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Bismarck and Blowitz at the Congress of Berlin.

It is currently in vogue to take macroscopic approaches to the study of the past. In recent years investigating the impacts of impersonal global forces and long-term cultural changes on the course of history has come to dominate research. And the results of this line of inquiry have often been impressive. However, it would be a mistake to conclude from this fruitful exploration of the "big picture" that there is no longer value in the study of discrete events in a more microscopic fashion. The structured analysis of specific incidents, even those believed to be well understood, using an approach that seeks to probe deeper by questioning older sources and discovering new ones can still yield surprising insights of a more general nature. A case in point is the famous interview granted by Prince Otto von Bismarck to Henri Opper de Blowitz, the Paris correspondent for the Times (London) in July 1878. This historic conversation took place in the middle of the Congress of Berlin, where Europe's leading statesmen had gathered to determine the late of the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish war. The candid remarks made by the German Chancellor during this memorable exchange triggered an international uproar and had a measurable influence on international relations in the following years. Later generations of historians have also frequently cited this interview as evidence of certain fundamental characteristics of Bismarck's general approach to politics. And yet this episode has never been subjected to a detailed scholarly study. (1) As a result, incorrect conclusions have often been drawn about the purpose and significance of the Blowitz interview. So a closer look at this notorious cause celebre is long overdue.

A detailed reconstruction of this scandal is also particularly timely. Two recent monographs on the Franco-German war scare of 1875, which had been caused by the sabre-rattling of German leaders and journalists, have re-ignited the debate over the fundamental changes in Bismarck's foreign policy that it may have triggered. (2) One of the most important of these controversies concerns how the crisis ended. In May 1875, Czar Alexander II and his chancellor, Prince Alexander Gorchakov, visited Berlin and warned the German leader not to take any military action against France to prevent its recovery from the defeat suffered during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Many historians have viewed the resulting diplomatic debacle as a watershed in Bismarck's statesmanship. It has been argued that this setback convinced the German Chancellor that another war with France could not be carried out in isolation so he was forced to rethink his entire strategy. (3) In addition to this alleged paradigm shift, contemporaries and later historians have argued that Bismarck's desire to exact revenge on Gorchakov for orchestrating his public humiliation in 1875 caused the deterioration of the Russo-German entente and thereby permanently altered the dynamics of European politics. In this context, the Blowitz interview of 1878 has often been cited as compelling evidence for the decisive role that Bismarck's thirst for revenge played in triggering the "Two Chancellors' War," a contemporary term given to the increasingly open conflict between both statesmen in the following years. However, a more in depth analysis of this incident and its aftermath will show that Bismarck's motives for giving the interview in July 1878 were much more cold-blooded and contrived than is generally believed. In reality, it was a conscious political maneuver driven by the same considerations of Realpolitik that made Bismarck the most successful statesman of his era.

If the Times interview of 1878 has often been viewed as something of a blemish on Bismarck's otherwise stellar record as a statesman, it clearly represented a highpoint in the career of Blowitz. It was in fact one of two major journalistic coups he engineered during his coverage of the Congress of Berlin. His achievements in the German capital were all the more remarkable given the bad blood that existed between him and Bismarck prior to 1878. Before the Congress of Berlin, Blowitz's greatest claim to fame had been a story he had published in the Times on 6 May 1875 entitled "A French Scare," penned at the height of a Franco-German war scare. (4) In the weeks leading up to this publication, Bismarck's politically-motivated threats of a preventive strike had increased the level of tension in Europe, particularly through an inspired article published in the Berlin Post on 9 April, provocatively titled, "Is War in Sight?" This deliberately manufactured international crisis was intended to discredit the monarchists in France, but instead played into their hands. In particular, French Foreign Minister, Duke Louis Decazes, displayed considerable sangfroid by deftly turning the tables on the German Chancellor. He treated Germany's belligerent posturing seriously and rallied the other Great Powers to France's defense. In executing this clever diplomatic riposte, Decazes was ably abetted by Blowitz to whom he showed confidential despatches from Berlin that appeared to prove bis contention that France was in imminent danger of being attacked. After perusing this documentation, Blowitz filed his soon-to-be famous story with the Times that seemed to confirm the worst fears of many governments. To this extent, Blowitz contributed directly to the diplomatic humiliation suffered by Bismarck in the following days. Convinced by the revelations in the Times and other corroborating evidence, England and Russia collaborated in warning Germany not to take any pre-emptive military action against France because or a new army bill alleged to dramatically increase the size of the French army. The occasion for this united demarche Was a visit by Gorchakov and Alexander II in Berlin on 10 May. The German Chancellor's diplomatic defeat was publicly documented in the form of a circular telegram en clair sent by Gorchakov as he left Berlin on 13 May announcing that he had been assured that peace would be maintained. (5) Implicit in this ill-conceived public gesture was the claim that Europe owed the preservation of peace to the personal intervention of the Russian Chancellor.

In view of his prominent role in embarrassing the German Chancellor in the spring of 1875, it is therefore understandable why Blowitz had strong reservations when first approached about covering the Congress of Berlin for his paper. (6) He knew that his ability to report effectively on events would have been compromised if he were to face reprisals for his role in the "war-in-sight" affair of 1875. However, Blowitz was a seasoned journalist who understood the need to establish connections in high places. He had therefore cultivated a relationship with the amiable German ambassador in Paris, Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsftirst. In the spring of 1878 he was able to put these close ties to the German embassy to good use by testing the waters before committing to cover the congress. He requested that Prince Hohenlohe ascertain whether he would be treated as a persona non grata if he came to the German capital. After a delay of a few days, during which Hohenlohe made inquires and perhaps put in a good word for Blowitz, the Times correspondent was informed that his presence in Berlin during the congress would be most welcome.

This perhaps surprising response was nonetheless typical of how Bismarck dealt with the press. Although he had little respect for journalism as a profession, he fully recognized the usefulness to him of its practitioners. In fact, there was no other European statesman during this era who made as widespread use of newspapers to serve his purposes. He had a virtual army of reporters and government-friendly newspaper editors in Germany who stood ready to open their pages to copy coming from the Wilhelmstrasse, usually in return for payments from the so-called "reptile" fund. (7) But the chancellor also made extensive use of foreign news papers to achieve his goals. In the context of foreign policy, Bismarck typically employed the press for the following purposes: (1) to send out ballons d'essai for which he did not wish to go through conventional diplomatic channels; (2) to communicate with foreign governments in a language that would be unsuitable for official despatches; and (3) to attempt to directly influence the domestic affairs or public opinion of foreign countries. In extending a warm welcome to Blowitz, the Chancellor therefore likely intended from the outset to make use of him in one or all of these three ways to achieve his political objectives during the Congress of Berlin.

