Bernhard Bülow.

Imperial Germany online

. (page 6 of 18)
Online LibraryBernhard BülowImperial Germany → online text (page 6 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

On March 31, 1905, His Majesty the Emperor, in
pursuance of my advice, landed at Tangier, where he
defended the independence and sovereignty of Mo-
rocco in unequivocal language. The demands of
Germany to be consulted about JNIoroccan affairs
were thus announced to the world. It was made
clear that Germany intended to adhere to the interna-
tional treaty of 1880, based on the acknowledgment
of the sovereignty of Morocco, and that she was not
inclined to recognise the new situation created with-
out her consent by the Anglo-French Moroccan
Treaty and the action of France in that country.
Our object was to substitute an international settle-
ment by the signatory Powers of the Treaty of Ma-
drid for the one-sided arrangement between England
and France. We also had to prevent an interna-
tional conference from simply giving its consent to
French policy in Morocco. Both ends were attained
by the fact that the Conference of Algeciras actually

The Morocco Question 99

took place, and by. the decisions it made. France
violently opposed the scheme of calling a conference.
For a time it seemed as if M. Delcasse would make
the question of peace or war depend on this point.
When the German government refused to yield,
France consented to the conference. M. Delcasse
resigned the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. He re-
tired, and we got our way because we stood firm. In
Algeciras our position was naturally a difficult one,
seeing that we were opposed to the Powers of the eu'
tente, and that the other Powers took little interest
in the Moroccan question. Nevertheless we suc-
ceeded in preserving the sovereignty of the Sultan
and in securing international control of the police
organisation and the Moroccan National Bank, thus
ensuring the open door in Morocco for German
economic interests as well as for those of all other
countries. We did not attain all we wished, but at
least all that was essential. We had foiled the at-
tempt to set us aside in the settlement of an affair
of great international importance. We should have
a voice in the further development of Moroccan af-
fairs, and we did not need to renounce our right to
this without adequate compensation. The decisions
of the Algeciras Conference bolted the door against

100 Imperial Germany

the attempts of France to compass the "Tunification"
of Morocco. They also provided a bell we could
ring at any time should France show any similar tend-
encies again. Very soon after the Algeciras Con-
ference the new state of affairs made itself felt in a
painful manner in France. The * 'nefarious Alge-
ciras document" was characterised as "European
tutelage forced upon France," or at best as an "hon-
ourable retreat." It has been said that after the
resignation of Delcasse we ought to have tried to
come to a direct understanding with France. It is a
question whether France was at all inclined to pay
us an acceptable price. Any way, it was not open to
us to pursue this course, if only on account of our
position with regard to Turkey and Islam. In No-
vember, 1898, the Emperor William II. had said in
Damascus: "The three hundred million Mahom-
medans who live scattered over the globe may be as-
sured of this, that the German Emperor will be their
friend at all times." In Tangier the Emperor had
declared emphatically in favour of the integrity of
INIorocco. We should have completely destroyed our
credit in the Mahommedan world, if so soon after
these declarations we had sold Morocco to the French.
Our Ambassador in Constantinople, Freiherr von

The Morocco Question loi

Marschall, said to me at the time: "If we sacrifice
Morocco in spite of Damascus and Tangier, we shall
at one fell swoop lose our position in Turkey, and
therefore all the advantages and prospects that we
have painfully acquired by the labour of many years."
The separate Franco-German Treaty of February
9, 1909, which was concluded with the distinguished
assistance of von Kiderlen-Wachter, later Secretary
of State diminished the likelihood of continual fric-
tion between the two countries. It secured France
a certain amount of political influence without making
annexation possible; but it retained the principle of
the open door, and it afforded German and French
commerce and industry equal rights in the State of
Morocco, which preserved its independence without
loss of territory. The arrangement promoted peace
in that it supplemented the Algeciras settlement in
such points as had proved in practice to require cor-
rection. The decisions of the Algeciras Conference
were explicitly confirmed by the treaty of 1909. The
German right to a voice in decisions touching the fate
of Morocco, this right which stood in the way of the
annexation of the country by France, was in no way
affected by the separate treaty. What we received
later in return for renouncing this right — whether it

