Wilhelm II, all his career, tried to be on good terms with the British and did whatever he can to be on their right side. Even though he held the strongest army of the world, he was not looked upon as and equal and this rankled him greatly. While the Kaiser was attempting to befriend Britain, Britain maintained it’s traditional policy – British Navy should be 10% more than the combined strength of the next two navies and to ensure it’s safety, Britain will always go into a military relationship with a group of countries ganged together against the strongman – in other words, whatever the Germans do, they will be natural enemies of the British till the time they are the most powerful in the continent. Below article, published in London Telegraph on October 28, 1908 is one more such attempt of the Kaiser which the British derided, forcing the German Press to treat it as an effrontery to their national prestige. A combination of many such mistakes blew up into a war which destroyed the power of the European Civilization for good. The tone of the article clearly states the sincerity but well,…
We have received the following communication from a source of such unimpeachable authority that we can without hesitation comment on the obvious message which it conveys to the attention of the public:
Discretion is the first and last quality requisite in a diplomatist, and should still be observed by those who, like myself, have long passed into private life. Yet moments sometimes occur in the history of nations when a calculated indiscretion proves of the highest public service, and for that reason I have decided to make know the substance of a lengthy conversation which it is my privilege to have had with His Majesty the German Emperor. I do so in the hope that it may help to remove that obstinate misconception of the Emperor’s feelings toward England which, I fear, is deeply rooted in the Englishman’s breast. It is the Emperor’s sincere wish that it should be eradicated. He has given repeated proofs of his desire by word and deed. But, to speak frankly, his patience is sorely tried, now that he finds himself so continually misrepresented, and has so often experienced the mortification of finding that any momentary improvement of relations is followed by renewed outbursts of prejudice and prompt return to the old attitude of suspicion.
As I have said, His Majesty honored me with a long conversation, and spoke with impulsive and unusual frankness.
“You English,” he said, “are mad, mad, mad as March hares. What has come over you that you are so completely given over to suspicions quite unworthy of a great nation? What more can I do than I have done? I declared with all the emphasis at my command, in my speech at Guildhall, that my heart is set upon peace, and that it is one of my dearest wished to live on the best of terms with England. Have I ever been false to my word? Falsehood and prevarication are alien to my nature. My actions ought to speak for themselves, but you listen no to them but those who misinterpret and distort them. That is a personal insult which I feel and resent. To be forever misjudged, to have my repeated offers of friendship weighed and scrutinized with jealous, mistrustful eyes, taxes my patience severely. I have said time after time that I am a friend of England, and your press – or, at least, a considerable section of it – bids the people of England refuse my proffered hand and insinuates that the other holds a dagger. How can I convince a nation against its will?
“I repeat”, continued His Majesty, “that I am a friend of England, but you make things difficult for me. My task is not of the easiest. The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower classes of my own people is not friendly to England. I am, therefore, so to speak, in a minority in my own land, but it is a minority of the best elements as it is in England with respect to Germany. That is another reason why I resent your refusal to accept my pledged word that I am the friend of England. I strive without ceasing to improve relations, and you retort that I am your archenemy. You make it hard for me. Why is it?”
Thereupon I ventured to remind his majesty that not England alone, but the whole of Europe had viewed with disapproval the recent action of Germany in allowing the German consul to return from Tangier to Fez, and in anticipating the joint action of France and Spain by suggesting to the Powers that the time had come to Europe to recognize Mulai Hafiz as the new Sultan of Morocco.
His Majesty made a gesture of impatience,
“Yes,” he said, “that is an excellent example of the way in which German action is misrepresented. First, then, as regards to the journey of Dr. Vassel. The German government, in sending Dr. Vassel back to his post at Fez, was only guided by the wish that he should look after the private interests of German subjects in that city, who cried for help and protection after the long absence of a consular representative. And why not send him? Are those who charge Germany with having stolen a march on other Powers aware that the French consular representative had already been in Fez for several months before Dr. Vassel set out? Then, as to the recognition of Mulai Hafiz. The press in Europe has complained with much acerbity that Germany ought not to have suggested his recognition until he had notified to Europe his full acceptance of the Act of Algeciras, as being binding upon him as Sultan of Morocco and successor of his brother. My answer is that Mulai Hafiz notified the Powers to that effect weeks ago, before the decisive battle was fought. He sent, as far back as the middle of last July, an intentional communication to the governments of Germany, France, and Great Britain, containing an explicit acknowledgment that he was prepared to recognize all the obligations toward Europe which were incurred by Abdal-Aziz during his sultanate. The German government interpreted that communication as a final and authoritative expression of Mulai Hafiz’s intentions, and therefore the considered that there was no reason to wait until he had sent a second communication before recognizing him as the de facto Sultan of Morocco, who had succeeded to his brothers throne by right of victory in the field.”
