The March of Time - 20th Century History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Karelian, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. Driftless Geezer

    Sep 16, 2011
    Out in the Driftless Area
    :)That is a superb line!
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  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 134: Next Year in Jerusalem

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    7th of October, 1898, Friday.

    Schloss Liebenberg, Löwenberger Land, Germany, 50km north from Berlin.

    He had received his guest as was fit for his status as a member of higher landed aristocracy. The hidebound, ritualistic and excessive peasant shooting festivities of the Prussian Junkers had certainly made an impression - his guest had immediately felt hopelessly out of place. He - A cosmopolite, journalist, playwright and a Viennese urbanite. Him - an imposing figure of old Prussian Junkers nobility in his full hunting gear, with icy blue eyes, open contempt thinly masked by courtful manners.

    The shooting season was on its prime, he had told him over dinner, after touring him around the castle decorated with a sizeable art collection and various displays of medieval weapons and coats-of-arms. His host had been most courteous, but also rather open in his general hostility. And his guest already knew as much - von Eulenburg had always been most open and categorical in his anti-Semitism.

    Aristocratic and ennobled rich families with Jewish roots - such as Richters, Meyerbeers, Meyerheims and Lindaus - were to him to be held in contempt as much as the poorest Russian and Romanian Jews who had been fleeing westwards in increasing numbers as of late. For Eulenburg, revoking the civil rights of German Jews, deporting them or kicking them back to the status of aliens were thoughts that Eulenburg had both publicly and privately brought up to his friends time and time and. And yet to him there were “Jews and Jews.”

    Nathaniel Rotschild, head of the Viennese branch of the family and a bachelor with a certain kind of reputation remained in warm terms with Eulenburg as “his beloved Nat” even after the end of Eulenburg’s tenure as an ambassador in Vienna (he ultimately inherited a hefty sum of money when Rotschild died on June 13th, 1905.)

    Eulenburg had seen the tactics employed by Karl Lueger during his tenure in Vienna, and during that time his letters to Wilhelm II, especially his account from a Jewish charity concert in Vösslau near Vienna employed virtually every anti-Semitic cliché in circulation, and were so venomous in content that his guest (and readers) were better off with only a general picture of the contempt that this high lord held towards him.

    For Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl, that was a good sign, especially since his previous correspondence and inquiries about this man had confirmed him that Eulenburg wielded a lot of power behind the scenes of the court politics of the German Empire.

    "The Kaiser is fire and flame for the matter. I was able to get him really worked up about it. That is the only way. He has to be passionately interested in something, otherwise he quickly loses sight of the matter because there is so much going on."

    Eulenburg seemed genuinely happy to inform his guest that he had been busy at work with his Sovereign, promoting the ideas of Herzl to a degree where he considered the whole idea as more or less as a foregone conclusion. Given the warming relations between Germany and Russia, von Eulenburg was confident that the latter country would be favorably disposed to the idea of a German protectorate.

    He was so happy that he had met this enterpreuting Jew Herzl! The sheer, insolent simplicity of it all! Purification of the Germanic race, while enhancing her status internationally! No more young revolutionary firebrands, an influx of fresh life to the moribund Ottoman Empire, establishment of Western civilization to the Holy Land, and first and foremost - what a divine historical role for His Imperial Sovereign!

    On his way home at the carriage Herlz himself was especially pleased with his closing remark after a fine discussion about specifics of his plans: "Our movement exists. I expect that one or another of the great powers will espouse it. I once thought it would be England. It lay in the nature of things. I would like it much more to be Germany!" The look on the face of Eulenburg, and the way he had urged him to hurry with his plans to meet with the Kaiser Himself! What an auspicious day for the Zionist movement!

    Only the end of their conversation puzzled him.

    After he had expressed his gratitude in a few warm words, Eulenburg had suddenly gazed him firmly, and remarked that "Perhaps the the time will come when I, in turn, will ask you for favors."
    "Henceforth you have in me a devoted and grateful man."
    "I am glad that this the way you take it."
    "Your Excellency may count on me. Perhaps you will allow me to give you proof of it right now?"
    "No, not yet. The occasion may possibly arrise someday, but this is not the case at present."
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  3. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2009
    That's an interesting meeting of minds.

    Mind you, a Eulenburg affair that somehow ties antisemitism to the homophobia could be even nastier.
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  4. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    Especially because there is a world of difference between indirect influence and actually being the Chancellor.

