Edward Raymond Turner.

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protection. More and more did she come under German
influence; and in the follow^'ng years German merchants
and financiers almost got economic control of the country.
In course of time, however, as Italy grew stronger and less
afraid of Austria-Hungary, she grew more ambitious and




Italy added
to the Ger-
manic alli-
ance, 1882

in Italy



The Austro-
Treaty of
1879 the
link between
the Central

The treaties
of the Triple

hoped to secure larger control of the Adriatic for herself.
Thus she came into conflict with Austria, and in the end
it was almost as difficult for Germany to reconcile her
partners in the Triple Alliance as once it had been for
Bismarck to hold Austria and Russia together. The
Alliance was renewed again and again, and it lasted long
beyond Bismarck's time. But before the Great War be-
gan Italy was an unwilling member; during that struggle
she withdrew; and the war broke the Alliance to pieces.

The history, the development, the character of the
engagements binding Germany, Austria-Hungary, and
Italy long remained enveloped in secrecy, to be guessed
at by outsiders and ill understood. It was assumed that,
roughly, their general character was known, but when,
after the downfall of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the archives
of Vienna were examined and the secret treaties of the
Alliance made known, it was evident that much had
remained concealed. It was then apparent that always
the basis and strongest part of the arrangement was the
Austro-German Treaty, the treaty of alliance concluded
between the German Empire and Austria-Hungary in
1879. The duration of this treaty had been fixed at five
years, but in accordance with its third article, which had
remained undivulged, provision had been made for the
automatic continuance of the arrangement for periods of
three years, in case neither partner desired otherwise.
In 1902, after a conference concerning the continuance of
the Treaty, it was specifically agreed that the Treaty
should be automatically renewed each three years. Mean-
while, in 188S, it had been renewed for a five-year period,
to end in 1889. It was this treaty, and this one only,
which obligated the German Empire to assist the Dual
Monarchy if it were attacked by Russia.

Supplementary to this agreement and less important,
but parallel to it, was the Triple Alliance proper. The
treaty of this alliance was made in 1882. It was renewed



in 1887, at which time were added a separate treaty l)e-
tween Austria-Hungary and Italy concerning the Balkans
and another treaty between the German lunpire and
Italy directed against France. In 1891 these three treaties
were consolidated in the third Treaty of the Triple Alli-
ance. Von Billow, the German statesman, afterward
declared that the Triple Alliance was "an insurance com-
pany" and not a "company for profit." It had, indeed,
been purely defensive at first, but after 1891 it contained
provisions which contemplated the possibility of aggres-
sion against France. The Treaty was to continue for six
years, and for an additional six thereafter if not denounced.
In 1902 it was specifically renewed unchanged, as it was
again in 1912. It is now known that the Triple Alliance
did not provide any definite military stipulations, though
a convention between Germany and Italy in 1888 provided
for the employment of Italian troops against France. Naval
agreements, on the other hand, were made: in 1900 for in-
dependent naval operations by the partners; in 1913 for
joint naval action, the scheme being drawn up in detail.

From the first the friendship or benevolent attitude of
Great Britain was desired. In the first Treaty of the
Triple Alliance in 1882 protocols attached declared that
the contracting parties had no hostile intentions
toward England. Five years later Great Britain, Austria-
Hungary, and Italy came to an agreement concerning the
Mediterranean. In the same year such an agreement
was made between Italy and Spain, to which Austria-
Hungary acceded; and this was prolonged in 1891.
Knowledge of these arrangements makes clear now what
was only feared or suspected then, how complete was the
isolation of France, and how dangerous, indeed, was her
position. In the third Treaty of the Triple Alliance in
1891 a protocol asserted the adherence in principle of
England to certain stipulations of the arrangement, and
declared that the contracting parties should exert them-

