Sidney Bradshaw Fay : The Origins of the World War

CHAPTER IV
THE SYSTEM OF SECRET ALLIANCES,
1907-1914 :
TRIPLE ALLIANCE AND TRIPLE ENTENTE IN OPPOSITION



BETWEEN the years 1907 and 1914 there was an increasing crystallization of opposition between the two groups into which the six Great Powers of Europe had now become divided.  During the first four years it developed slowly;  then, with the French occupation of Fez, the German threat at Agadir, the Italian seizure of Tripoli, Anglo-German naval rivalry, the failure of the Haldane Mission, and the Balkan Wars, it proceeded more rapidly.  It was reflected in Morocco, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, and in many other matters, ranging all the way from European armaments to Chinese loans.  In the case of the Balkans, it was so fundamental and so closely bound up with the immediate causes of the World War, that a separate chapter on “Balkan Problems,” following the present one, will be devoted to some aspects of it in that troubled region.  But to give a full account of this crystallizing opposition in all its complicated and disputed phases would go far beyond the limits of this volume.  Fortunately, it has been excellently summed up by others.(1)  No attempt therefore is here made to give any detailed account of this period.  The aim has been rather to indicate, in the light of the new German documents, M. Poincaré’s Memoirs, and other recently published material, the more important factors which increased this crystallizing opposition and gave it the fatal turn which it took in 1914.

This opposition of Triple Alliance and Triple Entente was accompanied and accentuated by four sets of tendencies.

(1) Both systems of alliance tended to be deformed from their originally defensive character.  They tended t become widened in scope to cover policies involving offensive military action.  For example, Germany felt compelled to back up Austria, if her ally became involved in war with Russia by her efforts at self-preservation from the “Greater Serbia” danger—in a way which Bismarck would hardly have tolerated.  In precisely the same way, France under M. Poincaré felt compelled to back up Russia, if her ally became involved in war with Austria and Germany by her efforts to safeguard her Balkan ambitions—in a way which M. Poincaré’s predecessors would hardly have permitted.

(2) Germany tried to strengthen the Triple Alliance, and, similarly; M. Poincaré tried to tighten up and strengthen the Triple Entente.  But the latter was more successful than the former.  The Triple Alliance, in spite of its renewal in 1907 and in 1912, tended to become relatively weaker.  It was weakened by Austria’s internal troubles and Balkan complications, by the deep-seated distrust between Austria and Italy, and by Italy’s sacro egoismo, which often made her oppose her allies, especially Austria, in diplomatic questions and caused her allies to doubt her loyalty in case of war.  The Triple Entente, on the other hand, became relatively stronger, because its members were not divided from one another by any such sharp conflicts of interest as between Austria and Italy, and because England, France, and Russia were able to make increasingly close arrangements for military and naval coöperation.

(3) Although the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente—and especially the latter—were tightened up and strengthened, there still remained more occasions of friction, distrust, and suspicion within each diplomatic group than is commonly supposed.  This will be seen also in the next chapter on “Balkan Problems.”  There was in fact by no means so much harmony and mutual confidence within the Triple Alliance as was usually assumed by writers a few years ago—nor was there so much within the Triple Entente as has been assumed by “revisionist” writers more recently.  Italy’s “extra dance” with France after 1902, and with Russia after Racconigi in 1909, were the most notable examples of this kind of domestic unfaithfulness within a diplomatic group, and continued to be a source of uncertainty and worry on all sides.  But Italy’s case was merely an example of what the Triple Entente feared might happen within its own circle.  France, for instance, was much worried whenever England entered into confidential negotiations with Germany, as in the Haldane Mission or in the Bagdad Railway question;  or when Russia made with Germany the Potsdam Agreements of 1910-1911, or seemed inclined to undertake diplomatic maneuvers in the Balkans without first fully informing her French ally, as happened on several occasions.  Sir Edward Grey was worried lest the Entente with Russia concerning the Middle East would break down, if he did not give her the diplomatic support which M. Sazonov desired at critical moments, as in the Liman von Sanders affair—and in July, 1914.  When he made friendly arrangements with Germany in regard to the Bagdad Railway and the Portuguese colonies, he thought it prudent to counter-balance them, as it were, by consenting to the desire of his two Entente friends that he should enter into negotiations for an Anglo-Russian naval convention.  Germany also found herself frequently embarrassed by the “stupidities” in which Austria indulged in the Balkans, against Germany’s better judgment or without her approval.  Within each group therefore special efforts were continually being made to lessen the friction and suspicion, and to increase the harmony, solidarity, and security of the group.  This was done by making concessions to the selfish aims or special interests of the fellow members, or by giving “blank cheques” to one’s ally in the shape of assurances of “complete fulfilment of the obligations of the alliance,” even in matters which might easily develop into a European war.  The acquiescence or encouragement which M. Poincaré gave to Russia, and which Germany gave to Austria, is to be explained in large part by this desire to preserve the solidarity of the group, rather than by any desire for a war to recover Alsace-Lorraine in the one case, or to gain the hegemony of Europe in the other.  But it had the effect of encouraging Russia and Austria along the slippery Balkan path which eventually led to the yawning chasm of 1914.

(4) In both groups of Powers there was a rapid increase of military and naval armaments.  This caused increasing suspicions, fears, and newspaper recriminations in the opposite camp.  This in turn led to more armaments;  and so to the vicious circle of ever growing war preparations and mutual fears and suspicions.  In 1907, before the opposition had crystallized clearly, the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, in Professor Schmitt’s happy phrase, “had stood side by side;  in 1914 they stood face to face.”



GERMAN FEAR OF “ENCIRCLEMENT” AFTER 1907


Germany at first gave an outward appearance of accepting the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 with equanimity.  Even before its conclusion, Count Bülow, in his Reichstag speech of April 30, 1907, had referred to the negotiations with quiet optimism.  Afterwards, when the Anglo-Russian Convention was published, he instructed the German Press to be moderate and practical in its comments, and to accept the Convention for what it professed to be-a settlement of Anglo-Russian differences and not a combination inimical to German interests.

But in reality Germany felt very uneasy.  She feared that the clauses in regard to Tibet, Afghanistan, and Persia were not merely an end in themselves, but rather a means to an end-the formation of a diplomatic combination on the part of England, France, and Russia.  This Triple Entente would outmatch the Triple Alliance in diplomatic strength because Italy, owing to her hatred and jealousy of Austria in the Balkans and her desire to stand well with France and England, would vote with them, rather than with her own allies, as she had done at Algeciras.  The Triple Entente Powers would also outmatch the Triple Alliance in economic resources and in military and naval strength.  They would therefore feel able to block Germany’s construction of the Bagdad Railway, obstruct her industry and commerce, and thwart her colonial ambitions, wherever these came into competition with their own.  Moreover, in the most inflammable subjects, like Alsace-Lorraine, Morocco, the Middle East, and naval competition, one or other of the Entente Powers stood in direct opposition to Germany.  The Balkans also might easily prove another highly inflammable subject.  If Russia’s reconciliation with England should prove (as it turned out to be the case) the preliminary to a Russian effort to revive her old aggressive Balkan policy, and to recover in the Near East the prestige which she had lost in the Far East, the ally of France would almost inevitably come into conflict with the ally of Germany.  If a crisis should arise over any of these questions, Germany, Supported by Austria and perhaps by Italy, would be likely to find herself faced by the Triple Entente and its superior strength.  Germany would either have to back down fight.  Neither prospect, under the circumstances, attractive.

These were the considerations which preyed upon the minds of the Germans and created a nervous malaise which finally took form in the conviction that they were being “encircled.”  Though Russia and England had protested abundantly that the Anglo-Russian Convention was in no way directed against Germany and had no ulterior purposes, their words did not carry conviction at Berlin, and their attitude in regard to the Bagdad Railway seemed to indicate a collective determination to obstruct one of Germany’s dearest projects.

In 1902 Germany secured from Turkey the concession for the Bagdad Railway.  This was to extend the rail connection from the eastern terminus of the Anatolian Railway at Konia, already in German hands, all the way via Bagdad to the Persian Gulf.  The next year the Deutsch Bank made arrangements with the Ottoman Bank for financing the construction of the line.  Germany desired and invited the participation of foreign capital in the costly enterprise.  But she soon met with opposition, instead of coöperation, on the part of Russia, France, and England.(2)

Russia, on various political, economic, and strategic grounds, had been opposed from the outset to the whole German railway project.  Moreover, since she had no surplus capital for investment, there was never any serious question of her financial participation in it.  Her policy was to obstruct a scheme to which she had many objections and in which she was unable to take a part.

In France, the bankers, for the most part, favored participation, both because they already had large investments Turkey, and because this looked like another good business proposition.  The French Government, however, favorable at first, then hesitating, finally declared its opposition to the investment of French capital in the German undertaking.  M. Delcassé even went to the point of preventing Bagdad Railway bonds from being quoted on the Paris Bourse.(3)  This hostile attitude of the French Government was partly owing to the vigorous representations made by French commercial interests, clericals, and politicians, and partly also, if we are to believe M. Izvolski, to French desire to support the policy of their Russian ally.(4)

In England Mr. Balfour and Lord Lansdowne had stated at first, on April 7, 1903, that the British Government approved the bankers’ negotiations for the participation of British capital in the construction of the Bagdad Railway.  But at once an outcry was raised in the British Press and in Parliament against the Government’s favorable attitude: the railway would injure British vested interests in Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf;  it would increase the influence of the Germans in Turkey at British expense and bring them too close to India;  it would rouse suspicions in Russia as to British intentions;  and, in any case, the English ought not to participate, unless they did so on equal terms and to the same extent as the Germans.  So Mr. Balfour was forced to announce in the House of Commons on April 23 his repudiation of the approval which he had given on April 7.(5)  Henceforth the British also were inclined to obstruct the railway in various indirect ways.  They long refused to consent to the raising of the Turkish tariff from eight to eleven per cent.  Their ostensible reason was that the burden of the increase would largely fall on themselves, because they had the largest share of the trade with Turkey.  But the practical result was that it made it more difficult for the Turkish Government to finance the kilometric and income guarantees which the Bagdad Railway agreement called for, and which seemed necessary for its constructions.

In spite of this policy of opposition and non-participation on the part of the three Entente Powers, the Germans managed to push rapidly the building of the first 200-kilometer section from Konia to Eregli.  Within something over a year, on the Sultan’s birthday, October 25, 1904, they were able to open this first section to traffic with pompous ceremonies and justifiable self-congratulation.  But here construction came to a sudden stop, and the rail ends were left sticking out into space.  The next 200-kilometer section,  reaching toward the Taurus Mountains, involved innumerable engineering difficulties and a far greater expenditure per kilometer of construction.  The Turkish Government could not arrange the financing of additional bonds to meet the guarantees for this section without an increase in her customs revenues.  Yet it was impossible for Turkey to raise her tariff, as she desired to do, because by existing treaties she could not do so without the consent of the Great Powers;  and Russia, France, and England for a long time refused to give their consent.(6)  By their refusal they practically blocked the further construction for the next few years.

In the course of 1905 and the following year Germany attempted some negotiations in a renewed effort to secure the financial participation and political coöperation of the French and the British in the building of the Bagdad Railway.  After Delcassé’s fall there was talk of a deal with M. Rouvier, by which Germany’s Moroccan claims should be abandoned in exchange for French support to the Bagdad Railway.  But the talk came to nothing.(7)  In the summer of 1906 some members of the new Liberal Government in England, including Grey and Haldane, were believed to desire a Bagdad settlement with Germany.  But Sir Edward Grey, in the spirit of the Entente with France, insisted that if England participated, France also must participate.(8)  The English Press also demanded that, either the whole Bagdad Railway ought to be internationalized, or, if Germany controlled the railway as far as Bagdad, then England ought to control the section from Bagdad down to the Persian Gulf.(9)  But no practical arrangement could be found for satisfying these English demands.  Similarly, long German negotiations with Izvolski, contemplating German abstention from activity in Persia if Russia would withdraw her opposition to the Bagdad Railway, reached no definite conclusion.(10)

Three months after the signature of the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 the Kaiser visited Windsor and was cordially received.  He took advantage of the occasion to reopen the Bagdad Railway discussion with Lord Haldane and Sir Edward Grey.  He found that the former, as Minister of War, was anxious that the British should control the section from Bagdad to the Persian Gulf, as a “gate,” to protect India from the possibility of troops coming down the new railway.  The Kaiser at once declared, “I will give you the gate,” and telegraphed to Bülow to this effect.(11)  A lively exchange of views followed for a few hours in Windsor, London and Berlin.  The British “recognized that the object of the commercial development of Mesopotamia was one that should not be opposed.”  But they desired “that the quickest route between West and East should not be under the exclusive control of a virtually foreign company, which would be in a position to affect seriously commercial relations between England and India, or to sanction its use for strategic purposes in hostility to British interests”;  they “could not, however, discuss this question à deux, but only a à quatre, for the various interests, strategical, political and commercial, affect France and Russia as well.”(12)  Sir Edward Grey’s insistence that France and Russia must be associated with England in the discussions proved a fatal obstacle to reaching any satisfactory agreement on the Kaiser’s proposal.  Lord Haldane laid then blame for this on the German Foreign Office, which he thinks did not approve of the Kaiser’s move.  And there is some truth in this view.(13)  But it is also true that Sid Edward Grey’s insistence on conversations à quatre was a main cause of the Kaiser’s offer of the “gate” remaining abortive.  Germany objected that, since France had no special interests in Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf, and since Russia’s interests related largely to Persia, she could satisfy these two countries in separate negotiations.  But if the whole Bagdad Railway question was to be dealt with in conversations à quatre, Germany would inevitably be in a minority of one to three.  Germany therefore could not be expected to negotiate at such a disadvantage and subject her interests to the united opposition of the other three.(14)  Sir Edward Grey’s insistence on the solidarity of England, France and Russia, in this matter of the Bagdad Railway in the fall of 1907, foreshadowed the solidarity of the Triple Entente in wider fields later.  It also put an end to any important further discussions of the Bagdad question until Russia deserted her friends in making with Germany the “Potsdam Agreements” of 1910-1911.




ANGLO-GERMAN NAVAL RIVALRY, 1904-1908


The German suspicion that England was aiming to limit Germany’s freedom of action also arose in connection with the Second Hague Peace Conference and the naval discussions at the beginning of the period of Dreadnought construction and rivalry.  The British navy had just been reorganized and strengthened by Sir John Fisher, while the German navy was just beginning to grow in power.  The proposal to discuss the limitation of armaments, urged by England, looked like a scheme to arrest naval development.  It seemed to prevent Germany from catching up in strength at a moment when England still enjoyed a marked naval superiority.  Nor could Germany, with Austria weakened by internal difficulties and Italy an ally of doubtful loyalty, consent to limit her army.  There was the danger of a war on two fronts, when Russia should have recovered from her war with Japan and revived her active Balkan policy.  So Germany insisted that the limitation of armaments should not be one of the subjects included in the call for the Conference.  When the subject was nevertheless raised in the course of the Conference by England and the United States, Germany’s opposition to it was, to be sure, largely but tacitly shared by France and Russia. But these two countries left it to the German delegates to voice the opposition and thereby incur the odium of wrecking the proposals.

