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this manner had the old Prussia been acquired, in this way
Austria's empire built up. In the course of this movement
to the east and the south some Germans had pushed
beyond the mass of their fellows and made isolated settle-
ments, which in the nineteenth century were still flourish-
ing in Hungary, and in Poland, in the western and south-
ern parts of Russia, and even far off in the Balkans. For
a long while some Germans had dreamed of a day when
these detached groups, and the aliens surrounding, might
be incorporated in a greater German Empire. Heinrich
Heine prophesied that Germans would some day possess



194



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Drang nach
Osten



The German
Empire and
Turkey



lands as distant as the Ukraine. In the earHer half of
the nineteenth century other Germans advised coloniza-
tion in the valley of the Danube and beyond, saying that
here was the best of fields for German expansion. After
the Franco-German War, colonization of Asia Minor
and ]Mesopotamia was suggested in the dominions of the
sultan of Turkey. About 1880 a certain one urged his
fellows not to emigrate to America, as they were doing:
"We must create a central Europe by conquering for
German colonization large spaces to the east of our
frontiers."

Now in the new generation which followed that of Bis-
marck such thoughts constantly gained greater impor-
tance, until gradually the idea of Drang nach Osten, or
advance by Germans to the east, came to be the under-
lying motive in German foreign affairs, and at last prin-
cipal among the causes leading to the great European
War. William II sought the friendship of the sultan of
Turkey. England had previously been friend and pro-
tector of the Turks, but events like the British occupation
of Ef,ypt had caused her influence to wane. In 1898,
about the time when England and France were embroiled
in the Fashoda dispute concerning the upper Sudan, about
the time when Germany began her great naval expansion,
William went to Constantinople again, and, going on to
Jerusalem and Damascus, proclaimed himself the protector
of Turkey and announced that he was the friend of
Mohammedans all over the world. Year after year
German representatives established the influence of their
country more strongly. Most people had no conception
how far they were succeeding, but in 1914 it was suddenly
found that Turkey was more closely bound to Germany
and Austria than was Italy, a member of the Triple Alli-
ance; that she was actually a vassal of Germany, at
whose behest she could be pushed into a war where her
very existence must be staked.



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



195



In controlling Turkey and developing her resources the
most important thing done by Germans was the con-
struction of the Bagdad Railway. As early as 1875
German engineers had l)iiilt f(^r the Turkish Government
a railway across Anatolia, connecting Konia with Skutari,
opposite Constantinople. Thirteen years later this rail-
way was transferred to a German company. Now in
1899, the year following the emperor's second visit, the
sultan granted him a concession to extend this railroad
across Asiatic Turkey down to the Persian Gulf. There
was, however, at the head of the Gulf, and controlling the
outlet to its waters, the district of Koweit, ruled by a
sheik who gave little obedience to the sultan. With
this sheik the British immediately made a treaty, so as
to block the future completion of the railroad, which they
conceived might be dangerous to them. None the less,
work was taken up and continued at intervals until just
before 1914 the road which had been constructed to
Aleppo, with a branch dowTi along the eastern Mediter-
ranean coast, had also been taken on almost completely
through to Bagdad, and the control and development of
Asiatic Turkey had been put into the hands of the Ger-
mans.

It was not possible to exaggerate the importance of this
undertaking. If the road were ever completed Germany,
provided she had also secured control of the intervening
territory in Europe, would be mistress, perhaps, of the
most important line of communication in the world. It
was in Europe and in Asia that most of the world's
inhabitants lived. Communication between them had
till then been mostly by water. Of water routes
there were two: one long and one short. The long one
ran down to the south of Africa then uj) toward India
and China; for a great while it had been dominated by
the British, who held India and South Africa, and numer-
ous stations on the way. The better and the shorter was



The Bagdad
Railway



Mittel-
europa and
iheBagh-
dadbahn



196



EUROPE SINCE 1870



strategic
con-
sequences



Changing
relations in
Europe



through the Mediterranean Sea; and this also was even
more securely in the hands of the British, who held Gibral-

Itar at one end of the sea and the Suez Canal at the other.