102 Imperial Germany

be much or little, whether the piece of land in the
Congo that fell to our share be of great value or small
— was certainly obtained on the basis of the Algeciras
decisions, and thanks to our action in the year 1905.
We never had any intention of taking possession of
any part of Morocco; not because we were afraid of
France, but for our own sake. England and Spain,
besides France, would have opposed us there. On the
other hand, we could not hope to reconcile France
by exaggeratedly friendly advances in the Moroccan
question. However high the economic value that
France sets upon Morocco, however great the increase
of power which she expects from this addition to her
North African possessions, her Moroccan poHcy was
— especially at critical moments — rather a means to
an end than an end in itself. In certain French
circles the original object was to ignore Germany,
and thus, with the help of England, to make an effec-
tive attack on our position and credit in the world;
later on they thought they saw a chance, with the sup-
port of England, to come to a final settlement with
Germany under most favourable conditions. These
tendencies of French policy twice brought the Mo-
rocco question into the van of international politics
and endangered the peace of the world.

The Irreconcilability of France 103


When we consider our relations with France, we
must not forget that she is unappeased. So far as
man can tell, the ultimate aim of French policy for
many years to come will be to create the necessary
conditions, which to-day are still wanting, for a set-
tlement with Germany with good prospects of suc-
cess. If we soberly realise this truth, we shall be
able to adopt a proper attitude towards France. In-
dignant tirades against the incorrigibility of the
French are in very bad taste, as are futile attempts
to propitiate them. The German "Michel" has no
need again and again to approach the coy beauty with
flowers in his hand ; her gaze is riveted on the Vosges.
Only an acceptance of the irrevocability of the loss of
1871 can accustom France finally and without re-
striction to the state of affairs fixed in the Peace of
Frankfurt. It is just possible that the effect of con-
vulsively straining her mihtary resources to the utter-
most may, by reacting on the economic and social
conditions of France, hasten the return of pacific
feelings, and that once again the French proverb may
prove true, "Que Vexces du mal amene la guerison/*
The reintroduction of military service for a period

104 Imperial Germany

of three years betokens such a rise in the "armament
fever," that it may lead to the return of a normal
temperature. Should the three-year military service
entail an income tax, this would also probably have
a sobering effect.

Till such time France will be against us. Al-
though she is at great pains to remedy the military
disadvantage at which she stands in comparison with
our State, and which is due to her smaller population,
she no longer has the old-time confidence in her proper
strength. It is the aim of French policy, by means
of alliances and friendships, to restore the balance
between France and her German neighbour, or even,
if possible, to turn the scales in her own favour. To
this end France has had to renounce a part of her own
free initiative, and has become more dependent than
formerly on foreign Powers. The French, of course,
are very well aware of this. The fact that the hyper-
sensitive national pride of the French acquiesces in
this shows what is the predominant desire of the peo-
ple. It is hardly possible to imagine any international
situation which could induce France to change funda-
mentally the policy inspired by the memor}?- of 1870.

When, shortly after the Kriiger telegram, enthusi-
asm for the Boers ran high in "France, as in all Eu-

Fashoda 105

rope, an English ^Minister anxiously asked a French
dij)lomat whether France might not be tempted to side
with Germany. The Frenchman's answer ran as
follows: "You may rest assured that as long as
Alsace-Lorraine remains German, whatever else may
happen, the French nation will consider Germany its
permanent enemj^ and will regard any other Power
merely as an accidental opponent."