No doubt Germany made a great mistake.  Though limitation of armaments is a most difficult problem, as the long and sterile efforts of the League of Nations and the failure of President Coolidge’s Conference have abundantly shown it is possible that, had Germany taken a different attitude in 1907, the other European Powers might have followed her, and a beginning might have been made to check the fatal increase in rival armies and navies.  At any rate Germany could not have been branded as the country which was most responsible for thwarting an effort to lessen a progressive danger which was one of the main causes of the World War.(15)

By the irony of history it was during the Hague Peace Conference that Anglo-German naval rivalry reached a new and hitherto unequalled stage of mutual suspicion and bitterness.  By the Navy Laws of 1898 and 1900 Admiral von Tirpitz and the Kaiser laid the foundations for a strong German navy.  Their motives were many and mixed.  They wished to give expression to the greatness of the New Germany by creating a fleet which should be comparable to her growing commerce and colonial interests and afford them protection.  They desired preservation from the danger of being blockaded from food and raw materials in case of war.  But above all, they wanted to have a naval force which could be used to back up German diplomatic arguments in the struggle for colonial and commercial advantages.  The Kaiser’s marginal notes are filled with the idea that other countries, and particularly England, paid little or no heed to Germany’s legitimate desires, simply because Germany had no force to back up her demands.  If Germany had a navy, even a much smaller one than that of England, the British would be willing to make diplomatic concessions rather than take the risk of a naval conflict.  This was Tirpitz’s fundamental notion when he speaks of the new German navy as a “risk navy.”  He had no thought of attacking England in any near future.  That would be folly for many years to come.  But a respectable German sea force would compel England to make concessions in the colonial world rather than take the “risk” of a naval struggle.  For this it was not necessary for Germany to build a fleet fully equal to that of England;  some proportion like 2:3 or 10:16 would suffice.(16)

But in fact Admiral Tirpitz completely misconceived the psychological effect which his creation of even a “risk navy” would have on the British mind and policy.  Though it may have contributed to induce the British to make various proposals for limiting naval competition and to enter into various diplomatic negotiations, it did not intimidate them or cause them to make important concessions.  On the contrary, it ratter created an atmosphere of suspicion and antagonism which was altogether unfavorable for friendly diplomatic agreements concerning the Bagdad Railway and other matters.  Every increase in the German navy, instead of frightening the British into making concessions, tended to stiffen their opposition and their determination to maintain the wide margin of British naval superiority deemed vital to the safety and very existence of the British Empire.

So, for instance, in 1904, as the English observed the new-born German navy, still in its infancy but already showing signs of robust growth, they began a wide-sweeping rearrangement and reorganization of the British Fleet.  They proceeded to create a strong force in the North Sea and make it ready for instant action against Germany.  Sir John Fisher, with his characteristically energetic policy of “Ruthless, Relentless, and Remorseless!”(17) “brought home some 160 ships from abroad which could neither fight nor run away,”(18) and effected other revolutionary changes, so that, as he himself said, “We shall be thirty per cent, more fit to fight and we shall be ready for instant war!”(19)  The next year he laid the keels for the first Dreadnoughts.  These were to be far superior to anything afloat and give the British navy a strength which no country could menace.  But their introduction more than doubled the cost of capital ship construction.  Furthermore, they rendered relatively less important the older and smaller types of vessel which had hitherto constituted England’s naval superiority.  It enabled Tirpitz to follow England’s example, and be only a little behind her in the race in the construction of this new type of vessel, which neither country had possessed hitherto;  whereas in the older types of vessel Germany was hopelessly behind.  To express the same thing in figures:  England had authorized the laying down by 1908 of 12, and Germany of 9 Dreadnoughts;  whereas the ratio between England and Germany in vessels of the older pre-Dreadnought type was 63:26.  Tirpitz also believed that Germany, where sailors were conscripted instead being paid wages for voluntary enlistment, and where cost of ship construction was relatively low, could stand longer and more easily than England the heavy strain of naval expenditure.  With this double advantage on Germany’s part, as it seemed to him, he was always skeptical about the sincerity and motives of British proposals for restriction of naval construction.  He was steadily opposed to any serious limitation on his own program, by which he believed the German navy could gradually approach nearer in strength to the British navy, though it might never actually equal it.  It would have to pass through the “danger zone” of inferiority, during which England might possibly attack and destroy it in a “preventive” war.  But he did not think this danger great, especially if German diplomacy avoided irritating England in other fields.  Once safely through the “danger zone,” after a dozen years, Germany would have a very respectable “risk navy.”  Germany could stand the financial strain;  in the long run England could not.  So all Germany had to do was to push construction.

Thus, by a third Navy Law in 1906, Tirpitz secured the authorization of six new capital ships;  and by the law of 1908, reducing the replacement period from 25 to 20 years, he provided for the early replacement of old obsolete vessels by new ships, not of the same size as the discarded ones, but of the new Dreadnought type.  This law of 1908 fixed the construction of new and replacement ships of the Dreadnought type at the rate of four a year from 1908 to 1911, and two a year from 1912 to 1917.  Meanwhile the German Navy League was clamoring for a big German navy.  The Press on both sides of the North Sea was whipping up national passion, and the rumors of the Kaiser’s ill-considered letter to Lord Tweedmouth added fuel to the flame.  All this led to the British “war-scare” of 1908, and to further futile negotiations for some kind of a naval understanding.(20)

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, in a speech on December 21, 1905, setting forth the platform of the new Liberal Government, had lamented the great expenditures on armaments:  “A policy of huge armaments keeps alive and stimulates and feeds the belief that force is the best, if not the only, solution of international differences.  It is a policy that tends to inflame old sores and to create new sores. ... We want relief from the pressure of excessive taxation, and at the same time we want money for our own domestic needs at home, which have been too long starved and neglected owing to the demands on the taxpayer for military purposes abroad.  How are these desirable things to be secured if in time of peace our armaments are maintained on a war footing?”(21)  In the course of the next three years, the English made many proposals for reducing naval expenditure and thereby lessening the growing friction with Germany.  It was proposed that the subject should be discussed at the Hague Peace Conference;(22)  that Sir John Fisher should have a talk with Admiral Tirpitz;  or that there should be a mutual inspection of shipyards and communication of naval programs.(23)  It was informally intimated that, if Germany was uneasy at England’s “insurance policy” of closer relations with France and Russia, the best way to dissipate this uneasiness and revive the former cordial Anglo-German relations would be for Germany to retard her naval program, or come to some understanding for an agreed-upon ratio between the English and German navies.(24)

But England could never get a satisfactory answer from Germany to any of these proposals.  Being made after Sir John Fisher had so greatly strengthened the Home Fleet in the North Sea and begun to build Dreadnoughts, these proposals looked to the German mind like an intimation from the Supreme Naval Power that it desired naval competition to cease at the moment of its own greatest preponderance.  Coinciding also with Lord Haldane’s organization of the British Expeditionary Force and with England’s closer diplomatic relations with France and Russia, they looked like a concerted plan on the part of these three Powers to put pressure on Germany.  Any yielding to such pressure was sharply resented as inconsistent with Germany’s dignity as a Great Power.  As Bülow wrote privately to Bavaria and some of the other German Governments on June 25, 1908, after President Fallieres’s visit to London and King Edward’s famous meeting with the Tsar at Reval:  “Agreements which aim at a limitation of our defensive power are not acceptable for discussion by us under any circumstances.  A Power which should demand such an agreement from us should be clear in its mind that such a demand would mean war.”(25)  By the Kaiser especially, the British proposals were indignantly repudiated as unjustifiable attempts to interfere with his sovereign right and duty to take all measures necessary for the dignity and defense of the German Empire.  Commenting upon Count Metternich’s report of July 16, 1908, of an informal luncheon discussion with Sir Edward Grey and Lloyd George, in which it had been intimated that a naval discussion would improve diplomatic relations, the Kaiser wrote :

Count Metternich must be informed that good relations with England at the price of the building of the German navy are not desired by me.  If England intends graciously to extend us her hand only with the intimation that we must limit our fleet, this is a groundless impertinence, which involves a heavy insult to the German people and their Kaiser, which must be rejected a limine by the Ambassador, ... France and Russia might with equal reason then demand a limitation of our land armaments.  The German Fleet is not built against anyone, and also not against England !  But according to our need !  That is stated quite clearly in the Navy Law, and for 11 years has remained unchanged !  This law will be carried out to the last iota;  whether it suits the British or not, is no matter !  If they want war, they can begin it;  we do not fear it !(26)

The Kaiser’s fears that England was trying to put a check upon Germany’s navy, and “encircle” her in other ways, were increased by the numerous visits and interviews which Edward VII had with French and Russian rulers and ministers in the summer of 1908.  In May President Falières was very cordially received in London and given a dinner at the Foreign Office to which the only person invited, outside a French and English group, was the Russian Ambassador—a distinction which seemed to embarrass good Count Benckendorff.(27)  The French Press made the most of the visit, and Tardieu in the Temps expressed the hope that Anglo-French relations were taking a firmer form, provided England made fundamental changes in her military system—a hint at the universal military service which Lord Roberts and others were now beginning urgently to advocate in public speeches.  In June, King Edward’s visit to the Tsar at Reval seemed more than a mere act of family courtesy, since he was accompanied by Admiral Fisher, Sir John French, and Sir Charles Hardinge, who had long talks with Izvolski and the Russian Premier, Stolypin.  Hardinge told Izvolski that England had no hostile feelings toward Germany and was anxious to maintain the most friendly relations with her, but that “owing to the unnecessarily large increase in the German naval program, a deep distrust in England of Germany’s future intentions had been created.”  This distrust was likely to increase with the progress of time, the realization of the German program, and the heavier taxation entailed by England’s necessary naval counter-measures.  “In seven or eight years’ time a critical situation might arise, in which Russia, if strong in Europe, might be the arbiter of peace, and have much more influence in securing the peace of the world than at any Hague Conference.  For this reason it was absolutely necessary that England and Russia should maintain towards each other the same cordial and friendly relations as now exist between England and France.”(28)  Izvolski got the impression that the English wanted Russia to build up her army and navy as much as possible as a future check to Germany.

Sir John Fisher relates that he sat several times next Stolypin and Izvolski, and urged them to build up the Russian army on the Western frontier against Germany: “Stolypin said to me, ‘What do you think we need most?’  He fancied I should answer, ‘so many battleships, so many cruisers, etc., etc.,’ but instead I said, ‘Your Western Frontier is denuded of troops and your magazines are depleted.  Fill them up and then talk of Fleets !’  Please see enclosure from Kuropatkin’s secret report:  ‘The foundation of Russia’s safety is her Western boundary !”’(29)

Aside from this renewal of Anglo-Russian cordial relations and English encouragement to Russia to build up her armaments again—which she soon proceeded to do—the Reval interview actually dealt mainly with the question of Macedonian reforms, Persia, Crete, the Sanjak railway project, and the attitude of the Russian Press.  There was no attempt to build up a closer Anglo-Russian combination against Germany, and Izvolski was profuse in his assurances that it was in no way unfriendly to Germany.  But the Kaiser was not convinced, and Reval marks a cooling off in Anglo-German relations.  It also made him more positive in his refusal to discuss with England any limitation of her a naval program, when Hardinge broached the subject directly to him at the time of King Edward’s brief visit to Kronberg on August 11, 1908.  There was a heated discussion.  Hardinge, according to the Kaiser’s lively account in dialogue form, complained that Germany was building Dreadnoughts so rapidly that in a few years she would be as strong as England in these capital ships.  The Kaiser said this was “absolute nonsense,” sent for a copy of Nauticus, an almanac of detailed naval statistics of all nations which Hardinge appeared never to have heard of, and showed him his errors.  When Hardinge persisted that the competitive naval construction must cease, the Kaiser used his regular argument that Germany was not building in competition with England, but only for her own needs as laid down in Tirpitz’s Navy Laws.  When Hardinge still insisted, “You must stop or build slower,” the Kaiser looked him sharp in the eye and replied, “Then we shall fight, for it is a question of national honor and dignity.”  Hardinge turned red, and, seeing he was on dangerous ground, begged the Kaiser’s pardon, asked him to forget words said in private conversation, and changed the subject.  In conversation later in the day with the Kaiser, Hardinge was as affable and friendly as could be, and was not a little surprised to be decorated with the Order of the Red Eagle, First Class.(30)  The English Cabinet, whose views Hardinge had been representing, were determined to preserve England’s supremacy of the seas and keep ahead of Germany in Dreadnought construction.  But they foresaw the bitterness which would be engendered between the two countries by further naval competition, as well as the terrible financial burden it would impose on England.  They therefore sincerely desired and tried to come to some sort of understanding with Germany on the subject.  It was a tragic mistake of Tirpitz and the Kaiser that they should have so flatly refused discussion and thereby pushed England further into the arms of France and Russia, thus strengthening the Triple Entente and helping to crystallize its opposition.

