had no fleets worth boasting of. The time had 
now come to throw it overboard. As I have already 
pointed out, English statesmen clearly realised this— 
especially Chamberlain, who with his broad outlook and 
common sense seldom failed to hit the nail on the head. 
Besides him, also Balfour, Lansdowne, Rosebery, Devon¬ 
shire, in short nearly all the British leaders, realised it; 
and even the aged and weary Salisbury saw that his 
former political watchword, isolation, had had its day 
and that England must cast about for friends. Others 
also, having pondered the gigantic interests of the Empire, 
saw that the best thing would be the aid of Germany 
and the Triple Alliance, to both of whom England was 


374 Weltpolitik 

indebted for her success in Egypt. There she was 
constantly opposed by Russia and France, whose 
malignity could only be outweighed by the benevolence 
of the Triple Alliance. 

The Sudan triumph, which consolidated and con¬ 
firmed British rule in Egypt, was also contributed to 
by William II. The campaign was even recommended 
by the Emperor. Further, it was with German support 
that the British were enabled to arrest the progress of 
the French on the Upper Nile. The happy issue of the 
Fashoda affair was due to the anti-French policy of the 
Germans. Again, it would have been impossible for 
England to have concentrated her undisturbed attention 
on subjecting the Boers had she not come to an agree¬ 
ment with Germany in the matter of the Portuguese 
colonies, and had William continued his policy in con¬ 
formity with the Krüger telegram. 

The minor clashes of interest between Germany and 
England in the Samoa Islands were settled in the mean¬ 
time. In the chief colonial problem of the present and the 
future, i.e. the Chinese Question, the attitudes of England 
and Germany were strikingly similar and easiest to bring 
into line. Both were advocates of the policy of the 
“ open door,” and both apprehended the expansion of 
Russia. In Asia Minor the English and the Germans 
might easily have understood and complemented each 
other. 

True it is that the commercial and industrial rivalry 
prevailing between Britain and Germany became far 
more intense and undoubtedly caused bad blood between 
the two kindred peoples ; but in the case of thinking 
nations endowed with the gift of common sense, com¬ 
mercial competition ought never to give rise to political 
antagonism, to say nothing of causing war ; for a State 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 375 

anxious to develop its trade, a State whose business 
interests are of decisive importance, cannot afford to 
contemplate a devastating European war, to suffer the 
annihilation of one of its best customers. Such a State 
knows full well that peace is the prime condition of 
industrial and commercial progress, that the producer 
abroad is at the same time a consumer, that the material 
destruction of one State exercises a paralysing effect 
on the economic life of the world at large. 

World-policy, which was of paramount importance for 
England, the first commercial State, would have been 
secured by the Triple Alliance better than by an agree¬ 
ment with the Franco-Russian Entente, since the Triple 
Alliance plus England could have preserved the power 
in the hands of those nations least likely to want war. 

It may be said that at that period neither group of 
States seriously wanted war and that both treaties of 
alliance were, in essence, of a defensive character. That 
is true ; but France and Russia would certainly profit 
more by a victorious war than would their antagonists ; 
and might indeed have positive war aims—a thing 
utterly unthinkable in our case, as the maintenance of 
the status quo was most favourable for both England 
and Germany, the naval status quo being based on the 
superiority of Great Britain and the continental status 
quo on that of Germany, and they meant the mainten¬ 
ance of these in the future too. 

These were probably the reasons guiding the English 
statesmen during the Boer War, inducing them, in spite 
of numerous petty insults, animosity, and general 
unfriendly atmosphere, to return to the idea of an Anglo- 
German rapprochement. Unfortunately the English 
statesmen failed, in my opinion, to choose the proper 
moment for their overtures. There! were no psycho- 


376 Weltpolitik 

logical conditions present to render an unreserved and 
sincere rapprochement possible. But their mistake is 
sufficiently excusable considering their actual situation. 
The British Government had pressing and highly 
important interests urging them, by the aid of Germany 
and Japan, to check the steady advance of the Russians 
in China ; while 200,000 British soldiers were engaged 
in the struggle against the heroic Boers. Moreover, 
England could see the approach of a crisis in Morocco, 
which she would be best able to exploit with German 
support. Chamberlain explained his reasons privately 
to Eckhardt stein, the Anglophil Secretary of the German 
Embassy. He said that it would be a good thing to 
conclude an agreement with Germany, and perhaps this 
could be managed most appropriately by means of a 
pact regarding Morocco (January 1901). Chamberlain, 
however, never received any reply to this proposal— 
though silence was also a reply of a kind. Chamberlain 
informed Eckhardtstein that if Germany were unwilling 
to go hand-in-hand with England, he would have no 
alternative but to enter into negotiations with the Dual 
Alliance. 

The English overtures, however, made no impres¬ 
sion upon the German leaders. They were still for 
gaining time. A few days before Chamberlain took the 
initiative, Bülow informed the Emperor (10th January 
1901) that the paths of England and Russia crossed 
everywhere, and therefore his best policy was to keep 
his hands free towards them both, to remain on good 
terms with each Power. By that means German 
prestige would be enhanced everywhere. “ We must 
not take the chestnuts out of the fire for England/' said 
he ; and the Emperor cordially assented. 

When (January 1901), after Chamberlain's initial 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 377 

steps, William hastened to England to the bedside of 
his dying grandmother, the Chancellor wired him 
advising that he should not throw cold water on the 
English overtures, but at the same time guard against 
committing himself. The same old tactics! Always 
the same astute manoeuvring to get the better of the 
opponent! According to Bülow, England had now 
become weaker in Africa, Russia was acting perfidiously 
towards her, America was alienated from her, Japan 
was an unknown quantity and unreliable, France hated 
her—the public opinion of the whole world was against 
her. Ergo, England could not do without Germany. 
By waiting, Germany would eventually get far more 
advantageous offers from England. England could not 
even come to an understanding with the Dual Alliance ; 
that would mean too great sacrifices. And even by 
dint of sacrifices she would be unable to avoid the con¬ 
flict, which the concessions would merely postpone and 
which would be bound to ensue after the concessions 
had weakened England and rendered her less capable 
of sustaining a struggle. It would be an excellent 
stroke of diplomacy, said Bülow, if the Kaiser succeeded 
in keeping alive in the English (without undertaking 
any obligations) the fond belief that Germany would 
in the end come to an agreement with them. 

Holstein likewise had no faith in the English. His 
most prominent characteristic, his utter mistrust of 
everything and everybody, once more exercised a decisive 
effect on his judgment. He stigmatised Chamber¬ 
lain's declaration, that “ if unable to come to terms 
with Germany, he must apply to Paris and St. Peters¬ 
burg," as downright humbug. In his (Holstein's) 
opinion, such a thing was impossible : it would only 
lead to the humiliation and weakening of England. 



378 Weltpolitik 

Germany must bide her time till England saw that she 
had no choice in the matter. Time was on the side 
of Germany. An alliance with England would involve 
the risk of war with Russia and therefore could not be 
entertained until England had become more modest 
and compliant. Germany could not be sure of the 
good faith of London unless she came forward with 
distinct advantageous offers. Bülow, on his part, said 
that England must pay for her alliance not only in Asia 
but also in Africa. 

The Emperor, during his sojourn in England, made 
and received the best impressions. Unfortunately, how¬ 
ever, ever loyal to the policy of his Government, he 
declined to give the decisive turn to the negotiations. 
To Lord Lansdowne—an upright, strictly honourable 
nobleman of the old school, a statesman of sound common 
sense, in whom even the most suspicious of German 
diplomats were constrained to trust, in spite of their 
prejudices—the Emperor attempted to demonstrate the 
impossibility of England winning Russia, however tempt¬ 
ing the bait offered to her ; the greater the concessions on 
the part of England, the more impertinent would be the 
insatiable demands of the Muscovite. Neither, argued 
William, could England hope to go with America. The 
Transatlantic Republic was forging ahead with youthful 
vigour and would not hamper her course for the sake of 
England. If England, in spite of warning, were to become 
so unequally yoked together with Russia and America, 
those two Powers would sooner or later bring her to ruin. 
In China, Russia and America had already come to an 
understanding : their united aim was to oust Europe 
from Asia. There was only one remedy against that 
danger : Europe must rally and close her ranks, pre¬ 
senting a solid phalanx to the common foe ; and this 



England's Last Overtures to Germany 379 

advice applied equally to England and France as to the 
rest of the continental States. The Emperor was 
convinced that this recommendaton was practicable. 
The French were beginning to see that they gained 
nothing by their Russian alliance. The only use of the 
alliance was to enable Russia to exploit France. England 
under King Edward, whose tact had so magnificently 
stood the test, could do great things. 

These more or less wise observations led to nothing 
tangible. They were not the kind of thing to impress 
English common sense, accustomed to definite and 
practical propositions. The allusion to the French 
Question and the contingency of reconciliation between 
France and Germany was scarcely likely to convey the 
impression that the Emperor was in any hurry to con¬ 
clude an agreement with the British Empire. And simple 
consternation was created by his announcement that the 
balance of power in Europe, for which the English had 
striven so much, was now at an end. Henceforth the 
former balance of power would be represented by his 
sword ! A modern amplification of Louis XIVs boast— 
“ L’etat c’est moi ! ” 

This futile conversation was thoroughly consistent 
with the aim of the German policy, which was shy of new 
obligations and was of opinion that any partial agreement 
would result in Russia and France provoking a fight in 
which England would not be bound to assist. The 
German Government were quite willing to negotiate with 
London, but carefully avoided all definite conclusions. 
Hatzfeld and Eckhardtstein were enjoined to beware of 
proposing conversations with that object. “ The long 
and the short of it is," said Holstein, " that, although 
the time for an agreement may come, it has certainly 
not yet arrived." 


380 Weltpolitik 

In spite of this frigid, negative attitude, Lansdowne 
in March resumed the conversations. The Foreign 
Minister now enquired of Eckhardtstein whether a 
common Anglo-German action against France would not 
be possible in the event of the latter attacking Japan 
in a war with Russia, The answer was that Germany 
could not think of such a one-sided obligation. On this 
the Foreign Minister suggested a defensive alliance of a 
general character. But of this, too, Bülow had nothing 
but doubts. He was constantly manufacturing diffi¬ 
culties. Against whom should the proposed defensive 
alliance be directed ? he asked. Germany was not in 
danger. Why should she undertake to defend, say, 
the British colonies ? The public opinion of Germany 
would never be reconciled to such an idea. 

The Chancellor's instructions, however, did not seem 
quite such flat rejection as his peculiar convictions 
might have warranted. He emphasised that, though 
one should not show any eagerness to seize the offer, yet 
one should also not refuse it. He stipulated that, seeing 
the effect such a treaty would have on the Triple Alliance, 
Goluchowsky’s approval should be obtained before 
concluding it. If Lansdowne put forward more detailed 
plans and made his offer more definitive, he should be 
referred to Vienna. He launched the query whether it 
would not be right to include Japan, Turkey, and Ru¬ 
mania as well. Billow’s scheme was for an alliance 
between England and the Triple Alliance solely directed 
against a coalition of two adversaries only, the aim 
of which would be, not the defence of the territorial 
integrity of the contracting parties, but merely the main¬ 
tenance of the balance of power disturbed by the action 
of a coalition. Such a treaty, he contended, ought to 
be laid before Parliament. But this caution was not 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 381 

sufficient for Berlin. The Chancellor instructed Eckhardt¬ 
stein not to renew the negotiations on his own re¬ 
sponsibility, but to wait for England to take further steps. 
For a time, however, the “ further steps '' were awaited 
in vain. The English diplomat's experiences regarding 
his proposals were not agreeable, and so for the present 
he felt in no mood to resume the negotiations. 

Besides this, there was also a difference between the 
British and German Governments with regard to the con¬ 
ditions of peace with China. This too tended to put the 
question of the alliance into the shade for the time being. 

Meanwhile Cambon, the experienced and able French 
Ambassador in London, started a vigorous counter-move. 
The situation, as he described it, was that William had 
definitely cast in his lot with the Russians, to counter¬ 
balance which the Emperor reprimanded the British 
Ambassador to Berlin and (according to Eckhardtstein' s 
Memoirs ) wrote a splenetic epistle to King Edward. 
These outbursts, however, did not avail much. 

When the negotiations began again in London in May 
the English Government had no sanguine hopes of success. 
Hatzfeld reported that Salisbury seemed willing to con¬ 
clude an agreement with Germany, but boggled at the 
inclusion of the whole Triple Alliance. It increased too 
much the number of potential casus belli and created 
many difficulties. The English Premier asked, as an 
example of the problems raised, what would have to be 
done if, on the death of Francis Joseph, Austria were to 
fall asunder ; if Russia and Turkey were simultaneously 
to attack the Dual Monarchy ; if Italy and Spain were 
to combine against France ? It would be far easier to 
get the English Parliament to accept an alliance with 
their Germanic sister than with Austria-Hungary, owing 
to the latter’s enormous Slav population. 


382 Weltpolitik 

Unfortunately, Bülow made it a conditio sine qua non 
that England should enter into an agreement with Austria- 
Hungary and the whole Triple Alliance. In the Dual 
Monarchy at this time the Slav influence predominated. 
There was considerable misunderstanding and friction 
between the Prussian and Austrian Governments on the 
question of citizenship and cases of expulsion, which 
might have led to a rupture of the Alliance. If Berlin in 
such a situation were to conclude a new alliance without 
Vienna, the effect would be bad. If the Triple Alliance 
were to find itself outside the new German-English 
Agreement, its enemies might elude the protective 
intentions of the new alliance by attacking Austria- 
Hungary or Italy instead of Germany, and in that case 
Germany would be compelled to intervene, but not so 
England, who might declare Germany's compulsory inter¬ 
vention to be an attack. On the other hand, Germany 
would always be obliged to stand up for England and her 
colonies. Such an alliance would be worse than useless— 
no alliance at all. 

These, however, were mere sophisms and pretexts. 
The German Government could hardly be deterred by 
anxiety lest an astute enemy might circumvent the pro¬ 
visions of the alliance and stultify the whole work ; for 
in every international treaty it is not the letter but the 
spirit which is of real importance. If an alliance con¬ 
forms to the traditions and interests of the parties, it 
usually creates a much deeper community of interests 
than the mere words of the treaty warrant. There was 
but little ground for fear that any Power would attack a 
member or members of the Triple Alliance allied with 
England simply because England in that case would not 
be bound by the letter of the treaty to participate therein. 
Once England had undertaken to share our fate, our 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 383 

defeat would mean danger for England also, and her own 
interests would prompt her in the hour of peril to stand 
by her friends. 

Less ground still for anxiety lest an agreement with 
Germany and England might jeopardise the intimacy of 
the Austro-Hungarian-German Alliance. The contrary 
was the case : nothing but this alliance could strengthen 
it, for Austria-Hungary had always desired good relations 
with England. Nothing would have given Goluchowsky 
greater pleasure than the news that London and Berlin 
had at last come to terms and become fellow-members 
of one and the same group of States. It was perfectly 
right and proper that the Germans should endeavour to 
include us in the agreement; but it was a serious blunder 
and oversight to imperil the alliance just because England 
was at first averse to coming to an agreement with the 
Triple Alliance as a whole. 

Bülow would never have been deterred by such doubts 
and fears if he had considered urgent and really desired 
the alliance with England. His conduct is explicable 
only on the assumption that he considered the policy of 
the " free hand ” at that time more advantageous and 
thought he could later conclude the alliance on more 
favourable terms. For shortly afterwards (1904) the 
Emperor concluded at Björkö a defensive pact with the 
Czar without informing Austria-Hungary of the trans¬ 
action, though it might well have come into collision 
with the aspirations and interests of the Dual Monarchy 
far more than the Anglo-German alliance could possibly 
have done. 

If Bülow had asked Goluchowsky which he would 
prefer: an agreement with England without him (Golu¬ 
chowsky) , or the dropping of the whole idea of the alliance, 
Goluchowsky would doubtless have chosen the former 


384 Weltpolitik 

alternative and made a point of Germany at least clearing 
up the situation with regard to England. 

The German Government, however, was by no means 
disposed to discuss the matter further without Austria- 
Hungary. It would not even consent to Hatzfeld' s 
suggestion that, if Salisbury wished to go into details, 
they should open negotiations and show Vienna the 
finished draft of the Anglo-German agreement. 

Bülow insisted on Goluchowsky leading the negotia¬ 
tions and Vienna being the scene of the affair—a solution 
not consistent with the relations of power, or with German 
traditions and customs, confirming the impression that 
Berlin set exceedingly little value on an agreement with 
England. 

