To Us Germans
THE CROWN PRINCESS stood on her balcony in Berlin. Below her, the grey and blue soldiers were marching away, rank upon rank, to Schleswig. On 1 February 1864, a combined force of Prussian and Austrian troops had crossed the border into Schleswig. The Crown Prince was going with them to join the forces under the old Field Marshal Wrangel. Parades had always excited the Crown Princess; the prospect of war overwhelmed her. 'Our dear troops', she called the Prussians now. Until the war against Denmark, 'our soldiers' had always been British ones, but the sound of boots and drums in Berlin had made the Crown Princess identify herself with her adopted country at last. There was no problem about Schleswig and Holstein for her. It was 'to us Germans plain and simple as daylight and one for which we would gladly bring any sacrifice.'1
Bismarck had provoked the war. Technically, the Danes were in the wrong. The new constitution signed by King Christian IX broke the terms of the London Treaty which had defined the extent of Danish power in Schleswig and Holstein. When Bismarck's ultimatum was rejected, Prussia and Austria could claim the right to intervene on behalf of the German Confederation. While the smaller German states wanted a new independent duchy set up on the borders under Frederick of Augustenburg, Bismarck wanted Prussia to annex enough territory to secure access to the North Sea. At a Crown Council, he reminded the King that each of the recent rulers of Prussia had increased its size. The King thought that Bismarck had been drinking, the Crown Prince raised his hands to heaven as if Bismarck were mad, and the other ministers did not know what to say.