Your kind letter shows once more that the localisation of the actual war and the avoidance of a European war are the guiding principle of our mutual exertions. I take the liberty of abusing of your kind permission in our mutual interest to propose two changes; one is to modify my proposal, the other the final clause of yours.
It may be possible that the sentence "Afin de localiser la guerre Russo-Japanaise" if through the publication officially or by indiscretion secretly the contents of the treaty became known, could be interpreted by other Powers as meaning that the treaty was only valid only in case England went to war as Ally of Japan, i.e. directed as a menace of provocative meaning solely against her. In reality and practically it is so: but "Tout verité n'est pas bon a diré.''1 We now see the British Public opinion in a state of nervousness nearly bordering on lunacy, of which it has just given us all some delightful proofs.2 It would in this mood look upon this treaty as a direct provocation and straightaway urge on the final catastrophe we both are trying to avoid or to postpone at least. Therefore I suggest a sentence used by yourself "afin d'assurer la maintien de la Paix en Europe", which would answer perfectly to our purposes and can on no account be looked upon as a provocation. We only think of ourselves and refrain from pointing with fingers at anybody (which besides is looked upon as a want of manners in society) Nobody -- with a clean conscience n.b.-- has any right to feel annoyed at such a treaty and it will be very difficult for the irate Jingoes in England to turn its conclusion into a "casus belli".
This change in the wording of the treaty, to my belief, necessitates a certain limitation of time. Either a short one with an abrogation limit, at any moment of year, or if you like it better a longer term. The prolongation would in case -- as I fervently hope -- the treaty meets the wishes of and proves a boon to the two nations, go on quite by itself automatically. This can be arranged exactly as you like it.
The next change refers to the newly added final clause of the treaty. It must be borne in mind that should you for instance wish the treaty to remain unpublished, indiscretions are possible -- walls have ears and diplomatists tongues that will wag -- under such circumstances the meaning put upon this sentence would be that I had precisely bound myself to help you to defend the Conquests of Russia which would tend to immediately replace Article I in a purely aggressive light. This would lead the whole political world to infer that we had instead of concluding a Defensive Alliance -- formed a sort of chartered Company limited for Annexation purposes, possibly involving secret clauses for the private benefit of Germany. The general mistrust ensuing would gravely imperil our mutual Situation, because Amerika would immediately join England -- which on no account must be allowed -- acting under the suspicion that Russia and Germany were on the move for aggressive operations to further selfish ends. But it will just be the main task of Russian and German diplomatists to stop America joining England. Should the Treaty become known either by official publication or indiscretions, Bülow in answering questions in Parliament -- must be able to declare that no secret clauses exist able to harm the defensive nature of the treaty or assuring Germany -- au détriment des autres3 -- anything else beyond the help in the Defence of the Peace of Europe, if it were endangered by anybody else. This is why I submit a different wording of the sentence. The ruling idea in it is the continuous polemic of the Russian Press in the last months against a Peace-Congress for mediation, like in I 878 of which your papers are afraid that it may be summoned together again -- and signs there are that some Powers are allready working in that direction, especially Paris and London -- and which would do everything in its power to bring the victors and vanquished to one and the same level and try to rob the former of their conquests and advantages as in 1878. Besides this sentence in its new form excludes all possibilities once for all for Germany ever beeing a party to such a Peace Con. gress, and at the same time robs all evil wischers and critics of the opportunity to suggest that we have any goal in view but that of preserving Peace without provocation. These are my two proposals I venture to submit to your kind approval, which I hope may be accorded to them; intending by them to avoid letting England take an active part in this war, and if possible to hinder America from joining her.
I dont know wether you think it necessary to communicate the secret Clause (III) to France? It is quite as you like; but I believe that the other articles will retain her from turning aside. Declassé4 I am sure will immediately find out the Anti-Congress tendency in the sense, and considering that he has allready opened negotiations between London and Paris and with other powers for the summoning of a Peace Congress for Meditation, he will be placed in a certain difficulty having to suddenly break off his negociations allready "entamées."5
Doubtless the French would much prefer any other grouping of Powers to that of the Alliance à trois as in r895, but the Russo-German Treaty once a fact our combined powers will enact a strong attraction on France, which you have allready foreseen in your telegram of October 28th when you say "After the arrangement is accepted by us, France is bound to join." Of course it will be the work of your diplomacy to make the necessary arrangements with France, Germany in the meantime remaining silently standing behind you. The Democratic Civilian and Freemasons, Declassé, Combes6 and Cie have as much to fear from victory as from rout, and the moment they are aware that France would be unable to remain neutral and under the necessity of choosing sides, they will do all within their power to restrain England from going to war. Last not least an excellent expedient to cool British insolence and overbaring would be to make some military demonstrations on the Persio-Afghan frontier,7 where the British think you powerless to appear with troops during this war; even should the forces at your disposal not suffice for a real attack of India itself they would do for Persia which has no army and a pressure on the Indian frontier from Persia will do wonders in England and have remarkably quieting influence on the hot headed Jingoes in London. For I am aware and informed that this is the only thing they are afraid of and that the fear of your entry into India from Turkestan and into Afghanistan from Persia was the real and only cause that the guns of Gibraltar8 and of the British Fleet remained silent 3 weeks ago! The Indian frontier and Afghanistan are the only part of the Globe where the whole of her Battlefleets are of no avail to England and where their guns are powerless to meet the invader. India's loss is the death stroke to Great Britain!
This is how I hope that our treaty will fullfill its tasks to preserve the Peace of Europe. Should the revised draft and the motives submitted meet with your approval the signing can be done immediately. I expect the Lambsdorff will receive your commands for the drawing up of formalities. God grant that we may have found the right way to hemm in the horrors of war and give his blessing to our plans. Believe me dearest Nicky, with best love to Alix
Ever your most aff-ate cousin and sincere friend
1.. It is not good to tell the whole truth.
2.. The British public was greatly aroused by the Dogger Bank incident, which was caused by the firing on British fishing boats by the Russian Baltic Squadron on its way to the Far East.
3. To the detriment of the others.
4. The French Foreign Minister, one of the creators of the Entente Cordiale.
5. Begun, initiated.
6. The leader of the anti-clerical party in France.
7. In a telegram to the Czar dated November 2nd, the Kaiser said: "From a reliable source in India I am secretly informed that expedition 'a la Thibet' is being quickly prepared for Afghanistan. It is meant to bring that country for once and all under British suzerainty."