Moreover, the German Foreign Office was morbidly 
afraid of indiscretions. In vain Hatzfeld insisted that 
Lansdowne was absolutely trustworthy ; Berlin had a 
nervous dread of treachery. They would not countenance 
the Ambassador giving a written document with regard 
to the negotiations. Before signing the treaty of 1879 
Bismarck explained his attitude to Andrassy, and when 
he later wanted to come to an agreement with England, 
he expounded his entire policy to Salisbury without the 
least reserve. He was not afraid of treachery, and his 
confidence was rewarded by the desired agreement in 
both cases being reached. The mistrust now mani¬ 
fested by Berlin simply showed their lack of serious 
intention to conclude the treaty ; they could hardly 
want a treaty with a State with which they had not 
sufficient courage to negotiate, afraid lest the discussions 
should leak out! Count Metternich (acting for 
Hatzfeld during his sickness and succeeding him on his 
decease) wrote in vain for an alliance with England ; in 
vain he pointed out that they could not win Russia ; that 



England's Last Overtures to Germany 385 

collision between the Germanic and Slavic races was 
sooner or later inevitable ; that it was not for them a 
matter of choice between England and Russia—they 
must either make the alliance with England or give up 
altogether the idea of any new alliance. In vain he 
explained that if Germany failed to bind England now 
the latter would turn to Russia and France, in which 
case the situation of the Triple Alliance would become 
most precarious, since, with England as an enemy, it 
was obvious they could not rely on Italy. In vain 
Metternich insisted that the proposed alliance with 
England would not increase the danger of war, since it 
was of a defensive character and so powerful that no one 
would have the temerity to challenge it. In vain he 
attempted to fascinate them with the brightest hopes 
of Germany, by virtue of the alliance, becoming a power¬ 
ful factor in China, that most populous of world-markets. 

Against Metternich’ s arguments Holstein committed 
his views to paper: a simple circumlocution which 
might well have been whittled down to the two words, 
“ perfidious Albion.” Now, as so often in the past, 
Holstein suspected Salisbury of wanting a continental 
war in order himself to play the role of arbitrator between 
the two belligerents. Again he was afraid lest Germany 
should be placed in the invidious position of having to 
get the chestnuts out of the fire for England. This 
hot-chestnut business became a veritable nightmare with 
Holstein. He warned his Fatherland persistently, in 
season and out of season, of the danger of burning their 
fingers, until by and by someone came along, valiantly 
seized the chestnuts, finding the embers not so hot after 
all, and ate the fruits with considerable relish. 

This timid diplomat, afraid even of his own shadow, 
constantly argued that any agreement without the Triple 

25 


386 Weltpolitik 

Alliance would exasperate the foes of Germany and cause 
them to attack, while it would enable England to escape 
her obligations and remain outside the arena. 

With such appalling lack of confidence it was clearly 
impossible to think of concluding an agreement. The 
failure of the negotiations, however, is best explained by 
the important statement that if it were now impossible 
to conclude an alliance, Germany need not apply else¬ 
where, for the logic of history would sooner or later 
certainly bring England and Germany together. Unfor¬ 
tunately this prophecy was falsified by events. The 
very opposite came to pass. 

The conversation between Emperor William and 
King Edward at Homburg failed to promote the success 
of the negotiations. The Emperor did little else than 
lecture his uncle and indulge in unpleasantnesses gener¬ 
ally. He bluntly suggested to the King of England that 
the Japanese were dissatisfied with the British because the 
latter had promised to finance the cost of Japan arming 
against Russia and then left her in the lurch to foot the 
bill herself. “You must not be surprised/' said the 
garrulous and tactless nephew, “ if you continue to be 
regarded as ‘ perfidious Albion' as in the past." The 
bonds of kinship and knowledge of the Emperor's impul¬ 
sive nature doubtless tempered the ill-effect of this and 
similar outbursts, yet such an affront could not fail to do 
harm, shattering King Edward's confidence in the German 
Emperor, who had dared to tell him to his face that 
England was perfidious ! The sole mention of the pro¬ 
jected alliance was when William told Edward that he 
would have to make his choice—either America or 
Europe—and that he (William) was prepared to conclude 
nothing but an alliance of full legal force and extending 
to the entire Triple Alliance. 



England's Last Overtures to Germany 387 

After this meeting it would seem that the idea of an 
alliance was dropped. Metternich reported that it was 
no longer spoken of in London, and that he hoped Ger¬ 
many would succeed with her overtures to Russia ; for 
the colder her relations with England, the more essen¬ 
tial it was to be on good terms with the Czar. The 
Germans could not continue for long—observed the 
Ambassador, with good reason—to oscillate between the 
two Powers. 

In his reply to Metternich (September) Bülow no 
longer talked of an alliance with England, but of good 
relations only, and merely directed him to try to clear 
certain claims on the part of German subjects originating 
from the Boer War. And Holstein, speaking with Chirol, 
correspondent of The Times , said that it was impossible 
to come to an agreement with Salisbury, that Germany 
needed no support at that time, because the Russo-French 
alliance—which might signify danger—had become 
weaker, and the Czar was on excellent terms with the 
Emperor. Certainly the ways of England and Germany 
would converge in the future. All the same he, in the 
meantime, abused the country of the journalist. 

Both Bülow and Holstein regarded a German-English 
alliance as the music of the future. It must not be 
hurried ; they could afford to wait. In due time it 
would come about spontaneously, from their interests. 
For the time being it was sufficient to avoid depressing 
and alienating England, or arousing her enmity. For 
the present it was more important to be on good terms 
with Russia too, and to prepare a rapprochement with 
France, than to come to an agreement with England. 

Thus the conclusion of the alliance was frustrated by 
Germany regarding it as inopportune, her unwillingness 
to undertake any obligations, her obliviousness of danger 



388 Weltpolitik 

from the East, and consequently by her considering the 
policy of the " free hand ” as the best. 

The King of England naturally perceived this and 
put an end to the negotiations. The British Ambassador 
informed the German Foreign Office of a letter from his 
sovereign (December 1901) in which his Majesty had 
written that he had intended friendly relations with 
Germany, but his Parliament would scarcely accept a 
formal alliance. 

At the end of the year the German Emperor despatched 
an interesting telegram to his uncle Edward, in which he 
stated that his late grandmother Queen Victoria had 
bequeathed to him (King Edward) a splendid heritage. 
“ Since the great days of ancient Rome there has been 
no such proud world-empire as that to which you have 
succeeded. God grant that you may ever be found on 
the side of peace and righteousness. Our two peoples, 
like ourselves their rulers, are one in blood and faith. 
By the Divine ordinance they are appointed to make 
the world happier and better. To lead the work of 
civilisation is the high privilege of the Germanic race 
—which alone is qualified for the task imposed upon 
it by God’s will. Let them therefore stand firmly by 
each other and march side by side in the van of progress ! 
The press is evil, but I am the master of the German 
policy ; my nation must follow me, consequently England 
ought not to compel me to a policy which might prove 
disastrous for both peoples.” 

Such chauvinism and self-conceit cloaking a threat 
were really ill-calculated to captivate the English and 
win the favour of their King. 

The Berliners, however, were pleased. They thought 
they had attained their object. They had left the door 
open for the future, and for the present they could move 


England's Last Overtures to Germany 389 

freely. Good relations between England and Germany 
had been preserved without new obligations, burdens, 
casus belli, or dangers of war. 

But this was only an outward and deceptive appear¬ 
ance. The real result was something quite different. 
Chamberlain, the most influential and resolute of English 
statesmen, who had insisted so much on the alliance, in the 
course of the negotiations entirely changed his direction 
—a circumstance which was in itself a disquieting 
symptom. It became deeply rooted in the minds of the 
English leaders that to come to an agreement with 
Germany was impossible and that the only way out of the 
isolation was through France. Without an agreement 
with France the situation would be dangerous. Constant 
differences with France and Russia, their dependence on 
the Germans, who really bore them no good-will, the 
suspicion and anxiety that the Germans were arming 
against them with the object of destroying their naval 
supremacy sooner or later, all tended to create an intoler¬ 
able situation. Relations with Paris must be cleared up, 
if necessary even at the price of sacrifices. England and 
Germany had started to move in opposite directions. 
The probability was great that every day would see them 
further apart. For the first step is always the most 
difficult; the others follow naturally and spontaneously, 
as consequences of the first. 

Ere long a violent controversy was raging between 
London and Berlin. The German press roundly de¬ 
nounced the conduct of the British soldiers towards the 
Boers. Chamberlain answered the accusations in a 
caustic speech in which he stated that different Conti¬ 
nental armies had behaved far more cruelly and 
improperly than the British in South Africa, and he 
quoted German atrocities in the war of 1870-1. 


390 Weltpolitik 

Bülow riposted with exceeding hauteur in the Reichs¬ 
tag, though the ministers of the other Governments 
observed silence, not deeming it worth while to make a 
fuss about Chamberlain's wrathful explosion, which to 
them was quite comprehensible. 

With a view to calming down the excited Anglophobe 
public opinion of Germany, the Chancellor declared 
(October) that whoever had the temerity to defame the 
German army, to call in question the morality and 
heroism displayed by the soldiers of the Fatherland in 
the stupendous struggle for German unity, would find 
that he was trying to bite through solid rock. 

This acrimonious debate added fuel to the fire, exacer¬ 
bating mutual antipathy on both sides. Count Mensdorff, 
a member of the Austro-Hungarian Embassy in London, 
who knew England thoroughly and was a warm Anglo¬ 
phil—being a relation of the English Royal Family— 
called the attention of Prince Lichnowsky, who subse¬ 
quently became his colleague in London, to the fact that 
the conviction was spreading in England that it would 
be easier to conclude an alliance with Russia than with 
Germany ; and although, fortunately, Russia would not 
just then hear of England, a rapprochement between these 
two Powers in time was conceivable. Chamberlain 
freely confessed that he had been wrong in his previous 
policy—that the German hatred of England was invincible 
and was beginning to be reciprocated. The slightest 
untoward incident might lead to war. On the occasion 
of William's next visit to England (about the end of 1902) 
he himself perceived the change. He plainly saw that 
Chamberlain was offended and sore at being, as he con¬ 
sidered, deceived. William further realised that such 
a disposition meant danger. He therefore issued a 
strict and definite order that everything tending to foster 


England’s Last Overtures to Germany 391 

further controversy with England must be strenuously 
avoided. " Let the press be silent/' he wrote, " or they 
may imperil the safety of the Fatherland ; as Germany 
has only eight ironclads against England's thirty-five." 
The position in 1905 was forty-five German ironclads 
against 196 English. I am convinced that on the whole 
William was at this time more willing to conclude an 
alliance with England than was his Government, and 
that Bülow intentionally neglected to inform him of all 
the particulars of the negotiations lest a fait accompli 
should be created by the intervention of the supreme 
authority. Eckhardtstein in his Memoirs wrote that 
he had subsequently called the Kaiser's attention to 
what had taken place, which caused the latter to be very 
angry with Bülow and to administer to him a scathing 
rebuke. Nothing but the consummate skill of Bülow 
could have succeeded in reassuring the Emperor. 

The relations between England and Germany were 
rendered even more strained by the visit of the defeated 
Boer generals to Berlin and the erroneous idea prevalent 
in England that the Emperor would receive them. The 
tension was only allayed by the Kaiser announcing that 
he could not receive them except as British subjects and 
presented by the British Ambassador. No audience was 
sought by the generals, and none took place. Neverthe¬ 
less, the affair left an unpleasant flavour behind it and 
had a sinister influence upon public opinion in London. 

The Times lent its great journalistic prestige to a 
regular anti-German agitation, which was applauded by 
the majority of the British public. Asquith, a leader of 
the Liberal Opposition, who subsequently became 
Premier, admitted in a conversation with the German 
Ambassador (March 1903) that the attitude of The Times 
spelt international trouble and created an atmosphere 


392 Weltpolitik 

liable to lead to exceedingly grave consequences in the 
future. Cromer, for another, pointed out that the 
. English were beginning to prepare for hostilities with 
Germany. Not the Unionists only, but even the 
Liberal Opposition leaders—Rosebery, Asquith, and 
Grey—began to favour the idea of overtures to the Dual 
Alliance. 

When two nations mistrust and fear each other, when 
the press stirs up the cauldron of suspicion and fans the 
flame of hatred, even events which otherwise might have 
made for close co-operation may have the effect of 
separating them. This was the experience of England 
and Germany in the Venezuela Question. This small 
South American State having in one of its frequently 
recurring civil wars subjected certain British and German 
citizens to loss and damage, the British and German 
Governments decided to proceed jointly in the claim for 
compensation. The German action was quite in the 
spirit of loyalty. They never dreamt of conquests ; but 
under the influence of their augmented self-consciousness 
they, like the English, regarded it as their simple duty to 
protect the interests of their fellow-countrymen with 
the utmost firmness. They consequently concerted to¬ 
gether and issued a joint declaration of war against 
Venezuela (November 1902). But British public opinion 
being completely saturated with Germanophobe senti¬ 
ments, the English were roused to indignation at the 
co-operation of their Government with the Germans. 
And the British dissatisfaction was aggravated as soon as 
the United States began to get uneasy about the matter. 
This naturally revived unpleasant memories among the 
Germans and destroyed the last remnants of their 
sympathy for the English. 

These are sad recollections. We witnessed the sowing 



England's Last Overtures to Germany 393 

of the seed of the calamitous harvest we are reaping to¬ 
day. Had England and Germany only understood each 
other better, there would have been no World War, and 
certainly not a war resulting, as this last has resulted, in 
overthrowing the balance of all Europe and bringing us 
to the brink of ruin. A sorry retrospect; and an equally 
deplorable outlook : the causeless estrangement of two 
great nations, merely through errors and tactlessness. 


CHAPTER VIII 


THE ANGLO-FRENCH ENTENTE 

T HIS recrudescence of Anglo-German relations 
induced England to prosecute a more vigorous 
diplomatic activity. She had wanted to get 
nearer to Germany in order to avoid isolation ; but when 
it became patent to her that there was nothing doing in 
that quarter, she began to cast about for friends else¬ 
where. As soon as she was convinced of the impossibility 
of coming to an agreement with Germany, her first 
efforts were directed to counteracting the advance of the 
Russians in China with the aid of Japan. England's 
chief use for Germany was to check the Muscovites in 
the Celestial Empire ; but now that the impracticability 
of the idea was realised, she applied to Nippon. Eck¬ 
hardtstein, the German diplomat, was the first to propose 
to the English statesmen the idea of enlisting Japan in 
the Far Eastern Question as well as Germany. Now, 
however, Downing Street entered into relations with 
Japan alone, without Germany. 

This step was facilitated by the failure of the Japanese 
minister Ito to clear up matters satisfactorily with St. 
Petersburg. After her futile proposals to the Russians 
for a division, offering Manchuria against Corea, Japan 
evinced a disposition to align herself with England 
(January 1902). The ostensible object of the Anglo- 
Japanese Treaty that resulted was the maintenance of 
the integrity of Corea and China. Its real purport, 
however, was that the two contracting Powers should 
thenceforth be united in defence of their mutual interests, 


394 


The Anglo-French Entente 395 

and that should either party become involved in war 
with any other two Powers on account of China, the 
other should lend her aid. In case of a collision with 
one Power only, the other party might remain neutral. 

This alliance was a bold but eminently useful step. 
When a considerable part of the British forces were still 
engaged against the Boers in South Africa, England 
enlisted in defence of her Asiatic interests that Power 
which was paramount there. 

Having regard to the course of subsequent events it is 
even more important to note that England made defini¬ 
tive overtures to France. At the time of Fashoda and the 
Dreyfus affair the cold-blooded English had severely 
censured the hysterical outbursts of their neighbours— 
outbursts which I can now only regard as symptomatic 
of a lack of conscience and of that cynicism peculiar to 
counter-revolutionary times, but which at that time I 
considered to be a peculiar characteristic of French 
chauvinism. Equally marked was the manifestation of 
French public opinion in favour of the Boers, Krüger’ s 
visit to Paris having stirred up once more the smouldering 
embers of the French hatred of England. Sir Thomas 
Barclay, the Francophil, who took a prominent part 
in preparing the Entente Cordiale between the two 
nations, says in his book on the subject that a proposal 
to make him a member of a Paris club was withdrawn 
lest he should be rejected on account of his being an 
Englishman ; that obscene caricatures of Queen Victoria 
were published which aroused great indignation in 
London ; that on an occasion of an Englishman at a 
French railway-station asking for a first-class ticket he 
was given a third with the remark that “ that was good 
enough for a sale Anglais .” On the other hand, no 
Frenchman could get accommodation in England simply 


396 Weltpolitik 

because he was a Frenchman, and some French people 
appearing at a public meeting of Englishmen to protest 
in favour of Dreyfus were insulted and thrown out. 

These things constituted serious disturbing elements, 
especially in the case of nations swayed by their public 
opinion. They tended naturally to cause grave anxiety 
in England at a time when Germany and Russia were 
both inimical. 

