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Title: My Mission to London 1912-1914
Author: Lichnowsky, Karl Max, Fürst von, 1860-1928
Language: English
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                       AMBASSADOR IN ENGLAND

                           MY MISSION TO


                         PRINCE LICHNOWSKY

                        _With a Preface by_
                     PROFESSOR GILBERT MURRAY



                           MY MISSION TO



                         PRINCE LICHNOWSKY

                _Late German Ambassador in England_

                         WITH A PREFACE BY
                     PROFESSOR GILBERT MURRAY

         _Author of "The Policy of Sir Edward Grey," etc._

                              NEW YORK
                      GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY

                       WITH THE COMPLIMENTS

                   PROFESSOR W. MACNEILE DIXON

                     (UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW)

      LONDON, S. W., ONE,


The author of the following pages, Karl Max, Prince Lichnowsky, is a
member of a family which holds estates both in German and Austrian
Silesia, and has an hereditary seat in the Upper House of the Prussian
Diet. The father of the present Prince and his predecessor in the title
was a Prussian cavalry general, who, at the end of his life, sat for
some years in the Reichstag as a member of the Free Conservative Party.

His uncle, Prince Felix, was elected in 1848 to represent Ratibor in the
German National Assembly at Frankfort-on-Main; he was an active member
of the Conservative wing, and during the September rising, while riding
with General Auerswald in the neighbourhood of the city, was attacked
and murdered by the mob.

The present Prince, after serving in the Prussian army, in which he
holds the rank of Major, entered the diplomatic service. He was in 1885
for a short time attached to the German Embassy in London, and
afterwards became Councillor of Embassy in Vienna. From 1899 to 1904 he
was employed in the German Foreign Office, and received the rank and
title of Minister Plenipotentiary.

In 1904 he retired to his Silesian estates, and, as he states, lived for
eight years the life of a country gentleman, but read industriously and
published occasional political articles. He himself recounts the
circumstances in which he was appointed Ambassador in London on the
death of Baron Marschall von Bieberstein.

Baron Marschall, who had been Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the
Chancellorships of Count Caprivi and for a time under Prince Hohenlohe,
had achieved great success as Ambassador at Constantinople, and also,
from the German point of view, as chief German Plenipotentiary at the
Second Hague Conference in 1907. Baron Marschall was, to use an
expression of Bismarck's, "the best horse in Germany's diplomatic
stable." And great things were expected of him in London. But he lived
only a few months after his appointment.

Prince Lichnowsky's high social rank, his agreeable manners, and the
generous hospitality which he showed in Carlton House Terrace gave him a
position in English society which facilitated the negotiations between
England and Germany, and did much to diminish the friction that had
arisen during the time that Prince Bülow held the post of German

The pamphlet which is here translated gives an account of his London
mission; after his return to Germany he has lived in retirement in the
country, but has contributed occasional articles to the Press. The
pamphlet, which was written in August, 1916, was not intended for
publication, but was distributed confidentially to a few friends. The
existence of it had long been known, but it was only in March of this
year that for the first time extracts from it were published in the
Swedish paper _Politiken_. Longer extracts have since appeared in the
London Press; for the first time a complete translation made from the
German original is now placed before the public.


Never perhaps in history has the world seen so great an exhibition, as
at the outbreak of this war, of the murderous and corrupting power of
the organised lie. All Germany outside the governmental circles was
induced to believe that the war was a treacherous attack, plotted in the
dark by "revengeful France, barbaric Russia, and envious England,"
against the innocent and peace-loving Fatherland. And the centre of the
plot was the Machiavellian Grey, who for long years had been encircling
and strangling Germany in order at the chosen moment to deal her a
death-blow from behind. The Emperor, the princes, the ministers, the
bishops and chaplains, the historians and theologians, in part
consciously and in part innocently, vied with one another in solemn
attestations and ingenious forgeries of evidence; and the people, docile
by training and long indoctrinated to the hatred of England, inevitably
believed and passionately exaggerated what they were told. From this
belief, in large part, came the strange brutalities and ferocities of
the common people of Germany at the opening of the war, whether towards
persons who had a right to courtesy, like the Ambassadors, or a claim on
common human sympathy, like the wounded and the prisoners. The German
masses could show no mercy towards people guilty of so hideous a

And now comes evidence, which in normal times would convince even the
German nation, that the whole basis of their belief was a structure of
deliberate falsehood; which shows that it was the Kaiser and his
Ministers who plotted the war; while it was England, and especially Sir
Edward Grey, who strove hardest for the preservation of peace.

It is the evidence of the German Ambassador in London during the years
1912-1914, Prince Lichnowsky, corroborated rather than confuted by the
comments of Herr von Jagow, who was Foreign Minister at the time, and
carried further by the recently published Memoranda of Herr Mühlon, one
of the directors of the Krupp armament factory at Essen. One could
hardly imagine more convincing testimony. Will the German people believe
it? Would they believe now if one rose from the dead?

We cannot yet guess at the answer. Indeed, there is another question
which must be answered first: For what motive, and with what possible
change of policy in view, has the German Government permitted the
publication of these papers and the circulation of Lichnowsky's
Memorandum as a pamphlet at 30 pfennig? Do the militarists think their
triumph is safe, and the time come for them to throw off the mask? Or
have the opponents of militarism, who seemed so crushed, succeeded in
asserting their power? Is it a plan to induce the ever docile German
populace to hate England less?

It must be a startling story for the Germans, but for us it contains
little that is new. It is an absolute confirmation, in spirit and in
letter, of the British Blue Book and of English books such as Mr.
Headlam's "History of Twelve Days" and Mr. Archer's "Thirteen Days."
Prince Lichnowsky's summing-up agrees exactly with the British
conclusions: The Germans encouraged Count Berchtold to attack Serbia,
well knowing the consequences to expect; between the 23rd and 30th July
they rejected all forms of mediation; and on the 30th July, when Austria
wished to withdraw, they hastily sent an ultimatum to Russia so as to
make withdrawal impossible (pp. 39-40). A ghastly story of blindness and
crime; but we knew it all before.

Equally interesting is Prince Lichnowsky's account of the policy of
Germany and England before the war. He confirms our knowledge of the
"sinister vagueness" of German policy in Morocco, the steady desire of
England to come to an understanding and of Germany to elude an
understanding. As for our alleged envy of German trade, it was in
English commercial circles that the desire for an understanding with
Germany was strongest. As for our "policy of encirclement," it was the
deliberate aim of our policy, continuing the line of Lord Salisbury and
Mr. Chamberlain, to facilitate rather than hinder the legitimate and
peaceful expansion of a great force, which would become dangerous if
suppressed and confined.

The test cases were the Bagdad Railway and the Portuguese Colonies. We
agreed to make no objection to Germany's buying them when Portugal was
willing to sell; we agreed in the meantime to treat them as a German
sphere of interest and not to compete for influence there. We agreed,
subject to the conservation of existing British rights and to certain
other safeguards, to the completion of the great railway from the
Bosphorus to Basra, and to the recognition of the whole district tapped
by the railway as a German sphere of interest. The two treaties, though
completed, were never signed; why? Because Grey would sign no secret
treaty. He insisted that they must be published. And the German
Government would not allow them to be published! To Lichnowsky this
seemed like mere spite on the part of rivals who grudged his success,
but we see now that it was a deliberate policy. The war-makers could not
afford to let their people know the proof of England's goodwill.

Lichnowsky was a friend of England, but he was no pacifist or "little
German." His policy was to favour the peaceful expansion of Germany, in
good understanding with England and France, on the seas and in the
colonies. He aimed at "imperial development" on British lines; he
abhorred the "Triple Alliance policy" of espousing Austria's quarrels,
backing Turkey against the Balkan States, intriguing against Russia, and
seeing all politics in the terms of European rivalries with a background
of war. His own policy was one which, if followed loyally by the German
Government, would have avoided the war and saved Europe.

There are one or two traits in Lichnowsky's language which show that,
with all his liberality of thought, he is still a German. He accepts at
once, on the report of a German secret agent, the false statement that
Grey had concluded a secret treaty with France. He mentions, as if it
were a natural thing, the strange opinion that the _Standard_ was
"apparently bought by Austria." He describes Mr. Asquith as a pacifist
and Sir Edward Grey as both a pacifist and, ideally and practically, a
Socialist. One must remember the sort of views he was accustomed to at

There can be no doubt that Lichnowsky was deliberately deceived by his
Government, and not much that he was chosen for his post in London with
a view to deceiving us. These things are all in gospel according to
Bernhardi. Lichnowsky himself was both an honest and an able
diplomatist, and there is the ring of sincerity in his words of
self-reproach: "I had to support in London a policy the heresy of which
I recognised. That brought down vengeance on me, for it was a sin
against the Holy Ghost."

If Grey, in the tangle of terrific problems that surrounded him, ever
erred, his sin was not against the Holy Ghost. The attack made on him at
the outset of the war by Radical idealists was easy to confute. If ever
a statesman strove, with due prudence, for peace, for friendship between
nations, for a transformation of armed rivalries into cordial and
democratic understandings, our great English Minister was that man. He
was accused as a maker of secret treaties; and we find him all through
the times of peace, and through all times when choice was still
possible, a steady refuser of secret treaties. He was accused as a
seeker for territory; and we find him, both in war and peace, steadily
opposing all territorial aggrandisement. Such was the policy approved by
the leaders of both English parties before the war.