    This is the reason of this interlude, since so far all is OTL - this meeting really did take place.
  5. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2009
    Really? I had no idea. I do love your ability to find odd little incidents that really happened, only to make them seem suddenly weighted with import by putting them in a different context.
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  6. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    The key change here is the career of von Bulow - without him at the spot he was in OTL, this little chat between the then-ambassador and Herzl will turn into a beginning of something else than OTL.
  7. Oldbill Well-Known Member

    Jan 2, 2015
    Cue ominous music..... This is really good! Hey, is that Ride of the Valkyries I hear in the distance? :)
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  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 135: Preacher of the Lost Ark

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    The Evangelical Connection - William Hechler and birth of the Christian Zionist movement

    The road to Liebenberg and von Eulenburg’s graces had been long and arduous for Herzl. His quest would in fact have been near-hopeless without aid from a most unlikely direction. His paths had crossed with a key ally when Rev. William H. Hechler, chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna, had contacted him. Hechler, born in British India to a German-British missionary family was proficient in English, German, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and two African dialects. He was a decorated veteran of the Franco-Prussian War, and critically for Herzl and Zionism, a zealous supporter of the theological theory of Christian Restorationism.

    Hechler was certainly an extremely eccentric personality.

    He believed that the time for the project of Herzl was right because of his own Biblical prophetic studies had led him to the conclusion that this was the year when the events foretold in the Scriptures would begin to occur. This led him to firmly believe that he was fulfilling his part in a Biblical prophecy and God’s plan. He was most eager to discover the Ark of the Covenant, instructed Herzl where exactly in Palestine the Jews should build their new restored Temple, and openly told Herzl that the Jews first had to return to the Holy Land so that they could finally accept Jesus as their Messiah.

    Despite of this he also had some unusually influential contacts that proved critical for Herzl and the Zionist project. Hechler had been the household tutor of the children of Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden, the uncle of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and had managed to convert the old monarch to his theological views. He thus managed to introduce Herzl to the Grand Duke. Deeply religious old monarch felt that fulfilling the ancient prophecies was a most favourable endeavour, and he brought Herzl and Zionism to the attention of his nephew.

    Immediately after Herzl had met with Hechler and the Grand Duke in April, Hechler had secured permission for the meeting to be told abroad. Hechler, excitedly, told shocked Herzl that he had in fact already posted a letter of announcement to the members of his native Anglican church.[1] After that, the matters had been moving with a quickening pace. The Grand Duke Frederick had submitted an exhaustive account of the Zionist movement to his nephew, and Wilhelm II had in turn instructed Count Eulenburg to study the matter and report on it. Eulenburg, influenced by Herzl personally but first and foremost seeing a chance to serve his Sovereign and promote his own anti-Semitic agenda had then started to use Herzl to advance his own plans.

    [1] In OTL Hechler mentioned that he had already written such letter and was just about to post it, and Herzl forbade him to do so, most likely out of fear that even more Christian fundamentalists like Hechler would take over "his" movement. Here the cat gets out of the bag earlier, and due the following events the Restorationist movement starts to expand in Britain and the US much earlier than in OTL.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019 at 4:04 PM
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  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 136: Im heiligen Land

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011

    "After studying the material you kindly sent me I have now come to the conclusion that we are dealing here with a question of the most far-reaching significance. I have therefore had careful approaches made to the promoters of this idea and have thus been able to find out that the transfer to the land of Palestine of those Israelites who are ready to go has been most excellently prepared for and is even perfectly financially sound in every respect.

    I have therefore said in response to a questions from the Zionists whether I would be prepared to receibe a delegation of them in audience, that I would be happy o receive a deputation in Jerusalem on the occasion of our visit there...the settlement of the Holy Land by the wealthy and hard-working nation of Israel would soon bring to the former unsuspected prosperity...the Turk would then get well again, i.e. he would receive money in the natural way, without needing to borrow, then he will no longer be sick, will be able to build his own roads and railways without having to rely on foreign companies and then it won't be so easy for him to be partitioned. Q.E.D!

    In addition, the energy, creativity and efficiency of the Tribe of Sem would be diverted to worthier goals than the sucking dry of the Christians, and many an oppositional Semite now supporting the Social Democrats would clear off to the East, where there is more rewarding work to be done...

    Now I realize that nine-tenths of all Germans would recoil in horror if they were to discover that I symphatized with the Zionists or would even, as I intent to do if asked, place them under my protection!

    Our dear God knows even better than we do that the Jews killed Our Saviour, and he has punished them accordingly. But neither the anti-Semites nor others, myself included, have been asked or empowered by Him to bully these people after our own fashion in majorem Dei Gloriam! One should love one's enemies.

