A major change occurs in German Politics
“You English, are mad, mad, mad as March hares…” Kaiser Wilhelm II from an interview in London Daily Telegraph on October 28, 1908
“And haven’t you learned yet that His Majesty’s personal wishes are often sheer nonsense?” Bernhard von Bülow response to a minister who was to vet the interview before publication but didn’t because the Kaiser wanted it published as is, October 29, 1908
Rest of year, the debate in German army over tactics and strategic focus blows hot and cold at various points. Repeatedly those in favor of one view will speak to the emperor to gain his support; a viewpoint of which he will favor till the next individual corners him to talk about another viewpoint. This lack of a stance by the emperor annoys many.
January 3, Hardin's second trial ends with a conviction for libel; ordered to prison but set free on bond
March 3, SMS Von der Tann laid down at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
April 1, Richard Haldane Secretary of State for War establishes the Territorial Army, its strength to be of 14 divisions and 14 brigades of mounted yeomanry; this force is scene only as a defense force for the British Isles. Imperial General Staff established and what will be later known as the British Expeditionary Force established to allow the army to fight on the continent.
April 8, Asquith becomes Prime Minister
April 2, HMS Vanguard laid down at Vickers, Barrow
June 8, Eulenberg charged with perjury in Hardin case and arrested
June 14, Fourth German Navy Law (Novelle 1908) ratified and it establishes a battleship building tempo of three per year till 1912
June 29, Hardin's second libel trial begins but is suspended in September, resumed the summer of 1909 and then postponed indefinitely again due to Eulenberg being too ill to stand trial
July, Young Turks come to power and offer to become allies with Britain but are rebuked by Churchill
July 2, Izvolski of Russia offers to support Austria annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina if Austria would support Russian intentions on the "Straits"
August 19, Austrian Government decides to annex Bosnia and Hercegovina
September 15, Meeting at Buchlau (Buchlov) between Izvolski and Aehrenthal (of Austria) to discuss Balkans and Straits
Fall, Russian army will not finish re-equipment with new model artillery till 1909. Also latest round of draftees is still receiving substandard training because of lack of funds. French Military Attaché notes Russian army will be incapable of offensive action for years to come.
October 2, Details of Buchlau Agreement given to Russian Council of Ministers; Council upset
October 5, Bulgaria declares itself independent of Turkey
October 6, Austria proclaims annexation of Bosnia and Hercgovina; Izvolsky feels humiliated following blunt German diplomatic rebuttals that follow
October 8, Hardin publishes article on Wilhelm titled “William the Peaceful” and it castigates the failings of government, the emperor for his love of pomp over substance and compares him to a dog with all bark and no bite and that rest of Europe knew it to be true.
October 19, SMS Ostfriesland laid down at Wilhelmshaven Naval Yard
October 28, Daily Telegraph interview of Wilhelm II published creates backlash in Germany
October 29, Einem remarks that the interview was hardly a disaster but was in fact necessary as it or something like it is necessary to reign in the emperor. Officers are openly talking about a need to make a major change in government. A number of officers are of the opinion that if faced with the decision to go to war that the emperor will, “chicken out” instead. There are calls for a new chancellor, someone that can restore the prestige of the government and Germany, a general.
November 7, SMS Thuringen laid down at Weser, Bremen
November 10-11, Reichstag debates on Daily Telegraph Affair. Social Democrat Party calls for the government to be answerable to the Reichstag. Several other parties openly question the competence of the government and the emperor.
November, With the new Maschinengewehr 08 ready for deployment funding is sought to obtain enough to give Germany one 6 gun section per regiment; currently besides fortress and cavalry regiments there are only twelve experimental sections for the rest of the army. Einem sighting cost problems instead only agrees to one section per brigade and no funding till 1911 as part of the new 5-year army budget; “The General Staff and Technical Services wanted new unit right away and could afford to ignore costs and political considerations. But for me the matter cannot be settled with such a simple solution to the question. I have to consider it from the financial and political point of view, and additional bear in mind that the military administration can only impose its image the less it changes the opinions it lays before the legislature. It must therefore approach the latter only with properly matured projects.” This response angers many within army; especially as just about every other army in Europe moves to assign machinegun sections to regiments.
November 14, Following a confrontation with the Chancellor over public speaking Wilhelm II has a nervous break down and retires from duties for the next month.
