December 22, 2023

The Kaiser Was Indeed Wiser

An excerpt from, "The Kaiser's letters to the Tsar" By German Emperor William II, Isaac Don Levine, and Neil Forbes Grant, Hodder & Stoughton, 1920, Pg. 80 - 86:

Neues Palais, 3/1, 1902.

Dearest Nicky,

These lines are to wish you a merry Xmas and a happy new Year. May God bless you and protect you and wife and children and keep you all sound in body and soul. May your work for the Peace of the world be successful as well as the plans you are maturing for the welfare of your country.

I send you as Xmas present an officer's dirk corresponding to the model I introduced into our Navy by order dated from the Variag which I beg you to accept as a souvenir of the kind visit you paid me off Danzig and of the merry hours we spent together.

This new sidearm is so popular among our officers that I believe they even go to bed with it.

My fleet, Henry and I are already looking forward to the day we shall be able to repay your visit x this year, and I shall be most glad to know when you expect us and where ?

As you take such interest in our navy, it will interest you to hear, that the new armoured cruiser Prince Henry is rapidly nearing completion and has already tried her engines on the spot with most satisfactory results. She is expected to join the fleet after her trials end of the winter. The new Line of Battleship Charlemagne the 5th of the " Kaiser Class " will, it is hoped, be ready for her trials at sea end of next week, and Henry hopes he will join him in a month.

The " Wittelbach " Class is being pushed forward with all speed, and it is hoped will be able to join Henry's flag after the manouvres. This means an addition of 5 Line of Battleships, whieh will enable him to dispose of a fully homogeneous fleet of " Peacemakers " which no doubt will make themselves most agreeably felt and useful in helping you to keep the world quiet. The 5 new Line of Battleships have all been contracted for and have been begun. They constitute the first Division of the second Squadron.

Bye the bye I see by the papers, that the " historical " Variag has arrived at " Koweit." That is a very wise thing that your flag is shown there. For it does not seem impossible that another Power was in the act of repeating the very successful experiment it made on the Nile, to haul down the Sultan's flag, land some men and guns, hoist some flag or other under a pretext, and then say : " J'y suis, J'y reste " ! In this case it would have meant paramount rule of all the trade routes of Persia leading to the Gulf, by this of Persia itself, and by that " Ta-ta " to your proposed establishment of Russian Commerce, which is very ably begun by the conclusion of the " Zollverein " with Persia by you.

The behaviour of the Foreign Power at " Koweit " sets into a strong relief the enormous advantage of an overwhelming fleet which rules the approaches from the sea to places that have no means of communication over land, but which we others cannot approach because our fleets are too weak, and without them our transports at the mercy of the enemy. This shows once more how very necessary the Bagdad Railway is which I intend German Capital to build. If that most excellent Sultan had not been dawdling for years with this question the Line might have been begun years ago, and would now have offered you the opportunity of despatching a few Regiments from Odessa straight down to " Koweit," and then that would have turned the tables on the other Power by reason of the Russian Troops having the command of the inner Lines on shore against which even the greatest fleet is powerless for many reasons.

. . .I am sending you beside the dirk a most interesting book about the South African war, written by an Englishman, who wholly condemns the way it was entered into and the ends for which it was begun. It is very lucid to the point and shows that the Author maintains his impartiality to the last moment ; a most gratifying exception to the rule now at work in England. The parallel he draws between this war and the war against American Colonies 1775-83 is most surprising and striking.

The bearer of my gifts is my Aide-de-Camp Captain von Usedom — years ago for a time Henry's adjutant — he was in Command of the Hertha during the China affair, and it is he who saved the Seymour Expedition and brought it safe back to Tientsin. He was in fact the Admiral's Chief of the Staff and to him was given the now " historical " order of which my " blue jackets " are so proud " Germans to the Front," when the British Sailors refused to go on any farther. He was not present at Danzig, having injured his leg by a fall from his horse, so I thought you would like to hear from his own lips the record of what men composing that illstarred expedition suffered.

Now dearest Nicky, goodbye, best love to Alix, Micha and your Mama from Ever Your most affate and devoted Cousin and friend.