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newly-acquired rights of Prussia to Kiel, and the prospect
of a maritime future founded on its possession, rather in
the hands of the auctioneer, Hannibal Fischer, than in those
of a Bismarck Ministry."

From this on naval development in Prussia was slow; there was no
interest for a marine either among the governing classes or the
people; but it was not wholly neglected, for Wilhelmshaven was
acquired from the Duchy of Oldenburg, a small fleet was sent to the
Orient with a view to obtaining commercial treaties and concessions,
and a sum of £320,000 was devoted annually to naval requirements.
During the Danish War of 1864 a fleet of three screw corvettes, two
paddle steamers, and a few gunboats was considered sufficient to
protect the coasts and make a blockade impossible.

From 1885 onwards there had been several Navy Proposals, but it was in
that of 1889, a year after the Emperor's accession, that the beginning
of Germany's naval policy is to be found. In that Proposal it was
announced that the Government intended to depart from the previous
principles of naval policy which had "become antiquated owing to the
progress of science and the character of future naval warfare, as also
owing to the extension of Germany's oversea relations." Up to this
time German maritime needs had invariably been postponed to military
requirements. The necessity for a fleet was indeed recognized, but
only for purposes of coast defence and the prevention of a blockade of
the ports on the North Sea and Baltic. To this end no large fleet was
considered needful, particularly as the war with France had
demonstrated the futility of coast attack. During that war two small
fleets were sent from Cherbourg to blockade the North Sea and Baltic
coasts, but the admirals in charge found the task "impossible" and
returned to France after a few single engagements with divided honours
had occurred. At that time the German people felt entirely secure on
the score of invasion. The numerous espionage incidents of more recent
times prove that this feeling of security has entirely passed away,
and all countries are now armed as though they were to be invaded

Emperor William I did something, though not much, for the German navy.
Moltke was interested in it and proposed an armoured cruiser fleet,
but he was thinking chiefly of coast defence. Roon also took up the
matter and laid a Navy Bill before the Diet in 1865, but it was
rejected because, in Virchow's words, the Diet thought "the
Constitution more important than the development of the army and
navy." The war of 1866 showed the necessity of a fleet, and this time
the Diet accepted Roon's proposals. Still, however, the object was
coast defence; and when Emperor William I died the navy was relatively
of no consideration. In the ten years between 1881 and 1891 only one
armoured cruiser, the _Oldenburg_, was launched. With the accession of
the Emperor, however, began a new, and for the Emperor and the
Empire - why not candidly admit it? - a glorious chapter in German naval

An incident during the reign which really touched German national
pride, and was one of the reasons which caused the Emperor to
accelerate the building of a powerful fleet, was the eviction, if the
term is not too strong, of the German admiral, Diedrich, by the
Americans from the harbour of Manila in the course of the
Spanish-American War. Admiral Dewey was in command of a blockading
fleet at Manila. The ships of various nationalities, and among them
some German warships, were in the harbour. Various causes of
irritation arose between the Germans and Americans. There was talk of
Spain's being desirous of selling the Philippines to Germany, and the
impression got abroad in America that the Germans were inclined to
behave as if they were already the new masters of the islands. The
German warships kept going in and out of the harbour of Millesares, a
village close to Manila, in connexion with the exchange of
time-expired men, using search-lights, the American admiral thought,
in an unnecessary way, and doing other acts which he considered might
give information to blockade-running vessels.

In accordance with custom, the Germans, had at first supplied
themselves with permits from the American admiral for crossing the
blockade lines, but as time went on the German ships began to cross
the line without them. Admiral Dewey thereupon issued an order that
permits must be obtained. The German admiral sent his flag-lieutenant
to Admiral Dewey to protest, on the ground that warships are exempt
from blockade regulations. The American admiral's reply was to bring
his fist down on his cabin table and say,

"Tell Admiral Diedrich, with my compliments, that he must
obtain permits, and that if a German ship breaks the
blockade lines without one it spells war, for I shall fire
on the first vessel that attempts it."

The flag officer went back with the message, and Admiral Diedrich took
his ships, which were greatly inferior in number to those of the
Americans, out of the harbour.

