LX Hubertusstock 8/I/09
Many thanks for your kind letter of Dec. 25th which you sent me through Tatischeff. I was much pleased to hear from you, and my wife and I both thank you most sincerely for your kind wishes for the New year. You are quite right in saying that the old year was an eventful one. The annexation of Bosnia and Herzegowina was a genuine surprise for everybody, but particularly so for us as we were informed about Austrias intentions even later than you. I think it my duty to draw your attention to this, considering that Germany has been accused of having pushed Austria to take this step. This allegation is absurd and as untrue as it was in the case of the Sanjack Railway. I am glad to see by your letter that people in Russia begin to ret arise this now.
The fact is that once Austria had taken this step without previously consulting us hesitation as to the course we had to follow as loyal allies was out of the question. We could not side with her opponents. You will be the first to approve of this loyalty of ours.
But this does not mean that we intend to drop our old friendly relations with Russia. I am even more firmly convinced than ever, that Germany and Russia should be as closely united as possible; their union would form a powerful stronghold for the maintenance of Peace and of monarchical institutions. You know my views in that respect that my friendship is loyal and sincere I was able to prove to you by facts; when during the period of adversities Russia had to pass through recently I took grave responsibility on myself for your sake.
Valuing as I do friendly relations between our two countries I consider it all the more important, that whatever might injure them should be removed. You wont I hope mind my telling you quite frankly what I think on that subject. Recently we have been represented as resenting and showing uneasiness about your agreement with England concerning Central Asia. The same rumours are circulated about the visit Uncle Bertie paid to you at Reval. All nonsense! We understand perfectly that Russia for the present must avoid getting into a conflict with Great Britain, and that for this reason she is bent on smoothing away actual points of controversy.
Apart from this you have repeatedly given me the formal assurance, that you would not enter upon any agreement with England of a more general nature. I have your word what else should I require? We are quite as anxious as you to improve our relations with England. I am looking forward to the visit Uncle Bertie is going to pay me next month in Berlin not only because I am gratified to have him and Aunt Alix over here, but also because I expect the visit to have useful results for the Peace of the World.
No my dear Nicky neither your agreement with England about Central Asia nor your meeting at Reval has produced any uneasiness or disappointment in Germany! The cause is quite a different one. It is the patent fact that for the last two years Russian Policy has been gradually drawing away from us more and more, evolving always closer toward a combination of powers unfriendly to us. The Triple Entente between France-Russia and England is beeing talked of by the whole world as an accomplished fact. English and French papers miss no opportunity of representing this alleged Triple entente as being directed against Germany, and only too often the Russian Press chimes in joining the chorus. On the other hand in many cases of late Russian policy has shown mistrust in German policy, for instance in Persia and China, a mistrust entirely unwarranted. As for other questions in which we are interested, such as the Bagdad Railway, were we expected to count on Russia, she in her policy gave us a wide berth. It is surprising consequently that a certain estrangement should have grown up between our two countries?
I need not assure you that all these questions impress me very keenly, and I think it my duty to draw your attention to the situation as it really is and to the reasons which lead up to it before it be too late.
The tendency of Russian policy to prefer to lean on England and France was particularly in the present crisis. Your Government approached mine about the Bosnian question only after a programme for an intended Conference had been drawn up and agreed to in Paris and London. This programme was published in the French Press before beeing communicated to us. French Papers as well as English and Russian rising a jubilant chorus about this achievement of the new "Triple entente" as matters stood when Iswolsky came to Berlin, my Government had no alternative but the striktest reserve with regard to several important points forming part of the Russian wishes. We could not urge our ally to consent to a programme, which we knew she would not accept, quite apart from the consideration that the programme had been drawn up without us; our cooperation having been dispensed with in a manner that was judged by the outer world as an intended demonstration. Had another course been adopted we would have been able to suggest to your Government not to launch this programme. We would have suggested preliminary confidential negotiations between the cabinets, such negotiations affording us more than opportunity of rendering valuable services to Russia. Had Russia consulted us in the right time, matters would not be in the awful muddle they are in now nor in such a critical state. Under the present circumstances I dont quite see, what I could do, except giving words of moderation to both sides, which I allready have done. I also feel it my duty to tell you quite frankly that I am under the impression that your views about Austria's intentions are too pessimistic and that you are over anxious, more than is necessary. We here at any rate have not the slightest doubt that Austria is not going to attack Servia. This would not at all be like the Emperor Francis Josef, who is wise and judicious and such a venerable Gentleman. Nor do we believe that Aehrenthal harbours any such plans. Of course the small Balkan states must necessarily be prudent and loyal and avoid all provocations and put a stop to warlike preparations. These small states are an awful nuisance. Quantitées negligeables! The slightest encouragement from any quarter makes them frantic. The speeches that were made in the Skuptschtina on the 2d made a very bad impression upon me on account of their revolutionary tendency. Six years ago these very small people were looked upon with disgust and horror by the whole world as the murderers of their King!
I do hope with all my heart that notwithstanding numerous and serious difficulties have to be surmonted a peaceful solution will be arrived at; anything I can do in that direction will certainly be done. Take my word for it!
Hintze will be the bearer of this letter and will I hope find you all in health and happiness, to whom I once more wish that the Lord may give you Peace and prosperity and happiness in the New Year
Victoria and I send best love to Alix; so glad my Xmas presents were a success. Believe me dearest Nicky, ever
Your true and devoted cousin and friend
- Austria's annexation of these two Balkan provinces on October 5th, 1908, caused an international crisis. In Russia it was considered a blow at Russia's prestige in the Balkans, delivered with the connivance of Germany. This the Kaiser denies here. Austria's act nearly precipitated in 1908 the war which broke out six years later. The incident also gave powerful impetus to the Russo-English rapprochement.
- King Edward had visited the Czar in Reval on June 9-10, 1908, and there the foundation was laid for the Triple Entente.