England did not, however, acquiesce in the situation. 
The English, with their instinct of self-preservation, took 
the affair in hand, and, as so frequently happened in the 
past, prepared the action of the Government independently 
of the official direction by the enthusiastic and resolute 
efforts of private individuals. One of the most important 
advantages of England is individual initiative supported 
by the system of self-government; that personal activity 
which neither waits for nor obeys orders, but if necessary 
acts even in defiance of the Government in what it con¬ 
siders the national interest. On the Continent one often 
hears the view expressed that the ways of the official 
foreign policy must not be crossed, and it is akin to high 
treason for a private person to make propaganda abroad 
in the cause of any other alliances than those actually 
existing—not to speak of fraternising with people who 
in given circumstances are diametrically opposed to our 
country's policy. Irresponsible individuals must not act 
so as to weaken the bond of an alliance which in given 
circumstances means the power of our country. In 
England we may frequently experience the very opposite 
of this. Individual action often crosses the official policy, 
and has not seldom carried public opinion with it and 
proved itself stronger than the will of the Government. 

At this period also something like the above happened. 
Certain elements of the British public conceived, even at 


The Anglo-French Entente 397 

the most unpropitious moment, the idea of friendship with 
the French, and set energetically to work to prepare the 
way for an agreement between the two nations. This 
agitation had practically matured by the time Edward 
VII ascended the throne. Though that monarch had 
hitherto stood for a German orientation, yet he had 
always entertained a sympathetic regard for the French 
people, and was above all very fond of Paris. Seeing that 
he could do nothing with his imperial nephew, Edward 
began to devote his energies to the creation of friendly 
relations with France. 

After the resignation of Salisbury, the veteran 
representative of " splendid isolation/' and the appoint¬ 
ment of his colleague Balfour as Premier, the new Foreign 
Minister Lansdowne adopted a foreign policy coincident 
with the views of King Edward and, together with the 
sovereign, sought to promote a rapprochement with their 
Gallic neighbour—a step which had become necessary 
owing to the mistrust of Germany, which was constantly 
growing. 

William II and Edward VII could never understand 
each other. The more morally disposed nephew despised 
and scorned his uncle, whose earlier years had been less 
edifying, and condemned him with all the severity of the 
old Puritans. When on a certain occasion Edward, 
then Prince of Wales, appeared as a witness in a card- 
sharping case, the Emperor spoke of the affair to the 
officers of his guard, saying that “ the Prince had ceased 
to be a gentleman and it would be impossible ever again 
to shake hands with him." The danger of this spirit was 
enhanced by William's too blunt outspokenness and 
sincerity, which prevented him from keeping his views to 
himself and constrained him to make his kinsman feel 
their effect. William's bosom friend, Eulenburg, wrote 


398 Weltpolitik 

that " the Emperor showed his contempt for the Prince 
of Wales in an unmistakable manner. On his next visit 
to England [i.e. after the card-sharping case], the German 
Emperor hardly deigned to look at the most important 
Crown Prince in the World/' These two exalted relatives 
were not born for mutual intercourse. The smart soldier- 
Emperor cordially despised the civilian-King who had no 
particular love for military display, nor indulged in blatant 
praises of the army ; who seldom appeared in uniform and 
knew not how to command a regiment; who could listen 
to the babble of parliamentary debate, which William 
once likened to a “ troupe of monkeys chattering ." 

Edward, on the other hand, had not much love for 
William. With an incomparably superior knowledge of 
mankind, this experienced arbiter of fashion and refine¬ 
ment and elegant manners, this darling of the beau monde, 
looked down from his Olympian height upon the rude 
Emperor with his not always immaculate attire. Edward's 
grand-seigneur simplicity and thoroughbred air was a gulf 
fixed between him and the theatrical, flamboyant deport¬ 
ment of the German Emperor. The recognised leader 
of the international devots of pleasure, the “ First Gentle¬ 
man " not of Europe only but of the world, was as far as 
the poles asunder from the (notwithstanding his wonderful 
linguistic accomplishments) typical Prussian soldier. 

The Emperor quite spoilt the Cowes regattas for King 
Edward. The latter complained to his intimate friends 
that “ William, with his eternal hurrahing, commanding, 
and military swagger, had poisoned the atmosphere of 
this fine old English sport." These two greatest rulers 
and spoilt children of the world, whose every expressed 
wish was a command, accustomed to deference and 
obedience from all, fairly detested each other. Being 
blood-relations, they met too frequently and were too 


The Anglo-French Entente 399 

much in each other's secrets to make it possible for the 
usual ceremonial and obligatory formalities inseparable 
from the meeting of two sovereigns to hide their opposite 
personalities, tastes, habits, views, and philosophies. 
Unrestrained intimate relations between kinsmen 
generally lead to mutual antipathy. And in this case the 
mutual antipathy was intensified by the family quarrel 
between William and his English mother ; which became 
so tragic during the illness and death of the Emperor 
Frederick owing to the bitterness between the German 
and the English physicians in attendance on the illus¬ 
trious patient. 

However, this personal antagonism and antipathy 
between the two Princes did not affect their policies to 
any material extent. Both sovereigns were worthy 
examples of a princely sense of duty. Neither desired 
to be influenced by sympathies and antipathies. Each 
was ready to live on friendly terms with the other, and 
I think they both even considered it desirable to do so. 
Either of them would no doubt have been willing to offer 
his hand to Beelzebub himself, had the interest of their 
respective realms rendered it expedient. Yet their 
personal animosity exercised a tremendous influence 
upon the course of events. It stood in the way of mutual 
understanding between the two sovereigns, of discovering 
the via media between the conflicting interests and aims, 
of discussing delicate questions calmly and objectively 
without danger of rupture. Their mutual antipathy 
affected their opinion of each other, and consequently of 
each other's policy. Emperor William was only too 
glad and too willing to believe that King Edward intrigued 
against him, was plotting to isolate and break his 
empire ; and that the entire policy of his uncle was 
founded on envy and jealousy of Germany as a new rising 


400 Weltpolitik 

World-Power. Edward likewise was prone to believe that 
the German policy was aggressive, jingoistic, and Anglo- 
phobe, because he hated the Emperor and considered 
him capable of any evil. If only he could have had 
confidence in William, if he had had any affection for 
him, if he had not believed him to be inordinately ambi¬ 
tious, vain, and brutal, he would have regarded German 
policy too with different eyes. It was not because they 
disliked each other and wished each other ill that the 
two sovereigns followed opposite policies; but they 
considered each other’s policy dangerous and directed 
against themselves because each regarded the other as 
his jealous foe. Each conceived it his duty to protect 
his country from the machinations of the other. 

Both desired only what was useful for their respective 
countries ; but the views they entertained of each other 
reciprocally influenced their views of the policy to be 
expected from the other State. 

King Edward knew and dreaded the impetuous, 
wayward nature, the bold aspirations and rash nautical 
propensities of his nephew. He regarded the future with 
uncertainty and misgiving because of the overweening 
ambition of his kinsman, and therefore he desired to 
safeguard Britain’s command of the sea, the palladium of 
her freedom. For this reason he wished to eliminate the 
differences separating him from France, and to win the 
good-will of the French people. All the same, he was not 
disposed to any anti-German policy. He came near 
thereto only through his mistrust of the Kaiser, and his 
new friends, the French, being the irreconcilable foes of 
Germany. He had no mind to an anti-German policy, 
but he rendered possible a movement against the Germans 
by securing for himself a free hand in his relations with 
France. He wanted no war with Germany ; but he 


The Anglo-French Entente 401 

feared it might come to that, and therefore he looked for 
a friend to support him in that emergency. The majority 
of his people were with him in his efforts. The all- 
powerful public opinion of England assumed a decided 
Germanophobe tendency, for Germany was feared on 
account of her maritime ambitions, and the English were 
aware that in order to frustrate them heavy financial 
burdens were inevitable. 

King Edward's first public act of importance in this 
connection was his visit to President Loubet at the Elysee 
in May 1903, a visit which was subsequently returned by 
Loubet in London. This auspicious double event put 
an end to the strained relations between the two neigh¬ 
bouring nations and led to the commencement of political 
negotiations between them. 

Eckhardtstein hastened from London to Paris in 
order to be able to watch personally this highly interesting 
event. He afterwards reported that the visit to the 
King of England might be the starting-point of a new 
orientation in world-policies. One should be prepared 
to see not only the realisation of Anglo-French friendship, 
but also the success of the joint efforts of France and 
England to win Russia, as well as, at least in time, the 
conclusion of the Triple Entente. He had little faith 
in the durability of the combination, in view of the con¬ 
flicting interests of the parties, but reckoned with it 
temporarily as calculated to do much mischief in the 
course of its brief existence. 

Bülow held a different opinion. He did not think 
that France and England would arrive at an agreement on 
the Morocco Question. Neither did he apprehend the 
possibility of England and Russia understanding each 
other, for the former aimed at excluding the latter from 
the warm seas and Russia could not relinquish the sea. 

26 


402 Weltpolitik 

She could not desire much co-operation with England, 
for within the Triple Entente England and France would 
always work their own will against Russia. In the Orien¬ 
tal Question England and France would constantly want 
something different from the Czar and would not suffer 
the Russian policy to assert itself. Bülow’s conclusion 
therefore was that for the time being one could not be 
too calm in regarding the coquetting of England and 
France. Holstein took the same view. England and 
France could only come to an agreement after the idea of 
revanche had abated in the Gallic mind. 

Yet Bülow attached such importance to Eckhard t- 
stein's pessimism that he informed certain important 
diplomats of his report. The German Charge d’Affaires 
in London considered EckhardtstehTs view quite wrong. 
Though true that England had turned away from 
Germany, she would never be able to come to an agree¬ 
ment with Russia. He referred to the speech of the 
British Foreign Minister, in which the latter declared 
(May 1903) that England would strive her utmost to 
prevent any foreign Power from getting a footing in the 
Persian Gulf—the natural perpetual aim of Russia. 
According to him, Cambon, the French Ambassador in 
London, did not even attempt to include Russia, and 
desired only to bring about a friendship between England 
and France ; and the sole aspiration of the Russian 
Ambassador was to keep Germany and England far 
apart and to negotiate in Lombard Street a Russian 
loan—in which, however, he would hardly succeed. He 
advised that efforts should be made to induce the English 
to abandon the idea that Germany was dangerously 
or improperly ambitious, and that she would expand 
at all costs. Care should be taken to stop the German 
press stating that the navy was a matter of necessity 


The Anglo-French Entente 403 

against the designs of England. He thought that 
nothing more—no particular diplomatic action—was 
required. 

From St. Petersburg the German Ambassador sent 
the same opinion. According to Alvensleben, Russia 
had no desire to come to terms with England. She was 
step by step advancing in Asia, steadily creeping onward, 
and it would not be to her interest there to make sacri¬ 
fices for England. Chamberlain was probably only 
bluffing them when talking of a Russian rapprochement. 

A similar view was also expressed by the Ambassador 
to Paris. According to Radolin, Delcass£ might per¬ 
haps be dreaming of a Triple Entente, but the time 
for its fulfilment was yet very far distant. France and 
England must first of all come to terms regarding 
Morocco, which would prove a difficult task. It was 
quite as difficult to let France have the territory opposite 
Gibraltar as for France to surrender the same after 
having acquired the rest of the land of the Kabyles. 
France's aim was slowly to encircle Morocco from the 
south, Algiers serving as a base of operations, thence 
proceeding northwards. Opposing interests separated 
Russia and England in Asia. Germany was equally 
disliked in St. Petersburg, London, and Paris, but not¬ 
withstanding this antipathy they could not afford to 
sacrifice those great interests that parted them in the 
meantime. 

Metternich, who had now been placed in charge of 
the London Embassy, also reported to the same effect. 
The English were never over-fond of Continental alli¬ 
ances, and that was precisely the case now. They had 
approached France simply to be able to deliver and 
defend themselves, if need arose, from Germany ; but 
they were not contemplating an anti-German offensive. 


404 Weltpolitik 

For the present there was no reason to fear their making 
up to Russia : they were at loggerheads about Asia. 
England intended to remain absolute master of the 
shores, while Russia wanted to reach the sea. He 
recommended patience and calm. 

As may be supposed, these views, so coincident with 
each other, were eminently satisfactory to Biilow. He 
was right after all. There was no need to change his 
direction—no need to shoulder new and heavy burdens ; 
it was sufficient to moderate the Anglophobia of the 
German press. 

But events moved faster and took a more decisive 
turn than the German diplomats had anticipated. 
Though at present the Anglo-French rapprochement 
only was on the tapis—without Russia—yet the agree¬ 
ment could boast of results surprisingly early. After 
King Edward's visit and President Loubet’s return 
visit, diplomatic negotiations were immediately opened. 
The initial result of the deliberations was an interna¬ 
tional arbitration pact. All legal difficulties, especially 
such as were connected with the interpretations of 
treaties, should henceforth be submitted by the two 
Powers to the Peace Court at The Hague, always ex¬ 
cepted cases involving the vital interests or the honour 
of either contracting Power. This was in itself an 
important and valuable achievement; though the most 
important and valuable feature of the pact was the 
mutual good-will that it signified—the resolve to try as 
far as possible to avoid quarrels between themselves. 
This spirit of good-will bore further excellent fruit. After 
a few months of negotiations (April 1904) they suc¬ 
ceeded in eliminating their definite colonial differences. 
They accomplished a work that Berlin had deemed an 
impossibility. The successful result was promoted by 



The Anglo-French Entente 405 

the outbreak in the meantime of the Russo-Japanese 
War. Russia became weaker, and thus France felt 
the need of fresh support—the King of England instead 
of (or in addition to) the Czar. The rapprochement at 
this time between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and 
Russia on the Balkans Question was another factor 
inducing France to come to terms with England, in 
order to avoid the risk of becoming isolated as in Bis¬ 
marck's day. 

France took an important step. She accepted 
finally and without mental reservation the status quo 
in Egypt, the British overlordship there, and consented 
to a modification of the international control of the 
finances which ameliorated and simplified England's 
situation in the land of the Pharaohs. Therewith they 
closed a chapter in history they had begun to write with 
such sanguine ambitions and great illusions, which had 
caused extreme bitterness, anger, and humiliation, and 
which now was terminated with complete renunciation 
on the one side. It is true that in return for their com¬ 
plaisance the French got from the English a promise 
regarding Morocco. Only a promise, however, which 
was quite a different thing from realisation. Yet the 
pact proved a good bargain for France, for the real 
price received for Egypt was the invaluable rapproche¬ 
ment with England. 

The Anglo-French Agreement redounded to the 
credit of both signatories. What was usually obtained 
only as the result of a costly war or of protracted diplo¬ 
matic altercations and controversies, had been attained 
by peaceful means. In a certain sense England and 
Germany had changed places. Under the effect of her 
new fear of Germany, England had been actuated 
chiefly by concern for the safety of Europe, which had 



406 Weltpolitik 

been Bismarck's guiding star. And Germany, con¬ 
scious of her power, now attached greater importance 
to manifold petty overseas interests than to the task of 
strengthening her already safe Continental situation— 
just as Salisbury had done before. Therefore it was that 
France and England could understand each other, and 
Germany had to remain in a certain state of opposition 
to each of her rivals. 

Paris and London had followed a more far-sighted 
policy than Berlin thought, and than Berlin herself was 
following. The two first-named capitals were enabled 
to break with the past, to forget certain things over 
which it was best to draw the veil of oblivion, to make 
a uniform picture with regard to the thousands of 
interests great and small, to sacrifice the lesser for the 
sake of the greater ; while in Berlin the policy of par- 
ticularisation, of the magnifying-glass, was asserted— 
small interests were allowed to usurp the rule of the 
great ones. In Berlin they never suspected their adver¬ 
saries to be capable of taking the important decision that 
they had in fact taken. Therefore it was that their 
counter-attractions came too late ; therefore they lost 
ground ; and therefore, finally, the long quarrel between 
the two Western Powers—which hitherto had ensured 
the superiority of Germany—came to an end. 

The further course of events depended to a con¬ 
siderable extent on Russia. Would she abide by the 
new Anglo-French Entente or the Triple Alliance ? 
Would the alliance with Russia take the place of the 
English for us ? or would France succeed in reconciling 
her old friend to the new, thereby finally securing the 
superiority for herself ? 


CHAPTER IX 


RUSSIAN FRIENDSHIP 


FTER the conclusion of peace following the 



rebellion in China (September 1901), the most 


^ ^ important point of contact between Russia and 
Germany was Asia Minor—i.e. the Constantinople- 
Bagdad Railway, the question of which reached a new 
stage in January 1902, when Germany at last acquired 
the necessary licence to build the line. 

The German Government remained loyal to its 
fundamental principle of avoiding the spoiling of good 
relations with any of the interested parties, without at 
the same time sacrificing any important interests. The 
statement of the Foreign Minister on Germany's tactics 
at that time was to the effect that she wanted to exploit 
the rivalry between England and France and, by bowing 
here to the Russian bear and there to the British lion, 
to get round to the Persian Gulf, to the harbour of 
Koweit. 