The German navy, in contrast to the army, is a purely imperial
institution - an institution, according to the Constitution, "entirely
under the chief command of the Kaiser," consequently in no respect
administered or controlled by the federated kingdoms and states. One
speaks of the "royal" army, but of the "imperial" navy. The Emperor is
officially described as the navy's "Chef," superintends its
organization and disposition, with his brother Prince Henry as
Inspector-General, and appoints its officials and officers. He
exercises his functions through the Marine Cabinet, a creation of his
own, which serves as a connecting link between the Emperor and the

The legislative stages of the growth of the German navy have so far
been five in number. The first Navy Law passed the Reichstag on third
reading, on March 28, 1898, 212 members voting for it and 139 against,
in a Parliament of 397 members. It provided for the building of a
fleet of seventeen battleships within a certain time, and fixed the
age of the ships at twenty-five years. The new ships were divided into
ships-of-the-line (a new designation), large armoured cruisers, and
small armoured cruisers. This fleet, however, was not large enough to
have any influence on sea politics or seaborne trade, and the
occurrences of the Spanish-American War, just now begun and finished,
determined the Emperor to make further proposals. A great agitation
for the navy was started throughout the Empire, and on January 25,
1900, Admiral Tirpitz laid the second Navy Bill (a "Novelle," as it is
called) before the Reichstag.

The new measure demanded a doubling of the fleet. The first fleet was
intended chiefly with a view to coast defence, while the new fleet was
to assure "the economic development of Germany, especially of its
world-commerce." If the first Navy Bill had excited surprise and
uneasiness in England, the sensations roused by the second may be
imagined, not altogether because of the increase of German naval
power, but of the power that would result when the new German navy was
combined with the navies of Germany's allies of the Triplice. The
third Navy Bill was a consequence of the Russo-Japanese War and of the
lesson taught by the sea-fight of Tsuschima. It was laid before the
Reichstag on November 28, 1905, for "a stronger representation of the
Empire abroad." Its main object was to increase by almost one-half the
size of the battleships, thus following the lead of England, which had
decided on the new and famous "Dreadnought" class of vessel,
remarkable for its five revolving armoured turrets (instead of two
previously) and the number of its heavy guns. Hitherto English
warships had had an average tonnage of about 14,000 tons: the tonnage
of the original "Dreadnought" was 18,300 tons. Notwithstanding the
enormous nature of the financial demand (£47,600,000 within eleven
years) the Reichstag passed the Bill on May 19, 1905. A torpedo fleet
of 144 boats, in 24 divisions, was additionally provided for in this

The fourth Navy Bill was brought in in 1908, with the diminution of
the age of the German battleship from twenty-five to twenty years as
its principal aim. As a result the number of new ships to be built by
1912 was raised from six to twelve. The fifth and last Navy Bill was
passed last year, 1912, creating a third active squadron as reserve,
made up of existing vessels and three new battleships. The German navy
now consists of 41 battleships of the line, 12 large armoured
cruisers, and 30 small armoured cruisers, the cruisers being for
purposes of reconnaissance; the foreign-service fleet of 8 large and
10 small armoured cruisers; and an active reserve fleet of 16
battleships, 4 large and 12 small armoured cruisers.

Like sailors everywhere, the German sailor is a frank and hearty type
of his race, and welcome wherever he goes. The German naval officer is
usually of middle-class extraction, while a slightly larger proportion
of the officers of the army is taken from the _noblesse_. He is a
fine, frank, and manly fellow as a rule, and, like the Emperor,
perfectly willing to admit that his navy is closely modelled on that
of Great Britain. Moreover, in addition to a thorough knowledge of his
profession, he is able, in two cases out of three, to converse with
useful fluency in English, French, and in some cases Italian as well.