The effect on Germany of England’s opposition to the Bagdad Railway, of her efforts to limit the German navy, of the Reval meeting and the apparent consolidation of France, Russia, and England into a Triple Entente, was to produce a conviction that Germany was being “encircled.”  Germans believed that this encirclement was Edward VII’s personal work, and that it aimed at strangling German commercial and colonial expansion, and even at crushing Germany’s political and military position.  There is no substantial evidence that there was any deliberate encirclement with such aims on the part of King Edward or the British Government.  Such notions were the product of German imagination, fear, and suspicion.  But there was nevertheless something of a diplomatic encirclement.  Germany was now surrounded by three Great Powers, whose combined strength was supposed to be equal or superior to that of the Triple Alliance, and who were growing increasingly ready to coöperate in defense of their own interests whether in Morocco, Mesopotamia, or the Balkans.  Though Izvolski hoped that the Triple Entente would give him great freedom of action in the Near East and Middle East, and though the French counted on it in the same way in Morocco, so far as England was concerned it aimed at the preservation of peace through the establishment of a balance of power.  It was insurance against the supposed danger of possible German aggression, and not for any aggression against Germany’s existing position in Europe and in the commercial world.  But to German eyes it had a more ominous and irritating appearance.  This finds expression in extreme form in the Kaiser’s marginal notes on reports of the Reval meeting and of English efforts for slowing down German Dreadnought construction.  It is also reflected in his indiscreet speech to German officers at Döberitz.  His feeling was :  “A strong navy;  a strong army;  and powder dry !” (31)

Bülow on the other hand, with his characteristic policy of putting the best face on an unpleasant situation, believed Germany should scrupulously avoid showing any signs of nervousness and uneasiness.  To do so would simply be playing into the hands of Russia and France.  While agreeing that Germany must keep herself in the highest possible state of defense, she must do so quietly.  He chided the Kaiser as much as he dared for the Döberitz indiscretion,(32) and was inclined to agree with Metternich, the German Ambassador in London, that Germany ought not to close the door to all English suggestions for some arrangement to prevent the evils of Anglo-German naval competition.(33)

He also believed that the consolidation of the Triple Entente made it all the more important that Germany must stand firmly behind her Austrian ally.  In a long very confidential circular to the Prussian Ministers in Bavaria and the other leading states in the German Empire, he summed up the situation as optimistically as he honestly could.  The Reval meeting, preceded by President Fallieres’s visit to London, has caused uneasiness in Germany.  Grey and Izvolski have given assurances that nothing is being planned against her.  Nevertheless it would be a fatal mistake, if, trusting in these assurances, we do not recognize that our freedom of movement may be limited by what has happened.  It is Germany’s economic and political power, and the fear that she may misuse them, which is driving other states into the Entente against us.  “These Ententes and Alliances are therefore in their origin rather of a defensive character.  But perhaps they will not hesitate to proceed aggressively against us and hold us down where possible, when they think they have the power to do so.”  Our ally, Austria-Hungary, is threatened just as we are by this new combination, and especially so, because the passions and intrigues directed against the very existence of the Dual Monarchy arouse in other nations expectations for a successful destructive blow from the outside.  The supposedly imminent break-up of Austria-Hungary is a favorite standing theme in the French and other foreign Press.  Because of her greater interests in the Balkans, Austria-Hungary is also more exposed than are we to the danger of a conflict with the Entente Powers.  Germany and Austria, standing together as a solid block, may be able to withstand all storms.  “A loyal coöperation with Austria-Hungary will and must remain in the future also the fundamental basis of German foreign policy.” Germany cannot enter into a discussion with other Powers to limit her armaments, but she should avoid as far as possible giving any irritation to others and restrain all jingoistic expressions in the German Press.(34)

There was much shrewd wisdom in this statement.




GERMANY’s RELATIONS WITH FRANCE, 1908-1911


While the naval friction with England continued, and the Young Turk Revolution and Bosnian Crisis led to a new tension with Russia, Germany managed to improve her relations with France in the years from 1908 to 1911.  The Algeciras Conference had not produced very satisfactory conditions in Morocco.  The Sultan’s brother, Mulai Hafid, had gained a strong following among the chieftains who resented the Franco-Spanish efforts to maintain order.  Mulai Hafid finally revolted against his brother’s authority.  In the disorders which took place a French doctor was murdered, which gave the French occasion to occupy Moroccan territory at Oudjda near the Algerian frontier in the spring of 1907.  Further outrages on Europeans led the French to land troops in Casablanca in August, and to place French police in other seaports on the West Coast.  The Sultan, losing his authority more and more, was driven from his capital to the coast at Rabat, and finally declared deposed by Mulai Hafid’s followers.  Bülow and the Kaiser recognizing that Germany’s Morocco policy in the past had consolidated the Anglo-French Entente, refrained from any serious interference with these French measures, though German influence had contributed to the trouble between the rival sultans.(35)

While negotiations were going on concerning the terms under which Abdul Aziz should agree to abdicate in favor of Mulai Hafid, there occurred the Casablanca incident, which for a moment threatened to cause a new flare-up between France and Germany.  On September 25, 1908, the German Consul at Casablanca attempted to assist six deserters from the French Foreign Legion to escape on board a German ship.  But the deserters were forcibly seized, and the consular secretary and soldier escorting them were somewhat mishandled by French soldiers.  The German Consul was blamed by France for having exceeded his powers, contrary to international law, in affording protection to persons within French military jurisdiction.  The local French military authorities were accused by Germany of having infringed the inviolability of consular rights.  In spite of some excitement in the French and German Press, good sense fortunately prevailed in the Foreign Offices at Paris and Berlin.  Both soon agreed to submit the matter to arbitration, which ultimately resulted in a compromise decision that both sides had been partly in the wrong.  Both Powers were glad to see the incident disposed of in a conciliatory fashion so that it should not add a new danger to the peace of Europe which at the moment was threatened by the uncertain state of affairs growing out of the Turkish Revolution and the Bosnian Crisis.  The Kaiser especially displayed as much wisdom and energetic influence in favor of friendly conciliation as he had lacked in dealing with the English suggestions for a restriction of naval competition.  Never in sympathy with the Bülow-Holstein Morocco policy of the past, he now condemned it sharply, having come to the conclusion that it was impossible to check the extension of French political control in Morocco  without resorting to force.  On October 4 he informed  his Foreign Office that, so far as still practicable, Germany should withdraw with dignity, and come to an understanding with France as quickly as possible, in spite of the incident at Casablanca.  A couple of days later, after being painfully surprised by the Austrian annexation of Bosnia, he wrote more energetically to Bülow:  “In view of these circumstances this wretched Moroccan affair must now be brought to a conclusion, quickly and definitely.  There is nothing to be made of it;  it will be French anyway.  So let us get out of the affair with dignity, so that we may finally have done with this friction with France, now that great questions are at issue.”  To which Bülow replied characteristically that he agreed, but must not let the French see this too clearly, or they would never give any compensations for Germany’s withdrawal;  and he added, “The most desirable thing would be that we should come to an understanding with France and England about Morocco, as we as about other African and Asia Minor questions.”(36)

Soon afterwards Germany gave her approval to the terms which the French had drawn up, highly favorable to themselves, as the conditions on which Mulai Hafid was to be Sultan.  At the same time Schoen, the German Secretary of State, told Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador in Berlin, that it was time for Germany and France to shake hands on Morocco, and that the Kaiser wished it.(37)  This led to negotiations which resulted in the Franco German Agreement of February 9, 1909.  “To facilitate the execution of the Act of Algeciras,” France, still professing to respect the independence and integrity of Morocco, promised equality of economic opportunity to the Germans;  and Germany, professing to pursue only economic aims, recognized France’s special political interests in preserving peace and order, and promised not to interfere with them.(38)

The final negotiations took place very rapidly.  This was owing to several reasons.  The Bosnian Crisis wale becoming dangerously acute as Austria and Serbia armed against one another, so that it was desirable to get the Moroccan question out of the way.  In the second place , Bülow had taken up the idea of the German Ambassador in England, in spite of the Kaiser’s absolute negative of the preceding summer, of conceding to England a modification of Germany’s naval program in return for some political equivalent, such as an exchange of colonial territory, or, better still, an English promise of neutrality in case of a European war.(39)  For success in any such negotiation it was most important to remove all Franco-German friction in Morocco, which had been one of England’s original and most persistent reasons for standing by the side of France.  It was reported to Bülow that the English Minister in Tangier had had instructions to stir up trouble between the French and Germans, and he felt sure that anti-German propaganda by the English in Paris was likely to continue so long as England had cause to be alarmed over Germany’s rapid construction of Dreadnoughts.(40)  To cut the ground from under this propaganda and to remove England’s anxiety as to German intentions in Morocco it was highly desirable “to shake hands with France” once and for all in regard to Morocco.  A final reason for the speed with which the Franco-German Agreement was concluded lay in the fact that King Edward was to visit Berlin on February 9;  Bülow wished to be able to publish the Agreement before his arrival in order to avoid any impression among the public that Edward VII had helped to bring it about.(41)

The Agreement was warmly welcomed in the French Press as putting an end to a long-standing source of irritation between France and Germany, and as assuring to the one the political, and to the other the economic, advantages necessary to each.  Grey and Hardinge congratulated Bülow on it, expressing pleasure that a question which had been a constant source of anxiety to England and in which England was bound by the Entente of 1904 to give France diplomatic support was now so happily settled.(42)  The Kaiser hastened to decorate the French Ambassador in Berlin with the Order of the Red Eagle and present him with an autographed portrait, “because the path I ordered in our Morocco policy has had such a brilliant success in the whole world, and because we owe much to the unselfish and devoted work of Cambon as well as to his loyalty.”(43)  Schoen instructed the German Minister in Morocco that he was to coöperate fully with the French, prevent all friction, and observe loyally in every way the spirit and purpose of the new convention.  Though this Moroccan Agreement of 1909 did not have all the happy results expected from it, it did bring about much more cordial relations between the two countries, until new disorders arose in Morocco in the spring of 1911, which led to the French march to Fez and the German threat at Agadir.




GERMANY’s RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA, 1908-1911


Though the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 seemed to Germany an indication that Russia was turning away from the old friendly relations which had united the Hohenzollerns and the Romanovs, it did not at first seriously cloud the relations between the two countries.  Izvolski had been profuse in his assurances that the Convention merely aimed to do away with Anglo-Russian friction in the Middle East, and was in no way directed at Germany or inimical to her interests.  As Russia’s interests seemed deeply centered in Persia, Germany carefully sought to avoid antagonizing her in that quarter.  When Persia in 1906 had asked for the establishment of a German Bank at Teheran, with the hope of support against Russian encroachments, Germany had hesitated to heed the request, and informed Izvolski that Germany had no political aims or interests in Persia.(44)  In return, early in 1907, Izvolski proposed an agreement by which Russia would withdraw her opposition to the construction of the Bagdad Railway, in return for Germany’s recognition of Russia’s monopoly in political, strategic, and economic matters in Northern Persia.(45)  Izvolski carried on negotiations for such a Russo-German agreement during the spring and early summer of 1907, at the same time with his negotiations on the same subject with England, evidently playing off the two countries against one another.(46)  But when he had the Anglo-Russian Convention safely in his pocket, he dropped the conversations with Berlin.(47)  Russia’s objections to the Bagdad Railway would be safeguarded by Sir Edward Grey’s policy of insisting that all conversations on the subject must be à quatre, in which the Entente Powers would outnumber Germany three to one.  Germany for her part felt sure that Russia’s aggressive designs in Persia would inevitably lead to serious friction with England without any German stimulation.  Therefore in Bülow’s inelegant phrase:  “Il faut les laisser cuire dans leur jus.”(48)

In 1908, however, Germany’s relations with Russia began to be less satisfactory.  Izvolski wished to recover in the Near East some of the prestige which Russia had lost in her disastrous war in the Far East.  He believed that the alliance with France and the Entente with England assured him their benevolent attitude, and that he could proceed to open the Straits for Russian warships.  Germany had often declared that she had no objections to this, and Austria could be satisfied by being invited to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina.  This was the substance of his “Buchlau Bargain” with the Austrian Foreign Minister, Aehrenthal, which will be described in more detail in the next chapter on Balkan Problems.  Aehrenthal, however, acted quickly and made sure at once of his half of the bargain.  But Izvolski found that his plan for opening the Straits did not meet with French and English approval, and his consent at Buchlau to having Orthodox Greek Bosnians placed under the Roman Catholic sovereignty of the Hapsburgs was violently denounced by the Pan-Slavs in Russia, as well as by the Serbians, who had coveted Bosnia as part of a future “Greater Serbia.”  Thereupon Izvolski tried to nullify the Buchlau bargain by insisting that the modification of the Berlin Treaty of 1878, which was involved by the Austrian annexation of Bosnia, should be subjected to revision by a Conference of the Powers.  Austria refused.  Serbia and Austria began to mobilize against each other.

Though the Kaiser was indignant at the sudden way in which Aehrenthal had annexed Bosnia, Bülow persuaded his master that Germany could not afford to refuse support to her ally’s fait accompli.  Germany was now surrounded by the Entente Powers, and Austria was her only reliable ally.  So Germany supported Austria’s refusal to accept a Conference, and hastened to propitiate France and England by the Moroccan Agreement of 1909.  Meanwhile, by March, 1909, Serbia and Austria seemed on the verge of war.  Serbia counted on Russian, and Austria on German, support.  Unluckily for Izvolski, Russia’s exhaustion and military disorganization after the war with Japan made it out of the question for her to back up by force his demand for a Conference;  France was not yet ready to extend the scope of the Franco-Russian alliance to cover Russian ambitions in the Balkans;  and England gave Russia little support.

To avert an actual clash of arms between Austria and Serbia, Germany then proposed a solution to extricate Izvolski from the cul-de-sac into which he had strayed, and demanded a yes or no answer in regard to it;  if Russia rejected it, Germany would let the Austro-Serbian quarrel take its course and the outcome under the circumstances would certainly not have been in Serbia’s favor.  Izvolski thereupon accepted the German solution, and the Bosnian Crisis was ended.(49)

The outcome of the Bosnian Crisis was a diplomatic victory for Austria and Germany, and a corresponding humiliation for Russia and Serbia, with all the feeling of soreness which such humiliations leave behind.  Izvolski never forgave Aehrenthal for his quick action in annexing Bosnia without further consultation and in refusing a Conference.  He claimed that in both these matters Aehrenthal had broken his word and was no gentleman.  Aehrenthal denied the truth of the allegations and threatened to publish the documents, whereupon Izvolski begged Germany to prevent the publication;  upon Germany’s advice, Aehrenthal refrained from carrying out his threat.

This personal feud between Izvolski and Aehrenthal had been transferred to the pages of the English Fortnightly Review, where the recriminations further embittered the two men.  Count Berchtold, then Austrian Ambassador in St. Petersburg, became involved, because Dr. Dillon had found material for one of the Fortnightly articles at Berchtold’s castle at Buchlau.  So for nearly a year it was virtually impossible for Izvolski and Berchtold to carry on diplomatic intercourse with one another.  In the meantime Izvolski succeeded in making a secret agreement with Italy at Racconigi,(50) by which, among other things, Italy promised to regard with benevolence Russia’s interest in the Straits in return for Russia’s similar promise in regard to Italy’s interests in Tripoli.  Izvolski was thus getting Italy’s consent to what he had failed to secure by the Buchlau bargain, and Italy was taking another “extra dance” outside the circle of her own Triple Alliance partners.