8. The British concentrated an overwhelming fleet at Gibraltar after the Dogger Bank incident, ready to meet in case of emergency the Russian fleet upon its arrival in Mediterranean waters.
Leurs Majestés les Empereurs de toutes les Russies et d'Allemagne afin d'assurer le maintion de la paix en Europe ont arrêté les articles suivants d'um traité d'alliance dèfensive.
Au cas ou l'un des deux Empires serait attaqué par une Puissance Européenne, son allie l'aidera de toutes ses forces de terre et de men Sa Majesté l'Empereur de toutes les Russies fera les demarches necessaires pour initier la France à cet accord et l'engager à s'y associer comme Alliée.
Les hautes parties contractantes s'engagent a ne conclure de paix separée avec aucun adversaire commun.
Le présent Traité restera en vigueur tout qu'il ne sera par denoncé une Année à l'avance.
Les hautes parties contractantes vent convenues de faire cause commune dans le cas ou des actes accomplis par une d'elles pendant la guerre (actuelle?) tels que la livraison le charbon à un belligérant, donneraient lieux par la suite a des réclamations d'une fierce Puissance comme prètendues violations du droit des neutres.
Il resulté des termes du premier alinéa de l'article I que l'Allemagne ne s'associera à aucune action quellequ'elle soit qui pourrait impliquer des tendances hostiles à la Russie.
The following is a translation of the Kaiser's second French draft reproduced above:
Their Majesties the Emperors of All the Russias and Germany, in order to assure the maintenance of peace in Europe, have agreed to the following articles of a treaty of defensive alliance:
In case one of the two Empires should be attacked by a European Power its ally will help it with all its land and sea forces. His Majesty the Emperor of All the Russias will take the necessary steps to inform France of this understanding, and to invite her to associate herself with it as an Ally.
The high contracting parties undertake not to conclude any separate peace with any common adversary.
The present treaty will remain in force so long as it shall not have been denounced a year beforehand.
The high contracting parties are agreed to make common cause where acts committed by one of them during the (present?) war, such as the delivery of coal to a belligerent, should give rise in consequence to complaints by a third Power as to pretended violations of the rights of neutrals.
Berlin 7/XII 1904
The British Government, as you will have seen in the English press, seems to think the actual moment opportune for an action against the provisioning of your Baltic fleet with coal. Under pretext that it is its duty to maintain stricktest neutrality it has forbidden the German vessels1 belonging or chartered by the Hamburg-America Line to leave British ports. My fears -- I wrote to you longer ago -- that this would happen have at last come true, and it is now incumbent upon me to take early steps to fix the attitude Germany has to take up vis a vis of this action. It is far from my intention to hurry you in your answer to my last remarks about your proposal anent our defensive treaty. But you will I am sure be fully alive to the fact, that I must now have absolutely positive guarantees from you, wether you intend leaving me unaided or not in case England and Japan should declare war against me, on account of the Coaling of the Russian Fleet by Germany. Should you be unable to absolutely guarantee me, that in such a war you will loyally fight shoulder to shoulder with me, then I regret to assert to be under the necessity of immediately forbidding German steamers to continue to coal your fleet.
Alvensleben is under orders to at once elucidate the Coaling question with Lambsdorff. Best love to Alix.
Ever your most aff-ate cousin and friend
1. It was announced at the time that a German ship had been stopped from coaling at Cardiff because its cargo was believed to be destined for the Russian Baltic fleet.
Neues Palais 21/XII 1904
Sincerest thanks for your kind letter and two telegrams, as well as for your kind order regulating the coaling question. Of course we are unable today to foresee wether the declaration given by your Government will prove sufficient to meet every kind of complication which may arise out of the present run of affairs. It is however not my intention to press upon you any solution which might appear undesirable to you. We shall under all circumstances remain true and loyal friends. My opinion about the agreement is still the same; it is impossible to take France into our confidence before we two have come to a definite arrangement. Loubet1 and Declassé are no doubt experienced statesmen. But they not beeing Princes or Emperors I am unable to place them -- in a question of confidence like this one -- on the same footing as you my equal, my cousin and friend.
Should you therefore think it imperative to acquaint the French Government with our negotiations before we have arrived at definite settlement, I consider it better for all parties concerned to continue in our present condition of mutual independence, and of the spontaneous promotion of each others ends as far as the situation will permit. I firmly trust and believe that the hopes of our beeing useful to each other may be realized not only during the war, but also after it during the Peace negotiations, for our interests in the Far East are identical in more than one respect.
I wish you and Alix with all my heart a merry Xmas and a happy New Year, and may the Lord's Blessing be on you all, not forgetting the boy. With sincerest love to Alix believe me dearest Nicky
most aff-ate and devoted cousin and friend
1. Emile Loubet, President of France.
Berlin 2/I 1905
Best thanks for your kind letter and New Years cards which are well executed. The Cossack charge is most effective, and one cannot help thinking what might have happened if at Liao-Yang1 General Samsonoff 2 had ridden a charge like that with his 17,000 sabres and lances against the Japan left wing. The news of the fall of Port Arthur3 received here yesterday evening created a very great sensation. We all here feel deepest sympathy for the valiant Generals and the brave diminishing band of heroes under their orders who strove to the utmost and last to fullfill their duty towards their Emperor and their Country; their defence of Port Arthur will become proverbial for all ages, and be upheld as an example to be emulated as long as a soldier will exist, honour to them forever! The imminence of the fall of the doomed fortress had for some time already set the diplomatic tongues wagging in the different capitals of the world; many and different were the rumours and news of armistices and even peace arrangements which reached me from everywhere. It beeing rather difficult to discern truth from invention of phantasy, I hope you wont fancy that I intrude upon your privacy, when I address myself to you to beg you to tell me what your plans for the future are, so that, if possible I may make myself useful to you, and be enabled to shape my course of my policy. The more so as Lambsdorff told Alversleben the other day "Que la France connait déjà nos conditions."4 Now, I prefer being informed by yourself directly, instead in a round about way through other agencies, as I have firmly stood to you and your country from the first as your faithful friend. After a long spell of unusually warm and foggy weather which enabled us to ride up to Xmas nearly, a very heavy gale suddenly burst upon us followed by sharp frost and snow, and winter seems to have set in in earnest, this makes me think of the conditions of life through which the Armies in Manchuria have to go now, remaining stationary for so long time as the months gone bye? I am so glad that you rewarded the bravery of my Regiment, which has greatly distinguished itself on the Sha-ho, by so many decorations, I hope they also get a good number of St. Georges Crosses
Now that the programme for the renewal of your fleet has been published5 I hope you wont forget to remind your authorities to remember our great firms at Stettin, Kiel, etc.; They will I am sure furnish fine specimens of line of battle ships. I am so glad that Ernie6 has again become engaged and I will go to his wedding beginning of next month. I hope you will kindly accept the two vases for Xmas, which come from our Royal Porcelain Factory, they are a symbol of my warmest wishes for you and your family and country for the coming year in which God may preserve you all believe me Ever your
most aff-ate cousin and friend
Notes 1. August 24th to Sepeember 4th. The Japanese left, after heavy fighting in which General Samsonoff's cavalry took part, broke the Russian right, and captured Liao-Yang, the Russian military capital of Southern Manchuria, and a point of great strategic value.