' But, after all, communication by these routes was round-
about and slow. The end of the nineteenth century was
an era of railroad development, which furnished trans-
portation swifter and easier than any by water. If only
the Germans could secure railroad lines leading down
from their o^mi northern ports across Austria-Hungary
and the Balkans to Constantinople, and then connect with
the Bagdad Railway having a terminus on the Persian
Gulf, Germany would control the shortest and the best
route between Europe and Asia, and might in time domi-
nate a great part of all the world's trade.

Even more important to a military power were the
strategic advantages involved. Not only would the Ger-
mans and their friends, lying between their possible
enemies, separate them and have them at disadvantage,
but they would have incomparably the best line of interior
communications for moving troops swiftly, a route,
moreover, lying right across the most important part of
the world, and perhaps capable of being rendered in-
vulnerable to attacks by sea power. Furthermore, as
some Germans boasted, one part of this railway system
would lead close to Egypt, and always be a threat to
the British there, while on the Persian Gulf they could
at any time put masses of troops to strike over at India
far more quickly than the British could bring reinforce-
ments. In short, they would have in this railway system
an instrument for making Germany the greatest power
in the world.

This new policy about the Bagdad Railway, the Bal-
kans, and a central Europe under the influence of Germany
developed gradually in the period after 1888, but it became
ever more prominent and important during the years
just before the war. Long before that time the politics



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



197



of continental Eiiropo liad boon altered eomplctely.
Russia, first dropped from close friendship hj' Germany,
then antagonized by German policy in Turkey and in the
Balkans, had entered into the Dual Entente or "Alliance"
with France, opposing not only Austria-Hungary but
Germany as well. And gradually the Triple Alliance
changed. Italy, as time went on, had less interest in her
connection with the Central Powers, and the old causes of
antagonism with France slowly passed almost entirely.
It was often believed after 1902 that Italy no longer had
great interest in continuing in the Alliance, especially as
her policy conflicted more with that of Austria-Hungary
in the Adriatic and the western Balkans, and that she re-
mained a member more through fear of withdrawing than
because she desired to continue. The Triple Alliance
continued to be renewed, but so far as Italy was concerned
evidently no strong tie now remained. Very different was
it with Austria-Hungary. When the alliance with Ger-
many was made in 1879 Bismarck believed that the con-
nection might not endure. Nevertheless, during his time
it grew stronger; and now, with the development of the new
German policy, connection with Austria-Hungary became
firmer each year, since that connection was indispensable
to the success of Germany's schemes. The empire
planned in Middle Europe and nearer Asia had at one of
its ends Asiatic Turkey and at the other the great German
state. The scheme could never be fulfilled unless Austria-
Hungary and the Balkans, which lay in between, were
kept in close alliance or controlled. Therefore, firm alli-
ance with the Dual ]Monarchy came to be the very corner-
stone of German foreign policy; and it was more and more
evident that Germany would give Austria-Hungary sup-
port, and that for the sake of her own greatness and ambi-
tions she never could fail to do so. And the attachment
of Austria-Hungary to the German Empire became equally
strong. Not only did the Dual Monarchy require the



The oppos-
ing alliances



Strength-
ening of the
alliance be-
tween the
German Em-
pire and
Austria-
Hungary



198



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Rivalry with
Great Brit-



Previous
relations be-
tween Ger-
many and
England



support of its powerful neighbor against such a great rival
as Russia, but the ambitions of Austria-Hungary coincided
largely with German plans. If Germans hoped to control
a great railroad down through the Balkans and across
Turkey to the Persian Gulf, so did Austria-Hungary
desire to be the greatest power in the western Balkans,
rule all the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, and extend
dovm to the Mediterranean at Salonica.