Character of
the Triple

Great Brit-
ain, Italy,
and the
Triple Alli-



Great Brit-
ain draws

attached to
the Alliance

of the

selves to obtain her adherence respecting other matters
also. This was the moment of England's closest approach
to the Triple Alliance, and marked the culmination of the
power of the Alliance. In the next decade Germany and
Great Britain began to drift apart, and as this took place
Italy partly fell away. From the start it had been evi-
dent that Italy, entirely at the mercy of the principal sea
power, would never be willing to oppose England. In 1896
she formally notified the Central Powers that she could not
fight against France together with England. A few years
later Italy came to a separate understanding with France
concerning Tripoli, thus making a "re-insurance treaty,"
since her former engagements in the Triple Alliance were
renewed, with their stipulations directed against France.

But while Italy was getting from the Triple Alliance
all she could, and yet gradually coming to be less depend-
able in it, the two principal partners, Austria-Hungary
and the German Empire, came more closely together
and tried to strengthen their position by additional ar-
rangements. Not only Italy but Rumania was added. In
1883 a treaty of alliance was concluded between Austria-
Hungary and Rumania. On the same day Germany
was added, and Italy five years later. This adding of
Rumania as an appendage to the Triple Alliance was re-
newed in 1892, 1902, and 1913. With respect to the Bal-
kans, Austria strove to strengthen her position by making
an arrangement with Russia in 1897, and with Italy in
1901 and 1909.

The Triple Alliance was to a considerable extent defen-
sive, but by means of it Bismarck had none the less raised
the German Empire to be the controlling power in Europe,
and to a marvellous pitch of greatness. It was clearly
realized by contemporary statesmen that the Alliance
controlled all the central part of the Continent, extending
from the northern waters to the Mediterranean, separ-
ating eastern Europe completely from the west, and thus



occupying an impregnable position. Within this territory
were more than 100,000,000 people, and armies of
2,000,000 well-trained soldiers. It would have been the
sheerest madness for any other single state to come into
conflict with it. In this combination the German Empire
was the most powerful member and the controlling force.
Accordingly, after 1882, Germany had a manifest sui)e-
riority, indeed an overlordship or hegemony in Europe,
and Bismarck was the most j)owerful man in the world.

But high as was the position of Germany, and mighty
as her power had become, Bismarck increased it still fur-
ther. During all the remaining years of his power he
succeeded in keeping the other great European states
from entering into a counter alliance. Thus he kept
France for the most part in the isolation in which he
had placed her. At the same time he tried to avoid
any misunderstanding with Great Britain, and tried suc-
cessfully to renew the connection with Russia.

Scarcely had the Alliance of 1879 been made between
Austria-Hungary and Germany, when Bismarck tried to
draw Russia into another understanding like what had
existed before the Congress of Berlin. The details of this
very secret diplomacy were long unknown, but enough
has recently been revealed from the Russian and the
Austrian archives to explain clearly the main outlines of
the thing. Bismarck had little confidence at first in the
stability of the alliance with Austria. He wished, more-
over, to prevent what did take place after his retirement,
an alliance between Russia and France. Therefore, in
1881 he succeeded in bringing about an agreement be-
tween the emperors of Russia, Austria, and the Ger-
man Empire, that in case any one of these three powers
should be at war with a fourth, the other two parties to
the understanding would preserve a "benevolent neu-
trality." This stipulation was also to apply in case of a
war between one of the three parties and Turkey, provided




Renewal of
good rela-
tions with



and the

The "Rein-

that an understanding about such a war had already been
reached between the parties. The understanding made
special allowance for the continuance of the alliance be-
tween Austria-Hungary and Germany, thus making the
agreement more advantageous to Germany than to Russia.
Nevertheless, by skillful management Bismarck brought
it about that the agreement was renewed with slight
modification in 1884. Three years later, however, this
was not done, for Austria had been steadily acquir-
ing a more dominating influence in the Balkans, and
Russian importance there was declining. Therefore,
Russia was unwilling to renew the agreement of 1881,
but sought instead an alliance or agreement with Germany