The navy, like the army, is recruited by conscription, but active
service is for three years, as in the German cavalry and artillery,
while only two years in the German infantry. Naturally young men of an
adventurous turn of mind frequently elect for the navy, as they hope
thereby to see something of the world. At the end of their third year
of service they may go back to civil life as reservists or may
"capitulate," that is, continue in active service for another year,
and renew their "capitulation" thenceforward from year to year. The
ordinary sailor receives (since 1912) the equivalent of 14s. 6d. in
cash monthly and 9s. for clothing, but when at sea additional pay of
6s. a month. The result of the system of conscription is that about 40
per cent. of the fleet's crews consist of what may be called seasoned
sailors, the remainder being three-year conscripts. The officer class
is recruited from young men who have passed a certain school standard
examination and enter the navy as cadets. The one-year-volunteer
system (_Einjähriger Dienst_) only partially obtains in the navy, for
purposes, namely, of coast defence and other services on land. After
two years the cadet becomes a midshipman, and with five or six other
middies serves for a year or so on board ship, when he becomes a
sub-lieutenant and is promoted by seniority to full lieutenant,
captain-lieutenant (the English naval lieutenant with eight
years' service), corvette-captain (the English naval commander,
with three stripes), frigate-captain (corresponding in rank to a
lieutenant-colonel in the English army), and finally captain-at-sea
(with four stripes), when he may get command of a battleship. To reach
this great object of the German naval officer's ambition takes on an
average twenty-four years, or about the same period as in the British

The upper ranks, in ascending order, are contre-admiral (the English
rear-admiral), vice-admiral, admiral, grand-admiral (English Admiral
of the Fleet). There are only four grand-admirals in Germany, namely,
the Emperor (as "Chef" of the navy), his brother Prince Henry (as
inspector-general), retired Admiral von Koester (president of the Navy
League), and Admiral von Tirpitz (Secretary of Admiralty and the only
"active" grand-admiral). King George V of England is an admiral of the
German navy, as the Emperor is an admiral of the British navy.

Salutes are a matter of international agreement. They are: 33 guns
(simultaneously from all ships) for the Emperor and foreign monarchs,
21 for the Crown Prince of Germany or of a foreign country, 19 for a
grand-admiral or an ambassador, 17 for an admiral, the Secretary of
Admiralty or inspector-general, 15 for a vice-admiral, 13 for
contre-admiral, and so descending. 101 guns are fired on the Emperor's
birthday or on the birth of an imperial prince. 66 guns is the salute
when a German monarch ascends the imperial throne, and 101 when a
German Emperor dies.

The yearly salaries of German naval officers are as follows: Admiral,
£1,294 (of which £699 is "pay"), vice-admiral, £897 (£677 "pay"),
contre-admiral, £772 (£677 "pay"), captain-at-sea, £520 (£438 "pay"),
corvette-captain, £396 (£280 "pay"), full lieutenant, £174 (£120
"pay"), and so on downwards. Jews are not allowed to become officers
of the navy, thus following the practice in the army. There is no law
to prevent Jews becoming officers in either army or navy, but, as a
matter of tradition or prejudice, no regimental or naval commander is
willing to accept an Israelite among his officers.

It is time, however, to return to the personal doings of the Emperor.
He is responsible for Germany's foreign policy, and his duties in
connexion with it and with the navy must often have suggested to him
the desirability of seeing with his own eyes something of the Orient,
the new battlefield of the world's diplomacy, and possibly a new
Eldorado for European merchants and engineers. His journey to the
East, now undertaken, was, however, chiefly a religious one, though it
had also something of a chivalric character, since much of every
German's imagination is concerned with the Crusades, the Order of
Knight Templars, and similar historical or legendary incidents and
personalities in the early stages of the struggle between the
Christian and the Saracen. The birthplace of Christ has special
interest for a Hohenzollern who holds his kingship by divine grace,
and in the Emperor's case because his father had made the journey to
Jerusalem thirty years before. The Emperor, lastly, cannot but have
been glad to escape, if only for a time, such harassing concerns as
party politics, scribbling journalists, long-winded ministerial
harangues, and Social Democrats.

