Nine

SO MANY ENEMIES: GERMANY AT WAR

ON 15 JUNE 1913 Wilhelm II celebrated the silver anniversary of his ascension as king of Prussia and German emperor, an occasion of much royal panoply that brought throngs of his subjects to Berlin. Elsewhere in Germany, statues were erected and commemorative volumes were issued extolling the accomplishments of the previous quarter of a century. The Kaiser was elated at this evidence of popularity and felt that at long last the public opprobrium that had followed the Daily Telegraph scandal almost five years earlier had been avenged. 1 Those who praised Wilhelm often lauded him as a sovereign who had helped to maintain the peace of Europe for a quarter of a century, and this was the honor he most appreciated. As the Kaiser told his friend Admiral Georg von Müller, the chief of the Naval Cabinet, he had come to the throne in 1888 determined that his reign be one of consolidation rather than expansion. 2 Wilhelm regretted that his efforts at preserving tranquility had not always been appreciated and that perhaps some of his subjects were disappointed that there had been no magnificent victories over foreign foes. His successor could fight wars should they be required, but Wilhelm declared that he would draw the sword only if the Fatherland was endangered. For preventive war, which he had briefly considered against Russia at the beginning of his reign, he had absolutely no interest. 3

The Kaiser's opposition to war proceeded in part from a conviction that Germany could not afford to become engaged in foreign adventures as long as socialism represented a danger at home. The triumphant Reichstag elections of 1912 had indicated that its power as a political and social force in Germany was dramatically increasing, and Wilhelm believed that he therefore should keep his soldiers at home, where someday they might be needed. Nothing provoked the Kaiser's oratorical inflation more than socialism, and even before 1912 he allegedly had exclaimed to Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow that what was required was "first to shoot the socialists, behead them and make them innocuous, if necessary by means of a bloodbath." He added: "Then [we can have] war abroad. But not before

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