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Category: History

Image of Germany in the Russian press of 1905-1914

l. A. Fischer

The IMAGE of GERMANY IN the RUSSIAN PRESS of 1905-1914

Work is presented by department of the Russian history.

The research supervisor - the doctor of historical sciences, professor A.Yu. Davydov

In article the author tracked reaction of the Russian press to actions of the German diplomacy on the example of political crises on the eve of World War I. Evolution of an image of Germany from the traditional friend and the ally of Russia in 1905 to the worst enemy in 1914 is shown

L. Fisher


The author of the paper traces the reaction of the Russian press to the German diplomacy actions by the example of the political crisis before World War I. The evolution of Germany’s image from the traditional friend and ally of Russia in 1905 to the most malicious enemy in 1914 is shown.

The attitude of the Russian society towards Germany came to light during crises: the Moroccan crisis of 1905-1906, the Bosnian anneksionny crisis of 1908-1909, disputes around the Russian-German Persian contract of 1911 and the crisis of 1913-1914 connected with the mission of Limana von Sanders. These events were fully reflected in pages of the Russian press. The first Moroccan crisis became a turning point concerning the Russian press to the German empire. The subsequent conflicts only aggravated this change.

Newspapers of the different directions covered all these events on the pages. First of all we will mention "Modern times". The authority of this edition was high. Abroad the newspaper was perceived as a semi-official organ though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs repeatedly disproved such point of view. In the opinion of the German reader the newspaper was not only the Russian Times and the Russian-language newspaper with the biggest circulation, but also the constant instigator of the anti-German campaigns in the Russian press. Good neighbourhood with Germany which were noted by "Modern times" in connection with a meeting in Bjorko were saddened

the first Moroccan crisis. France rejected the offer of Germany concerning differentiation of bilateral interests in Morocco and insisted on the international conference which opened on January 16, 1906 in the Spanish seaside town of Alkhesirass. Austria and Germany unexpectedly for themselves appeared against the coalition consisting of England, France and Russia which Italy also joined. Hardly the act of Alkhesiras-sa stating failure of the German plans was under seal as "Modern times" began to write about rapprochement with England [19]. Three weeks later the Berlin correspondent of the newspaper N.K. Melnikov stated the idea about replacement of accidental communication of England, France and Russia with the union [13]. In a year before "Modern times" opposed the union with England and stood up for the union with Germany for the purpose of replacement of influence of England from the Middle East [18].

Alkhesirass was the first step to the agreement of Russia with England. After this, in August, Russian-English disagreements in Tibet and Afghanistan were settled, both powers divided Persia into influence zones. The Russian press was calmed by the agreement, to -

even liberals enjoyed tory. Most distinctly these moods were expressed by "Speech" which saw in this agreement only the beginning of mutual rapprochement and added to it hope of all liberals for changes in Russia [30].

At Octobrists this internal political interest was expressed more weakly, their newspaper considered this agreement impractical and even published the list of the previous sins of England against Russia. Any other union was equally welcomed as all political agreements kept the force only until were useful to partners [3].

The regularity is detected: the it is better the Russian newspapers and magazines treated England, the worse they represented the image of Germany. Because of the English-Russian contradictions in the Middle East the Russian press still expressed few sympathies for Great Britain, now there occurred change. In this regard it is very characteristic that even the non-political mass Niva followed the general rhythm. In 1904 he opposed to opinion that Germany from all great powers the most aggressive. Since 1870 Germany did not wage any wars, and England is a number [8, page 418]. During the Russo-Japanese war it was openly said that Foggy Albion tries to turn force of the Russian weapon against Germany which competition threatened England [9, page 819-820]. In 1908. "Field" gave the friendship to England as Russia could not refuse the historical mission in quality of the power - defenders of Slavs [10, page 404]. In 1911 the speech already went about an aggressive and aggressive germanizm [12, page 395]. Nevertheless after settlement of the second Moroccan crisis the magazine changed the tone in relation to Germany with less sharp, having noted that the German people much less aggressive, than his diplomats [11, page 681].