Her obeisances to the Russian bear were, however, 
futile. St. Petersburg could not be induced to relish 
the German plan. The Czar always regarded the 
activities of other European Powers on Turkish soil as 
poaching on his preserves. He was the Sultan's heir-at- 
law, he was the successor of the Byzantine emperors. 
What had the West, otherwise Germany, to do in his 
empire of the future ? The Czar’s Government did its 
utmost to hinder and thwart the progress of Germany. 
First it sought to exclude German influence from the shores 
of the Black Sea. By dint of pressure on Constantinople 


408 Weltpolitik 

a promise was exacted that the railway-line as far as the 
Black Sea should be built by Turkish and Russian 
capital alone—a promise not only prejudicial to the 
Germans, but arrestive to the development of Turkey, 
since it rendered useful investments the privilege of 
people whose pockets were empty! Later on the 
Russians sought to defeat the Bagdad Railway by de¬ 
manding a concession for a parallel line on their own 
behalf, by which trick they would deprive the Germans 
of the traffic. 

But the Sultan was alive to this secret intention and 
refused the request of the Russians. The Russian 
diplomatic intrigues in England were more dangerous. 
Germany looked for French and British capital in the 
carrying out of her scheme : firstly in order to settle 
the technical problem the more easily, and secondly, 
in order to allay the universal jealousy, and that the 
enterprise, though under German leadership, should 
nevertheless be thoroughly international. The English 
Government was disposed to assist in view of the 
economic and financial advantages promised by the 
undertaking; but a press campaign under Russian 
inspiration was started (April 1903) before which the 
English Government had eventually to bow, and to 
decline the participation of British capital in the project. 
This example was followed by France (October 1903) 
too, owing to the Russophil sentiments of Delcasse. 
Germany stood alone, and was compelled to start the 
enterprise without foreign assistance, which caused 
loss of time and increase of the universal jealousy. This 
failure was, alas, a sign of her isolation in world-politics. 

England too, however, had cause to view with 
misgiving the building of the Bagdad Railway. She 
regarded suspiciously the design to make Koweit the 


Russian Friendship 409 

sea-end of this immense transverse, where England had 
plans of her own. Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, one 
of the leading geniuses of the British Empire, particu¬ 
larly considered the Persian Gulf to be within the 
British sphere of influence and emphasised the prime 
importance of the Sheik of Koweit (an Arab prince 
nominally under Ottoman suzerainty but virtually 
independent) being retained under British influence. 
This statesman urged the high political doctrine that 
the road from England to India via Suez, Egypt, the 
Sudan, and the territories of the Arab tribes should be 
defended by British power throughout the whole way. 
Balfour, the Premier, entirely concurred with this 
view, and on the basis thereof desired to come to 
terms with Russia. He suggested that a straight line 
should be drawn from Port Alexandretta on the 
Mediterranean as far as the Yang-tse Valley in China, 
the territory north of which should be considered as in 
the Russian sphere of influence, and that on the south 
as in the British sphere. This grand scheme, however, 
would be disturbed by the railway connecting Koweit 
with Constantinople and furnishing the Sultan with a 
pretext for withdrawing the Sheik from British influence 
and subjecting him (by force if necessary) to himself. 
For this very reason the Sultan was pleased with the 
German Bagdad Railway enterprise. It would open 
up distant tracts of territory to the Padishah 
and his army. It was, moreover, important for the 
Germans to satisfy the Turks, and therefore the former 
spoke loudly against England when she appeared to be 
going to suborn the Sheik of Koweit to serve her pur¬ 
poses (summer and autumn 1903). 

The cunning, cowardly Sultan Abdul Hamid made 
such a poor, weak defence that Lansdowne might well 


4io Weltpolitik 

say (September) that the Germans were more Turkish 
than the Turks. But when at the close of the year 
Russia intervened and the impression was made that 
Russia and England would quarrel over Koweit, Ger¬ 
many became calmer. The Emperor William said that 
the English and Russians should settle the affair between 
themselves. And since England raised no protest 
against Koweit being made the terminus of the railway 
and desired only to secure the status quo , the hitherto 
independence of the Sheik, the question did not become 
critical. However, the Drang nach Osten , the most 
substantial feature of the German Weltpolitik, was 
beginning to make itself felt, and this constituted one 
of the chief obstacles to co-operation between Russia 
and Germany, since it made the Oriental policy of 
Berlin more and more pro-Turk, and which—if Russia 
should once more begin to turn her attention to the 
Dardanelles—would give it an anti-Russian tendency. 
It was becoming clearer day by day that the Kaiser 
was right when he said (1905) that “ they must not 
play their last trump-card ”—the friendship of the 
Moslems—“ against a hostile coalition of the entire 
world”; as also was Marschall, German Ambassador 
to Constantinople, who said that Bismarck's famous 
reference to the bones of a Pomeranian grenadier was no 
longer applicable to Constantinople and the Straits, 
since the Germans had important interests at stake in 
that neighbourhood for which it might prove necessary 
to draw the sword. 

A deleterious influence on the further development 
of Russo-German relations was produced by the after¬ 
effect of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance—the conclusion 
of which I have already alluded to. This after-effect 
was due to the fact that Lamsdorff—appointed Russian 



Russian Friendship 411 

Foreign Minister after the death of Muravieff (Febru¬ 
ary 1902)—desired to minimise the moral effect of the 
Anglo-Japanese Agreement in the Far East by coming 
to terms with Germany, but the German politicians 
were indisposed to this. In order to restore the balance 
of power in the Far East, Lamsdorff proposed that 
Germany and Russia, and later France, should enter into 
a pact similar to the Anglo-Japanese. The formation 
of this group alone would keep China from yielding to 
Japan and England ; but for the sake of greater safety 
it was proposed to admonish China to beware of sub¬ 
mitting herself to those two island empires. The treaty 
took the classic form of division, unctuously referring 
to the independence and integrity of the doomed victim, 
and providing for division only when the status quo 
could no longer be maintained, but preparing the collapse 
by a priori counting upon it. According to this old, 
tried method, the treaty defended the integrity of 
China, with the additional proviso that “ should China 
or any other Power do prejudice to the interests of one 
of the contracting parties, they would deliberate upon 
the measures necessary, etc/'—which might also be 
interpreted to mean that lest anyone else should injure 
their proteg 4 , they would tear her to pieces and devour 
her themselves ! 

But broad and ambiguous as this treaty was, it 
involved too many obligations for Billow's liking. Not 
long before he had refused to connect his fate to England 
lest he should have to face Russia. Now he was quite 
as anxious to avoid the opposite peril—of falling out 
with England for the sake of Russia. He wanted to 
follow the policy of the " free hand ” in the Far East, 
and just as little relished the idea of dispute with the 
Island Kingdom as with his Continental neighbour. 



412 Weltpolitik 

Unfortunately, however, the final result of his Asiatic 
policy was simply to offend, in turn, England and 
Russia. At her first appearance in China, as intervener 
in the Chino-Japanese peace, Germany alienated Britain 
and Japan ; by independently hoisting her flag over 
Kiao-Chau she offended England, Japan, and Russia ; 
when concluding an agreement with the first-named in 
defence of Chinese integrity she offended Russia ; again, 
when interpreting a clause so that it might have no 
anti-Russian point, she offended England; and now, by 
refusing to come to terms with Russia and France, she 
alienated Russia, who was the more sensitive as the 
offer had been made at the express command of 
the Czar. For there could be no denying that when 
the German flag was hoisted in China, the scene of the 
rivalry of the European Powers, interests sometimes 
arose which were quite opposed to the requirements 
of continental policy, rendering it difficult for Germany 
to act in accordance with those requirements and at 
the same time to remain on good terms with either 
England or Russia. 

Lamsdorff was in dudgeon. He declared that 
henceforth Russia would go her own way in Asia ; and 
(March 1902) he came to an agreement with France on 
the basis of that offered to Germany. The Russian 
press took very ill the attitude of Germany. The refusal 
by Germany of their request, as well as the sympathetic 
policy of that Power towards the Poles, spoilt the temper 
of St. Petersburg. The Novoje Vremja, the most 
influential of Russian newspapers, assumed an anti- 
German role similar to that played by The Times in 
England. Hostile forces now began to take up those 
positions whence we were destined to suffer such devas¬ 
tating onslaughts during the World War. 


Russian Friendship 413 

For the time being, however, it was fortunate for us 
that the Czar and official circles declined to countenance 
an anti-German policy. Their Anglophobia was still 
stronger than their Germanophobia. At this period 
Russia was still ambitious to reach the warm seas, and 
in the direction of Persia, China, and India this met 
with the resistance not of Germany but of Britain. On 
this account the Czar desired to cultivate the friendship 
of Germany in so far as the limits of the alliance with 
France permitted, and subordinate to the idea of this 
alliance. I think the Czar was sincere when (June 1901) 
he told Bülow that his final object was to bring Germany 
and France together and form an alliance of the three 
continental Powers. In spite of the inimical public 
opinion prevailing in Russia, the two Courts often met 
and sedulously fostered good relations between them. 

They met at Danzig (June 1901) and at Reval 
(August 1902). The latter meeting was preceded by 
an interesting event worth recording here, though it had 
no influence upon the course of history, as it throws 
light on the relations subsisting between William and 
Bülow. The irrepressible Emperor was now as angry 
with Lamsdorff as he had formerly been with Muravieff, 
his predecessor, for it had been whispered to William that 
since he had refused the alliance with Russia, Lams¬ 
dorff was working against him. Consequently the 
Kaiser objected to the Russian Foreign Minister being 
invited to the meeting. Bülow, on the other hand, 
emphasised the importance of the presence of his 
Russian colleague, as, in his view, that would enhance 
the value of the meeting. He even suggested that a 
decoration should be conferred upon the Muscovite 
statesman. The Kaiser, with his usual sharp tongue, 
said " Lamsdorff is an intriguing, sneaking, stinking 


414 Weltpolitik 

bureaucrat — a mere ink-slinger—whom I would scorn 
to meet or to distinguish/’ After this explosion, however, 
the Emperor cooled down ; the Russian Minister was 
invited and in the end decorated ! 

These meetings and friendly greetings, whether with 
or without the Foreign Minister, led to no lasting results ; 
had no effect on the political grouping of the Powers— 
which was natural, since neither party cared for conclud¬ 
ing an alliance with the other, but confined himself to 
the preservation of good relations. Thus the Russo- 
German relations were tolerable, but not secure. At the 
outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War the mainstay of 
Russia was still the alliance with France, which was 
firmly rooted in the numerous French loans to Russia, 
and in the circumstances the Russians could hardly 
expect adequate financial assistance from any quarter 
other than the Paris market with its abundant capital. 
But would not the war against Japan influence the policy 
of Russia, compelling her to strike out into new paths 
and seek an alliance with Germany, her neighbour ? 


CHAPTER X 

THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR. THE BJÖRKÖ ALLIANCE 


W ARS are frequently, perhaps generally, the 
result of miscalculations and weak government. 
Conflicting interests divert certain States to 
ways dangerous and harmful to other States ; and these 
lead to acrimonious diplomatic controversies, though 
neither of the disputants desires the final settlement 
through the direful arbitrament of the sword. Both 
hope and persuade themselves that the other party will 
yield, and each is himself prepared if necessary to give 
way at the last moment. But as the dispute proceeds 
they become embittered, their tempers suffer, public 
opinion steps in, to the embarrassment of the diplomats, 
evil passions are aroused and grow on both sides, until 
retreat is impossible and war becomes the sole and 
inevitable solution. It happens more often that countries 
get entangled in war against their will than that they 
deliberately prepare for and provoke it. There are, of 
course, cases where the appeal to arms is the result of 
deliberate intention, and where the object of diplomatic 
action is to encompass the defeat of the antagonist by 
force, one of the parties regarding the sword as the 
swiftest and most advantageous implement for cutting 
the Gordian knot. 

Nearly all the wars since the Peace of Frankfort 
belong to the first category. Such was the Russo- 
Turkish War, which Czar Alexander II certainly did not 
want. The Pan-Slav idea carried Russia to the length 
of making demands upon the Sultan which the latter 
rejected, contrary to what Russia had reason to expect. 

415 


4i6 Weltpolitik 

When this became manifest, the Czar had already gone 
too far to retreat without grave risk. The pressure of 
public opinion swept him away towards the dread wager 
of battle. Such too was the Spanish-American War, 
which neither of the Governments desired, into which 
the two nations were driven by the force of opposing 
interests and views. And, moreover, to this same 
category, so far as we can at present judge from the 
available data, belongs the late terrible World War. It 
was futile for the Peace Treaties solemnly to declare that 
we, the vanquished, were the guilty and therefore justly 
punished so severely. This savage indictment was not 
the result of unbiassed investigation by impartial judges, 
but a mere one-sided political act. The formal assent 
of the defeated side is no free and unfettered confession 
of guilt, but simply the expression of their will for peace 
—the consequence of their inability to continue the 
struggle against the overwhelming military and economic 
forces of the adversary. The more data come to light, 
the clearer it becomes that not one of the Powers engaged 
wanted the World War ; that the cataclysm was the 
result of chronic hatred and mistrust, of the fear of 
sinister intentions on the part of neighbours. If ever 
there was a horrible debacle caused simply by fear and 
artificially manufactured suspicion, and not through ill- 
will, the recent universal disaster was such a case. 

The Russo-Japanese War was one of those brought 
about by cold, calculating deliberation. There was such 
a magnitude of differing interests between the largest 
European Power and the largest island of Asia that both 
parties resolved to put their fate to the test of armed 
force. Neither would relinquish nor abate one jot of 
their high political aspirations. Russia was determined 
to become master of Manchuria and Corea, to reach the 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 417 

warm sea, to acquire an ice-free port, and finally to annex 
and strongly hold all the territory adjacent to that port 
and Russia. Japan, on the other hand, was equally 
determined not to allow this. The teeming population 
and great commercial activity of the Empire of Nippon 
were in absolute need of the neighbouring coastlands 
coveted by Russia. She aspired to reform the Chinese, 
put them on their feet, exploit them, and turn to account 
for herself the splendid economic opportunities there. 
If Japan should succeed in driving a wedge between 
Vladivostok and Port Arthur (occupied by the Musco¬ 
vites), the Yellow Race would constitute a perpetual 
menace to those two naval stations ; while if Russia 
ultimately gained the upper hand on the littoral opposite 
Japan, the Manchus would naturally come under Russian 
influence. Therefore both contending parties envisaged 
a trial of strength to settle the matter. 

But whereas Russia would have preferred to postpone 
the final contest until a more convenient season, Japan 
was in a tremendous hurry to decide it. Each was 
naturally prompted by her actual interests. Russia was 
by no means ready and had much to do in concentrating 
her forces on the scene of the coming struggle. Japan 
had already about reached in the given circumstances 
what she was capable of. Russia's chances were likely 
to improve, while Japan's would get correspondingly 
less favourable with every day that passed. Time was 
on the side of the Russians. Delay would assuredly have 
meant victory for the Muscovites. Russia therefore 
committed an egregious blunder in hastening the decision 
before she was quite prepared. She counted upon the 
little Japanese David lacking the pluck to stand up 
against the terribly immense Russian Goliath. How 
little she knew the resolute determination and foresight 

27 


418 Weltpolitik 

of the yellow islanders ! She underestimated her foe— 
an error which took an awful revenge upon her. For 
it afforded the Japanese an opportunity to attack Russia 
without seeming the aggressors. 

Hayashi had long before confided to Eckhardtstein 
that Japan would have to bring about a war somehow. 
And early in January 1904 he had stated that the whole 
Japanese Government were aching to settle accounts 
with their gigantic rival. They realised that it was 
“ now or never ” for their hope of success. 

Up to the last moment the Czar could not be induced 
to believe that war would break out before he wanted it. 
How could he be the almighty Czar if he must draw the 
sword against his will! The Emperor William shuddered 
at his cousin’s blindness and fatuity. “ Ein ahnungs¬ 
loser Engel! ” (“ A simple Simon ! ”) he petulantly dubbed 
him (January 1904). He attributed the war solely to 
the Czar’s arrant cowardice. As soon as the Czar 
realised the danger and saw the intrepidity of the little 
yellow men, he would have liked to withdraw, but it was 
then too late. Had Britain and France intervened, he 
would have had a pretext for accepting the Japanese 
demands. But England declined to intervene. She 
was even glad that the matter had come to a head. So 
the Czar could put off the evil day no longer (February 
1904). A craven withdrawal would have meant revolu¬ 
tion at home, which would have had a worse effect than 
defeat abroad. 

The outbreak of the war exercised a great influence on 
Russian policy. The quarrel with Japan alone did much 
to induce the Czar to maintain good relations with the 
German Emperor, in spite of the public opinion of Russia. 
Would not the war and its disastrous consequences force 
Russia to a new direction, compelling her into the arms of 



The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 419 

the neighbouring Powers ? France called attention to the 
fact that she was not bound to help in Asia, and remained 
neutral. Would this not cool the friendship for the 
French on the banks of the Neva ? 

