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opponent of the new Alliance was William I, who was moved by personal
chivalric feelings towards his nephew, Czar Alexander; but,
disregarding this, because confident of eventually persuading his
imperial master, Bismarck went to Gastein and there settled with the
Austrian Minister, Count Andrassy, the principles of the Alliance.
Italy came into the Alliance in 1883 as the immediate result of France
obtaining a protectorate in Tunis, in return, partly, for her
acquiescence in the English acquisition of Cyprus. The protectorate
aroused general indignation and fear in Italy, and though it meant a
large expenditure on naval and military armament, on May 20, 1882, she
joined the Dual Alliance for five years, and thus turned it into the

The Triple Alliance rests on three treaties: one between Germany and
Austria-Hungary, one between Germany and Italy, and one between
Austria-Hungary and Italy. While by the first Germany and
Austria-Hungary bind themselves to combine in case of an attack on
either by Russia, whether as original foe or as ally, and to observe
"at least" benevolent neutrality in case of attack from any other
quarter, by the second Germany and Italy bind themselves to mutual
support in case of an attack on either by France. The third, between
Austria-Hungary and Italy, binds the signatories to benevolent
neutrality in case Austria-Hungary is attacked by Russia, or Italy by

That there are weak points in the Triple Alliance is obvious. If
Austria-Hungary were a purely homogeneous country like France or
Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary, even without Italy, could face
with confidence an attack from either or both their powerful
neighbours. But Austria-Hungary is not homogeneous. A large proportion
of her population is anti-German, or at least non-German, and Italy is
always subject to be tempted by an opportunity of obtaining some of
Austria-Hungary's Adriatic possessions. Moreover, a large party is
even now to be found in Austria-Hungary which desires revenge for the
humiliation of her defeat by Germany in 1866.

The relations of Germany to Russia have always been rather those of
friendship between the monarchs of the two countries than of
friendship between the two peoples; and it is easy to understand that
the fear of revolution, Socialism, or "government of the people, by
the people, for the people," to use Lincoln's celebrated phrase, at
all times forms a strong and active bond of sympathy between the
monarchs. In the case of Russia there is also always to be considered
the obstinate, or as the Emperor would call it knightly, spirit in
which his grandfather, King William I, regarded his obligation to
maintain friendship with the Czar, and which for a long time made him
hostile to the idea of alliance with Austria instead of alliance with
Russia. The feeling, it is highly probable, is strong, if not equally
strong, in the mind of the Emperor to-day, if only out of respect for
the memory of his ancestor. There is not, to use a popular expression,
much love lost between the two peoples, not only because of racial
differences between Teuton and Slav, but because of the differences in
religion and in degree of civilization. There are not a few Germans
who assert that Germany's next war will be with Russia, and that from
the dominions of the Czar will be obtained the fresh territory Germany
needs for her constantly expanding population.

The Czar returned the Emperor's accession visit in Berlin in October,
1889, and it was on this occasion that the first sign of trouble
between the Emperor and the old Chancellor showed itself. When the
Emperor first proposed to make his round of visits of accession to
foreign sovereigns, Bismarck agreed except as regarded Russia and
England, objecting that visits to these countries would have an
alternatively bad effect in each. The Emperor, however, as has been
noted, went to Russia. During the return visit in Berlin, Bismarck had
an interview with the Czar which resulted in the final adjustment of
Russo-German relations, but at its close the Czar said, "Yes, I
believe you and have confidence in you, but are you sure you will
remain in office?" Bismarck looked surprised, and said, "Certainly,
Majesty; I am quite certain I shall remain in office all my life" - an
odd thing, one may remark, for a man to say, who must have been
familiar with the saying, "Put not your trust in princes."

When the Czar was going away, both the Emperor and Bismarck
accompanied him to the station, and on their return the Emperor gave
the old Chancellor a seat in his carriage. The talk concerned the
visit just over, and the Emperor again announced his intention of
spending some time in Russia the following year. Bismarck now advised
against the project on the ground that it would arouse hostility in
Austria, and because "it was not suitable considering the Czar's
disposition towards the Emperor."

