German Emperor William II.

Letters from the Kaiser to the Czar : copied from government archives in Petrograd unpublished before 1920 online

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Online LibraryGerman Emperor William IILetters from the Kaiser to the Czar : copied from government archives in Petrograd unpublished before 1920 → online text (page 1 of 15)
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NNBR 906507681



Public Libr^

Astor, Lenox and Tilden Four.


Fiyra AvsNi't

YOFiK, MPI TOM 1001 j



The weak Czar was often tricked by the Kaiser when accepting
his hospitality, and many matters of state were settled (to the Kai-
ser's advantage) aboard the Kaiser's yacht.











Copyright, 1920, by

All Rights Reserved








WILLY" - l &

LETTER No. XLVI . . . . 168




Upon the execution of Nicholas Romanoff, the
former Czar of Russia, and his wife and children in
Ekaterinburg in July, 1918, a case containing his
private correspondence was found among his per-
sonal effects. Among its contents was a batch of
seventy-three letters from Kaiser Wilhelm to the
Czar and a much more voluminous batch of letters
from the Czarina to the Czar. The letters were
transmitted by the local Ekaterinburg authorities to
the central government in Moscow, where they are
kept in the state archives.

There have been so many absurd stories in cir-
culation in Europe in connection with the Kaiser-
Czar letters that the circumstances of their publi-
cation in Europe and America should be made clear
here. In Great Britain Winston Churchill eulogized
The Morning Post for obtaining the letters, al-
though that journal had nothing to do with the
bringing of the letters out of Russia. The London
Naval and Military Record commented editori-
ally on the same subject as follows: "It has been
left to the enterprise of British journalism to pub-
lish the last and by far the most damaging exposure
of Germany's ex-Kaiser." In Paris a prominent



newspaper, describing how I obtained the letters,
declared that I was enabled to do so through my in-
fluence with Lenin. In Amsterdam a newspaper
printed a despatch from its Berlin correspondent an-
nouncing that the letters had once been published in
1917 in a Petrograd monthly periodical.

Now the facts are quite different from the fore-
going allegations, which circulated in the European
press for weeks. It was not the enterprise of British
but of American journalism which gave the world
the Kaiser's and Czarina's letters to the Czar. In
April, 1919, the writer left the United States to
go to Soviet Russia in the capacity of correspondent
for The Chicago Dally News, and made two trips
there from Scandinavia, one in May and the other
in September, 1919.

During my second visit to Soviet Russia I was
enabled to gain access to the archives of the govern-
ment where I discovered, among other things, the
Kaiser's letters to the Czar, and immediately real-
ized their enormous historical value. The original
letters are of course the property of the Russian
state and there was no question of obtaining them.
The task consisted of receiving the permission of the
proper authorities to take copies of the letters. I
did not need Lenin's influence for this. As a matter
of fact, I never even met Lenin while in Soviet

I carried out with me only one copy from the
original letters of the Kaiser to the Czar. This

[* ** T


copy is in my possession and is the one reproduced
in this volume. The copies of the letters used by
The Morning Post in London, the Fossische Zei-
tung in Berlin, the Journal in Paris and the other
European publishers were made from the copy in
my possession. Being second and third copies,
they were not free from errors. The present edi-
tion is therefore the only absolutely authoritative
one and must be treated as the original edition by
students of international affairs.

The letters from the Kaiser to the Czar were writ-
ten in English, the language of the Russian and Ger-
man courts, and were usually addressed to "Nicky"
and signed 'Willy." None of these letters, cover-
ing a period of twenty years, 1894-1914, has ever
been published before 1920. The correspondence
between the Kaiser and the Czar, which was pub-
lished in a Russian periodical in 1917 and reprinted
in a New York newspaper several months later, con-
sisted of a number of telegrams exchanged between
Willy and Nicky in the years 1904-1907. It ap-
peared as "The Willy-Nicky Correspondence," and
the Amsterdam newspaper previously referred to
confused it with the letters here presented.