2. Commanded at the above battle the Siberian Cossack Division. General Stoessel offered to surrender on January Ist, 1905. The Kaiser conferred the "Ordre pour le Mérité" on both General Nogi and General Stoessel.
3. France already knows our conditions.
4. In the London "Morning Post" of January 2nd, 1905, stating that $800,000,000 were to be expended.
5. After the dissolution of his marriage with Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, was married to Princess Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lich on February 2nd, 1905.
Berlin 15/I 1905
Click here for holograph copy of Letter XLIV
The Widow of old Prince Antoine Radzivill, Princess Marie,1 is going to St. Petersburg to beg for your approval of her late husbands will. Prince Antoine was not only a cherished and trusted servant of my deceased grandfather as his Adjutant and Adjutant General, but also a faithful and beloved personal friend to him as well as to my late beloved father and to me. His winning ways and his gay nature as well as his chivalrous character won him friends wherever he was, and your Grandfather and father have both allways cherished him. His wife was the intimate long-life friend of my late mother, and has been made testatrix by her husband for his will. The whole future of her children and family rests on the fact of your kind approval of the will, and I venture to plead her cause to you and to beg that you will bestow your kindness on her, as she is very sad and broken down by her loss; this she feels the more as her eldest son is an hopeless idiot in an Asylum, so that she must look after her Grandchildren too. --Your Ambassador Osten-Sacken is in great anxiety on account of his poor old wife. She has had a very serious operation made in her back -- without having been able to use chloroform -- and is unable to lie down but must spend her nights sitting in a chair and suffering terrible pain, so that considering her age of 84, her life is feared for. Poor old man, the suspense is very telling upon him, and I am afraid that should she die, he will not be able to work as well as formerly and perhaps think of retiring. Should a change once take place at your Embassy here, I would venture quite privately, to ask you to send Isvolsky2 here. He is one of the best men in your Foreign Service, and an intimate friend of long standing of Count Bülow's, who would be overpleased at having him here, as they formerly served together as diplomatists, and as he cherishes Isvolsky much. Lastly may I once more remind you of your kind promise, twice given, and twice put off, that my brother in law Frederic Leopold could be allowed to join your army. The last time in July all was arranged and ready, when he was put off, which placed him in a very difficult position vis a vis to our army and officers, he beeing as we say "blamirt," especially so, when Charles Hohenzollern left for Japan, which was done, becausetwe thought Fr. Leopold would leave for Mukden too. Now the people point at Fr. Leopold and the poor fellow is awfully crestfallen; he has bought lots of clothes and things and made every effort of preparations and even learnt your tongue and will in no way be of any hindrance to your generals, as he is a quiet man; as the army is large and powerful I think that it does not matter if he goes, so I venture again to ask wether you can permit him to go?
With excuse for bothering you with all these matters, but they are better arranged between ourselves and best love to Alix I remain
Ever your most aff-ate cousin and friend
Notes 1. Princess Marie Radziwill des marquis de Castellane was the widow of Prince Antoine Radziwill who died in Berlin on December 16th, 1904.
2. M. A. P. Izvolsky was Russian Minister at Copenhagen I902-1906, and in May, 1906, he succeeded Count Lamsdorf as Foreign Minister. In 1910 he became Ambassador in Paris, where he died on August 16th, I9l9.
Berlin 6/lI 1905
Your kind letter reached me on the morning of my birthday so early that your wishes were the first I received. Please accept my warmest thanks for them and God grant they may be fullfilled! Your letter reached me in a moment of dire anxiety, for just then my poor boy1 was seriously ill and it was then a matter of life and death! The whole following week was a terrible trial and my poor wife suffered agonies watching near the bedside of the patient; thanks be to God that he heard our prayers and saved our boys life!
My brother in law2 is deeply grateful for your kind permission accorded to him that he may at last start for the front. On his way out he is to report himself to you and give you these lines. His entourage has been limited as you wished and he is instructed to keep quite in the background, so as to in no way hamper the Commander in Chief, and he begs that the latter may take no undue notice of him, and not to forget that he is a simple spectator who wants to learn the art of war earnestly. You have been through serious troubles3 from the effervescence and agitation among the lower classes; I am glad your soldiers showed themselves reliable and true to their sermon4 to their Emperor. The reception of the deputation of workmen5 -- who seem to have been ill advised and partially goaded into striking by agitators -- made a good impression everywhere, as it showed them that they could see in the face of their "Väterchen"6 if they asked for this honour in due form! Many and most vague are the plans for reform in your country -- as far as I can make out -- but the most sensible and best adapted to its people and their customs, seems to my humble notion, the formation of a body of men chosen from the best and ablest heads in the different "Zemstovs." This body would be attached to the "Imperial Council" and to it could be given any question of importance having a vital interest for the whole of Russia to be worked out and prepared for the "Imperial Council"; also men well versed with the special theme under discussion, could be called upon to give their advice, beeing chosen from every part of the people ad hoc. And the comble7 would be if you from time to time presided yourself so as to be able to hear as many different men as possible, in order to be able to form a correct judgment on the question before them. Just like I did in 1890,8 when I called in the great Comittee for the elaboration of the "Social Laws" for the working classes, after the great Strike and which I presided for weeks. In this manner this body would be able to provide the "Imperial Council" with every information it wants, enabling you in the same time to remain in touch with the great bulk of the lower classes; thereby ensuring to the latter every means to make themselves heard in matters appertaining to their welfare and thus forming a direct canal of communication between the simple folk and their "Emperor and Father." Besides you would be able -- on account of your own information -- to keep good watch and control on your "Imperial Council" and the "Comittee of Ministers" to see the work by them is done as you wish and you PEOPLE want; this way ensures the executive once for all to the "autocratic Czar" not to a leading minister with a board of helpless Colleagus blindly following his lead.