"What disposition? What do you mean? How do you know?" questioned the
Emperor quickly.

"From confidential letters I am in the habit of receiving from St.
Petersburg, in addition to official reports," replied the Chancellor.

The Emperor expressed a wish to see the letters, but Bismarck gave an
evasive answer. The result was a temporary coolness between Emperor
and Chancellor.

From a memorandum of Prince Hohenlohe's we get a glimpse of one of the
political currents and anti-currents just now running high. Prince
Hohenlohe writes under date, June 27, 1888, when the Emperor was
hardly a fortnight on the throne: -

"Last evening at 8 left Berlin with Thaden after supping
with Victor and Franz (son and nephew) in the Kaiserhof
Hotel. Paid several visits during the day. I found Friedberg
somewhat depressed. He is no longer the big man he was in
the Emperor Frederick's time, when everybody courted him. He
knows that the Emperor does not favour Jews. Then I visited
the new chief of the Cabinet (civil), Lucanus, a courtly,
polished, obliging man, who looks more like an elegant
Austrian privy councillor. Wilmoski inspires me with more
confidence. At 5 to Bleichroeder's (Bleichroeder was the
great Jew banker). We spoke, or rather he spoke first, about
the political situation. He is satisfied, and says Bismarck
is too. Only the Emperor must take care to keep out of the
hands of the Orthodox. People in the country wouldn't stand
that. (He is right there, comments Hohenlohe.) Waldersee and
his followers, he said, was another danger. Waldersee was a
foe of Bismarck's and thought himself fit for anything and
everything. Who knows but that these gentlemen wouldn't
begin the old game and say to the Emperor, 'You are simply
nothing but a doll. Bismarck is the real ruler.' On the old
Emperor this would have made no impression, but the young
one would be more sensitive. Bismarck, therefore, wanted
Waldersee's banishment, and would, if he could, send him to
Strasburg (where Hohenlohe was Statthalter) as commanding
general. Perhaps he was only aiming at making me (Hohenlohe)
sick of my post and so get rid of Waldersee, his enemy, when
I cleared out. Bleichroeder said Bismarck only introduced
the compulsory pass system to show the Emperor that he too
could act sharply against the French, and so as to take the
wind out of the sails of the military party. Bismarck was
thinking above all about seating his son Herbert firmly in
the saddle (Herbert was Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs). That is the sole motive of his action and thought.
There was therefore no prospect of matters in the Rhineland
improving. As to Russia, Bleichroeder expected some
occurrence, something out of the way (_exotisches_) by which
Russia might be won, either the withdrawal of troops from
the frontier or a meeting of Emperors. The Emperor, Bismarck
said, would not begin a war. If it came, however, it would
not be unwelcome to him."

Prince Hohenlohe also tells of a visit he paid in the month of the
accession to the widowed Empress Frederick. "She is much bowed down,"
he said,

"very harassed-looking, and I feel sure that all this recent
time, all the last year in fact, she has been displaying an
artificial good-humour, for now I find her in deep distress.
At first she could not speak for weeping. We spoke of the
Emperor Frederick's last days, then she recovered herself a
little and complained of the wickedness and meanness of men,
by which she meant to allude to certain people.... Herbert
Bismarck had had the impudence to tell the Prince of Wales
(later Edward VII) that an Emperor who could not talk and
discuss things should not be allowed to reign, and so on.
The Prince of Wales, the Empress said, told Herbert that if
it were not that he valued good relations between England
and Germany, he would have thrown him out of the door....
Waldersee was a false, unprincipled wretch, who would think
nothing of ruining his country if he could only satisfy his
own personal ambition."

Prince Hohenlohe finally called on the Prince of Wales, who "spoke
prudently, but showed his disgust at the roughness of the Bismarcks,
and could not understand their policy of irritating France."