Emperor William devoutly hoped it would. Biilow 
constantly manoeuvred between Russia and England, 
though the Emperor shrewdly felt that sooner or later 
they would fall between the two stools. At first, when 
England made overtures, the Kaiser was disposed to 
accept them. Now, however, when an agreement with 
England had become impossible and the Emperor re¬ 
garded his uncle the King of England with the greatest 
suspicion—one might even say hate—he would willingly 
have won Russia. The Emperor hoped to reach his aim 
by guaranteeing the neutrality of the Baltic with Russia, 
Sweden, and Denmark, thereby precluding the contin¬ 
gency of England menacing St. Petersburg and the 
North-Russian ports. He proposed this idea to Osten- 
Sacken, the Russian Ambassador (March 1903). The latter 
admitted that such an agreement would be a good thing, 
but it would be difficult owing to France. The Gallic 
Republic was a fickle friend, gravitating towards England 
and acting as if she were going to revive the policy she 
had followed prior to the Crimean War. 

However, the Emperor's idea was not shared by his 
Government, which even then adhered to the policy of 
the " free hand." Bülow represented that it would pro¬ 
voke animosity and lead to reprisals from England. 

The Emperor's idea came up again notwithstanding 
(November), in a conversation between him and the Czar. 
The two monarchs desired to ask for the authorisation 
of the King of Denmark (who alone was not strong 
enough for the task) to occupy with their combined 
forces and, if necessary, close the Sound. 



420 Weltpolitik 

The Emperor put the question to the Danish sovereign, 
who seemed willing to comply in principle, and to accept 
the guarantee of the two neighbour Powers in the interests 
of neutrality. This delighted the Czar, but on the other 
hand it alarmed the German Government. Holstein 
feared lest Germany, now in a safe position, should draw 
down upon herself the perils and animosities suffered by 
Russia. This would probably take the form of an alliance 
between England and Japan, and the opening of the 
Sound by force, which would embroil Germany in a war, 
or, more probably, of England retreating before Russia, 
taking up the cause of French revanche and attempting 
to square accounts with Germany, and to evade the 
Russian casus foederis . To avert this danger the resource¬ 
ful bureaucrat concocted (December) a cunning scheme : 
The King of Denmark should be cajoled into prominence 
and asked himself to suggest the plan of operations for 
blockading the Sound. Anxious for his independence 
and in order to avoid the responsibility for such a step, 
he would probably decline ; in which case Germany 
would thereby be able to escape the danger without 
offending Russia and coming into conflict with her 
previous declarations. The reports of the German 
Ambassadors to Washington and London were con¬ 
firmatory of Holstein’s view. They set forth that both 
England and America would take very ill the blockading 
of the Sound and that such a step would give an anti- 
German direction to the policy of both the Powers named. 

Bülow shared Holstein’s opinion. The Emperor 
yielded, though with a bad grace, for, according to him, 
the assistance of Denmark was urgently needed. It was 
perfectly obvious that England was trying to isolate 
Germany, and an alliance with Denmark was the only 
means of cutting the knot. The Emperor, however. 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 421 

deferred to his responsible adviser. Holstein's trick 
did what was expected of it. The King of Denmark 
dropped the affair and the Emperor's independent move 
had no serious consequences. 

Yet the Kaiser continued entirely Russophil and 
wanted an alliance with Russia. He identified himself 
completely with the Czar's standpoint, when conversing 
with him (3rd January), that Russia had an inalienable 
right to an ice-free harbour in Corea, and that it rested 
entirely with him to make the necessary annexation at 
his pleasure ; everybody in Germany recognised that 
right. The Emperor, moreover, addressed Bülow to the 
same effect. He pointed out that since the occupation 
of Kiao-Chau he had on several occasions promised the 
Czar to guard his back-door if any complications arose 
in the Far East. He impressed on the Chancellor that he 
need not be afraid that standing by Russia would lead 
to any harm, since that had indeed already happened 
and everybody—Japan included—was aware that 
Germany was Russophil. When, notwithstanding this, 
the Chancellor desired to modify a letter of the Emperor, 
the imperial author vigorously expostulated : " his letter 
was not a diplomatic note but a private interchange of 
ideas, and if the Chancellor insisted on its modification 
to any considerable extent, the Emperor would in future 
decline to show his private correspondence to his respon¬ 
sible adviser." 

Just before the outbreak of hostilities (middle of 
January) the Emperor invited Bülow' s candid opinion 
with regard to their further attitude. He desired to 
settle the question of what Germany should do if 
Russia should solicit her aid against England. Bülow 
and Holstein, ever loyal to their convictions, wanted to 
make upon Russia the impression that Germany was her 



422 Weltpolitik 

faithful friend but to pledge no assistance. The latter 
should be given only after Russia had on her part under¬ 
taken satisfactory and complete obligations towards 
Germany. 

Holstein was for delay. Russia was isolated, and 
France neutral, while Japan inclined towards England 
and America, who, together with Japan, were " free¬ 
traders/' If, as well as the Russo-Japanese War, the 
Balkan Question should once more crop up, France, the 
friend of the Russians (besides Italy, Austria-Hungary, 
and Rumania) would stand by the English. Russia 
would be able to find succour in Germany alone, and 
thus the latter had no reason to be in a hurry. She had 
better remain with her hands untied—in her present 
position, midway between the contending parties. 
She should not espouse the cause of Russia, but remain 
free to go with Japan if her interests pointed in that 
direction. This advice was scarcely palatable to the 
Kaiser. He, however, as luck had it, was never placed 
in a situation imperatively demanding a decision, since 
the expected question on the part of the Russians never 
arose. 

Russia had no need of the positive assistance of 
Germany against Japan. Germany was not such a 
power-factor in the Far East as to have a decisive in¬ 
fluence there on the questions of war and peace. Such 
assistance would really have been detrimental, for it 
would have compelled Great Britain, the greater Power 
in the Far East, to intervene, as she had declared she 
would punctiliously observe her treaty obligations to 
Japan, and hasten to the latter’s assistance as soon as 
Russia secured an ally. England would be kept outside 
the conflict far more effectually by her new-found friend 
France, than by the sword of the Germans. The then 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 423 

relations with Das Reich perfectly suited the interests 
of Russia. The friendship of the Emperor and of 
Austria-Hungary (who had concluded with Russia a 
treaty of neutrality, November 1904) rendered it 
absolutely certain that no danger threatened her from 
the west or continental side, that the Balkan Question 
would not be brought up ; an open alliance with Ger¬ 
many might result in a change of French orientation. 
The Crimean coalition could be renewed and its superi¬ 
ority at sea and on land (in Asia) enhanced by America 
joining it. A positive alliance with Germany could be 
of use only when England had actually joined the 
belligerents against Russia. For the time being Russia's 
object was to prevent the intervention of England and 
not to seek means of defending herself against the 
Mistress of the Seas. 

Consequently William's personal efforts to get hold 
of the Czar, instead of France, and to hinder him from 
approaching England were not appreciated in St. Peters¬ 
burg. Their success was probably rendered difficult 
by the too ostentatious declaration of the Emperor of 
his partisanship for Russia, and by his showing himself 
a bigger Japophobe than even the Czar. Before the 
outbreak of the war (February) William was astonished 
at the Czar's display of weakness and gave him to 
understand that, if he were now to humble himself to 
Japan, the Yellow Peril would in twenty years' time be 
pounding at the gates of Moscow and menacing Posen. 
By cravenly kowtowing before the pigmy Japs the 
Czar would set in motion a wave of revolution throughout 
Russia. His wisest course was to mobilise his entire 
forces, and fire the enthusiasm of his people, as his 
ancestors had done in the great struggles of the past, 
from the holy city of Moscow. 


424 Weltpolitik 

Bülow had tremendous difficulty in dissuading the 
Emperor from despatching such an epistle to the Auto¬ 
crat. As the Chancellor endeavoured to point out, 
no one—least of all a sovereign ruler—likes to have such 
lessons forced upon him from without, and the Emperor’s 
harangue would be interpreted as an indication that he 
particularly wished the Czar not to seek a peaceful 
solution, but that the Emperor wanted war for some 
sinister design of his own. 

Later on, during the struggle, the Emperor had his 
way and wrote his views ; which, as might be expected, 
were unwelcome, consisting as they did of gratuitous 
censure and futile post-factum criticism. When in 
August his Ambassador reported that Germany was 
suspect in Japanese eyes, the Emperor replied that the 
diplomats must not mind that; the mistrust was 
natural and would increase as time went on. The 
champion of the Yellow Race instinctively feared the 
champion of the White Race. It was felt that sooner 
or later there would be a struggle for mastery between 
the Yellow men under Japanese leadership and the 
White Race organised by Germany. The Czar could 
be really quite satisfied with the state of things. Why 
should he pay for the active assistance of Germany 
when he would be able to get her services as vanguard 
without giving anything in return for them ? 

The pro-Russian proclivities of the Emperor were 
palpably manifested by the fact that the Russian fleet 
received its coal supplies mostly from German vessels, 
thus facilitating the mobilisation of the Czar’s navy— 
a proceeding which might have resulted in a protest 
on the part of Japan followed by an attack upon Ger¬ 
many. It might even have precipitated the intervention 
of England—for the British Government had warned the 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 425 

Germans that they could not reject the casus foederis 
if England’s assistance were solicited by Japan owing 
to the violation of neutrality by Germany. 

The danger of British intervention was brought very 
nigh by a mere accident. The Russian fleet under 
Admiral Rozhdestvensky, bound for Japanese waters, on 
the night of 21-22 October 1904, fired upon a group of 
English fishing-smacks, lying on the Dogger Bank, off 
Hull, in the panic belief that the innocent trawlers were 
Japanese torpedo-boats. When this news was flashed 
across the wires, the indignation of the English people 
mounted almost to delirium. Throughout the country 
mass-meetings were held and fiery denunciations de¬ 
livered, furious outbursts of rage and hatred against the 
Russian “ mad dogs,” the Czar, and everything he stood 
for. An apology for the outrage was demanded, together 
with handsome pecuniary indemnities for the widows and 
orphans of the men killed and for the living victims, as 
well as compensation for the loss of the craft. The 
popular frenzy rose to fever-heat as the days passed 
by and no reply was received from St. Petersburg. 
Contempt for the Muscovites in general was visited upon 
the luckless heads of their compatriots in London— 
even in the City clubs—much to William’s secret 
satisfaction. At length, when the “ man in the street ” 
was vociferating for war upon Russia and crying 
aloud for the bombardment of her capital, the official 
reply of the Czar’s Government came. Every demand 
was granted in full, without question or quibble ! And 
the Russian Ambassador proceeded to Hull to represent 
his august master at the funeral of the unfortunate 
fishermen. Throughout this trying time the British 
Government behaved with the most exemplary calm¬ 
ness, relying on the good offices of the French 


426 Weltpolitik 

Government to put the grave incident in a just light 
before their ally. 

The Dogger Bank outrage, moreover, tended to 
influence the public opinion of the English against the 
Germans, whom they blamed for the catastrophe, in the 
belief that, contrary to their neutrality obligation, the 
Germans had warned the Russian Admiral to expect 
the presence of enemy vessels in English waters. This, 
however, was false. The German Government refrained 
from passing on the news received from the Ambassador 
in London ; but the British public were as much excited 
by the lying scares as if they had been verified facts. 
In real life both lies and truths have frequently the same 
effect. If only there are a sufficient number of people 
to lie furiously, strenuously, and zealously, sham truths 
can be formed which may serve the desired purpose, for 
good or evil, just as well as genuine truths. 

The nervous dread of the Germans became more 
acute than ever. The English were obsessed with the 
fixed idea that William’s sole object in building his navy 
was that he might sooner or later use it against England. 
Scarcely anyone could be found to admit any other 
explanation. Time and again the question was raised, 
whether they (the English) ought not to steal a march 
on the Germans and go now and smash up their fleet 
while it was still in its infancy, and therefore to do so 
an easy game, rather than to wait until it had grown 
to maturity, when great sacrifices would be necessary 
to accomplish its destruction. 

The German Naval Attache had considered it his 
duty to report that a certain lady had told him in all 
seriousness that England was going to attack Germany 
now, while there could be no doubt about the result of 
the venture, in order to forestall Germany’s projected 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 427 

attack on England later. Some of the periodicals 
incited to war ; Vanity Fair suggested that by destroy¬ 
ing the German fleet now they would secure the peace 
of Europe for two generations at least. The Sun 
advised a surprise attack on the German navy. Mem¬ 
bers of Parliament openly stated that if an Anglo- 
Russian War should become inevitable, Germany too 
must be reckoned with ; she was the real enemy, and 
must be destroyed. 

The melancholy Holstein seriously credited the 
rumours that the English were preparing to attack 
Germany. He averred that the Emperor had arrived 
at the stage of seriously contemplating a declaration of 
war against England as soon as the latter ordered her 
Mediterranean squadron to the vicinity of German 
ports, for such a step he regarded as the prelude to 
sudden hostilities. On being plainly asked, all the 
members of the German Embassy stated that there 
was not a shadow of doubt about it: England was 
absolutely anti-German, and it was King Edward's 
chief aim to win Russia for the new Anglo-French 
Entente. And although they admitted that the King 
was averse to war, they envisaged its possibility, for the 
hyper-excited British public would never be able to bear 
another " incident ” like Fashoda or the Dogger Bank. 
In their view, even the construction of the German 
navy—which was part and parcel of an Anglophobe 
policy—was liable to provoke a war without any such 
“ incidents." In Berlin, however, people went even 
further in scaremongering. The suspicion prevalent 
in England that Germany dreamt of attacking them was 
so ridiculous, they argued, that it could be nothing more 
than a pretext invented by the English for covering 
their own diabolical designs against the Fatherland. 


428 Weltpolitik 

It was impossible for the English to believe, said both 
the Kaiser and Bülow, that they (the Germans) wished 
to attack, when they had not the remotest chance 
against the naval might of Britain, when they would 
be ignominiously defeated in such an unequal contest. 

Yet England did seriously fear invasion. A nervous 
public is always and everywhere ready to swallow the 
most preposterous tales. Frequently the errors of states¬ 
men are due to their neglect to consider the peoples 
capable of certain excesses and faults, notwithstanding 
on occasions of great popular excitement even the cool 
English have not infrequently displayed the most astound¬ 
ing simplicity. How often had they suffered the night¬ 
mare of a sudden landing and lightning attack of the 
enemy when the idea existed in no one's imagination 
except their own ? And when, even though it had been 
thought of, it was a sheer impossibility. Is it not to-day 
also the symptom of a similar mental aberration on the 
part of the Little Entente to conclude alliances and pile 
up armaments and generally to profess mortal fear, all 
on account of a disarmed, truncated, and isolated country 
like Hungary—a considerably smaller State than any 
of her neighbours ? We have the farcical spectacle of 
the strong concluding alliances against the weak ! 

However, it was not unnatural that the Germans 
should get excited when Lord Lee, the Secretary of the 
Navy, suggested in a public speech that “ in the event of 
war the German fleet should be suddenly and without 
warning attacked and sent to the bottom, without any 
declaration of war." 

After that, it is surely not difficult to understand that, 
in such circumstances, the Germans could scarcely be 
lulled into tranquillity by the most pacific enunciations of 
King Edward, who stated (January 1905)—what however 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 429 

was nothing less than the truth—that “ there was plenty 
of room on the ocean for both the German and the British 
navies.” 

With such sinister influences at work, no wonder the 
Emperor's intentions permeated the German Govern¬ 
ment and, it would seem, Berlin saw that the “ free hand ” 
policy was not sufficient for salvation, that the disposition 
of London had become so unfavourable that they must 
conclude a treaty with St. Petersburg. The Emperor 
wrote openly (October 1904) to the Czar proposing an 
alliance with France, Germany, and Russia against Eng¬ 
land. Nicholas II agreed. " Such a coalition only,” 
said he, " could put a stop to the impertinence of the 
English and Japanese.” He went so far as to invite 
William to commit to paper his project of alliance. 

But the negotiations started under such favourable 
auspices were abruptly stopped, without result (Novem¬ 
ber) , as the German Emperor desired to finish the conclu¬ 
sion of the treaty before France got wind of it, while 
Nicholas insisted on his Gallic ally being included in the 
negotiations. William protested that “ to do so would 
be simply catastrophic, as in that case Paris would be 
bound to inform London and then England would 
attack before the treaty could be concluded.” 

It is my impression that German policy at that period 
had not sufficient backbone and nerve to carry out its 
ambitions. The Germans aimed high, but they had not 
the courage to come to terms with the English on account 
of the Russians, or with the Russians on account of the 
English, and thus they failed to win either. Alarmed at 
imaginary dangers, they created real ones. 

The course desired by the Czar could hardly have led 
to an English attack, as no serious politician or respon¬ 
sible leader in England dreamt of such a step. At the 


430 Weltpolitik 

utmost it might have resulted in an increased ship¬ 
building activity on the part of the English, which would 
doubtless have been unpleasant but insufficient to justify 
the breaking-off of the experiment. English public 
opinion was pacific. England was fully occupied with 
business, industry, trade ; she had no liking for sacrifices 
in a war that was not absolutely necessary. 