Then Bismarck read to the Russian ambassador the
terms of the alliance with Austria, theretofore a secret,
and let it be understood that this alliance must be main-
tained. But the two signed an agreement none the less.
It provided that if one of the two contracting parties were
at war with a third power, the other contracting party
should maintam benevolent neutrality, though this
provision was not to apply in case of an attack made by
one of the contracting powers on either Austria or France,
thus preserving the alliance with Austria, and safeguarding
Russia's relations with France. Other articles provided
that Germany should recognize Russia's rights in the Bal-
kan peninsula and give her assistance to Russia in maintain-
ing them. This agreement has been known as the "Rein-
surance Treaty." In 1879 Bismarck had tried to insure
Germany against attack by Russia in making the alliance
with Austria-Hungary. Now in 1887 he got, as it were,
insurance from the other side, for by this very secret
"agreement" he provided largely against danger from
France, who, under the terms of the agreement, would not
be supported by Russia if she attacked the German



Seldom has there been a diploinaey abler or more
astute. Bismarck, who had been the principal founder
of the Empire, succeeded in keeping all that had been
obtained. During the years since 1871 not once \va.s
France able to make alliance with some other European
power and so strengthen herself as to dare to begin war
on her foe. And in all that time Germany was seldom
without close friends, while during most of the years she
was the center of a powerful alliance, and had, besides, a
friendly understanding with Russia. But in spite of the
vast success which had come to his efforts, the time of the
chancellor was nearing its end. His era wan passing,
and other men with other plans were rising about him.
By 1887 he was still a mighty figure, but a new generation
was coming forward with ideals which he had never
cherished and which, indeed, he could scarcely under-

It had been his purpose to unite the German states in
a strong empire and then make Germany greatest of the
European Powers. Difficulties in the way of German unity
had baffled German statesmen for ages, but now the uni-
fication was accomplished almost completely. Among the
European states the German Empire now towered like a
giant. These tasks filled his mind and the world . of
diplomacy which he knew. But meanwhile Great Britain
had been acquiring an ever-larger colonial empire, and
France, humiliated in Europe, had gone beyond the seas
and won for herself new dominions. All this had ap-
pealed little to Bismarck. Only late did he seek to get
colonies for Germany, and he never seems to have had
ambitions for Germany in the Balkans or in Asia. But all
around him now were growing up young Germans who saw
a new world which could not be clear to his eyes. They
would try to make Germany a great naval power, which
would bring her into conflict with Britain, something
that Bismarck had not dreamed of doing. They wished

of Bis-

The new
in the Ger-
man Em-



The passing
of Bismarck

His achieve-

to have Germany secure colonies and markets all over the
world. They wished to join Austria-Hungary in pushing
forward in the Balkans, something that would bring to an
end the possibility of cordial understanding with Russia.

During the lifetime of his master, William I, the emperor
whom he had made, his power continued unshaken, but
after 1888 there was marked change. William II who
became, after the brief reign of Frederick III, the new
ruler, embodied new ideas and the new ambitions which
were to carry Germany on so much further and at last
bring her down to destruction. He regarded Bismarck
with respect, but gave him none of the affectionate con-
fidence that his grandfather so long had given. Bis-
marck soon found the management of affairs no longer
imquestionably in his hands; while the young emperor,
himself full of vigor and spirit, grew more and more im-
patient at the domination of one who had so long been
first in Europe that he was unable to take second place.
For more than a year relations between the two grew more
strained. The actual government of the Empire was in
the hands of Bismarck, who had under him in important
places members of his own family or friends whom he had
raised up to obey him. But the new emperor, believing
in the divine right of his rule, and confident of his own
capacity to govern, presently insisted that his ideas be fol-
lowed. In 1890 Bismarck resigned, after being told that
he was in the way. It seemed a strange thing to the older
generation that this could ever come to pass. As a
famous cartoon in Punch portrayed it, to them it was
"Dropping the Pilot."