The course and the result of the quarrel about
Fashoda showed how little success or failure in the
wider world count in the estimation of France, when
compared with her loss of position in Europe.
France suffered an undeniable defeat in this quarrel
with England, and this was keenly felt. Fashoda
stood for the end of an old and proud dream of
French colonial pohcy, and made the French nation
feel the superiority of British power in a pitiless

For a moment public opinion in France was en-
raged and turned impetuously against England.
The bulk of those people who in politics cannot dis-
tinguish between the transitoiy and the permanent,
and mistake the noisy din of actuahty for the echo of

lo6 Imperial Germany

what is really significant, thought that a change had
come over French policy. The ill-feeling against
England was to drive France to the side of Germany,
the disappointment about their ill-success in the Su-
dan was to paralyse resentment at the loss of Alsace-
Lorraine, and new hope of requital for Fashoda was
to take the place of the old hope of revenge for Metz
and Sedan. It was impossible to misunderstand the
nature of French policy more thoroughly than by
imagining such a state of affairs. A nation that for
a whole generation has cherished one hope and one
ideal will not turn aside from its old course because
of a misadventure on a remote track. The hatred of
Germany could not be affected, let alone removed,
by ill-feeling against England. Even if the momen-
tary anger against England had been far more pas-
sionate and heartfelt than it actually was, it would,
nevertheless, not have been the beginning of perma-
nently hostile feelings, for the attitude of France to
England had been definitely established in French
policy before the trouble in the Sudan. France soon
discovered in English jealousy of Germany her nat-
ural ally against the victor of 1870, and pressed to
England's side. There was disappointment in Paris
because England would not, for the sake of French

The Triple Entente 107

friendship, sacrifice any of her interests in the Sudan
and on the Nile, but France was ready in any case,
though with clenched teeth, to pay this price, or even
a higher one, for England's friendship. The defeat in
the Fashoda affair was set down in the debit account
of the French policy of revenge, and finally resulted
in renewed hatred of Germany rather than in hostil-
ity towards England. Forty-eight hours after
France had yielded in the Fashoda affair, a French
ambassador, one of the best political intellects of
France, was asked by an Italian colleague what effect
this event would have on French relations with Eng-
land. The Frenchman repHed: "An excellent one!
Once the difference about the Sudan is settled noth-
ing stands in the way of a complete entente with Eng-


This entente really became an accomplished fact
not long after the Fashoda incident, and has persisted
through all the changes of international politics.
Owing to her alliance with France, and the comph-
cations in the East, Russia has often supported the
Anglo-French entente, so that we are justified in
speaking of a Triple entente as a counterpart to the
Triple Alliance.

108 Imperial Germany

The political leadership of this triple union has, at
decisive moments, mostly been in the hands of Eng-
land, and up till now England, like Russia, has re-
fused to serve the cause of French revenge. She has
been guided mainly by her own interests. English
leadership has sometimes made our life difficult, but
just as often it has had a soothing and sobering effect
on France, and has done excellent work for the pres-
ervation of peace in Europe.


England is certainly seriously disquieted by our
rising power at sea, and our competition which incom-
modes her at many points. Without doubt there are
still Englishmen who think that, on the principle ex-
pressed by Montaigne, "que le dommage de I'un est
le profit de I'autre," that if the troublesome German
would disappear from the face of the earth, England
would only gain by it. But between such sentiments
in England and the fundamental feeling in France,
there is a marked difference, which finds correspond-
ing expression in politics. France would attack us
if she thought she were strong enough; England
would only do so if she thought she could not defend
her vital economic and political interests against Ger-

Anglo-German Settlement 109

many except by force. The mainspring of English
policy towards us is national egoism; that of French
pohcy is national ideahsm. He who follows his in-
terest will, however, mostly remain calmer than he
who pursues an idea.


Doubtless the EngHsh merchant has at times been
irked by the competition abroad of his German col-
league; doubtless German and English economic in-
terests do clash here and there in the world. But in
the course of her great world-policy, England has
hardly found any Great Power bar her way less often
then the German Empire. This fact has not escaped
the English, in spite of their anxiety about the Ger-
man navy. Germany and England are probably the
only two great European Powers who have never
shed a drop of each other's blood. There has been
friction and tension between them, but never war.
Happily in England, too, the conviction is gaining
ground that England, by continually opposing Ger-
many and by overdoing the anti-German pohcy, only
injures herself. Finally, this greatest of commer-
cial nations knows very well what excellent customers
Germany and England are of each other, and how

110 Imperial Germany

grievously British industrial life would feel the loss
of German custom. If, on the one hand, there are
many opposing interests in Germany and England,
on the other they have very vital interests in common.
And, in truth, the danger to English supremacy at
sea in the new world and sea power belongs only to the
sphere of possibiHties — or rather of imagination — and
not to the realm of tangible realities.