    And from an earthly, realistic political standpoint it should not be forgotten that, considering the immense and extremely dangerous power which International Jewish capital represents, it would after all be of huge advantage to Germany if the world of the Hebrews looked up to it in gratitude?! Everywhere the hydra of the coarsest, ghastliest anti-Semitism is raising its dreadful head, and the terrified Jews - ready to leave those countries where danger threatens - are looking around for a protector. Well then, those who have returned to the Holy Land shall enjoy protection and security, and I shall intercede on their behalf with the Sultan!"

    From letter of Wihelm II to Frederik I, sent in October 1898

    What would happen in the event of its seizure by one of the ex-
    isting powers? That is another question. Palestine is not only the
    home of the loftiest of ideas and the unhappiest of peoples ; but it is
    also of great importance to all Europe because of its geographical
    situation. The time cannot be distant when it will be traversed by a
    cultural and commercial highway to Asia. Asia is the diplomatic
    problem of the coming decade. Let us recall in all modesty that we
    Zionists, whom people readily declare to be lacking in practical
    penetration, foresaw and proclaimed this development of the Euro-
    pean contest several years ago. Already the trend of things is ap-
    parent. You know how closely every step which any one power
    takes in this direction is watched by the others. Now that the most
    modern of princes of the inhabited globe is about to undertake a
    journey to the Holy Land, we detect anxiety and, in some cases,
    open hostility in the expressions of public opinion in all countries.
    The land in question cannot and will not ever pass into the possession
    of any one power, for it is guarded with extreme solicitude. Not only
    its present owner but all the powers watch over it carefully.

    Must it then remain in its present condition to the end of time?
    This would surely be regrettable for all concerned, for the very reason
    that a developed Palestine is indispensable from the point of view of
    both culture and commerce. In the recent war the Ottoman Empire
    has again demonstrated its indestructible vitality. The Turks have
    excellent qualities. They are brave, magnanimous, capable of sacri-
    fice; but they do not possess those qualities which are requisite for
    industrialism and the cultivation of a country. This is a fact. There-
    fore they would be both strengthened and enriched by the acquisition
    of a peaceable, enterprising national element endowed with the very
    qualities which they lack.

    Consequently, the task before us, for the accomplishment of
    which we are continually working, is to create conditions favorable to
    an adjustment of this nature. We may state that the Turkish gov-
    ernment is well aware of the thorough uprightness of our efforts.
    We neither want to smuggle in settlers nor to engage in any creative
    work whatsoever without a previous agreement. In fact, we should
    have no interest at all in helping to strengthen Turkey economically
    if we were to receive nothing in return. The whole thing is to be
    done according to the simplest formula in the world: Do ut des (I
    give in order that you may give).

    Excerpt from a Congress address Herzl delivered at Basle, August 29th, 1897

    "Your Imperial Majesty, I am very happy at the honor conferred on me", Herzl stated and made a deep bow to the German Emperor, dressed to his trademark Hussar uniform. The Emperor seemed enigmatic, but keenly listened as nervous Herzl waged an internal battle to keep his nerves in check as he sought to convey the views he had already presented in the letter he had sent to Wilhelm as credibly as before. Marschall was also present, and as the three men sat down together it was soon clear which role each one of them would play in the discussion.

    "Do you think that the Jews are going to give up and leave their stock exchange and follow you? The Jews, who are comfortably installed here in Berlin?"

    The first question of Staatssekretär Marschall von Bieberstein, the German foreign minister, set the tone for rest of the discussion between him and Herzl. Yet Herzl thought that he had presented his case to the weary German diplomat credibly. He had replied that the richest Jewish families would not most likely follow him, at least initially, but that the poor and desolate people would surely flock to his colours. And Herzl soon realized that while his foreign minister had strong reservations about the Zionist project, Wilhelm II was totally another story.

    On the one hand he totally open in his own misgivings and anti-Semitism: "There are elements among your people whom it would be quite a good thing to settle in Palestine. I am thinking of Hesse, for example, where there are usurers at work among the rural population. If these people took their possessions and went to settle in the colonies, they could be more useful." Herzl replied that Zionism would take the Jews away from the revolutionary parties. Secondly, unlike weary and cautious Marschall, Wilhelm II was visibly impressed, and soon openly expressed his confidence that the German Jews would support the colonization of Palestine once they knew it was under His protection. When Marschall raised a doubt as to the attitude of the Porte, the Kaiser brushed aside his misgivings, convinced that he could certainly strike a bargain with "his good friend the Sultan - after all, I am the only one who still sticks by him!" When Herzl spoke of plans of a new overland route to the Persian Gulf and Asia, he noticed that this part of his plan certainly interested otherwise sceptical Marschall as well. Marschall soon realized that this was one of those moments where Wilhelm II had made up his mind for the time being, and from that point on he merely focused on additional questions: how much land the Zionists would be claiming, and did their planned settlements extend as north as Beirut or even beyound? Did Herzl want to establish a new state, and how he thought the Ottomans would respond to such initiatives?