On my birthday my tallest aide-de-Camp -- well known to you -- H. v. Plüskow in Paris the ladies called him "Plus que haut"!9~ has been made Colonel of your Alexander Grenadiers; they gave the Guard of Honour for my birthday ''Razwod''10 and looked magnificent, as you will see on the enclosed photos. In due time when things have calmed down and it suits you the new Colonel will report himself to you.
As I heard that Serge had mentioned that your authorities were annoyed vvith Krupp for not keeping his time to furnish the batteries ordered by Russia I caused an inquiry to be made at his works and send you the copy of the report I received, showing that there is no grounds for the above mentioned complaints. Inquiries made at the Offices of the Hamb. Americ. Line equally show that the roumours to the effect, that they have taken guns and ammunition out in their ships for Japan, is totally unfounded; they have not taken arms or stores of war of any kind to or for Japan. It seems that the clouds of French and English Agents besieging the Admiralty and War Office -- angry at our firms furmshing your Government well and better than theirs are able -- are starting no ends of canards "au detriment" of the Germans; I venture to suggest they should be less believed and kicked into the Newa besides.
The Japs have just ordered 4 Line of Battleships in England; they are to be copies of the newest type in England between 18000-19000 Tons with 25 cm. guns as medium artillery and 30 cm. guns as heavy artillery. With best wishes for a better outlook for you and your country and much love to Alix.
I remain ever Your
most aff-ate cousin and friend
P.S. End of next month we shall take our boy to the Mediterranean and to Sicily.
1. Prince Eitel Friedrich, the Kaiser's second son, had been suffering from inflammation of the lungs.
2. Prince Frederic Leopold reached Petrograd however, only to be sent back to Berlin instead of Manchuria.
3. A reference to the Bloody Sunday, January 9-22, when a terrible massacre of the people who had gathered to present a petition to the Czar in front of the Winter Palace took place.
4. The Kaiser apparently confused the word "sermon" with the French word "serment," which means "oath."
5. The Czar received later, on February 1st, a deputation of workmen, to appease the anger caused by the massacre of the petitioners.
6. Little Father.
8. The Kaiser is alluding to the beginning of his reign, when for a time he posed as the Arbeiter-Kaiser, the Workmen's Emperor, and called an international congress to Berlin for the benefit of the German workers in March, 1890.
9. A pun on Pluskow's name. In the Great War Pluskow, now a Lieutenant-General, commanded the 25th division.
Berlin 21/II 1905
Click here for holograph copy of page 1, Letter XLVI
Fritz Leopold has just returned with your kind wishes and compliments, deeply impressed by your extreme kindness affability as well as by the handsome reception you gave him. How glad I am to hear from him, that you are well, calm selfcomposed and hard at work, and that dear Alix and the children are all right. It is so much easier to work at a difficult task, when one knows, that those one loves are well. I am glad I was able to meet your wishes by sending Fr. Leop. to Asia by sea!I Your Railways are hereby left unhampered! What terrible tidings have come from Moscow!1 These beasts of anarchists have perpetrated a dark and dastardly deed.- Poor Ella,2 what a fearful blow it must have been for her may God grant her strength and devotion to bear it! It is very hard for the fine old capital of Russia, that her walls should have been soiled by so foul a crime but surely she harbours no true citizen drawing a breath who can approve of it! I cannot believe that these demons have rizen from the ranks of your Moskovite subjects, they were probably foreigners from Geneva. For the great bulk of your people still place their faith in their "Väterchen" the Czar and worship his hallowed person. I have gained this conviction from my close observation of the different phases of the movement in Russia as far as I was able from the news coming directly from there and by the opinions expressed by observers, or sometimes Russians, in the European Press.
The Russian movement is, as you may well imagine, uppermost in all conversations and correspondence not only in Russia but also without. The whole European Press is flooded with articles about Russia, their opinions depending on the standpoint of the Party they belong to. In this manner a -- so to say -- European point of view has emanated, which seems fairly correct rendering of the public opinion of our Continent. Now I thought that it might perhaps be of some interest to you -- in your solitude at Tsarske -- to have an idea of this European opinion, and to hear how the events in your country are judged by what one sometimes calls the "civilized World" in general. I shall therefore in the following lines try to draw a little sketch for you of the "reflected Russian picture" as seen from outside. Of course as the People outside your country are not initiated to the details of the intricate questions at issue in Russia they often combine or infer from an effect they see -- without knowing its cause -- and therefore often a wrong combination will lead to a wrong conclusion, because their ignorance of the true facts have left a breach. The foreign spectators are often forced to "Jump to conclusions," but we must add: "Wo die Begriffe fehlen, stellt oft ein Wort zu rechter Zeit sich ein."3
Therefore I must "avant tout"4 beg your pardon for writing to you things that you will probably since long have learned from your diplomats reports and crave your kind forbearance and forgiveness if I -- as a loyal firm and devoted friend of yours am obliged to do -- also must record opinions, which may seem to you hard, ungenerous, false or even hurt your feelings. But Russia is in the act of turning over a new leaf in her history, and the development shows a tendency to prepare the beginning for a certain modernization.