There was therefore a community of interests between both men as Blowitz, for his part, seemed quite anxious to put his pen in the service of Germany's leader. In fact, one of Blowitz's stated objectives in travelling to Berlin was to seek the journalistic equivalent of the Holy Grail--an interview with the great man himself. But the premier item on his agenda was to be the first reporter to obtain and to publish the text of the peace treaty. His determination to achieve this goal drove him to engage in elaborate cloak and dagger tactics to protect the identity of his diplomatic "deep throat" at the congress, who was secretly providing him with the text of the various treaty clauses as they were being agreed upon in the working sessions.

Although Blowitz was a man of humble Bohemian origins who had rather ostentatiously used the name of his native village after the noble-sounding "de" to create his nom deplume, his ego and political connections made him a "player" in the proceedings at Berlin. In fact, he deeply resented efforts by the gathered statesmen to exclude him from their confidential proceedings. His sense of his own self-importance is evident in one of the first conversations he had with Hohenlohe who had been summoned from Paris to assist during the negotiations. Only one day after the congress had convened on 13 June, Blowitz complained to Hohenlohe that this assignment was already proving to be a thankless one since all the participants had been sworn to secrecy. (8) He lamented with typical hyperbole that he "will therefore not remain in Berlin very long since he could find nothing to do." (9) In reality, as the remainder of the conversation clearly showed, Blowitz intended to continue to aggressively pursue his agenda and would not let any obstacle prevent him from attaining his two main goals. Perhaps to flatter his host's vanity be intentionally misrepresented the true order of his actual priorities by claiming that his only reason for coming to Berlin was to secure an interview with Bismarck.

To this initial request for a meeting, Hohenlohe responded that it was highly unlikely that the Chancellor would consent to receive Blowitz, but he nevertheless passed on the inquiry to his master. But what is particularly interesting in this conversation is that the Times correspondent seemed fully aware of how much value the German government placed upon his continued presence. His manifestly insincere threat to leave strongly suggests that he was using the possibility of his departure to extort concessions and special privileges. In fact, this entire exchange seems to have been exploratory in nature. Two parties that clearly required each other's help, but did not trust one another, were feeling each other out.

It was not long before this mutual dependence offered the Times correspondent an opportunity to realize one of the key goals of his trip to Berlin. The occasion for this breakthrough was one of the many crises that punctuated the congress. Towards the end of June, it appeared that Russia and England might fall out over the fate of the Black Sea port of Batum. British leaders seemed adamant that this strategically important city should not be ceded to Russia as part of the peace settlement. As a result, the successful conclusion of the congress was in jeopardy. It was ostensibly to preserve the peace that Bismarck broke with his long-standing policy of refusing all interview requests and agreed to speak with Blowitz on 2 July. (10) The news that Blowitz was to meet with the German Chancellor quickly created a sensation at the congress and helped to solidify the Times correspondent's position as the doyen of the press corps, the "seventh power" at the congress. (11)

The interview began early in the evening of 2 July at the chancellor's residence where Blowitz was welcomed by Prince and Princess Bismarck. (12) One of the first discussion points was the language of discourse as Blowitz was an accomplished linguist and the German Chancellor was also comfortable speaking a number of languages. Perhaps out of respect for his host, Blowitz chose German. And so it was in this language and in this intimate setting that the interview took place. It lasted for over five hours. In addition to the two principals, Frederick von Holstein and Prince Hohenlohe were in attendance for the duration. (13) Having two old acquaintances from Paris on hand no doubt helped to put the correspondent from the Times at ease. Their presence was also important in view of the controversy that later arose about what Bismarck had actually said during these five hours: there were witnesses who could confirm what had transpired.

The first segment of the interview was the least controversial. It focused on the immediate problem at hand, the fate of Batum. During their exchanges over this issue, Bismarck succeeded in winning over the influential journalist to his point of view that Great Britain should not oppose Russia's acquisition of that port. Blowitz submitted this part of the interview for publication almost immediately after its conclusion and used the chancellor's arguments to convince British public opinion of the need to be flexible on this question. (14) And a compromise was in fact soon reached between Britain and Russia that resolved the impasse. Whether or not--as Blowitz was later to claim--he deserved the credit for altering the British position on this question is debatable. (15) Blowitz's reliability in this regard is particularly suspect as he had ulterior motives for exaggerating his contribution to bringing about a resolution of that crisis: He had hoped that Bismarck's gratitude for his assistance in this matter would take the form of exclusive rights to publish the final treaty. (16) However, Blowitz had to settle for being awarded the Order of the Crown (Third Class) in recognition of his efforts to ensure the success of the congress.

The discussion about Batum did not consume all of the five hours the two men spent together. And Blowitz seemed anxious to exploit fully this rare opportunity to touch on other topics. For his part, the chancellor had his own agenda that he wished to cover. Much of what was said in this broader discussion was not particularly new or sensational. France appears to have been the main subject of common interest and Bismarck indulged his guest by relating generally-known anecdotes about the role of Adolphe Thiers during the peace negotiations of 1870-71. One of the more intriguing threads of the conversation about France--that was not included in the published interview--involved Bismarck sounding out Blowitz as to whether he might act as an intermediary to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the republican forces in France, Leon Gambetta. (17)

But the part of the interview that was to cause the greatest controversy concerned the war scare of 1875 and how its outcome had allegedly reduced Bismarck's willingness to support Russia in the East. (18) The events of the spring of 1875 were also clearly a subject that both men expected to come up during their discussion given the prominent role each had played in that episode. Bismarck, in particular, seemed anxious to convince the journalist who had helped tarnish his reputation to assist now in its rehabilitation. These efforts were also entirely successful. Judging by what he later wrote in his memoirs, (19) Blowitz accepted at face value Bismarck's claim that he had actually worked behind the scenes to preserve the peace during the war scare of 1875.

There were two main aspects of the crisis of 1875 that were discussed. The first concerned the chancellor's role. It was also on this point that Bismarck seems to have been the most vague. As a result, Blowitz did not publish any direct quotes on this topic. Instead he used phrases like "it is now generally believed" to qualify his revisionist account of what had happened in 1875. But he doubtless based his altered view of Bismarck's role on the revelations made to him during the interview. In any case, the end result was a new reading of events that completely absolved Bismarck of any guilt. It was, according to Blowitz, the chancellor himself who had raised the alarm in order to thwart pressure from the "Prussian military authorities" to launch a preventive strike against France. As part of this scheme, the Chancellor had gone so far as to direct one of his closest advisers, Joseph Maria von Radowitz, to betray these bellicose plans to the French ambassador in Berlin during an infamous conversation on 21 April. This re-invention of historical reality allowed Bismarck not only to reverse the bad press he had been given over this incident; it also enabled him to more convincingly demolish the myth that the Russian Chancellor had saved France. And making this argument provided him with the jumping-off point for the most important political message he wished to send through the publication of his comments.