    When the lengthy interview was nearly over and Wilhelm II was about to leave to the German Embassy to prepare for the evening gala with the Sultan, he vigorously shook Herzl's hand. "Write out your address and give it to Marschall. I will then work it out with him." And then, suddenly, almost casually he turned towards Herzl and asked: "Tell me in one word: what should I demand from the Sultan?" Shocked by this frankness Herzl hastily replied: "a chartered company under the protection of His Majesty and the Sultan."[1]

    And with that he was gone.
    As soon as the Kaiser had left the room, Marschall von Bieberstein made it clear to Herzl that personally neither the Reichskanzler Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, nor he himself had been especially convinced. Yet Marschall made sure that he did not completely damper the hopes of Herzl. The thruth was that neither Marschall nor Hohenlohe - men who in theory were in charge of German foreign policy together with Wilhelm II - had not been consulted on the Zionist question before this! Naturally such behind-the-scenes meddling greatly annoyed them. For his part, Hohenlohe was an old man, suffering from severe asthma. Upon hearing the news, he merely meekly complained his that his peculiar relations with the Sovereign had made him to conclude that His Majesty's acts of thoughtlessness and want of consideration were signs that He purposefully avoided his Ministers. And this was not far from the real state of things - after all, Wilhelm II had always wanted to "be his own Bismarck", and this new course in German politics had been eagerly supported by Eulenburg.[2]

    Marschall felt that it was his duty to convince Wilhem II of the dangers of alienating Abdülhamid II and the Sublime Porte with utopian Zionist projects. Having failed that, he now sought to save what could be saved in the upcoming meeting.[3] But since both of these men were no longer in favour of their erratic Emperor, in the end Eulenburg had managed to do the same thing he had done with Houston Steward Chamberlain - he had cajoled Wilhelm II to meet a man he would most likely never have granted an audience otherwise, slighting and sidelining his sitting ministers in the process.

    The meeting with Abdülhamid II was a historical event. While charmed by the autocratic nature of his rule, Wilhelm II chose to hear what he wanted to hear: that the Sultan was most pleased his own Jewish subjects, and that they were happy under his reign, and that he wanted to remain in friendly terms with Germany. Wilhelm II thus reacted to the not-so-subtle rebuff of Abdülhamid II for any kind of Zionist settlement in the Holy Land by stating his sincere awe and praise to the Islamic piety and devotion and dropping the topic from further discussion in the evening. The discussion steered away to other matters at hand, and Abdülhamid II escorted Wilhelm II and his royal entourage to sail away towards Haifa with the view that he had dodged a bullet.[3]

    Wilhelm II was the first German monarch since Crusader King Friedrich II in 1228 to set foot on Palestine. His state visit was a massive event: 100 coachmen, 600 drivers, 120 carriages, 230 tents, 12 cooks, 60 waiters, guarded by an Ottoman infantry regiment in land by visiting German warships in the coastline.

    The dedication ceremony of the Church of the Redeemer took place on October 31, 1898, at 10 o’clock in the morning, in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Empress Augusta Victoria, his entourage, Ottoman emissaries, church representatives, foreign diplomats and a large local crowd. The royal couple appeared in the square in full regalia, the church bells pealed, the choir sang and the crowd joined in.The Kaiser was a devout Lutheran who saw himself as the patron of Protestantism. Just as the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great had embraced Christianity and built the first churches in Jerusalem in the 4th century, Wilhelm sought to establish the first Lutheran religious institutions in the Holy City and strengthen the Lutheran presence there.To give substance to his dream, the Kaiser endowed three churches: the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, the Protestant Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Ascension in the Augusta Victoria compound on Mt. of Olives (dedicated in 1910). This was a natural continuation of Wilhelm’s activity in Germany, where he had restored the Wittenberg church of Martin Luther, father of the Protestant Reformation.The date of the dedication of the Redeemer Church – October 31, symbolized the Reformation Date – the founding of Protestantism by Martin Luther (16th Cent.)