Such a process, you will agree, in a mighty nation like yours is bound to command the most widespread interest in Europe, and "comme de raison" before all in the neighbouring country. The methods to be adopted, the means which are to be used, and the men who are to do the work have direct influence across your frontiers, upon the other nations. If I said that the "opinion" was a "European" one I must not omit the fact that many Russians who have passed through here in the last months, and all those living all over Europe especially in Paris and France have also contributed to lend colour to the picture; so that the facts forming the base for the "European opinion" mostly are supplied by France, who as "amie et Alliée"5 is allways the best informed about Russia. The outcome of it is this:
"On dit:" The Regime Mirski6 too suddenly allowed the Press a greater liberty than before and dropped the reins -- so tightly held by Plehwe -- too soon. Hence a sudden flood of unheard of articles and open leters addressed to the Ruler, a thing up to then thought impossible in Russia; some of them most insolent calculated to diminish the respect for the Autocratic Rule. This opportunity was seized by the Revolutionary Party to get hold of the unsuspecting workpeople, to work them up into a state of ferment and to make them demand things -- they were incapable of understanding -- in a peremptory, disrespectful manner accompanied by language and acts which came very near looking like revolution. This brought the working class I am sure against their will into direct opposition to the Government and into conflicts with the Authorities, who had to maintain law and order. As these misguided and ill informed bands, mostly composed of men taught to look at the Zar as their "Father" and to "tutoyer"7 him as such, were under the impression that they would be able to place their wishes before him by coming before his Palace, it is suggested that it might have been practical of the Zar had received a certain number of them -- drawn up in the square amid a cordon of troops -- and had addressed them from the Balcony of the Winter Palace, where he would have been accompanied by the highest Clergy and the Cross and his suite as a "Father" speaks to his children, before the Military had to act; it were perhaps not impossible that in this manner bloodshed might have quite been avoided or at least diminished.
The example of Nicolai I has been often quoted, who quelIed a very serious rebellion by personally riding into their midst his child in his arms, and brought the rebels to their knees in short time. It is thought that now, as then, the person of the Zar has still an enormous hold on the simple people, and that they still bow down to his hallowed appearance. A word from such a position and in such an "entourage" would have awed and calmed the masses and sounded far away over their heads into the farthest corner of the Realm surely defeating the agitators. These are still more or less said to be in command of the masses because such a word has not yet been spoken by the Ruler. The Agitators consequently are continuing their game on the imagination of the people in maintaining: "It is His wish, he thinks so, but you cannot hear him because of the bands of officials who manage to fence him off and keep him far away from his people." The beguiled masses follow and believe these men til it is too late, and blood must flow.
Many reforms have been begun, and new laws are being discussed in batches, but curiously enough the People generally say: "This is by Witte, that is inspired by Mouravioff, that is Pobed.8 idea." But the Zar is never named for they are unaquainted with his real thoughts! Though the Committee of Ministers or the Senate issue the Manifestoes in the Zars name yet these bodies are much to vague and mysterious to the looker on as to evoke anything like enthusiasm or interest with their acts. In an Autocratic Regime, it is argued, it must be the Ruler himself who gives out the password and the programme of action in a unmistakable official way. It seems that every body is expecting something of thlis sort by way of an act of will by the Zar personally As long as this does not happen the impression at large will continue, that the announced reforms and law paragraphs are only ministerial work meant for show and to throw sand into the peoples eyes; and men will continue to anxiously miss the firm hand on the country's helm, guided by a master mind with a clear purpose, steering for a clearly defined goal. This state of things creates a feeling of uneasiness which in its turn evolves dissatisfaction generating fault finding "a tort et a travers" on a grand scale even with the mildest man of the very best intentions and actuated by the sincerest and purest motives. In consequence the disappointed spectator -- perhaps also the subjects -- is more and more prepared to throw on the Zar's shoulders the responsibility for everything with which they are dissatisfied. In ordinary times this matters very little, and in constitutional Nations it is not as dangerous, as the Kings Ministers have to mount the breach and to defend his person. But in Russia, where the ministers are unable to shield the sacred person of the Ruler, as they are known to be his tools simply, such troubles which fill the Russians minds with unrest and uneasiness, and which lead to the saddling of the Ruler with the odium for everything disagreeable that happens, are a very serious danger for the Ruler and his dynasty, because they tend to make him unpopular. Now it is argued that the "intelligentia" and the Society in parts are allready dissatisfied, should the Zar also become "unpopular" with the masses the agitators might easily raise such a storm that it would be very uncertain, wether the Dynasty would be able to weather it.
On one point all seem to agree in Europe as by common "consensus" that the Zar personally is solely responsible for the war. The outbreak, the surprise caused by the sudden attack, the evidence of want of preparation is said to be his fault. They say that the thousands of families who have lossed their male relatives by the war or must miss them for long months lay the blood and their complaints at the steps of the Zar's throne. It is maintained that the Reservists called out to leave their homes, do it reluctantly detesting to fight in a country whose existence they did not know of, and for a cause which is unpopular to them. They are careworn when they think of their wife and children they leave behind, slowly sinking into poverty and helpless misery they lay their anguish and their cares at the door of the Zar's Palace wishing he had left them at home.
The reports from the Foreign and Russiar Correspondents with the Army show it fighting an uphill fight against a most redoubtable foe. It had to begin war under very difficult circumstances, not having had time to properly prepare for the task, under the disadvantage of inferior numbers. with which it was unable to stem the inrushing tide of mishaps and to meet the terrible onslaught of a foe known to have been preparing for this action during the last five years. For all this the Zar is thought to be responsible. Also the fearful losses of the Navy are shouldered upon him.
Now the responsibility for a war is a very serious thing for a Ruler, that I know by experience from what my late Grandfather told me. He a man personally of the mildest and most peaceful disposition and allready in old age was called upon to wage 3 wars durmg his reign! And for each of them he took the full responsibility. But he had a clear conscience and his people loyally and enthusiastically supported him; the whole nation rising like a man and resolved to win or die, victory or destruction, but fight to the end; he and his subjects felt that Providence was on their side, and that it is as good if victory was allready won. Such wars then are easy to be borne for the Ruler because his whole People share the burden with him. But the responsibility for an unpopular war is quite a different matter; when the glow of flaming patriotism is unkindled and when the nation as a whole takes no willing part in it, and suddenly sends its sons to the front because the Zar so wills it, but without making his cause their own that is a fearful and heavy load to bear; whose weight can only be lightened by the pureness of motives which give the Ruler the clearness of conscience necessary to enable him to expect his subjects to fight for him even if they are unable to discern the motive themselves
These words must seem very strange to you and I hear you ask with astonishment "The war unpopular! Impossible!" I can only answer that the amount of private correspondence received in France leaves no doubt that it is so.