There was, moreover, nothing of the warrior about 
King Edward ; he was no fighting man with an appetite 
for conquest or military glory. A refined, courteous, 
brainy diplomat, he simply wished to circumvent the 
designs of Germany, being firmly convinced that it would 
mean danger for England and for peace if Germany 
should succeed in acquiring predominance by means of 
her navy supplemented by auspicious policy. 

The German Government wanted, above all, to secure 
the assistance of Russia for the contingency of hostilities 
on the part of England over the Germans having supplied 
the Russian fleet with coal. The Czar had promised so 
much. But the Germans afterwards got an attack of 
cold feet. Holstein, the prophet of gloom, took up his 
indispensable magnifying-glass, through which he saw 
that, should Japan come to hear of a projected German- 
Russian alliance, she would not bother about the coal 
question but simply capture the port of Kiao-Chau 
without deigning to make an excuse, and thus avoid the 
Russian casus fcederis —as if it were conceivable that 
Japan would entangle herself in a war with Germany 
without Russia helping the latter against her own enemy. 

Holstein reminds one of the Lord Halifax who 
flourished in the seventeenth century, of whom Macaulay 
with playful irony wrote that “ his mind was so clear that 
he could perceive every drawback, actual and potential, of 
every situation, which always prevented his taking any 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 431 

decisive step : like a man with eyes so sharp that he 
cannot drink the purest water on account of the infusoria 
being visible to him ! " 

Under the effect of these post-factum worries the 
German Government noted the Czar's decision, but issued 
a counter-declaration to the effect that they would also 
in the future display good-will subject to the interests and 
the safety of the Fatherland. 

This irresolution could hardly conduce to increased 
respect for the Germans, nor foster in the Russians the 
conviction that they ought to make an ally of Germany. 

But towards the close of the war (July 1905) the 
Emperor harked back to his favourite idea, and at a 
personal meeting with the Czar at Björkö he at length 
succeeded in concluding the desired defensive alliance 
without France being informed in advance thereof. Not 
until afterwards, it was agreed, should the Czar invite 
his friends in Paris to join them. The Emperor was 
now a proud and happy man. He affected to see in his 
success the finger of God. In his eager delight he wanted 
to flash the good news to Roosevelt, President of the 
United States ; and Bülow had a strenuous time of it 
to dissuade him from committing such an indiscretion. 
It is easy to understand the Emperor's self-satisfaction. 
The success was entirely due to his personal superiority. 
The stronger mind dominated the weaker. For a long 
time the Czar had been carefully on his guard against 
the Emperor. But his attitude towards him had under¬ 
gone a change during the war. He was probably 
expressing his true conviction when he observed that 
" William was the only real friend he had." Thus by 
his personal magnetism the Kaiser was able to win over 
the Czar to his views. A wonderful vista was opened 
before the Emperor. Russia would disarm France, who 


432 Weltpolitik 

would thus be compelled to abandon her schemes of 
revanche , since a war against Germany could not be 
successfully waged without a powerful Continental ally's 
assistance, owing to the constantly growing numerical 
and financial superiority of her adversary. Henceforth 
Edward would be left alone in the diplomatic arena. 
Edward would not isolate William, but William would 
isolate Edward ! 

What a glorious victory ! “It marked the beginning 
of a new epoch in history," wrote the blissful Emperor. 
In this exalted frame of mind it is easy to comprehend 
his anger when Bülow, of whose intellect he had a very 
high opinion, and in whom he placed great confidence, 
treated the Kaiser's great achievement with little short 
of disdain. The Chancellor was displeased and threatened 
to resign his post because the Emperor had altered the 
text of the treaty without his consent and interpolated 
that “ Russia and Germany were bound to help each other 
only in Europe "—which, according to Bülow, rendered 
the alliance entirely valueless. In the Chancellor's view, 
Great Britain's vulnerable part was India—that was the 
sole possession she had any anxiety about. Unless 
Russia menaced her there, the new combination lost its 
point; it could not frighten her nor hope to keep her in 
the way of peace. 

Bülow, however, was aggravating the whole thing. 
Unquestionably the fixing in advance of the precise 
scene of the assistance to be given by virtue of a long¬ 
term treaty is as superfluous as disadvantageous. But 
the stipulation that the assistance would be obligatory 
on European battlefields only can by no means be 
regarded as a fatal blunder. Even were it quite true 
that England's sole source of solicitude was her Indian 
Empire, it was a fallacious conclusion that the Russian 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 433 

alliance would keep England from attacking Germany 
only if Asia were included in the sphere of validity of the 
treaty. For when Russia had become Germany's ally, 
when once hostilities had begun between England and 
Russia, England would have no means of knowing 
whether her foe would not alter his plan of action and 
strike at India too. The menacing and alarming factor 
for Great Britain would not be that the scene of the 
stipulated assistance was described in the treaty—that 
was subject to change at any time as events dictated— 
but the war itself, with all its incalculable and unfore¬ 
seeable consequences. 

This was all so clear that Bülow’s real motive could not 
have been anxiety on his part, but the sound and compre¬ 
hensible reasoning that he could not bear the responsibil¬ 
ity of the policy if the Emperor (with such an ineradicable 
propensity to rhapsodising and whose brilliance failed 
to compensate for his lack of judgment) were to be 
free to make such changes in official documents of para¬ 
mount importance. He earnestly desired to make 
such vagaries on the part of the Emperor impossible 
for the future, and in this respect one cannot but 
admire the Chancellor’s conscientiousness, firmness, 
and courage. 

The Emperor was deeply wounded by his Chancellor’s 
attitude. To receive lectures and caustic criticisms 
where he had expected enthusiastic encomiums ! His 
disappointment affected his nerves. His subsequent 
utterances bore traces of a disturbed mental balance. 
“ God ,” wrote the Emperor to the Chancellor (nth 
August), “ willed them to work together ; he valued Billow 
more than a hundred thousand treaties ; and he would 
never be able to survive the resignation of his Chancellor! 
The day of Billow's resignation would be the day of the 
28 



434 Weltpolitik 

Emperor s death. He implored Billow to think of his (the 
Emperor's ) poor wife and children ! ” 

William, however, excited himself to no purpose, for 
the treaty remained a dead letter. The pusillanimous 
Czar threw his own work overboard, his advisers having 
succeeded in showing him that it was tantamount to a 
betrayal of France. 

There was in fact a far more important difference 
between this Russo-German and the Franco-Russian 
treaty than between the Triple Alliance and Bismarck’s 
famous pact of guarantee ; for the Iron Chancellor never 
promised armed assistance against Austria-Hungary, 
whereas Czar Nicholas would have been obliged to draw 
the sword for Germany against France if the latter 
attacked the Fatherland. The Autocrat would have 
been compelled to fight his so frequently feted friend 
and ally in defence of Germany. The Czar was very 
sensitive about his good name. He desired to be honest, 
and doubtless he really was honest, so far as a weak, 
easily influenced, and capricious man can be. And now 
he had been induced to commit an act of shameful 
treachery ! Therefore he desired to alter the already 
concluded treaty. He besought the Emperor that it 
should not come into force from the date of signature of 
the Russo-Japanese Peace, but from the date of its 
approval by France ; and that should France refuse her 
approval, then the treaty should expressis verbis make an 
exception for the contingency of war with France. 

William was inflexible: “ What is signed, is signed” 
said he pompously. But he was probably wrong there. 
I think it would have been far better to have been generous 
and have reopened the negotiations on a new basis ; to 
have limited them to common defence against England, 
and to have been content with neutrality in other cases, 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 435 

for it was futile to think of adhering to the treaty against 
the will of the other signatory. The Russo-French 
alliance, which had so deeply impressed the peoples con¬ 
cerned and which even the Czar had considered a necessity, 
could not be ousted by a secret treaty which one of the 
sovereign contracting parties considered dishonouring 
to himself, and impossible of execution because it involved 
his honour. Good-will and confidences between the two 
rulers would have been worth more than the treaty, which 
had not a single adherent in Russia, no party to defend it, 
and which the Czar himself could afterwards remember 
only with shame and regret. 

This was the end of the rapprochement with Russia. 
For a long time the German Government had been afraid 
of it while it was perhaps easier to achieve. Then at one 
bound the Emperor went too far. And since he could 
not be induced to yield an inch of the ground gained, the 
success he had won was worse than failure. For it 
caused the Czar to take the impression that William was 
dangerous, that he bore him no good-will, that he was a 
false friend, that his real aim had been to set Russia at 
variance with her tried friend France and to compromise 
him in the eyes of Europe. The favourable disposition 
which would have rendered difficult an Anglo-Russian 
agreement and attached Russia more closely to Germany, 
the secret tie which would have bound St. Petersburg 
to Berlin, was transformed to an unpleasant memory 
separating the two rulers and the leaders of both great 
nations. 

William had unintentionally done the work of his 
uncle Edward, and added a pile to the bridge to 
be built by the latter connecting London with St. 
Petersburg. 

Somewhat previous to this time (March-April 1905) 


436 Weltpolitik 

another interesting exchange of views took place between 
St. Petersburg and Berlin. The internal troubles of the 
Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the anticipated demise of 
the aged ruler and the uncertain character of the heir- 
presumptive, seemed to oppress Bülow with anxiety lest 
the Dual Monarchy should break up. This led to his 
enquiring of Lamsdorff whether it would not be advisable 
to put into treaty form that, in the event of the dissolution 
of Austria-Hungary, neither Germany nor Russia con¬ 
templated the acquisition of any territory therein. This 
idea was quickly killed, almost at birth, by Holstein, who, 
on the Russians suggesting a definite proposal from 
Germany, declared that " he suspected the Muscovites 
of baiting a trap to catch the Germans, and that, so sure 
as the Germans drafted a scheme, St. Petersburg would 
simply use it against them/' By disseminating such 
pessimistic notions, Holstein succeeded in inducing the 
Chancellor to drop the matter. 

Besides the dissatisfaction arising from the Björkö 
Conference fiasco and the French influence over the two 
countries, there were two other circumstances preparing 
the way to Anglo-Russian rapprochement . One was that 
Great Britain had made her position in Asia even stronger 
than before by extending the scope of her treaty with 
Japan. According to the terms of the amended treaty, 
Britain undertook to defend Japan not only against a 
coalition but even against a single Power ; while, on the 
other hand, Japan pledged herself to aid Great Britain 
not only in China but also in India. This was sufficient 
to convince Russia that the policy which had brought 
her into antagonism with England—expansion towards 
Asia, the inheritance of Lobanoff—would be quite 
impracticable, since it would meet with overwhelming 
resistance everywhere. 



The Russo-Japanese War. The Björkö Alliance 437 

The other circumstance was that Japan had concluded 
peace with Russia (5th September 1905), a peace as wise 
and moderate as were the wisdom and foresight with 
which the statesmen of Dai Nippon had prepared the 
war and as the stern resolution and high intelligence with 
which she prosecuted it. This facilitated the conclusion 
of an agreement between the Czar on the one part and 
Great Britain and Japan on the other. By her praise¬ 
worthy moderation in the hour of victory Japan rose to 
the same height as Bismarck in 1866, when by his generous 
treatment of vanquished Austria he prepared the way 
to friendship with her ; to the same height as England, 
who, soon after the sound of the cannon had died away 
in South Africa, granted the Boers the fullest autonomy, 
so that they were constrained by gratitude to identify 
themselves with the cause of their late enemies during 
the Great War. 

At the end of the Russo-Japanese War Germany's 
position was strengthened by her following a policy 
parallel with that of America. There were certain traits 
in common in the character of the Emperor William and 
President Roosevelt. Witte, in his Memoirs , wrote that 
both were chivalrous, original, energetic, choleric—both 
danced about with hot feet, though they managed to 
keep cool heads. Roosevelt was aware of the traits they 
shared in common, and was wont to say that “ there was 
only one statesman in Europe capable of understanding 
him—the German Emperor." Bülow also noticed the 
similarity, and once said that Roosevelt regarded him¬ 
self as the American counterpart of the Emperor William 
and would have liked to go halves with him in governing 
the world. Not only their personalities but also their 
interests brought these two eminent men together. 
Both feared the consequences of the break-up of China, 


438 Weltpolitik 

both were adherents to the doctrine of free trade in the 
Far East, and both objected to the granting of new 
monopolies. Therefore the American President could 
appreciate William's anxiety lest the Anglo-Japanese 
Alliance should seek to conclude peace by dismembering 
China still further, and lest the Anglo-Japanese group 
and Russia (who had become dangerously alienated from 
each other owing to difference over China) might now be 
brought together again through the intervention of 
France by the dismemberment of the Flowery Land. 
Neither America nor Germany could afford to allow this. 
The alliance of these countries would not only be able to 
keep all the others out of China, but would constitute an 
overwhelming force that could impose its will at all times 
and everywhere. 

At the Emperor's suggestion the President was 
immediately ready for a counter-move. He desired to 
forestall the danger imagined by them both, by request¬ 
ing and procuring from the neutral States a declaration 
engaging not to annex Chinese territory. Roosevelt and 
William also exerted themselves to prevent the peace 
being concluded at an international conference, as was 
the Russo-Turkish Peace, but by immediate negotiations 
between the belligerent parties presided over by America. 
This aim was reached and the credit for it is due to 
William and Roosevelt in common. 

Their co-operation was, however, of brief duration. 
America was too remote from Europe, and adhered too 
closely to the Monroe doctrine, to be a safe support for 
Germany. The dominating influence of the Anglo- 
Saxon race in the United States, the bond of sympathy 
with the mother-country England, and, on the other 
hand, the remembrance that only a few years before the 
Emperor had delivered speeches on the necessity of 


The Russo-Japanese War. The Bj örkö Alliance 439 

European solidarity and advocated an anti-American 
co-operation—these factors militated against any firm 
friendship being cemented between America and Ger¬ 
many, to counterbalance the effect of the alienation 
of England. 


CHAPTER XI 


CONCLUSION 

I N the preceding chapters we have sketched the 
diplomatic history of the fifteen years following 
the death of Bismarck. We have endeavoured 
to show how France obtained allies, and how Europe was 
divided into two camps. Now, before going further, we 
would offer a brief resume of the whole. 

It must in the first place be remarked that the 
dropping of the pilot, Bismarck, was visited by Nemesis. 
The Duc de Broglie, the last Premier to make any serious 
attempt to restore the monarchy in France, a few years 
before the fall of the Iron Chancellor accused the Republic 
of having followed a foreign policy which was disastrous 
for the country, in isolating her and surrounding her 
everywhere by foes. Broglie was perfectly right. Under 
the leadership of the great Chancellor the alliances of 
Germany were constantly extended, and increased in 
health and vigour, while France was unable to find 
suitors and pouted in her undesired solitude. Even the 
Czar, the avowed friend of France, would undertake no 
obligations on her behalf, being indeed secretly in re¬ 
lations with Germany. Since Bismarck's time, however, 
these things had changed. Under the new regime the 
number of Germany's allies had diminished, whereas 
France had made new alliances. Under Bismarck the 
diplomatic career of Germany showed an upward ten¬ 
dency ; it was now the turn of France. She was no 
longer a forlorn figure with all Europe under the leader¬ 
ship of Bismarck against her. But Europe was rent in 


440 


Conclusion 


441 

twain and in 1905 the French group of allies seemed in 
the ascendant. 

The Franco-Russian Alliance was concluded, which 
became eventually one of the strongest factors in 
Europe. The connection between St. Petersburg and 
Berlin existed no longer; the bonds of the Triple 
Alliance became very slack, and a secret cord attached 
Italy to France. Spain, Serbia, and Bulgaria—in 
Bismarck's time friends of the Triple Alliance—now 
made overtures to the Gallic Republic. 

Of the States outside the Triple Alliance, Rumania 
alone was bound to the latter by treaty, and only Turkey 
seemed inclined towards her. But the Sultan was a 
most unreliable factor and any assistance from that 
quarter was doubtful. 

The most important event, the greatest achievement 
of French diplomacy, was England identifying herself 
with France. This was a matter of the utmost import¬ 
ance, not only because Great Britain was without 
controversy the mightiest Power the world had ever 
seen—mightier than the empires of Alexander the Great, 
of Julius Caesar, of Attila, or of Genghis Khan—but also 
because, with her magnificent culture, her unexampled 
genius for governing, her immense commerce, world¬ 
wide connections, and numerous colonies and posses¬ 
sions scattered all over the globe, her universal influence 
had made her a cult, as it were. As the nation par 
excellence in the enjoyment of the freest constitution 
ever known, she was ever the ideal of all liberty-loving 
States. The innumerable host of vulgar pretenders 
everywhere felt her influence. Paris and London, united 
under one banner, could form, direct, and control the 
public opinion of the world. 