Of Bismarck's work it was long difficult to form proper es-
timate. So gigantic had been his success, so tremendous
and brilliant his achievements, that to contemporaries,
and for some time after, it seemed that he was not only
the most commanding figure of his century, after Napoleon
I, but the greatest and the most successful statesman


of that time. His accomplishment had been vast, and
when he died his success seemed so complete as to justify
almost all he had tried to do. He found Prussia the
second power umon^ the German states, and the German
people divided. In a single generation he had made
Prussia the greatest state on the Continent, defeated every
one of her rivals, achieved the unification of (Germany,
and made his country the center and foundation thereof.
And then in the course of long, crowded years he had
kept the new German Empire safe in the exalted position
he had given her, surrounded by friends, the head and
leader of the strongest alliance in the world. During all
tliis time there had come to the German people such
prosperity and material success that they looked upon the
man who had brought it about as the father and founder
of his country.

And yet there was another side of it all, which some Kis
people, though not many, understood then, but which
more would understand in the future. The unification
of Germany had not been brought about through liberal
development and respect of the rights of others, but
partly by force, and chicane, and fraud, by contempt
for the rights of people, and cynical disregard of obligations
and honor. All of this seemed good to Germans who saw
it through the glamor of success, and a generation of
Germans was about to grow up which would admire
above all things the force and lack of scruple which Bis-
marck had employed and had taught so well. The leaders
of Germany in the early part of the twentieth century,
who had learned in the school of Bisnuirck as he had
learned in that of Frederick the Great, would worship
force and strength, just as he had once discarded all
policy but the rule of "blood and iron"; and as he had
altered the Ems dispatch, so would they tear up the
treaty guaranteeing Belgian neutrality as a mere worthless
"scrap of paper." This would array the world against




His failure


them, and the Empire, overwhehned in defeat, would at
last lie prostrate and dismembered.

Moreover, since his work had been effected and main-
tained by military power, in another generation all the great
states of Europe had striven to make themselves strong
military powers on the Prussian model. By the end of
the nineteenth century Europe was groaning under almost
intolerable military burdens, and a few years after was
divided into two great military camps. Finally, in some
respects the work of Bismarck was manifestly a failure.
His treatment of France was such that France never for-
gave it, and always thereafter the German Empire could
count on French hostility as a danger whenever some
other great danger should arise. It has often been said
that Bismarck was opposed to taking Alsace-Lorraine
from the French, knowing that such loss would leave them
irreconcilable, and that he yielded only to the military
advisors who insisted because of the strategic strength
which the provinces would give. But at all events, he
did yield, and thereafter the Empire was encumbered with
the mortgage of the hatred of the French, who might
despair of being able to take vengeance, but whose hatred
nevertheless lived on. Bismarck does not seem to have
looked into the future, beyond his own age. He scarcely
realized the importance of a colonial empire, nor did he
conceive how soon a great deal of German ambition would
lie beyond Europe, on the oceans and in continents far
away. It would have been better in all respects, some
have thought, had he not seized from France territory in
Europe, but taken of her colonies instead. So it was that
some years before the Great War an author wrote, with-
out being much heeded, that it was still too soon to know
whether generally the chancellor's policy had really been

With the passing of Bismarck began the second stage
in the development of the new German nation. Between



1864 and 1888 the Empire had been created and made
the greatest of the European states. From about 1890
on to 1914 it went forward to greater things; its leaders
made it a mighty world power and strove at last to make
it beyond all doubt the greatest power in the world. The
outlook of German leaders became wider, their ambition
vaster and grander; they played for great stakes higher
and more boldly, until in the end, as it seemed to one of
them, they sought "World Dominion or Downfall."

