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Problem of the German-English naval agreement at a stage of the beginning of February of the end of March, 1909 .

UDK 940. 2



Branch of the Tyumen state University, Nyagan

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In article efforts of two parties during February-March, 1909 to begin the negotiations on sea arms, on exchange of information on vessels under construction which came to the end finally with crash are considered. The reason of it consisted in mutual suspicion and mistrust that with special presentation was shown in scandal concerning early laying with Germany of two ships.

By the beginning of February, 1909 of the relation between Germany and Great Britain were burdened by a number of problems, of which the naval problem was considered as main. It arose at a boundary of the 19-20th centuries as a result of aggravation of economic contradictions between two stranami1 and adoptions by Germany of naval laws of 1898 2 and 1900 3 for the purpose of creation of the powerful Navies for protection own world economic and political interesov4. The situation in the sea sphere even more worsened when Great Britain, trying to come off the new dangerous rival, created the ships of linear type "Dreadnought" and "Invinsibl" 5 which were more made in the voyennotekhnichesky relation in 1905-1907. Such step led to leveling of obvious advantage which British had before Germans before "drednoutsky revolution" 6. Own "drednoutsky jump", expressed in addition of the naval law of 1900 with short stories of 1906 7 both 1908 8, and the caused real alarm on British ostrovakh9 became the reciprocal course of Germany.

The rate of military shipbuilding taken by Germans forced British to strain all the forces to hold former prevoskhodstvo10. London suggested Berlin to agree with the purpose to win time and to keep the available advantage about

1 G. Halgarten. An imperialism till 1914. A social research of the German foreign policy before World War I. M, 1961. Page 153-157, 161-171, 180 - 185, 195-204, etc.; Meineke F. Geschichte des deutsch-englischen Bundnisproblems. 1890-1901. Munchen, 1972. S. 115-177.
2 Increase in the German fleet. Informal department//Sea collection. 1901. No. 8. Page 38-41; Widenmann W. Marine-Attasche an der kaiserlich-deutschen Botschaft in London. 1907-1912. Gottingen, 1952. S. 25.
3 Berghahn V.R. Der Tirpitz-Plan. Genesis und Verfall einer innenpolitischen Krisenstrategie unter Wilhelm II. Dusseldorf, 1971. S. 193; The German law on the fleet of June 14, 1900//the Annex to the monthly journal for 1911 SPb., 1911. Page 33.
4 Tupolev B.M. Kayzerovsky navy seeks on ocean open spaces / / Modern and contemporary history. 1982. No. 3-4; V.M. Hvostov. History of diplomacy. T. 2. M, 1945. Page 121, 203-207; V.A. Ala-fuzov. Doctrines of the German fleet. M, 1956. Page 18.
5 Vercoe G.A. Britian&s Fighting Fleets. London, 1935. P. 30; Massie R. Die Schalen des Zorns. Grossbritanien, Deutschland und das Heraufziehen des Ersten Weltkrieges. Frankfurt am Main, 1993. S. 407-431; Likharev D.V. Admiral David Beatty. The history of the British fleet at the end of XIX - the beginning of the 20th centuries SPb., 1997. Page 59-63.
6 Force of the fleet of the main sea powers. Sea chronicle / / Sea collection. 1905. No. 8. Page 3.
7 Berghahn V.R. Op. cit. S. 189.
8 Mantey D. Deutsche Marinegeschichte. Charlottenburg, 1926. S. 190; A. Tirpitts. Memoirs. M, 1957. Page 23, 226.
9 Epkenhans M. Die wilhelmische Flottenrustung. 1908-1914. Welrmachtstreben, industrieller Fortschritt, soziale integration. Munchen, 1991. S. 29.
10 Mommsen W.J. Zeitalter des Imperialismus. Frankfurt am Main, 1969. S. 228-229.

restriction sea vooruzheniy11. To achieve it within the 11th peace conference in the Hague in 1907 to British not udalos12.

The attempts made in the summer of 1908 at the beginning on privatnom13, and then and on official urovne14 ended achieving the arrangement on sea arms neudachey15 that strongly complicated the relations between two countries. The German Reichs chancellor B. Buelow was seriously anxious with their state. At the end of August, 1908 in one of the messages to the Kaiser it spoke even about an opportunity voyny16 which probability was estimated by it much above, than in 1904 17 It were not exaggeration as the heat of the anti-German passions reached quite high level. The fear of invasion of Germans was neshutochnyy18. Military hysteria captured, without exaggeration, all layers British obshchestva19. In December, 1908 the situation began to be aggravated even more with rumors about reduction by Germans of time of construction linear korabley20, about increase in number of sea crews and about an early bookmark with them in October, 1908 two dreadnoughts which construction had to begin in 1909 21 On the basis of the real and fictional facts the British Admiralty drew a conclusion about what Germany is able to put annually on building berths of the shipyards up to 8 drednoutov22. In reply the Minister of Foreign Affairs E. Gray and the sea minister of R. Macken demanded from the king Edward VII of increase in a quota of the dreadnoughts planned to a construction in 1909/10 financial year from 4 to 6 edinits23.