    It was here that Wilhelm II, seeing himself as the modern-day Cyrus the Great, delivered what was known as the Jerusalem Declaration, announcing that in this holiest of cities he wanted "seize with joy the opportunity to render thanks, above all to the Sultan Abdul Hamid for his hospitality. May the Sultan rest assured, and also the three hundred million Mohammedans scattered over the globe and revering in him their caliph, that the German Emperor will be and remain at all times their friend!
    And with that, Wilhelm II stated that his deepest desire as to guarantee a peaceful, prosperous future for the Holy Land. Therefore he was from henceforth offering personal protection for all German citizens in the Ottoman Empire regardless of their religion, and to the Jüdische Landgesellschaft für Syrien und Palästina.[4]

    Marschall would resign soon after the official state visit was over. The speech, news that the Kaiser had also sent telegram to the Pope announcing his willingness to take over the protectorate of the Catholics of Holy Land, and rest of his attics started a media spectacle in Germany, culminating to the anti-Semitic poem composed by Frank Wedekind and publisched by the satirical Simplicissimus magazine that had devoted an entire special issue to Palestine. The caricaturist and the poet were both charged with "insulting a royal majesty." The state would not stand for such direct derision of the Kaiser and the whole issue was confiscated and banned shortly after publication. The state prosecutor′s office also issued arrest warrants for the publisher Albert Langen, caricaturist and the composer of the poem. The artists fled in exile to Paris, but the editor soon decided to hand himself in and returned to Germany. He and and the caricaturist were convicted of slander of the Kaiser, and spent six months in captivity at the Konigstein Fortress in Saxony. Whereas both of the surrendered prisoners were pardoned after some six months, Langen stayed in his Paris exile until 1903 and was not allowed to return to Germany until he had paid a fine of 30,000 marks.[5]
    This clash with the rising power of German media was a sign of things to come, although few realized it at the time.


    For Herzl, the Jerusalem Declaration was far from the panacea he had hoped it to be. The Ottoman authorities who contated him soon after the state visit was over made it adamantly clear from the beginning that while the German Emperor was fully entitled under treaty rights to protect his own subjects, Palestine was not open for widespread Jewish colonization. Instead the Zionists and Ottoman authorities soon started to negotiate about a plan to buy Ottoman bonds and appointing directors to the Public Debt Commission. The idea came forward from Daoud Effendi, an Ottoman Jewish assistant of Nuri Pasha. As the Ottoman Sovereign discussed the matter with Herzl via letters, Herzl adjusted the written plans of the Zionist movement towards an autonomous vassal state under the explicit suzerainty of the Sultan, with all immigrants embracing Ottoman nationality upon arrival and settling in Palestine at the express invitation of the Sultan, paying tribune of one hundred thousand pounds, rising to one million annually, pari passu with the increase of immigration, in return of local autonomy.[6]

    But while the Ottomans kept stalling with these negotiations, the Jerusalem Declaration had quite an effect on the international level, as Herzl and rest of the Zionist movement soon found out.

    1: In OTL Bülow was jealous about his influence and access to Wilhelm, and in he strongly objected the Zionist policy on the basis that it was brought up by Eulenburg. He also felt that Ottoman Empire was a lost cause, and was dismayed of Wilhelm's excessive ethuasiasm for everything Turkish and Zionist. Marschall was an old hand in the German-Ottoman diplomatic circles. He wanted to facilitate Germany's peaceful penetration of the Ottoman Empire to avoid other Powers from disturbing the status quo. The French were constantly alerting Russians about the alleged German plans of colonizing Asia Minor, and Marschall, who was aware of Ottoman sensibilities, wanted to focus on the Baghdad Railway project first and foremost. Yet he did not by any means share the open hostility and scepticism of Bülow.

    2: In OTL Herzl replied that he was looking for "a chartered company under German protection."

    3: In OTL Marschall was not present in the meeting, and it was left for Bülow to play the devil's advocate. Even then he failed to steer Wilhelm II away from his ethuasiasm, and the matter was really brought up with Abdülhamid II. Marschall, who was also present as the German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in OTL, had scant foreknowledge of this topic and was strongly opposed to it due his posting and past troubles with the erratic Emperor. Here he has stuck around in want of a replacement, and tries to promote the interests of German Empire. In OTL Wilhelm was out of the influence of the Grand Duke and Eulenburg, and Bülow and Tewfik Pasha, the Ottoman Ambassador to Berlin managed to sway him away from his fleeting interested in Zionism. Here Wilhelm II is stuck with a foreign minister he wants to get rid off, and he stubbornly refuses to change his mind as was often the case in similar situations in OTL before Bülow era.

    4: The speech contains features from the speech Wilhelm II held at the Tomb of Saladin in Damascus. In TTL Wilhelm II speaks off-script (like he often did), and seeks to placate his generous host while also promoting his own agenda in the region.