Bismarck spoke much more clearly and with obvious malicious intent about the second main interview theme concerning the crisis of 1875, Gorchakov's role. Blowitz was therefore able to provide direct quotations when describing this part of the conversation in the published account. And the German Chancellor's remarks on this subject led seamlessly into his sensational revelation concerning how Gorchakov's behavior in 1875 had negatively impacted Germany's readiness to promote Russian interests in the East. The linkage between these two outwardly distinct foreign policy threads was based on Bismarck's allegation that the war scare had been orchestrated by Prince Gorchakov "who was eager to reap the praises from the French papers and be styled the 'saviour of France'." (20) Not surprisingly, Bismarck portrayed himself in this context as the innocent victim of a Franco-Russian conspiracy. By implication, Blowitz had played the role of an unwitting dupe in 1875 by raising a false alarm through the publication of his article of 6 May. But all Bismarck's rhetorical venom was saved for his final scathing attack on the Russian Chancellor. Towards the end of the interview the Chancellor made the following, almost boastful statement which Blowitz quoted verbatim:
   I never saw a statesman act more heedlessly--from a sentiment of
   vanity to compromise a friendship between two Governments; to
   expose himself to the most serious consequences in order to
   attribute to himself the role of saviour when there was nothing in
   danger.... I said to the Russian Chancellor, "You certainly will
   not have much room for congratulation on what you have been doing
   in risking our friendship for an empty satisfaction. I frankly tell
   you, however, that I am a good friend with friends and a good enemy
   with enemies." And Gortchakoff while engaged for the last two years
   in the Eastern affair has found this out. But for the affair of
   1875 he would not be
   where he is, and would not have undergone the political defeat he
   has just experienced. (21)


Although Bismarck's re-invention of the events of 1875 was, as we shall see, to arouse intense interest across Europe, it was above all the final sentences of this lengthy quote that were to trigger weeks of public controversy and a lengthy proxy battle in the press. It is also hard to imagine that this reaction had not been anticipated by Bismarck. After all, the Chancellor's words represented an unprecedented admission for a statesman to make publicly about his treatment of a foreign colleague. There was also general consensus amongst observers at the time that the quote was genuine and that its publication had been pre-approved by Bismarck. (22) It is therefore safe to assume that these remarks were made with the intention that they would be published. The challenge for the historian is to understand why these brutally frank comments were made to a reporter for a newspaper with a global readership and why they were made at that particular point in time.

Of course the questions of timing and motivation are closely linked. And although the issue of timing is complex, the source material allows for it to be resolved with greater certainty. One of the most puzzling aspects of this interview is that it took place on 2 July and--with the exception of the portion dealing with Batum--was not published until 7 September. However, it seems that Bismarck expected that the substance of his interview would appear in print much sooner. It was also regarding the lengthy delay in the publication of his story--and not its content--that Blowitz afterwards expressed his only regrets. For example, he met with Prince Hohenlohe in December 1878 to offer "explanations" after the storm of controversy unleashed by the appearance of his interview in the Times. (23) During this conversation he was adamant that he was not to blame for the belated publication of the article. Blowitz claimed that he had submitted it to his editor immediately after the end of the congress on 13 July. In fact, he was so concerned to prove his innocence on this point that he brought a copy of his correspondence with his editor to prove that he had submitted his copy much earlier. These letters were also used to substantiate his claim that he had in fact requested that his account of the interview not be published at all in view of the delay "as it was no longer opportune." But based on this communication, it seems that the German Chancellor had made the statements quoted above in the expectation that they would be published immediately after the congress had adjourned. It is, therefore, in this context that any analysis of the motives behind Bismarck's stunning remarks must be conducted.

There is no clear evidence to suggest why there was such a long delay in publishing what was obviously quite a "scoop." But Blowitz's behaviour after the interview suggests that he may have been more to blame for the lengthy interlude than he claimed. There is no question that Blowitz gave a much higher priority after 2 July to realizing the second of his planned journalistic coups, being the first to publish the Treaty of Berlin. Consequently, he dedicated most of his resources after the interview to making sure that the Times was able to publish the text of the treaty before it was released to the public. And with the help of his sources and a considerable amount of resourcefulness on his part, the Times was able to print a special edition of the newspaper on 13 July containing the full text of the treaty just as it was being formally signed in Berlin. (24) Although he was thus ultimately successful in achieving his goal, Blowitz may have become annoyed at his host since his request to be given a copy of the treaty as a quid pro quo for services rendered was turned down. (25) Another indication that Blowitz may have harboured some ill-will towards Bismarck is a subsequent interview he conducted with a prominent left-liberal politician--Rudolf Virchow--on 8 July to ascertain that individual's perspective on Germany's leader. This suggests that he was already considering presenting his conversation with Bismarck in a more critical light. And it is doubtful whether Bismarck was informed that Blowitz's published account of their conversation on 2 July would be prefaced and concluded by a detailed description of this later unflattering interview with Virchow. In view of this unfriendly move it seems likely that the inopportune timing of the interview's appearance was not an accident. But Blowitz's later apology offers strong evidence that there was an understanding on Bismarck's part regarding when the interview would be printed and that the Times correspondent did not adhere to it.

The suspicion that conscious political calculation underlay Bismarck's remarks is fully confirmed by his initial response to the appearance of the published interview on 7 September. His reaction also leaves no doubt about the essential authenticity of his comments about Gorchakov. Instead of issuing a full denial, he took the offensive. Although he was recuperating from the stress of the congress at the spa of Gastein when the limes article appeared, be could not ignore the opportunity nor the controversy it created. His initial telegraphic instructions to the Wilhelmstrasse began with a request to issue a partial denial. With respect to what Blowitz had written about a "military party" pushing for a pre-emptive strike in 1875 he stated that this had been a complete fabrication by the Times correspondent and was to be treated as such in the German semi-official press. (26) With regard to his quoted remarks about his reluctance to Support Gorchakov's eastern policy from 1875-1878 because of the humiliation he had suffered in 1875, he noted that the printed quotes were in many respects imprecise, but that they nonetheless offered an "adequate starting point to continue this line of argument." He therefore instructed his underlings to direct the government-friendly press to take up the theme of Gorchakov's responsibility for Russia's relatively modest gains from its victory over Turkey in order to point out the "difficulties confronting German policy over the last five years in order to not draw the wrong conclusions from Prince Gorchakov's friendship for France." (27) In essence, Bismarck used his press handlers to reinforce and exploit what he had said about the Russian Chancellor during his interview with Blowitz.

But this press campaign was not just a simple repetition of what he had told Blowitz. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that he was taking an interesting new tack. Instead of focusing on the events of 1875 as the root cause of his loss of trust in Russia's leadership, he now spoke through his semi-official newspapers of a five year timeframe. He had thus shifted the focus of the discussion from 1875 to 1873-74. It was no longer the telegram of 13 May 1875 that was being made responsible for his loss of trust in Russian policy. By shifting the discussion to this earlier period, he pushed the fall of the pro-German minister for internal security, Count Peter Shuvalov, into the forefront of the unfolding controversy. Shuvalov, who had been named Russian ambassador to London after his dismissal as minister in 1874, had also been the second Russian delegate to the congress. During the meetings in Berlin and the preceding years Bismarck had invested considerable effort in attempting to rehabilitate Shuvalov and to promote him as his preferred successor to Gorchakov.