It was not until early in 1910 that Izvolski and Aehrenthal again took up “normal diplomatic” relations.  Rumors of their rapprochement, and even of a secret agreement between them, caused terror:  at Belgrade it was feared that Russia was about to abandon Serbia to Austria’s tender mercies;  and at Constantinople it was feared that the partition of Turkey was being contemplated.(51)  Even at Berlin there were fears that Izvolski, aided and abetted by France and England, was trying to make a secret agreement with Austria in order to drive another wedge into the Triple Alliance and sow discord between Berlin and Vienna.(52)  For weeks Izvolski tried to pin Aehrenthal down to signing an agreement which would put Austria on record in favor of the status quo in the Balkans and which could be confirmed by being communicated to all the Great Powers.  Izvolski wished publicly to tie Austria’s hands in the Balkans, until Russia should have reorganized her army and navy and tightened up the Triple Entente to a more active support than France and England had given Russia during the Bosnian crisis.  Aehrenthal, however, though ready to sign a private agreement with Russia, saw no need to communicate it to the Powers.  After misunderstandings and recriminations, Izvolski finally published some of the correspondence without asking Aehrenthal’s consent, an unfriendly act which still further accentuated the personal feud between them.(53)  Meanwhile Izvolski went ahead with other maneuvers for securing Russia’s ambitions in regard to the Straits and for forming a Balkan league under Russian patronage.(54)

The Bosnian Crisis had less disastrous effects upon the relations between Russia and Germany than upon those between Russia and Austria just described.  Germany’s intervention to end the crisis was, to be sure, soon exaggerated by Izvolski and Sir Arthur Nicolson, into a “brutal ultimatum” and denounced by the Pan-Slavs.(55)  But though the Pan-Slav Press reserved its bitterest shafts for Germany and not Austria, the Russian Foreign Office, knowing the truth about Germany’s intervention, manifested less resentment against Berlin than against Vienna.  This was indicated in many ways.  While Izvolski and Berchtold were not on speaking terms for months, the genial Pourtalès remained on the most cordial personal relations with the Russian Foreign Minister, partly because Izvolski found he could pour out into the German Ambassador’s ear all his complaints about Aehrenthal’s conduct.(56)  Similarly, when the Tsar went to Racconigi in October, 1909, he ostentatiously avoided Austrian soil, although his obvious path lay across it;(57)  but with the German Emperor, the Tsar had cordial meetings near Finland(58) and at Kiel.(59)

In September Izvolski passed through Berlin.  Though travelling incognito, he made a point of dining with Bethmann-Hollweg and becoming acquainted with the new Ger man Chancellor.  They had a frank and friendly discussion of the general political situation, past, present, and future, in which Izvolski poured out his usual complaints about Aehrenthal “in a passionate and excited fashion, as if he had come directly from a duel with Aehrenthal”;(60)  Izvolski hoped that Germany would restrain Aehrenthal from further reckless aggression in the Balkans, and assured Bethmann that Russia was far from pursuing any policy hostile to Germany.  Both men agreed that the Press, especially the Russian Press, had done great harm.(61)  This friendly relation was aided by Germany’s continued policy of carefully refraining from all political interference in Persia,(62) where revolution and disorders were causing a sharp conflict of interests between Russia and England(63)—a situation which Germany regarded with perfect complacency.  Germany’s non-interference with Russia’s “strangling” of Persia was ultimately rewarded by Russian concessions in regard to the Bagdad Railway embodied in the Potsdam Agreements.  But before these are described a word may be said about Bülow’s resignation and the new men who entered the German and Russian Foreign Offices in 1909 and 1910—the men who in July, 1914, were to have in their hands the fate of the world.

When Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg replaced Count  Bülow at the Wilhelmstrasse in July, 1909, and Kiderlen-Wachter became Secretary of State a little later, Germany’s international position seemed considerably improved.  Count Bülow in his volume on Imperial Germany has pictured with characteristic optimism and excessive self-complacency , the favorable position in which he left the country at his resignation.  But the new Chancellor, reviewing the situation of 1909 in his Reflections on the World War, shows that the tasks which he inherited from Bülow were by no means light and easy.

The Moroccan Treaty of February 9, 1909, with France and the diplomatic triumph of Austria in the Bosnian Crisis had brought a feeling of relief at Berlin.  The Triple Entente seemed definitely weakened and the danger of “encirclement” less alarming.  On June 3, 1909, at a secret meeting attended by Tirpitz, Bethmann, Moltke, and Metternich, who had come over from London for it, Bülow declared that not for twenty years had Germany been so respected and feared in the world.  The one dark cloud on the horizon was the Anglo-German situation;  this looked like a thunder-storm;  therefore he had called this meeting to consider it.(64)  In April the Kaiser had severely scolded Metternich, among other things, for telling England that Germany intended no new naval program in the future;  now it appeared that Tirpitz and the Kaiser were contemplating a supplementary navy law in 1912.  Metternich replied that he had been expressly authorized by the Kaiser to speak as he had done, and that it was a pity he had not been told sooner, if Tirpitz now had it in mind to ask in 1912 for a further increase of the navy.  He closed the letter with words which are as noble a tribute to his own character, as they are a condemnation of the Kaiser and his Admiral:  “I am well aware that my attitude in the naval question, in which I have followed my duty in reporting repeatedly that this is the question which chiefly poisons our relations with England, does not meet the approval of His Majesty, and also that the Secretary of the Navy attacks my attitude in his talks with His Majesty.  Naturally it is not pleasant for the head of the Navy that our building program and our relations to England depend on one another.  But I should be falsifying history, if I reported otherwise than I do, and I cannot sell my convictions, even for the favor of my Sovereign.  Also I am doubtful whether smooth and pleasant despatches, up to the point when we suddenly find ourselves face to face with war with England, would be a service to His Majesty.”(65)

In the meeting of June 3, Bülow defended his Ambassador against the unmerited criticisms of Tirpitz and the Kaiser:  “The first duty of His Majesty’s representative abroad is to report the truth and picture conditions as they really are.  He, Bülow, would always stand behind an Ambassador who did that, heedless of whether the unvarnished truth was pleasant or not to hear.  It does no go to scold the barometer because it points to bad weather.”(66)

In the course of the discussion Bethmann, Minister of the Interior, suggested that an agreement with England might be reached on the basis of Germany “slowing down” naval construction from four to three ships annually, if England would make concrete political offers in return.  But Tirpitz blocked the path at every turn, refusing even the 4:3 ratio for British and German capital ships to which he had previously assented, and revealing a sly reservatio mentalis:  if Germany slowed down from four to three new ships a year from 1909 to 1912, she might counter-balance this loss by speeding up from two to three in the following years, so that Germany’s total number of Dreadnoughts would be the same around 1915 in either case.  Though accepting in principle Bethmann’s suggestion for slowing down, Tirpitz declined to fix or work out any formula to accomplish it, until the English had made concrete proposals.  And in general he was in favor of “quietly waiting.”  This was very discouraging to Metternich and Bülow, and probably had much to do with Bülow’s resignation on June 26, which was accepted by the Kaiser on July 14.

The ostensible reason for Bülow’s resignation was the refusal of the Blue-Black-Bloc (the Conservative-Clerical, coalition) on June 24 to vote the new finance bill, including a heavy inheritance tax, made necessary by the insatiable demands of new armaments.  This gave Bülow a good excuse to retire from office.  It was a motive which looked perfectly obvious to the public and has generally been accepted as the reason for his abandoning the Chancellorship after ten years of weary work.  But as one reads his long struggle to defend Metternich’s view in favor of naval limitation against Tirpitz’s stubborn and slippery evasion of all worth-while concessions, and especially as one reads the protocol of the secret meeting of June 3, 1909, and the documents connected with it, one gets the impression that one of Bülow’s main reasons for resigning was the opposition of Tirpitz and the Kaiser to the efforts for a reasonable naval agreement with England.  Like Metternich, Bülow would no longer sell his convictions even for his Sovereign’s favor.  This reason, however, involving internal friction within the Government, the Kaiser’s political influence, and relations with England, was one of which no hint must be given to the public.  So the world has been left to believe that he parted from the Kaiser mainly for two reasons:  first, because his finance bill was voted down in the Reichstag;  and second, because the Kaiser was displeased with his inadequate defense of His Majesty in the Daily Telegraph affair some months earlier.  But if Bülow’s resignation was motivated, as suggested, by the naval question, then nothing in the exercise of his Chancellorship became him like the manner of his leaving it.

Bülow’s “resignation with brilliants” was accepted on July 14.  He received the Order of the Black Eagle, the highest distinction of the kind in the gift of the Kaiser.  He had earned it, for no German Chancellor had so difficult a personal position, and yet acquitted himself so brilliantly.  Easy-going, débonnaire, good-natured, and with an ever-ready wit, he had known how to handle Reichstag majorities no less cleverly than he had handled the All Highest.  With something of Tirpitz’s shrewd patience in evading commitments, but lacking the Admiral’s powerful determination, clearness of purpose, and absolute self-reliance, Bülow had preferred to gain his ends by gentler methods, by his clever dialectical skill, and by his occasional withholding of the full truth or more often by obscuring it with his witty subtlety.  He knew also how to humor, flatter, and disarm his opponents (enemies he had few or none), and the literary turn of his speeches and despatches makes them delightful reading.  But his flippant habit of darkening counsel by amusing metaphors and his assumed optimism silenced healthy criticism and resulted in his piloting the ship of state into dangerous currents at the moment when he handed over the helm to Bethmann.  He (and Holstein) were mainly responsible for the failure to grasp Chamberlain’s proffered hand at the turn of the century, and for the other policies which led to the formation of the Triple Entente.  The real hollowness of his achievement, which he painted couleur de rose in Imperial Germany, was revealed in the catastrophe of 1914.  His reputation has exceeded his deserts.  He will go down in history as a Chancellor of lost opportunities.

Some months before his resignation, Bülow had called to Berlin from the obscurity of Bucharest a man whom many regard as the best horse in the German stable since, Bismarck’s day.  Herr von Kiderlen-Wächter certainly had something of the Iron Chancellor’s forceful dominating energy and direct methods, but he lacked the readiness to see an opponent’s point of view, and as far as possible meet it, which had been one of the secrets of Bismarck’s diplomatic success.  With his light-hearted Swabian warmth of temperament and levity of conversation, Kiderlen lacked also the moral force which gave Bismarck such a hold on the old Emperor and the German people.  In his highly diverting daily letters to the beautiful blond whom he first met when he was forty and she thirty-eight, who never became his wife, but who often lived in his house, Kiderlen has left a fascinating record of personal devotion and of public affairs.  Indiscreet, but not uninteresting, are the nicknames which he used to designate even the great ones of this world:  “Eel” (Bülow, who was slippery);  “Earthworm” (Bethmann, whom the Kaiser could tread upon);  “Poor Beauty Boy” (a pun upon Schoen, whom Kiderlen replaced as Secretary of State in 1910) ;  “Hippopotamus” (Marschall von Bieberstein);  “The Sudden One” ("Der Plotzliche,” i.e., the Kaiser);  and “Uncle motu proprio” (the Pope).(67)  Kiderlen was a career diplomat with excellent training and opportunities for observation.  Entering the Foreign Office in 1879 as a specialist in commercial matters, he had served as Embassy Secretary at St. Petersburg, Paris, and Constantinople (1881-1888), and then for ten years accompanied the Kaiser on his journeys as reporter for the Foreign Office.  But some of his indiscreet witticisms were brought to the ears of the Kaiser, probably by a jealous Admiral, and the imperial displeasure was visited upon him by his being “exiled” to Bucharest.(68)  As German Minister there from 1900 to 1910, he did much to cement the relations between Rumania and the Triple Alliance.  In spite of the Kaiser’s displeasure, Kiderlen’s ability was recognized as so indispensable that his advice was often sought by Bülow.  In the winter of 1908-1909, during Schoen’s sickness, Kiderlen was at Berlin as Acting-Secretary of State.  It was he, rather than Bülow, who brought about the Morocco Agreement of 1909 and the final settlement of the Bosnian Crisis.  A year after Bülow’s resignation, when Bethmann needed a strong and skilful diplomat at his elbow, Kiderlen was at last brought back from Bucharest for good, and given the office of Secretary of State, made vacant by Schoen’s appointment as Ambassador to Paris (June, 1910).  For two years and a half, until his sudden death at the very end of 1912, Kiderlen was Bethmann’s spiritus rector at the Foreign Office, casting his influence in favor of keeping Austria in check, of good relations with Russia, of a naval understanding with England, and of the abandonment of all claims in Morocco in return for compensations in the French Congo.(69)

Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, who took over Bülow’s difficult inheritance, lacked his predecessor’s brilliance, but inspired more general confidence by his diligence, sincerity, and upright nobility of character, for which he was esteemed by all who knew him at home and abroad.  “Somewhat idealistic and weak, but a suitable person,” was Kiderlen’s comment on hearing that out of the various candidates the Kaiser had picked an old friend of his youth.(70)  Trained as a jurist, Bethmann had risen by ability and hard work in the civil administration to the position of Imperial Secretary of State for the Interior, with which he was far better acquainted than with Foreign Affairs.  But he at once applied himself very diligently to getting personally well acquainted with all Germany’s ambassadors and foreign ministers, and studied the Foreign Office despatches s assiduously that his subordinates feared he would lose him self in the details.  With the Kaiser Bethmann kept on intimate and friendly terms.

When both were in Berlin, they rode or walked almost daily together, discussing all political questions, in which the Kaiser had much wisdom as well as many prejudices.  Bethmann was something of an idealist.  He ardently desired peace in Europe.  Therefore at heart he was opposed to greatly increased armaments.  He hoped for an understanding with England on the naval question, and believed it could be reached—Germany slowing down her rate of naval construction, and England in return making political concessions in connection with the Bagdad Railway and perhaps even some kind of agreement to be neutral.  The English were convinced of his sincerity in this purpose.  Sir Edward Grey declared in 1912, after the Haldane Mission, that any possible differences between Germany and England would never assume dangerous proportions, “so long as, German policy was directed by the Chancellor”;  upon which the Kaiser commented indignantly, “This shows that Grey has no idea who is really Master here and that I rule.  He prescribes to me who my Minister shall be if I am to make an agreement with England.”(71)

Bethmann’s disinclination for increased armaments and his wish to make naval concessions brought him into conflict with the Kaiser, and he twice offered his resignation.  But the Kaiser would not accept it because he had such confidence in Bethmann’s character, and because he knew how highly he was esteemed abroad as an influence for peace.  One may argue that Bethmann, for his own honor and conscience, ought to have insisted on his resignation being accepted, when he could not persuade the Kaiser to follow his advice rather than that of Tirpitz;  that he ought to have put loyalty to his own conscience above personal loyalty to the Kaiser.  But as he wrote rather pathetically to Kiderlen at New Year’s, 1912:  “Really this whole policy [of increased taxation for larger armaments] is such that I, cannot join in it.  That you know.  But I ask myself ever and again whether I should not make the situation still more dangerous, if I should leave now, and then probably be not the only one.”(72)  Thus, it was really loyalty to his country, rather than mere personal loyalty to the Kaiser, that made him compromise with his own conscience and remain in office as the spokesman of part at least of the measures demanded by the army and navy and approved by the Kaiser.  It was the misfortune of Bethmann and of Germany that he never had a wholly free hand to carry out the policies which he favored.  He continually had to contend against the influence of the army and navy officials who had direct access to the Emperor at any time, whereas Germany’s ambassadors and Foreign Office secretaries could usually present their views only through the medium of the “civilian Chancellor.”

