CHAPTER XVI
THE SECRET TREATY OF BJÖRKE--I

OF all the extravagant and, one might add, irrational acts of the weak-willed sovereign who at last gave the death-blow to the Tsarist State the secret treaty, consisting of four brief clauses, which he concluded with Kaiser Wilhelm at Björke in July, 1905, occupies a foremost place. Politically it was a deed of surrender to the only formidable rival of his Empire, a covenant which crowned the suicidal process he had already inaugurated when he ordered Witte to accept Germany's proposals for a commercial treaty.1 The commercial treaty bound Russia economically to the Teutons, was in fact the first step towards reducing her rôle to that of one of their colonies, while the Björke agreement gave official recognition to the Kaiser's cherished plans for the permanent reorganisation of Europe, placed the resources of the Russian Empire at his disposal for their realisation, and implicitly handed over France to his mercy. Wilhelm II. could not dispense with Russia's co-operation in the work of constraining France to enter into an alliance which she would never have accepted of her own free will, and Nicholas II. foolishly pledged himself to supply it. From the only other point of view worth considering, the act marked the Tsar as a degenerate on whose mind no political ideal, no wise principle of international policy had stamped itself durably. It may be worth while to cast a glance in passing at the scheme which Wilhelm II., as the representative and spokesman of the German people, had formed and was working indefatigably and methodically to embody.

The psychological diagnosis, so common in France and Britain since the outbreak of the Great War, which represents Kaiser Wilhelm II. as a maniac of some kind and degree, is

____________________
1
That ruinous arrangement was negotiated between Bülow and Witte and their expert advisers in the summer of 1904. It is the same treaty that at present obtains between the two countries ( March, 1918).

-312-

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