It is an attack from the other side that now reaches him. If the war had
been short and successful, this would not have occurred. But a long and
bitter and dangerous war of necessity creates its own atmosphere, and
the policy that was wisdom in 1913, when the world was at peace and our
relations with Germany were improving, strikes us now perhaps as
strangely trustful and generous. Yet, if we try to recover that mental
calm without which the nations will never till the end of time be able
to restore their wasted wealth and rebuild the shattered hopes of
civilisation, I think most Englishmen will agree that Grey's policy was,
as we all thought it at the time, the right and the wise policy. To let
all the world know that we would never join in any attack on Germany,
but would never permit any attack on France; to seek to remove all
causes of friction between England and Germany, as they had been removed
between England and France and between England and Russia; to extend the
"Entente Cordiale" by gradual steps to all nations who would come into
it, and to "bring the two groups of Europe nearer." This was the right
policy, whether it succeeded or failed; and it will, in spirit at
least, some day be the right policy again.

No Englishman, I think, will regret the generous courtesy which sent off
the German Ambassador with a guard of honour, "like a departing
sovereign." No one will regret our Prime Minister's silent tears when
the war became inevitable, or Grey's conviction that it would be "the
greatest catastrophe in history"--not even if mad German militarists
drew the conclusion that the only motive for such grief must be the fear
of defeat. For my own part I am glad that, at the last interview with
Lichnowsky, Grey assured him that, if ever a chance came of mediation
between the combatants, he would take it, and that "we have never wished
to crush Germany."

Surely, even now in the crisis of the war, it is well to remember these
things. The cleaner our national conscience the keener surely will be
our will to victory. The slower we were to give up the traditions of
generosity and trustfulness that came from our long security the firmer
will be our resolution to hold out, through whatever martyrdom may be
yet in store for us, until we or our children can afford once more to
live generously and to trust our neighbours. In the long run no other
life is worth living.

G. M.



MY APPOINTMENT                                                      1

MOROCCO POLICY                                                      2

SIR EDWARD GREY'S PROGRAMME                                         4

THE ALBANIAN QUESTION                                               5


THE CONFERENCE OF AMBASSADORS                                      10

THE BALKAN CONFERENCE                                              12

THE SECOND BALKAN WAR                                              13

LIMAN VON SANDERS                                                  14

THE COLONIAL TREATY                                                15

THE BAGDAD TREATY                                                  20

THE QUESTION OF THE NAVY                                           21

COMMERCIAL JEALOUSY                                                23

THE COURT AND SOCIETY                                              24

SIR EDWARD GREY                                                    26

MR. ASQUITH                                                        28

NICOLSON                                                           29

TYRRELL                                                            30

ATTITUDE OF THE GERMAN FOREIGN OFFICE                              30

IN CASE OF WAR                                                     31

THE SERBIAN CRISIS                                                 31

THE ENGLISH DECLARATION OF WAR                                     37

RETROSPECT                                                         38

MY RETURN                                                          40

THE QUESTION OF RESPONSIBILITY                                     40

THE ENEMY POINT OF VIEW                                            41

BISMARCK                                                           42

OUR FUTURE                                                         43




In September, 1912, Baron Marschall died after he had only been at his
post in London for a few months. His appointment, which no doubt was
principally due to his age and the desire of his junior officer to go to
London, was one of the many mistakes of our policy.

In spite of his striking personality and great reputation, he was too
old and too tired to adjust himself to the Anglo-Saxon world, which was
completely alien to him; he was rather an official and a lawyer than a
diplomat and statesman. From the very beginning he was at great pains to
convince the English of the harmlessness of our fleet, and naturally
this only produced the contrary effect.

Much to my surprise, I was offered the post in October. I had retired to
the country as a "Personalreferent" after many years of activity, there
being then no suitable post available for me. I passed my time between
flax and turnips, among horses and meadows, read extensively, and
occasionally published political essays.

Thus I had spent eight years, and it was thirteen since I had left the
Embassy at Vienna with the rank of Envoy. That had been my last real
sphere of political activity, as in those days such activity was
impossible unless one was prepared to help a half-crazy chief in
drafting his crotchety orders with their crabbed instructions.

I do not know who was responsible for my being appointed to London. It
was certainly not due to H.M. alone--I was not one of his intimates,
though he was at all times gracious to me. I also know by experience
that his nominees generally met with successful opposition. Herr von
Kiderlen had really wanted to send Herr von Stumm to London! He
immediately manifested unmistakable ill-will towards me, and endeavoured
to intimidate me by his incivility. Herr von Bethmann Hollweg was at
that time kindly disposed towards me, and had paid me a visit at Grätz
only a short time before. I am therefore inclined to think that they all
agreed on me because no other candidate was available at the moment. But
for Baron Marschall's unexpected death, I should no more have been
called out of retirement then than at any other time during all those
previous years.


It was certainly the right moment for a new effort to establish better
relations with England. Our enigmatic Morocco policy had repeatedly
shaken confidence in our pacific intentions. At the very least, it had
given rise to the suspicion that we did not quite know what we wanted,
or that it was our object to keep Europe on the _qui vive_, and, when
opportunity offered, to humiliate France. An Austrian colleague, who had
been in Paris for a long time, said to me: "Whenever the French begin to
forget about _revanche_, you always remind them of it with a jack-boot."

After we had repulsed M. Delcassé's efforts to arrive at an
understanding with us about Morocco, and prior to that had formally
declared that we had no political interests there--which conformed to
the traditions of the Bismarckian policy--we suddenly discovered a
second Krüger in Abdul Aziz. We assured him also, like the Boers, of the
protection of the mighty German Empire, with the same display and the
same result; both demonstrations terminated with our retreat, as they
were bound to do, if we had not already made up our minds to embark on
the world-war. The distressing congress at Algeçiras could not change
this in any way, still less the fall of M. Delcassé.

Our attitude promoted the Russo-Japanese and later the Anglo-Japanese
_rapprochement_. In face of "the German Peril" all other differences
faded into the background. The possibility of a new Franco-German war
had become apparent, and such a war could not, as in 1870, leave either
Russia or England unaffected.

The uselessness of the Triple Alliance had been shown at Algeçiras,
while that of the agreements arrived at there was demonstrated shortly
afterwards by the collapse of the Sultanate, which, of course, could not
be prevented. Among the German people, however, the belief gained ground
that our foreign policy was feeble and was giving way before the
"Encirclement"--that high-sounding phrases were succeeded by
pusillanimous surrender.

It is to the credit of Herr von Kiderlen, who is otherwise overrated as
a statesman, that he wound up our Moroccan inheritance and accepted as
they were the facts that could no longer be altered. Whether, indeed, it
was necessary to alarm the world by the Agadir incident I will leave
others to say. It was jubilantly acclaimed in Germany, but it had caused
all the more disquiet in England because the Government were kept
waiting for three weeks for an explanation of our intentions. Lloyd
George's speech, which was meant as a warning to us, was the
consequence. Before Delcassé's fall, and before Algeçiras, we might
have had a harbour and territory on the West Coast, but after those
events it was impossible.


When I came to London in November, 1912, the excitement over Morocco had
subsided, as an agreement with France had been reached in Berlin. It is
true that Haldane's mission had failed, as we had required the assurance
of neutrality, instead of being content with a treaty securing us
against British attacks and attacks with British support. Yet Sir Edward
Grey had not relinquished the idea of arriving at an agreement with us,
and in the first place tried to do this in colonial and economic
questions. Conversations were in progress with the capable and
business-like Envoy von Kühlmann concerning the renewal of the
Portuguese colonial agreement and Mesopotamia (Bagdad Railway), the
unavowed object of which was to divide both the colonies and Asia Minor
into spheres of influence.

The British statesman, after having settled all outstanding points of
difference with France and Russia, wished to make similar agreements
with us. It was not his object to isolate us, but to the best of his
power to make us partners in the existing association. As he had
succeeded in overcoming Anglo-French and Anglo-Russian differences, so
he also wished to do his best to eliminate the Anglo-German, and by a
network of treaties, which would in the end no doubt have led to an
agreement about the troublesome question of naval armaments, to ensure
the peace of the world, after our previous policy had led to an
association--the Entente--which represented a mutual insurance against
the risk of war.

This was Sir E. Grey's plan. In his own words: Without interfering with
our existing friendship with France and Russia, which has no aggressive
aims and does not entail any binding obligations on England, to arrive
at a friendly _rapprochement_ and understanding with Germany, "to bring
the two groups nearer."

As with us, there were two parties in England at that time--the
Optimists, who believed in an understanding, and the Pessimists, who
thought that sooner or later war was inevitable.

The former embraced Messrs. Asquith, Grey, Lord Haldane, and most of the
Ministers in the Radical Cabinet; also the leading Liberal papers, such
as the _Westminster Gazette_, _Manchester Guardian_, _Daily Chronicle_.
The Pessimists were mainly Conservative politicians like Mr. Balfour,
who repeatedly made this clear to me; also leading Army men, like Lord
Roberts, who pointed out the necessity of universal military service
("The Writing on the Wall"); further, the Northcliffe Press and the
eminent English journalist Mr. Garvin, of _The Observer_. During my
period of office, however, they abstained from all attacks, and
maintained both personally and politically a friendly attitude. But our
naval policy and our attitude in 1905, 1908, and 1911 had aroused in
them the conviction that after all it would some day come to war. Just
as it is with us, the former are now being accused in England of
short-sightedness and simplicity, whereas the latter are looked on as
the true prophets.