December 7, SMS Moltke laid down at Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
December 24, SMS Helgoland laid down at Howaldtswerke, Kiel
December 31, a meeting by top generals of the German army is held to discuss the situation about the emperor, the situation within and without of Germany and the armies own divisions. Also the army’s on going budget problems is discussed. The consensus is that the bickering needs to end and the emperor can’t be trusted to make important decisions. The reich’s government needs new leadership…
“It is to be foreseen that the moment may come when the patience of he Monarchy in the face of Serbia’s provocations will come to an end. Then nothing will remain but for the Monarchy to march into Serbia.” –Moltke in a Letter to Conrad
All Russian field artillery units now equipped with 76.2mm MK II field guns with recoil system.
January to March, Moltke exchanging a series of nine letters with Conrad saying that if Russia mobilizes over Bosnia, Germany will as well. Since 1907 there had been low level talks between the two but the annexation crises caused for more detailed talks to occur. Moltke gives Conrad a firm assurance that in the event of a war with both France and Russia, Germany will put her primary effort vs. Russia. The two military chiefs make general agreements for numbers of troops to face Russia and for a meeting of both staffs to draw up detailed combined plans for a joint offensive vs. Russia in the event of war. The joint staff meetings are to be delayed till after the crises has passed at the request of Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Aehrenthal to avoid adding undo alarm of the public if word leaks out.
From retirement Count Schlieffen writes a paper titled “War in the Present” where Germany faces encirclement by its enemies and only way to survive is military might and a swift victory on the battlefield. The army divided into westlich and östlich camps reacts quickly to the two events; the battle is rejoined once more over which direction to attack in the event of war. Moltke seeing no other option begins to take steps to attempt to maneuver out those in opposition to his plans. Einem objects to what he calls an attempted purge of the army and interferes with Moltke’s efforts.
January 19, HMS Neptune laid down at Portsmouth Navy Yard
February, HMS Bellerophon enters service
February 1, Germany buys Z1 from the Zeppelin Company
February 23rd, HMS Indefatigable laid down at Devonport Dock Yard.
February 9, Franco-German Agreement over Morocco recognizing French political and German economic rights there
February 26, French Ambassador to Russia tells Russian Government that the Bosnian situation should not be any of Russia or France's concern
March, The joint parliaments of Austria and Hungary motivated since the annexation crises began and a series of special spending measures passed for long delayed new equipment. When the crisis is over bills for new field artillery and machineguns are approved; the later was to be one section per regiment except for the Jager battalions which received one section each. Conrad with Moltke assurance in hand focuses his attention on planning a campaign to destroy the southern slavs (Montenegro and Serbia) and face down Italy all at once if need be.
HMS Invincible enters service
March 1, SMS Oldenburg is laid down at Schichau Danzig
March 8, At the Russian Duma it is reveled that that army is incapable of going to war over Bosnia. Word of this quickly gets to other European capitals of Russia’s situation.
March 12, British Navy bill accepted after "Navy Scare"
March 21 – 31, Russia and Serbia back down when Germany gives an ultimatum over the Bosnian annexation crises.
March 22, In the UK start of Imperial Defense Conferences; these conferences will last till August
March 24, Collapse of Bülow Liberal - Conservative Bloc over the issue of tax reform. In Canada the conservative party, currently in opposition, calls for the establishment of a Canadian Navy to support imperial defense.
May, At what is to be the first of an annual meeting Conrad, Moltke and elements of their staffs meet to discuss joint military planning. Moltke states that Europe is becoming more dangerous and the two nations need to stand side by side to face the future crisis. Conrad is more pessimistic and sees a day when the Monarchy will face enemies from the Alps, Balkans and East all at once.
At the meeting Moltke is also able to achieve major internal victory and gets the head of the Military Cabinet replaced with a officer sympathetic to his view point. All most at once Wilhelm is getting a very different point of view on military maters.
HMS St. Vincent, Superb and Temeraire enters service
June 4th, Canadian parliament in a unanimous vote agrees to a non-binding statement that Canada should build a navy of its own. This navy is to consist of 8 new built cruisers of the Monmouth Class armored cruisers, except they are to have turbines and be oil fired and 20 torpedo boat destroyers. $25 million is to be allocated to this effort with the cruisers built in the UK and destroyers locally. The cruisers are intended for coastal defense and the liberal’s politicians state that Canada has no need for either battleships or large cruisers.
June 10th, Bernhard von Bülow tenders his resignation to Wilhelm as he will be unable to get the current budget through the Reichstag. Wilhelm asks Bülow to stay on to get some budget past while a replacement is sought. A number of names are considered such as Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg Secretary for the Interior and Alfred von Tirpitz Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office. In time an unexpected candidate is settled on. Generaloberst Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz. A number in the army had been considering Goltz since the Daily Telegraph Affair of last autumn but a combination of his perceived liberal leanings and demand for the power to declare war on his own if the Kaiser refused caused him to be dropped at the time; however, with the östlich camp of the army in ascendance some of Goltz other qualities now come back into play. In 1899 he had championed the idea of the entire common frontier with France being lined with one continuous fortified system; from the Saar to the Swiss Border. Much of his time since being pushed out of Berlin because of his fortification and army reform ideas and had been spent as commander of the 1st Army Corps in East Prussia were he became a led figure in the östlich school. Goltz favored the östlich faction because of his belief that the next war would be a long war and the östlich faction believed this was possible if not a certainty.
Goltz agrees to drop his demand for the ability to declare war without the emperor but in exchange he wants something else instead; the office of Minister of War in addition to the Chancellors office. It is agreed to as long as no attempt to meddle in the overall makeup of the army, IE no attempt to hugely expand the army, another idea that Goltz was known to be very found of. Goltz also wants to take office at once.
June 15th, Einem steps down as War Minister and Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz is announced as the new Imperial Chancellor, Minister President of Prussia and Defense Minister of Prussia. Goltz quickly works to try to build a working coalition in the Reichstag but finds the parties are divided over the issue of tax reform. The tax reform bill is an estate tax targeting the well to do and the conservative parties are strongly against the measure not so much because of the taxes but to bring down Bülow.
June 28, Since taking office Goltz has been in almost constant talks with the Reichstag attempting to come up with a measure that will please the various factions. Now that Bülow is gone the conseratives are less opposed to a tax measure but many fear what some describe as Goltz ‘liberal’ views. To gain the conseratives support a spending measure is tied to the tax reform; this is to address some of the armies needs, this consists mainly of money for machineguns, the one section per brigade now rather than next year, and to fund some technical units that Einem had opposed. To gain the support of the Navy League additional small cruisers are provided for, three per year and not two as current. No change in total number of small cruisers just the specified number will be built to quicker. The Social Democrats of course support any measure that taxes the rich. Other factions quickly fall in line.
July 8, HMS Colossus laid down at Scotts
July 30, HMS Hercules laid down at Palmers
The Imperial Defence conference concludes with two recommendations of special note; the establishment of two dominion navies one Australian and the other Canadian. The Australian fleet will consist of a battle Cruiser, three Light Cruisers, Six Destroyers and three Submarines, to be paid for and controlled by Australia. The Battle Cruiser and several of the light cruisers will be built in the United Kingdom but a yard is to be established in Australia to build up to small cruisers.
The Canadian Fleet is to consist of two armored cruisers, three light cruisers and four destroyers, to be paid for and controlled by Canada. The armored cruisers are current Royal Navy ships that will be transferred to Canadian service and some of the light cruiser will be built in the United Kingdom but a yard is to be established in Canada able to build up to small cruisers.
August 28, SMS Moltke Laid down Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
September, Following a parliamentary inquiry commission on the Army that showed the armies mobilization system had a number of problems, Italy increases the pay of officers and votes for more funding for the army in general. General Paolo Spingardi the War Minister and Chief of Staff Alberto Pollio embark on a modernization program.
Fall, Goltz and Moltke agree to having a survey of the Franco-German frontier done quietly. This survey is to look for the best locations to establish additional defenses along the border.
October 1st, SMS Blücher enters service
October 28th, HMS Indefatigable laid down at Devonport Dockyard
November 8th, Canadian parliament approves the recommendation of the Imperial Defense Conference and Quebec is specified as the location for the construction of the new yard.
November 20th, HMS Orion Laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard
December, British General Wilson visits Foch and listens to lectures followed by private talks; invites Foch to London; Wilson tours Franco-German border for 10 days by train and bicycle and concludes Germans would invade France through Belgium.
SMS Kaiser is laid down at Kiel Navy Yard.