In the Russian Foreign Office also a change took place.  In September, 1910, Izvolski finally secured for himself the Russian Embassy in Paris and the generous salary attached to it.  Ever since the fiasco of his effort to open the Straits by the Buchlau bargain and the humiliating outcome of the Bosnian Crisis, he had been the target of Pan-Slav attacks at home.  He was also criticized by level-headed men like Kokovtsev and Krivoshein, the Ministers of Finance and Agriculture, who felt that he had brought Russia into perilous situation in antagonizing Austria and Germany while the Russian army and navy were still a negligible quantity.  Izvolski would have been glad to escape this fire of criticism at once by exchanging the Russian Foreign Office for the Paris Embassy.  But he did not like to resign immediately after the Bosnian Crisis;  this would be too patent an evidence of his own failure or the Tsar’s displeasure.  Nor had the Tsar any suitable person to put in his place.  So Izvolski remained Minister of Foreign Affairs for a year and a half after the Bosnian Crisis, but spent many months abroad.  During his absence in April and May, 1909, Charykov was in charge at the Singer’s Bridge.  When Charykov went as Ambassador to Constantinople in June, Sazonov took his place as Izvolski’s chief assistant at the Foreign Office.(73)

M. Sergei Dimitrijevitch Sazonov, who became Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs upon Izvolski’s transfer to Paris in September, 1910, was by nature of a mercurial and emotional temperament.  In his youth it is said that he intended becoming a monk, but gave it up on account of his bad health and entered the diplomatic service.  Slim and rather small of stature, with a nervous and abrupt manner, he always gave an impression of being frail in body and changeable in mind.  In June, 1904, he became Counsellor to the Embassy in London, where he remained three years and acquired a friendly attitude toward England.  In 1907, he was transferred to the Vatican, a pleasant but unimportant post which he filled for two years.  In June, 1909, he returned to St. Petersburg as Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs under Izvolski.  His selection to succeed Izvolski in 1910 was, therefore, not unnatural.  His appointment was recommended by Izvolski, who thought there was no one else better fitted for the office.

In Russian domestic politics, Sazonov was conservative, solidly in favor of the retention of old Russian institutions and little in sympathy with the constitutional movement brought about by the Russo-Japanese War.  In foreign politics, he was an ardent patriot: His lips trembled with emotion as he once remarked that he could not survive a second defeat such as Russia had suffered in her unfortunate war with Japan.(74)  The German Ambassador at St. Petersburg described him as “filled with glowing patriotism bordering on chauvinism.  When he talks of past events in which he thinks Russia has suffered injustice, his face assumes an almost fanatical expression.  Nevertheless, discussion with him is much easier and pleasanter than with Izvolski, because he always observes form, remains master of himself, and does not emphasize personal matters.”(75)

Toward Germany Sazonov was favorably inclined personally.  His grandmother was German and he had many personal relations with Germany.  When he talked with Bethmann, he preferred to use German rather than French.  He had much sympathy with the large group at the Tsar’s court who wished to see restored the old cordial relations between Germany and Russia, who looked to Berlin rather than to Paris and London, and whose shibboleth was monarchical solidarity rather than constitutional democracy.  To this group belonged Baron Fredericks, the venerable, influential, and universally respected Master of the Tsar’s Household;  Kokovtsev, Minister of Finance;  Krivoshein, Minister of Agriculture;  to a certain extent Stolypin, the Premier;  Witte, who was out of office, but still influential;  and a large number of “Baltic Germans” who by their ability had acquired a great number of civil and military offices in the Tsar’s empire.  But Sazonov also believed, like so many Pan-Slavs, that Bismarck had done Russia a great injustice at the Congress of Berlin, as had Bülow in the Bosnian Crisis.  Nevertheless, he wanted to coöperate with Germany and reestablish mutual confidence.  He therefore welcomed the visit which the Tsar was to pay the Kaiser at Potsdam in November, 1910.

Sazonov, like Bethmann, was sincerely desirous of peace.  But, as will appear in more detail in the next chapter, he was very nervous at any advance of Austrian or German influence in the Balkans which might endanger Russia’s historic mission of acquiring control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles and even of Constantinople.  He was also very sensitive to the criticism of the Pan-Slav Press.  It is true that hardly ten per cent of the Russian people could read at all, and a still smaller proportion paid any attention to newspapers, so that there was in Russia no general “public opinion” in the Western sense of the word.  Nevertheless Russian newspapers did exercise a much stronger influence on Russian foreign policy than is usually supposed, both through their criticisms of ministers at home and through their attacks on statesmen abroad.  With the Russian Revolution of 1905, the establishment of the Duma, and the formation of the Entente with the two great democracies of the West, a majority of the Russian Press had become “liberal” in domestic matters, and strongly Anglophil and Francophil in foreign politics.  It attacked Germany as the stronghold of absolutism and reaction, and as the instigator and protector of Austrian aggressions in the Balkans.  It demanded that Russian Foreign Ministers should extend protection and help to the Slavs of the Balkans in their struggle to emancipate themselves from the Turkish and Hapsburg yoke.  It had therefore been very bitter in condemning Izvolski’s Buchlau bargain, which had placed Orthodox Greek Serbs under Austrian rule.  It attacked Germany no less than Austria as the enemy of the Slav cause.  It was this Pan-Slav Press of which Sazonov, timid by nature and none too secure in his official position, was in constant fear during the next four years.  It drove him at times into a stronger support of Serbia and a sharper antagonism to Austria and Germany than he personally favored himself.  It partly accounts for the changeableness and instability of his policies, which worried France and England as well as Germany.  Pourtalès, the shrewd German Ambassador at St. Petersburg frequently noted how Sazonov’s attitude seemed to shift, now one way and now another, in accordance with the rise and fall of the wave of Pan-Slav Press criticism and the militarist influence of the Grand Duke Nicholas and his bellicose circle.  In fact, between 1908 and 1914, there was no single topic which was so frequently a subject of complaint and discussion between representatives of Germany and Russia as the malign influence of the Pan-Slav and Pan-German Press in stirring up bad blood between the two countries.  After the Bosnian Crisis, for instance, “Willy” wrote to “Nicky”:

A few weeks ago, when affairs threatened to become dangerous, your wise and courageous decision secured peace among the nations.  I was most gratified that by my coöperation you were able to fulfil your task.  very naturally expected that you and I would win universal applause, for I ventured to think that we have earned, the gratitude of all well-meaning people.  But to my regret and astonishment I observe that a great many blame us both instead.  Especially the press has behaved in the basest way against me.  By some papers I am credited with being the author of annexation and am accused amongst other rot and nonsense of having humiliated Russia by my proposal.  Of course you know better.  Yet the fact must be taken note of that the papers mostly create public opinion.  Some of the papers err through their ignorance and lack of correct information;  they can scarcely see farther than their nose’s length.  But more dangerous and at the same time loathesome is that part of the press which writes what it is paid for.  The scoundrels who do such dirty work, are in no fear of starving.  They will always incite the hostility of one nation against the other and when at last, by their hellish devices, they have brought about the much desired collision, they sit down and watch the fight which they organized, resting well assured that the profit will be theirs, no matter what the issue may be.  In this way in 99 cases out of a hundred, what is vulgarly called “public opinion” is a mere forgery.(76)

To this the Tsar replied:  “Everything you write about the Press, as you know from our previous conversations, I agree with completely.  It is one of the curses of modern times.”(77)

In his discussions with the German Ambassador at St. Petersburg concerning the Press, Sazonov sometimes argued that what the Russian Press said was of little or no importance;  that the German Government and the German Press made a mistake in paying so much attention to it;  that it represented the views only of a small group of uninfluential Russian fanatics.  But at other times the Russian Foreign Minister contradicted himself by using an exactly opposite line of argument:  he must do this or he could not do that, because he had to have regard for public opinion and what the newspapers would say.  His opponents might force him from office if in the interests of the peace of Europe he made too great concessions to Germany or failed adequately to safeguard Russia’s national ambitions and to protect the Balkan Slavs.  When he took this line he was much nearer the real facts of the situation.  Pourtalès recognized this, and frequently urged the German Government not to make Sazonov’s position unnecessarily difficult and embarrassing.

But it would be a mistake to think that Sazonov was wholly innocent of all connection with the Press which he genuinely feared.  On the contrary, the Russian Foreign Office stood in close touch with Novoe Vremia and other papers which were most chauvinist and critical in tone.  Sazonov (or his subordinates) often furnished the information and arguments which these papers were to use against Germany.  He thus stirred them up to a nationalist campaign, behind which he would take refuge as a justification of the policy which he was “compelled by public opinion” to adopt.  In critical negotiations with Germany, as in the Potsdam Agreements and the Liman von Sanders affair, important secrets often “leaked” from the Russian Foreign Office to the representatives of the Russian (and also of the French and English) Press in St. Petersburg;  when matters thus got into the newspapers, they raised questions of prestige which made it more difficult for both Governments to make concessions toward a reasonable compromise settlement.(78)

There were also journalists outside Russia who wrote in the Pan-Slav cause, and who exercised an influence on Sazonov while at the same time receiving funds from the;  Russian Foreign Office.  Of these the most important was, Wesselitzki, the London correspondent of the Novoe Vremia.  He had been given subsidies and the use of a summer villa at St. Petersburg when Izvolski was Minister of Foreign Affairs.  “These expenditures were not in vain,” wrote Izvolski in 1911, when urging that his successors at the Russian Foreign Office should continue to subsidize Wesselitzki.(79) As president of the Foreign Press Association in London, and in his frequent visits to foreign capitals, as well as in the materials which he contributed to the Novoe Vremia, Wesselitzki took every opportunity to sow discord between Russia and Germany and to tighten up the bonds between the members of the Triple Entente.  Complaints of his mischievous activities and of the articles which he wrote under the pseudonym “Argus,” appear frequently in the recently published German documents.(80)

After this brief digression on Bethmann and Sazonov and the forces which influenced their policies, we may now return to an account of their negotiations in 1910-1911.

Izvolski’s departure to Paris in September, 1910, left Sazonov and the Tsar free to carry out their desire of establishing more cordial relations with Germany.  Though the Kaiser was still suspicious and much irritated at what he regarded as Russia’s unfriendly Anglophil attitude since 1907, Bethmann and Kiderlen were ready to meet the Russians more than half way on their visit to Potsdam in November, 1910.  Kiderlen hoped to clear up misunderstandings and so to lessen the opposition which had grown up between the Triple Entente and Triple Alliance.  Neither Germany nor Russia were to be expected to modify in any way their respective alliances.  But he was ready to assure Russia that Germany was neither bound nor inclined to support any new Austrian ambitions in the Balkans.  Nor was Germany pursuing any political aims of her own in the Near East;  she regarded the Badgad Railway primarily as an economic enterprise;  and she merely wanted to see Turkey maintained intact, in the interests of peace and the status quo.  There were many subjects in which Russian and German interests ran parallel, and it would be desirable to discuss them confidentially but frankly, and thus put an end to mutual recriminations and restore the friendly contact which had been lost under Izvolski’s management of Russian foreign policy.(81)

These views met with a warm response from the new Russian Minister.  Sazonov declared that the Bosnian Crisis belonged to the past and would not influence Russian policy in the future.  Russia no longer had any expansionist policy.  Her single task was her own internal consolidation.  Russia’s agreement of 1907 aimed purely to put an end to friction in the Middle East.  If England pursued an anti-German policy, she would not find Russia on her side.  Russia and Germany were neighbors and ought to live on good terms.(82)

As to Persia, the Germans again declared that they had no political aims in that troubled country, but wanted the “open door” for their commerce, which was handicapped by the Russian tariff charged upon goods in transit and by lack of good communications.  Sazonov replied that the anarchical conditions in Northern Persia made it impossible for Russia to withdraw her troops.  But if Germany would withdraw from all railway and telegraph projects in the Russian sphere in Persia, Russia would withdraw all discriminating tariffs and other obstacles to the importation of German goods into Persia.  To open up the country Russia proposed to extend her railway system from the Caucasus via Tabriz and Teheran to the western frontier of Persia at Khanikin;  and the Germans could then build a line to connect Khanikin and the Bagdad Railway.  Bethmann understood that “Russia would no longer lay any obstacles in the way of the construction of the Bagdad Railway as far as Bagdad.”  In his report to the Tsar on the Potsdam meeting, Sazonov said “the question of the Bagdad Railway was not raised”;  though he admitted that he told Bethmann that “if other interested Powers were to participate in this line, Russia could not remain empty-handed and would then want to have the Khanikin-Bagdad section.”(83)

In his audience with the Kaiser Sazonov had been impressed with the Kaiser’s irritation against England’s naval policy, his fears of a “preventive attack,” and his hope that the German fleet would soon have assumed proportions which would make England afraid to incur this risk.  He had also tried to draw the Kaiser’s attention to the danger to Russia, with her twenty million Mohammedan subjects, arising from the Pan-Islam propaganda.