    5: All per OTL. The historical lyrics found in the description are eerily fitting to this TTL:,_"Im_heiligen_Land"_(Simplicissimus_1898).jpg

    6: The details of this plan are from OTL
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  10. Threadmarks: 137: Geopolitics, humanism and anti-Semitism - the Powers and the Zionist movement

    Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011

    "You must not talk to him about Zionism. That is a phantasmagoria. Jerusalem is as holy to these people as Mecca is."

    Arminius Vámbéry, born Hermann Wamberger, had an Orthodox Jewish family history. Crippled at birth, he was on crutches when his mother sent him out to fend for himself at the age of twelve. As an apprentice to a tailor he won a scholarship to the St. George Gymnasium in Bratislava, discovering his phenomenal talents as a polyglot. After he had limped his way across the whole length of the Hapsburg realm, he had started a new life in Constantinople as a cabaret singer. Within the year, he had climbed from French tutor in the Sultan’s harem to secretary and adviser of Grand Vizier Fuad Pasha, befriending Sultan Abdülhamid II in the process. He had received a grant from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to study the ancient history of the Magyar tribes, and spent three years roaming through Turkestan, Samarkand, Bokhara and Persia. His fame as an adventurer had made him an instant celebrity in Britain, and he met with Disraeli, Palmerston and Edward VII himself. By the end of the century he was working as a professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Budapest.

    The old orientalist and traveller was fluent in twelve languages. He had changed religion like common men change their shirts - he been a Muslim as a young man in Constantinople, a Protestant as a Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Budapest, and his father had been an Orthodox Jew. A personal friend of Sultan and King Edward VII and an expert of Central Asia, he had carried out several diplomatic missions and espionage for both the Ottoman and British governments. When Herzl met him he was as 70-year old atheist, a man who was no longer sure whether he was an Englishman or a Turk. Yet he genuinely wanted to help Herzl, and boasted that he could arrange a meeting with the Sultan.

    When he got in contact with the Hamidian administration Herzl soon discovered how clandestine and rottenly corrupt it was. He also found out that the fear of intervention of the Powers was the aspect that mostly frightened the Ottomans in the Zionist project. The logic was that influx of freely admitted Jewish immigration would be followed by military intervention of the Powers and loss of the Holy Land. Hence the local governor in Palestine was enforcing a strict policy that forbade foreigners to stay in the area longer than three months, with a complete ban on immigration.

    To his own surprise, Herzl ultimately gained an audience with sizeable bribes and help from Vámbéry, and met Abdülhamid II in person.[1]
    For starters, Herzl thanked the Sultan for his benevolence towards the Jews - a rather factual statement, as the Ottoman Empire had been and still was wide open to Jewish refugees and they had a reliable reputation in the eyes of the Porte. During their cordial conversation, quoting the story of Androcles and the Lion, Herzl then offered his services to help the Sultan with the matter of Ottoman public debts. Abdülhamid II in turn gave Herzl the permission to make his pro-Jewish sentiments public, stating that what his realm needed most was the industrial skill of the Jewish people, promising “permanent protection” to those Jews who sought refuge in his lands.[2] But aside from this PR stunt and a diamond pin offered as a gift and token of personal friendship, Herzl got little more from the regime of Abdülhamid. The Ottoman middlemen kept milking his movement for cash, while the viziers and pashas made a lot of promises and did nothing.

    But while he was talking to the Ottomans and getting nowhere, Herzl was also pleased to find that the bombastic declaration and the following loss of interest from Wilhelm II had bought the Zionism a lot of international credibility and media attention. Just like the Ottomans had feared, the Jewish Question was now gaining attention the international media. In October 1902 Joseph Chamberlain, then acting as the British Colonial Secretary had met with Herzl, accepted his analysis of the Jewish question, and agreed with his proposed solution. El Arish, a largely empty region of the British-controlled, nominally Ottoman Khedivate of Egypt at the Mediterranean coast of Sinai Peninsula was considered for Jewish settlement despite Egyptian reservations of the endeavour. This plan caused bitter divisions within the Zionist movement as it was seen as betrayal of the goal of securing access to Palestine. For Herzl the negotiations were a valuable lesson for the complexities of Great Power politics around the issue. Yet the growing mass of Jewish refugees fleeing the persecution from Russia and Romania pressured the governments of Europe to act, and gave Herzl himself a sense of urgency to bring his grand plan to fruition at last.

    He soon discovered that for the time being, the bitter hostility aroused by the Boer War, mutual press wars, and the Navy Bills had made true Anglo-German rapprochement seem impossible. Yet a German-British joint protectorate for Zionist Land Company, its financial institutions seated to London and political activities centered in Germany and Austria-Hungary was not something out of the realms of possibility. The British press had viewed the Near Eastern tour of Wilhelm rather favourably. And after he had visited Germany and discussed with Wilhelm II in 1899 (after his journey), Cecil Rhodes famously stated that "Asiatic Turkey ought to be turned over to Germany, since England can not rule the whole world and needs a buffer area between herself and Russia."[3] Thus the problem was neither in London or Berlin.

