June 7, 2017 | Autor: Peter Hof | Categoria: N/A
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Kennan, George F., The Fateful Alliance, 30
Kennan, George F., The Decline of Bismarck's European Order, 7
Cohen Mels, Conversations, quoted in Wellesley/Sencourt
Clemenceau, Saturday Evening Post, October 24, 1914
RPO FO 800/102, Robertson Memorandum on Entente with Russia, 29 March, 1906
W.S. Churchill, The World Crisis, vol. 1, 178f.
Rowland, Last Liberal Governments, vol. 2, 278f.
Massie, Dreadnought, 852,3
Fay, The Origins of the World War, vol. II, 379
Ibid., 470,1
Grey, Twenty-five Years, I, 320
"We are not a young people with an innocent record and a scanty inheritance. We have engrossed to ourselves an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us." Winston Churchill (cited in John Darwin, The Empire Project, Cambridge 2010, p, 268)

"I have come to think that Germany is our worst enemy and our greatest danger . . . I believe the policy of Germany is to be that of using us without helping us: keeping us isolated, that she may have us to fall back on." Edward Grey (Bernstein, Liberalism and Liberal Politics, p. 182)

"Grey's Germanophobia and his zeal for the Entente with France were from the outset at odds with the views of the majority of the Liberal Cabinet. This division ought to have caused trouble much sooner than it did." Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War, p. 58

"Serbia has passed only through the first stage of her historical career. To reach her goal she must endure another frightful struggle, in which her very existence will be staked . . . Serbia's Promised Land lies in the territory of the present Austria-Hungary, and not that for which she is now striving, with the Bulgarians blocking the way." Letter from Sasonov to Hartwig, May 8, 1913, cited in Deutschland Schuldig? German Foreign Office White Book, p. 99.

"In my years at school , my thought, bowed before the spectre of defeat, dwelt ceaselessly upon the frontier which the Treaty of Frankfurt had imposed upon us, and when I descended from my metaphysical clouds, I could discover no other reason why my generation should go on living except for the hope of recovering our lost provinces." Raymond Poincaré, Revue d l'Université de Paris, October, 1920. (Cited in Dupin, M. Poincaré et la Guerre de 1914, pp. 101-2.)