The first Balkan War had led to the collapse of Turkey and thus to a
defeat for our policy, which had been identified with Turkey for a
number of years. Since Turkey in Europe could no longer be saved, there
were two ways in which we could deal with the inheritance: either we
could declare our complete disinterestedness with regard to the frontier
delimitations and leave the Balkan Powers to settle them, or we could
support our "Allies" and carry on a Triple Alliance policy in the Near
East, thus giving up the rôle of mediator.

From the very beginning I advocated the former course, but the Foreign
Office emphatically favoured the latter.

The vital point was the Albanian question. Our Allies desired the
establishment of an independent Albanian state, as the Austrians did not
want the Serbs to obtain access to the Adriatic, and the Italians did
not want the Greeks to get to Valona or even to the north of Corfu. As
opposed to this, Russia, as is known, was backing Serbia's wishes and
France those of Greece.

My advice was to treat this question as outside the scope of the
Alliance, and to support neither the Austrian nor the Italian claims.
Without our aid it would have been impossible to set up an independent
Albania, which, as anyone could foresee, had no prospect of surviving;
Serbia would have extended to the sea, and the present world-war would
have been avoided. France and Italy would have quarrelled over Greece,
and if the Italians had not wanted to fight France unaided they would
have been compelled to acquiesce in Greece's expansion to the north of
Durazzo. The greater part of Albania is Hellenic. The towns in the south
are entirely so; and during the Conference of Ambassadors delegations
from principal towns arrived in London to obtain annexation to Greece.
Even in present-day Greece there are Albanian elements and the so-called
Greek national dress is of Albanian origin. The inclusion of the
Albanians, who are principally Orthodox and Moslem, in the body of the
Greek state was therefore the best and most natural solution, if you
left Scutari and the north to the Serbs and Montenegrins. For dynastic
reasons H.M. was also in favour of this solution. When I supported this
view in a letter to the monarch I received agitated reproaches from the
Chancellor; he said that I had the reputation of being "an opponent of
Austria," and I was to abstain from such interference and direct


We ought at last to have broken with the fatal tradition of pursuing a
Triple Alliance policy in the Near East also, and have recognised our
mistake, which lay in identifying ourselves in the south with the Turks
and in the north with the Austro-Magyars. For the continuance of this
policy, upon which we had entered at the Berlin Congress, and which we
had actively pursued ever since, was bound to lead in time to a conflict
with Russia and to the world-war, more especially if the requisite
cleverness were lacking in high places. Instead of coming to terms with
Russia on a basis of the independence of the Sultan, whom even Petrograd
did not wish to eject from Constantinople, and of confining ourselves to
our economic interests in the Near East and to the partitioning of Asia
Minor into spheres of influence while renouncing any intention of
military or political interference, it was our political ambition to
dominate on the Bosphorus. In Russia they began to think that the road
to Constantinople and the Mediterranean lay _via_ Berlin. Instead of
supporting the active development of the Balkan States--which, once
liberated, are anything rather than Russian, and with which our
experiences had been very satisfactory--we took sides with the Turkish
and Magyar oppressors.

The fatal mistake of our Triple Alliance and Near East policy--which had
forced Russia, our natural best friend and neighbour, into the arms of
France and England and away from its policy of Asiatic expansion--was
the more apparent, as a Franco-Russian attack, which was the _sole_
hypothesis that justified a Triple Alliance policy, could be left out of
our calculations.

The value of the Italian alliance needs no further reference. Italy will
want our money and our tourists even after the war, with or without an
alliance. That this latter would fail us in case of war was patent
beforehand. Hence the alliance had _no value_. Austria needs our
protection in war, as in peace, and has no other support. Her dependence
on us is based on political, national, and economic considerations, and
is the greater the more intimate our relations with Russia are. The
Bosnian crisis taught us this. Since the days of Count Beust no Vienna
Minister has adopted such a self-confident attitude towards us as Count
Aehrenthal during the later years of his life. If German policy is
conducted on right lines, cultivating relations with Russia,
Austria-Hungary is our vassal and dependent on us, even without an
alliance or recompense; if it is wrongly conducted, then we are
dependent on Austria. Hence there was _no reason_ for the alliance.

I knew Austria too well not to be aware that a return to the policy of
Prince Felix Schwarzenberg or Count Moritz Esterhazy was inconceivable
there. Little as the Slavs there love us, just as little do they wish to
return into a German Empire even with a Habsburg-Lorraine emperor at its
head. They are striving for a federation in Austria on national lines, a
state of things which would have even less chance of being realised
within the German Empire than under the Double Eagle. The Germans of
Austria, however, acknowledge Berlin as the centre of German Might and
Culture, and are well aware that Austria can never again be the leading
Power. They wish for as intimate a connection with the German Empire as
possible, not for an anti-German policy.

Since the 'seventies the position has fundamentally changed in Austria,
as in Bavaria. As, in the latter, a return to Great German separatism
and old Bavarian policy is not to be feared, so with the former a
resuscitation of the policy of Prince Kaunitz and Schwarzenberg was not
to be expected. By a federation with Austria, however, which resembles a
big Belgium, since its population, even without Galicia and Dalmatia, is
only about half Germanic, our interests would suffer as much as if we
subordinated our policy to the views of Vienna or Budapest--thus
espousing Austria's quarrels ("_d'épouser les querelles d'Autriche_").

Hence we were not obliged to take any notice of the desires of our ally;
they were not only unnecessary but also dangerous, as they would lead to
a conflict with Russia if we looked at Oriental questions through
Austrian spectacles.

The development of the alliance, from a union formed on a single
hypothesis for a single specific purpose, into a general and unlimited
association, a pooling of interests in all spheres, was the best way of
producing that which diplomacy was designed to prevent--war. Such an
"alliance policy" was also calculated to alienate from us the sympathies
of the strong, young, rising communities in the Balkans, who were
prepared to turn to us and to open their markets to us.

The difference between the power of a Ruling House and a National State,
between dynastic and democratic ideas of government, had to be decided,
and as usual we were on the wrong side.

King Carol told one of our representatives that he had entered into the
alliance with us on the assumption that we retained the leadership; but
if this passed to Austria, that would alter the foundations of the
relationship, and under such circumstances he would not be able to go
on with it.

Things were similar in Serbia, where, contrary to our own economic
interests, we were supporting the Austrian policy of strangulation.

Every time we have backed the wrong horse, whose breakdown could have
been foreseen: Krüger, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Hamid, Wilhelm of Wied,
ending--the most fatal of all mistakes--with the great plunge on the
Berchtold stable.


Shortly after my arrival in London, at the end of 1912, Sir E. Grey
proposed an informal conversation to prevent the Balkan War developing
into a European one, after we had unfortunately refused, on the outbreak
of the war, to agree to the French proposal of a declaration of
disinterestedness. The British statesman from the very beginning took up
the position that England had no interest in Albania, and had no
intention of going to war over this question. He merely wished to
mediate between the two groups as an "honest broker" and smooth over
difficulties. He therefore by no means took sides with the Entente, and
during the eight months or so of the negotiations his goodwill and his
authoritative influence contributed in no small degree to the attainment
of an agreement. We, instead of adopting an attitude similar to the
English one, invariably took up the position which was prescribed for us
by Vienna. Count Mensdorff was the leader of the Triple Alliance in
London; I was his "second." It was my duty to support his proposals.
That clever and experienced man Count Szögyenyi was conducting affairs
in Berlin. His refrain was "Then the _casus foederis_ will arise," and
when I once ventured to doubt the truth of this conclusion I was
severely reprimanded for "Austrophobia." It was also said that I had an
"hereditary weakness"--the allusion being to my father.

On all questions we took sides with Austria and Italy--about Albania, a
Serbian port on the Adriatic, Scutari, and also about the delimitation
of the frontiers of Albania--while Sir E. Grey hardly ever supported the
French or Russian claims. He mostly supported our group in order not to
give a pretext like the one a dead Archduke was to furnish later on.
Thus with his assistance it was possible to coax King Nikita out of
Scutari again. Otherwise this question would already have led to a
world-war, as we should certainly not have ventured to induce "our ally"
to give way.

Sir E. Grey conducted the negotiations with circumspection, calm, and
tact. When a question threatened to become involved, he sketched a
formula for agreement which was to the point and was always accepted.
His personality inspired equal confidence in all the participants.

As a matter of fact we had again successfully emerged from one of those
trials of strength which characterise our policy. Russia had been
obliged to give way to us on all points, as she was never in a position
to procure success for the Serbian aims. Albania was established as a
vassal state of Austria and Serbia was pressed back from the sea. Hence
this conference resulted in a fresh humiliation for Russian self-esteem.
As in 1878 and in 1908, we had opposed the Russian plans although no
_German_ interests were involved. Bismarck was clever enough to mitigate
the mistake of the Congress by the secret treaty and by his attitude in
the Battenberg question; but we continued to pursue in London the
dangerous path, upon which we had once more entered in the Bosnian
question, nor did we leave it in time when it led to the precipice.

The ill-humour which prevailed in Russia at that time was shown during
the conference by attacks in the Russian Press against my Russian
colleague and Russian diplomacy. The dissatisfied circles made capital
of his German descent and Roman Catholicism, his reputation as a friend
of Germany, and the accident that he was related both to Count Mensdorff
and to me. Without possessing a very distinguished personality, Count
Benckendorff is endowed with a number of qualifications that distinguish
a good diplomat--tact, polished manners, experience, courtesy, and a
natural eye for men and matters. He was always at pains to avoid a
brusque attitude, and was supported in this by England and France.