Without questioning the genuineness of the Willy-
Nicky telegrams, it should nevertheless be empha-
sized that it is scarcely possible that no errors should
have been committed in the transmission of a large
number of telegrams. In the case of the letters con-
tained in this volume we have really a set of irrefu-



table and unquestionable documents. The Kaiser
himself confirmed their genuineness, although criti-
cizing their publication. In a letter written in Janu-
ary, 1920, from Amerongen, Holland, to Prince
Fiirstenberg, and reprinted in The London Times,
on January 28th, the Kaiser wrote regarding these
letters :

'What do you think about the unlawful publi-
cation of the correspondence with Nicholas? These
people have not the least sympathy in them, and
I shall be glad if everything is published without
alterations. I have given orders to Loewenfeldt
to protest against the publication of these private
letters, but as this is being done in hostile countries
he will have less success than in the case of Bis-
marck. After the treatment I have received and
still receive from the German people I am not sur-
prised that the German newspapers participate in
these dirty practices."

The Kaiser's letters are of course published with-
out alterations. There was never any intention to
do otherwise. Not a word in them is omitted. Al-
though the Kaiser's English is far from perfect, it
is left unchanged here. The only change made in
this edition is the substitution of the word "and"
for the character u &" which abounds in the original

The numerous errors in spelling are retained.
The most confusing of these errors is "were" in
place of "where." Once the Kaiser has "keys" in-


stead of "quays," and "boyes" for "buoys." The
other mistakes are understandable. "Beeing" for
"being," "wether" for "whether," "takle" for
"tackle," are common misspellings. Even more com-
mon are "allready," "allways," "wellfare," "open-
ess," "assisstance." The Kaiser writes "courtesey,"
"existant" and "thruthfulness." Instead of 'Tur-
key" he writes "Turky," and instead of "Darda-
nelles" he spells "Dardanels." His letters are re-
plete with faulty constructions and contain many
misspellings in addition to those here mentioned.

In reply to the Kaiser's complaint about the pub-
lication of his private letters, Maximilian Harden,
the noted German publicist, wrote: "The ex-Kaiser
stigmatizes as a 'dirty' violation of propriety the
publication of his letters to the Czar Nicholas and
other monarchs, whereas he considered it to be his
right and his duty to purloin documents in Belgium,
to falsify them, and to circulate them all over the
globe. This, however, is not surprising when the
German people, who endured an adept in theatrical-
ism for thirty years, are treated as if they were evil-
minded, undutiful children."

The comment on the letters all over the world
has been as voluminous as it has been many-sided.
However, three main viewpoints can be discerned in
the very numerous reviews of the Kaiser's corre-
spondence. First, the opinion of the Kaiser held by
The Morning Post, Great Britain's leading Tory



organ. Second, the comment of The Manchester
Guardian, the great Liberal journal. Third, the
average German view of Wilhelm as expressed by
Professor Walter Goetz.

To The Morning Post the letters reveal the
Kaiser as an arch-plotter. Its comment has been
expressed in a series of comprehensive and virile
editorials bearing such titles as "the arch-conspira-
tor," the "honest lago," and "Nemesis." Selections
from some of the leading articles of The Morning
Post* are given below:

The publication of the letters of the GERMAN EMPEROR
to the EMPEROR of ALL the RUSSIAS has naturally awakened
a profound interest both in this country and abroad, in fact
throughout the civilised world. Never before, perhaps, has
there been made known in the lifetime of the author so com-
plete and so voluminous an exposition of the vast and un-
scrupulous intrigues and the grandiose ambitions of the pow-
erful and autocratic monarch of a great military nation.
Thus the Imperial letters make an historical document of
the highest value, providing the key to the complex and
hidden machinery of European international policies during
the ten years preceding the Great War, which was their in-
evitable and disastrous consummation. In as far as the GER-
MAN EMPEROR himself is concerned, there is little scope
for conjecture, inasmuch as he condemns himself with his
own hand. History as a general rule is largely a matter of

* Note. Many of the notes following the letters in this
volume have been culled from the columns of The London
Morning Post.