Supporters and detractors agree. The 1904 Entente Cordiale and the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention together represent the signature achievement of the near-decade long reign of King Edward VII. Also agreed is that the initiative for this radical diplomacy came from the King himself.
Still very much at issue is the King's motive. The central role played by King Edward in the creation of the Triple Entente is generally acknowledged. But did the King aim at nothing more than an innocent resolution of long-standing problems with England's traditional enemies, or did he have the more sinister motive of clearing the diplomatic decks for a future war with Germany? The purpose of this volume is two-fold. First, that King Edward VII did indeed reach an understanding with both members of the Franco-Russian Alliance for the purpose of defeating Germany as charged by Wilhelm II and others. And second, that the evidence for this conclusion is not only obvious but an embarrassment of riches.
The very first impulse to the First World War is found in the French determination to recover the "lost provinces" dating from 1871. The second came when the ancient Russian drang nach Constantinople combined with the French lust for revanche in the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1894 and divided Europe into opposing camps. The lack of Franco-Russian confidence in victory against Bismarck's Triple Alliance due to the untimely death of Czar Alexander III resulted in a postponement of the war against the Central Powers and a precarious balance of power in Europe which lasted until 1904 when England unbalanced the scales. England's need to confront the perceived German challenge to her long-standing world hegemony produced the Entente Cordiale with France and started the transformation of the moribund Franco-Russian Alliance into the very potent Triple Entente. This upset the Continental balance of power and resulted in the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905. The Anglo-Russian Entente of 1907 (and the 1908 Young Turk rebellion) triggered the Bosnian Crisis of 1908 and the Italo-Turkish Tripolitanian War of 1911, while in that same year Europe was again pushed to the brink by the 2nd Moroccan Crisis when Lloyd George actually threatened Germany with war. The next year, 1912, saw the rebirth of French nationalism under Poincare even as the Balkan League grabbed a big slice of European Turkey. This succession of crises in the wake of King Edward's Ententes with France and Russia served to prime the fuse until "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans" on June 28, 1914, unleashed the First World War.
The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was the water-shed event in the pre-war history of Europe. This brief but violent contest between Prussia and France had ended with an unprecedented, unexpected, humiliating defeat for Imperial France. While the historical facts of the war are not in serious dispute, historians have generally neglected to emphasize the full extent of the calamitous French defeat and its subsequent effect upon the course of European politics. As past is prologue, that eminence grise of American politics, George F. Kennan, tells us that "Throughout these years (1871-1914) the revision of the humiliating Treaty of Frankfurt, by which Germany had sealed her victory over France in 1871, remained at all times the supreme and undeviating objective of French statesmanship." Professor Kennan elaborates:
"The sense of humiliation and resentment flowing from the defeat of 1870 was profound and enduring. France was not accustomed to the experience of total defeat in the modern manner. The desire for revenge permeated, in one way or another, almost the whole of French society. It would, as Bismarck believed, probably have existed, and this in scarcely smaller degree, even had the Germans not insisted on taking Alsace and Lorraine; but this loss of territory served as a convenient symbol and rallying-point for it. Equally profound was the belief that France would never be able to achieve this revenge by her own efforts alone: that to make this possible she would have to have an ally. For these reasons, the thought of an alliance with Russia was never, through the entire period from 1871 to 1894, wholly absent from the minds of French political and military leaders. There never was a time when this possibility did not appear as the greatest hope, the highest ultimate objective, of French policy."
French leaders have frankly admitted culpability. Louis Napoleon acknowledged: "I admit that we were the aggressors; I admit that we were defeated and that, therefore, we were compelled to pay the cost of the war or abandon part of our territory." Much later, Clemenceau admitted that "In 1870, Napoleon III, in a moment of folly declared war on Germany without even having the excuse of military preparedness. No true Frenchman has ever hesitated to admit the wrongs of that day that were committed by our side. Dearly have we paid for them." To Bismarck, he [Napoleon III] maintained that he had been "driven into it by the pressure of public opinion." Nevertheless, the eclipse of Imperial France by the birth of the German nation rankled, and its effect hung over the political landscape like a chill and foreboding fog.
The French desire for revanche - kept alive in French hearts by Gambetta's stirring slogan: "Speak of it never! Think of it always." - compelled Bismarck to create alliances for the sole purpose of denying the Powers of Europe as potential alliance partners to an implacably hostile France. But when Kaiser Wilhelm II unadvisedly allowed the Re-insurance Treaty with Russia to lapse and set Russia adrift, France saw her chance. After years of negotiations Czar Alexander III affixed the royal Russian signature to the Franco-Russian Alliance which was intended "to oblige Germany to fight simultaneously in both East and West." This "Fateful Alliance" was not a counterweight to Bismarck's Triple Alliance as wrongly asserted by some historians. In fact, it was an agreement between France and Russia to attack Austria and Germany at the first opportune moment, but the untimely and unexpected death of Alexander III in 1894 and his succession by his weak and vacillating son, Nicholas II, put Franco-Russian plans on hold.
No longer confident of victory, France and Russia stood down, thereby creating a balance of sorts with Bismarck's Triple Alliance, but this was the kernel of the alliance systems which divided Europe into opposing camps, and the balance between them - however tenuous - was maintained until the creation of the Anglo-French Entente Cordiale in 1904. The world was taken by surprise by this entirely unexpected agreement between two traditional enemies who had been at war (or close to it) for centuries. Repercussions were not long in coming. Suddenly infused with new confidence and even renewed, albeit secret, hopes for the recovery of her lost provinces, France made bold to press for the creation of a Moroccan protectorate in North Africa. It was her deliberate failure to consult Germany as required by the 1880 Treaty of Madrid which led to the 1st Moroccan Crisis of 1905. France pulled back from the brink of war by firing her Foreign Minister (Delcassé) and agreeing to a Conference at Algeciras, but in 1911 France again threatened war with another unseemly grab for Morocco. In both Moroccan crises, Germany was on solid legal and moral ground while France was in violation, first of the 1880 Treaty of Madrid, and again of the 1906 Act of Algeciras, and yet again of the 1909 Franco-German Agreement. England's indecorous support of France, including an explicit threat of war with Germany in 1911, was not one of Albion's better moments.
Even before the ink was dry on the 1904 Entente Cordiale, King Edward planned a similar arrangement with Russia but he was obliged to wait for the end of Russia's catastrophic confrontation with Japan and the opposition of Count Witte. Meanwhile, he prepared the diplomatic ground by a meeting with Alexander Isvolsky in 1904 when the latter held a minor diplomatic post in Copenhagen. In 1907, with Isvolsky now Russian Foreign Minister as a result of the King's efforts, England and Russia officially resolved their differences as Germany and Austria began to mutter darkly about "einkreisung" (encirclement) and Eduard der Einkreiser (Edward the encircler). Just as with France in 1904, the 1907 Anglo-Russian Convention led to immediate repercussions. Emboldened by British support, Alexander Isvolsky concluded his infamous Buchlau Bargain with Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Aehrenthal, which led to the Annexationist Crisis of 1908, again pushing Europe to the brink of war.
It is often alleged that Edward VII was a constitutional monarch and therefore lacked the power or the authority to institute such far-reaching policy decisions, but this is true only in the strictest technical sense. In fact, when the royal yacht, HMY Victoria and Albert, commissioned in 1899, exited Portsmouth harbor and headed for the open sea accompanied by a flotilla of British warships, an extraordinary metamorphosis took place on board. The British monarch shed his carapace of constitutional limitations and emerged transformed into a fully blossomed King of England with all the power and prestige accruing to the position exalted and magnified by centuries of precedence. Safely out of reach of troublesome Ministers who might remind His Majesty that he was overstepping his constitutional authority, the King was free to interact and parley with the crowned heads of Eurasia to which he was in many cases related, secure in the knowledge that his various agreements and decisions would be endorsed by Sir Edward Grey (after Lansdowne) and the British Foreign Office.
But why would the mighty British Empire decide to confront Germany? The answer is that since unification of a bewildering patchwork of kingdoms, fiefdoms, and principalities in 1871, the German economy became a powerhouse that was nothing short of spectacular. By the turn of the century, Germany had overtaken her European neighbors in virtually every conceivable economic/military category. By 1908, Germany was on schedule to surpass Great Britain in the export of finished goods and it did not take a crystal ball to see that German trade and industry would soon overshadow and eclipse Great Britain. The economic statistics to support this are overwhelming. Typical is the following from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