In what followed, at first, the young emperor took the
lead. Some believed that he was rash and might easily
plunge into a war, for he spoke with stern pride of the
power of his army. But for more than a quarter of a
century in his reign there was no great conflict in Europe,
and often he boasted that he had striven to keep the
peace. Doubtless he did. But always this desire for
peace seems to have been on condition that Germany hold
her superior position in Europe, and that her policy should
not be thwarted. When there rose up against the alliance
headed by Germany another great group of powers, and
it was no longer so easy for Germany's word to be law
as it had been in Bismarck's time, then German statesmen
and the emperor strove so hard to maintain the German
hegemony that one great crisis followed another in Europe
for the space of ten years. At the end of that time the
nations were plunged into the greatest of all their wars.

When in 1890 William II took control of the govern-
ment and its foreign policy there followed at once a great
altering of political relations. Bismarck had always kept
France nearly isolated and alone. In three years after
this time she w^as closely joined in an understanding with
Russia. He had tried by all means to retain Russia's
friendship, and he had succeeded nearly all of the time.
But Russia was allowed to draw away now, and almost
immediately she sought the friendship and became the
ally of France. Bismarck had desired not to antagonize

New policy
of the Ger-
man Empire







End of the
ance'' policy

Closer rela-
tions with
Great Brit-

Great Britain, and during his time no dangerous mis-
understanding had arisen; but in less than ten j^ears Ger-
many entered upon a policy which profoundly alarmed
Great Britain, and shortly caused her to take her place to-
gether with Russia and France.

The secret agreement between Russia and Germany
in 1887 had been made for three years. Before it expired,
in 1890, the tsar tried to have it renewed, but Germany
would not consent. There is a great deal, not yet known,
relating to all of this; but, it has been conjectured that
one of the important causes of disagreement between
Bismarck and William II was concerning relations with
Russia; that Bismarck would have had the understanding
renewed and would have held Russia fast to the Empire, but
that the young emperor now had other plans which ran
counter to continuing this friendship. It has been thought
also that this was the time when the government of Germany
began to cherish ambitions in the Balkans and Turkey.
If this were the case, then most probably it would soon be
as impossible for Germany to remain in close friendship with
Russia as for Austria-Hungary since 1876. "My foreign
policy remains and will remain the same as it was in the
time of my grandfather," was the message William sent
to the tsar. But the Russian ambassador believed that
Germany in the future would have greater regard for the
alliance with Austria-Hungary. And so it was, for that
alliance now became stronger with every year, until at last
it was the closest in Europe.

It also seemed to the Russian ambassador, who wrote
of these changes, that Germany now counted on getting
the friendship of Great Britain to replace that of Russia,
and even that Great Britain might be added to the Triple
Alliance. It might, indeed, have seemed to him that
there was some chance of bringing this about. Friendly
relations with England were a tradition. The mother of
the German emperor was a daughter of Queen Victoria,


whose husband, Albert, liad been a German. There were
many people in England at this time who learned from the
school of Freeman and Carlyle how excellent were German
things, and how much that was good in England had been
inherited from Germany of old; Lord Salisbury, prime
minister at this time, believed strongly in best possible
relations with the German Empire. Good relations with
Britain were, accordingly, easy to maintain and improve
for the present, though she would most probably not have
entered into any alliance, and it is not certainly known
that Germany desired her to do so.

The new German policy attracted less attention than Relations
might have seemed possible. The close relations between ^'^^ Turkey
Germany and Russia had been largely a secret. The
attention of men was still fastened mostly on the older
issues, the feeling between France and Germany, and the
rivalry between England and France, and England and
Russia. But a very significant event occurred the year
before Bismarck retired. In 1889 William II went to
Constantinople and visited Abdul Hamid, the sultan of
Turkey. As men afterward saw this event, it seemed
the beginning of an epoch in the politics of Europe.

In the Middle Ages the German people had fought Ejcpansionof

,0, , 1 , • • 1 the German

agamst the blavs to the east, subdumg or pressmg them people in the

back, and extending eastward their German dominion. In past

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 16 of 49)