Although Bismarck's reaction to the belated publication of his interview with Blowitz focused primarily on exploiting politically the statements he had made to Blowitz about Gorchakov's responsibility for the modest Russian gains at the Congress of Berlin, it was the account of what had transpired in the spring of 1875 that initially attracted the most attention in the European press. As a result, it was at first on this count that Blowitz was forced to take up the pen to defend himself against well-informed criticism in the French press which took exception to the portrayal of Bismarck as a peace-loving statesman. (28) In fact, French newspapers dedicated quite a bit of ink to analyzing and, for the most part, rejecting the attempt to alter the perception of the chancellor's role in the crisis of 1875. The English press also weighed in to criticize Blowitz's re-interpretation of events and pointed out some of its more obvious logical inconsistencies. (29) But, somewhat surprisingly, it was against the German press that Blowitz was forced to take his strongest stand in defending his attempt to exonerate the chancellor. (30) In response to an article in the Post, probably written as a result Bismarck's press directive quoted above, Blowitz clarified a number of important points in a rebuttal published on 17 September. In it he claimed that his revised account of the war scare of 1875 was based on what Prince Bismarck had told him during the interview. He also made the following statement which once again suggests that both Blowitz and Bismarck were fully aware of each other's expectations during the course of the interview: "Had the Prince expressed the slightest desire not to see published what he told me, it would never have appeared in print; but he expressed no such wish; he knew that it belonged to the public; and it is not for me to inquire why he said it. Men like him say nothing that they have not well weighed." (31)

Undoubtedly this assertion was even more applicable to Bismarck's more sensational remarks about the apparently base personal motives underlying his reluctance to be more helpful to Russia in the East from 1875 to 1878. The speed and enthusiasm with which he picked up on that theme in the German press confirm that, on that point at least, there was calculation and premeditation behind what he had said to Blowitz during the interview. And it was primarily with respect to these attacks against Gorchakov that the timing of the publication appears to have been inopportune. Since Gorchakov was head of the Russian delegation, publishing the interview before the congress had adjourned would have been premature. However, its appearance seven weeks after the conclusion of the congress was no less problematic. By September, the Russian press had already begun to blame the German Empire for the loss of some of what had been gained by the terms of Treaty of San Stefano of 3 March 1878,32 a "preliminary" bilateral peace agreement between the two belligerents that had been very favourable to Russia. The appearance of the Blowitz interview so long after the end of the congress was, as the Times correspondent clearly realized, particularly untimely for this reason. Seven weeks later it only added fuel to the already raging fire of nationalist criticism of Germany in Russia. And when Bismarck gave his instructions concerning how the belated published version of his comments was to be handled in the German press, he did so with specific reference to the likelihood that Russian journalists already criticizing Germany would exploit his boasting in the Times as further evidence of his mala fides. (33) He realized immediately that these revelations would only feed the conflagration. To help contain the blaze, Bismarck was forced to become personally involved in the escalating war of words.

To this extent the belated appearance of the interview in the Times was undoubtedly inopportune, but it was not entirely unwelcome. In fact, Bismarck--perhaps abandoning hope that the interview would be published at all--had in August already begun to counter criticism in Russian newspapers by attacking the policies of Gorchakov in the German semi-official press.34 Of course, his portrayal of the failings of Russian foreign policy in his journalistic organs was phrased more cautiously than the words he had used during his interview with Blowitz. In addition, these attacks could not be tied directly back to him even if their source was generally known. He could hide behind plausible deniability. However, after 7 September the German chancellor had little choice but to set aside any pretense and go over to the offensive as a public battle with the Russian press over the Blowitz interview was unavoidable.

The reaction of Russian newspapers to the publication of Bismarck's conversation with Blowitz was initially somewhat mixed. It was characterized not only by an understandable amount of outrage, but also clearly revealed that Gorchakov fully understood the game his adversary on the Spree was playing. As mentioned, many Russian journalists responded to the Times article of7 September in a manner similar to their reaction to the results of the congress itself. There was a nationalist backlash as patriotic critics of German policy could now point to Bismarck's apparent admission of his role in denying Russia the spoils of her hard-fought military victory as confirmation of their worst suspicions. Russia could not, they argued, trust its allies in the League of Three Emperors;35 it had no choice but to rely on its own strength to achieve its foreign policy goals.36 In contrast to this nationalistic outburst, the semi-official Russian press initially adopted a somewhat different approach to handling Blowitz's revelations. The most important of these articles appeared in Golos ("The Voice") on 13 September.37 It called into doubt the veracity of the substance of Blowitz's article, arguing that it was all part of an English conspiracy. Blowitz, according to this journal, was working with the British government and had fabricated the story in the Times for the purpose of sowing dissent between Germany and Russia. The author added, with a touch of sarcasm that betrayed Gorchakov's inspiration, that it is completely "inadmissible that a man of such unquestionable cleverness as Prince Bismarck would link the results of the Congress of Berlin with the bitterness he had felt three years previously." Although this assertion was manifestly insincere, it was tactically quite clever. It allowed Gorchakov to conclude his ironic praise of the German chancellor by expressing his complete confidence that an unequivocal denial of his remarks as quoted in the Times would soon set the record straight. The Russian Chancellor clearly understood the underlying political agenda behind Bismarck's interview and had, in essence, publicly called upon his rival to disavow himself.

Bismarck recognized the difficult position into which the challenge issued by Golos had placed him. But he had no intention of retreating across the golden bridge his adversary had constructed for him. Instead, he resolved to continue to walk the thin line between further aggravating already strained Russo-German relations and pursuing his smear campaign against Prince Gorchakov. He therefore invested considerable time in personally crafting an article to be published in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung on 22 September, (38) a newspaper whose semiofficial stams he continually denied, but that was generally acknowledged to be his primary journalistic mouthpiece. Although only his final corrections to a fair copy of the published article have been preserved in the archives, it seems likely that this editorial went through more than one revision. But even these final revisions show clearly how he struggled to overcome the difficult challenge of attacking Gorchakov without damaging Germany's close ties to Russia.

One constant in both preserved versions was the opening statement that this article was triggered by the discussion of the Blowitz revelations in the Russian press. And although he did not single out any specific Russian paper, the substance of his piece lined up too closely with the views expressed in Golos for it to have been a coincidence. The Chancellor, for example, seemed to concede the correctness of the main assertion of that earlier article by agreeing that Blowitz's claim that he had stated that Russia had experienced a political defeat at the congress was concocted by the Times correspondent with the clear intention of sowing distrust between Berlin and St. Petersburg. In actual fact, Bismarck was quoted as stating that Gorchakov had suffered a personal defeat in Berlin which was almost certainly what had been said. In spite of this criticism of the published interview, Bismarck once again stopped well short of a complete denial. Instead he accused Blowitz merely of "romanticizing" his actual words and characterized the whole article as "reporting much that was correct and much that was new, but the part that was correct was not new and the part that was new was not correct." (39) He watered down this already weak denial even further by making a point of praising Blowitz's contribution to preserving the peace.