    The final stop in his journey was personally the hardest. News of pogroms abhorred him, but Herzl saw no alternatives. He had to gain Russian approval to plans to allow the Russian Jews to emigrate to Palestine, and to lift the legal restrictions imposed on the Zionist Organization in Russia. He had courted Nicholas II and his key ministers for a personal audience since 1896 had so far been in vain, until Sipiagin, the Minister of Interiour received Herzl on 8th of August 1903. “The Jewish Question is a vital question to us.” Sipiagin stated that until the Minsk conference he had been sympathetic towards the Zionist movement, but this new trend about talking Jewish nationalism, organization and culture - that wouldn’t do. Russia desired homogeneity of its population, but a massive assimilation of Jews was impractical. Thus the emigration was a logical answer. Herzl was eager to help, stating that the quicker he could reach land, the quicker the defection to the Socialists would end.

    Sipiagin agreed on all proposals of Herzl. The Sultan was to be pressured "with an effective intervention" in order to obtain a charter for the Jewish colonization of Palestine, the Russian government was willing to provide a financial subsidy for Jewish emigration, and facilities for the Russian Zionist societies to act in conformity with the Basle Programme. In August they met again, and Sipiagin stated that "the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine, capable of absorbing several million Jews" suited the Russian Government best.

    The same man who was busily propagating the Protocols also had the gall to say that in its treatment of the Jewish question the Russian Government "had never abandoned the accepted principles of morality and humanity”, and expressed hopes that as emigration would increase, the lot of the remaining Jews in Russia would improve. Herzl took this as a thinly-veiled threat.

    The next step was meeting with Witte, a fierce competitor of Sipiagin. Satisfied with the promise that the Holy Places in Palestine would remain inviolable, Witte eventually agreed that the Zionist solution would be “a good one, if it could be carried out”, and promised to lift the restrictions on the financial activities of the Jewish Colonial Trust.

    Herzl followed up by approaching Count Muraviev. But to reach him, he had to wade through the Russian court politics. the Jerusalem Declaration and following rumours made Russians mistrust all German political initiatives in the Orient. Muraviev was adamant in the Russian interests towards the Holy Places in Palestine. The Imperial Russian Palestine Society took great pains to extend its influence, organizing pilgrimages, maintaining missionary schools, erecting churches and acquiring landed property in the region. Herzl thus begun by appealing to General Kireyev, the aide-de-camp of Nicholas II. Having met him before, he managed to convince Kireyev to introduce him to Nikolas de Hartwig, head of the Asiatic Department and President of the Imperial Palestine Society. Hartwig, like Sipiagin, told Herzl that his cause was favored by Petchovski Most. By December 1903 Sipiagin informed Herzl that Count Muraviev had agreed to inform the Sublime Porte that the Russian Government viewed the Zionist project of resettlement of Jews in Palestine favourably, and that a friendly response from the Porte to the Zionist request would attest to the “bond of friendship that exists between the two empires.”

    In the final document that Sipiagin drafted with the approval of Nicholas II the absence of any mention of Sultan’s sovereignty, specifically mentioned by Herzl, and the emphasis on an “independent state” reflected the general line of Russian policy. The document clearly aimed at dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, while it also sought to gain Russia international clout as a champion of religious minorities living under the “Turkic Yoke”. As an immediate measure the Russian Government levied an extra tax on the Jews to facilitate the work of the emigration societies and providing their needs - how much of these funds actually reached the societies themselves was another matter. They also gave protection to the Zionist emissaries at Ottoman territories.[4]

    Internationally Sipiagin’s letter served as a key to the Great Power diplomacy for Herzl. He finally met with his own Government authorities at the highest level, when von Goluchowski granted him an audience. A strong critic of anti-Semitism in the Dual Monarchy, he felt that Herzl’s project was so praiseworthy that every government should support it financially. He furthermore stated to Herzl that no petty or half-way measures would do - asking the Ottoman Empire for land and legal rights for 5-6 million Jews was the only way to stir the Great Powers into action!

