Current History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 online

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have been carried out. * * * The railway projects of Asia Minor and
Syria might have remained purely commercial undertakings of great
cultural value. The political aspect of railway plans in the Near East
might have been permanently kept in the background.

The stumbling block that prevented the execution of the original plan
was - strangely enough - Russia. Her opposition to the northern route
brought about the change. Russia had plans of her own in Asia Minor and
in the lands to the east beyond. In the last two decades of the
nineteenth century Russia, fearing the extension of English power in
the Far East, cast her eyes about for securing zones of influence that
might bring her into touch with the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
She secured the co-operation of France in 1891, and it is both
interesting and instructive to note that the Franco-Russian alliance was
originally directed against England rather than against Germany. * * *
She exacted from Turkey the Black Sea Basin agreement, formally
sanctioned in 1900, which reserved to her the right to construct
railroads in Northern Asia Minor. * * * At all events, her opposition
was strong enough to secure a modification of the plan of the Bagdad
Railway in favor of the transverse route, which, as it turned out, gave
Germany a tremendous advantage over all rivals, though it also brought
on the opposition of England. Russia was not prepared to allow any
further advantage to be gained in the East by England. On the whole she
still preferred Germany.

[England's opposition to Germany's new railway scheme became acute when
it was publicly announced that the road was not to terminate at Bagdad,
or even at Basra, but to run on to a point "to be determined" on the
Persian Gulf. The Convention of 1902-3 made it evident that Germany had
stolen a march on England, and that the prestige of France, too, had
suffered. The favor shown to the German syndicate by the Turkish
Government was evident. The terms were indeed unprecedented. Says Dr.
Jastrow: "No wonder that there were great rejoicings in Germany when
they were announced and gnashing of teeth outside of Germany." With the
announcement of the 1902-3 concession and the formation of the Bagdad
Railway Company as a successor to the old Anatolian Company, the German
syndicate did offer English and French capitalists a share in the
enterprise, and insisted that the plan was "international." But the
"share" thus offered was merely assistance in financing what would
remain a German matter - inasmuch as Germany reserved the control in the
management's personnel. England and France therefore refused to


Von Jagow's Replies to the Prince's Revelations - Further German Comments

The revelations by Prince Lichnowsky, German Ambassador in London at the
outbreak of the war, which were printed in the May number of CURRENT
HISTORY MAGAZINE, produced a profound impression throughout the world,
disclosing as they did the part played by the German Imperial Government
in starting the war. German officialdom at once attacked Lichnowsky,
compelling him to resign his rank and threatening him with trial for
treason. On April 27, 1918, the Prussian upper house decided to grant
the request of the First State Attorney of District Court No. 1 of
Berlin for authorization to undertake criminal proceedings against
Prince Lichnowsky. The State Attorney held that Prince Lichnowsky, in
communicating to third parties documents or their contents officially
intrusted to him by his superiors had infringed the secrecy incumbent on

In referring to the prosecution of the Prince, Maximilian Harden, in a
May issue of the Zukunft, said:

"I will swear that there are dozens of men sitting there in these dark
war hours who have written and said similar things in sharper and more
bitter words." Herr Harden asked whether these would meet the same fate
if their papers were stolen and exposed in German shop windows. "Many a
trusted wife," he said, "must cry out in fear: 'But, you know, Ernst,
Adolf, and Klaus have spoken more desperately.'"

The chief theme of Lichnowsky's memorandum, the editor of Die Zukunft
asserts, was the danger to Germany of a too-close alliance with Vienna
and Budapest, of the flirtation with Poland, and his insistence upon the
necessity of friendly relations with a strong Russia. The German outcry
against Lichnowsky, however, gave foreign countries the impression that
the Prince had made fearfully damaging disclosures of Berlin's guilt.
The question of blame, he says, "reflected almost an identical
interpretation to that of our White Book, and a cool head would not have
made a world sensation out of it." Harden concludes by saying that an
ostracized Lichnowsky would become a power; but the Prussian Diet has no
sense of humor.