During these same years further change in interna-
tional affairs brought another vast alteration. So im-
mense was the development of the German Empire, so
colossal its strength as it grew, that German ambitions
developed in every direction вАФ not only in eastern and
central Europe, in sharper rivalry with Russia, but also
on the seas and in distant places, which brought Germany
at last into direct competition with England. As this
came about, it was very evident that a second of Bis-
marck's axioms had been discarded. He had always
striven to keep Russia as a friend and avoid any estrange-
ment with Britain. The Germany of William II hesitated
not to challenge and contend with them both.

Previously relations between Germany and England
had been very good. Between Englishmen and Germans
there had long been friendship with little memory of old
wrong or warfare, and there was always a certain feeling of
kinship because of blood and common inheritance and
speech. Spain, France, Russia had been the rivals of
England, not the Germans. Englishmen had viewed the
establishment of German unity with a great deal of
sympathy and admiration. Some did question the
methods by which this had been brought about, but actu-
ally for a time after 1871 the interests of Britam and
the German Empire did not conflict and there was no
direct cause for any hostile feeling. Great Britain was a
sea power and her chief interests were outside of Europe.
Germany was not a naval power during Bismarck's time



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



199



and her interest was altof^ether in keepin*/ tliat whic-li slie
had just achieved, first place in continental afi'airs. Pres-
ently, it is true, the immense maritime and industrial
development of Germany brou<]fht keen competition and
aroused some unpleasant feeling. But all this awakened
no hostility in Britain, and as time went on it was seen
that England could well hold her own.

In the later years of his power Bismarck had seen in-
creasing need of a strong navy to guard the Empire's
growing commercial and colonial interests, but the great
change came after he had been dismissed, with the rise
of the new school of statesmen, who looked beyond
Europe and would make Germany the greatest of the
great. The German army*; was incomparably the strong-
est in the w^orld, but they were conscious of a surplus
of strength in their country, not needed for the army,
and they began to cherish the plan of making Germany
a great naval power and a seeker for colonies also. It
was probably foreseen that this would inevitably bring
very different relations with England. Hitherto Britain
had been on her guard against France and Russia, both
of them strong naval powders and active rivals in Africa and
Asia. For some years it had been her purpose to maintain
the "two-power standard," to keep her fleet stronger
than the two next greatest navies combined. In 1889
Great Britain had undertaken a comprehensive scheme
of naval increase, and by 1898, w^ien a crisis developed
with France, the French had yielded completely, so over-
whelming was British strength on the sea. Britain had
no large army, and so could not defend herself against
the great standing armies of European states if ever they
reached her shores. Her sole reliance was on command
of the sea, and it was justly felt that if this were lost,
then all would be gone and the British Empire destroyed
beyond hope. The British people accordingly were
resolved at all costs to maintain their superiority on the



Germany
and British
sea power



Increase of
British naval
strength



200



EUROPE SINCE 1870



German
ambitions
on the sea



The Naval
Laws, 1898,
1900



ocean, and would probably come to regard with much
dread any nation who challenged this position.

Suddenly and in dramatic way the German Govern-
ment did do this. Germans were building up a great
commerce, which was not interfered with by the British,
but which they knew could be stopped or destroyed,
if the British tried to do it. More and more they de-
sired colonies and markets abroad. They had begun to
seek colonies too late. There was little left for them to
take. But they felt that they had better chance of being
considered in distant places if they had a strong war
fleet to establish their communications. They considered
that the great British Empire, as well as the new French
colonial empire, had been made possible by naval
power. In this new era of great German ambitions the
leaders felt that the German Empire was incomplete so
long as it had no strong navy.

The lead was taken by Admiral von Tirpitz and the
emperor himself. There was opposition among the older
school of thinkers in Germany, but after much effort a
bill was passed by the Reichstag in 1898 providing for
a great naval increase. The law provided for expending,
during a course of years, 1,000,000,000 marks, and was con-
sidered to be the most ambitious naval programme under-
taken by any state in the memory of man. That same
year the Flottenverein (Navy League) was established, to
interest the people in naval expansion. It had 600,000
members in two years, and shortly after a million. A
vast amount of educational work and propaganda was
done by this organization, and it was most successful in
arousing the people. Much greater development soon
followed. In 1900 a vaster sum was appropriated, and
plans made for a navy twice as powerful as that provided
two years before.