The journey of the Emperor and Empress to Palestine occupied about a
month from the middle of October, 1898, to the middle of the following
November, and while it was one of the most delightful and picturesque
experiences of the Emperor, it entailed some unforeseen and not
altogether agreeable consequences. It was very much criticized in
Germany as an exhibition of a theatrical kind, of the "decorative in
policy," as Bismarck used to say, who saw no utility in decoration,
and evidently did not agree with Shakspeare that the "world is still
deceived by ornament." It was objected that the Emperor should have
stayed at home to look after imperial business, that such a journey
must excite suspicion in England and France - in the former because
England is an Oriental power, and in the latter because France is
supposed to claim special protective rights over Christianity in the

The Englishman who reads what German writers say about the journey
gets the impression that the criticism was an expression of
jealousy - jealousy, as we know from Bismarck and Prince Bülow, being a
national German failing. Every German ardently desires to see Italy
and the Orient, but until of late years few Germans had the means of
gratifying the wish. In one point, however, the critics were right.
The Emperor, when in Damascus, after saying that he felt "deeply moved
at standing on the spot where one of the most knightly sovereigns of
all times, the great Sultan Saladin, stood," went on to say that
Sultan Abdul "and the three hundred million Mohammedans who, scattered
over the earth, venerated him as their Caliph, might be assured that
at all times the German Emperor would be their friend." It was a
harmless and vague remark enough, one would think, but political
writers in all countries have made great capital out of it ever since
whenever Germany's Oriental policy is discussed. At the risk of
repetition it may be said that that policy is, in the East as
elsewhere, a purely economic one. The Emperor's mistake perhaps
chiefly lay in raising hopes in Turkish minds which were very unlikely
to be realized.

The Emperor's allusion to Saladin as the most knightly sovereign of
all times was a bad blunder. He was doubtless carried away by a
combination, in his probably at this time somewhat excited
imagination, of the chivalrous figures of the crusading times with
thoughts of the German Knight Templars and other soldierly characters.
Saladin was a brave man physically, and fond of imperial magnificence,
as is only natural and necessary for an Oriental potentate to be; and
a good deal of Eastern legend grew up about him on that account.
Legend was enough for the Emperor in his then romantic mood. He
forgot, or did not know, that Saladin, from the point of view of a
modern and in reality far more knightly age, was a sanguinary
and fanatic ruffian, who showed no mercy to his Christian
prisoners - killed, in fact, one of them, Rainald de Chatillon, with
his own hand, sacked Jerusalem, turned the Temple of Solomon into a
mosque, after having it "disinfected" with rose-water, and killed Pope
Urban III, who died, the chronicles tell, of sorrow at the news.

The journey was, as has been said, a delightful and picturesque
experience for the Emperor and the Empress. They passed through Venice
with its marble palaces, sailed over the sapphire waters of the
Adriatic, and were received with great demonstrations of welcome by
the Sultan in Constantinople. When they were leaving, the Sultan gave
the Emperor a gigantic carpet, and the Emperor gave the Sultan a gold
walking-stick, an exact imitation of the stick Frederick the Great
used to lean on, and sometimes, very likely, apply to the backs of his
trusty but stupid lieges.

Before disposing of the events of this period of the Emperor's life
mention may be made of two or three occurrences which must have been a
source of political interest or social entertainment to him. From
among them we select the Dreyfus case and the historic scene arranged
for the painter, Adolf Menzel, in Sans Souci.

The Dreyfus case, though its investigation brought to light no fact
implicating the German authorities, naturally aroused interest
throughout Germany. The interest was felt equally in the army,
notwithstanding that it contains no Jewish officer, and among the
civil population. In France, it will be remembered, the case acquired
its importance from the charge, made by the anti-Semite Drumont and
his journal _La Libre Parole_, that the Jews were exploiting the
Government and the country. There is an anti-Semite party in Germany,
founded by the Court preacher Stoecker in 1878, but possibly owing to
the prudence and good citizenship of the Jews in Germany, it has
gained little weight or momentum since.

The "affaire," as it was universally known, was only once referred to
in the German Parliament, in January, 1898, when Chancellor von Bülow
declared "in the most positive way possible" that there had "never
been any traffic or relations of any kind whatsoever between Dreyfus
and any German authority," adding that the alleged finding of an
official German communication in the wastepaper basket of the German
Embassy in Paris was a fiction. The Chancellor concluded by saying
that the case had in no respect ever troubled relations between
Germany and France.