Later I once remarked to him: "I presume that Russian feeling is very
anti-German." He replied: "There are also very strong and influential
pro-German circles, but in general people are anti-Austrian."

It is hardly necessary to add that our "Austrophilie à outrance"
(friendship for Austria through thick and thin) was hardly calculated to
loosen the Entente and to direct Russia towards her Asiatic interests!


At the same time the Balkan Conference was sitting in London and I had
occasion to come into contact with the leaders of the Balkan States. M.
Venizelos was certainly the most distinguished personality. At that time
he was anything rather than anti-German, and visited me several times;
he was especially fond of wearing the ribbon of the Order of the Red
Eagle--he even wore it at the French Embassy. His prepossessing charm
and ways of a man of the world secured him much sympathy. Next to him M.
Daneff, at that time Bulgarian Premier and confidant of Count Berchtold,
played a great part. He gave the impression of a subtle and energetic
man, and it is probably only due to the influence of his Vienna and
Budapest friends, of whose homage he often made fun, that he was induced
to commit the folly of entering upon the second Balkan War and of
refusing Russian arbitration.

M. Take Jonescu was also frequently in London and then visited me
regularly. I knew him from the time when I was Secretary at Bucharest.
He was also one of Herr von Kiderlen's friends. In London he was
endeavouring to obtain concessions to Rumania from M. Daneff by means of
negotiations, in which he was assisted by the very able Rumanian
Ambassador Misu. It is known that Bulgarian opposition brought about the
failure of these negotiations. Count Berchtold (and we of course with
him) was entirely on Bulgaria's side, otherwise by putting pressure on
M. Daneff we might have secured the desired satisfaction for Rumania and
placed her under an obligation to us; she was finally estranged from the
Central Powers by Austria's attitude during and after the second Balkan


The defeat of Bulgaria in the second Balkan War and the victory of
Serbia, with the Rumanian invasion, naturally constituted a humiliation
for Austria. The plan to rectify this by an expedition against Serbia
seems to have been evolved in Vienna soon after. The Italian revelations
prove this, and it may be assumed that Marquis San Giuliano, who
described the plan--most aptly--as a _pericolosissima aventura_, saved
us from being involved in a world-war as early as the summer of 1913.

Owing to the intimacy of Russo-Italian relations, the Vienna plan was
doubtless known in Petrograd. In any case, M. Sazonow openly declared at
Constanza, as M. Take Jonescu told me, that an Austrian attack on Serbia
would be a _casus belli_ for Russia.

When one of my staff returned from leave in Vienna in the spring of 1914
he said that Herr von Tschirschky had declared that there would soon be
war. As I, however, was always left in ignorance about important events
I considered this pessimism to be unfounded.

As a matter of fact it would appear that, ever since the peace of
Bucharest, Vienna was bent on securing a revision of the treaty by her
own effort and was apparently only waiting for a favourable pretext.
Vienna statesmen could, of course, depend on our support. They were
aware of that, as they had been repeatedly accused of lack of firmness.
In fact, Berlin was pressing for a "rehabilitation of Austria."


When I returned to London in December, 1913, from a lengthy leave, the
Liman von Sanders question had led to a fresh crisis in our relations
with Russia. Sir E. Grey, not without concern, pointed out to me the
excitement there was in Petrograd over it: "I have never seen them so

I received instructions from Berlin to request the Minister to exert a
restraining influence in Petrograd, and to assist us in settling the
dispute. Sir Edward gladly did this, and his intervention contributed in
no small degree to smooth the matter over. My good relations with Sir
Edward and his great influence in Petrograd were repeatedly made use of
in similar manner when we wished to attain anything there, as our
representative proved himself quite useless for such a purpose.

During the fateful days of July, 1914, Sir Edward said to me: "When you
want to obtain anything in Petrograd you always apply to me, but if I
appeal to you for your influence in Vienna you fail me."


The good and confidential relations which I had succeeded in
establishing, not only with society and the most influential people like
Sir E. Grey and Mr. Asquith, but also with the great public at public
dinners, produced a marked improvement in the relations of the two
countries. Sir Edward honestly tried to confirm this _rapprochement_,
and his intentions were most apparent on two questions--the Colonial and
the Bagdad Railway Treaties.

In 1898 Count Hatzfeld and Mr. Balfour had signed a secret agreement
dividing the Portuguese colonies into economic spheres of influence
between us and England. As the Government of Portugal had neither the
power nor the means to open up her extended possessions or to administer
them properly, she had already thought of selling them before and thus
relieving her financial burdens. An agreement had been come to between
us and England which defined the interests of both parties, and which
was of the greater value because Portugal is entirely dependent on
England, as is generally known.

On the face of it this agreement was to safeguard the integrity and
independence of the Portuguese State, and merely declared the intention
of being of financial and economic assistance to the Portuguese.
Literally, therefore, it did not contravene the ancient Anglo-Portuguese
Alliance of the fifteenth century, which was last renewed under Charles
II. and gave a reciprocal territorial guarantee.

In spite of this, owing to the endeavours of Marquis Soveral, who was
presumably aware of the Anglo-German agreement, a new treaty--the
so-called Treaty of Windsor--was concluded between England and Portugal
in 1899, confirming the old agreements, which had always remained in

The object of negotiations between us and England, which had commenced
before my arrival, was to amend and improve our agreement of 1898, as it
had proved unsatisfactory on several points as regards geographical
delimitation. Thanks to the accommodating attitude of the British
Government I succeeded in making the new agreement fully accord with our
wishes and interests. The whole of Angola up to the 20th degree of
longitude was assigned to us, so that we stretched up to the Congo State
from the south; we also acquired the valuable islands of San Thomé and
Principe, which are north of the Equator and therefore really in the
French sphere of influence, a fact which caused my French colleague to
enter strong but unavailing protests.

Further, we obtained the northern part of Mozambique; the Licango formed
the border.

The British Government showed the greatest consideration for our
interests and wishes. Sir E. Grey intended to demonstrate his goodwill
towards us, but he also wished to assist our colonial development as a
whole, as England hoped to divert the German development of strength
from the North Sea and Western Europe to the Ocean and to Africa. "We
don't want to grudge Germany her colonial development," a member of the
Cabinet said to me.

The British Government originally intended to include the Congo State in
the agreement, which would have given us the right of pre-emption and
enabled us to penetrate it economically. We refused this offer nominally
in view of Belgian susceptibilities. Perhaps we wished to be economical
of successes? With regard also to the practical realisation of its real
though unexpressed intention--the later actual partition of the
Portuguese colonies--the treaty in its new form showed marked
improvements and advantages as compared with the old one. Cases had been
specified which empowered us to take steps to guard our interests in
the districts assigned to us. These were couched in such a manner that
it was really left to us to decide when "vital" interests arose, so
that, with Portugal entirely dependent on England, it was only necessary
to cultivate further good relations with England in order to carry out
our joint intentions at a later date with English assent.

Sir E. Grey showed the sincerity of the British Government's desire to
respect our rights by referring to us Englishmen who wished to invest
capital and asked for the support of the British Government in the
districts assigned to us by the new agreement, even before this was
completed and signed, and by informing them that their enterprise
belonged to our sphere of influence.

The agreement was practically completed at the time of the King's visit
to Berlin in May, 1913. At that time a conference took place in Berlin
under the presidency of the Imperial Chancellor; in this conference I
also took part, and certain further wishes of ours were defined. On my
return to London I succeeded, with the assistance of Councillor of
Legation von Kühlmann, who was working at the agreement with Mr. Parker,
in having our last proposals incorporated, so that the whole agreement
could be paragraphed by Sir E. Grey and by me in August, 1913, before I
went on leave.

But now fresh difficulties arose which prevented its being signed, and I
did not obtain the authorisation to conclude it till a year later--that
is, shortly before the outbreak of the war. It was, however, never

Sir E. Grey was only willing to sign _if the agreement were published
together with those of 1898 and 1899_. England had, as he said, no other
secret treaties besides these, and it was contrary to established
principles to keep binding agreements secret. Therefore he could not
make any agreement without publishing it. He was, however, willing to
accede to our wishes with regard to the time and manner of publication,
provided that such publication took place within one year from the date
of signature.

At our Foreign Office, where my London successes had caused increasing
dissatisfaction, and where an influential personage, who acted the part
of Herr von Holstein, wanted the London post for himself, I was informed
that the publication would endanger our interests in the colonies, as
the Portuguese would then not give us any more concessions.

The futility of this objection is apparent from the consideration that
the Portuguese, in view of the closeness of Anglo-Portuguese relations,
were most probably just as well aware of the old agreement as of our new
arrangements, and that the influence which England possesses at Lisbon
renders their Government completely impotent in face of an Anglo-German

Another pretext had therefore to be found for wrecking the treaty. It
was suggested that the publication of the Treaty of Windsor, which had
been concluded during the time of Prince Hohenlohe--though it was only a
renewal of the Treaty of Charles II., which had always remained in
force--might endanger the position of Herr von Bethmann Hollweg, as a
proof of British hypocrisy and perfidy!