Since the secession of America in the eighteenth 


442 Weltpolitik 

century, England had never lost a war ; she was sur¬ 
rounded with a halo of invincibility. Her friendship 
was a thing to be highly prized ; and an actual alliance 
with her was of the most inestimable value, for she 
seemed to confer victory on her partner as a wedding- 
gift. 

The chief weakness of the new system was that the 
two friends of France—i.e. England and Russia—had 
not yet come to an agreement. There were, however, 
already hopeful signs of London and St. Petersburg 
finding the way to rapprochement . The will to under¬ 
stand each other was already apparent, and making 
itself felt both in the court of Nicholas II and in the camp 
of Edward VII ; while there was a living link between 
the two great Powers and former adversaries con¬ 
stituted by the French nation with their immense sug¬ 
gestive force. 

The deterioration of Germany's position was the 
more striking, the more difficult to understand, as at 
this time the young Empire had become internally 
stronger ; so that her natural superiority to France was 
greater than ever, and, as history shows, the strong 
can always and easily find friends. Blunders alone 
could cause Germany to lose ground, while France 
expanded in spite of Germany's superiority over her 
rival increasing day by day. The population of Ger¬ 
many was increasing far more rapidly than that of 
France ; the development of the commerce and industry 
of the Fatherland and the growth of her wealth had 
already roused the envy of England and America; 
emigration was no longer a necessity, for all Germans 
could find employment and opportunities of preferment 
at home ; she had acquired colonies; her navy was 
progressing, and her army was still unsurpassed for 



Conclusion 


443 

moral and intelligence, as exemplified under Moltke 
on the battlefields of Austria and France ; the self- 
respect and patriotism of the German masses had also 
increased. Though Byzantinism and opportunism— 
those twin satellites of autocracy—were beginning to 
be felt, yet the enormous strength of Germany fitted 
her to accomplish successes in the sphere of foreign 
politics. Why did she fail ? Why were her efforts 
in this respect barren of result ? What defects of her 
system were there at that time ? I will not enumerate 
them, but confine myself to pointing out the worst error 
committed by Germany at that period. This con¬ 
sisted in her neglect to come to terms with England, 
when the latter offered her friendship. An alliance 
with England would have been of incalculable value, 
for it would have been unassailable. It would have 
united in one mighty host the biggest navy and the 
biggest army. This alliance would at the same time 
have been the most natural, since it would have been 
not incongruous with the past of both countries, their 
most stable interests, and the practical considerations 
of the moment which usually guided all foreign policy. 

England and Germany should have been allies from 
the consideration that they both were likely to be 
menaced most imminently from the same quarters— 
France and Russia. England could be attacked, with 
the most probability of success, from the French coast, 
owing to its proximity. It was on that very account 
that England had in the past experienced many anxious 
days when France ruled over the western parts of the 
European Continent, when Paris commanded the French 
and Belgian seaports, as in the periods of Louis XIV 
and Napoleon I. The geographical situation explains 
the fact that—except the Crimean War against the 


444 Weltpolitik 

Russians —all the great wars of England since the 
seventeenth century have been fought against France. 
This explains the principle enunciated by the elder 
Pitt, the most illustrious statesman of the eighteenth 
century, that “ England could not afford to let France 
have a strong navy ” ; and that his gifted son and 
namesake (William Pitt the younger) devoted most of 
his official life to fighting the French ; that Canning 
too wrote his name so brightly on the scroll of history 
in the struggle against the French. 

The immutable geographical situation explains like¬ 
wise that, while the island of Britain can be most easily 
approached from the French coast, the British Empire 
was exposed to the most crushing blows from Russia. 
From the country of the Muscovite went the shortest 
cut to India across Asia, and thence the connections 
could be most easily severed. This was the bugbear 
of Palmerston at the time of the Crimean War. 
Against this double peril Beaconsfield, Salisbury, and 
Rosebery fought with their anti-Russian policy. This 
was why Gladstone, in spite of his Russophilism, found 
himself on the verge of war with Russia. 

After what we have said, it is clear how dangerous 
it might have become for England if France and Russia 
had combined against her. Such a coalition would have 
simultaneously imperilled the Island Kingdom, the 
Indian Empire, the Mediterranean supremacy, and the 
connections between England and India. England's 
historic luck ordained that this worst experience should 
fall to her but once : when Napoleon Bonaparte, inspired 
by his unerring military genius during his mortal struggle 
with British power, came to an agreement with the 
Czar at Tilsit. Napoleon would probably have accom¬ 
plished his purpose of forcing his haughty foe Albion to 


Conclusion 


445 

her knees if the sanguinary guerilla war in Spain and 
the Austrian campaign of 1809 had not formed insuper¬ 
able obstacles to his fully exploiting the advantages of 
his alliance with Russia. 

The Franco-Russian Alliance concluded in the 
nineties of last century brought this Damocles' sword 
once more over the head of England, and compelled her 
to cast about for an agreement with Germany. Later 
realising her failure there, she turned with more success 
to France and Russia. 

By her policy of the Entente, England seemed to 
have eliminated the double danger. The appearance, 
however, was deceptive; for if Czarist Russia had 
reached her aims and together with her ally had been 
victorious in the World War, the peril would have 
become more menacing than ever in the past. Without 
the Central Powers to hold them in check, France and 
Russia, by virtue of their alliance, would have been 
masters of Europe, and England's victory would have 
been of the Pyrrhic kind, an irreparable calamity. 

A German-English alliance was natural by the 
circumstance that Germany was exposed to danger 
from the very same foes that menaced England. The 
most crushing blow could be delivered by enemies who 
could fall back on Verdun and Warsaw. Prussia had 
already been made acquainted with danger signified by 
the Franco-Russian Alliance. The Tilsit Treaty, which 
reconciled Napoleon I and Alexander I and menaced 
England, became the bane of Prussia. It sapped the 
vitality of the achievements of the Hohenzollerns. 
Prussia regained her independence in the Concert of 
Europe only when France and Russia had fallen out 
with each other and Prussia could turn against Paris 
with the support of the Muscovites. The signal sue- 


446 Weltpolitik 

cesses of Bismarck were due to his clever handling of 
the Polish question so as to separate Napoleon III and 
Nicholas I. 

Until the outbreak of the World War the policies 
of both England and Germany were dominated by the 
danger emanating from the Franco-Russian combina¬ 
tion. It menaced England in Egypt, Persia, Afghanis¬ 
tan, and China. The chief employment of the German 
General Staff in Berlin was the maintenance of the 
military machine in constant working order for opera¬ 
tions on the double front of Verdun-War saw. The most 
important task of the Austro-Hungarian and Triple 
Alliance was to protect Germany from the double pres¬ 
sure of the combination which equally menaced British 
rule. The political and military bureaus were occupied 
day by day with the solution of the same problem which 
was destined to be inscribed on the most thrilling pages 
of history, and the memory of which was most vivid 
in the nervous system of the English and German 
peoples—the consequences to be expected from the 
Russo-French friendship. The safest protection against 
them for both England and Germany would 
have been the alliance of both those countries with 
each other. The safest for the former, since the Triple 
Alliance could best secure London against a Franco- 
Russian attack, as it could engage the forces of both 
Powers and thus prevent them from jeopardising 
England ; while, on the other hand, the strategic situa¬ 
tion of Central Europe could be fortified by nothing so 
well as the support of England, which would completely 
separate the two excentric enemies and render their 
co-operation impossible The superior military forces 
of the Central Powers supported by a naval blockade 
could not fail to attain the desired result. At that time 


Conclusion 


447 

this alliance would have been the only means by which 
Germany could have secured the loyalty of Italy. 

A moderate Weltpolitik did nothing to alter this 
situation. On the very contrary, it made co-operation 
more urgent than ever for both parties. Germany 
with a navy was more likely to be either a blessing or a 
bane for England than she would be as merely a con¬ 
tinental Power. Moreover, Germany could get more 
from England, as well as have more reason to fear her, 
if her (Germany's) ambitions turned to maritime 
endeavour ; and this agreement was rendered far more 
urgent and important for both parties in the times of 
Weltpolitik, than when the paths of the two Powers 
could not run counter to each other, since the risk of 
conflict was then greater. Germany's aspirations 
having become greater, a fair agreement was the sole 
means to harmonious relations with England—a fair 
agreement alone could guarantee Germany's ability to 
build her navy commensurate with her needs without 
England feeling her safety imperilled thereby. 

All these considerations were understood equally 
in England and Germany. Berlin's fatal mistake was 
not that she was unwilling to follow a common policy 
with England, but that she sought to do this in a wrong 
way, and failed to recognise the importance of seizing 
the psychological moment when England extended 
to her the hand of friendship. The authorities in Berlin 
thought they risked nothing by refusing to conclude 
the agreement offered by England. England would 
wait, they believed. Berlin was aware that England 
disliked, as a rule, Continental alliances, so they imagined 
she would be in no hurry to undertake obligations to 
another Power. Since Beaconsfield’s day England had 
—without any treaty or alliance and in spite of many 



448 Weltpolitik 

differences and errors, in spite of the aversion of her 
most popular statesman Gladstone—generally followed 
a policy identical with that of the Triple Alliance. 
Why should she do otherwise now, when she seemed 
to attach greater importance to Germany's friendship 
than before ? 

Berlin failed to appreciate the new situation of Eng¬ 
land, and the changed state of mind it involved. The 
Germans could not understand how the rapid building 
of their navy, their Weltpolitik, the development of their 
ambitions, had tended to transform England's entire 
feeling towards them. They lost sight of the fact that 
the two nations had never been connected by any real 
bonds of sympathy, that the Prussian and the English 
political systems had always been diametrically opposed, 
that their Prussian militarism was hated all the world 
over, that the ruthlessness and bloody deeds of 
Frederick II and of Bismarck had left a legacy of mis¬ 
trust, and that this nervous frame of mind was of 
necessity aggravated by the danger that henceforth 
the inexorable Prussian would claim his part in all 
overseas questions too ; and that the imponderable, 
capricious Emperor would command not only the most 
powerful army but also a great navy, built with charac¬ 
teristic German thoroughness, expert knowledge, and 
care generally. The Germans could not understand that 
the blatant English attitude, which the former sought to 
make an excuse for a raid on the purse of the taxpayer, 
was as harmful as it was alarming. They were blind 
to the fact that, for the reasons set forth, England could 
no longer remain isolated ; she could not continue to 
suffer the old dangers, menaced by France and Russia, 
while Germany was daily becoming an object of dread ; 
but to escape the risk of getting between two fires, she 



Conclusion 


449 

would have to come to terms with both the French and 
the Russians, however enormous the cost. 

And when at length Germany woke up to her mistake, 
and saw that London could come to an agreement with 
Paris, Germany still refused to believe that the cause of 
the step was fear and hatred towards herself. The 
Germans, conscious that they had no hostile intentions 
towards England, could not understand why the English 
could not see this also, or why they should fear and sus¬ 
pect them. They regarded this alleged mistrust and 
anxiety as a mere pretext to cloak the nefarious design 
of attacking Germany—a screen behind which to hide 
a real enmity. 

It is difficult to judge as to which of the German 
leaders was most responsible for the blunders com¬ 
mitted—not formally and legally, but morally respon¬ 
sible. The vivacious Emperor, with his frequent and 
unexpected and quite personal interference, with his 
antipathy for everybody he suspected of anti-German 
ideas, with his sometimes quick changes of mind, cer¬ 
tainly on more than one occasion seriously embarrassed 
his Foreign Office and committed many glaring errors. 
Nevertheless, in his chief political aims, great decisions 
and general orientation, his instinct was often more 
correct than that of his advisers. He felt strongly 
that the “ free hand ” policy was dangerous and might 
lead to his downfall. He saw perhaps most clearly of all 
that they ought to agree with England, and when this 
had become no longer possible, when even he had turned 
against England, he wanted at least to secure good 
relations with Russia. It would seem that Holstein 
was in an especial degree to be blamed for the blunders 
perpetrated. Right up to the time of the Algeciras 
Conference he exercised a decisive influence over foreign 
29 





45 ^ W eltpolitik 

affairs ; and his suspicious, petty, narrow-minded—if 
in details clear—vision wrought great mischief and 
misled' German policy. 

The policy of Austria-Hungary was at this time more 
correct than that of Germany. Its aims were in a 
juster proportion to its powers, and more conformable 
with the interests of the Dual Monarchy. Her policy 
was perfectly defensive. She might be said to be the 
most pacific and conservative of all the European 
States, the only State without ambitions for expansion. 
Apart from the maintenance of peace, her sole aim was 
self-defence—defence against Pan-Slavism, the triumph 
of which in the Balkans would shake the foundations of 
Austria-Hungary and jeopardise her very existence. To 
this end she defended the integrity of the Ottoman 
Empire and the independence of the Christian States 
then newly founded in the Balkans. 

Both Kälnoky and Goluchowsky felt that the friend¬ 
ship of England would be the most valuable comple¬ 
ment of the Triple Alliance. As staunch friends of 
Germany and partners in British interests, they desired 
to act as a living link between those two Germanic 
Powers and at the same time to smooth the path of 
reconciliation between France and Germany. 

Therefore the idea of Vienna was at bottom per¬ 
fectly right. Unfortunately she had not sufficient 
weight, she was not listened to, had no influence over 
the counsels of Berlin, and consequently no satisfactory 
result could be achieved. 

Goluchowsky could boast of greater success with 
regard to Russia than with regard to Germany. When¬ 
ever the Czar had displayed an aggressive attitude in the 
Balkans, the Dual Monarchy had always done its best 
to defend the independence of those States against the 




Conclusion 


451 

forces of Czarism. Now, however, that Russia had 
ceased to terrorise the Balkans and for the time being 
was employing her eternal proclivity for expansion to¬ 
wards the Far East, Austria-Hungary made overtures 
to her—a step which had a good effect in allaying the 
antagonism. 

The affairs of Macedonia were directed by Vienna 
and St. Petersburg in common, and Balkan antagonisms 
were so far allayed that when King Alexander of Serbia 
was assassinated (June 1903), St. Petersburg (according 
to private information) would willingly have consented 
to our intervention. Also when, at the time of the 
Macedonian riots, a rumour was spread that we intended 
to send troops to the Sandjak to restore order, Kapnist, 
the Russian Ambassador, observed (November 1904) 
to his German colleague that “ it would be wiser to 
occupy Serbia, as the occupation of the Sandjak might 
lead to dangerous complications in Albania/’ 

That was an interesting and highly important state¬ 
ment. It not only signified the success of the Dual 
Monarchy at St. Petersburg at that time, but also 
proved how little ground there was for the accusation 
of tyranny on our part—which was used as a justifica¬ 
tion of the World War. The weakness of the Austro- 
Hungarian policy was in its treatment of Italy and the 
Balkan States. 

On the Italians especially a bad impression was 
produced by the Slavophil domestic policy of Austria. 
To this must be added the anti-Italian spirit of the 
Austrians, their contempt for the Italians, for which, 
after Andrässy’s time, the sympathy of the Hungarians 
could no longer compensate; the fortifying of our 
Italian frontier, which, without increasing our strength, 
provoked the animosity of the Italians and presented 


452 Weltpolitik 

the unedifying spectacle of allies arming against each 
other. It is true that the fault was not on one side 
only. The vulgar clamour of the irredentists, the 
implacable hate of the Italians towards the Austrians, 
the aspirations of Italy in Albania, all tended to render 
Austria's confidence in her ally a difficult matter; 
while it must be noted that the aim of the Austro-Italian 
Alliance was to avoid war against each other rather 
than to make war on a third Power. It is to be regretted 
that we failed to use sufficient energy in the Balkans to 
protect the Christians there, partly, it must be admitted, 
on account of the German policy not adequately 
supporting our own in that region, out of regard for 
Russian friendship ; and when we might have won the 
Balkan States, the Vienna Government short-sightedly 
sought to enhance its prestige by inaugurating a system 
of schooling and pedantry which, instead of making 
friends, created nothing but enemies. 

Wedel, the German Ambassador to Vienna, benevo¬ 
lently disposed to the Dual Monarchy, a man of common 
sense and an impartial observer, reported (August 1904) 
that “ it was the custom of the Ballplatz to speak with 
everyone as from the heights of Olympus." He pointed 
out that King Peter of Serbia, who, shortly after his 
ascent of the throne, was specially anxious to obtain the 
good-will of Austria-Hungary, met with a frigid reception 
from Goluchowsky, who treated him most censoriously; 
also that King Ferdinand of Bulgaria met with a similar 
reception. Goluchowsky's superciliousness offended the 
Sultan too. It cannot be denied that our Foreign 
Minister put on airs not warranted by our position in the 
political hierarchy. 

If only Vienna had known how to use its inherently 
good policy more skilfully, if only Bülow had devoted 




Conclusion 


453 

his superior diplomacy and personal ability, coupled 
with the loftier prestige of Germany, to the cause of a 
better basal idea, the position of the Central Powers might 
have been far more favourable. 

