It is not usual for an Emperor to address a Minister of a foreign country with reference to the affairs of his department. It is a fact that it is not done. Lord Tweedmouth said the letter was a private letter. The German Chancellor, Prince von Buelow, said the letter partook of both a private and a political character. The fact remains that it involved an extraordinary breach of etiquette. There is no reflection cast upon the late Lord Tweedmouth. No one can help receiving a letter from an Emperor if that monarch condescends to dispatch it. Few persons, perhaps, could help being influenced, albeit unconsciously influenced, by the perusal of such an epistle.
Perhaps the German Emperor reflected upon that psychological contingency; for to what conclusion is the whole tenor of the letter directed? That the German Navy existed solely for purposes of defense in case of aggression and for the protection of German commerce, and that it was no part of German policy, and never had been, to menace the sea power of Britain.
Now turn to the notorious preamble of the German navy law of 1900, which in his letter the Emperor cites as a guarantee of good faith. It is there stated that the German Navy must be made so powerful that it would be dangerous for any nation, even the strongest maritime nation, to attack it.
If that is not a challenge, what is? Had it not been in terms a challenge the preamble would surely have run that it was not the intention to make the German Navy so strong that the strongest naval power could not attack it without danger to that power.
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As Interpreted by Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, German Imperial Chancellor.
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“Your hearts for god, your fists on the enemy.”
Speech from Balcony of Chancellor’s Official
Berlin, Aug. 1.
At this serious hour in order to give expression to your feelings for your Fatherland you have come to the house of Bismarck, who with Emperor William the Great and Field Marshal von Moltke welded the German Empire for us.
We wished to go on living
in peace in the empire which we have
developed in forty-four years of peaceful labor.
The whole work of Emperor William has been devoted to the maintenance of peace. To the last hour he has worked for peace in Europe, and he is still working for it. Should all his efforts prove vain and should the sword be forced into our hands we will take the field with a clear conscience in the knowledge that we did not seek war. We shall then wage war for our existence and for the national honor to the last drop of our blood.
In the gravity of this
hour I remind you of the words of Prince
Frederick Charles to the men of Brandenburg: