Die Daily-Telegraph-Affäre (German Edition)

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London Daily Telegraph , October 28, What has come over you that you are so completely given over to suspicions quite unworthy of a great nation?

The Daily Telegraph Affair

What more can I do than I have done? I declared with all the emphasis at my command, in my speech at Guildhall, that my heart is set upon peace, and that it is one of my dearest wishes to live on the best of terms with England.

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Have I ever been false to my word? Falsehood and prevarication are alien to my nature. My actions ought to speak for themselves, but you listen not to them but to those who misinterpret and distort them. That is a personal insult which I feel and resent. To be forever misjudged, to have my repeated offers of friendship weighed and scrutinized with jealous, mistrustful eyes, taxes my patience severely. I have said time after time that I am a friend of England, and your press --, at least, a considerable section of it -- bids the people of England refuse my proffered hand and insinuates that the other holds a dagger.

Daily Telegraph June 26 1914

How can I convince a nation against its will? My task is not of the easiest. The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower classes of my own people is not friendly to England. I am, therefore so to speak, in a minority in my own land, but it is a minority of the best elements as it is in England with respect to Germany.

Kaiser Wilhelm II visits the British fleet at Kiel

That is another reason why I resent your refusal to accept my pledged word that I am the friend of England. I strive without ceasing to improve relations, and you retort that I am your archenemy.

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You make it hard for me. His Majesty then reverted to the subject uppermost in his mind -- his proved friendship for England. He intended the interview as yet another olive branch offering to Britain.

Roads to the Great War: The Daily Telegraph Affair

The Kaiser obtained the manuscript and, according to the German constitution, submitted it to his Prime Minister, Prince Bernhard von Bulow , for review and approval. Too busy for the task, von Bulow passed the interview on to the State Secretary's Office requesting the document be reviewed for any inappropriate comments and returned to him.

The task of editor ultimately fell to one Rienhold Klehmet, counselor in the political division for some 12 years.. Klehmet was somehow under the impression that the Kaiser wished the document published in an "as-is" state, so he only edited it for form, not content.

Jan Palmowski

He promptly returned the document to von Bulow as requested who, without reading it, or so he claimed, sent it on to Stuart-Wortley. It was published, "as-is", in the Daily Telegraph on 8-Oct He boasted that he had prevented the creation of an anti-British coalition at the time, but he also told Wortley that he was supervising great additions to the German Navy.

The article was published and caused a sensation in both countries. Many Germans wrote to the Telegraph expressing their undying love for Britain, and vice-versa. This criticism incensed William who suffered from an excess of pride but he did promise to sign a statement showing that he respected the Constitution.

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William was very upset by all the outrage, and naturally furious with the British colonel for leaking his comments in what was obviously a private conversation. After a while he recovered from the blow, though he talked often of resignation, which, if it had happened, might possibly have helped avoid the First World War. Nothing was done however, as the political parties had no intention of uniting, which would have been necessary.