But it was, as noted, the part of Bismarck's article that attempted to direct any Russian anger over the results of the Treaty of Berlin towards mistakes made by Gorchakov that underwent the greatest amount of change during the drafting process. In the penultimate version Bismarck had underlined the "kernel of truth" in Blowitz's article that Germany's lack of trust towards Russian intentions was fully justified given the Francophile policies pursued by Gorchakov. In that first draft, he had also warned that recent Russian press attacks did not encourage Germany to support energetically Russia in the future. This argument was also made in the final version, but it concluded in a much more positive tone than originally intended. In the published version Bismarck emphasized that Russia had in fact achieved great successes through the Treaty of Berlin "which overshadowed those of earlier wars between the Russian and Ottoman Empires." But even this effort to take the high road quickly revealed itself as another dagger directed at the heart of Gorchakov. Russia owed her unprecedented victory, Bismarck argued, to German support at the congress, to the bravery of the Russian soldier and above all to the diplomatic skill of Peter Shuvalov. In other words, Bismarck wanted to have it both ways. In so far as there was disappointment with the results of the congress, the Russians were to blame Gorchakov; in so far as there were laurels to be had for the unquestioned gains Russia had achieved through her military victory, it was due entirely to the skill of Count Shuvalov, Bismarck's preferred choice as Gorchakov's successor.

Two days later the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung followed up with a second article that was entirely dedicated to the portion of published interview that discussed the war scare of 1875. (40) It was also a much stronger denial of the accuracy of what Blowitz had written on this subject and concluded with an unmistakable suggestion that Blowitz execute a tactical withdrawal. This demand was phrased in a friendly tone by suggesting that errors in the article were due to the listener confusing information taken from different places and that he should now carefully review his sources. In this context, Blowitz was also pointedly reminded by Bismarck's journalistic mouthpiece that there were witnesses to the interview who would vouch for the Chancellor's version of events. These words amounted to an unmistakable threat of legal action if a retraction was not forthcoming. (41)

The impact of this hint of a law suit can perhaps best be judged by the alacrity with which Blowitz responded to it. Already on the following day, a piece appeared in the Times reproducing the article in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung in English translation with a clarification. (42) In his rejoinder, Blowitz pointed out that he had never in fact claimed that his revised account of the crisis of 1875 came directly from Bismarck. Instead, he clarified, it represented a description of those events which had been making the rounds in diplomatic circles for years and which was the only interpretation that could, in his opinion, explain all the facts. But at the same time as he qualified the statements made about 1875, he strongly reiterated the correctness of Bismarck's quoted utterances regarding Gorchakov. He also added, in Bismarck's defense, that "it will be seen that it was directed exclusively against Prince Gortschakoff, in no way against Russia, and I did not think there is a single diplomatist in Europe who would have needed to read it to know what were the sentiments of the two Chancellors with regard to one another." In other words, Blowitz was arguing that the accusation that he had been motivated by a desire to sow dissent between Berlin and St. Petersburg was groundless. He also repeated his claim that Bismarck was fully aware of his intention to publish his comments about Gorchakov.

Blowitz's vigorous defense of his journalistic integrity can only be fully understood against the background of the simultaneous deterioration of his relationship with Bismarck. By the time this article appeared, the honour and dignity of the Times itself had been called into question. In a debate in the Reichstag on 17 September, Bismarck made an unmistakable reference to the Blowitz interview when he gave a rebuttal to comments made by August Bebel, the leader of the German Social Democrats. To the audible amusement of the gathered representatives of the German people he noted: "If he [Bebel] invented this mixture of truth and falsehood ... himself, then be perhaps has a calling to be a correspondent for The Times." (43) This unusually harsh public attack by the chancellor led Blowitz to write a letter to the German embassy in Paris. In it he expressed his deep regret at the remarks made by Bismarck and declared that in view of this attack on himself and his fellow correspondents he could no longer accept the medal awarded to him by the German emperor. (44) And although he reasserted in this letter the essential correctness of what he had reported, he made a point of apologizing for the timing of the appearance of the article which he seemed to view as the real cause of the Chancellor's anger. Given the increasing bad blood between both men, it is not likely that Bismarck attached too much weight to Blowitz's heavily qualified mea culpa of 25 September.

However, the response of the press in St. Petersburg and Moscow to his article of 22 September was likely of greater interest to Bismarck. And it was once again Golos that took the lead. Only this time the tone was more annoyed and indignant than sarcastic. In an initial reaction, the paper ridiculed Bismarck's claim that Germany's readiness to support Russia had been constrained by Gorchakov's Francophile policies. It also rejected the implication that it was somehow the responsibility of Russian foreign policy to cure the German chancellor of his recurring nightmare of a French war of revenge. (45) Two days later that same paper continued this discussion by categorically stating that Russia would not allow her choice of diplomats to be dictated by a foreign power. (46) This was an unmistakable reference to Bismarck's shameless public promotion of Shuvalov as Gorchakov's replacement. The Russian Chancellor's wounded pride was almost palpable in this journalistic riposte.

But Bismarck's interview with Blowitz had not only triggered a strong response in Russia and France. The German Chancellor also had to deal with a domestic backlash. And it was likely one that he had anticipated. As noted above, he maintained wide and varied contacts with the print media in Germany and made extensive use of their pages to further his domestic and foreign policy agenda. In refusing Blowitz's requests for special treatment during the congress, he had also made specific reference to his concerns about alienating his journalistic allies at home by openly favouring a foreign correspondent. In fact, just granting an interview to Blowitz caused the chancellor considerable domestic embarrassment. As a result, be was forced to defend himself in the Reichstag against criticism by the opposition parties that he had consistently refused requests by German journalists for interviews, yet had granted the request of a foreign reporter. Fortunately for Bismarck, he could offer a plausible rationale for his actions by pointing out that no German newspaper could have provided him with the kind of influence over British public opinion he required to secure concessions on the question of Batum. (47) It was an argument for which there was no rejoinder, but which did not explain the most sensational portions of the interview that had nothing to do with Batum. Nevertheless, this episode underscores once again that the Chancellor knew from the start that this interview would have a political cost. There can therefore be little doubt that be attached considerable importance to having his words reach a wider European audience. So the real question is what he had hoped to gain from this risky maneuver.