The incident most often cited as evidence of the Emperor's love of
recalling the days of his great ancestor, Frederick the Great, is the
concert he arranged at Sans Souci on June 13, 1895, to gratify, we may
be sure, as well as surprise, the famous painter. The incident and its
origin are described in a work already mentioned, the "Private Lives
of William II and His Consort," by a lady of the Court. The account
given below is illustrative of the unfriendly sentiments which are
evident throughout the work, but the lady is probably fairly accurate
as regards the incident, and in any case her gossip will give the
reader some notion, though by no means an entirely faithful one, of
the Court atmosphere at the time. Talk at the palace during afternoon
tea having turned on the fact that Adolf Menzel, the painter, would
shortly celebrate his eightieth birthday, some one remarked on the
refusal by the Court marshal in the previous reign to allow him to see
the scene of his celebrated "Flute Concert at Sans Souci," which he
was then composing, lighted up. The conversation, according to the
lady writer, continued thus: -

"'Maybe he was frightened at the prospect of furnishing a
couple of dozen wax candles,' sneered the Duke of Schleswig.

"'More likely he knew nothing of Menzel's growing
reputation,' suggested Begas, the sculptor.

"The Emperor overheard the last words. 'Are you prepared to
say that my grand-uncle's chief marshal failed to recognize
the genius of the foremost Hohenzollern painter?' he asked

"'I would not like to libel a dead man,' answered Begas,
'but appearances are certainly against the Count. I have it
from Menzel's own lips that the Court marshal refused him
all and every assistance when he was painting the scenes of
life in Sans Souci. The rooms of the chateau were accessible
to him only to the same extent as to any other paying
visitor or the hordes of foreign tourists, and he had to
make his sketches piece-meal, gathering corroborative and
additional material in museums and picture-galleries.'

"Quick as a flash the Kaiser turned to Count Eulenburg. 'I
shall repay the debt Prussia owes to Menzel,' he spoke, not
without declamatory effect. 'We will have the representation
of the Sans Souci flute concert three days hence. Your
programme is to be ready tomorrow morning at ten. Menzel,
mind you, must know nothing of this: merely command him to
attend us at the Schloss at supper and for a musical
evening.' And, turning round, he said to her Majesty: 'You
will impersonate Princess Amalia, and you, Kessel' (Adjutant
von Kessel, then Commander of the First Life Guards),
'engage all your tallest and best-looking officers to enact
the great King's military household.'

"Again the Kaiser addressed Count Eulenberg: 'Be sure to
have the best artists of the Royal Orchestra perform
Frederick the Great's compositions, and let Joachim be
engaged for the occasion.' Saying this, he took her
Majesty's arm, and bidding his guests and the Court a hasty
good-night, strode out of the apartment."

A description of the Empress's costume for the concert follows.

"Her Majesty's dress consisted of a petticoat of sea-green
satin, richly ornamented with silver lace of antique pattern
and an overdress of dark velvet, embroidered with gold and
set with precious stones. On her powdered hair, amplified by
one of Herr Adeljana, the Viennese coiffeur's, most
successful creations, sat a jaunty three-cornered hat having
a blazing aigrette of large diamonds in front, the identical
cluster of white stones which figured at the great
Napoleon's coronation, and which he lost, together with his
entire equipage, in the battle of Waterloo. In her ears her
Majesty wore pearl ornaments representing a small bunch of
cherries. Like the aigrette, they are Crown property, and
that Auguste Victoria thought well enough of the jewels to
rescue them from oblivion for this occasion was certainly
most appropriate."

The Emperor's costume is also described.

"He wore the cuirassier uniform of the great Frederick's period, a
highly ornamented dress that suited the War Lord, who was painted and
powdered to perfection, extremely well, especially as Wellington
boots, a very becoming wig and his strange head-gear really and
seemingly added to his figure, while his usually stern face beamed
pleasantly under the powder and rouge laid on by expert hands."

The arrival of Menzel is then narrated and the reception by the
Emperor, who took the part of an adjutant of Frederick the Great's,
and in that character "bombarded the helpless master," as the
chronicler says,

"with forty stanzas of alleged verse, in which the deeds of
Prussia's kings and the masterpieces that commemorate them
were extolled with a prosiness that sounded like an

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 14 of 31)