In the May CURRENT HISTORY MAGAZINE an abridged version of the first
reply of former Foreign Secretary von Jagow to Prince Lichnowsky was
printed, but the document is of such importance that a translation in
its entirety is herewith given.[4]

[Footnote 4: The full text of Prince Lichnowsky's memorandum, with the
replies of Herr von Jagow, the Mühlon letter, comments of the German
press, and other matter, has been published in a separate forty-page
pamphlet by The Current History Magazine.]

Von Jagow's Two Replies to Lichnowsky

Practically coincident with the giving out for publication on March 19,
through the semi-official Wolff Telegraph Bureau, of an account of a
discussion in the Main Committee of the Reichstag of the memorandum of
the former Ambassador at London, together with substantial excerpts from
the main chapters of his work, the German Government got in touch with
Herr von Jagow, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the war
began, and asked him to write an article calculated to counteract the
effect of the Lichnowsky revelations. Herr von Jagow hastened to accede
to this request, but he merely made matters worse for the German
Government by practically admitting the correctness of Prince
Lichnowsky's assertion that England did not want war and that Berlin was
aware of this.

Copies of German newspapers received here show that, while the journals
of all factions were practically of one mind in reproaching the German
Foreign Office for its lack of diplomatic ability, the Pan-German and
militarist organs laid special stress upon the implication in the von
Jagow article that Germany might have been willing to drop its alliance
with Austria if it could have been sure of contracting one with England,
and the Liberal and Socialist papers declared that it was no use
insisting any longer that Great Britain was guilty of the wholesale
bloodshed of the world war, and that now nothing really stood in the way
of moving for a peace by agreement.

These comments were so sharp on both sides that Herr von Jagow was soon
moved to write another article defending his reply to Prince Lichnowsky
and arguing that his statements regarding the Triple Alliance could by
no means be interpreted as meaning that he would have been willing to
abandon Austria-Hungary in favor of Great Britain. In this article,
which was first printed in the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten, von Jagow
says he cannot understand how these statements can be taken to mean that
he was an opponent of the alliance with Austria and was considering a
choice between Austria and England. He proceeds to defend his own policy
by reference to the fact that Bismarck was not content with the Triple
Alliance on the one hand, and the famous "Reinsurance Treaty" with
Russia on the other hand, but in 1887 deliberately promoted agreements
between Austria-Hungary, Italy, and England, with the object of
"bringing England into a closer relationship to the Central European
league and making her share its burdens." Bismarck's policy relieved
Germany of some of her obligations, because "Austria-Hungary, supported
by Italy and England, held the balance against Russia."

Then, as The London Times points out, carefully avoiding the history of
the present Kaiser's reversal of Bismarck's policy and abandonment of
the "Reinsurance Treaty" with Russia, von Jagow defends his attempts to
make British policy serve Germany's purposes. It was "because of the
isolation of the Triple Alliance, which had come about in the course of
years," that von Jagow "pursued a rapprochement with England." He
did so, "not with any idea of putting England in the place of
Austria-Hungary, but in order, by disposing of the Anglo-German
antagonism, to move England to a different orientation of her policy."
Germany "could not count upon Italy," and wanted other assistance in
upholding Austria-Hungary in the Balkans against Russia. Herr von Jagow

"The combination of England would have relieved us of the necessity of
taking: our stand alone, when the case arose, for Austria-Hungary
against Russia. As was effected by the agreements of 1887, a part
of our obligations would have been laid upon other shoulders. It is in
this sense that I spoke of the possibility of the loosening and the
dissolution of old unions which no longer satisfy all the conditions.

"The alliance with Austria-Hungary was the cornerstone of Bismarckian
policy, and that it had to remain. The expansion of the alliance into
the Triple Alliance, by taking in Italy, was a means of supplementing
the Central European grouping of the powers; it was an 'auxiliary
structure,' by means of which Bismarck aimed at a further guarantee of
peace, especially as he intended thereby to check Italy's Irredentist
policy. Threads then ran to England via Italy. These threads gave way
later, and this caused a considerable change in the attitude of Italy.