The official state visit of the English monarch to Germany had to serve on February 9-12, 1909 improvement of the atmosphere between London and Berlin. In the center of negotiations between the Reichs chancellor Byulov and the English minister of colonies lord E. Crowe there were generally questions connected with Middle Eastern policy though completely to exclude a sea subject not udalos24. In personal meeting of the Kaiser and king and also in the Reichs chancellor's conversation with Edward VII before his departure the naval issue was touched again, but is absolute in kind spirit, without "presentation of claims to each other" 25.

11 British Documents. Vol. 6. No. 81. P. 130-131.
12 Dulffer J. Regeln gegen den Krieg? Die Haager Friedenskoferenzen von 1899 u. 1907 in der internation-alen Politik. Berlin-Frankfurt am Main-Wien, 1981. S. 273-299; British Documents. Vol. 8. No. 174. P. 201-202.
13 BA are MA. RM 3/41. Ballins Unterredung mit Cassel uber deutsch-englische Verfremdung. 20. 06. 1908.
14 British Documents. Vol 6. No. 117. P. 184-190; Zur Europaischen Politik 1897-1914. Berlin, 1919. Bd.3. S. 927; Die GroPe Politik der europaischen Kabinette 1871-1914. Sammlung der diplomatischen Akten des Auswartigen Amtes. Berrlin, 1927. Bd. 24. No. 8225-8226, 82230, 8243. S. 125-129, 135, 156; BA are MA. RM 3/9720. Boy - Ed an Tirpitz uber Lloyd Georges Besuch in Berlin und Flottenbau. 25. 08. 1908.
15 BA are MA. RM 2/1762. Metternich an Bulow uber englische Haltungen zur deutschen Flottenpolitik. 08. 08. 1908; BA are MA. Freiburg, Nachlass Tirpitz.№ 253/54. S. 4-10; GroPe Politik. Bd. 24. No. 8241. S. 154-155.
16 GroPe Politik. Bd. 24. No. 8239. S. 150-151.
17 Steiner Z. Britain and the origins of the First World War. London, 1977. P. 175-176; Wormer K. Gropbri-tannien, Rupland und Deutschland - Studien zur britischen Weltreichpolitik am Vorabend des Ersten Weltkriegs. Munchen, 1980. S. 68; Monger G. The End of Isolation. British Foreign Policy 1900-1907. London, 1963. P. 12-13; Navy and Military Record. 22 June. 1905; Modern times. 10 (on October 23) - on October 11(24) 1904; Mackay R.F. Fisher of Kilverstone. Oxford, 1973. P. 316; Shilov S.P. Kayzerovsky navy and Russia: from the idea of the German-Russian union to confrontation in 1897-1914 Tyumen, 2004. Page 65-69; K.F. Shatsillo. The Russian imperialism and development of the fleet on the eve of World War I (1906-1914). M, 1968. Page 32.
18 BA are MA. RM 3/2792. Widenmann an Tirpitz uber englische Invasionsfurcht. 24. 11. 1908.
19 Modern times. 8 on November (21). 1908. The great and genuine concern in the English society is demonstrated also by other materials. See: British Documents. Vol. 6. No. 80. P. 115-117. see also: Marder A. The anatomy of British seapower - A history of British naval policy in the preDreadnought era 1880-1905. New York, 1940. P. 543; Epkenhans M. Op.cit. S.45; Wormer K. Op.cit. S. 156.
20 BA are MA. RM 3/6673. Flublatt des FVs "Das Bautempo unserer Flotte". Anfang Dezember. 1908.
21 BA are MA. RM 3/2974. Widenmann an Tirpitz uber Ubergabe des "Marine -Etats 1909" an den First

Lord of Admiralty. 16. 12. 1908.

22 Marder A. From the dreadnought to Scapa Flow. Vol 1. P. 152-153.
23 Lee S. King Edward VII: A Biography. London, 1927. Vol. 2 P. 678-679.
24 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10261. S. 87-88.
25 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10260. S. 86.