piecing together available evidence and filling in the gaps
with ingenious and learned hypotheses. The discovery of
new evidence not infrequently invalidates the historian's
reconstruction, as in the notable instance of the records of
the French Revolution, lately so admirably rewritten by M.
LENOTRE. But in the case of the letters of WILLIAM
HOHENZOLLERN the documents are complete. The records
of the conversation at one end of the telephone, as it were,
are precise, and although the written evidence of the replies
is not available their nature may be divined with a general
accuracy by the student of the affairs of the time. Light is
concentrated upon the central figure of the long drama
which merged into tragedy at last, and in the shadow beyond
may be discerned other Kings and Emperors, their Min-
isters and Chancelleries, and beyond these again swarming
factories founding cannon, and busy dockyards building
ships of war, and the hosts of armed men. That single
figure so uncontrollably active in the lighted circle, swiftly
writing, issuing commands with passionate gesture, continu-
ally agitates the dimmer groups beyond, and the tremor
speeds across seas and continents until Peking is perturbed,
there is a stir in Tokyo, and even the massive tranquillity
of Washington is momentarily ruffled. For if there is one
aspect which more than another saliently emerges from these
letters, it is that the GERMAN EMPEROR was wholly pos-
sessed by one master idea, and that idea was war. Sleeping
or waking, war colored the very texture of his mind.

Partly as cause and partly as effect, the GERMAN EM-
PEROR'S fixed idea of war was inseparably connected with
his dynastic ambitions. Step by step these are revealed in
his letters, and shape themselves into the gigantic plan of a

vast confederation of States of which Germany should be

L. . . -


the head. Thence she could dominate the world. It is the
old, fatal dream of world-conquest; the vision of SENNA-
GERMAN EMPEROR has been called a medievalist ; but in
truth his aspirations derive from thousands of years before
the Christian era; and when he stood for days rapt in con-
templation of the disinterment of ancient inscriptions from
the sun-baked soil of the Mediterranean island it is odds
but he was thinking of the half-mythical conquerors of van-
ished civilisations as his progenitors. Like them, the Ger-
man War Lord was confronted with one formidable ob-
stacle towering in his path. Russia he might weaken and
cajole; France he thought to subdue; Austria-Hungary was
obedient ; Italy might be persuaded ; and as for the smaller
nations, his foot would be on their necks. But what of
the British Empire? Supreme on all seas, owning one-fifth
of the habitable globe, peaceable until attacked, but when
attacked indomitably stubborn, the English would never
consent to an European hegemony. They might be de-
ceived for a time; but ultimately, it seems, they must
be vanquished. Now and again, in the course of the let-
ters, that conviction of the GERMAN EMPEROR is vividly
revealed. For, broadly regarded, the GERMAN EMPEROR'S
main purpose became the conquest and the subjugation of
the British Empire. The astute suggestion made to the
Emperor NICHOLAS that he was threatened in the East
had its part in bringing about the Russo-Japanese War,
which left Russia weakened and humiliated ; and therefore,
so reasoned the KAISER, the more pliant to his will. He
succeeded, indeed, in fastening upon Russia a commercial
treaty which ensured German trade predominance, and a
diplomatic treaty which was accepted by the RUSSIAN EM-



PEROR, conferring upon Germany political predominance.
Up to this point it seems that NICHOLAS was deceived, or
partly deceived. But what actually happened was that the
GERMAN EMPEROR'S cunning overreached itself. The terms
of both treaties were of a nature so monstrous that no
nation would ultimately accept them.

By this time, too, the German policy had necessarily
aroused alarm throughout Europe, and awakened antagonis-
tic forces. Broadly speaking, the answer to the menace
of a hostile European confederation, to which the GERMAN
EMPEROR once thought of adding Japan, and, again, the
United States, was to divide the elements of the combina-
tion and so attain a balance of power. In this connection
the world owes very much to the sagacity and diplomatic
skill of King EDWARD VII. , who was, of course, supported
by his Ministers. The Triple Alliance secured by the KAISER
was balanced by the Triple Entente; and the GERMAN EM-
PEROR'S design was for the time being frustrated; a failure
he never forgot nor forgave. The Great War was a tre-
mendous attempt to redeem that defeat. How craftily
planned, how skilfully manoeuvred, was the original design,
are revealed in the letters. And here we may note that
clever as the GERMAN EMPEROR was, he was not clever
enough. Of a swift and a penetrating intellect, possessed
of immense ingenuity, the KAISER lacked what alone makes
these gifts effective. He lacked judgment. He lacked com-
mon sense. Common sense would have told him that world-
conquest is no longer practicable. Common sense would
have warned him that to extort too much from a neighbor
would annul the very purpose of the extortion. And a rea-
soned judgment would have enabled the KAISER to perceive
that even if it were possible to fulfil his dream, the cost



would be so frightful that none could gain by it, that the
fulfilment could be no more than the affair of a moment,
and that the rest would be war, unending war. As matters
stand, after the event, the war has brought no profit even to
the victors, but a wide calamity and a profound disease
which cannot be healed in this generation. And he who be-
fore all others is most guilty, deprived of his glory, stripped
of his possessions, discrowned and abject, dwells in a dis-
honorable exile, the pensioner of a small nation which once
he despised. . . .