Friendly to England

"A friendly attitude on the part of England toward the Triple
Alliance - what Professor Hermann Oncken calls the moral extension of the
Triple Alliance over the Channel - was the aim of our policy, and in this
we were sure of the complete accord of our allies. I never thought that
the agreements about Bagdad and the colonies would mean an immediate
alteration of England's course in European policy. These agreements were
to prepare the way for this change of course. I was under no illusions
about the difficulties which would still have to be overcome. But
difficulties, and even resistance on the part of public opinion in one's
own country, cannot prevent us from following a road that is seen to be
right. The league between Germany and Austria-Hungary, supported by
friendship with England, would have created a peace bloc of unassailable
strength. The increasing Irredentism of Italy, her friction with Austria
on the Adriatic, and the Russophile and also Irredentist tendencies of
Rumania, would have lost their importance. Then, in given circumstances,
the Triple Alliance treaty might have been modified. The union with
England would also have secured us against Russian aggression, and the
obligations imposed upon us by our alliance would thereby have been

"The road to this goal was long. The calm development was crossed by the
Serajevo murders, and in the fateful hour of August, 1914, the English
Government - instead of keeping peace - preferred to join in the war
against us. The English Government has probably since then been assailed
by serious doubts as to whether its choice was right. In any case, it
assumed a considerable share of the guilt for the bloodshed in Europe."

Herr von Jagow then denies that his scheme was inevitably doomed to
failure, saying that the policy of England is more liable to adaptation
and alteration than the policy of any other country, and that "more
far-seeing statesmen than those who were intrusted with the fortunes of
the Island Empire in 1914 - think only of the Pitts, Disraelis, and
Salisburys - held other views about the orientation of England toward
Germany and Russia."

"As matters stand today, attempts to arrive at clearness about the
respective parts played by our enemies at the outbreak of the war, and
about the greater or less degrees of guilt belonging to each of them,
can have only a historical value. England has made the cause of our
enemies her own, and so she also shall be made to feel how Germany
defends herself against her enemies."

Full Text of von Jagow's First Reply


_Herr von Jagow's first reply to Prince Lichnowsky, which was printed in
the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung March 23, 1918, follows:_

"So far as it is possible, in general, I shall refrain from taking up
the statements concerning the policy obtaining before my administration
of the Foreign Office.

"I should like to make the following remarks about the individual points
in the article:

"When I was named State Secretary in January, 1913, I regarded a
German-English rapprochement as desirable and also believed an agreement
attainable on the points where our interests touched or crossed each
other. At all events, I wanted to try to work in this sense. A principal
point for us was the Mesopotamia-Asia Minor question - the so-called
Bagdad policy - as this had become for us a question of prestige. If
England wanted to force us out there it certainly appeared to me that a
conflict could hardly be avoided. In Berlin I began, as soon as it was
possible to do so, to negotiate over the Bagdad Railroad. We found a
favorable disposition on the part of the English Government, and the
result was the agreement that was almost complete when the world war
broke out.

Colonial Questions

"At the same time the negotiations over the Portuguese colonies that had
been begun by Count Metternich, (as German Ambassador at London,)
continued by Baron Marschall, and reopened by Prince Lichnowsky were
under way. I intended to carve the way later for further negotiations
regarding other - for example, East Asiatic - problems, when what was in
my opinion the most important problem, that of the Bagdad Railroad,
should be settled, and an atmosphere of more confidence thus created. I
also left the naval problem aside, as it would have been difficult to
reach an early agreement over that matter, after past experiences.

"I can pass over the development of the Albanian problem, as it occurred
before my term of office began. In general, however, I would like to
remark that such far-reaching disinterestedness in Balkan questions as
Prince Lichnowsky proposes does not seem possible to me. It would have
contradicted the essential part of the alliance if we had completely
ignored really vital interests of our ally. We, too, had demanded that
Austria stand by us at Algeciras, and at that time Italy's attitude had
caused serious resentment among us. Russia, although she had no interest
at all in Morocco, also stood by France. Finally, it was our task, as
the third member of the alliance, to support such measures as would
render possible a settlement of the divergent interests of our allies
and avoid a conflict between them.