The particular question concerning France that was agitating Germany
at the time of the accession was the state of affairs in
Alsace-Lorraine, and particularly Bismarck's measure requiring French
citizens entering the provinces to provide themselves with a pass from
the German Ambassador in Paris. The amiable and conciliatory
Statthalter, Prince Hohenlohe, had to make a reluctant journey to
Berlin in connexion with this question. There was another question
also weighing on his mind - the question whether or not he should have
a sentry guard before his official residence in Strasburg. The
military authorities, whose rivalry with the civil authorities
everywhere in Germany for influence and power still continues, wanted
to have the sentries abolished, but the Prince eventually had his way.
He showed Bismarck that they were necessary for his reputation with
the population, which had already begun to think less of his influence
as Statthalter owing to his one day at a review having incautiously
and gallantly taken a back seat in his carriage in favour of some lady

In normal times the composers of speeches from the throne are
accustomed to describe the relations between their own and foreign
countries as "friendly." When the relations are not friendly, yet not
the opposite, they are usually registered on the political barometer
as "correct." The attitude on both sides is formal, rigorously polite,
reserved; such as would become a pair of people who had once been at
feud and after their quarrel had been fought out agreed, if only for
the sake of appearances, to show no outward animosity, but on the
other hand not give an inch of way. The position of France and Germany
is "correct"; it has never been friendly since 1870; and it must be
many a long year before it can be friendly again. Apart from the
difference between the Latin and Teutonic temperaments, apart from the
legacy of hate left in Germany against France by the sufferings and
humiliations the great Napoleon caused her, apart from the fact that
one people is republican and the other monarchical, there is always
one thing that will prevent reconciliation - the loss by France of the
fair provinces Alsace and Lorraine. It is of no use for Germany to
remind France that up to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 this
territory belonged to Germany, or rather to what then was known by
that name. It was useless as well as ungracious for Bismarck to tell
France to seek compensation in Africa for what she had lost in Europe.
Like Rachel mourning for her children, France will not be comforted;
and now, as from the heavy hour in which she lost the provinces, she
grieves over the memory of them and nurses the hope, still mingled
with hate, of one glorious day regaining them. There are sanguine
spirits who assert that the old feeling is dying out, and the German
Government studiously encourages that view. It may be so; time is
having its obliterating effects; and in externals at least the
Germanization of the provinces is slowly making progress. Still the
wound is deep, and there seems no prospect of its healing.

Several suggestions have been made with a view to an arrangement that
might leave France without reason, or with less reason, for constant
meditation on revenge One of them is the neutralization of
Alsace-Lorraine on the model of Belgium, while another is the
distribution of the territory, so that while Alsace is divided between
Baden and Bavaria, Lorraine becomes a part of Prussia A third would
divide the provinces between the two nations. An illustration of the
yet prevailing feeling is found in the fact that large Alsatian firms
invariably use French in their correspondence with Berlin firms, and
almost as invariably refer to the "customs-arrangement" with Germany
in 1871. They cannot bring themselves to use the word "annexation."

Yet of late years - to anticipate somewhat the course of
events - Germany has made two important concessions to Alsace-Lorraine.
The first was the abrogation of the so-called "Dictator-Paragraph,"
which was part of the law for administering the new provinces after
the war of 1870. Under the paragraph the Lieutenant-Governor
(Oberpresident) of the Reichsland, as the newly incorporated territory
is now officially known, was empowered in case of need to take command
of the military forces and proclaim a state of siege. When announcing
the abrogation of the Paragraph in the Reichstag in 1902, Chancellor
von Bülow gave a résumé of the relations of the provinces to the
Empire since 1870. He stated that immediately after the war the
population were not disposed to incorporation in the Empire, as they
thought the new state of things would only be temporary and that
France would soon reconquer the provinces. This state of feeling, the
Chancellor explained, naturally reacted on the Government, which
accordingly laid down the principle that the claims of the provinces
to equal political rights with other parts of the Empire could only be
recognized step by step, as the Government was satisfied that the
population conformed to the new order of things.