The Potsdam conversations were cordial and frank on both sides.  Bethmann and Sazonov each got a very favor able impression of the other.  An excellent start was made in removing suspicions and in bringing the two countries back into the old paths from which they had strayed as a result of Izvolski’s active Entente policy and unsuccessful Balkan ambitions.  As the substance of the conversations had not been confirmed in writing, Bethmann drew up for Sazonov’s approval a statement in general terms as the basis of a reference which he wished to make on the subject in his coming Reichstag speech.  He also drafted nine paragraphs which he hoped Sazonov would sign, with such modifications as he saw fit, as a more precise written formulation of the Potsdam conversations.(84)

But Sazonov caused difficulties.  On returning home, he seems to have feared criticism from the Pan-Slav Press.  He had therefore, without consulting Germany, given an interview to the Novoe Vremia.  This paper then published an account exaggerating the points conceded by Germany and minimizing those conceded by Russia.  Sazonov explained apologetically to Pourtalès that he wished to turn aside the possible wrath of this section of the Russian Press.(85)  To Pourtalès he gave also his full approval of the statement which was to be the basis of Bethmann’s Reichstag speech.  One sentence of this hinted at a point to which Kiderlen attached the greatest importance:  “The result of the last interview I might sum up as a renewed assurance that both Governments will not enter into any sort of combination which could have an aggressive tendency against the other.”(86)  But neither to the Tsar, nor to, the Press, nor apparently to the Ambassadors of France and England, did Sazonov say a word of this general political understanding by which Russia promised not to support any policy hostile to Germany which England or France might undertake.  He doubtless feared it might cause irritation in London and Paris.  Therefore he gave evasive or dilatory replies to Pourtalès’s efforts to get him to sign written statement, such as the nine paragraphs which Bethmann had drafted, in which were precisely formulated the points relating to general policy as well as the specific agreements concerning Persia and the Bagdad Railway.  He suggested that the two sets of points be dealt with in separate documents, and finally preferred not to sign any statement at all on general policy, asserting that the verbal promises of ministers, and especially of the Kaiser and the Tsar, were much more valuable than any exchange of written notes.(87)

Meanwhile Bethmann’s Reichstag speech of December 10, 1910, summing up the Potsdam interview as a renewed assurance that Germany and Russia would not enter into any hostile combinations one against the other, had fallen like a bomb in Paris and London,(88) where Sazonov had, allowed the impression to prevail that Persia and the Bagdad Railway were the only important questions discussed.  The newly appointed English Ambassador in St. Petersburg, Sir George Buchanan, now hastened to present his credentials to the Tsar.  He emphasized England’s earnest wish to see the Anglo-Russian understanding maintained and consolidated, and expressed his anxiety concerning Sazonov’s negotiations with Germany.  Whereupon the Tsar, always inclined to agree with whoever had his ear at the moment, assured Buchanan that Russia “would conclude no arrangement with Germany without first submitting it to His Majesty’s Government.”(89)

Pourtalès, shrewdly suspecting that English pressure explained Sazonov’s evasive attitude, decided it was useless to press further for a signed statement on general policy.  He therefore accepted with apparent grace and trust Sazonov’s suggestion that merely verbal promises sufficed concerning general policy, and that the details of the Persian question could be left to a written agreement.  Sazonov was much relieved in his mind at this.(90)

Accordingly, in the course of the next six months, a Russo-German agreement on the Middle East was gradually worked out.  The negotiations were delayed by England’s constant efforts to limit the entrance of German influence into Persia, and to secure control or participation in the section of the railway from Bagdad down to the Persian Gulf.  There was also some recrimination over the publication in the London Evening Times of the secret draft treaty under discussion, the Russians and Germans each suspecting the other of being responsible for the “leak.”  But the Agadir Crisis caused Germany to make concessions and the agreement was finally signed on August 19, 1911.  Germany disclaimed economic concessions (railways, roads, navigation, and telegraphs) in the Russian sphere in Persia;  there were provisions for an eventual Russian railway in Persia from Teheran to the western border at Khanikin, and for linking this by a German branch line to the Bagdad Railway;  and most important for Germany-Russia would no longer place obstacles in the way of the construction of the Bagdad Railway or in the participation of foreign capital.(91)

The Potsdam conversations in no way troubled the solidarity of the Triple Alliance, because Germany had kept Austria promptly informed of all her steps, and because Austria had no special interests in the Middle East.  But the serenity of the Triple Entente was considerably ruffled by Sazonov’s separate negotiations with Germany in a field where England and France had very active interests.  M. Pichon, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, was severely criticized in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Press for not safeguarding French interests and the solidarity of the Entente.  Prominent men like M. Hanotaux in France, an Mr. Lloyd George in England, asked whether Sazonov’s conduct was not leading to a dissolution of the Triple Entente.  No little irritation was felt in Paris and London at Sazonov’s independent course of action and departure from the Anglo-French standpoint that all Bagdad Railway negotiations ought to be à quatre.(92)

In the end, however, Russia’s withdrawal of opposition to Germany’s cherished desire of pushing the Bagdad Railway to completion opened the way for Germany’s successful negotiations with Turkey and with England for further mutually advantageous arrangements.  Germany acquired docks at Alexandretta and a branch line from there northward by which railway materials could be more easily imported for extending construction east of the Taurus Mountains.  The Powers consented to an increase of the Turkish tariff from 11% to 15%, which would provide funds for paying the railway guarantees.  England was given two of the seats on the Board of Directors of the Bagdad Railway Company, assured a dominant position in the navigation rights and oil resources of southern Mesopotamia, and largely relieved of her fears that the Bagdad Railway would be a German menace to the safety of India.  The negotiations for all these arrangements were protracted over three years, but had been successfully concluded on June 15, 1914, two weeks before the Sarajevo assassination;  the agreements lacked only the final signatures at the moment they were tossed to the winds by the outbreak of the World War.(93)

The Potsdam conversations and agreements of 1910-1911 are another indication of the fact that questions of economic imperialism are far easier for Governments to handle successfully than questions affecting prestige, alliances, or armaments;  in fact the former may sometimes serve as a convenient bridge to the latter.

While Germany was thus on the way toward better relations with Russia in the summer of 1911, her relations with the two other members of the Triple Entente were suddenly made much worse by a new Morocco crisis.




THE AGADIR CRISIS, 1911


The Franco-German Morocco Agreement of 1909 was at first lived up to loyally by both parties.  Pichon and Bethmann both made cordial public statements to that effect in the fall of 1909.  But gradually friction developed again.  The Mannesmann Brothers had acquired from Mulai Hafid certain mining rights not recognized by the French, which conflicted with the claims of the international “Union des Mines Marocaines.”  The Franco-German consortium for the development of the Cameroon-Congo trade had finally to be given up, on account of the protests of the French nationalists that the Germans were getting the greater advantage, and the Germans were then left seriously embarrassed.  The disorders in the country gave the French a pretext for a steady extension of their police and military control, and Mulai Hafid was forced by an ultimatum to accept a loan which brought him more completely under French domination.  It gradually became clearer and clearer that with this extension of French influence the equality of economic opportunity contemplated in the 1909 Agreement, and the idea of an independent Sultan at the head of a well-regulated government, were both fictions in contradiction with the actual trend of events.  Nevertheless the fictions served as a basis for friendly relations between France and Germany for two years.(94)

The military and financial methods of the French had not endeared them to the Moroccan chieftains.  The latter resented Mulai Hafid’s subservience to the French and the continual encroachments upon their own national independence.  The native discontent came to a head in March, 1911, after Colonel Mangin’s public execution of a couple of Moroccan soldiers caught in the act of deserting.  A revolt broke out in Fez.  Alarming reports were sent out by the French that the lives of Europeans in Fez were in danger.  On April 5, Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador in Berlin, informed Germany that the murder of Captain Marchand and the other disorders in Morocco would probably make it necessary for the French to occupy Rabat and send a punitive expedition into the Shawia district as well as a military force to rescue the Europeans in Fez.  He added that this action was only due to extreme necessity, to preserve the sovereignty of the Sultan, and would be exercised in accordance with the spirit of the Algeciras Act.  Kiderlen, who mainly directed Germany’s policy in the Agadir affair, replied that he understood perfectly the anxiety of the French Government as to the fate of the Europeans in Fez, but that the French occupation of a second port like Rabat, in addition to Casablanca, would be likely to excite rather than allay the passions of the natives;  it might also arouse public feeling in Germany and look like a further step toward the elimination of the Algeciras Agreement.  He hoped that the French would delay military occupation as long as possible, and that Moroccan affairs could be satisfactorily arranged between Germany and France-a hint at compensations for Germany which Cambon clearly understood.(95)  A little later Cambon reaffirmed that France would respect the Act of Algeciras and withdraw the troops as soon as order had been restored at Fez.

Kiderlen did not give an approval nor lodge a formal protest, but pointed out warningly that in cases like Fez it was easier to occupy a city than to withdraw again;  and if French troops remained in Fez, so that the Sultan reigned only under cover of French bayonets, Germany could no longer regard him as the independent sovereign contemplated by the Algeciras Act;  this and the Agreement of 1909 would fall to the ground, and Germany would reassume complete liberty of action.(96)  The Kaiser, on the other hand, when he heard the news of massacres in Fez and the flight of Mulai Hafid into the French Consulate, said the French ought to send a large force;  Germany had no reason to hinder it, as it would divert French troops and military expenditure from Germany’s western frontier;  if the French infringed the Algeciras Agreement, let other Powers, like Spain, protest;  the Foreign Office ought to check the clam that warships should be sent to Morocco.(97)

How far the French reports of disorders represented a genuine fear that their authority and European lives were endangered, and how far they were exaggerated as a pretext for securing a stronger grasp on the country, it is difficult to say.  That they had been steadily extending their political grip on Morocco, and intended eventually to reduce it to a French protectorate, there is no doubt.  Kiderlen likened it to the spread of oil upon water.(98)  When the Russian Ambassador in Paris asked M. Cruppi the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, how long the French would remain in Fez, the Minister answered evasively.(99)  And Caillaux, who became Prime Minister in June 1911, has declared:  “Our problem was nothing less than to regain the ground lost since 1905, and to repair the consequences of the serious diplomatic check which we had suffered.”(100)

In 1905, it will be remembered, Delcassé had been forced from office;  but Delcassé was now back in the Cabinet again just as the French were preparing to occupy Rabat and march to Fez.  To be sure, he had only the naval portfolio and the Prime Minister, Monis, had assured the German Ambassador that, “he had taken Delcassé into his cabinet on account of his notable work in the navy, and because his great technical knowledge was indispensable.  Delcassé has firmly promised not to mix in foreign policy;  anyway, his views today differ from those of some years ago.”(101)  But it was natural that, with his restless energy and memory of the past, Delcassé was suspected by the German Press of having a hand in the Moroccan policy, and later events proved he had remained as determined an opponent of Germany as ever.(102)  He told Izvolski that “his entrance into the Cabinet indicated the special care which would be devoted to France’s military forces.  His first task was the creation of a strong navy, and the efforts for the army would be redoubled.  Although he had no intention of overstepping his office and arousing distrust in Germany,” he was anxious to tighten up the relations with Russia.  “According to general opinion, he will inevitably influence the activity of M. Cruppi, as the latter is very little versed in foreign affairs.”(103)

Germany’s intentions were a puzzle to the French at the time, and have remained something of a mystery, but they are now clear from a long memorandum which Kiderlen drew up on May 3 (greatly condensed):

Three years have shown that the independence of Morocco, as contemplated in Algeciras Act, cannot be maintained in the face of native rebellion and imperialistic pressure from France and Spain.  Sooner or later Morocco will inevitably be absorbed by these two neighbors.  It is unlikely that a walled city like Fez can be captured by the natives and the revolt seems to be on the ebb.  But the French fear for its safety and are preparing to send an expedition.  This they have a right to do, and one must await the development of events.  But if they march to Fez, it is hardly likely that they will withdraw;  even if French public opinion approved withdrawal, it would be regarded by the natives as a sign of weakness.  This would lead to new uprisings and new French military expeditions.  The course of events shows that the provisions of the Act of Algeciras cannot be carried out.  A Sultan who can only assert his authority with the aid of French bayonets cannot maintain the independence which was the purpose of the Algeciras Act.  Germany must recognize these facts and readjust her policy in accordance with them.  After the French have been in Fez a while, we shall ask in a friendly way when they expect to withdraw.  When they say that they cannot withdraw, we shall say that we understand that perfectly, but we cannot longer regard the Sultan as a sovereign independent ruler as provided by the Act of Algeciras;  and since this is a dead letter, the Signatory Powers regain their freedom of action.  It will do no good to protest against the French absorption of Morocco.  We must therefore secure an object which will make the French ready to give us compensations.  Just as the French protect their subjects in Fez, we can do the same for ours at Mogador and Agadir by peacefully stationing ships there.  We can then await developments and see if the French will offer us suitable compensations.  If we get these, it will make up for past failures and have a good effect on the coming elections to the Reichstag.(104)

The Kaiser was persuaded to approve this policy, though he ought to have foreseen that the modus operandi was dangerously analogous to that of Bülow and Holstein in 1905.  He then departed for England to attend the unveiling of a memorial to Queen Victoria.  Here he was cordially received, and got the impression that the English regarded the French Morocco action with regret.  Sir Ernest Cassel and Prince Louis of Battenberg hinted that they hoped that German policy would not differentiate itself from that of England.  But the Kaiser and Bethmann saw no reason for taking the hint, because Germany had not been consulted by England about Morocco in 1904, nor by Russia at Reval.(105)

At the outset Kiderlen’s program bade fair to work excellently.  As the Pan-German Press began to demand compensations or the partition of Morocco, and the German Government maintained an ominous silence as to how it would use its freedom of action, the French began to be worried.  Izvolski reported that so far as he was able to judge, “the Berlin Cabinet has chosen a very advantageous and skilful position: without protesting as yet against the French manner of action, it reserves the power of announcing at any moment that the Algeciras Act has been infringed—in this way German diplomacy dominates the situation and can, not only according to the development of events on the spot, but also according to the general trend of her domestic or foreign policy, suddenly render the Moroccan question more acute. ... Sir Francis Bertie is personally convinced that Germany is only awaiting a suitable moment to declare the Act of Algeciras non-existent and then occupy one or two ports (including Mogador) on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.”(106) 106  A fortnight after the French military expedition occupied Fez, the Spanish troops landed at Larache.  The French in turn denounced this action as a blow to the Algeciras Act and as endangering the international situation.(107)

By the middle of June the French intimated that they were ready to talk of a compensation for Germany;  Cambon hinted at it very guardedly on June 11, when speaking of Morocco as a ripe fruit which must inevitably fall to France;(108)  and Cruppi in Paris mentioned it in connection with a Congo-Cameroon railway project, but Kiderlen regarded this as a mere bagatelle.  He wanted the whole French Congo !(109)  But he did not want to ask for it until the appearance of a German ship at Agadir had frightened the French into coming forward with a very generous offer in return for Germany’s abandoning Morocco to them completely.(110)

When therefore Cambon came to Kissingen to broach the subject with him on June 20, Kiderlen took an attitude of reserve.  When Cambon intimated that France would be willing to make concessions in the Congo, but that there was no use talking further if Germany wanted part of Morocco, Kiderlen agreed completely.  When Cambon left Kissingen for Paris to see how much his Government would offer, Kiderlen’s last words were, “Bring us back something from Paris.”(111)  As several days passed without any French offer being made, and as the Kaiser was about to start on his northern cruise, Kiderlen went to Kiel to report on the situation and get a renewal of his consent to send warships to Morocco.  On June 26 Kiderlen’s laconic telegram, “Ships granted,” indicated that he had secured the Kaiser’s approval.  Accordingly, the gunboat Panther, returning from southern Africa, was ordered to drop anchor at Agadir on July 1.(112)

On Saturday afternoon, July 1, as the Panther steamed into Agadir, Germany notified France and the other Powers that German business houses, alarmed at the fermentation among the natives caused by recent events, had asked for protection for their life and property in southern Morocco;  the German Government had therefore sent a warship to Agadir, which would withdraw as soon as affairs in Morocco had calmed down.(113)  It was true that German firms had petitioned the Foreign Office to protect their interests in southern Morocco,(114) but it is clear Kiderlen was using this merely as a pretext.  His real motive was to bring the French to the point of making a generous offer of Congo territory, and to emphasize to the Powers that the Algeciras Act had broken down.