I pointed out that the preamble of our agreement expressed the same
thing as the Treaty of Windsor and as other similar treaties, namely,
that we would protect the sovereign rights of Portugal and the
inviolability of its possessions. In vain! In spite of repeated
discussions with Sir E. Grey, at which he made many fresh suggestions
for the publication, the Foreign Office persisted in its attitude, and
finally arranged with Sir E. Goschen that matters should be left as they

The treaty, which offered us extraordinary advantages, the result of
more than a year's work, was thus dropped because it would have been a
public success for me.

When I mentioned the subject to Mr. Harcourt at a dinner at the Embassy
in the spring of 1914, the Minister for the Colonies told me that he was
placed in a difficult position, and did not know how to act. The present
position was intolerable--he wished to safeguard our interests, but was
in doubt whether he should proceed on the terms of the old or the new
treaty. It was therefore urgently desirable to clear up the situation
and to settle the matter, which had dragged on for such a long time.

In reply to a dispatch in this sense I received instructions couched in
terms which showed more emotion than civility, telling me to abstain
from any further interference in the matter.

I now regret that I did not immediately travel to Berlin and place my
post at the disposal of the monarch, and that I had not lost faith in
the possibility of arriving at an understanding with those in authority,
a sinister mistake which was to take its revenge a few months later in
such a tragical way.

However little I even then enjoyed the goodwill of the highest official
of the Empire, as he feared that I was aspiring to his post, yet I must
in justice to him say that during our last interview before the outbreak
of war, at the end of June, 1914, to which I will refer later, he gave
me his assent for the signature and publication of the treaty. In spite
of this it required repeated applications on my part, which were
supported by Herr Dr. Solf in Berlin, before sanction was finally
obtained at the end of July, 1914. As the Serbian crisis at that time
already imperilled the peace of Europe, the completion of the treaty had
to be postponed. It also is one of the sacrifices of this war.


At the same time I was negotiating in London, with the able support of
Herr von Kühlmann, about the so-called Bagdad Treaty. The real object of
this was to divide up Asia Minor into spheres of influence, although
this term was anxiously avoided in view of the rights of the Sultan. Sir
E. Grey also repeatedly stated that there were in existence no
agreements with France and Russia about the partition of Asia Minor.

In consultation with a Turkish representative, Hakki Pasha, all economic
questions concerning German undertakings were settled in the main
according to the wishes of the Deutsche Bank. The most important
concession Sir E. Grey made to me personally was the continuation of the
railway as far as Basra. We had dropped this point in favour of the
connection to Alexandretta; up to that time Bagdad had been the terminal
point of the railway. An international commission was to regulate
navigation on the Shatt-el-Arab. We were also to have a share in the
harbour works at Basra, and received rights for the navigation of the
Tigris, which hitherto had been a monopoly of the firm of Lynch.

By this treaty the whole of Mesopotamia as far as Basra was included
within our sphere of influence (without prejudice to already existing
British navigation rights on the Tigris and the rights of the Wilcox
irrigation works), as well as the whole district of the Bagdad and
Anatolian railway.

The coast of the Persian Gulf and the Smyrna-Aidin railway were
recognised as the British economic sphere, Syria as the French, and
Armenia as the Russian. If both treaties were executed and published, an
agreement with England would be reached which would preclude all doubts
about the possibility of an "Anglo-German co-operation."


The Naval question was and is the most delicate of all. It is not always
regarded rightly.

The creation of a powerful fleet on the other side of the North Sea--the
development of the greatest military power of the Continent into the
greatest naval power as well--was bound to be felt in England as at
least "inconvenient." There can be no doubt about this in any reasonable
view. In order to maintain her advantage and not to become dependent, in
order to secure the rule over the seas which is necessary for her if she
is not to starve, she was compelled to undertake armaments and
expenditure which weighed heavily on the tax-payer. England's
international position would be threatened, however, if our policy
created the belief that warlike developments might ensue--a state of
affairs which had almost been reached during the time of the Morocco
crises and the Bosnian problem.

Great Britain had become reconciled to our fleet _within its then
appointed limits_, but it was certainly not welcome, and was one of the
causes--though not the only cause and perhaps not the most important--of
her adhesion to France and Russia; but on account of the fleet _alone_
England would not have drawn the sword any more than on account of our
trade, which has been alleged to have produced jealousy and finally war.

From the very beginning I maintained that, _notwithstanding_ the fleet,
it would be possible to arrive at a friendly understanding and
_rapprochement_ if we did not introduce a new Navy Bill and _our policy
were indubitably pacific_. I also avoided mention of the fleet and the
word never passed between Sir E. Grey and me. On one occasion Sir E.
Grey said at a meeting of the Cabinet, "The present German Ambassador
has never mentioned the fleet to me."

During my tenure of office Mr. Churchill, then First Lord of the
Admiralty, proposed, as is known, the so-called "Naval holiday" and
suggested for financial reasons, and probably also to meet the pacific
wishes of his party, a year's pause in armaments. Officially Sir E. Grey
did not support the proposal; he never mentioned it to me, but Mr.
Churchill repeatedly spoke to me about it.

I am convinced that his suggestion was honest, as prevarication is
altogether foreign to English nature. It would have been a great success
for Mr. Churchill if he could have come before the country with
reductions of expenditure and freed it from the nightmare of armaments
that weighed on the people.

I replied that for technical reasons it would be difficult to agree to
his plan. What was to become of the workmen who were engaged for this
purpose, and what of the technical staff? Our Naval programme had been
decided on, and it would be difficult to alter it in any way. On the
other hand we had no intention of exceeding it. But he reverted to it
again and pointed out that the sums used for enormous armaments might
better be employed for other and useful purposes. I replied that this
expenditure too benefited our home industries.

Through interviews with Sit W. Tyrrell, Sir E. Grey's principal private
secretary, I managed to have the question removed from the agenda
without causing any ill-feeling, although it was again referred to in
Parliament, and to prevent any official proposal being made. It was,
however, a pet idea of Mr. Churchill's and the Government's, and I think
that by entering upon his plan and the formula 16:10 for battleships we
might have given tangible proof of our goodwill, and strengthened and
encouraged the tendency (which already prevailed in the Government) to
enter into closer relations with us.

But, as I have said, it was possible to arrive at an understanding _in
spite of the fleet_ and without a "Naval holiday." I had always regarded
my mission from this point of view, and I had also succeeded in
realising my plans when the outbreak of war destroyed everything I had


The "commercial jealousy," about which we hear so much, is based on a
wrong conception of the circumstances. Certainly Germany's rise as a
commercial power after the war of 1870 and during the following decades
was a menace to British commercial circles which, with their industries
and export-houses, had held a virtual monopoly of trade. The increasing
commerce with Germany, which was the leading country in Europe as
regards British exports--a fact to which I invariably referred in my
public speeches--had, however, given rise to the wish to maintain
friendly relations with their best customer and business friend, and had
driven all other considerations into the background.

The Briton is matter-of-fact--he takes things as they are and does not
tilt against windmills. Notably in commercial circles I encountered the
most friendly spirit and the endeavour to further our common economic
interests. As a matter of fact nobody in them took any interest in the
Russian, Italian, Austrian, or even in the French representative, in
spite of his striking personality and his political successes. Only the
German and American Ambassadors attracted public attention.

In order to get into touch with important commercial circles, I accepted
invitations from the United Chambers of Commerce, and from the London
and Bradford Chamber, and was the guest of the cities of Newcastle and
Liverpool. I was well received everywhere; Manchester, Glasgow, and
Edinburgh had also invited me, and I intended to go there later.

People who did not understand British conditions and did not realise the
importance of "public dinners," also people to whom my successes were
unwelcome, reproached me with having done harm with my speeches. I
believe on the contrary that by appearing in public and emphasising
common commercial interests I contributed in no small measure to the
improvement of relations, quite apart from the fact that it would have
been clumsy and churlish to refuse all invitations.

In all other circles I also met with the most friendly reception and
hearty co-operation--at Court, in society, and from the Government.


The King, although not a genius, is a simple and well-meaning man with
sound common sense; he demonstrated his goodwill towards me and was
frankly desirous of furthering my task. Although the British
Constitution leaves only very limited powers to the Crown, yet the
monarch, in virtue of his position, can exercise a considerable
influence on opinion both in society and in the Government. The Crown is
the apex of the social pyramid; it sets the fashion. Society, which is
principally Unionist (Conservative), has always taken an active interest
in politics a habit which the ladies share. It is represented in the
House of Lords, the House of Commons, and hence also in the Cabinet. An
Englishman either is a member of society, or he would like to be one. It
is his constant endeavour to be a "Gentleman," and even people of
undistinguished origin, like Mr. Asquith, delight to mingle in society
and the company of beautiful and fashionable women.

The British gentlemen of both parties have the same education, go to
the same colleges and universities, have the same recreations--golf,
cricket, lawn-tennis, or polo. All have played cricket and football in
their youth; they have the same habits of life, and spend the week-end
in the country. There is no social cleavage between the parties, but
only a political one; in recent years it has so far developed into a
social cleavage that the politicians of the two camps avoid social
intercourse with one another. Even on the neutral territory of an
Embassy one did not venture to mingle the two parties, as since the Veto
and Home Rule Bills the Unionists have ostracised the Radicals. When the
King and Queen dined with us a few months after my arrival, Lord
Londonderry left the house after dinner, as he did not wish to remain
together with Sir E. Grey. But it is not a difference of caste or
education as in France; they are not two separate worlds, but the same
world, and the opinion about a foreigner is a common one, and not
without influence on his political position, whether Mr. Asquith be
governing or Lord Lansdowne.

There has been no difference of caste in England since the time of the
Stuarts, and since the Guelphs and Whig oligarchy, in contrast to the
Tory landed gentry encouraged the rise of an urban middle-class. It is
rather a difference of political opinions about questions of
constitutional law and taxation. Especially aristocrats like Grey,
Churchill, Harcourt, Crewe, who joined the people's party--the
Radicals--were most hated by the Unionist aristocracy; one never met any
of these gentlemen at any of the great aristocratic houses, except at
those of a few party friends.

We were received in London with open arms and both parties rivalled one
another in courtesy towards us. In view of the close relationship
between politics and society in England, it would be wrong to
undervalue social relations, even when the majority of the upper ten
thousand are in opposition to the Government.

There is not the same unbridgeable gulf between Mr. Asquith and the Duke
of Devonshire that there is between, say, M. Briand and the Due de
Doudeauville. Certainly they do not consort together in times of great
tension; they belong to two separate social groups, but these are parts
of the _same_ society, though of different grades, the centre of which
is the Court. They have common friends and habits of life; mostly they
have known each other from their youth up and also are frequently
related to one another either by blood or marriage.

Phenomena like Mr. Lloyd George--the man of the people, petty attorney,
and self-made man--are the exception. Even Mr. Burns, the Socialist
Labour leader, and self-educated man, sought contact with society. In
view of the prevailing attempt to rank as a gentleman, whose unattained
prototype is still the great aristocrat, the value of the verdict of
society and its attitude must not be underestimated.

Hence the social adaptability of a representative nowhere plays a
greater rôle than in England. A hospitable house with pleasant hosts is
worth more than the most profound scientific knowledge; a savant with
provincial manners and small means would gain no influence, in spite of
all his learning.

The Briton loathes a bore, a schemer, and a prig; he likes a good


Sir Edward Grey's influence in all matters of foreign policy was almost
unlimited. On important occasions he used indeed to say, "I must first
bring it before the Cabinet"; but this always agreed to his views. His
authority was undisputed. Although he does not know foreign countries
at all, and had never left England except for a short visit to Paris, he
was fully conversant with all the important questions owing to his long
parliamentary experience and his natural insight. He understands French,
but does not speak it. He was returned to Parliament as a young man, and
soon began to interest himself in foreign affairs. Under Lord Rosebery
he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and became
Secretary of State in 1906, under Mr. Campbell-Bannerman; he has now
held the post for some ten years.

The scion of an old north country family, which had already furnished
Grey, the well-known statesman, he joined the left wing of his party and
sympathised with Socialists and pacifists. You may call him a Socialist
in the ideal sense, as he carries the theory into his private life and
lives very simply and unpretentiously, although he has extensive means.
Ostentation is foreign to him. In London he only had a small house, and
never gave dinners, except the one official dinner at the Foreign Office
on the King's Birthday. On the few occasions when he entertained guests
it was at a simple dinner or lunch with maidservants to wait. Also he
avoided large functions and banquets.

Like his colleagues, he regularly spends his week-ends in the country,
but not with large or fashionable parties. He is mostly by himself in
his cottage in the New Forest, where he takes long walks to study birds
and their ways, as he is a passionate lover of nature and an
ornithologist. Or sometimes he goes to his estate in the north, where he
feeds the squirrels that come in at the windows, and breeds different
species of waterfowl.

He was very fond of going to the Norfolk marshes to watch in their
breeding season the rare kinds of herons, which nest only there.

In his youth he was a well-known cricket and racquet player; now his
favourite pastime is salmon and trout-fishing in Scottish rivers in
company with his friend Lord Glenconner, Mr. Asquith's brother-in-law.
"All the rest of the year I am looking forward to it." He has published
a book on fishing.

On one occasion, when we spent a week-end with him alone at Lord
Glenconner's, near Salisbury, he arrived on a bicycle and returned to
his cottage about thirty miles distant in the same way.

The simplicity and honesty of his ways secured him the esteem even of
his opponents, who were to be found rather in the sphere of home affairs
than of foreign policy. Lies and intrigue are equally repugnant to him.

His wife, to whom he was devotedly attached and from whom he was
inseparable, died in consequence of being thrown from a trap she was
driving. As is generally known, one of his brothers was killed by a

Wordsworth is his favourite poet, and he could quote much of his poetry.

The calm quiet of his British nature is not lacking in a sense of
humour. Once when he was lunching with us and the children, and heard
them talking German, he said, "I can't help thinking how clever these
children are to talk German so well," and was pleased with his joke.

This is a true picture of the man who is decried as "Liar-Grey" and
instigator of the world-war.


Mr. Asquith is a man of an entirely different stamp. A jovial
_bon-vivant_, fond of the ladies, especially the young and pretty ones,
he is partial to cheerful society and good cooking; and his zest for
enjoyment is shared by his wife. Formerly a well-known barrister with a
large income, and for a number of years in Parliament, then a Minister
under Mr. Gladstone, a pacifist like his friend Grey, and favouring an
understanding with Germany, he treated all questions with the cheery
calm and assurance of an experienced man of business, whose good health
and excellent nerves were steeled by devotion to the game of golf.

His daughters were at school in Germany and spoke German fluently. In a
short time we got on friendly terms with him and his family, and were
his guests in his small country house on the Thames.

Only on rare occasions did he concern himself with foreign politics,
when important questions arose; then of course his decision was final.
During the critical days of July Mrs. Asquith repeatedly came to us to
warn us, and in the end she was quite distraught at the tragic turn of
events. Mr. Asquith also, when I called on him on the 2nd August to make
a last effort in the direction of expectant neutrality, was quite
broken, though absolutely calm. Tears were coursing down his cheeks.


Sir A. Nicolson and Sir W. Tyrrell were the two most influential men at
the Foreign Office after the Minister. The former was no friend of ours,
but his attitude towards me was absolutely correct and courteous. Our
personal relations were excellent. He too did not want war; but when we
advanced against France, he no doubt worked in the direction of an
immediate intervention. He was the confidant of my French colleague,
with whom he was in constant touch; also he wished to relieve Lord
Bertie in Paris.

Sir Arthur, who had been Ambassador at Petrograd, had concluded the
treaty of 1907, which had enabled Russia again to turn her attention to
the West and to the Near East.


Sir W. Tyrrell, Sir Edward's private secretary, possessed far greater
influence than the Permanent Under-Secretary. This highly intelligent
man had been at school in Germany, and had then turned to diplomacy, but
had only been abroad for a short time. At first he favoured the
anti-German policy, which was then in fashion amongst the younger
British diplomatists, but later he became a convinced advocate of an
understanding. He influenced Sir E. Grey, with whom he was very
intimate, in this direction. Since the outbreak of war he has left the
Office and found a place in the Home Office, probably because of the
criticisms passed on him for his Germanophil tendency.


Nothing can describe the rage of certain gentlemen at my London
successes and the position which I had managed to make for myself in a
short time. They devised vexatious instructions to render my office more
difficult. I was left in complete ignorance of the most important
matters, and was restricted to the communication of dull and unimportant
reports. Secret agents' reports, on matters about which I could not
learn without espionage and the necessary funds, were never available to
me; and it was not till the last days of July, 1914, that I learnt,
quite by chance, from the Naval Attaché of the secret Anglo-French
agreement concerning the co-operation of the two fleets in case of war.
The knowledge of other important events which had been known to the
Office for a long time, like the correspondence between Grey and Cambon,
was kept from me.


Soon after my arrival I obtained the conviction that under _no_
circumstances had we to fear a British attack or British support for any
foreign attack, but that _under any circumstances England would protect
the French_. I expressed this view in repeated dispatches, with minute
proof and great emphasis, but did not obtain any credence, although Lord
Haldane's refusal to assent to the neutrality formula and England's
attitude during the Morocco crisis had been pretty obvious indications.
In addition there were the secret agreements which I have referred to,
and which were known to the Office.

I always pointed out that in the event of a war between European Powers,
England as a commercial state would suffer enormously, and would
therefore do her best to prevent a conflict; but, on the other hand, she
would never tolerate a weakening or annihilation of France; because of
the necessity of maintaining the European balance of power and of
preventing a German superiority of force. Lord Haldane had told me this
shortly after my arrival, and all the leading people had expressed
themselves in the same sense.


At the end of June I went to Kiel by command of the Emperor. A few weeks
prior to this I had been made an honorary D.C.L. of Oxford, an honour
which had not been conferred on any German Ambassador since Herr von
Bunsen. On board the _Meteor_ we learned of the death of the Archduke.
H.M. regretted that his efforts to win him over to his way of thinking
had thus been rendered vain. I do not know whether the plan of an active
policy against Serbia had already been decided on at Konopischt.

As I was not instructed about views and events in Vienna, I did not
attach very great importance to this occurrence. Later on I could only
remark that amongst Austrian aristocrats a feeling of relief outweighed
other sentiments. On board the _Meteor_ there was also an Austrian guest
of the Emperor's, Count Felix Thun. He had remained in his cabin all the
time suffering from sea-sickness, in spite of the splendid weather; but
on receiving the news he was well. The fright or joy had cured him.