The second important concession to the Provinces was made only
recently, when the provincial committee was replaced by a popularly
elected Diet and the Provinces were granted three seats in the Federal
Council. There is a proviso that in case of equality in the Council
meetings the votes shall not be allowed to turn the scale in favour of
Prussia. The limitation is a concession to the susceptibilities of the
other Federal states.

Germany's relations with Great Britain at the time of the accession
were unclouded. Mr. Gladstone had been defeated on his Home Rule
proposals and Lord Salisbury was back in power. A lull had occurred in
British relations with the Transvaal. All nations, including Germany,
were beginning to turn their attention to the Orient with a view to
the acquisition in Asia of "spheres of influence and spheres of
interest," but as yet English and German interests had not come
anywhere into conflict.

The Emperor's great internal foe and the object of his special enmity
is the Social Democracy, and practically from the day of his accession
he has waged war with it. His attitude towards the Socialists requires
no long description, since it logically results from his traditional
conception of Prussian monarchy and from the revolutionary character
of Social Democratic aims. While a young man he paid little or no
attention to the movement, and probably regarded it as the "passing
phenomenon" he subsequently declared it to be. In 1884 the number of
Social Democratic voters was something over half a million, and the
number of Social Democratic members returned to the Reichstag 25: in
1890, two years after the accession, the figures were a million and a
half and 35 respectively.

The Emperor's denunciation of Social Democrats has always been
unmeasured. "A crew undeserving the name of Germans," a "plague that
must be extirpated," "traitors," "people without a country and enemies
to religion," "foes to the Empire and the country" - such were a few of
the expressions he then and during the next few years publicly applied
to three millions of his subjects. To-day, it may be added, the number
of Social Democrats in Germany is well over four millions.

In 1889, in reply to a deputation of three coal miners'
representatives, the Emperor said:

"As regards your demands, I will have them carefully
investigated (a phrase, by the way, not unknown in England)
by my Government, and let you know the result through the
usual official channels. Should, however, offences against
public peace and order occur, should a connexion between
your movement and Social Democratic circles be demonstrated,
I would not be in a position to weigh your wishes with my
royal goodwill, since for me every Social Democrat is the
same thing as a foe to the Empire and the Fatherland.
Accordingly, if I see that Social Democratic tendencies mix
with the movement and lead to unlawful opposition, I will
intervene with all my powers - and they are great."

And a month later:

"That the Radical agitation of the Social Democracy has
turned so many heads and hearts is due to the fact that in
schools, high and low, too little is taught about the cruel
deeds of the French Revolution and too little about the
heroic deeds of the War of Liberation, which was (with the
help of English bayonets, be it parenthetically remarked)
the salvation of the Fatherland."

In 1892, to anticipate by a year or two, in reply to a guest who had
observed that Social Democrats were not decreasing in numbers, the
Emperor remarked:

"The moment the Social Democracy feels itself in possession
of power it will not hesitate for an instant to attack the
Burghertum (middle classes) very energetically. No
exhibition of general benevolence is of any use against
these people - here only religious feeling, founded on
decided faith, can have any influence."

The Emperor, referring to the murder of a manufacturer in Mulhausen,
said: "Another victim to the revolutionary movement kept alive by the
Socialists. If only our people would act like men!"

And yet it is obvious, looking at it from the standpoint of to-day,
that an admirably organized movement with four million parliamentary
voters in an electorate of fourteen millions, with no members in an
Imperial Parliament of 397 with representatives, more or less
numerous, on almost every municipal board of any importance in the
Empire, with the power of disturbing at any moment the relations
between capital and labour, upon which the prosperity, security, and
comfort of the whole population depend, and in intimate relations with
the Socialists of all other countries, cannot be merely ignored or
disposed of by scornful and sarcastic speeches, by official anathema,
or even by close police supervision. There must be something behind it
all which ought to be susceptible of explanation.

Before, however, attempting to conjecture what the something is, it
will be advisable, familiar to many though the facts must be, to
recapitulate, as briefly as possible, the history of the movement. Old
as the story is, it is necessary to have some knowledge of it, for
Social Democracy is the great, perhaps the only, domestic political
thorn in the Emperor's side.

