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traordinary insight into the character of men, who
knew to a nicety the art of handling them, and had
wide and varied experience. English policy did not
so much aim at directly opposing the interests of Ger-
many as at gradually checkmating her by shifting the
Balance of Power in Europe. By a series of enten-
tes, for the sake of which considerable British in-
terests were several times sacrificed, she sought to at-
tach to herself the other states of Europe, and so to
isolate Germany. It was the period of the so-called
English policy of isolation. With Spain she con-
cluded a treaty with reference to the Mediterranean.
France, of eourse, was well disposed towards the op-
ponent of the German Empire, and the Franco-Brit-
ish treaty about Egypt and Morocco in the year 1904

The English Policy of Isolation 6i

drove the memory of Fashoda into the background.

Russia also drew near to England, for owing to the
after-effects of the heavy losses by land and at sea
that she had sustained in her war with Japan, and
also because of serious disturbances at home, she had
decided to come to an arrangement with England
about their respective spheres of interest in Asia. It-
aly was eagerly wooed. Similar attempts with regard
to Austro-Hungary, on the occasion of the meeting
of the monarchs at Ischl, failed, thanks to the un-
swerving loyalty to his ally of the old Emperor, Franz

In Algeciras, although Germany defended her own
national interests as part and parcel of the general,
international interests, we had a hard fight against
the French demands which had England's support.

At that time the policy of isolation to all appear-
ances succeeded with regard to the grouping of the
Powers; and yet the aims of German policy in re-
spect of Morocco were practically fulfilled by the
very fact that the conference was called, and by the
more important decisions it made. The question was,
how the system of ententes would work in the sphere
of purely European politics.

62 Imperial Germany


The final annexation by Austro-Hungary of the
Provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina which, in ac-
cordance with the decisions of the Berlin Congress,
Austria had occupied since 1878, led to a great Euro-
pean crisis. Russia opposed these proceedings on
the part of Austria. Believing that an armed settle-
ment of the old Austro-Russian rivalry in the Bal-
kans was at hand, Servia, whose plans for aggran-
disement would be thwarted, thought herself entitled
to take up arms against the Danube Monarchy.
England sided with Russia, and the language of the
English Press was almost more impassioned than
the utterances of the Russians. The antagonistic
policy of England seemed aimed less against Austria
than against Germany, Austria's ally. For the first
time the Austro-German alliance was to prove its dur-
ability and strength in a grievous conflict.

In my speeches in the Reichstag I made it quite
clear that Germany was resolved to preserve her alli-
ance with Austria at any cost. The German sword
had been thrown into the scale of European decision,
directly in support of our Austro-Hungarian ally,
indirectly for the preservation of European peace,

The Bosnian Crisis 63

and above all for the sake of German credit and the
maintenance of our position in the world. It would
now be made manifest whether Germany really had
been checkmated by the policy of isolation, and
w^hether the Powers that had been drawn into the circle
of Anti-German policy would find it consistent with
their vital interests in Europe to take up a hostile at-
titude towards the German Empire and its allies.
The course of the Bosnian crisis, in point of fact,
made an end of the policy of isolation. No power
was wilKng to subordinate Its o^vn European interests
to the international interests of foreigners, or to sac-
rifice itself for others. The group of Powers whose
influence had been so much overestimated at Alge-
ciras, fell to pieces when faced with the tough prob-
lems of Continental policy. Italy sided with her al-
lies, France awaited events and assumed an attitude
not unfriendly to Germany, and the Emperor Nicho-
las gave the world a new proof of his wisdom and his
love of peace by deciding on a friendly settlement of
the existing difficulties. The Ingenious isolation of
Germany, for some time the terror of timid souls,
proved to be a diplomatic illusion devoid of political
actuality. The fundamental error in the calculations
had been this, that they had not set down at Its full

64 Imperial Germany

value as a factor in the situation the importance of
the German Empire as a Great Power of Europe.
It was certain that if anyone succeeded in dealing our
position in Europe a keen blow, our international pol-
icy would sustain a mortal wound. In that, which
was one of the premises on which the policy of isola-
tion was based, calculations were correct. But we
are not so easy to wound in our Continental position.
The Triple Alliance is a force against which no
country would let itself be thrust forward for the
sake of remote interests, even if very clever diplo-
macy were employed in the attempt. It is a force
with which no Power would dare to wage war except
as a last resort in a vital question. Last, but not
least, the Continental Powers are bound by many ties
of common interest which cannot be subordinated to
the rivalry of Germany and England at sea and in
commerce. With regard to international politics,
England is the only country with which Germany
has an account. As far as all the other European
Powers are concerned, the contra-account of Conti-
nental politics is the decisive factor in the attitude
they assume towards Germany.