There can be no doubt that the ex-German Emperor
was a great letter writer; the letters which he sent to the
Czar prove it conclusively.

It is clear that in this correspondence the Emperor set
out to make himself interesting, and it is equally clear that
he fully succeeded. Whatever may be the subject on which
he is expatiating the French mentality, the modern news-
paper, the British Navy, the way to manage the people, the
diplomacy of King Edward, the "Yellow Peril," the famous
visit to Jerusalem, and so on he is always entertaining.
He was, of course, tremendously interested in a vast num-
ber of subjects and he knew just enough about them never
to be grotesque and not enough ever to be dull. And in
this correspondence, he was at his very best, for he was play-
ing a great game. Indeed, to break the Franco-Russian
Alliance, to make the CZAR an enemy of England, to place
Europe under German hegemony was an ambition strong
enough to make even a dull man lively and to speed a clumsy
and halting pen. It was only when the writer realised the
game was up that the letters became shorter and less exu-
berant. But during those historic days when Great Britain,
Russia, and France were drawing together under the im-


pulse of a common danger, the Imperial scribe used every
art to cajole, to flatter, to amuse, and to threaten the Em-
peror Nicholas. Indeed, it is the variety of method em-
ployed that is one source of special attraction in these let-
ters. Suddenly, amidst the flatteries, the sage counsels,
the tender solicitude, the deep sympathy, the mailed fist ap-
pears, and a threat and almost a command are launched
forth. Then he changes his tune again. But the aim is al-
ways the same, and though it failed perhaps because it
failed the letters are of extraordinary interest, not only
for their "human" side, but because they are the prelude
to the great storm which broke on the world in 1914. . . .

These intimate epistles, addressed to the late Emperor of
RUSSIA, alone suffice to prove that from first to last the GER-
MAN EMPEROR, in the prosecution of his vast and sinister
designs, was so far from acting as a despot, ignoring the
sentiments and predilections of his people, that he never en-
tertained the smallest doubt of their absolute and enthusi-
astic support. To what extent their allegiance had been
secured by that method of "mass-suggestion," of which a
good deal has been written, is another question. It is
enough to know that the German nation was welded to-
gether as a single instrument to accomplish the triumphant
destiny of the Great German race. . . .

It was one of the essential elements in the schemes of the
GERMAN EMPEROR so to weaken Russia that she should be-
come subservient to the German hegemony; and the readiest
means to that end was to embroil Russia with Japan. Thus.
in these crafty suggestions we trace the origin of the
Russo-Japanese War. As the series proceeds the GER-
MAN EMPEROR'S hatred of England and his dislike and
jealousy of King EDWARD VII. become manifest. But in

[ xvii ]


King EDWARD the GERMAN MONARCH was dealing with
an intelligence superior to his own, and a talent for diplo-
macy to which this country owes much more than has yet
been revealed. But if the GERMAN EMPEROR hated Eng-
land, he held France in a stupid contempt, for which he
subsequently paid a devastating price.

Although we have not the replies of the Emperor of
RUSSIA to complete the correspondence, the internal evi-
dence of the GERMAN EMPEROR'S letters shows that the
CZAR by no means allowed his policy to be dominated by
the German guile. When the decisive moment arrived the
Emperor of RUSSIA chose the Triple Entente, and the GER-
MAN EMPEROR'S long and elaborate combinations were com-
pletely foiled. . . .

In the course of his letters it will be remarked that his
IMPERIAL MAJESTY stooped to the basest devices without
a thought. It was perhaps this singular moral obtuseness
which ultimately vitiated his diplomacy. He had a blind
spot in his mind. At the same time the amiable duplicity
of the GERMAN EMPEROR'S correspondence is so admir-
ably done as to become an effect in art ; and the letters of
WILLIAM HOHENZOLLERN will assuredly rank as a classic
in that form of literature. . . .