Bismarck's interest in clearing his name with respect to the lingering suspicions that be had intended to attack France in 1875 is perhaps the most obvious aspect of his political motivation. The congress was certainly not the chancellor's preferred method of ending the Russo-Turkish War. His ideal scenario would have been a German-brokered Russo-Austrian partitioning scheme that offered territorial compensations to England. For this reason, he had only very reluctantly agreed to host a congress. However, once it had convened in Berlin, he was determined to ensure that it reached a satisfactory conclusion in order to avert war and to enhance his own prestige. In particular, Bismarck sought to establish himself firmly as Europe's leading statesman and protector of the peace. This flattering new role as the "honest broker" aligned perfectly with Bismarck's stated strategy of making as many of the Great Powers as possible dependent upon German support and good-will in order to more effectively isolate France. (48) Since a key pre-requisite for attaining this level of influence was winning the trust of foreign governments, it no doubt represented a huge coup for him to be able to get one of the main advocates of the view that he had posed a danger to European peace in 1875 to recant. (49) In this context it is ironic that it was Blowitz's rehabilitation of Bismarck that was greeted with the chancellor's only unequivocal denial. Since the chancellor had--in private, at least--repeatedly made the German chief of staff, Helmuth von Moltke, responsible for the scare, it must be assumed that he did not object to the substance of Blowitz's version of events, but rather to taking responsibility for a public admission that anybody in Germany had entertained thoughts of attacking France in 1875. So although Blowitz's rather flattering re-interpretation of the events of 1875 may not have received Bismarck's full blessing, the resulting portrait of the "Iron Chancellor" as an angel of peace in cavalry boots was certainly in line with his intentions.

But it is Bismarck's brutal frankness about seeking and exacting revenge on Gorchakov that have been of the greatest interest to historians. His surprising confession to Blowitz was also an object of considerable interest and speculation in the contemporary press. (50) And there have been numerous explanations offered for these shockingly candid remarks. The most obvious reading of this part of the interview is simply to take Bismarck's statements at face value: He never forgave Gorchakov for the dirty trick he had played in May 1875 and exacted a terrible revenge by inflicting a similar diplomatic humiliation upon him in 1877-78. This interpretation of Bismarck's motives was most clearly and extremely formulated by the chancellor's former protege, Frederick von Holstein, in his memoirs. (51) Using the Times interview as the main piece of evidence for his argumentation, Holstein claimed that after 1875 Bismarck no longer saw Russia, but only Gorchakov, and that his actions from the start of the uprising in Bosnia-Herzegovina in August 1875 until the signing of the Treaty of Berlin were dictated solely by base personal motives. This interpretation of the Chancellor's remarks to Blowitz is all the more noteworthy as Holstein was himself an eye-witness to the entire conversation. And although the Privy Councillor's statement of the case for the "revenge theory" is perhaps the clearest and most often cited, it is also one of the most unreliable. These reminiscences were written in 1898, the year of Bismarck's death, and reflected the author's own bitterness after having suffered eight years of personal attacks in the press by his former master. In his diary entries, written during the mid-1880s, his assessment of the chancellor's Eastern policy in the period 1875-1878 was more objective and still full of admiration. (52) So it seems clear that his later judgement was coloured by his own bitterness towards Bismarck.

But this was not an interpretation that was restricted to bitter former employees. The belief that Bismarck's policy towards Russia after 1875 was driven by a desire for personal revenge was one that was shared by many in 1878 and this perception undoubtedly influenced how contemporaries judged German foreign policy. The negative impact of this widely-held view became most apparent a year after the Blowitz interview when Emperor Alexander II penned his famous "slap in the face" letter to his uncle, the German Kaiser. In it the Czar lamented the fact that Bismarck's blind lust for vengeance against Gorchakov for the perceived injustice suffered in 1875 had destroyed the close ties previously existing between St. Petersburg and Berlin. (53) It is doubtful whether the Russian ruler would have made this accusation so openly had it not been for the public confession of guilt freely offered by Bismarck in his interview with Blowitz. And Blowitz's interview has continued to exert a strong influence over modern scholars. In fact, one of the leading biographers of Germany's first chancellor has suggested that Bismarck's decision to remain in office in 1875 was to a large extent fuelled by the terrible energy of his desire to exact revenge on Prince Gorchakov. (54)

Another variation on the theme of personal retribution is to look upon the Times interview as just another skirmish in a long personal struggle between Bismarck and Gorchakov that came to dominate Russo-German relations in the late 1870s, the infamous "Two Chancellors' War." (55) This seems to be also how Blowitz viewed the comments. According to this reading, Bismarck's boast about having paid his rival back for the humiliation of 1875 was just another chapter in an on-going competition between both statesmen. In this context, Bismarck's attacks were not primarily motivated by a personal lust for revenge but more out of an on-going professional and personal rivalry that had now entered a new phase characterized by greater publicity.

The "rivalry hypothesis" is unquestionably more plausible than the revenge theory as a causal model. It at least recognizes that the hostility between both statesmen was not entirely the fault of the German Chancellor; it was fuelled equally by Gorchakov's jealousy of his former protege during their time together as envoys at the Frankfurt Diet in the 1850s and his own inflated ego. This model also recognizes that it was not merely Gorchakov's telegram of 13 May that drove the conflict. This was something Bismarck himself was to emphasize during the outcry over the Blowitz interview by shifting the root cause of the problem to 1873-74. Yet the rivalry explanation remains unconvincing. Although more balanced and credible than the "revenge theory," the "rivalry hypothesis" is also not entirely satisfying as the concept of rivalry is rather vague and relies once again too much on biographical and psychological factors. And what it gains in balance, it loses in shifting focus away from the real political issues that were at stake.

Most insiders actually had few doubts about the immediate objective behind the Blowitz interview and the subsequent articles in the German press. Julius Andrassy, the Austrian foreign minister, took it as a given that the purpose of Bismarck's public attack was to undermine Gorchakov's position at home and pave the way for a successor. (56) And we have already noted the indignant rejoinder in the Golos rejecting the notion that Russia would allow a foreign power to dictate her choice of diplomats. This reaction suggests that Gorchakov fully grasped Bismarck's tactics. In fact, the Blowitz interview must be seen as an escalation in a long and complex campaign launched by the chancellor well before the events of May 1875 to push for the replacement of Gorchakov by a minister who would be more willing to pursue a policy that aligned with German interests, as Bismarck perceived them. In fact, ever since Peter Shuvalov had been "exiled" to London in 1874, the German Chancellor had been working towards his rehabilitation in the hope that he would take Gorchakov's place and restore the former close ties between Russia and Germany. This was the motivation behind the positive spin in the partial denial Bismarck had written on 22 September: He attempted to promote Shuvalov at the same time as he sought to channel any Russian disappointment about the terms of the Treaty of Berlin exclusively towards Gorchakov. It was also the reason that he spoke of his loss of trust in Russia dating back to 1873-74 instead of 1875 in spite of his harping on the telegram of 13 May as the reason for his reluctance to risk alienating other powers by more energetically supporting Russia in the East.

This underlying objective also explains the central importance of the timing of the publication of his comments. Had the interview been published immediately after the conclusion of the congress, as Bismarck appears to have expected, it would have had the greatest impact on Russian public opinion. It was in the immediate aftermath of the congress that judgments would be made and opinions formed about what had been achieved and who was to be given credit for successes and who was to be held accountable for any failures. But even had the story been published when promised the likelihood that it would have achieved the desired result was small. Bismarck was attempting to strike a very delicate balance between enraging and influencing his target audience in Russia. The challenges inherent in executing this difficult maneuver were considerable. Blowitz had himself noted the distinction that one needed to make when reading the interview between Bismarck's policy towards Gorchakov and his feelings towards Russia. And this dichotomy was clearly evident in the tricky partial denial penned by the chancellor himself. On the one hand, he praised the victory achieved by Russia at the congress but indicated that credit for these gains should go exclusively to her soldiers and to only one of her statesmen, Count Shuvalov. Yet at the same time he made it very clear that Germany would have been able to do much more for Russia during the congress and the years leading up to it had it had more trust in Russia's leader. In fact, he went so far as to suggest that Russia could expect at best lukewarm support from Germany in the future as long as Gorchakov remained in power.

