The Franco-Russian Alliance, 1890-1894

By William Leonard Langer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
THE NEW COURSE

THE position of the new chancellor was a very difficult one, not only in respect to domestic policy, but also in regard to foreign affairs. In questions of international relations he was wholly inexperienced and it was only with profound reluctance that he had agreed to assume the responsibilities of the new position.1 Like most of the military men he was imbued with the idea of an inevitable war between Germany on the one hand and Russia and France on the other. Not that he was a Kriegshetzer like Waldersee, but he was decidedly pessimistic of the future, believed in keeping his powder dry and in cultivating the friendship of anti-Russian powers like England, while at the same time straining every nerve to maintain close connections with Germany's allies and contributing so far as possible to the consolidation of the entente between these powers and the island empire.2

Marschall von Bieberstein, the new foreign minister, was also quite inexperienced in international affairs, but was known to sympathize with the Austrians as against the Russians, this being also the attitude of Holstein, who at last found himself without a rival in the foreign office so far as knowledge of foreign affairs and German policy was concerned.

It may be said without fear of contradiction that neither the Kaiser nor Caprivi intended a change of front in Germany's relations with her neighbors. Indeed, the dictates of common sense demanded that all appearance of change should be avoided. But it was only natural that the powers should feel uneasy and

____________________
1
Caprivi was known as an able and energetic administrator, but only in official circles. On Caprivi's reluctance to assume the position see his letters in the Deutsche Revue 1922, pp. 140 ff. He told the Prussian Diet on April 15, 1990 that he felt he was beginning with a deficit.
2
Lucius p. 269; Tirpitz pp. 23-26; Hans Delbrück: Bismarcks Erbe ( Berlin 1915) p. 184; Irmer: Völkerdämmerung im Stillen Ozean ( Leipzig 1915) p. 49, and the evidence in G. P. passim.

-69-

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