I suggested to His Majesty that an important and influential section of the German press has placed a very different interpretation upon the action of the German government, and, in fact, had given it their effusive approbation because they saw in it a strong act instead of mere words, and a decisive indication that Germany was once more about to intervene in the shaping of events in Morocco.
“There a mischief-makers,” replied the Emperor, “in both countries. I will not attempt to weigh their relative capacity for misrepresentation. But the facts are as I have stated. There has been nothing in Germany’s recent action in regard to Morocco which runs contrary to the explicit declaration of my love for peace which I made both at Guildhall and in my latest speech at Strasbourg.”
His Majesty then reverted to the subject uppermost in his mind – his proved friendship with England. “I have referred,” he said, “to the speeches in which I have done all that a sovereign can do to proclaim my good will. But, as actions speak louder than words, let me also refer to my acts. It is commonly believed in England that throughout the South African War Germany was hostile to her. German opinion undoubtedly was hostile – bitterly hostile. But what of official Germany? Let my critics ask themselves what brought to a sudden stop, and, indeed, to absolute collapse, the European tour of the Boer delegates, who were striving to obtain European intervention? They were feted in Holland. France gave them a rapturous welcome. They wished to come to Berlin, where the German people would have crowned them with flowers. But when they asked me to receive them – I refused. The agitation immediately died away, and the delegation returned empty-handed. Was that, I ask, the action of a secret enemy?”
“Again, when the struggle was at its height, the German government was invited by the governments of France and Russia to join with them in calling upon England to put an end to the war. The moment had come, they said, not only to save the Boer Republics, but also to humiliate England to the dust. What was my reply? I said that so far from Germany joining in any concerted European action to put pressure upon England and bring about her downfall, Germany would always keep aloof from politics that could bring her into complications with a sea power like England. Posterity will one day read the exact terms of this telegram – now in the archives of Windsor Castle – in which I informed the sovereign of England the answer I returned to the Powers which then sought to compass her fall. Englishmen who now insult me by doubting my word should know what were my actions in the hour of their adversity.
“Nor was that all. Just at the time of your Black Week, in the December of 1899, when disasters followed one another in rapid succession, I received a letter from Queen Victoria, my revered grandmother, written in sorrow and affliction, and bearing manifest traces of the anxieties which were preying upon her mind and health. I at once returned a sympathetic reply. Nay, I did more. I bade one of my officers procure for me as exact an account as he could obtain of the number of combatants in South Africa on both sides of the position of the opposing forces. With the figures before me, I worked out what I considered the best plan of campaign under the circumstances, and submitted it to my General Staff for their criticism. Then, I dispatched it to England, and that document, likewise, is among the state papers at Windsor Castle, awaiting the severely impartial verdict of history. And, as a matter of curious coincidence, let me add that the plan which I formulated ran very much on the same lines as that which was actually adopted by Lord Roberts, and carried by him into successive operation. Was that, I repeat, an act of one who wished England ill? Let Englishmen be just and say!
“But, you will say, what of the German navy? Surely, that is a menace to England! Against whom but England are my squadrons being prepared? If England is not in minds of those Germans who are bent on creating a powerful fleet, why is Germany asked to consent to such new and heavy burdens of taxation? My answer is clear. Germany is a young and growing empire. She has a worldwide commerce which is rapidly expanding, and to which the legitimate ambition of patriotic Germans refuses to assign any bounds. Germany must have a powerful fleet to protect that commerce and her manifold interests in even the most distant seas. She expects those interests to go on growing, and she must be able to champion them manfully in any quarter of the globe. Her horizons stretch far away. She must be prepared for any eventualities in the Far East. Who can foresee what may take place in the Pacific in the days to come, days not so distant as some believe, but days, at any rate, for which all European Powers with Far Eastern interests ought steadily to prepare? Look at the accomplished rise of Japan; think of the possible awakening of China; and then judge of the vast problems of the Pacific. Only those Powers which have great navies will be listened to with respect when the future of the Pacific comes to be solved; and if for that reason only Germany must have a powerful fleet. It may even be that England herself will be glad that Germany has a fleet when the speak together on the same side in the great debates of the future.”
Such was the purport of the Emperor’s conversation. He spoke with all the earnestness which marks his manner when speaking on deeply pondered subjects. I would ask my fellow countrymen who value the cause of peace to weigh what I have written, and to revise, if necessary, their estimate of the Kaiser and his friendship for England by his Majesty’s own words. If they had enjoyed the privilege, which was mine, of hearing them spoken, they would doubt no longer either His Majesty’s firm desire to live on the best of terms with England or his growing impatience at the persistent mistrust with which his offer of friendship is too often received.