The attitude of England to Germany is really not
comparable with that of France to us. France moves
in a circle round the thought of Alsace-Lorraine.
English policy is no doubt influenced by the wide-
spread uneasiness due to Germany's industrial ex-
pansion and growing sea power. But since the end
of the policy of isolation in the year 1908, England
no longer thinks of making her whole international
policy, or every detail of her relations with Germany,
dependent on her antagonism to us. Although, since
we first trod the path of international politics, we have
often found England opposed to us, yet now that
we have attained the necessary power of defence at
sea, our relations with England can be amicable and
friendly. Rightly recognising that peace and friend-
ship between Germany and England are beneficial
to both countries, and that enmity and strife are

Anglo-German Settlement ill

equally disadvantageous for both, the Emperor Wil-
liam II., since his accession to power, has worked
spontaneously and with never-failing zeal to restore
friendly relations between the two great Germanic
nations. There are many fields in which both have
parallel interests. Whenever co-operation from
which both parties derive advantage is possible, there
is no reason why they should not go side by side and
hand in hand. In proportion as the conviction
spreads here and in England, that the national inter-
ests of both countries profit most by concerted action,
the preliminary conditions for steadfast and honest
trust and friendship will at last gain ground. The fact
that the danger of an armed conflict between England
and Germany seemed very imminent in the summer of
1911, by no means indicates that the struggle is only
postponed and not terminated. It has often hap-
pened that diplomacy has come to the end of its peace-
ful resources and seemed obliged to leave further ex-
planations to armed force. But the very imminence
of this critical moment has often sufficed to give a
fresh impetus to negotiations which had come to a
standstill, and to bring about a peaceful solution —
a solution which smooths away the dangerous differ-
ences, not only for the time being, but permanently.

112 Imperial Germany

War clouds are inevitable in the political sky. But
the number of those that burst is far smaller than the
number of those that disappear. Clouds equally
heavy, if not heavier, threatened the peace between
England and France in the 'forties of the last cen-
tury, at the time of the July Monarchy, and also
during the Second Empire. War seemed inevitable
between England and Russia in 1885, when the Af-
ghan question reached a critical point. All these
threatening clouds melted away without burst-

Our relations with England require particularly
firm and steady handling. We desire amicable and
even friendly relations with England, but we are not
afraid of hostile ones. Official Germany and the
nation itself must model their behaviour accordingly.
A policy of running after England is as pointless as
a policy of offensiveness. The English people, po-
litically the maturest of the nations, would not be
turned aside from any course they had once recog-
nised as profitable by the warmest protestations of
friendship; and in friendly acts that were not ob-
viously inspired by interest they would see only a
confession of our weakness. On the other hand, a
proud and coiu-ageous nation like the English is not

Anglo-German Settlement 113

to be intimidated by threats, whether open or veiled.
We confront England to-day, supported as we are
by a navy which demands respect, in a very different
manner from fifteen years ago, when it was a ques-
tion of avoiding any conflict with England as long
as possible, till we had built our fleet. At that time
our foreign policy was, to a certain extent, regulated
by the question of armaments ; it had to be carried on
under abnormal conditions. To-day the normal
state of affairs is restored; our armaments are at the
service of our policy. The friendship as well as the
enmity of the German Empire, supported by a strong
navy, are naturally matters of very much greater im-
portance to England to-day than the friendship or
enmity of Germany in the 'nineties, when she was
unarmed at sea. The change in favour of Germany
of the proportionate strength of the two countries,
has relieved our foreign policy with regard to Eng-
land of a great burden. We need no longer take
such care to prevent England from injuring our
safety and wounding our dignity; with our own un-
aided strength we are able, as is meet for Germans,
to defend our dignity and our interests against Eng-
land at sea, as we have for centuries defended them
against the Continental Powers on land. We must

114 Imperial Germany

look very far back in German history to find a like
change in Germany's position in the world.