The war is very unpopular with all classes in Russia the officers not excepted especially as victories have up to now been denied to the Russian arms. The impression rests with the officers of the French Army -- your Allies -- that even the confidence in Kouropatkine is beginning to give way, and as if the harmony, essential to success, between the different commanders of the Russian forces left much to be desired. If true this state of things would hamper the operations and jeopardize the chances for victory; and it is necessary that it should be remedied to and that soon, or the army and its discipline would suffer by it otherwise. The solution I own is most difficult.
It seems however that it is generally agreed to, that Kouropatkine has more talents for a Chief of the Staff under another General as leader, than to be a leader himself, as he is rather slow and lacking somewhat in the element called the "Offensive" this leader is difficult to find as the Generals, senior to Kouropatkine are mostly too old and out of the ranks since long; besides it would be doubtful wether he would assent to such a change. On the other hand his knowledge, it is said, of the country, enemy, their mode of fighting, of the feeding and carmg for the army are quite invaluable and cannot be missed from the field. The result of all this pondering is, that people begin to hint that the Zar himself might perhaps personally take over the Command in Chief, and joining his brave troops, restore their confidence, cheer them by taking his share of hardships, electrify them by his presence and preserve the services of Kouropatkine for his troops, as he would act as chief of the Staff to his "war lord." As I have shown above, there is -- one may say -- a slowly rising sort of a tide of misinterpretation, unrest and disobedience which must evidently be stemmed and calmed down; and the European Public as well as the Russian Nation is instinctively looking toward the Zar, and expecting that he will come forth and do something grandly, a great personal act; meant to show all that he is the Autocratic Ruler of his People and willing to allay their anxieties and pains as far as is in his power. This general expectation is very neatly put into words by someone who said: "I1 faut que l'Empereur fasse on grande acte pour afferrnir son pouvoir de nouveau, et sauvegarder sa dynastic qui est menacée, il faut qu'il paye de sa personne"!9 But how?! After what I wrote about the war, you are perfectly at liberty to ask another question: "Why is the war unpopular, why does it seem that I am not backed by my whole People, why do they lack enthusiasm for the fight. We were attacked and our flag insulted, and we have to fight for its honour and our prestige?!!" The Foreign observers fancy there is an answer forthcoming. It is this. In former times your forefathers before they went to war used to repair to Moscow, pray in the old churches and then assemble the Notables in the Kremlin inside, and the People outside in the courtyard and announce to them with great ceremony the necessity for the war and called upon their loyal subjects to follow them to the field battle. Such a call from the Kremlin in Moscow -- which is still the real capital of Russia -- never failed to find a response from the Russian Nationl Such an act, such a call to arms was expected by Moscow and Russia from you in the days following the 8th of February of last year, and they then were ready to answer with enthusiasm smarting under the fell blow, which had fallen on them unawares, and the Citizens of the great Capital looked eagerly forward for your coming; it is even hinted that the officials had your train got ready for starting. But the Zar came not. Moscow was left to itself; the "holy war" eagerly expected was not proclaimed, and there was no call to arms. This Moscow looked upon as a slight, and smarted under it. It has become disaffected and shows her disaffection openly, her example beeing followed all over Russia. The other day the remark was made 'I1 est temps que l'Empereur remette la main sur Moscou; avec Moscou il parviendra a remettre ltordre en Russie, sans Moscou, cela sera tres difficile.''10 Well European observers think that it could be managed, that the Zar could make the expected "Grande acte" by going to Moscow and assembling the nobility and notables in his magnificent Palace speak to them; perhaps beginning with a reprimand for publishing letters and addresses sent to him, which is bad manners and must not be repeated, and then proclaim the reforms he has prepared for his People as far as he thinks fit. Not the promise of a general legislative assembly, no Constituante or Convention Nationale, but a Habeas Corpus Act and wider extension of the Conseil de l'Empire. No liberty of the assembly or of the Press, but strict orders to all censors to abstain from any chicanes henceforth. Further the Zar would let the hearers know what he has decided about the army -- in case he thinks it possible or necessary to go out himself -- to tell them and to exhort them to abstain from all internal quarrels till the enemy is routed. After this the Zar "entouré" by the Clergy with banners and cross and incense and holy Icons would go out on the balkony and read out the same speech he held before, as a Manifestoe to his assembled loyall subjects in the Court Yard below, encircled by the serried ranks of the troops "la bajonette au canon" "le sabre au poing''.11 When you would tell them that you -- in case you thought it necessary --would go to share the hardships of their brothers and relatives in the field, who had to go out by your command, and to cheer them and try to lead them to victory, it is argued that the People will be deeply touched and cheer you and fall on their knees and pray for you. The Zar's popularity would be recovered and he would gain his peoples sympathy besides. All persons who take an interest in the Russian events are unanimous in their opinion that "a la longue" the Zar must not remain in perpetnum in Tsarske or Peterhof; but that it is sure that should his first appearance be made under the above mentioned conditions, the sensation and impression created in the whole world would be enormous, which would with bated breath listen to him when he addressed it, as his forefathers formerly did, from the Ramparts of the Kremlin.
This dearest Nicky is the sketch which I have drawn of the European Public opinion with respect to the events in Russia. In the beginning I have given you the reasons why I thought it my duty to write these lines. I once more crave your pardon for having taken up your precious time and in case I should sometimes have been to personal in my re port. But as your loyal friend I am a jealous watcher of your "renommée" in this world and I wish you should by it be rightly and justly judged; and that is my duty too to inform you of the opinions the world forms on your account so as to enable you to correct them by your acts if you feel so inclined. At all events "Honey soit, qui mal y pense".l2
With sincerest wishes for the welfare and future of your country and house, and best love to Alix, and the wish that God may bless and protect you all believe me dearest Nicky as allways
Your most aff-ate cousin and friend
I. Grand Duke Sergei, uncle of the Czar, Governor-General of Moscow, was assassinated at Moscow on February 17th, 1905.
2. Wife of the assassinated Grand Duke Sergei and sister of the Czarina.
3. Where understanding is lacking, a word at the right time will help.
4. First of all.
5. Friend and ally.
6. After the assassination of von Plehwe, the reactionary Rusaian Minister of the Interior, Prince Swiatopol-Mirski, a liberal, was appointed to his post.
7. To be on familiar terms with him.
8. Constantine Petrovitch Pobedonostzev, the famous Russian statesman.
9. The Emperor should perform a great act in order to affirm his power anew and safeguard his menaced dynasty, he should take a personal risk.