It is a truism to say that the "social question," the question how
best to organize society, is as old as society itself. Great thinkers
all down the ages, from Plato to Sir Thomas More, from More to Jean
Jacques Rousseau, from Rousseau to Saint Simon, Fourier, Louis Blanc,
Lassalle, and Karl Marx, have devoted their attention to it. The
French Revolutionists tried to solve it, and the revolutionary
movement of 1848 took up the problem in its turn.

German Social Democracy may be referred for its source to the
teachings of Louis Blanc, who formed in 1840 a workmen's society in
Paris. Blanc held, as the Social Democrats hold, that capitalism was
the cause of all social evil, and that the workman was powerless
against it. He therefore proposed the establishment of workmen's
societies for purposes of production, and the grant of the necessary
capital at a low rate of interest by the State. The doctrine was taken
up in Germany with fiery enthusiasm by Ferdinand Lassalle, who, in
May, 1863, founded the General German Workmen's Society for a
"peaceful, lawful agitation" in favour of universal suffrage as a
first means to the desired end. Universal suffrage was granted by the
North German Confederation in 1867, and in 1873 Lassalle's adherents
numbered 60,000.

Meanwhile, Karl Marx and his disciple, Frederic Engels, had been
propagating their theories, and in 1848 the former published his
famous work on the ideal social state. At first Marx was a partizan of
revolutionary methods, but he subsequently recanted this view and
proclaimed that the Socialistic aim in future should be the
"strengthening of the economic and political power of the workman so
that the expropriation of private property could be obtained by
legislation." The Marxian doctrine was adopted in Germany by Wilhelm
Liebknecht and August Bebel, who, at Eisenach in 1869, founded the
Association of Social Democratic Workmen, to which the present German
party owes its name. The Eisenach programme declared "the economic
dependence of the workmen on the monopolists of the tools of labour
the foundation of servitude and social evil," and demanded "the
economic emancipation of the working classes." An attempt to get the
Lassalle society to join the Eisenacher society on an international
basis failed for the time, but the two associations finally coalesced
at the Gotha Congress of 1875.

The attempt on the life of William I in 1878 by the anarchist Nobiling
had an important effect on the fortunes of the party and the character
of its programme. The Socialist Laws were passed and the police began
a campaign against the Socialists, of which the mildest features were
the dissolution of societies, the searching of houses, the expulsion
of suspected persons, and the interdiction of Socialist newspapers and

For the next few years the party held its annual congresses in
Switzerland or Denmark, but as the Socialist Laws ceased to have
effect after three years, and were not then renewed, the party resumed
its congresses in Germany. The Congress at Erfurt in 1891 resulted in
the issue of a new programme rejecting the Lassalle plan for the
establishment of workmen's societies for productive purposes and
substituting for it the transfer of all capitalistic private property
engaged in the means of production, such as lands, mines, raw
material, tools, machinery, and means of transport, to the State. The
term used in the programme is "state," not "society," but the State is
in fact nothing but the society armed with coercive powers.

Other objects are universal suffrage for both sexes over twenty,
electoral reform, two-year parliaments, direct legislation "through
the people," some form of parliamentary government, autonomy of the
people in Empire, State, Province, and Parish, conscription, national
militia instead of standing army, international arbitration, abolition
of State religion, free and compulsory education, abolition of capital
punishment, free burial, free medical assistance, free legal advice
and advocacy, progressive succession duties, inheritance tax,
abolition of indirect taxation and customs, parliamentary decisions as
to peace and war, and undenominationalism in schools.

Especially for the working classes are intended the following:
National and international protective legislation for workmen on the
basis of a normal eight hours day, prohibition of child labour under
fourteen years, prohibition of night work save rendered necessary by
the nature of the work or the welfare of society, superintendence of
labour and its relations by a Ministry of Labour, thorough workshop
hygiene, equality of status between the agricultural labourer, servant
class, and the artisan, right of association, and State insurance, as

Online LibraryStanley ShawWilliam of Germany → online text (page 7 of 31)