The economy, 1890–1914
The speed of Germany's advance to industrial maturity after 1890 was breathtaking. The years from 1895 to 1907 witnessed a doubling of the number of workers engaged in machine building, from slightly more than one-half million to well over a million. An immediate consequence of expanding industrial employment was a sharp drop in emigration; from an average of 130,000 people per year in the 1880s, the outflow dropped to 20,000 per year in the mid-1890s. The surplus population continued to leave Prussia's eastern provinces, but the destination was the growing and multiplying factories of Berlin and the Ruhr rather than the Americas. Earlier British fears of German competition were now fully justified. While Britain produced about twice as much steel as Germany during the early 1870s, Germany's steel production exceeded Britain's in 1893, and by 1914 Germany was producing more than twice as much steel as Britain. Moreover, only one-third of German exports in 1873 were finished goods; the portion rose to 63 percent by 1913. Germany came to dominate all the major Continental markets except France.
Other sources (such as the International Monetary Fund) speak of the economic "colossus" and the cultural renaissance that was Germany in the years after 1871. In fact, if there was a "place in the sun" (Bernhard von Bülow) anywhere in the world, it was Germany in 1914.
The fact is that "hegemony" was actually the British motive. It was Great Britain who felt her world hegemony - won and maintained by battleships, boots, and bullets - to be threatened by an ascendant Germany just as she had once felt threatened by Spain, France, and a handful of lesser challengers. This traditional British policy - euphemistically termed "balance of power" by British apologists has been described many times, many ways by Britain's own diplomats and statesmen. Colonel William Robertson of the British War Office Intelligence Department stated the case as well as any:

"For centuries past we have thwarted . . . each and every power in turn which has aspired to continental predominance; and concurrently, and as a consequence, we have enlivened our own sphere of imperial ascendancy . . . A new preponderance is now growing, of which the centre of gravity is Berlin. Anything . . . which would assist us in opposing this new and most formidable danger would be of value to us."
Thus the fateful British decision was made just as it was made earlier in the case of Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Holland, and France.. It was not taken suddenly, nor was it shouted from the rooftops or trumpeted in banner headlines. Driven by the burgeoning German economy and navy, it crystalized slowly over the years as Great Britain came to the decision to apply her traditional solution to the problem of rising challengers.
It is possible - even probable - that England would have accepted the "new preponderance" even as she had no choice but to later accept the new preponderance from America when this was grandly announced by the 1909 circumnavigation of the globe by Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. But the Franco-Russian Alliance was handy and available. Russia was in the process of recovering from her calamitous confrontation with Japan and was completing a thorough modernization of her armed forces - the largest in the world by far. The French army was larger per capita than that of Germany and was poised on the Lorraine border itching for action and bursting with élan. Encouraged by the prospect of being aided by this impressive Franco-Russian land Armada, England decided yet again upon yet another of her balance-of-power schemes.
By the summer of 1914, Anglo-German relations could be described as cordial and even the naval race had receded. Churchill recalled that
"naval rivalry had . . . ceased to be a cause of friction . . . We were proceeding inflexibly . . . it was certain we could not be overtaken."