10. It is time that the Emperor again should put his hand on Moscow; with Moscow he will be able to restore order in Russia, without Moscow that will be very difficult.
11. With bayonets fixed and drawn sabres.
12. "Evil to him who evil thinks." The Kaiser misspelled the French word "honi."
Berlin 3/VI 1905
The kind lines which you entrusted to Micha's care and were given me yesterday have deeply touched me. The-memorable events you allude to are all clearly graved in my memory and remind me how the years have gone by, and how often since long we two have been brought into personal relations. The natural consequence of this is a firm feeling of mutual friendship that developed between us both based on a perfect understanding of each other. These relations have flourished through the long years for the welfare of our countries, to rule which we have been called upon by Pirovidence. They were and I hope will continue to be guarantees of Peace and welfare for the two countries as well as for the world. I well remember the moment in the church in the Winter Palais when you took your oath on the glorious tatters of the old Cossack standard, and the breathless silence of an enormous audience of illoustrious people! How moved your dear father was when he kissed you after the ceremony! How long ago that is! Now you are in his place and have to lead your country through one of the most difficult phases of its development. How I have been feeling for and thinking of you all these last months I need not say! Also of every phase of Admiral Roshestwensky's progress! The great stake which he represented in your hand has been played and honnourably lossed.1 He did everything in his powers to come up to your wishes, but Providence willed it otherwise and he met defeat bravely serving his master to the lastl My fullest sympathy is with him and you.
From the purely military strategical point of view the defeat in the straits of Corea ends the chances for a decided turn of the scales in your favour; the Japanese are now free to pour any amount of reserves, recruits, ammunition, etc. into Mandschuria for the siege of Wladiwostok, which will hardly be able to resist very long without a fleet to support it. The Army of Lenewitsch2 will need at least 3 or 4 fresh Army Corps to bring it up to its former efficiency and even then it is difficult to foretell what the consequences will be and wether another large battle will promise more success than the former did? Formally it of course possible, even under these adverse circumstances to continue the war for any amount of time. But then on the other hand the human part must not be overlooked. Your country has sent thousands of its sons to the fronte, where they died, or were taken ill and were left cripples for the rest of their lives. Now as I wrote to you in my last letter -- Febr. 6th --. the war is very unpopular and the People see their sons and fathers reluctantly even unwilling leave their homes to fight for a cause they not only not espouse but abhor! Is it compatible with the responsibility of a Ruler to continue to force a whole nation against its declared will to send its sons to be killed by hecatombs only for his sake? Only for his way of conception of National honour? After the People by their behaviour have clearly shown their disapproval of a continuance of the war? Will not in time to come the life and blood of all uselessly sacrificed thousands be laid at the Ruler's door, and will he not once be called upon by Him the Ruler and Master of all Kings and men to answer for those, who were placed under his control by the Creator, who entrusted their welfare to him? National honour is a very good thing in itself, but only in the case that the whole of the Nation itself is determined to uphold it with all the means possible. But when a nations ways show that it has enough and that "tout est purdu fort l'honneur"3 is its way of thinking, is it not reasonable that also its Ruler should then -- no doubt with a heavy heart -- draw the consequences and conclude peace? Even though it be a bitter one? Rather than risking through the prolongation of an unpopular war to create such a bitter feeling in his country that it would not even refrain from taking serious steps to eventually force the Ruler to comply to their wish and adopt their views? Of course there is the Army to be considered. It has fought and bravely fought through heat and cold for I-I/2 years trying to win victoria for you and your country, but up to now Providence has withheld success from it. Defeat, fearful loss of life, and sufferings unspeakable have instead been sent to the poor Army and have been willingly borne by those capital, brave, quiet, selfsacrificing fellows your soldiers. That they should burn for revenge and be ready to do battle at every possible moment is quite natural. But is there any new leader or General among the Captains who is able to guarantee success, so that it would justify a new tremendous effort at the expense of thousands of the soldiers lives ? Is the Army really absolutely convinced that it will yet be able to turn the scales? To this question you of course alone are able to know the answer. Should the answer however be given in the negative by your Generals in your soldiers name, declaring on their honour that they could only die for their Emperor but hardly win any decisive victories for him, then I think your conscience may be at rest as to wether you ought to go on fighting or not, and you could open the Peace negociations which would be hailed with joy by all your loyal subjects throughout Russia after the tribute of blood they readily gave their Emperor. You may then say like the old French Grenadier Bombardon sings: "Das Glück des Kriegs hat wider uns entschieden, doch die Armee hat ihre Pflicht gethan, die hälfte fiel, der Rest ward Invaliden! Je nun man trägt was man nicht ändern kann"! 14
Napoleon I and Fredrick the Great also suffered defeat!
It must be looked upon as Gods will that things have taken this course! God has imposed this burthen on you, and it must be borne, but perhaps by His intentions and with His help, lasting good may come out of all this in the end; a new life and a new order of things for the development of Russia may spring from this time of trial which would be a recompence your subjects richly deserved.
Forgive the length of my letter, but I feel bound as your friend and collegue to tell you what I think is true and right! You know the motives that prompt me, and you are free to do with these lines what you think fit.
Should however the ideas propounded in this letter coincide with yours and you think that I could be of any even smallest use to you for the preparatory steps to bring about Peace, pray dispose of me at your leisure. I may perhaps turn your attention to the fact that no doubt the Japanese have the highest regard for America before all other nations. Because this mighty rising Power with its tremendous fleet is next to them. If anybody in the world is able to influence the Japanese and to induce them to be reasonable in their proposals, it is President Rooseveldt.5 Should it meet with your approval I could easily place myself -- privately -- en rapport with him, as we are very intimate; also my ambassador there is a friend of his. Besides you have Mr. Meyer6 whom I know since years, who has my full. est confidence you may send for him, talk with him openly, he most discret and trustworthy, a charming causeur with agreeable manners! Here the Brides Entry7 took place in splendid weather and amidst great enthusiasm! Best love to Alix from your
Aff-ate friend and cousin
1. The Russian Baltic Fleet, under Admiral Rozhdjestvensky, was disastrously defeated on May 27-28 by the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo in the Straits of Korea.