This was the great lesson of the Bosnian crisis,

The Bosnian Crisis 65

that our international policy, when all is said and
done, is based on our Continental policy. The former
brought us into conflict with England. The policy
of isolation, which seemed likely to endanger our
safety, was directed against the international trade
and the sea power of Germany. By means of our
strength as a Continental Power, w^e tore the web
which encompassed us. The result was that a tide of
sober reflection set in on the other side of the Chan-
nel, and this was the necessary forerunner of a period
in which a calm exchange of ideas and a sensible ad-
justment of interests took place between the two na-

In the winter of 1909, immediately after the Bos-
nian crisis had taken a decisive turn, King Edward
VII. paid a visit to the German Emperor and Em-
press in Berlin. This visit passed off in a satisfac-
tory manner, and the king had a hearty reception.
He, for his part, succeeded in emphasising the favour-
able impression made by his visit, by repeatedly giv-
ing expression to his sincere love of peace and his
warm friendship, sentiments which found corrobora-
tion soon after in the Speech from the Throne and
the Debate on the Address in the English Parliament.

66 Imperial Germany

This last visit of King Edward VII. aroused good
hope for the future and shed a pleasant light, not
onty on the personal relations of the King with Ger-
manj^ but also on those between two great nations
who have every reason to respect one another, and to
vie with each other amicably in the work of peace.
Reactions might, of course, set in. In point of fact
they did. Indeed, the reaction in the summer of 1911
was somewhat violent. But the attempt to extend
the opposition between England and Germany into
a system of combined international policy, will hardly
be repeated, and, if it should be, it will once more be
foiled by the hard facts of Continental politics, of
which the very hardest is the Triple Alliance.


European history has seldom, if ever, seen an alli-
ance of such strength and durability as the Triple
Alliance. In the year 1879 Bismarck concluded the
aUiance with Austro- Hungary ; in 1883 Italy joined
it. For thirty years now the treaties of alliance have
been regularly renewed, and there has never been any
ground for the hopes of its ill-wishers and the fears
of its well-wishers with regard to the durability of
the Triple Alliance. In so far as a term of party pol-

The Triple Alliance 67

itics can be applied to international politics, which,
of course, differ completely in aim, cause, and effect,
one may characterise the Triple Alliance as one with
emj)hatically conservative tendencies. Herein, prob-
ably, the chief cause of its strength must be sought.
It was neither desire of conquest nor unsatisfied am-
bition that brought the States of the Triple AlHance
together, and keeps them united. The three mid-
European States are bound to each other by the firm
resolve to maintain the existing balance of power in
Europe, and should a forcible change be attempted,
to prevent it if need be by force. The united strength
of Middle Europe stands in the path of any revolu-
tion — any European policy which might elect to fol-
low the courses pursued by Louis XIV. or Napoleon
I. This alliance is like a mighty fortification divid-
ing the Continent in two. The wish to maintain ex-
isting conditions implies, as far as international poli-
tics is concerned, a desire for peace. The founders
of the Triple AUiance intentionally created a guaran-
tee of peace. They have not been disappointed in
their hopes, for the steadfastness of the Triple Alli-
ance has more than once in the course of the last
thirty years warded off the rising danger of war.

68 Imperial Germany


The attitude of Italy towards the Triple Alliance
has undergone many a change in the course of thirty
years; these changes in Italy were due partly to in-
ternal political events, partly to the peculiar develop-
ment of certain Mediterranean questions. But our
opponents did not succeed in severing Italy's connec-
tion with the Triple Alliance, although at times they
made pertinacious and eager attempts to do so.