On July 9, Cambon came again to see Kiderlen.  He was deeply depressed and disturbed at the Agadir action, of which Germany had given no preliminary notice, whereas France had given ample notification of her march to Fez.  The interview was long and difficult, and punctuated by silences.  Each wanted the other to make proposals.  Finally the words “Congo” and “Togo” were mentioned.  But neither speaker would commit himself further, each declaring that he must get further information and instructions.(115)  This delay and diplomatic fencing drew from the Kaiser the impatient comment :

After four weeks !  This is a cursed comedy !  Nothing accomplished !  What the devil is to be done now ?  This is a sheer farce, negotiating and negotiating and never getting any further !  While we are losing precious time, the British and the Russians are stiffening up the frightened French and dictating to them what they at the most can condescend to allow us.(116)

Kiderlen was now in a very difficult position.  When Cambon came to see him again on July 15, and spoke only of insignificant compensations, he decided to beat about the bush no longer.  He took a map, pointed to the French Congo, and said Germany ought to have the whole of it.  Cambon nearly fell over backward in astonishment.  He declared that no French Government could ever give up a whole colony, but that part of it might be surrendered, if Germany gave up Togo and some of the Cameroons.  From this interview Kiderlen received the impression that “to get a satisfactory result it would be necessary to take a very strong stand.”(117)  The whole matter was telegraphed to the Kaiser, who was still on his northern cruise.  He was most dissatisfied than ever, and also alarmed at Kiderlen’s attitude.  He ordered positively that no steps involving threats to France should be taken in his absence.  Realizing that it would be easier for the French Government to cede Congo territory to Germany, if Germany gave in exchange some small African territories of her own, he authorized Kiderlen to proceed with Cambon on this basis.(118)  At the same time Treutler, the Foreign Office Minister who accompanied the Kaiser, telegraphed to Kiderlen:  “As you know, it would be very difficult to get His Majesty’s consent to steps which he assumes might lead to war.”(119)  Kiderlen was now ready to resign, because of the Kaiser’s attitude, and because he himself believed the way to make the French yield was to make them feel that their refusal might mean war.  But Bethmann persuaded him to stay in office and continue to negotiate on the basis indicated by the Kaiser.(120)

It was at this moment, when the Kiderlen-Cambon negotiations seemed to be making little progress, that England intervened.  Many weeks before the Panther went to Agadir, Sir Edward Grey had feared that Germany meant to seek her compensation in West Morocco and establish the naval base on the Atlantic coast.  To this England had been resolutely opposed for years;  it had been one of her main motives for supporting France in Morocco.  The Panther seemed to confirm Grey’s fears.  Therefore on July 4 he warned Germany that “a new situation has been created by the despatch of a German ship to Agadir;  future developments might affect British interests more directly than they had hitherto been affected;  and, therefore, we could not recognize any new arrangement which was come to without us.”(121)  Grey would have been less disturbed in his mind if he had known that Germany’s real objective was the Congo and not a naval base on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.  Kiderlen made a mistake in not reassuring him on this point.  But Kiderlen, Bethmann and the Kaiser had all been bent on carrying the discussion of compensations directly with France alone, and had intimated politely that intervention by others was not desired.(122)  They hoped to get more from France if others were not admitted to the discussion.  Grey waited for more than two weeks for Germany to make some reply to his statement of July 4 that England wanted to be consulted in regard to any Moroccan settlement;  but Germany remained silent.  Grey was ready to accept a Franco-German settlement based on an exchange of French Congo territory for German African possessions, provided the terms of the settlement were acceptable to the French, and provided the Germans abandoned all intentions of having a foothold on the Moroccan coast.  He had welcomed the suggestion of finding a solution in the French Congo.(123)  But when Kiderlen demanded the whole Congo, the French told Grey that the German demands were unacceptable, reminded him of England’s obligations under the Moroccan Agreement of 1904, and suggested that he take the initiative in calling another conference of the Powers to deal with the question.(124)

This hint that the Franco-German direct negotiations were likely to break down revived Grey’s fears that the Germans would stay at Agadir.  He therefore asked the German Ambassador to come to him, and told him informally that he understood that “there was danger that the negotiations would end without success, and then the question would come up:  What is Germany doing in Agadir and its hinterland?”  This was a question, he said, which involved English interests.  So long as there had been a prospect that France and Germany might reach a settlement by exchanging colonial territory in Central Africa, he had kept aside;  but as this now seemed unlikely, and as serious British interests were involved, he wished to suggest privately that it was time for England also to be heard—time for a discussion à trois—between France, Germany, and England.  Grey was wise in wishing to find out Germany’s real purpose and deal with it by the usual secret diplomatic methods without the noisy and embarrassing interference of the Press everywhere.  But Metternich had no instructions to tell him that Germany wanted compensations in the Congo and not a naval port at Agadir.  Grey therefore evidently came to the conclusion it was time to give Germany an unmistakable public warning, even though involving all the dangers of newspaper excitement and questions of “prestige.”  That very same evening without giving Metternich time to get new instructions from Berlin, Grey allowed Lloyd George to announce to the world that England demanded that she be consulted.  In this famous Mansion House speech of July 21, Lloyd George said :

But I am also bound to say this—that I believe it is essential in the highest interests, not merely of this country, but of the world, that Britain should at all hazards maintain her prestige amongst the Great Powers of the world.  Her potent influence has many a time been in the past, and may yet be in the future, invaluable to the cause of human liberty.  It has more than once in the past redeemed continental nations, who are sometimes too apt to forget that service, from overwhelming disaster, and even from national extinction.  I would make great sacrifices to preserve peace.  I conceive that nothing would justify a disturbance of international good-will except questions of the gravest national moment.  But if a situation were to be forced upon us in which peace could only be preserved by the surrender of the great and beneficent position Britain has won by centuries of heroism and achievement, by allowing Britain to be treated, where her interests were vitally affected, as if she were of no account in the Cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure.(125)

This speech caused an explosion of wrath in Germany, where it was interpreted as a threat, and where it was felt that England was interfering in Franco-German negotiations which were none of her business.  It made all the more effect that it was delivered, not by Grey himself, who was regarded as being unduly anti-German, but by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who had the reputation of being a man of peace and generally favorable to Germany.  When he spoke out in this way he was regarded as having been selected by the Government in order to make the warning all the more emphatic.  Both the Prime Minister and Sir Edward Grey had been consulted, and approved Lloyd George’s action.  Winston Churchill, the Home Secretary, was enthusiastic for it.(126)  But he makes plain that he knew it was playing dangerously with fire.  It greatly increased the already existing tension between England and Germany growing out of the naval competition.  It might indeed have easily led to war, had not the Kaiser and Bethmann been determined not to allow the Moroccan affair to cause a European conflict.  It did, however, produce two results which ultimately contributed to a peaceful solution of the Moroccan question.  It led Germany to inform England at once that she had no intention of establishing herself on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, which had been Grey’s great cause of alarm.  And it also caused Germany to moderate somewhat her demand on France.  After four months of protracted and difficult negotiations, Kinderlen and Cambon were able to sign the agreement of November 4, 1911.  By this Germany virtually acknowledged that the French might establish their desired protectorate over Morocco;  in return France ceded more than 100,000 square miles of the French Congo, giving the Germans two much-needed river outlets to the Congo for the export of their Cameroon products;  to give the appearance of an exchange of territories and make it easier for the French Government to justify the agreement to French public opinion, Germany ceded to France the “duck’s bill,” a small tract of valueless Cameroon territory east of Lake Chad.  That the agreement represented a tolerably equitable compromise is evidenced by the fact that it met bitter criticism and opposition from the nationalists and colonial enthusiasts in both countries.(127)

As between England and Germany, the Agadir Crisis not only increased the friction between the two governments at the time, but it seems to have deepened Grey’s suspicions of Germany’s warlike inclinations.  This is evident from his observations on the subject in his memoirs,(128) where he implies (quite contrary to facts) that “the Agadir Crisis was intended to end either in the diplomatic humiliation of France or in war;”  and adds:  “The militarists in Germany were bitterly disappointed over Agadir, and when the next crisis came we found them with the reins in their hands.”(129)  His feeling at the time was significantly expressed in his statement to the Russian Ambassador in London:  “In the event of a war between Germany and France, England would have to participate.  If this war should involve Russia [the Ambassador had just assured him that it would], Austria would be dragged in too, for, although she has not the slightest desire to interfere in this matter, she will be compelled by force of circumstances to do so.  There is no doubt that in such an event the situation in Albania will become aggravated.  Consequently, it would no longer be a duel between France and Germany—it would be a general war.”(130)  Grey added, however, that he did not believe Emperor William wanted war.  Two weeks earlier the Russian Ambassador had reported:  “There is no use concealing the fact-one step further, and a war between England and Germany would have broken out as a result of the Franco-German dispute, although independent of it.”

Between England and France the Agadir Crisis, like the Morocco Crisis of 1905, led to a tightening of the bonds between the two.  France was grateful for Lloyd George’s speech, and for the indications that England would not only give her the diplomatic support promised in the agreement of 1904, but also the military support contemplated in the military and naval “conversations” which had been going on between the two countries since 1906.  On July 20, after Kiderlen’s demand for the whole Congo and the day before Lloyd George’s Mansion House speech, there took place at the French Ministry of War a Conference between General Wilson, the Head of the Department for Military Operations of the English General Staff, and General Dubail, the French Chief of Staff.  It was “to determine the new conditions for the participation of an English army in the operations of the French armies in the North-East in case of a war with Germany.”(131)  The protocol of the Conference took care, as usual, to state that these “conversations, devoid of all official character, cannot bind either Government in any way,” and aimed merely “to foresee the indispensable preparatory measures.”  But six weeks later, General Dubail stated to the Russians, as if there were no doubt in the matter, that the French army was ready to take the offensive against Germany “with the aid of the English army on its left wing.”(132)

Russia, having just established more friendly relation with Germany as a result of the Potsdam agreements, did not wish to endanger these by too active a support of France in the Agadir affair.  At the beginning, when requested by her ally to make representations at Berlin, Russia had done so in a perfunctory way, but without exerting any real pressure.(133)  Later during the long Franco-German negotiations for a Congo-Cameroon exchange of territories, Izvolski himself says he worked “with all his strength” to moderate the French and urged them to yield to many of the German demands.(134)  This is confirmed by Caillaux,(135) and by the French Ambassador in Russia, M. Georges Louis, who reported that Russia would honor her signature on the alliance, but that Russian public opinion would hardly understand a Franco-Russian war occasioned by a colonial question like Morocco.  And when M. Louis pointed out to the Tsar that Morocco was as much of a vital interest to France, as the Caucasus and the control of the Black Sea to Russia, Nicholas II replied:  “Keep in view the avoidance of a conflict.  You know our preparations are not complete.”(136) Russia did not at this time want to be drawn into a war over Morocco any more than France had wished hitherto to be drawn in over Balkan questions.  Russia needed to build up her army and navy much further before risking a European War.  But the very fact of this lukewarm support by Russia of French colonial interests, and by France of Russia’s Balkan ambitions, became an added spur to Izvolski to tighten up the Franco-Russian Alliance after 1911.  And in this he was soon aided by M. Poincaré, who became Minister of Foreign Affairs in France early in 1912.

Another effect of the Agadir Crisis and the consequent strengthening of the French grip on Morocco and the Western Mediterranean was Italy’s decision that the time had come for her to seize Tripoli.  This so weakened Turkey that Serbia and Bulgaria, hastened to take steps toward the formation of a Balkan League, with Russia’s assistance, which led to the Balkan Wars.  These in turn further embittered the relations between Serbia and Austria, and so contributed to one of the main causes of the World War.


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1. Bernadotte E. Schmitt, “Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, 1902-1914” in Amer. Hist. Rev., XXIX, 449-473 (April, 1924);  G.P. Gooch, History of Modern Europe, 1878-1918 (New York, 1923), chs. xi-xvi;  E. Brandenburg, Von Bismarck sum Weltkriege (Berlin, 1924), chs. xi-xvii, of which the second edition (1926) is now available in an English translation;  G.L. Dickinson, The International Anarchy, 1904-1914, (London, 1926);  and many others. Professor C.R. Beasley also is said to be Preparing a considerable work on the diplomatic situation preceding the War.

2. Cf. G.P., XVII, 371-517;  XXV, 177-280;  and the excellent account in E.M. Earle, Turkey, the Great Powers, and the Bagdad Railway (New York, 1923), chs. iv-viii, with bibliographical notes. These are now supplemented to some extent by the British Documents, II, 174-196.

3. G.P., XXV, 195;  Earle, p. 147 ff.

4. G.P., XXV, 231. Russian influence was also suspected of causing England’s change of attitude from one of favor to one of opposition;  G.P., XVII, 443.

5. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons (1903), CXX, 1247-8, 1358, 1361, 1354-7, 1371-4;  CXXI, 271 f.;  G.P., XVII, 431 ff.;  Earle, p. 176 ff.

6. G.P., XXII, 329-400;  Earle, p. 95 f. They finally gave their consent in September, 1906, to become effective in July, 1907, but attached numerous conditions which made it difficult to divert any of the in creased revenue to the payment of railway guarantees. One condition was that three-fourths of the increased revenue must go to Macedonian reform.

7. 7 G.P., XX, 356, 395f., 431;  XXV, 180f., 194 ff.;  Earls, p. 169 ff.

8. G.P., XXV, 226.

9. G.P., XXV, 240 ff.

10. G.P., XXV, 103-175.

11. G.P., XXV, 261 ff.;  Haldane, Before the War, p. 48ff.

12. Note of a private conversation between Sir Edward Grey and Mr. Haldane on Nov. 14, 1907, given by the latter to the Kaiser;  G.P., XXV, 263.

13. Cf. Bülow to Schoen, Nov. 14, 1907;  ibid, 261.

14. G.P., XXIV, 77, 88;  XXV, 264 ff.

15. On the Second Hague Conference, see G.P., XXIII, 99-397, an the writings of A.P. Higgins, F.W. Holls, J.B. Scott, A.H. Fried, O Nippold, P. Zorn, L. Renault, and E. Lemonon. The Reichstag Investigating Committee is soon to publish an important work on Germany’s influence at the Second Hague Peace Conference.

16. Cf. Tirpitz, Der Aufbau der deutschen Weltmacht (Berlin, 1926), passim.

17. Fisher, Memories and Records, II 135.

18. Fisher, II. 65 f., 139 ff.

19. Fisher, Memories and Records, 11, 134.

20. On Anglo-German naval relations 1904-1908, see Fisher, I, ch. xii ;  II, chs. ix, x ;  Churchill, pp. 19-41;  Hurd and Castle, German Sea-Power (New York, 1913);  Schmitt, England and Germany, 1740-1914 (Princeton, 1916), 173-187, and, in more detail, from the German side, G.P., XIX. 351-380;  XXIII, 27-53;  XXIV, 3-210;  Tirpitz, Der Aufbau der deutschen Weltmacht, 1-162;  Bülow, Imperial Germany (Berlin, 1913);  Haller, Die Aera Bülow (Berlin, 1922);  Brandenburg, ch. xi;  Herzfeld, “Der deutsche Flottenbau and die englische Politik,” in Archiv f. Politik u. Geschichte, IV, 1926, 115-146, and Admiral Karl Galster, England, Deutsche Flotte, and Weltkrieg (Kiel, 1925).