2. General Linievitch was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army after Kuropatkin's retirement.
3. All is lost save honor.
4. The fortune of war has gone against us, but the army did its duty; one-half fell, the rest became invalids. What cannot be altered must be borne.
5. Two days before this letter was written, President Roosevelt conferred with the Japanese Minister, Takahira, at the White House on the possibility of opening peace negotiations. On June 2nd Roosevelt received the Russian Ambassador. On June 7th he sent an identical note to Russia and Japan, proposing the opening of peace negotiations. The peace conference at Portsmouth opened on August 9th.
6. President Roosevelt in his autobiography says of the peace negotiations between Russia and Japan: "During the course of the negotiations I tried to enlist the aid of the governments of one nation which was friendly to Russia, and of another nation which was friendly to Japan in helping bring about peace. I got no aid from either. I did, however, receive aid from the Emperor of Germany. His ambassador at St. Petersburg was the one ambassador who helped the American ambassador, Mr. Meyer, at delicate and doubtful points of the negotiations. Mr. Meyer . . . rendered literally invaluable aid by insisting upon himself seeing the Czar at critical periods of the transaction, when it was no longer possible for me to act successfully through the representatives of the Czar, who were often at cross purposes with each other."
7. This rather abrupt reference to the "Bride's entry" concerns the future wife of the German Crown Prince, Duchess Cecilia, the daughter of Friedrich Franz III. of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She entered Berlin on June 3rd, 1905, the day the letter was written.
Pillau 27/VII I905
On reaching the shores of my home1 I take the earliest opportunity of sending you a line to once more thank you for the way in which you received me and the kindness shown to me by you. The hours I was allowed to spend in your society will be ever graven in my memory, you were like a dear brother to me. I shall allways respond to your feelmgs with the same warmth and with the same intensity as you and you can count on me as on a firm friend, who is filled with the sole wish and hope to see you successful in your heavy work, and your country soon recover from the severe test it has undergone through the will of Providence. The Alliance for mutual support in case of need, which we concluded will be of great use to Russia, as it will restore quiet in the minds of the people and confidence in the maintenance of Peace in Europe, and encourage financial circles in foreign countries to place funds in enterprises to open up Russia, and its vast stores of wealth yet untouched. In times to come may not be impossible that even Japan may feel inclined to join it. This would cool down English selfassertion and impertinence, as she is her ally too. The 24th of July 1905 is a cornerstone in European politics and turns over a new leaf in the history of the world; which will be a chapter of Peace and goodwill among the great Powers of the European Continent, respecting each other in friendship, confidence, and in pursuing the general Policy on the lines of a community of interests. The moment the news of the new "groupement" will have become known in the world, the smaller nations, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway will all be attracted to this new great centre of gravity, by quite natural laws of the attraction of smaller bodies by the larger and compacter ones. They will revolve in the orbit of the great block of Powers (Russia, Germany, France, Austria, Italy) and feel confidence in leaning on and revolving around this mass. The Dual Alliance combining with the Triple Alliance gives a Quintupel Alliance, well, able to hold all unruly neighbors in order, and to impose Peace even by force, if there should be a Power hairbrained enough with to disturb it. In the conversation with that excellent man Birilew2 -- capital choice you made -- I mentioned that when once your types of ships are decided upon, you ought to build them as many as possible at once, and not forget the German private firms, beside the French. Because they would work as for their own country, whereas other Powers would make use of the secrets of your builders and engineers against yourself and country. Between Bjorköe and Hochland I met my cruiser coming from Sweden, unshaven, unwashed and perfectly like a chimneysweep - a picture of woe -- from the smoke of the Torpedoboat. I got some French news papers, in which I read a résume of the Brest Fêtes:3 Il y à 12 ans nous avions Toulon et Cronstadt c'était le mariage d'amour. Comme chez tous les mariages d'amour est survenu un desillusionnement général surtout depuis la guerre 1904-05. Maintenanet nous avons Brest et Caves s'est le mariage d'affairs, et comme chez tous les mariages d'affairs il en résultera un mariage de raison!4 I think that really cool! for an Ally! to let her "ami et alliée" drop like that! It will do the French a world of good if you draw the reins a little tighter. Their 10 milliards of francs they placed in Russia of course hinder them from quite falling off, but the language shows to what a point the English flatteries have allready brought the French; and hope they wont go quite off their heads at Cowes. To use the metaphor of "mariage" again "Marianne" ( France) must remember that she is wedded to you and that she is obliged to lie in bed with you, and eventually to g~ve a hug or a kiss now and then to me, but not to sneak into the bedroom of the ever intriguing touche-â-tout on the Island.
Now good bye dearest Nicky: dont forget about Magnacharta (habeas corpus act) and the recompense for your line army in bringing it to a level with the Guards! You promised it to me! Dont mind the ill homour of Wlad ;5 or the Guards opposition, remember the 10 army corps in the Field that bled for you, and those in the Provinces at home, who are daily fighting for you against the Revolution. Best love to Alix from your
most devoted friend
P. S. As you told me that Boulygine6 had allready finished a bill after your directions, responding to the ideas I told you about, it would I think be urgent to promulgate it now at once, to let the members be chosen as soon as possible so that, when the conditions of Peace are submitted to you; you can communicate them to the Russian People, who would have to bear the RESPONSIBILITY of rejection or approval! This would shield you from a general attack on your policy from all sides if you did it alone!
1. Returning from Bjoerkoe, the island off the coast of Sweden, where the Czar and the Kaiser had signed the historic secret treaty.
2. Russian Minister of the Navy.
3. On July gth the British fleet visited Brest. In August the French returned the visit at Cowes.
4. For twelve years Toulon and Cronstadt were united in a marriage of love. As in all marriages of love, it was followed by general disillusionment, especially since the war of 1904-5. Now Brest and Cowes are united in a business marriage and as in all business marriages, it will turn out to be a marriage of wisdom.
5. Grand Duke Vladimir.
6. Boulygine or Buligin was Russian Minister of the Interior in 1905. In acordance with instructions from the Czar, originating with the Kaiser's advice as outlined in the preceding letter, Buligin formulated a scheme for a "parliament." This body was to be advisory only, and when its nature was announced on June 26th, the "reform" provoked universal dissatisfaction in Russia. Two months later, August 19th, the Czar issued the manifesto establishing the Duma. Buligin was executed by a revolutionary tribunal in Soviet Russia in October, 1919.