Jack R. Dukes

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Freedeman, Charles Eldon, 1926-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Holstein; Friedrich von; 1837-1909; Germany--Foreign relations--Great Britain; Great Britain--Foreign relations--Germany


The basic intent of this paper is to provide insight into the failure of the Anglo-German alliance negotiations which took place between 1898 and 1902. More specifically, the purpose is to determine the role of Friedrich von Holstein, a Vortragander Rat in the German Foreign Office, in the conversations. It has frequently been asserted that Holstein was the individual primarily responsible for frustrating an agreement. This paper is concerned, therefore, with the reality of Holstein's actual or potential power and the degree to which he used it. Other personalities closely connected with the negotiations are examined Eckardstein, Chamberlain, Salisbury, Devonshire, Bulow, Lansdowne, and the Kaiser. In completing this paper the most significant problem has been determining which historians and diplomats wrote with integrity and which wrote with an eye toward self-exoneration. From a careful and extensive evaluation and comparison of document collections, memoirs, and authoritative secondary sources, the Eckardsteins and Bulows reveal their true colors. By employing the most trustworthy sources and carefully utilizing prejudiced material such ae Garvin*s Life of Joseph Chamberlain, the basic facts of the negotiations are determinable. The facts seem to indicate that Holstein alone was not responsible for destroying the alliance. On the British side, Chamberlain and Salisbury demanded a dangerous price from Germany for the conclusion of an alliance. These demands seemed quite ridiculous to the Germans, for England was the country surrounded by seemingly irreconcilable enemies while Germany was apparently on favorable terms with everyone. Naturally Holstein advised rejection of an alliance under these circumstances, but quite obviously the Wilhelmstrasse would have rejected the terns with or without Holstein's advice. Holstein’s mistake was his failure to recognize England’s serious determination to have an alliance with one country or another and her willingness to compromise her differences with Russia and France. At no time, however, was Holstein ever able to dominate Bulow or force his ideas on him, for Bulow’s position with the Kaiser was strong and Holstein’s old source of influence (Eulenburg) with the Kaiser was slipping away. Later, Germany demanded too high a price for an alliance. Despite problems and disputes between England and Germany, Holstein’s formula, which might have led eventually to an alliance, had been unofficially agreed to by the two powers. At this point, however, Eckardstein’s intrigue forced Germany’s hand prematurely, and the negotiations ended.


Includes bibliographical references.


ix, 96 pages




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