XLVII Berlin 3/VI/1905
The kind lines which you entrusted to Micha's care and were given me yesterday have deeply touched me. The-memorable events you allude to are all clearly graved in my memory and remind me how the years have gone by, and how often since long we two have been brought into personal relations. The natural consequence of this is a firm feeling of mutual friendship that developed between us both based on a perfect understanding of each other. These relations have flourished through the long years for the welfare of our countries, to rule which we have been called upon by Pirovidence. They were and I hope will continue to be guarantees of Peace and welfare for the two countries as well as for the world. I well remember the moment in the church in the Winter Palais when you took your oath on the glorious tatters of the old Cossack standard, and the breathless silence of an enormous audience of illoustrious people! How moved your dear father was when he kissed you after the ceremony! How long ago that is! Now you are in his place and have to lead your country through one of the most difficult phases of its development. How I have been feeling for and thinking of you all these last months I need not say! Also of every phase of Admiral Roshestwensky's progress! The great stake which he represented in your hand has been played and honnourably lossed. He did everything in his powers to come up to your wishes, but Providence willed it otherwise and he met defeat bravely serving his master to the lastl My fullest sympathy is with him and you.
From the purely military strategical point of view the defeat in the straits of Corea ends the chances for a decided turn of the scales in your favour; the Japanese are now free to pour any amount of reserves, recruits, ammunition, etc. into Mandschuria for the siege of Wladiwostok, which will hardly be able to resist very long without a fleet to support it. The Army of Lenewitsch will need at least 3 or 4 fresh Army Corps to bring it up to its former efficiency and even then it is difficult to foretell what the consequences will be and wether another large battle will promise more success than the former did? Formally it of course possible, even under these adverse circumstances to continue the war for any amount of time. But then on the other hand the human part must not be overlooked. Your country has sent thousands of its sons to the fronte, where they died, or were taken ill and were left cripples for the rest of their lives. Now as I wrote to you in my last letter -- Febr. 6th --. the war is very unpopular and the People see their sons and fathers reluctantly even unwilling leave their homes to fight for a cause they not only not espouse but abhor! Is it compatible with the responsibility of a Ruler to continue to force a whole nation against its declared will to send its sons to be killed by hecatombs only for his sake? Only for his way of conception of National honour? After the People by their behaviour have clearly shown their disapproval of a continuance of the war? Will not in time to come the life and blood of all uselessly sacrificed thousands be laid at the Ruler's door, and will he not once be called upon by Him the Ruler and Master of all Kings and men to answer for those, who were placed under his control by the Creator, who entrusted their welfare to him? National honour is a very good thing in itself, but only in the case that the whole of the Nation itself is determined to uphold it with all the means possible. But when a nations ways show that it has enough and that "tout est purdu fort l'honneur" is its way of thinking, is it not reasonable that also its Ruler should then -- no doubt with a heavy heart -- draw the consequences and conclude peace? Even though it be a bitter one? Rather than risking through the prolongation of an unpopular war to create such a bitter feeling in his country that it would not even refrain from taking serious steps to eventually force the Ruler to comply to their wish and adopt their views? Of course there is the Army to be considered. It has fought and bravely fought through heat and cold for I-I/2 years trying to win victoria for you and your country, but up to now Providence has withheld success from it. Defeat, fearful loss of life, and sufferings unspeakable have instead been sent to the poor Army and have been willingly borne by those capital, brave, quiet, selfsacrificing fellows your soldiers. That they should burn for revenge and be ready to do battle at every possible moment is quite natural. But is there any new leader or General among the Captains who is able to guarantee success, so that it would justify a new tremendous effort at the expense of thousands of the soldiers lives ? Is the Army really absolutely convinced that it will yet be able to turn the scales? To this question you of course alone are able to know the answer. Should the answer however be given in the negative by your Generals in your soldiers name, declaring on their honour that they could only die for their Emperor but hardly win any decisive victories for him, then I think your conscience may be at rest as to wether you ought to go on fighting or not, and you could open the Peace negociations which would be hailed with joy by all your loyal subjects throughout Russia after the tribute of blood they readily gave their Emperor. You may then say like the old French Grenadier Bombardon sings: "Das Glück des Kriegs hat wider uns entschieden, doch die Armee hat ihre Pflicht gethan, die hälfte fiel, der Rest ward Invaliden! Je nun man trägt was man nicht ändern kann"!
Napoleon I and Fredrick the Great also suffered defeat!
It must be looked upon as Gods will that things have taken this course! God has imposed this burthen on you, and it must be borne, but perhaps by His intentions and with His help, lasting good may come out of all this in the end; a new life and a new order of things for the development of Russia may spring from this time of trial which would be a recompence your subjects richly deserved.
Forgive the length of my letter, but I feel bound as your friend and collegue to tell you what I think is true and right! You know the motives that prompt me, and you are free to do with these lines what you think fit.
Should however the ideas propounded in this letter coincide with yours and you think that I could be of any even smallest use to you for the preparatory steps to bring about Peace, pray dispose of me at your leisure. I may perhaps turn your attention to the fact that no doubt the Japanese have the highest regard for America before all other nations. Because this mighty rising Power with its tremendous fleet is next to them. If anybody in the world is able to influence the Japanese and to induce them to be reasonable in their proposals, it is President Roosevelt. Should it meet with your approval I could easily place myself -- privately -- en rapport with him, as we are very intimate; also my ambassador there is a friend of his. Besides you have Mr. Meyer whom I know since years, who has my full. est confidence you may send for him, talk with him openly, he most discret and trustworthy, a charming causeur with agreeable manners! Here the Brides Entry took place in splendid weather and amidst great enthusiasm! Best love to Alix from your
Aff-ate friend and cousin
- The Russian Baltic Fleet, under Admiral Rozhdjestvensky, was disastrously defeated on May 27-28 by the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo in the Straits of Korea.
- General Linievitch was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army after Kuropatkin's retirement.
- All is lost save honor.
- The fortune of war has gone against us, but the army did its duty; one-half fell, the rest became invalids. What cannot be altered must be borne.
- Two days before this letter was written, President Roosevelt conferred with the Japanese Minister, Takahira, at the White House on the possibility of opening peace negotiations. On June 2nd Roosevelt received the Russian Ambassador. On June 7th he sent an identical note to Russia and Japan, proposing the opening of peace negotiations. The peace conference at Portsmouth opened on August 9th.
- President Roosevelt in his autobiography says of the peace negotiations between Russia and Japan: "During the course of the negotiations I tried to enlist the aid of the governments of one nation which was friendly to Russia, and of another nation which was friendly to Japan in helping bring about peace. I got no aid from either. I did, however, receive aid from the Emperor of Germany. His ambassador at St. Petersburg was the one ambassador who helped the American ambassador, Mr. Meyer, at delicate and doubtful points of the negotiations. Mr. Meyer . . . rendered literally invaluable aid by insisting upon himself seeing the Czar at critical periods of the transaction, when it was no longer possible for me to act successfully through the representatives of the Czar, who were often at cross purposes with each other."
- This rather abrupt reference to the "Bride's entry" concerns the future wife of the German Crown Prince, Duchess Cecilia, the daughter of Friedrich Franz III. of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She entered Berlin on June 3rd, 1905, the day the letter was written.