On my arrival in Berlin I saw the Chancellor and told him that I
considered the state of our foreign relations very satisfactory, as we
were on better terms with England than we had been for a long time,
whilst in France also the government was in the hands of a pacifist

Herr von Bethmann Hollweg did not appear to share my optimism, and
complained about Russian armaments. I sought to reassure him,
emphasising the fact that Russia had no interest in attacking us, and
that such an attack would never receive Anglo-French support, as both
countries wanted peace. Thereupon I went to Dr. Zimmermann, who was
acting for Herr von Jagow, and he told me that Russia was about to raise
900,000 additional troops. His language betrayed unmistakable annoyance
with Russia, which was "everywhere in our way." There were also
difficulties in economic policy. Of course, I was not told that General
von Moltke was pressing for war; but I learned that Herr von Tschirschky
had been reprimanded because he reported that he had counselled
moderation towards Serbia in Vienna.

On my return from Silesia to London I stopped only a few hours in
Berlin, where I heard that Austria intended to take steps against Serbia
in order to put an end to an impossible situation.

I regret that at the moment I underestimated the importance of the news.
I thought that nothing would come of it this time either, and that
matters could easily be settled, even if Russia became threatening. I
now regret that I did not stay in Berlin and at once declare that I
would not co-operate in a policy of this kind.

Subsequently I ascertained that, at the decisive conference at Potsdam
on the 5th July, the Vienna enquiry received the unqualified assent of
all the leading people, and with the rider that no harm would be done if
a war with Russia should result. Thus it was expressed, at any rate, in
the Austrian protocol which Count Mensdorff received in London. Soon
afterwards Herr von Jagow was in Vienna to consult Count Berchtold about
all these matters.

At that time I received instructions to induce the British Press to
adopt a friendly attitude should Austria administer the _coup de grâce_
to the "Great Serbia" movement, and to exert my personal influence to
prevent public opinion from becoming inimical to Austria. If one
remembered England's attitude during the annexation crisis, when public
opinion showed sympathy for the Serbian rights in Bosnia, as well as her
benevolent furtherance of national movements in the days of Lord Byron
and Garibaldi, the probability that she would support the intended
punitive expedition against the murderers of the prince happened so
remote, that I found myself obliged to give an urgent warning. But I
also warned them against the whole plan, which I characterised as
adventurous and dangerous, and advised them to counsel the Austrians to
_moderation_, as I did not believe that the conflict could be localised.

Herr von Jagow replied to me that Russia was not ready; there would
probably be some fuss, but the more firmly we took sides with Austria
the more would Russia give way. As it was, Austria was accusing us of
weakness and therefore we dare not leave her in the lurch. Public
opinion in Russia, on the other hand, was becoming more and more
anti-German, so we must just risk it.

In view of this attitude, which, as I found later, was based on reports
from Count Pourtalès that Russia would not move under any circumstances,
and which caused us to spur Count Berchtold on to the utmost energy, I
hoped for salvation through British mediation, as I knew that Sir E.
Grey's great influence in Petrograd could be used in the direction of
peace. I therefore availed myself of my friendly relations with the
Minister to request him in confidence to advise moderation in Russia in
case Austria, as seemed likely, demanded satisfaction from Serbia.

At first the English Press preserved calm and was friendly to Austria,
because the murder was generally condemned. But gradually more and more
voices were heard insisting emphatically that, however much the crime
merited punishment, its exploitation for political purposes could not be
justified. Austria was strongly exhorted to use moderation.

When the ultimatum was published, all the papers with the exception of
the _Standard_--the ever-necessitous, which had apparently been bought
by Austria--were unanimous in condemnation. The whole world, excepting
Berlin and Vienna, realised that it meant war--indeed, "the world-war."
The British Fleet, which happened to have assembled for a naval review,
was not demobilised.

My efforts were in the first place directed towards obtaining as
conciliatory a reply from Serbia as was possible, since the attitude of
the Russian Government left room for no doubts about the gravity of the

Serbia responded favourably to the British efforts, as M. Pasitch had
really agreed to everything, excepting two points, about which, however,
he declared his willingness to negotiate. If Russia and England had
wanted the war, in order to attack us, a hint to Belgrade would have
been enough, and the unprecedented Note would not have been answered.

Sir E. Grey went through the Serbian reply with me, and pointed out the
conciliatory attitude of the Government of Belgrade. Thereupon we
discussed his proposal of mediation, which was to include a formula
acceptable to both parties for clearing up the two points. His proposal
was that a committee, consisting of M. Cambon, the Marquis Imperiali,
and myself, should assemble under his presidency, and it would have been
an easy matter for us to find an acceptable formula for the points at
issue, which mainly concerned the collaboration of Austrian Imperial
officials at the investigations in Belgrade. Given goodwill, everything
could have been settled at one or two sittings, and the mere acceptance
of the British proposal would have brought about a relaxation of the
tension, and would have further improved our relations with England. I
therefore strongly backed the proposal, on the ground that otherwise
there was danger of the world-war, through which we stood to gain
nothing and lose all; but in vain. It was derogatory to the dignity of
Austria--we did not intend to interfere in Serbian matters--we left
these to our ally. I was to work for "the localisation of the conflict."

Needless to say a mere hint from Berlin would have decided Count
Berchtold to content himself with a diplomatic success, and to accept
the Serbian reply. This hint was not given; on the contrary they urged
in the direction of war. It would have been such a splendid success.

After our refusal Sir Edward requested us to submit a proposal. We
insisted on war. I could not obtain any reply but that Austria had shown
an exceedingly "accommodating spirit" by not demanding an extension of

Sir Edward rightly pointed out that even without an extension of
territory it is possible to reduce a state to a condition of vassalage,
and that Russia would see a humiliation in this, and would not suffer

The impression grew stronger and stronger that we wanted war under any
circumstances. It was impossible to interpret our attitude, on a
question which did not directly concern us, in any other way. The urgent
requests and definite assurances of M. Sazonow, followed by the Czar's
positively humble telegrams, the repeated proposals of Sir E. Grey, the
warnings of the Marquis San Giuliano and Signor Bollati, my urgent
counsels, all were of no avail. Berlin persisted; Serbia must be

The more I pressed the less were they inclined to come round, if only
that I might not have the success of averting war in conjunction with
Sir Edward Grey.

Finally, on the 29th, the latter decided on the famous warning. I
replied that I had invariably reported that we should have to reckon
with English opposition if it came to a war with France. Repeatedly the
Minister said to me: "If war breaks out, it will be the greatest
catastrophe the world has ever seen."

After that, events followed each other rapidly. When at last Count
Berchtold, who up till then had, at the behest of Berlin, played the
strong man, decided to come round, we replied to the Russian
mobilisation, after Russia had negotiated and waited for a whole week in
vain, with the ultimatum and the declaration of war.


Sir Edward was still looking for new ways of avoiding the catastrophe.
Sir W. Tyrrell called on me on the morning of the 1st August to tell me
that his chief still hoped to find a way out. Would we remain neutral if
France did? I understood that we should then agree to spare France, but
he had meant that we should remain altogether neutral--towards Russia
also. That was the well-known "misunderstanding." Sir Edward had asked
me to call in the afternoon. As he was at a meeting of the Cabinet, he
called me up on the telephone, Sir W. Tyrrell having hurried to him at
once. In the afternoon, however, he talked only about Belgian neutrality
and the possibility that we and France might face one another in arms
without attacking.

Thus this was not a proposal at all, but a question without any
guarantee, as our interview, which I have mentioned before, was to take
place soon afterwards. Berlin, however, without waiting for the
interview, made this report the foundation for far-reaching measures.
Then there came M. Poincaré's letter, Bonar Law's letter, King Albert's
telegram. The waverers in the Cabinet--excepting three members who
resigned--were converted.

Till the very last moment I had hoped that England would adopt a waiting
attitude. Nor did my French colleague feel at all confident, as I heard
from a private source. Even on the 1st August the King had given the
President an evasive reply. But England was already mentioned as an
opponent in the telegram from Berlin announcing the imminent danger of
war. Berlin was therefore already reckoning on war with England.

Before my departure Sir E. Grey received me, on the 5th, at his house. I
had called at his request. He was deeply moved. He told me he would
always be prepared to mediate. "We don't want to crush Germany."
Unfortunately this confidential interview was made public, and Herr von
Bethmann Hollweg thus destroyed the last chance of gaining peace through

The arrangements for our departure were perfectly dignified and calm.
The King had previously sent his equerry, Sir E. Ponsonby, to express
his regrets at my departure and that he could not see me himself.
Princess Louise wrote to me that the whole family were sorry we were
leaving. Mrs. Asquith and other friends came to the Embassy to take

A special train took us to Harwich, where a guard of honour was drawn up
for me. I was treated like a departing Sovereign. Such was the end of my
London mission. It was wrecked, not by the wiles of the British, but by
the wiles of our policy.

Count Mensdorff and his staff had come to the station in London. He was
cheerful, and gave me to understand that perhaps he would remain there,
but he told the English that we, and not Austria, had wanted the war.


Looking back after two years, I come to the conclusion that I realised
too late that there was no room for me in a system that for years had
lived on routine and traditions alone, and that only tolerated
representatives who reported what their superiors wished to read.
Absence of prejudice and an independent judgment are resented. Lack of
ability and want of character are praised and esteemed, while successes
meet with disfavour and excite alarm.