German policy, even before it had procured a
strong navy, was able to secure points of support
which promised well for our international interests
in the future. We developed and improved our old
colonial possessions. The serious rising of the
Hereros in South- West Africa was put down, thanks
to the endurance and courage of our troops, though
it was at great expense and at the cost of grievous
sacrifices. The names of the brave men who fouffht
and died in the African desert — I will only mention
Count Wolff -Werner von Arnim and Freiherr Burk-
hard von Erfi'a, who each went out as volunteers,
and met death heroically there — deserve to live in our
history, for they proved that our nation did not lose
its military virtues during a long period of peace.

The South- West African rising marked a crisis in
our colonial policy, but also a change for the better.
By reorganising the Colonial Administration, by
transforming the Colonial Department of the Foreign
Ministry into an independent Imperial Ministry,
and above all by arousing a lively comprehension

Successes of German World Policy 115

of our tasks and aims in the colonies, we succeeded,
at last, during the tenure of office of the Secretary
of State, Herr Dernburg, in getting our colonial
policy off the dead centre. It was just the same as
with the navy. With great trouble, and after a long
fight, we were at last lucky enough to convince all
civil parties of the commonalty of the usefulness and
necessity of a positive colonial policy, and to gain their
support for such. About the time when we began to
build our fleet, we established ourselves, in the au-
tumn of 1897, in Kiau Chau, and a few months later
we concluded the Shantung Treaty with China,
which was one of the most significant actions in mod-
ern German history, and which secured for us a
"place in the sun" in the Far East, on the shores of the
Pacific Ocean, which have a great future before them.
Up to the end of the nineteenth century Europe
had been able to work only on the outskirts of China.
Since then the interior has been opened up more and
more. There is much to be gained by introducing
industries into a huge Empire, with a population of
four hundred million, where the people are hard-work-
ing. We must not fall to the rear in this boundless
field of action, but must consolidate and develop our
position there. The end of the Spanish-American

li6 Imperial Germany

War of 1899 gave us the opportunity to acquire the
Carohne and Marianne Islands, and thus win a
point of support in Polynesia. A year later we suc-
ceeded in bringing to an end the long quarrel over
Samoa by a settlement with England and America
that was to our advantage. In the year 1898 we
concluded a treaty with England, which was signifi-
cant, not only because, at a somewhat difficult stage
our relations with England were made easier without
endangering our position with regard to other
Powers, but also because we secured thereby valu-
able prospects for the future. This treaty held out
hopes of more profitable results the more patiently
we waited till the time should arrive to realise them;
it was brought about largely by the efforts of our
ambassador in London at that time, Count Paul
Hatzfeld, whom Bismarck used to call the best horse
in his diplomatic stables. The Bagdad Railway
scheme was a result of the Emperor's journey to
Palestine, which he took in the autumn of 1898, a
very few months after the first Navy Bill was passed,
and which was in every respect so successful. This
threw open to German influence and German enter-
prise a field of activity between the Mediterranean
Sea and the Persian Gulf, on the rivers Euphrates

Successes of German World Policy 117

and Tigris, and along their banks; this can hardly
be surpassed for fertility and for its great possibili-
ties of development in the future. If one can speak
of boundless prospects anywhere, it is in Mesopo-

The German Empire to-day is a great World
Power, not only by virtue of its industrial and com-
mercial interests, but of its power in international
politics ; its power in the sense that its arm can reach
to the farthest corners of the world, and that Ger-
man interests can be injured now^here with impunity.
The sphere of German power has literally been ex-
tended over the whole world by the construction of

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryBernhard BülowImperial Germany → online text (page 6 of 18)