The relations between Italy and Austria are nat-
urally more complex than the terms on which we
stand with Italy. The memory of the passionate
struggle lasting for half a century, which the Italian
people carried on against the Austrian dominion in
Italy, has not yet faded. Such recollections are kept
fresh in the mind of the nation by monuments, in-
scriptions, a voluminous literature, and the fieiy pa-
triotism of the Italians. Moreover, the fact that
nearly a million Italians belong to the INIonarchy of
the Habsburgs has repeatedly, and at times injuri-
ously, influenced Austro-Italian relations. That will
always remain a sore point. Many an Italian re-
gards his kindred in Austria with a passion that is
very far removed from the calm which our great

Italy 69

statesman recommended to us in respect of our kin-
dred in foreign lands and especially in Austro-Him-
gary. Italians and Austrians should both remember
the truth of the statement which a distinguished Ital-
ian statesman, the Ambassador Count Nigra, once
expressed to me in the following words: "Austria
and Italy can only be either allies or enemies." The
interests of both countries, if rightly understood, re-
quire them to remain allies. Italy and Germany are
so obviously interdependent that they are always
bound to unite. This interdependence is due to many
and weighty considerations ; the absence of all rivalry
between the nations, and — since the memory of the
struggle in the Tentoburger Wald and of the Battle
of Legnano has grown faint with time — the absence
of any disturbing reminiscence, the similarity of their
historical development, and the common dangers
which might threaten them in like manner.

Our relations with Italy are, contrary to the ac-
cepted view of the character of the two nations, re-
garded by us from the sentimental, and by the Ital-
ians from the common-sense, point of view. We are
apt at times to deprecate these relations unduly, and
at times to value them too liighly from an excess of
sentimentality. Neither at Algeciras, nor on ac-

70 Imperial Germany

count of her Tripoli expedition, nor shortly before,
at the interview at Racconigi, did Italy ever contem-
plate severing her connection with us. A host of
legends has arisen around the attitude that Italy
adopted at the Conference of Algeciras. It has been
asserted that at Algeciras Italy left us in the lurch,
or even that she played a double game with us, and
this idea gave rise amongst us for a time to a totally
unfounded mistrust of Italy's loyalty to the alliance.
The fact is, that on a few minor questions Italy voted
with the Western Powers and against us. These
votes were cleverly taken up by the French Press,
and were presented to the world as an indication that
Italy would renounce the Triple AlHance and enter
into friendly relations with France. In other and
more important questions, Italy supported our point
of view at Algeciras, and furthered our wishes. Our
representative at Algeciras, Herr von Radowitz,
always recognised this, and repeatedly did battle
against what he was convinced were unjust attacks
upon Italy's attitude at the conference. It was in
pursuance of his wish that in the Reichstag in No-
vember, 1906, I combated the reproaches that were
cast upon Italy. Later, too, Herr von Radowitz ex-
pressed his opinion of the Italian delegates, to the

Italy 71

following effect: that perhaps so far as appearances
went they had been too anxious to place Franco-Ital-
ian relations in the most favourable light possible, but
that in actual fact they had rendered us good service.
The contrary opinion has just as little foundation as
the widespread belief in Russia, that at the Berlin Con-
gress Bismarck cheated and betrayed the Russians,

The Tripoli expedition gave the Italian nation
opportunity for showing in a brilliant manner their
patriotic solidarity and moral unity; but a section of
our Press, especially at the beginning, judged it
wrongly. Italy most certainly has interests that lie
outside the sphere of the Triple Alliance. We our-
selves have interests beyond the scope of Triple Alli-
ance policy, and Austria does not lack them either.
Prince Bismarck sharply emphasised this fact at
times. The Triple Alliance would not have remained
intact so long if it had demanded from the allied
Powers absolute community in all their enterprises
and in all the courses of their pohcy.