Unfortunately, we can only conclude that the suc¬ 
cessors of Bismarck and Andrässy, notwithstanding the 
increasing inner strength of their States, came into a less 
favourable situation as the result of the error they com¬ 
mitted. But in admitting and emphasising this, I must 
strenuously deny the charge that the policy of the Central 
Powers was immoral and aggressive, and that the World 
War was precipitated because the other States, peaceful 
and law-abiding, could no longer tolerate those arch¬ 
conspirators against world-peace. 

Germany was at that time quite as much in need of 
peace as any other of the Powers. Had she desired by 
force of arms to secure political superiority, to break her 
foes, she would have attacked England during the Boer 
War, and Russia after the disastrous Japanese campaign ; 
or she might have availed herself of the Russo-Japanese 
War to settle accounts with her hereditary enemy France. 
Schließen, Chief-of-Staff, demonstrated that the situation 
was eminently favourable for the defeat of France, as 
the Russian forces had been completely demoralised by 
the Japanese. During the course of the World War a 
High Court dignitary of Germany asserted that Bülow’s 
most egregious error was his neglect to exploit the 
auspicious moment for putting France out of action, 
thereby securing the unchallengeable predominance of 
Germany on the Continent. Assuming that Germany 
really had an aim which she was convinced could not be 
attained without war, it certainly was a stupid oversight 
not to seize the opportunity when the strength of Russia 
was at its lowest ebb. 


454 Weltpolitik 

It was precisely the peaceful intentions of Germany 
and her fear of new casus belli which formed the chief 
guiding motives of her policy in declining new alliances 
which would have raised up new enemies—such as, e.g., 
the proposed alliance with England. In the twenty- 
five volumes of the Transactions of the German Foreign 
Office that I have so far been able to examine, there is 
not a single expression to lend colour to the allegation 
of belligerent aims on the part of any German statesman 
—not a single remark which even an unfriendly reader 
could interpret as bellicose. 

But did not the Weltpolitik itself signify the will to 
war ? Was there not concealed in it, as one may some¬ 
times hear it said, an ambition contrary to the political 
morals of the twentieth century ? Did it not mean 
retrogression to the mentality of the Middle Ages ? Did 
it not contain the idea of retaliation, as coveting the 
property of others ?—or of seriously endangering the 
position of others ? No ; that cannot justly be asserted. 
In that respect Germany can at the utmost be reproached 
with having adopted similar ambitions to those of the 
other Powers, to a lesser degree but with greater ostenta¬ 
tion—that she went the same way as the others, but 
with drums beating and trumpets blaring. England, 
France, and Italy at this period made far more important 
conquests than Germany ; and even America was not 
behind in the race for annexations ; but they all sang 
to a pianissimo accompaniment, not unsoothing to the ears 
of their audience. 

Regarded from the standpoint of high morality, 
Germany’s policy cannot be awarded unqualified approval. 
She too had had a hand in the breaking up of China. 
She practised the doctrine that it was lawful to barter, 
buy, sell, and annex extra-European peoples like chattels 




Conclusion 


455 

or dumb driven cattle without rights of any kind. But 
she cannot justly be reproached for these things by the 
very Powers who set the bad example and took more by 
violence than she did, and more than German policy ever 
contemplated taking. What if Germany were willing to 
draw her sword for Morocco and the prestige involved 
in the question, ought she to be blamed for it by the other 
Powers who at that time actually waged sanguinary 
wars for similar colonial aims, and who were equally 
willing among other things to risk a war for Morocco ? 

England fought the Boers for political and economic 
objects which from her egoistic standpoint were right, 
but which from the moral standpoint were highly repre¬ 
hensible and justly condemned by the greater part of 
the public opinion of Europe. For many decades England 
and France contended for the hegemony over Egypt, to 
the immense detriment of their relations to each other, 
though neither of them had a right to a square inch of 
territory there ; unless we accept the plea put forward 
by the British that Egypt has profited by their occupation 
—an assertion which it is difficult to credit, since it is 
the custom of all conquerors to pretend that they confer 
a blessing on others by subjecting them to their rule, 
though it is seldom that the conquered are of that opinion. 
Rosebery was resolved to risk war with France over the 
Siam Question; Salisbury despatched an ultimatum 
to Delcasse over Fashoda. The Spanish-American and 
Russo-Japanese Wars, the Italian campaign in Abyssinia, 
the French in Tunis, the coveting by France of Morocco, 
the colonial adventures of Jules Ferry, all overshadowed 
the taking of Kiao-Chau, the Samoan Islands, and the 
Carolines, and the deal in connection with the Portuguese 
colonies. Germany’s colonial aspirations aroused more 
universal distrust and alarm than the similar efforts of 



456 Weltpolitik 

other States because they were more open and undis¬ 
guised, giving the appearance that Germany was a new 
and formidable rival. While each of the other States 
declared itself content and ascribed all its further expan¬ 
sion to compelling local circumstances, to exceptional 
interests, Germany frankly confessed, without subter¬ 
fuge, that she wanted her “ place in the sun ”—that she 
intended to found a colonial empire, to expand overseas ; 
and all this at the very time when she loudly announced 
the building of a powerful navy. This naturally created 
nervousness and unrest everywhere. Everyone feared 
this ostentatious rival newly appeared upon the scene ; 
everyone regarded her as an interloper, and her successes 
as new departures. These ugly features, however, make 
no difference to the moral aspect of the case. What is 
permissible for one is also permissible for another. If 
it is right to develop, enlarge, and improve existing 
overseas possessions, it cannot be wrong to found new 
ones. 

The German policy was no more and no less immoral 
or egoistic than that of the other Powers. The German 
people were no more bellicose than the other peoples. 
In this respect it might be said that the policy of all the 
nations at the head of European culture was on the same 
level. In the traditional and historical individualities 
of nations there are always certain propensities, sus¬ 
ceptibilities, and traits observable. Thus, for instance, 
to the Gaul the most successful appeal is always to gloire. 
He is fired to enthusiasm by lofty ideals, to serve noble 
causes, to discover or vindicate truth, to liberate enslaved 
nations, to relieve the oppressed and downtrodden— 
provided always that these lofty aims serve at the same 
time some practical purpose. Thus Louis XVI drew 
the sword in the cause of American freedom. Thus the 





Conclusion 


45 7 

first French Revolution waged the struggle for democracy. 
Thus Napoleon III made war upon Austria for the cause 
of Italian liberty. Yet never once did France lose sight 
of her own interests or allow them to be obscured by 
the loftiest altruistic motives. Whenever her own 
interests were at stake, France could strike ruthlessly 
and crush other nations with that pitiless cruelty and 
barbarity exemplified so often in the campaigns of Louis 
XIV and Napoleon I. 

The English are, above all things, a practical people, 
and never follow a policy that is not considered profitable 
in some way or other. Yet, secure in the protection 
afforded by their insular position, they are only too prone 
to meddle in the affairs of other nations. They raise their 
voices in all humanitarian causes, identify themselves 
with the sufferings and injustices of others ; and no tale 
of misfortune with them ever falls upon deaf or unsym¬ 
pathetic ears. Thus in 1848 the English gave valuable 
support to the cause of constitutional liberty in various 
lands. Thus English public opinion was solid for the 
oppressed Bulgarians, Greeks, and Armenians. The 
English name is said to stand for " fair play ” all the 
world over—as that of the American for the “ square 
deal ”—yet their altruistic conception is ofttimes not 
unmixed with a generous dose of self. For example, 
Palmerston, who in 1848 championed the cause of popular 
freedom against Metternich’ s ancien regime , was the 
same man who forced the abominable opium upon China. 
At a time of profound peace between the two countries 
a British fleet under Nelson and Parker was sent to 
bombard Copenhagen and sink or take the entire Danish 
navy—in order to prevent Napoleon capturing the vessels ! 

The Prussians regard their rough honesty as a precious 
attribute of their character, a thing to be proud of ; yet 


45 8 Weltpolitik 

it frequently leads them to cynicism. The Italians 
prefer skill and guile to violence. Cavour avowed that 
“ he had done many things in the interests of his country 
that he would have shrunk in shame from doing for him¬ 
self/' During the Great War it was an Italian statesman 
who popularised the expression " sacro egoismo” When 
all is said and done, however, not only the Italians 
but all other peoples follow a policy of national egoism. 
At all times and in all places the aim and object 
of the policy is or should be to promote the national 
welfare. It cannot very well be otherwise. If to-day, 
when there is no impartial supra-national court of justice, 
the Governments should act otherwise, they would 
betray the interests of the millions who have confided 
their destinies to their hands, to serve whom is their first 
and sworn duty. Unstinted praise and admiration be 
to the man who defies the flames or the billows to save 
the life of a fellow-creature. But that statesman would 
be a criminal indeed who, for alien interests and rights, 
should jeopardise the existence of his State, that mar¬ 
vellous living entity which has wrought, struggled, and 
suffered for generations or centuries to become stronger 
and nobler and more perfect, and which is to-day, for his 
people, the chief worker in the cause of human progress. 
No statesman is free to gamble with the future oppor¬ 
tunities and vital interests of his nation. And I cannot 
recall a single instance in history of a Government 
willingly and wittingly sacrificing their own country for 
the sake of justice or to the rights of another country. 
Should there be a certain difference between the moral 
character of the actions of the most highly civilised 
States, this is due rather to the characters and concep¬ 
tions of their leaders, the situation and the compelling 
circumstances, than to the difference in the permanent 


Conclusion 


459 

moral value of the nations in question. In this twentieth 
century war is feared far more than it was in the past 
because it involves far greater loss. Far more pacifist 
activity is manifested nowadays, far more energy has 
been put forth of late years to ensure the settlement of 
international quarrels, disputes, and differences by means 
of suitable institutions. So far, however, this change, 
this progress, has had no particularly decisive results. All 
the States are agreed that war becomes a greater misfor¬ 
tune every day—but not the greatest! Each of them, 
while willing to arbitrate on secondary matters, is in¬ 
flexibly determined to draw the sword for its own honour 
and vital interests ! 

It is regrettable that the German Government, with 
its rude and cynical demeanour, was always more averse 
than that of any other nation to all movements for the 
preservation of peace. Following in the footsteps of Bis¬ 
marck, they declared with brutal frankness that “ the 
interests of the Fatherland were their sole concern. 1 ’ To 
the Germans it was a point of honour to emphasise the 
egoism which every other State also practised. But in 
this they gravely miscalculated. For they came into 
conflict with those lofty sentiments and ideals which 
should animate every human breast and lead us all to 
do our parts in the steadily growing movement towards 
the preparation of a better future for mankind. The 
Germans incurred intense odium, which engendered a 
bitter anti-German public opinion, without their sincerity 
profiting them in the least. The impression was pro¬ 
duced that German power made improvement impossible 
and only prolonged the reign of brute force. 

It was—perhaps is also to-day—the fashion to charge 
Austria-Hungary with following an aggressive policy, by 
aiming at expansion towards Salonica ; and it was said 



460 Weltpolitik 

that the Dual Monarchy ought to be dismembered in the 
cause of peace. Such a statement was not only untrue, 
it was ridiculous. Any expansion on our part was so 
entirely out of the question that when at one time Ger¬ 
many wanted us to get some advantage, and invited us 
to suggest something, we could suggest nothing except 
the maintenance of the status quo in the Balkans and the 
prevention of the Dardanelles getting into the hands of 
Russia. It is a queer sort of aggressive State that can be 
satisfied with the maintenance of the status quo in the 
very region where it is alleged to have designs. None of 
our Foreign Ministers ever thought of occupying Salonica. 
The Dual Monarchy, however, never made pretensions to 
being actuated by any purer or nobler ideals than the 
others. The secret of her absolutely pacific and conserva¬ 
tive policy was that all her leading elements were pacific 
and conservative. Our revered sovereign, from sheer 
weariness and caution, after several disastrous campaigns, 
desired nothing more than to keep what he had, and he 
abhorred war with his whole heart. The Austro-Ger- 
mans had long before lost the precedence they had once 
enjoyed in the time of Joseph II and Schwartzenberg. 
They had such a bitter struggle with their Slavs at home 
in Austria, they would have been risking their future 
by adding to the number of their foreign nationalities. 
The other half of the Dual Monarchy, Hungary, also was 
absolutely conservative and afraid of expansion in any 
direction. She had no extraneous chauvinism. As 
there was no Hungarian foreign policy or diplomacy, and 
as externally the Monarchy retained its Austrian char¬ 
acter, Hungarian public opinion was quite indifferent to 
most important questions of prestige. She craved no 
political victories. The national self-consciousness and 
ambition were directed towards questions of common 


Conclusion 


461 

law and the nationality problems instead of towards 
foreign politics, the Hungarian interest in which was 
small to a fault. Foreign politics was excluded from the 
parliamentary life, and consequently did nothing to stir 
public opinion. The Hungarian soul was not alive to 
remembrance of any popular national war. The wars of 
the Dynasty, whether on the Rhine or the Po, in which 
the Hungarians acquitted themselves with honour and 
displayed their wonted valour, had no power to fire 
the imagination of the Magyars. Even the Turkish 
wars, by which the integrity of Hungary was restored, 
were unpopular, owing to the generally German char¬ 
acter of the leaders; and their victories made but 
an indifferent impression on the minds of the masses, 
as the same troops which had won back our territorial 
integrity afterwards menaced our national liberties! 
When in the eighties of last century Bismarck accused 
Hungary of plotting a war against Russia, that was 
simply because the Man of Iron suspected everyone 
whose ways ran counter to his own. It was not because 
the Hungarians wanted war that they defended the 
independence of the Balkan States, but because they were 
convinced a war must break out the sooner if, by their 
supineness, they encouraged the Russians to make 
claims that they (the Hungarians) could not endorse, 
than if the Czar knew beforehand that insistence on his de¬ 
mands would lead to a struggle which he too would prefer 
to avoid. The Magyars were ill-disposed towards all con¬ 
quests, as the burden imposed by the acquisition of alien 
subject-races would constitute a serious menace to their 
position in the Dual Monarchy as well as in their own land. 

The sole ambition which had arisen in Vienna since 
the Berlin Congress was to transform the occupation and 
administration of Bosnia-Herzegovina into an annexation; 


462 W eltpolitik 

though this idea was neither general nor popular. It left 
the public in both Austria and Hungary perfectly cold, 
and at the time the wisdom of the step was questioned 
by responsible ministers. Goluchowsky, for one, was 
against it. The Hungarian Government looked askance 
at it. Very few cared about touching or altering the man¬ 
date given with the universal consent of Europe and 
accepted by the Turks. And even the exponents of this 
idea were guided by their conservative sentiment alone, 
and not by any desire for conquest. For the annexation 
did not give the Dual Monarchy a single village, a single 
soldier, or a single penny. 

Italy, the most ambitious member of the Triple 
Alliance, was compelled, by her enormous growth of popu¬ 
lation, to attempt expansion in Northern Africa. The 
Italian ambitions, however, were not translated into acts, 
and the Entente could the less refer to them when 
attributing the World War to the aggressive spirit of the 
Central Powers, since Italy did not take our side, but 
theirs against us, in the stupendous struggle. The very 
fact that Italy, the member of the Triple Alliance whose 
land-hunger was the most insatiable of the three, was 
considered by the Entente as good enough to be their ally, 
should be sufficient to prove that they had not to defend 
themselves against our offensive spirit. 

It is comprehensible that amidst the perils and suffer¬ 
ing occasioned by the World War, enthusiastic patriots 
on either side should condemn in the most extravagant 
terms the actions of the “ enemy/’ exaggerating his faults 
and painting him in the most lurid colours, in order to 
incite hatred and thus provoke and maintain the fighting 
spirit of their own side against the other. In their 
jaundiced state of mind it was futile to expect an un¬ 
biassed judgment. 


Conclusion 


463 

To-day, however, the case is otherwise, and we may 
now appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober. The 
time has arrived for calm sifting of the available evidence 
and the delivery of the verdict. If we would banish the 
spirit of hate engendered by the old war-time quarrel, if 
we would have lasting harmony and neighbourly rela¬ 
tions, let us cease from the mutual dissemination of 
slanders, abuse, recrimination, let us investigate the past 
with an objective mind, with a sincere desire to arrive 
at the truth. In that spirit alone can self-respecting 
nations co-operate with each other. By constantly 
impugning each other’s veracity and good faith, all 
co-operation is impossible. 

A correct understanding of and attitude towards 
the past is the sine qua non of any attempt to remedy the 
present and re-establish the future on the firm foundation 
of justice and peace. 




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Bismarck 

Andrässy 

and their 

Successors 

★ 



This book provides an intensely interesting commen¬ 
tary on the secret history of the long chain of 
events which led to the Great War. < The author is 
not only the son of one of the greatest statesmen 
of the 19th century, but himself the last foreign 
minister of Austria Hungary. This book, however, 
is no apologia for his father’s policy or for 
his own. It is an important contribution 
to modern history/ — London Outlook