Further Buelow appealed to Tirpitsu to help to bring to reason the Naval union and a part of the German editions known anglophobe vystupleniyami26. The head of sea department supported the chosen political line of conduct of the Reichs chancellor and promised assistance in it dele27.

However a certain calm in the German-English relations was short. On February 22, 1909 the prime minister G. Askvit in the performance before deputies of the lower house of parliament repeatedly repeated a thesis about commitment of liberals to preservation and maintenance of sea policy double standarta28. The main sea department of British made the statement that by February, 1912 the Germans will have the 17th, and by April, 1912 — the 21st drednoutom29, and the ratio of the British and German linear fleet consisting of modern vessels will be expressed by figures 5:430. These data caused the real alarm in political and military krugakh31. Referring to these figures, the first lord Admiralteystva J. Fischer, according to Metternich, proved need of serious adjustment British the naval project in March, 1909

For a hearing denial about violation of parameters of the naval law by the German side, Videnman asked from the management to provide information for Metternich on the approved and put vessels in 1907-1909 32 as a result of 7 battle ships and 3 cruisers were included in the list. Metternich suggested Buelow to provide to British confidential information on plans of the German ship-building program for 1907-1917 and even up to 1920 33 Tirpits were categorically against such steps. However he considered it necessary to inform officially through the ambassador in London Askvit and Gray that Germany by February, 1912 will have no 13 dreadnoughts and that Germans actually did not make any acceleration naval stroitelstva34. On March 9, 1909 this instruction was transmitted through Buelow to Met-ternikhu35 who immediately contacted Gray and executed the task charged to it. However the words of the German ambassador did not make big impact on the British minister. Gray said that England builds the fleet, despite of the German naval program and that it will be directed against the next to its coast strong sea derzhavy36. However, the Minister of Foreign Affairs did not exclude an opportunity to try to come to a certain naval arrangement by exchange of information on designs and arms of the ships under construction through naval attashe37.

On March 12, 1909 the new draft of the British sea budget for 1909/10 became a public domain. It equaled 35142700 ft. the article was also exceeded by the budget of previous year on 2823200 ft. St. According to its articles construction of 4 dreadnoughts, 6 cruisers, 20 sea fighters and a certain number underwater lodok38 was provided. Also the fact that the government since April 1, 1909 acquired the right, in case of need, to carry out construction additional the 4th drednoutov39 was very significant. By data, which the Admiralty and to which referred Macken had, by 1911 Germany will have 13 new dreadnoughts, and in

26 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10264. S. 93.
27 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10265. S. 93.
28 BA are MA. RM 3/2792. Widenman an Tirpitz 22. 02.1909.
29 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10266. S. 96.
30 D.V. Likharev. Decree. soch. Page 177.
31 Marder A From the dreadnought to Scapa Flow. Vol. 1. River 156-157.
32 BA are MA. RM 3/2792. Widenmann an RMA. 04. 03. 1909.
33 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10266. S. 98-99.
34 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10267. S. 101-102.
35 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10268. S. 102-103.
36 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10269. S. 104.
37 Ibid.
38 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10270. S. 105-108.
39 Ibid.
1912 - 1740. At the same time were absolutely ignored assurance and the ambassador Met-ternikh, and the Reichs chancellor Buelow that Germany will not be able to dispose to fall of 1912 more than 13 korablyami41. In Askvit's speech figures of a ratio of modern British and German vessels were also given to the end of 1911 which demonstrated serious violation of policy of the double standard. In particular, it was told about 16 British and 13 German linkorakh42.

On March 17, 1909 Metternich of a conversation with Gray directly accused the Admiralty which supplied the top political and military authorities of Great Britain with data on violation of terms of laying of the ships by Germany for 1909, of conscious misrepresentation to drag through parliament own sea programmu43. Gray did not exclude a possibility of a divergence of data Admiralteystva and the German Embassy. For prevention in the subsequent similar situations he offered option of exchange of information about the constructed ships through sea attaches again. On the same day Askvit, acting in parliament, as justification of need of adoption of the expanded sea programme said that attempts to agree with representatives of Germany about decrease in expenses on sea arms terminated neudachey44. This statement caused the most negative reaction from Tirpits. Its public statement to members of the budgetary commission of the Reichstag that similar official proposals from the British side not postupalo45, in London was regarded as peculiar consent to go for negotiations. Gray through Metternich expressed readiness to begin it obsuzhdeniye46. On March 21, 1909 Tirpits confirmed a possibility of negotiations on the basis of recognition of sea superiority of Great Britain, but at the same time, according to him, Germany had to have certain chances of a victory in case of war with British. It is natural that dialogue option on the principle "double стандарт+10%" that was would like by British, even not dopuskalsya47.