Such startling naval increase affected other powers at
once and profoundly. It began to seem that Germany



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



201



was about to attempt upon the water what she had once
succeeded in doin^ on the land; and this was an ominous
thing when tlie triumplis of her armies were recalled. But
of all Germany's neighbors none saw herself threatened
so greatly as England. As this new (jcrman navy was
built up (jlreat Britain might be endangered, perhaps, by
the German Empire more than by France. Moreover,
the very preamble of the law of 1000 seemed directed
against England. "Germany must have a battle fleet
so strong that even for an adversary with the greatest sea
power a war against it would involve such dangers as to
imperil his o\ati position in the world." "The ocean is
indispensable to the greatness of Germany," said the
emperor about the same time. "As my grandfather re-
organized the armj', so I shall reorganize my navj\" And
in 1901: "Our future lies upon the water."

There was, indeed, a great turning-point about 1898.
In that year occurred the crisis between Britain and
France, in which the French yielded, but remained filled
with savage hatred and anger. On the other hand, Ger-
many was still well liked in Great Britain. We now know
that for some years certain leaders in Germany and in
Britain had been striving to establish an entente. But
during the Boer War, which began in 1899, Germans
gave to the Boers such sympathy and encouragement
as they could, and might perhaps have intervened if
England had not controlled the sea. Next year, when
German naval plans were so greatly enlarged. Englishmen
began pondering upon the situation. It was difficult
for most of them to conceive that Britain could be in any
danger, for British supremacy on the seas was a tradition,
and British control had been unquestioned since the day
of Trafalgar. None the less, a new generation was coming
into public life which saw things in terms of altered condi-
tions, which believed that in the last generation Germany
had increased so much more greatly than England, and



Apprehen-
sion in
England



The diplo-
matic revo-
lution,
1904-7



S02



EUROPE SINCE 1870



Great
Britain not
safe in
isolation



Growing un-
easiness in
England



The Dread-
naught



that this greater Germany now bade fair to be so very
powerful on the sea that Britain was no longer safe as
before, aloof in her old isolation. They believed that she
could no longer wisely stand alone, and that she should
enter into closer relations with friends in Europe and
everywhere else in the world. Apparently the leader of
this group in England was King Edward VII, who came to
the throne in 1901. He seems to have understood how
greatly conditions had changed. At the same time he
had a sincere admiration for France. Therefore, he took
the lead in seeking her friendship. As a result of the work
of some of the new leaders in England and some of the new
statesmen in France, the two nations soon settled all their
differences, and in 1904 entered into the friendly under-
standing of the Entente Cordiale. Three years later, under
what seemed increasing menace of German naval expan-
sion, Britain and Russia settled their differences also. Ac-
cordingly, by 1907 the new naval policy of Germany had
brought England out of her long aloofness from European
affairs into close and friendly relations with France and
cordial relations with Russia.

Each year the leaders and statesmen of Britain saw
greater peril across the North Sea. Everywhere they
settled all their outstanding differences, not only with
France and with Russia, but with Italy and the United
States, and they had already made alliance with Japan.
British naval forces, once scattered all over the world,
were silently drawn in and concentrated in the waters
about Britain and Ireland. But the uneasiness was felt
rather for the future than the immediate present, since it
was believed that England had such great superiority on
the sea that it would be a long while before Germany's
utmost efforts could really challenge the British navy.