In a January 1914 interview with the Daily News, Lloyd George put the matter even more succinctly:
"Relations with Germany are infinitely more friendly than they have been for years . . . Germany has nothing which approximates to a two-power standard . . . That is why I feel convinced that even if Germany ever had any idea of challenging our supremacy at sea, the exigencies of the present situation have put it completely out of her head."
Such pacific sentiments were fully reflected in the traditional Anglo-German Kiel Week celebrations of 1914. Festivities included formal banquets, balls, dinner parties, toasts, tennis and soccer matches. The sunlit shores were black with happy, flag waving spectators which contributed to an atmosphere of real camaraderie between German and English sailors. Alas, at two-thirty in the afternoon of June 28, a German launch drew alongside the Hohenzollern and delivered a telegram which brought the electrifying news of the Sarajevo murders. Robert Massie described what happened next:
"The character of Kiel Week changed. Flags were lowered to half-mast, and receptions, dinners, and a ball at the Royal Castle were cancelled. Early the next morning, the Kaiser departed, intending to go to Vienna and the Archduke's funeral. Warrender (the British commander) struggled to preserve the spirit of the week. Speaking to a hall filled with sailors from both fleets, he spoke of the friendship between the two countries and called for three cheers for the German Navy. A German admiral called for three cheers for the British Navy. The two admirals shook hands. On the morning of June 30, the British squadron weighed anchor and left the harbor. The signal masts of German warships flew the signal "Pleasant journey." Warrender sent a wireless message back to the German fleet: "Friends in past and friends forever."

It seemed fantastic that these two nations would be involved in fratricidal war barely a month later, but the Triple Entente, fashioned by Edward VII and Edward Grey, had stood ready for action since 1907. Now thoroughly primed by the two Moroccan crises, the Annexationist Crisis, the Balkan Wars, and the election of Poincare, the long fuse was ready to be detonated by "some damned foolish thing in the Balkans . . . " as Bismarck had prophesied.
The radical policy of the two Edwards in aligning the British ship of state with both members of an explicitly anti-German alliance while refusing any similar accommodation with Germany is sufficient in and of itself in proving a hostile motive, but the political predilections of the King provide strong support. King Edward came to the throne at age 59 after he learned to be discrete (at the cost of considerable scandal and the stern disapproval of his mother, Queen Victoria) and limit his public utterances to diplomatic boilerplate about the blessings of peace, but his startling association with Leon Gambetta while still Prince of Wales lit up the political landscape as we'll see next.
In the case against England, the Russian general mobilization is Exhibit One. It was ordered on July 30, 1914, at six P.M. when Russia was in no military danger from Austria and certainly not from Germany, and, more importantly, at the very time when the July Crisis was on the cusp of a diplomatic solution as the result of heavy pressure upon Austria exerted by the German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg. In 1914, Great Britain was the largest and most powerful Empire in the history of the world, fully capable of imposing a stranglehold blockade anywhere in the world anytime she chose to do so. For this reason, the attitude of Great Britain was the chief determinant of the Austro-German and Franco-Russian attitudes after the Sarajevo murders. But instead of stating the British position in a forthright manner, Sir Edward Grey played his cards close to the vest and gave subtle hints to France and Russia that England would intervene, while into the Austro-German ear he whispered neutrality. As Sir Edward intended, this "deliberate ambiguity" coaxed the opposing coalitions onto a collision course. Much has been written about Germany's 'blank cheque' to Austria, but little is said about the numerous blank cheques written by France to Russia, and virtually none about the one blank cheque that really counted. Professor S.B. Fay described it as follows:

This [Buchanan's] telegram (B.D 125) indicating that "Russia, secure of support of France, will face all risks of war," might well have prompted Sir Edward Grey to the conclusion that it was high time to exercise a moderating influence at St. Petersburg - if he preferred to place the preservation of the peace of Europe above the maintenance of the Triple Entente. But he did not. Although Buchanan at St. Petersburg in the early part of the crisis attempted to exercise restraint upon Russia, no such effort was made from London. The British Foreign Office took the stand expressed in a minute by Sir E. Crowe on July 25:

'The moment has passed when it might have been possible to enlist French support in an effort to hold back Russia.
It is clear that France and Russia are decided to accept the challenge thrown out to them. Whatever we may think of the merits of the Austrian charges against Serbia, France and Russia consider that these are the pretexts, and that the bigger cause of Triple Alliance versus Triple Entente is definitely engaged.
I think it would be impolitic, not to say dangerous, for England to attempt to controvert this opinion, or to endeavor to obscure the plain issue, by any representation at St. Petersburg . . .
Our interests are tied up with those of France and Russia in this struggle, which is not for the possession of Serbia, but one between Germany aiming at political dictatorship in Europe and the Powers who desire to retain individual freedom.'"
Here was the magic moment. Here was the consent of silence for which Russia had been waiting. Sasonov could now implement the "Period Preparatory to War" and other extensive mobilization measures which had been decided upon the previous day without protest from London. No "representation at St. Petersburg" was made over the next five days as the silence from London became deafening. Even on July 30th, as Sasonov headed for Peterhof with a briefcase full of French 'blank cheques' to get authorization from Tsar Nicholas to order general mobilization, London maintained its ominous silence. As Fay has noted:
"[British Ambassador] Buchanan evidently made no effort to deter Sasonov from his purpose of converting partial into general mobilization; his failure to do so must have been an encouragement to the Russian Minister." Four pages further, Fay notes: "What were the reasons for this fatal decision to order general mobilization? The Entente Powers, in their efforts to excuse and justify it, have often alleged various reasons - which are false." The real reason for the Russian general mobilization was to jump start the European war before German pressure upon Vienna could yield the inevitable Austrian concessions that would have preserved the peace. At 5:00 P.M., August 1st, Germany ordered general mobilization. "She was the last of the Great Powers to take this final and supreme military measure" (Fay) and declared war on Russia an hour later just as Buchanan had earlier warned Sasonov would be the "probable" result of the Russian general mobilization. Realizing that he would need to account for his very conspicuous failure to moderate Russia, Grey proposed a Conference of Ambassadors, knowing it would be rejected by Germany and Austria, and used that rejection as his reason for allowing Russia to mobilize. He wrote:

"Germany ceased to talk of anything but the Russian mobilization. I could do nothing to stop that. The rejection of a Conference struck out of my hand what might have been a lever to influence Russia to suspend military preparations."

This absurdity from Grey ignores the fact that even a whispered objection from London would have stopped the Russian mobilization in its tracks. But with this and other explanations, Sir Edward Grey rose to new heights of hypocrisy and dishonesty as we'll see later.

In England, the first four days of August, 1914, saw an overwhelming majority of neutralists being outmaneuvered by a tiny clique of interventionists who urged England to stand by "our friends," France and Russia, but Grey was obliged to continue his policy of "deliberate ambiguity" until he could unleash his Belgian imposture. Playing his cards close to the vest with the skill of a carnival huckster, Grey waited until the German ultimatum to Belgium and the actual crossing of the Belgian frontier by German feld-grau finally allowed him to pull the Belgian ace from his sleeve and circumvent public opposition to the war. From here on out it was all Belgium all the time - France and Russia were no longer mentioned.

Quite apart from the nostrum that the victors in war write history, the question of how a false narrative of the cause of the War which indicts Germany and absolves England has managed to maintain traction for over a hundred years will be covered in the Epilogue. But we may begin here by noting that England has engaged in a massive, systematic cover up of her diplomatic documents since before World War 1. This was reported by The Guardian in 2013, and may be seen by clicking on (or pasting) the following link:

This comes on top of the fact that King Edward's Will had directed that all his private and personal correspondences were to be destroyed. This task was unfortunately carried out by Lord Esher and Lord Knollys with great thoroughness and a vast number of documents were burned and lost forever.

Was England justified in confronting Germany? Certainly, there were the traditional reasons such as those offered by Colonel Robertson (see above) and others, but there were larger precedents as well. Some two thousand years earlier, Rome's leaders decided that Carthage was getting too big for her britches. This resulted in the Punic Wars, Hannibal's revenge, and the disappearance of Carthage from the world map. Centuries before this, Persia decided that Greece should be taken down a notch or two. This resulted in the revenge of Alexander the Great and the demise of the Persian Empire. There were also the more relevant precedents of William the Conqueror in 1066, and William of Orange in 1688. Now, in the 20th century, the conservative Tory Press played on fears about Germany and the possibility of a German navy landing an army somewhere on the English coast, and the prospect of being governed by nummer 10, Downinge Strasse.
But however history judges England, it is time for England and the world to acknowledge the radical diplomacy with France and Russia carried on by King Edward VII, the secret Anglo-French, Anglo-Russian, Anglo-Belgian military agreements conducted by Edward Grey, which led directly to the outbreak of the Great War - a war in which Great Britain did indeed play the dominant role which was fully commensurate with her 1914 status as the largest, most powerful Empire in the history of the world.

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