Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Daily Telegraph Affair

The recent entry on the Kaiser reminded me that we had done a related article on the anniversary of the Kaiser and the Daily Telegraph Affair years ago. Here it is:

A notable event in the run-up to the Great War occurred in 1908. An October interview of Kaiser Wilhelm II published in Britain's Daily Telegraph  polarized the sentiments of the British public against Germany at a pivotal time when the German naval buildup already had the island nation worried. This was not the result the Kaiser had in mind. He intended the interview as yet another olive branch offering to Britain, but it turned out to be entirely counterproductive.

Among the Kaiser's talking points:

*  The German people, in general, do not care for the British, who are "mad as March hares," but HE was a friend, nevertheless.

* Clarify his ALLEGED  role in raising opposition against the British during the Boer War.

* The German naval buildup would continue, but WAS NOT aimed at the Royal Navy.

Some Excerpts:

"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? Falsehood and prevarication are alien to my nature. My actions ought to speak for themselves, but you listen not to them but to those who misinterpret and distort them. . .I repeat 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.

"Again, when the [Boer] 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.

"''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?' . . 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.

(Adapted from an article by the late Michael Iavarone); photo from Tony Langley

1 comment:

  1. Poor Willie! He tried so hard to be England's friend and always managed to have the opposite result. From being regarded a friend of England, he was perceived as an enemy. His clumsy attempts at realpolitik in 1904 and 1911 made British governments to regard Germany as an enemy rather than a true friend. As he pointed out, Germany was a young empire, striving for colonies in continents that England stood preeminent. He managed to draw two centuries old enemies to cooperate in blocking German attempts to stand preeminent in Europe, resulting in war between the one nation he truly believed would take Germany's side in the conflict with France and Russia