A great change presently occurred. It was in 1904-5,
during the Russo-Japanese War, that modern warships
were really tested for the first time; and many lessons



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



203



were learned then. After the great battle of Tsushima
it was seen, as some experts had bef(jre pointed out, that
high speed, which would enable a warship to take such
position as it wished, heavy armor, and great guns of long
range, involved immense superiority at sea. But these
principles could only be applied at their best on a ship of
very great size. In 1907 the British launched the Dread-
naught, a battleship which was the largest, the swiftest,
and most heavily armored warship that had ever been
put afloat, and it had also the largest number of giant
guns of long range. This monster, it was believed, would
be invulnerable to the attacks of ordinary warships, able
to overtake or outrange an antagonist, always able to
choose its own range, and beyond the enemy's range batter
the enemy to pieces. The Dreadnaught made the older
warships antiquated. For a moment Britain seemed to
have got great superiority over all her rivals, but actu-
ally she had begun a revolution which could soon bring
her temporary disadvantage. Great Britain had the
largest number of the older vessels, and it was possession
of them which gave her such lead over the German navy.
Gennany, with her new naval programme, was building the
greatest number of new ships, and immediately she altered
the plans and began making new vessels of the Dreadnaught
type. She was building swiftly and with such secrecy
that it was difficult to know how swift her progress was.
It was evident to the thinking that all unexpectedly she
had a chance to overcome England's naval preponderance
and threaten her command of the seas.

Even though it was evident that relations between the
two countries were steadily growing worse, most of the
English people could not quickly understand the large
changes occurring, or the altered position of affairs. But
now appeared a play, said to have been written at the wish
of government officials. An Englishman s Home. It por-
trayed a nation so ignorant of its condition as to be without



Lessons of
the Russo-
Japanese
War



The Naval
Panic



204



EUROPE SINCE 1870



An English-
man's
Home



Growing
alarm and
suspicion



fear, when it was really without means of defense. It
told of England suddenly invaded, and unable to resist,
of an Englishman shot for defending his home. It had
little merit as a play, but it stirred the English people to
their depths, and aroused them at last as the warnings of
statesmen and writers had never been able to do. There
was profound alarm and depression, during what was
known as the Naval Panic of 1909. Some Englishmen felt
hopeless, some wanted a great army, but most cried for
huge naval increase, and this was swiftly undertaken.
Eight great battleships were proposed for that year, and
actually construction was so rapidly advanced that Britain
after a short time of anxiety found herself, not indeed
with a navy greater than the two next most powerful
navies, but with a fleet considerably stronger than the
battle fleet of the German Empire.

No longer was there any doubt about dangerous rivalry
between the two powers. Many people in both countries
declared that there was no reason for conflict, and sincerely
deplored the growing suspicion and ill will, but uneasiness
and anger increased. In both countries great newspapers
and periodicals did not cease to point out how the foe
threatened vital interests, and that preparations must be
hastened so as to be ready for inevitable conflict. In
England men recalled what had been done to France, and
noted with alarm the utterances of German jingoes. In
Germany the Flottenverein taught that England had ever
been the greedy enemy in Germany's way, and that real
greatness could come to the Fatherland only after a war of
liberation against Britain. Germans believed that the
British would suddenly try to destroy their fleet. English-
men believed that Germans might suddenly try to dash
across into England, and, once there, destroy the founda-
tions of their empire.

Thus the force of events ranged Great Britain ever
more closely with Germany's opponents. It may be that



THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE



205



most people in both countries abhorred tlie thought of war
between llie two. Certainly En/^'lishnicn felt that their
preparations were merely defensive. But the great
danger in the situation arose from the very fact that
conflict seemed inevitable to so many. Englishmen often
believed that the ambitions of the German Empire could
only be fulfilled by sweeping the British Empire away,
and taking the best parts for a greater Cicrmany. ]\Iany
Germans were taught that while England ruled the seas
Germany could develop with difficulty and only on suf-
ferance. Year by year the Germans were told more and
more that England had joined their enemies in an Einkrci-
sung, an effort to encircle and crush them. Year by
year it came to be better understood that Englishmen
must not make again the mistake of 1870, not again allow
France to be crushed, for then afterward most probably
they would have to fight alone against Germany with very
small chance of success.

It is evident that before 1914 the policy of Bismarck
had been discarded, and that some of the things he
had aphieved had been completely lost. Some of Ger-
many's old friends had drawn off from her, and joined
France to make a great combination, the Triple Entente.
The alienation of Russia had been followed by increasing



Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 17 of 49)