Russia 2 agreed on September (15), 1908 Austria-Hungary to annexation of the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of not preventing of the last to the interests of Russia in a question of the Black Sea passages and refusal from

Sandzhak Novobazarsky. But Austria proclaimed annexation already on September 24, 1908, much earlier, than Russia could expect, having emphasized at the same time that it works not only from a permission, but also with the consent of Russia. Reaction of the Russian public to this event was impassioned. At the first rumors "Modern times" said the consent of the Minister of Foreign Affairs A.P. Izvolsky to annexation: "We resolutely refuse to trust... It cannot be" [16]. "Speech" asked a question: Whether "The Russian minister Izvolsky knew about the prepared events? And if knew, what he undertook to prevent that hard blow which is struck to the interests of Slavic peoples with annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina?" [31]. Further the question of the fate of the Berlin treatise was brought up: "If Austria-Hungary does not find more necessary to be found with the resolution of the Berlin treatise, - wrote "Exchange sheets", - that and Russia can not reckon with it where it will need it where circumstances of that demand. Equally if Russia declares optional to itself resolutions of the Parisian treatise, then it it will only return itself the natural right to provide to the Black Sea Fleet easy access through Passages to the Mediterranean Sea" [1]. This point of view was supported by "Speech", having called the Berlin treatise "shabby piece of paper" [31]. The "Russian sheets" rejecting any thought of compensations adhered to an opposite position: "The Russian people can be proud of the fact that it does not pursue egoistical interests in the Balkans." [37]. Already next day it became clear how wrong was this position.

On September 25 A.P. Izvolsky performed with explanations of a position of the Russian Foreign Ministry in east crisis. The minister recognized that he was informed on intention of the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs A. Erental to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina, but did not know when it can occur. A.P. Izvolsky shared plans of holding the international conference at which revision of the Berlin treatise is possible and also concerned a subject of possible compensations for the interested states. From this point polemic on

pages of newspapers inflamed with a new force. "Modern times" fell upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs with sharp criticism, having said that opening of Passages would make sense only in case of offensive actions to which the Russian fleet is not ready [17] at all. Sharply "Speech" changed the point of view. Revision of the Berlin treatise, on the eve of announced by "shabby piece of paper", suddenly became undesirable and even dangerous. Cadet press organ also the prospect of the international conference did not inspire: "The one who relies upon diplomatic conferences - to that falls to lot not an especially honourable role - to hold a candle at stronger and then to go ungifted away" [32].

The appeal of Serbia to war with Austria-Hungary followed. Russia then was not able to wage war, but also and did not want to leave the allies to the mercy of fate. After England refused to join the contract between Austria and Russia concerning discovery of Bosphorus and Dardanelles for pass of the Russian warships, it became even more difficult for Russian diplomacy to find a way out, acceptable for her self-esteem. In this situation Germany 9 put forward on March (22), 1909 Russia the ultimatum with the requirement to immediately recognize annexation by Austria-Hungary of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Russian press these events received the name of "diplomatic Tsushima" [18; 38]. The tone of the Russian newspapers in relation to Germany reached such sharpness which it did not reach to the announcement of World War I any more.

In 1909 the relations between Germany and Russia reached the lowest point for all pre-war decade. Disputes around the Persian agreement considerably conceded on the sharpness to polemic concerning the ultimatum. 06 on August (19), 1911 after long fluctuations Russia signed an agreement. Russia recognized the German trade interests in Persia, in exchange Germany refused railway concessions in the north of Persia. Signing of the contract was promoted by change in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: after settlement of the Bosnian crisis A.P. Izvolsky left a post of the minister foreign

put. His successor S.D. Sazonov strove for the agreement with Germany.

Reaction right on signing of the Potsdam agreement is best of all put into words V.P. Meshchersky: "The Potsdam date gives hope that the successor Mr. Izvolskogo will bury in eternal oblivion all that in his politician that was so obviously stupid and so obviously opposite; to both traditions and interests of the Russian monarch and Russian of the state" [7, page 18]. Really, in Potsdam negotiations on more far-reaching Russian-German agreement were conducted, but they ended with nothing.