On March 29, 1909 deputies of the House of Commons were addressed by Gray. Concerning sharpness of relationship with Germany on naval construction, the minister emphasized that in the matter Berlin has to the first take a step to reduction of the flota48, having suggested to discuss, however, once again an issue of exchange of information of under construction sudakh49. The final end to long discussion of the draft of future sea budget was put by the prime minister Askvit who expressed the need of his change towards increase. The decision on construction of 8 dreadnoughts was as a result approved. Fischer and Macken received 4 additional sudna50.

The "Sea panic" 1909 which is artificially created English vlastyami51 and having character real isterii52 negatively influenced relationship of two states. Even after passions uleglis53, its consequences affected some more months mood of the German leaders. In all -

40 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10274. S. 111; cf.: Bacon R. The life of Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. London, 1929.Vol. 2. P. 88.
41 BA are MA. RM 3/2792. Widenmann an Tirpitz uber Estimates 09/10. 17. 03. 09.
42 See: Excerpts from the debate of the English House of Commons on the sea budget 1909-1910 SPb., l909. Page b.
43 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10273. S. 109.
44 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10275. S. 113-114.
45 On March 17-18, 1909 there took place the meeting of the budgetary commission of the Reichstag where the German sea budget was discussed. See: I bid.
46 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10280. S. 119.
47 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10285. S. 122.
48 GroPe Politik. Bd. 28. No. 10293. S. 139-141.
49 Kennedy P. The Rise of Anglo-German Antagonism. 1860-1914. Oxford, 1982. P. 444-445.
50 In the same place. Page 183.
51 See Epkenhans M. Op. cit. S. 45.
52 Marder A. The anatomy of British seapower. P. 464; Wormer K. Op cit. S. 156.
53 Fisher J. A. Fear God and Dreadnought: Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher. London, 1952-1959. Vol. 2. P. 235.

a lump a case, one of the main ideologists of sea policy of Germany Tirpits up to the middle of August, 1909 wanted to hear nothing about any naval agreement with anglichanami54. The Kaiser Wilhelm 11 divided this pozitsiyu55 that could not but influence implementation of nation-wide policy for Great Britain. The German legislators practically without discussion approved the draft budget of the domestic fleet for 1910 for the subsequent his approval of meetings reykhstaga56.

Thus, at a stage of the beginning of February - the end of March, 1909 Germany and Great Britain did not come to the naval arrangement. Some improvement of the relations between the countries which followed after Edward VII's visit to Berlin was replaced by their sharp aggravation in connection with the begun scandal concerning early laying in Germany of 2 dreadnoughts. The liberal government of Askvit used it for the approval of the maximum sea program for 1909/10. Initiatives from the British side about signing of the contract on sea arms, about exchange of information on the ships under construction had rather preliminary character and served more for cover of own far-reaching sea plans. The German side showed hardness in upholding of own sea interests. It was talked of inadmissibility of withdrawal from implementation of the sea law of 1900 supplemented with short stories of 1906 and 1908 what British as, otherwise, under a question the main goal of sea policy — creation of "the fleet of risk" 57 was set aspired to, designed to keep Great Britain from attack on Germaniyu58. As a result representatives of two countries could not agree even about the principles of negotiations on naval arms, and this problem still very seriously complicated the German-English relations, determining their main content.

54 BA are MA. RM 3/ 11516. Tirpitz an Widenman. 28. 07. 1909.
55 BA are MA. RM 3/ 8. Telegramm von Muller an Tirpitz. 04. 08. 1909.
56 BA are MA. RM 3/ 8. Verlauf der Budgetkommissionsverhandlung am 23 Marz 1909.
57 BA are MA 253/4, AB 8-18. Denkschrift des Staatssekretars des Reichsmarineamts, Kontreadmiral

Tirpitz, vom Juli 1897. Allgemeine gesichtspunkte bei der Feststellung unserer Flotte nach Schiffsklassen und Schiffstypen//Berghahn V.R. Deist W. Rustung im Zeichen der wilhelminischen Weltpolitik. Grunlegende Do-kumente. 1890-1914. Dusseldorf, 1988. S. 128.

58 Cm.: Lambi I. The Navy and German Power Politics. 1862-1914. London, 1984. P. 225-257.


Branch of Tyumen State University in Nyagan


The article is devoted to efforts of both countries to start negotiations on navy armament equipment and information exchange about shipbuilding in early February - late March 1909, which collapsed in the end. The underlying cause was in mutual suspicion and mistrust that was especially evident in scandal concerning early building of two ships by Germany.

e-mail: globus_

Bruce Owen
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