One of two things invariably occurred to rulers or states-
men who tried to deal with the GERMAN EMPEROR. Either
they were compelled, like Austria and the Ottoman Empire,
to accept a subordinate, even a servile, position, or, like cer-
tain British Ministers, they fell into the snares so carefully
designed by the arch-conspirator. The Marquess of SALIS-
BURY, the greatest statesman of his time, entertained no
illusions concerning the GERMAN EMPEROR, whose extraor-
dinary instability of character had by 1898 become no-

L. . . _


torious. The inconsistency of the letter of May 30, i!
must have been evident to the Emperor of RUSSIA, for if
tentative offers of alliance were made by Great Britain,
they were, on the Imperial writer's own showing, conceived
in the interests of peace, and yet in the same letter and in the
next the GERMAN EMPEROR plainly insinuates that Great
Britain is inspired by some sinister design against the peace
of Europe. "We two," writes the GERMAN EMPEROR to
the CZAR, "have the same opinions: we want peace, and
we have sustained and upheld it till now . . . they (the
British) are trying hard, as far as I can make out, to find a
Continental army to fight for their interests."

At that time the feeling of France towards England was
far from amicable; and that circumstance apparently moved
the GERMAN EMPEROR to tell the CZAR that the "new-
est move" of the British "is the wish to gain France over
from you, and they in consequence have suddenly decided
to send the DUKE OF CONNAUGHT to the French Army
Manoeuvres, a nice little plan of COURCELLES, I think, who
is ardently at work between Paris and London. I already
once warned your people of him!" The intention of these
suggestions is to make as much mischief as possible between
Russia, France, and England. The RUSSIAN EMPEROR
is asked to suspect Great Britain of ulterior purposes in-
imical to Russia. Nothing that England can do is right;
nor is anything more remarkable in the GERMAN EMPEROR'S
correspondence than his intense hatred and jealousy of
Great Britain. In this alone is he consistent. One of the
chief reasons why the Cretan affair, which threatened about
this time to embroil all Europe, was so difficult to settle is
now revealed. While Germany was ostensibly helping the
other Powers to restore order in Crete, where the Turks


were slaying the Christians in their familiar light-hearted
way, the GERMAN EMPEROR was secretly inciting the CZAR
to side with the Ottoman Empire and to prevent the ex-
pulsion of the Turks from the island. Diplomacy, in
fact, was at a stand, and we now know why. The diffi-
culty was solved by Rear-Admiral NOEL (afterwards Ad-
miral of the Fleet, Sir GERARD NOEL), who definitely or-
dered the Turks to leave Crete, who saw to it that his or-
ders were obeyed, and who was afterwards publicly com-
plimented by Lord SALISBURY upon his action.

It is at this period, too, that the GERMAN EMPEROR'S
vast dream of Eastern conquest begins to emerge. He de-
sires for the time being to secure the support of Russia, as an
Oriental Power, and her recommendation to the Moham-
medan world in general. The vision of a Mohammedan
Empire inspires his memorable voyage to the Holy Land. . . .

The progress of the correspondence between the EX-EM-
PEROR and the late CZAR brings us to a very remarkable
little drama in which the HOHENZOLLERN reveals in a sud-
den and baleful flash the treachery of himself and of his
race. He had been egging on the CZAR to his disastrous
Manchurian adventure. He had described himself and the
Emperor NICHOLAS as the two crusaders of Christendom
against the Yellow Peril. With the pen and even with the
brush he had done his best to rouse the Emperor of RUSSIA
to a fanatical fervour, and his letters were full not indeed
of explicit pledges but of hints and implications that he
might be trusted as a brilliant second, or at least as a benevo-
lent neutral in any such enterprise. Thus urged, and hot,
we may be certain, only by WILLIAM, but by all the agents
of persuasion at the German command, Russia went to war.
The Emperor NICHOLAS, as we see from the letter of the



6th of June, 1904, regarded his Correspondent as a "real
friend," and this "real friend" overflows with sympathy at
the Russian naval losses and military embarrassments. The

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Online LibraryGerman Emperor William IILetters from the Kaiser to the Czar : copied from government archives in Petrograd unpublished before 1920 → online text (page 1 of 15)