Hearing about the being preparing change of foreign policy orientation of Russia caused great concern in cadet, oktyabristsky and moderately right-wing press. On the pages "Speeches", "Modern times" phrases about attempts "bringing down of Russia on position of the insignificant power - assistants to Berlin and Vienna" started gleaming [19; 20; 33; 34]. It forced S.D. Sazonov to hurry with explanations in "Modern times". It is possible to claim for certain that, resorting to such steps, Sazonov addressed not only English and French, but also the Russian public.

Repeated aggravation of the anti-German moods was caused by sending to Turkey the German military mission under the leadership of the general of Limana von Sanders at the beginning of December, 1913. "Modern times" sounded the alarm about the Estuary mission in that day when the Russian ambassador in Constantinople sent the report on it to S.D. Sazonov. "Influence of Germany in Turkey amplifies, the newspaper specified. - The Turkish army and garrison of Constantinople" will be subordinated to the head of the German military mission sent to Turkey [22]. "Modern times" could not remain indifferent to such attempt of Germany to receive control over the Black Sea passages, having nothing in common with the Russian-German friendship. The concept "friendship with Germany" at which and before in the press sometimes laughed in the press was used since then only in ironical sense. "The question goes not about calling to the Turkish army of foreign instructors at all, and about the actual address

Turkey in Asian colony of the German empire" [21; 23], - "Modern times" panicked. Even when the general Sanders because of the Russian protests was forced to leave command of the first army case, "Modern times" continued to express discontent, saying that actually everything remained as before [24]. The Rech newspaper which in this action saw a compromise between the Russian and German interests [35] adhered to other point of view. The mutual exasperation of public opinion of Russia and Germany which turned at the beginning of 1914 into the real paper war between both powers was the only real result of the Russian-German conflict because of the mission of Limana von Sanders.

So-called "Russian-German paper war" began with article of the St. Petersburg correspondent of Koelnische Zeitung R. Ulrich of February 18, 1914 in which Russia was accused of arms increasing. The German press was indignant concerning "compliance" of the government and openly demanded war against Russia [43]. The Russian press in return called "concession" to Germany "mockery" and demanded "repressions of economic character" [25].

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation did not hurry with the official response to attack of the German newspaper, hoping, apparently, that the publication will not receive a big resonance. However the majority of the Russian editions reported about sensational article in Koelnische Zeitung already next day. "Modern times" wrote: ".sovershenno unexpectedly after absolutely recent statements about friendship with Russia of the most prominent political figures of Germany, in Berlin abruptly changed the front and from friendly statements passed to absolutely unambiguous conclusions about "the forthcoming inevitable war"" [29]. "Germany, apparently, decided to seize that occasion what for it undoubtedly is now created, - body of Octobrists "Voice of Moscow" drew a conclusion. - Germany more than a quarter of the century keeps the whole Europe in stress of the armed world. But situation was never so terrible,

as now. That is why in Russia everything has to be made to be ready to the future events" [6].

Polemic between publications of two powers reached scales of the real paper war. Both parties continued to strike each other a blow behind blow. The German press was vigorously supported by the Austrian newspapers which sharpest statements to Russia were immediately brought by the Russian newspapers to the attention of the readers. Opposition reached such level that caused concern of official spheres of both Russia, and Germany. The steps directed to folding of a campaign followed. On February 25 Lokal Anzeiger printed article inspired by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which friendly collaboration of both powers in an issue of the Armenian reforms was noted [44]. Soothing assurances arrived also from the circles close to the German Embassy in St. Petersburg.

News about attempt at the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand reached on June 15, 1914 readers of the Russian newspapers only next day. They apprehended this event pretty quietly and unanimously condemned. The Russian newspapers confirmed the communication with Serbia which destruction could upset, according to them, the balance of power in Europe, Serbia was not lonely [41]. A week later after attempt the headings of newspapers addressed other subjects: Poincare in Peterhof, plague in Astrakhan, expectation of a crop failure, massive strikes in St. Petersburg. But all this unexpectedly lost any value in the face of the Austrian ultimatum of Serbia. Since Saturday, 12 on July (25), 1914, all already had a war on lips. Any newspaper did not consider the ultimatum acceptable as in case of its acceptance Serbia would turn into the province of Austria [5]. After Austria regarded the answer of Serbia as unfriendly and began mobilization, looks of the Russian press addressed Germany. The Russian newspapers expressed confidence that the cold shower from Germany could stop Austria [26].