A well-known phrase, ''cum grano salisf and, by
way of comparison, a fact of the internal political
constitution of our State, may again be mentioned to
characterise the Triple Alliance. Just as the Ger-
man Empire gains in security and stability because

72 Imperial Germany

its constitution, while requiring absolute obedience in
all great national and political questions, leaves the
single States free to deal with their own narrower
problems, so the Triple Alliance unites the three
Great Powers of Middle Europe on the great aim of
Continental politics for which the Alliance was
founded, but leaves them absolute freedom in the
pursuit of their particular national interests. The
existence of Italy, Austria, and Germany is rooted
in European politics, and their roots are many and
firmly intertwined. But the branches of the trees
must be able to spread freely in every direction. The
Triple Alliance must not and cannot act as the shears
which check free growth without cogent reason.

There are politicians who refuse to estimate at its
true value Italy's participation in the Triple Alli-
ance. Their hesitation arises from a doubt as to
whether Italy would be able and willing to go hand
in hand with Austria and us in every possible compli-
cation of international politics. Even if these fears
were justified, which is clearly not the case in view of
the loyalty of the authorities in Italy, and of the po-
htical wisdom of the Italian nation, this would not
be an argument against the value of Italy's partici-
pation in the Triple Alliance. Supposing Italy

Italy 73

were not able in every conceivable circumstance to
go to all lengths with Austria and us, and if we and
Austria likewise were not able to support Italy in all
complications of international politics, even then each
one of the three Powers would, by virtue of the ex-
isting alliance, be prevented from assisting the en-
emy. That is what Prince Bismarck meant when he
once remarked that it was sufficient for him that an
Italian corporal with the Italian flag and a drummer
beside him should array themselves against the West,
i. e. France, and not against the East, i. e. Austria.

In the event of a dispute in Europe everything
else depends on how the question is put, with what
military force we are prepared to defend our view,
and with what success our military and diplomatic ef-
forts are crowned. The full and true value of an al-
liance can only be tested in a grave crisis. In times
of peace the Triple Alliance is held together by such
solid, almost indestructible interests in the sphere of
Continental politics, that momentary and transitory
disturbances in international matters cannot injure
it seriously.

The Triple Alliance as a guarantee of peace has
proved its worth for thirty years, and this justifies
our hopes.

74 Imperial Germany


The Bosnian question and the Tripoli affair, in
which Austria and Italy were ranged against Tur-
key, who is on friendly terms with us, were not able
to weaken the Triple Alliance. We have carefully
cultivated good relations with Turkey and Islam,
especially since the journey to the East undertaken
by our Emperor and Empress. These relations are
not of a sentimental nature, for the continued exist-
ence of Turkey serves our interest from the indus-
trial, military, and political points of view. Indus-
trially and financially, Turkey offered us a rich and
fertile field of activitj'-, to which Rodbertus and Fried-
rich List had already drawn attention, and which we
have cultivated with much profit. In the undesired
but possible event of a general European war, the
military strength of Turkey might have been exerted
in our favour. For our Austrian ally, Turkey was
the most convenient neighbour possible. The intro-
duction of our last Army Bill which had its origin in
the change of situation effected by the Balkan War,
shows that Turkey's collapse was a blow to us. I
never had any illusions about the limits of Turkish
ability to act with effect. For that very reason I

Russia 75

strove, for many years successfully, to prevent any
serious conflict in the Near East. In 1897, dur-
ing the Cretan affair, in 1908-09, during the crisis
caused by the annexation of Bosnia, and in all phases
of the Macedonian question, there was great danger
that serious trouble in the Balkan Peninsula would
have more unfavourable than favourable results for
us, as well as for Austro-Hungary, and would not
make the European situation any easier for us to deal
with. For many a year Turkey was a useful and im-
portant link in the chain of our political relations.

For the present our position in the Triple Alliance
will remain the chief feature of our Foreign policy.
The Triple Alliance has gained in value for us, partly
because, owing to our growing share in international
politics, and to the increase of our Navy, friction be-
tween England and Germany has considerably in-
creased, and partly because of the change in the inter-
national situation brought about by the conclusion of
the Franco-Russian Alliance.


Friendly relations with the Empire of the Tsars
was a legacy bequeathed to the new German Empire
by Prussia. Russia and Prussia have hardly ever

^6 Imperial Germany

been antagonists, if we except the time of the Em-
press EHzabeth's hatred of Frederick the Great, a
hatred based on personal rather than material
grounds, and of the mock war between Russia and
Prussia in 1812.