    Despite of his strong support, Goluchowski was unwilling to bring Vienna forward as the leading Power in the initiative - the relations with the Porte were too critical for that. It would be better if Britain took the lead - and Herzl should also secure support from Budapest first, especially from Count Tisza. This reluctance rose from the desire to maintain the secret agreement with St. Petersburg about keeping “Balkans on ice”, and avoiding moves that would unilaterally disturb the status quo. Here Goluchowski was already contemplating the future of the Balkans, and the idea of a Jewish Palestine was only part of a larger puzzle, where the hope of reviving the 1887 tripartite Mediterranean Agreement loomed large.[5]

    With the Sipiagin Letter Herzl could finally court France, strating by letters to her foreign office representatives and the Ambassador at Vienna, stating that since her Russian ally had already de facto renounced any claims to Palestine, French motives for further protests on religious grounds would no longer be credible. With the Combes Cabinet working with a Chamber that was Republican, Radical and Socialist in majority, the pressure to act jointly with Russia in Palestine gained new urgency as the questions of the future of Suez, Egypt and Lebanon were raised in the French colonial lobby. Herzl was thus able to tour Paris on his way to Rome, meeting with representatives of the French government and receiving assurances that the Dreyfusards were now firmly at the helm - and that France had to be included to any potential arrangement involving Palestine.[6]

    Herzl met further success in Rome in January 1904. King Umberto I proudly stated that his realm had no racial discrimination: Jews held posts in the Diplomatic Service, and almost every government included a Jew. Italy thus had no Jewish problem, but Zionism still had its positive attractions. Palestine “will and must get into your hands”, the King told Herzl. "It is only a question of time. Wait until you have half a million Jews there!” Tommaso Tittoni, the Foreign Minister of Italy, wanted to avoid any reneval of Austro-Russian constellations at the expense of Italy, and promised to proceed jointly with the Russians in this issue. Meanwhile the Vatican remained defiant. Anyone who denied the divine nature of Christ could not be given possession of the Holy Land without giving up the highest Christian principles...Gerusalemme must not get into the hands of the Jews.”[7]

    Back in Germany Wilhelm II wanted to stay true to his self-proclaimed role as a friend of the Sublime Porte, and stated strongly that Germany had no wish to see the Ottoman Empire lose control of Palestine because of this endeavour. This was not inconsistent with Herzl’s ambition, as charter for a Jewish Colonization Company guaranteed by the European Powers was all he was after.
    And with Britain willing to benevolently watch from the sidelines and lend a hand at El Arish, Herzl stated to Eulenburg, the new Chancellor, that he “would gladly let Wilhelm II have the glory of placing himself at the head” of the Concert of Powers on the Zionist question. And just when the international diplomacy seemed to be aligning towards a potential solution, ARF Demonstrative Body assassinated Abdülhamid II on Friday, 21st of July 1905. The matter was however a joint topic of discussion, and the "spirit of Rome" that resulted to the implementation of the Mandelstam Plan had a lot to do with the fact that the Powers had a single topic where they were more or less in general agreement. Lifting the ban of Jewish settlement in Palestine was thus part of the August Ultimatum the Powers jointly represented to the Porte in 1905.

    1. As per OTL
    2. As per OTL - note that Abdülhamid II made no promises to stop the immigration restrictions to Palestine.
    3. As per OTL
    4. In OTL it was Plehve who championed the Zionist solution to Nicholas II. Sipiagin, who holds the post Plehve had in OTL, is just as eager to promote a program that can be used to advance his own anti-Semitic foreign policy goals. The tax was discussed as a possible measure in OTL as well.
    5. As per OTL
    6. Herzl never travelled to France in OTL. Here the success with Wilhelm II encourages him to overcome his prejudices and approach the French authorities - much to his surprise the domestic politics of France turn the matter into a point of policy, and France is willing to go ahead due her extensive economic involvement to the Ottoman finances.
    7. As per OTL - with the difference that Umberto I is alive and well
  11. Karelian Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2011
    tl;dr - Wilhelm II listens to other people than in OTL and mentions Zionism and the Jüdische Landgesellschaft für Syrien und Palästina in a speech during his visit to Palestine. Anti-Semitism becomes increasingly divisive issue in German politics as a result. Herzl and Zionism gain more credibility, Russia, Britain, Austria and Italy support the project as per OTL, France does not want to be left out and Germany follows suit when Eulenburg becomes chancellor. When Abdülhamid II is assassinated in 1905, the Powers mostly focus on Macedonian Question, the plight of Armenians, and the jointly planned Baghdad railway (more of that later) - the implementation of the plan Herzl and Zionists had already drafted with Abdülhamid II (immigration in return of payment to the Porte) is pressured through as a part of a joint package of reform demands, just like the Powers did in previous instances.

    Herzl (who is still alive due much more optimistic outlook of his project) and Zionism as an idelogy gains more clout and credibility within the Jewish communities around Europe and US.
    YoGO and Landser03 like this.