But it is doubtful that even Gorchakov took these attacks in the Times all too personally. The ironic remarks in the Golos, presumably "the voice" of the Russian Chancellor, about the Bismarck's apparent expectation that St. Petersburg would subordinate its foreign policy to the goal of relieving his anxiety about French revanche were not far from the mark. The statements made in the interview of 2 July and in the subsequent German press campaign were really never about personal revenge or personal rivalry. Bismarck was certainly a man of great passions and even those dose to him remarked on his increasingly pathological vengefulness on the eve of the congress. (57) But be was also a man of considerable political discipline. Even during the interview, Blowitz remarked on how slowly and cautiously the chancellor picked his words. He did not speak out of a fit of anger and it was not a slip of the tongue. Blowitz's presence in Berlin was in itself compelling evidence that Bismarck could quickly forget even the worst past transgressions when it was in" his political interest to do so. Even a victim of Bismarck's persecution, Sir Robert Morier, recognized this character trait of his tormentor, noting that he "will sacrifice everything, even his personal hatreds to the success of his game." (58) This political cold-bloodedness was also evident in his attacks against his Russian colleague: His campaign against Gorchakov was more about essential German interests than professional rivalry or personal revenge.

Gorchakov's strategy of maintaining close ties with France in order to use the threat of a Franco-Russian alliance to control the new German Empire was a real and serious foreign policy challenge. This potentially fatal shift in the European balance of power was the cause of the recurring cauchemar des coalitions that contributed to Bismarck's chronic sleep disorders, along with his consumption of prodigious amounts of food and alcohol. His efforts to bring down Gorchakov must therefore be viewed in the context of battling a Russian policy direction that was dangerous to Germany. And although Bismarck did expend a considerable amount of diplomatic capital in so openly using the press to achieve his objectives, it was only one of many tactics he had employed to bring about a revirsal of political direction on the Neva. At various times before 1878, he had pushed hard to get Gorchakov to accept political collaboration with Germany based on "reciprocity" which for him meant that Germany's support in the East would be reciprocated by Russia's assistance to ensure that France remained isolated. (59) Another attempt to achieve this goal during the later stages of the Eastern Crisis can be seen in Bismarck's offer to Russia in the fall of 1876 of an alliance through "thick and thin." In essence he proposed to give Russia greater support in the East in return for a formal "guarantee" of Germany's western frontier. (60) A central motive for making this proposal was undoubtedly to "compromise" Gorchakov in Paris as any such Russian undertaking amounted to renouncing an alliance with France. The ultimate failure of these efforts was in large part due to the lack of trust between the feuding chancellors as Alexander II later claimed that he would have gladly entered into an arrangement on this basis. As a result of the unsuccessful exploration of these various alternatives, Bismarck had few options remaining in the summer of 1878 other than to attempt to bring about a change of approach in St. Petersburg by more aggressively seeking to remove Gorchakov from power. His interview with Blowitz was an opportunity to pursue this risky strategy at what appeared to be an opportune moment.

Given what was at stake at the congress, it is entirely understandable that Bismarck would have attempted one last gambit to achieve his goal. Already on 2 July time was running out. Even as he worked to obtain Batum for Russia, he no doubt already realized that there would be great disappointment in Russia over the peace terms agreed to in Berlin. The fact that the Czar's legions had stopped outside the gates of Constantinople was already viewed by large sections of the Russian population as a defeat. The Czar had been pushed into the war, in part, by the growing strength of Pan-Slavic feeling amongst his people. In their eyes, the main prize of the great crusade, liberating the capital of Orthodox Christendom from the infidel, had eluded Russia. It was, therefore, to be anticipated that there would be some domestic backlash. Under these circumstances Bismarck sought to make Russia's significant gains appear to be the result of Shuvalov's efforts to salvage what be could during the congress from the mess that Gorchakov had made of things by alienating Russia's closest ally. Although his remarks to Blowitz alone were not sufficient to achieve this goal, they did provide a useful jumping off point for a German press campaign designed to drive this point home. From a purely tactical point of view, the only problem with taking the offensive in September was that he had lost over six weeks since the end of the congress so that Gorchakov and the Russian nationalist press had, in effect, stolen a march on Bismarck. Blowitz seems to have been fully aware of the negative impact that this long hiatus had on the chancellor's strategy. Perhaps this was even the real reason that the interview was withheld from publication for so long. But even had the article appeared when it was intended, it remained a somewhat desperate move. It ran contrary to the more cautious approach Bismarck had taken up to that point which focused on launching his attacks against Gorchakov's policies "anonymously" through the semi-official press. Going on the record was clearly an intentional escalation, perhaps driven by increasing anxiety about the potential consequences of the congress for Russo-German relations.

Andrassy, who understood what was really at stake, had predicted that this maneuver would not achieve the desired result and his prediction proved to be correct. Although Gorchakov had many enemies at home and therefore rumours were rampant during these weeks that the Russian leader might step down after the congress, they appear to have had no basis in fact. Although the Russian statesman was over eighty years old, he too was perhaps inspired to stay on by his rival's manifest wish to see him go. In any case, the Times interview was a political gamble that ultimately did not pay off. It also contributed greatly to alienating the two former allies and forcing Germany into a fateful defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary in October 1879. And there is clear evidence that Blowitz's article made a material contribution to bringing about this estrangement by confirming Russian suspicions that Bismarck was pursuing an anti-Russian policy in order to take revenge for what had taken place in May 1875.

Viewed in a broader context, the Blowitz interview was another example of a central aspect of Bismarck's foreign policy that has not received the attention it deserves. On an anecdotal basis it has been generally conceded that Bismarck often had strong opinions about certain foreign leaders and even about their respective forms of government. But in reality it was never a case of liking or disliking a particular regime or statesman. It was always about pursuing what were perceived by him to be vital national interests. The best example of this policy of overtly seeking to influence domestic affairs in another country was the Chancellor's long and often sensational battle to preserve the French republic, a form of government he personally despised but favoured in France as a means of isolating a hostile state. (61) But there are other examples of this sort of meddling such as his long campaign to remove Gladstone from office in the 1880s. (62) And in all of these cases it was never about personal animosity driving political decision-making. There were very real German interests that made the removal of certain foreign leaders from office a legitimate policy objective. Of course the problem with the repeated pursuit of this kind of strategy through diplomatic intimidation and press campaigns is that it was not considered to be an acceptable manner in which to conduct international relations. Interference in the domestic affairs of other countries was viewed as entirely unacceptable and therefore often had results completely contrary to the ones intended, in this case Shuvalov's departure from public life.