"It further appeared impossible to me not to pursue a 'triple alliance
policy' in matters where the interests of the allied powers touched each
other. Then Italy would have been driven entirely into line with the
Entente in questions of the Orient, and Austria handed over to the mercy
of Russia, and the Triple Alliance would thus have really gone to
pieces. And we, too, would not have been able to look after our
interests in the Orient, if we did not have some support. And even
Prince Lichnowsky does not deny that we had to represent great economic
interests right there. But today economic interests are no longer to be
separated from political interests.

"That the people 'in Petrograd wanted to see the Sultan independent' is
an assertion that Prince Lichnowsky will hardly be able to prove; it
would contradict every tradition of Russian policy. If we, furthermore,
had not had at our command the influence at Constantinople founded by
Baron Marschall, it would hardly have been possible for us to defend our
economic interests in Turkey in the desired way.

Russia and Germany

"When Prince Lichnowsky further asserts that we only 'drove Russia, our
natural friend and best neighbor, into the arms of France and England
through our Oriental and Balkan policy' he is in conflict with the
historical facts. Only because Prince Gortschakoff [Russian Premier] was
guiding Russian policy toward a rapprochement with a France lusting for
revenge was Prince Bismarck induced to enter into the alliance with
Austria-Hungary; through the alliance with Rumania he barred an advance
of Russia toward the south. Prince Lichnowsky condemns the basic
principles of Bismarck's policy. Our attempts to draw closer to Russia
went to pieces - Björki proves it - or remained ineffective, like the
so-called Potsdam agreement. Also, Russia was not always our 'best
neighbor.' Under Queen Elizabeth, as at present, she strove for
possession of East Prussia to extend her Baltic coasts and to insure her
domination of the Baltic. The Petrograd 'window' has gradually widened,
so as to take in Esthonia, Livonia, Courland, and Finland and reach
after Aland. Poland was arranged to be a field over which to send troops
against us. Pan-Slavism, which was dominating the Russian policy to an
ever greater degree, had positive anti-German tendencies.

"And we did not force Russia to drop 'her policy of Asiatic expansion,'
but only tried to defend ourselves against her encroachments in European
policy and her encircling of our Austro-Hungarian ally.

Grey Conciliatory

"Just as little as Sir Edward Grey [British Foreign Secretary] did we
want war to come over Albania. Therefore, in spite of our unhappy
experience at Algeciras, we agreed to a conference. The credit of an
'attitude of mediation' at the conference should not be denied Sir
Edward Grey; but that he 'by no means placed himself on the side of the
Entente' is, however, surely saying rather too much. Certainly he often
advised yielding in Petrograd (as we did in Vienna) and found 'formulas
of agreement,' but in dealing with the other side he represented the
Entente, because he, no less than ourselves, neither would, nor could,
abandon his associates. That we, on the other hand, 'without exception,
represented the standpoint dictated to us from Vienna' is absolutely
false. We, like England, played a mediatory rôle, and also in Vienna
counseled far more yielding and moderation than Prince Lichnowsky
appears to know about, or even to suggest. And then Vienna made several
far-reaching concessions, (Dibra, Djakowa.) If Prince Lichnowsky, who
always wanted to be wiser than the Foreign Office, and who apparently
allowed himself to be strongly influenced by the Entente statesmen, did
not know this, he surely ought not to make any false assertions now! If,
to be sure, the degree of yielding that was necessary was reached in
Vienna, we also naturally had to represent the Austrian standpoint at
the conference. Ambassador Szögyeni himself was not one of the
extremists; in Vienna they were by no means always satisfied with his
attitude. That the Ambassador, with whom I was negotiating almost every
day, constantly sounded the refrain of casus foederis is entirely
unknown to me. It certainly is true that Prince Lichnowsky for some
time past had not been counted as a friend of Austria in Vienna. Still
complaints about him came to my ears oftener from the side of Marquis
San Giuliano [Italian Foreign Minister] than from the side of Count
Berchtold, [Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister.]

"King Nicholas's seizure of Scutari constituted a mockery of the entire
conference and a snub to all the powers taking part in it.