I had given up my opposition to the insane Triple Alliance policy, as I
realised that it was useless, and that my warnings were attributed to
"Austrophobia," to my _idée fixe_. In politics, which are neither
acrobatics nor a game, but the main business of the firm, there is no
"phil" or "phobe," but only the interest of the community. A policy,
however, that is based only on Austrians, Magyars, and Turks must come
into conflict with Russia, and finally lead to a catastrophe.

In spite of former mistakes, all might still have been put right in
July, 1914. An agreement with England had been arrived at. We ought to
have sent a representative to Petrograd who was at least of average
political capacity, and to have convinced Russia that we wished neither
to control the straits nor to strangle Serbia. "_Lâchez l'Autriche et
nous lâcherons les Français_" ("Drop Austria and we will drop the
French"), M. Sazonow said to us. And M. Cambon told Herr von Jagow,
"_Vous n'avez pas besoin de suivre l'Autriche partout_" ("You need not
follow Austria everywhere").

We wanted _neither wars nor alliances_; we wanted only treaties that
would safeguard us and others, and secure our economic development,
which was without its like in history. If Russia had been freed in the
West, she could again turn to the East, and the Anglo-Russian rivalry
would have been re-established automatically and without our
intervention, and not less certainly also the Russo-Japanese.

We could also have considered the question of the reduction of
armaments, and need no longer have troubled ourselves about Austrian
complications. Then Austria would have become the vassal of the German
Empire, without any alliance--and especially without our seeking her
good graces, a proceeding ultimately leading to war for the liberation
of Poland and the destruction of Serbia, although German interest
demanded the exact contrary.

I had to support in London a policy the heresy of which I recognised.
That brought down vengeance on me, because it was a sin against the Holy


As soon as I arrived in Berlin I saw that I was to be made the scapegoat
for the catastrophe for which our Government had made itself responsible
against my advice and warnings.

The report was deliberately circulated in official quarters that I had
allowed myself to be deceived by Sir E. Grey, because, if he had not
wanted war, Russia would not have mobilised. Count Pourtalès, whose
reports could be relied on, was to be protected, not least on account of
his relationship. He had conducted himself "magnificently," he was
praised enthusiastically, and I was blamed the more severely.

"What does Serbia matter to Russia?" this statesman said to me after
eight years in office at Petrograd. The whole thing was a British trick
that I had not noticed. At the Foreign Office they told me that war
would in any case have come in 1916. Then Russia would have been ready;
therefore it was better now.


As is evident from all official publications--and this is not refuted by
our White Book, which, owing to the poverty of its contents and to its
omissions, is a gravely self-accusing document--

     1. We encouraged Count Berchtold to attack Serbia, although German
     interests were not involved and the danger of a world-war must have
     been known to us. Whether we were aware of the wording of the
     Ultimatum is completely immaterial.

     2. During the time between the 23rd and 30th July, 1914, when M.
     Sazonow emphatically declared that he would not tolerate any attack
     on Serbia, we rejected the British proposals of mediation, although
     Serbia, under Russian and British pressure, had accepted almost
     the whole of the Ultimatum, and although an agreement about the two
     points at issue could easily have been reached, and Count Berchtold
     was even prepared to content himself with the Serbian reply.

     3. On the 30th July, when Count Berchtold wanted to come to terms,
     we sent an ultimatum to Petrograd merely because of the Russian
     mobilisation, although Austria had not been attacked; and on the
     31st July we declared war on Russia, although the Czar pledged his
     word that he would not order a man to march as long as negotiations
     were proceeding--thus deliberately destroying the possibility of a
     peaceful settlement.

In view of the above undeniable facts it is no wonder that the whole of
the civilised world outside Germany places the entire responsibility for
the world-war upon our shoulders.


Is it not intelligible that our enemies should declare that they will
not rest before a system is destroyed which is a constant menace to our
neighbours? Must they not otherwise fear that in a few years' time they
will again have to take up arms and again see their provinces overrun
and their towns and villages destroyed? Have not they proved to be right
who declared that the spirit of Treitschke and Bernhardi governed the
German people, that spirit which glorified war as such, and did not
loathe it as an evil, that with us the feudal knight and Junker, the
warrior caste, still rule and form ideals and values, not the civilian
gentleman; that the love of the duel which animates our academic youth
still persists in those who control the destinies of the people? Did not
the Zabern incident and the parliamentary discussions about it clearly
demonstrate to foreign countries the value we place on the rights and
liberties of the citizen if these collide with questions of military

That intelligent historian Cramb, who has since died, an admirer of
Germany, clothed the German conception in the words of Euphorion:

    Dream ye of peace?[1]
    Dream he that will--
    War is the rallying cry!
    Victory is the refrain.

[Footnote 1: The original has "war," presumably owing to a

Militarism, which by rights is an education for the people and an
instrument of policy, turns policy into the instrument of military power
when the patriarchal absolutism of the soldier-kingdom makes possible an
attitude which a democracy, remote from military Junker influence, would
never have permitted.

So think our enemies, and so they must think when they see that, in
spite of capitalistic industrialisation and in spite of socialist
organisation, "the living are still ruled by the dead," as Friedrich
Nietzsche says. The principal war aim of our enemies, the
democratisation of Germany, will be realised!


Bismarck, like Napoleon, loved conflict for itself. As a statesman he
avoided fresh wars, the folly of which he recognised. He was content
with bloodless battles. After he had, in rapid succession, vanquished
Christian, Francis Joseph, and Napoleon, it was the turn of Arnim, Pius,
and Augusta. That did not suffice him. Gortschakow, who thought himself
the greater, had repeatedly annoyed him. The conflict was carried almost
to the point of war--even by depriving him of his railway saloon. This
gave rise to the miserable Triple Alliance. At last came the conflict
with William, in which the mighty one was vanquished, as Napoleon was
vanquished by Alexander.

Political life-and-death unions only prosper if founded on a
constitutional basis and not on an international one. They are all the
more questionable if the partner is feeble. Bismarck never meant the
Alliance to take this form.

He always treated the English with forbearance; he knew that this was
wiser. He always paid marked respect to the old Queen Victoria, despite
his hatred of her daughter and of political Anglomania; the learned
Beaconsfield and the worldly-wise Salisbury he courted; and even that
strange Gladstone, whom he did not like, really had nothing to complain

The Ultimatum to Serbia was the culminating point of the policy of the
Berlin Congress, the Bosnian crisis, the Conference of London: but there
was yet time to turn back.

We were completely successful in achieving that which above all other
things should have been avoided--the breach with Russia and England.


After two years' fighting it is obvious that we dare not hope for an
unconditional victory over the Russians, English, French, Italians,
Rumanians, and Americans, or reckon on being able to wear our enemies
down. But we can obtain a peace by compromise only by evacuating the
occupied territory, the retention of which would in any event be a
burden and cause of weakness to us, and would involve the menace of
further wars. Therefore everything should be avoided which would make it
more difficult for those enemy groups who might possibly still be won
over to the idea of a peace by compromise to come to terms, viz., the
British Radicals and the Russian Reactionaries. From this point of view
alone the Polish scheme is to be condemned, as is also any infringement
of Belgian rights, or the execution of British citizens--to say nothing
of the insane U-boat plan.

"Our future lies on the water." Quite right; therefore it is not in
Poland and Belgium, in France and Serbia. This is a return to the days
of the Holy Roman Empire and the mistakes of the Hohenstaufens and
Habsburgs. It is the policy of the Plantagenets, not that of Drake and
Raleigh, Nelson and Rhodes. The policy of the Triple Alliance is a
return to the past, a turning aside from the future, from imperialism
and a world-policy. "Middle Europe" belongs to the Middle Ages,
Berlin-Bagdad is a blind alley and not the way into the open country, to
unlimited possibilities, to the world-mission of the German nation.

I am no enemy of Austria, or Hungary, or Italy, or Serbia, or any other
state, but only of the Triple Alliance policy, which was bound to divert
us from our aims and bring us onto the inclined plane of a Continental
policy. It was not the German policy, but that of the Austrian Imperial
House. The Austrians had come to regard the Alliance as an umbrella
under the shelter of which they could make excursions to the Near East
when they thought fit.

And what must we expect as the result of this war of nations? The United
States of Africa will be British, like those of America, Australia and
Oceania. And the Latin states of Europe, as I predicted years ago, will
enter into the same relations with the United Kingdom that their Latin
sisters in America maintain with the United States. The Anglo-Saxon will
dominate them. France, exhausted by the war, will only attach herself
still more closely to Great Britain. Nor will Spain continue to resist
for long.

And in Asia the Russians and the Japanese will spread and will carry
their customs with their frontiers, and the South will remain to the

The world will belong to the Anglo-Saxons, Russians, and Japanese, and
the German will remain alone with Austria and Hungary. His rule will be
that of thought and of commerce, not that of the bureaucrat and the
soldier. He made his appearance too late, and his last chance of making
good the past, that of founding a Colonial Empire, was annihilated by
the world-war.

For we shall not supplant the sons of Ichwe. Then will be realised the
plan of the great Rhodes, who saw the salvation of humanity in the
expansion of Britondom--in British Imperialism.

    Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento.
    Hae tibi erunt artes: pacisque imponere morem,
    Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.

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Transcriber's Notes

Original spelling and grammar retained with the following exceptions:-


Page xi The attack made on him at the ouset of the war ==> The attack made
        on him at the outset of the war

Page  4 (Badgad Railway) ==> (Bagdad Railway)

Page 26 There is not the same unbridgable gulf ==> There is not the same
        unbridgeable gulf

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