The difficult task of dividing Poland certainly gave
rise to some temporary friction, but it did not result
in any serious conflict of views. Indeed, the Polish
aiFair often brought Russia and Prussia Into closer
touch. The possibility of danger from Poland is a
warning to both these countries not to quarrel, but to
look on their common efforts to ward off attempts at
re-establishing the independence of Poland as a bridge
on which Russia and Prussia can continue to meet.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the
rf.lations between the ruling houses of Russia and
IVussIa were more Intimate than Is usual; and this
Intimacy found expression In the policy of the two
countries. In the dark times of the Crimean War
Prussia's friendly attitude considerably eased Rus-
'"'s position; and a counterpart to this Is found In the
Mitude which the Emperor Alexander II. adopted
during the Franco-German War. Not long after
the Peace of Frankfurt was signed. In September,
1872, the Emperors of Russia and Austria w^nt to

Russia 77

the capital of the new German Empire to visit the
venerable sovereign who had emerged victorious from
the great struggle. On this occasion they met on
friendly terms, and by that time Prince Bismarck had
created a new basis for European policy. The united
strength of the empires of Eastern Europe cooled the
French nation's ardour for revenge; indeed, this
union was an excellent guarantee of peace. Bis-
marck also expected that the closer connection of
Russia with the conservative tendencies of Germany
and Austria's Foreign policy would stem the tide of
Panslavism which at that time was rapidly rising in
Russia. As he expressed it: "Russia, the wild ele-
phant, was to walk between the two tame elephants,
Germany and Austria."

The Berlin Congress, 1878, occasioned a slight rift
in the hitherto unbroken concord of the Powers of
Eastern Europe. After the heavy losses of a long
and unexpectedly difficult campaign, Russia, who
had not cared to risk the occupation of Constantino-
ple, had to submit in Berlin to considerable modifica-
tions of the Peace of San Stefano. These alterations
in their essentials may be traced back to secret ar-
rangements made by the St. Petersburg Cabinet
with Austria before the war against Turkey, and with

78 Imperial Germany

England at the close of the armistice. The results
of the Berlin Congress were hardly satisfactory from
the point of view of the Russian people; and the
Russian Press, which in the last decade had greatly
strengthened its influence on public opinion, put all
the blame on Prince Bismarck, the chairman of the
Congress and its most distinguished member. The
Russian Imperial Chancellor, Prince Gortschakov,
whose personal relations with Prince Bismarck had
become gradually more and more unfriendly, not
only gave free rein to the Press, but discussed with a
French journalist the idea of a Franco-Russian Al-
liance, though this, of course, at the time, was nothing
more than an idea. When the Emperor Alexander
II. also seemed to be yielding to anti-German influ-
ences, Bismarck, in 1879, concluded the treaty of alli-
ance with Austro-Hungary, which became the basis
of the Triple Alliance. After the conclusion of this
alliance, the Times correspondent in Paris, M. de
Blowitz, a very versatile man, said to me: "That is
probably the best stroke of diplomacy that Bismarck
has yet achieved."

Nevertheless Prince Bismarck, with his accustomed
energy, set to work to place us once more on our old

Russia 79

footing with Russia. He succeeded in materially im-
proving Russo-German relations, and, what is more,
the meeting of the three Emperors at Skierniewice,
in 1884, led to a new rapprochement of the three
Empires. European peace was assured in an almost
ideal fashion by the Triple Alliance on the one hand
and the entente of the Powers of Eastern Europe on
the other. But from the very first a Hmit was set to
this ideal state of affairs by the many antagonistic
aims of Russian and Austrian policy in the east. It
was only a question of time that this antagonism
should become manifest, for it did not depend on the
goodwill or illwill of statesmen, but on the differences
in the very real political interests of the two Empires.
It was the Bulgarian question which again upset the
good relations between Austria and Russia. The
friendly understanding of the three Empires did not
survive the stormy summer of 1886. It is well-known
that Prince Bismarck himself declared that in the face
of the new situation he had done his best, while re-
maining loyal to the Triple Alliance, to preserve a
friendly understanding between Germany and Rus-

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