"Russia was by no means obliged 'to give way to us all along the line';
on the contrary, she 'advanced the wishes of Serbia' in several ways,
Serbia even receiving some cities and strips of territory that could
have been regarded as purely Albanian or preponderatingly so. Prince
Lichnowsky says that 'the course of the conference was a fresh
humiliation for the self-consciousness of Russia' and that there was a
feeling of resentment in Russia on that account. It cannot be the task
of our policy to satisfy all the unjustified demands of the exaggerated
self-consciousness of a power by no means friendly to us, at the cost of
our ally. Russia has no vital interests on the Adriatic, but our ally
certainly has. If we, as Prince Lichnowsky seems to wish, had flatly
taken the same stand as Russia, the result would have been a humiliation
for Austria-Hungary and thus a weakening of our group. Prince Lichnowsky
seems only anxious that Russia be not humiliated; a humiliation of
Austria is apparently a matter of indifference to him.

The "Wily" Venizelos

"When Prince Lichnowsky says that our 'Austrophilie' was not adapted to
'promote Russia's interests in Asia,' I don't exactly understand what
this means. Following a disastrous diversion toward East Asia - in the
Japanese war we had favored Russia without even being thanked for
it! - Russia again took up her policy directed toward the European Orient
(the Balkans and Constantinople) with renewed impulse, (the Balkan
Alliance, Buchlau, Iswolsky, &c.) [Iswolsky retired as Russian Foreign
Minister after Germany forced the Czar to repudiate his Serbian policy
in 1909.]

"Venizelos, the cunning Cretan with the 'Ribbon of the Order of the Red
Eagle,' evidently knew how to throw a little sand into the eyes of our
Ambassador. He, in contrast to King Constantine and Theototy, always was
pro-Entente. His present attitude reveals his feelings as clearly as can
be. Herr Danef, however, was entirely inclined toward Petrograd.

"That Count Berchtold displayed certain inclinations toward Bulgaria
also in its differences with Rumania is true; that we 'naturally went
with him' is, however, entirely false. With our support, King Carol had
the satisfaction of the Bucharest peace. [Ended second Balkan war.] If,
therefore, in the case of the Bucharest peace, in which we favored the
wishes and interests of Rumania, which was allied to us, our policy
deviated somewhat from that of Vienna, the Austro-Hungarian Cabinet
certainly did not believe - as Prince Lichnowsky asserts - that it 'could
count upon our support in case of its revision.' That Marquis San
Giuliano 'is said to have warned us already in the Summer of 1913 from
becoming involved in a world war,' because at that time in Austria 'the
thought of a campaign against Serbia' had found entrance, is entirely
unknown to me. Just as little do I know that Herr von Tschirschky - who
certainly was rather pessimistic by nature - is said to have declared in
the Spring of 1914 that there soon would be war. Therefore, I was just
as ignorant of the 'important happenings' that Prince Lichnowsky here
suspects as he was himself! Such events as the English visit to
Paris - Sir Edward Grey's first to the Continent - surely must have been
known to the Ambassador, and we informed him about the secret
Anglo-Russian naval agreement; to be sure, he did not want to believe

"In the matter of Liman von Sander, [German reorganizer of the Turkish
Army,] we made a far-reaching concession to Russia by renouncing the
General's power of command over Constantinople. I will admit that this
point of the agreement over the military mission was not opportune

"When Prince Lichnowsky boasts of having succeeded in giving the treaty
a form corresponding to our wishes, this credit must not be denied him,
although it certainly required strong pressure on several occasions to
induce him to represent some of our desires with more emphasis.

"When Prince Lichnowsky says that he received the authorization
definitely to conclude the treaty, after he previously asserts that 'the
treaty was consequently dropped,' this contains a contradiction which we
may let the Prince straighten out. Lichnowsky's assertion, however, that
we delayed publication because the treaty would have been 'a public
success' for him that we begrudged him, is an unheard-of insinuation
that can only be explained through his self-centred conception of
things. The treaty would have lost its practical and moral effect - one
of its main objects was to create a good atmosphere between us and
England - if its publication had been greeted with violent attacks upon
'perfidious Albion' in our Anglophobe press and in our Parliament. And
there is no doubt that, in view of our internal position at that time,
this is what the simultaneous publication of the so-called Windsor
Treaty would have caused. And the howl about English perfidy that the

Online LibraryVariousCurrent History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 → online text (page 28 of 30)