21. The London Times, Dec. 22, 1905;  cf. also Spender, Zoife of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, II, 208, 327-332.

22. G.P. XXIII, 25-253 passim;  cf. also Campbell-Bannerman’s cordial and conciliatory article, “The Hague Conference and the Limitation of Armaments", in the first number of the London Nation, Mar.-2, 1907;  Campbell-Bannerman’s views, however, were severely criticized in the Paris Temps of March 4;  the French, at bottom, had no more sympathy with disarmament proposals than the Germans.

23. G.P., XXIII, 39 ff., 52.

24. G.P., XXIV, 99 ff.

25. G.P., XXV, 478. For other German intimations that any attempt to put pressure on Germany to limit her navy would be answered by declaration of war, see G.P., XXIV, 53, 103, 127.

26. G.P., XXIV, 104

27. G.P., XXIV, 63. On President Fallieres’s visit, the French Press, and Delcassé’s talks with Asquith, Grey, and Sir Charles Hardinge on his “private visit” to London a month later, see G.P., XXIV, pp. 57-78;  and Sidney Lee, King Edward VII, II, 584 ff.

28. Grey, I, 203. Viscount Grey prints Hardinge’s report on the Reval conversations (I, 202-209), and calls it (p. 196) “the real, full, authentic confidential record of what took place”;  but he indicates on p. 209 that sundry details concerning Macedonian reforms, Persia, and Crete are omitted.  For Hardinge’s complete report, see B.D., V, 232-246.  Cf. Izvolski’s account of the Reval meeting in his despatch to Benckendorff in London, June 18, 1908 (Siebert-Schreiner, p. 478), according to which Hardinge said:  “If Germany should continue to increase her naval armaments at the same accelerated pace, in six or seven years a most alarming and strained situation might arise in Europe.  For this reason we in the interest of peace and the preservation of the Balance of Power, desire that Russia shall be as strong as possible on land and on sea.”  Izvolski added, “Sir Charles reiterated this idea more than once, whereby he apparently wished to have it understood that he is expressing not his own personal opinion, but the decided political conviction of the London Cabinet.”  For German uneasiness as to the Reval meeting, see G.P., XXV, 441-494.

29. Fisher to Lord Esher, Sept. 8, 1908;  Fisher, Memories, p. 186f.

30. Kaiser to Bülow, Aug. 11-13, 1908;  G.P., XXIV, 124-129;  cf. also Hardinge’s report to Grey of Aug. 16, 1908, printed with other material on the Kronberg visit, in B.D., VI, 173-200.

31. G.P., XXV, 454.

32. G.P., XXV, p. 466.

33. G.P., XXVIII, 1-199, passim.

34. Bülow’s circular, June 25, 1908;  G.P., XXV, 474-479.

35. For the details, see the French Yellow Book, Affaires du Maroc, III-IV, 1906-1908;  and G.P., XXI, 601-689;  XXIV, 215-326.

36. 36 G.P., XXIV, 440 f.  On the Casablanca incident itself, cf. ibid., pp. 329-374.

37. Oct. 28, 1908;  G.P., XXIV, 454.

38. G.P., XXIV, 489.

39. G.P., XXVIII, 1-87, especially pp. 66, 74.

40. Bülow to the Kaiser, Dec. 29, 1908;  G.P., XXIV, 465.

41. Bülow to the Kaiser, Feb. 9, 1908;  G.P., XXIV, 488.

42. G.P., XXIV, 491-4.

43. Kaiser’s note, Feb. 11, 1909;  G.P., XXVIII, 87.

44. G.P., XXV, 103-121.

45. Feb. 20, 1907;  G.P., XXV, 122 ff.

46. G.P., XXV, 124-145.

47. There were, to be sure, some unimportant discussions arising from the conflicts between Hartwig and Richthofen, the overzealous representatives of Russia and Germany at Teheran;  G.P., XXV, 147-173.

48. G.P., XXVII, 735.

49. For the details, see below, ch. v.

50. Oct. 24, 1909;  see below, ch. v.

51. Despatches from Russia’s representatives at Constantinople and Belgrade, Feb. 2 and 4, 1910;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 285.

52. G.P., XXVII, 438 ff.

53. On this whole episode of an Austro-Russian “rapprochement", see Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 282-300. G.P., XXVII, 435-555.

54. See below, ch. v.

55. G.P., XXVI, 738 ff., 783 ff.

56. G.P., XXVI, 810 ff.

57. G.P., XXVII, 403 ff., 425;  Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 148, 152.

58. G.P., XXVI, 817-836.

59. G.P., XXVI, 849 f.

60. G.P., XXVI, 854.

61. Bethmann’s memorandum, Sept. 15, 1909;  G.P., XXVI, 852-855.

62. G.P., XXVII, 721-824.

63. Cf. Siebert-Schreiner, 49ff.;  Grey, I, 147-165;  W.M. Shuster, The Strangling of Persia (New York, 1912).

64. Protocol of the meeting of June 3, 1909;  G.P., XXVIII, 168-176.

65. Metternich to Bülow, June 2, 1909;  G.P., XXVIII, 167.

66. G.P., XXVIII, 168 f.

67. E. Jäckh, Kiderlen-Wächter, der Stactsmann und Mensch (2 vols., Berlin, 1925), passim. This delightful biography is largely made up of selections from Kiderlen’s letters to Hedwig Kypke.

68. E. Jäckh, I, 100 f.

69. Jäckh, II, 79-232.

70. Jäckh, II, 32.

71. Metternich to Bethmann, Mar. 17, 1912;  G.P., xxxi, 182 f.

72. Jäckh, II, 174.

73. On Izvolski and his critics in Russia from March, 1909, to Sept., 1910, see the despatches of Hintze and Pourtalès, in G.P., XXVI, 737 ff., 777 ff., 801 ff., 855 ff.;  XXVII, 521 ff;  and Sazonov, Fateful Years, ch. i.

74. Mühlberg, German Ambassador in Rome, to Bülow June 11, 1909;  G.P., XXVI, 809.

75. Pourtalès to Bethmann, Aug. 23, 1910;  ibid., 867.

76. May 8, 1909;  G.P., XXVI, 786 f.

77. G.P., XXVI, 788 note.

78. For a few of Pourtalès’s more important accounts of the Russian Press and Sazonov’s relations with it, see G.P., XXVII, 844 f., 851 ff., 885, 890 ff., 924 ff.;  XXXVIII, 226, 253 ff., 269, 293 ff., 300f.;  XXXIX, 540-589, passim. Cf. also Journal Intime de Alexis Souvorine, Paris, 1927.

79. Izvolski to Neratov, Nov. 23, 1911;  M.F.R., p. 138;  Stieve, I. 181. For a detailed statement of the “reptile funds” distributed to Russian newspapers in 1914, with names and amounts, totalling nearly a million rubles, see I.I. Tobolin, “Reptilnyi Fond, 1914-1916", in Krasnyi Arkhiv, X, 332-338 (1925).

80. Cf. especially G.P., XXV, 442 ff., and the index references, ibid., p. 701;  also XXVII, 440, 447 ff., 501 ff.

81. Kiderlen’s memorandum, Oct. 30, 1910. G.P., XXVII, 832-834. Also Bethmann’s private letter to Aehrenthal of Nov. 14, in which the German Chancellor frankly informed Aehrenthal of the Potsdam conversations, and especially of the fact that he had felt able to assure Sazonov “that Austria-Hungary is not contemplating any kind of expansion policy in the Balkans", and that Germany had never bound herself to support any such Austrian plans (ibid., 850).

82. Bethmann to Kaiser Nov. 1, 1910;  G.P., XXVII, 835-837.

83. Bethmann to Pourtalès, Nov. 8, 1910;  G.P., XXVII, 840ff.;  Savonov’s report to the Tsar, Nov. 4/17, 1910;  Krasnyi Arkhiv, III, 5-8;  L.N., II, 331-334.

84. G.P., XXVII, 846 ff.

85. G.P., XXVII, 844 f., 851 ff.

86. G.P., XXVII, 849, 855.  One may note an interesting difference between Bethmann, the sincere seeker for a business-like agreement on economic questions like commerce in Persia and the Bagdad Railway, and Kiderlen, the more subtle politician concerned in the play of the system of alliances.  To Bethmann, “the only essential things in the Potsdam conversations are the Persian and the Bagdad Railway questions” (ibid., 842), But for Kiderlen, “the assurance of Russia concerning her relation to England is for me the alpha and omega of the whole agreement” (ibid., 862).

87. G.P., XXVII, 879 ff.

88. G.P., XXVII, 888 ff.;  XXIX, 61 f.

89. Buchanan, My Mission to Russia, I, 93;  cf. Sazonov, Fateful Years. ch. ii.

90. G.P., XXVII, 875-883.

91. Krasnyi Arkhiv, III (1923), 10-13;  G.P., XXVII, 957 f.;  for the negotiations, ibid, 905-963;  Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 501-576;  the Izvolski-Sazonov correspondence, passim, in M.F.R., L.N., and Stieve;  and Earle, ch. x.

92. Cf. G.P., XXVII, 855, 887 ff.;  XXIX, 61 ff.;  Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 527ff.;  Earle, p. 241ff.;  Sazonov, p. 34 f.;  and Stieve and Montgelas, Russland und der Weltkonflikt, p. 39f.

93. On the Bagdad Railway negotiations between 1911 and 1914, see G.P., XXXI, 71-377;  XXXVII, 141-470;  Earle, pp. 244-274.

94. On Moroccan affairs after 1909 see French Yellow Book, Affaires du Maroc, V, VI;  the German White Book of 1910, Denkschrift und Aktenstücke über deutsche Bergwerksinteressen in Marokko;  G.P., XXIX, 1-70;  P. Albin, Le Coup d’Agadir (Paris, 1912);  A. Tardieu, Le Mystere d’Agadir (Paris, 1912);  J. Caillaux, Agadir, Ma Politique Extérieure (Paris, 1919).

95. Affaires du Maroc, VI, 179f., 185, 189 ff;  Caillaux, Agadir, 257 ff.;  G.P., XXIX, 78 ff.

96. Kiderlen’s note of April 28;  G.P., XXIX, 97 f.;  Affaires du Maroc, VI, 247f. The English at first had somewhat the same feeling;  Sir Arthur Nicolson, said the Russian Ambassador in London, “did not conceal from me the fact that the Morocco question is disquieting the London Cabinet.... The experience of all European States, beginning with England, shows that it is easier to occupy a city than to withdraw again” (Benckendorff to Neratov. May 9, 1911;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 581).

97. Kaiser to Bethmann, April 22;  XXIX, 89.

98. G.P., XXIX, p. 169 f.

99. Izvolski to Neratov, May 24, 1911;  L.N., I, 107.

100. Caillaux, Agadir, p. 29.

101. Schoen to Bethmann, March 4, 1911;  G.P., XXIX, 74 note.

102. "In some of the German papers, Delcassé is regarded as the true originator of French Moroccan policy” (Russian Charge d’Affaires at Berlin to Sazonov, April 28, 1911;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 580).

103. Izvolski to Sazonov, March 3 and 14, 1911;  M.F.R., pp. 41, 43;  L.N., I, 45, 48;  Stieve I, 38, 41.

104. G.P. XXIX, 101-108.

105. Bethmann’s memorandum, May 23;  ibid, p. 120f. Sir Edward Grey, however, reminded the German Ambassador on May 22, that in Moroccan questions England was bound by her agreement of 1904 to support France (ibid, p. 119;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 583).

106. Izvolski to Sazonov, May 11, 1911;  M.F.R., p. 88;  L.N., I, 104;  Stieve, I, 98 f.

107. G.P., XXIX, 140 ff.;  Affaires du Maroc, VI, 332 ff.

108. G.P., XXIX, 124, 177 note;  Affaires du Maroc, VI, 349f.

109. G.P., XXIX, 149 ff.

110. Zimmermann’s memorandum, June 12, and Kiderlen’s comments;  ibid., 142 ff., 177 ff., 184 ff.;  also Jäckh, II, 123 ff.

111. Affaires du Maroc, VI, 372 ff.;  G.P., XXIX, 142 note.

112. G.P., XXIX, 152 f.

113. G.P., XXIX, 153 ff.

114. G.P., XXIX, 153 note.

115. Affaires du Maroc, VI, 403 f.;  Caillaux, 278 ff ;  G.P., XXIX, 173 ff.;  Jäckh. II, 123 ff.

116. G.P., XXIX, 177 f.

117. G.P., XXIX, 184 ff.

118. Treutler to Bethmann, July 17;  G.P., XXIX, 187 f.

119. G.P., XXIX, 188.

120. G.P., XXIX, 189 ff. ;  Jäckh, II, 128-134.

121. GP., XXIX, 167;  Grey, I, 214.  On the same day Grey told Paul Cambon that the Moroccan question ought to be discussed à quatre--by France, Spain, Germany, and England (Affaires du Maroc, VI, 392ff.)

122. G.P., XXIX, 155 ff.

123. Grey, I, 223 f.

124. De Selves to Paul Cambon, July 20;  Affaires du Maroc, VI, 418 f.

125. Grey, I, 216.

126. Asquith, Genesis of the War, p. 148;  Churchill, I, 46 ff. Grey (I, 217) says he did not instigate it, but welcomed it.

127. On these later negotiations and the Moroccan Convention of November 4, 1911, see G.P., XXIX, 293-454;  Affaires du Maroc, VI. 423-635;  and D.D.F., 3me Série, I, passim, especially No. 160.

128. Grey, 1, 210-239.

129. Grey, I, 231, 233.

130. Benckendorff to Neratov, August 16, 1911;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 598.

131. French General Staff History, Les Armées Françaises dans la Grande Guerre (Paris, 1925), I, 49.

132. Protocol of the Franco-Russian Military Conference of August 31, 1911;  M.F.R., p. 698;  L.N., II, 421.

133. G.P., XXIX, 112, 117, 158f., 168 ff.

134. Izvolski to Neratov, Sept. 14, 1911;  M.F.R., p. 114;  L.N., I, 132 f;  Stieve, I, 146.

135. Caillaux, Agadir, p. 142 ff.

136. Louis to De Selves, Sept. 7, 1911;  Judet, Georges Louis, 156 f;  cf., however, Poincaré, I, 294 ff.