On Sunday, 13 on July (26), 1914, the St. Petersburg cable agency (SPA) distributed the message according to which Germany has nothing in common with actions of Austria-Hungary that was treated as refusal to the ally in support [39]. On this message the Russian newspapers constructed the hope that the storm passed [27] also this time. Till this Sunday in the press the opinion dominated that Germany, "a militarism cradle", pushes Austria on war. According to SPA, Germany was regarded already as the peaceful power. On Tuesday, 15 on July (28), 1914 when M.O. Menshikov in "Modern times" with all definiteness said that armed conflict will not be [28], Austria-Hungary declared on Serbia war. On Wednesday only "Exchange sheets" continued to hope for Germany [36]. On Thursday the Russian mobilization which, according to the Russian press, had no relation to Germany was the main news. The last will be on side of Austria only if it is attacked by Russia that, in turn, will never occur. Mobilization not necessarily involves war [42]. Only

"The Russian word" had more no doubts and even before declaration of war began to call for a crusade against Germany [40]. 18 on July (31), 1914, Russia received from Germany the ultimatum with the requirement to stop mobilization. Russia "was inexpressibly surprised with this ultimatum" [2]. Term left, the answer was not. On Saturday, July 19, 1914 the German envoy of Fridrich von Purtales transferred to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs the memorandum of declaration of war.

It is then the Russian press began to create an image of the enemy: Wilhelm II - a scourge of the people which always dreamed of war; Germans are Huns and Teutons whose yoke has to be destroyed that the mankind could build the future, etc. Demonstrations and the inspired demonstrations kept week the city in suspense, but eventually mass hysteria went beyond all limits. The police chain within three days held crowd from storm of the German Embassy at St. Isaac's Cathedral, on Tuesday evening the chain was broken through, the crowd got into the building, devastated and burned it.


1. Exchange sheets. 1908. September 25.
2. Exchange sheets. 1914. July 18.
3. Voice of Moscow. 1907. August 22.
4. Voice of Moscow. 1910. November 10.
5. Voice of Moscow. 1914. July 12.
6. Voice of Moscow. 1914. February 22.
7. Citizen. 1910. No. 41.
8. Field. 1904. May 22.
9. Field. 1905. October 15.
10. Field. 1908. March 31.
11. Field. 1911. September 10.
12. Field. 1911. May 7.
13. Modern times. 1905. May 22.
14. Modern times. 1906. April 1.
15. Modern times. 1906. April 19.
16. Modern times. 1908. September 25.
17. Modern times. 1908. September 26.
18. Modern times. 1909. March 16.
19. Modern times. 1910. October 17.
20. Modern times. 1910. October 22.
21. Modern times. 1913. November 20.
22. Modern times. 1913. October 20.
23. Modern times. 1913. November 24.
24. Modern times. 1913. December 30.
25. Modern times. 1913. December 31.
26. Modern times. 1914. July 13.
27. Modern times. 1914. July 14.
28. Modern times. 1914. July 15.
29. Modern times. 1914. February 20.
30. Speech. 1907. August 22.
31. Speech. 1908. September 25.
32. Speech. 1908. September 26.
33. Speech. 1910. October 16.
34. Speech. 1910. October 22.
35. Speech. 1913. December 30.
36. Speech. 1914. July 17.
37. Russian sheets. 1908. September 25.
38. Russian word. 1909. March 21.
39. Russian word. 1914. July 16.
40. Russian word. 1914. July 17.
41. Russian word. 1914. June 20.
42. Morning of Russia. 1914. July 17.
43. Koelnische Zeitung. 1914. 18. Februar.
44. Lokal Anzeiger.1914. 25. Februar.
Penny Weber
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