This negative outcome was typical of the mixed results Bismarck enjoyed in his efforts to support or to remove foreign leaders or regimes over the course of his career. Yet these kinds of strategies were a recurring theme in his approach to diplomacy, starting with his push to topple his early nemesis, Ferdinand von Beust, and lasting until the late 1880s when he took aim at the Germanophobe French Minister of War, Georges Boulanger. There were also some constants in his choice of tactics in carrying out these inherently risky political campaigns. The most notable of these "dirty tricks" was the repeated use of the print media at home and abroad to launch sensational attacks against his targets. In this regard the scandalous interview published in the Times on 7 September 1878 was no exception. In fact, the most notorious article inspired by the chancellor with the intention of influencing the domestic affairs of another state was the "Is War in Sight?" piece of April 1875 which triggered the scare of 1875. (63) When viewed in this wider context, one cannot help wondering if Bismarck was aware of the central irony of his interview with Blowitz: While he was vehemently denying his role in publishing an alarming article in 1875 which had been written on his orders to destabilize a monarchist regime in Paris, he was at the same time once again attempting to use the press to engineer the fall of another adversary.

The use of these kinds of illegitimate means to achieve legitimate political ends makes general statements about Bismarck's statesmanship particularly challenging. After 1871 he declared Germany to be a saturated power and energetically pursued a policy of maintaining the territorial status quo, at least in so far as Germany was concerned. With respect to aims and objectives, the German Empire was therefore a peaceful and conservative force in Europe. In fact, Bismarck's nervous energy in aggressively defending what he had won suggests an underlying insecurity and fear on his part. He was therefore clearly not a statesman in the tradition of Napoleon with ambitions to dominate Europe. However, Bismarck's repeated and often aggressive efforts to influence the domestic politics of other powers was reminiscent of the behaviour of hegemonic powers, and in fact is one of their defining characteristics. Historians are thus confronted with a paradox: A power pursuing a policy of maintaining the status quo, with no interest in territorial expansion in Europe, while at the same time often behaving like a hegemonic bully. This unusual juxtaposition has led historians such as Klaus Hilderandt to attempt to describe the position of the German Empire in Europe between 1871 and 1914 as "semi-hegemonic" ("halbhegemonial"). (64) The choice of this term is unfortunate as it is something of a linguistic abomination, akin to describing a woman as being "half-pregnant." But it does suggest that the dominant position of a united Germany resulted in a powerful temptation for its leaders to irresponsibly employ that power to defend its own security interests, including attempting to influence the internal affairs of other Great Powers. It was a temptation that even Bismarck could not resist as his interview with Blowitz during the Congress of Berlin clearly illustrates.

(1) Typical of the published literature on the subject are the few sentences in: W.N. Medlicott, The Congress of Berlin and After (2nd edition, London, 1963), p. 185. Blowitz's career and his activities in 1878 are dealt with in some detail in: T.E. Mullen, "The Role of Henri de Blowitz in International Relations 1871-1903" (PhD diss, Emory University, 1959).

(2) James Stone, The War Scare of 1875: Bismarck and Europe in the Mid-1870s (Stuttgart, 2010); Johannes Janorschke, Bismarck, Europa und die 'Krieg-in-Sieht '-Krise von 1875 (Paderborn, 2010).

(3) The orthodox view is best summarized in: A. Hillgruber, "Die 'Krieg-in-Sicht'-Krise 1875--Wegscheide der Politik der europaisehen GroBmachte in der spaten Bismarckzeit," in: E. Schulin (ed.), Gedenksehrift Martin Gohring. Studien zur europaischen Geschichte (Wiesbaden, 1968), pp. 239-53. For a contrary view cf. James Stone, "May 1875: A Turning Point in Bismarck's Foreign Policy?" Forschungen zur Brandenburgischen und Preussischen Geschichte, 21 (2011), pp. 73-100.

(4) On this article see: Stone, The War Scare of 1875, pp. 269-72. Janorschke, Bismarck, Europa und die 'Krieg-in-Sicht '-Krise von 1875, pp. 463-64.

(5) Reinhard Wittram, "Bismarck und Gorcakov im Mai 1875,'" Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschafien in Gottingen, 7 (1955), pp. 221-43.

(6) Stephan de Blowitz, Memoirs of M. de Blowitz (New York, 1903), p. 119-22.

(7) Eberhard Naujoks, "Bismarck und die Organisation der Regierungspresse," Historische Zeitschrift (hereafter cited as HZ), 205 (1967), pp. 46-80. For a more recent perspective see: Amo Becker, "Die Bedeutung von Pressepolitik im aussenpolitischen Richtungsstreit zwischen Bismarck und Wilhelm I. 1879," Forschungen 2ur Brandenburgischen und Preussischen Geschichte, 21 (2011), pp. 101-23. The terra "reptile fund" was given to the monies seized from the Guelph dynasty in Hanover when it was toppled after the war of 1866. Ostensibly the money was to be employed to combat attempts by agents of the Guelphs ("reptiles") to restore that dynasty to power. In reality, proceeds from this considerable sum were used to fund various clandestine operations such as influencing the press.

(8) Hohenlohe to Bismarck. (A3672), 15 June 1878 (Attachment: Notes dated 14 June 1878), R1285, Politisches Archiv des Auswartigen Amtes (hereafter cited as PAAA).

(9) Ibid.

(10) Journal entry, 2 July 1878. Friedrich Curtius (ed.), Denkwurdigkeiten des Fursten Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst (Stuttgart, 1906), II, p. 245.

(11) Hajo Holborn (ed.), Aufzeichnungen und Erinnerungen aus dera Leben des Botschafters Joseph Maria von Radowitz (Stuttgart, 1925), II, p. 34.

(12) Blowitz, Memoirs, pp. 141-49.

(13) W. Frauendienst, N. Rich and M.H. Fisher (eds.), Die geheimen Papiere Friedrich von Holsteins: Erinnerungen undpolitische Denkwurdigkeiten (G6ttingen, 1956), I, p. 117.

(14) Times (London), No. 29298, 4 July 1878

(15) Hohenlohe to Bismarck (A4046), 6 July 1878, R12858, PAAA.

(16) Blowitz, Memoirs, p. 131; Journal entry, 10 July 1878; Hohenlohe, Denkwurdigkeiten, li, p. 251.

(17) Blowitz, Memoirs, p. 150. Hohenlohe, Denkwurdigkeiten, II, p. 245.

(18) Times (London), No. 29354, 7 July 1878. For alternate, less complete accounts of this part of the interview see: Blowitz, Memoirs, pp. 140-49; Journal entry, 2 July 1878; Hohenlohe, Denkwurdigkeiten, II, p. 245.

(19) Blowitz, Memoirs, pp. 91-115.

(20) Times (London), No. 29354, 7 Sept. 1878.

(21) Ibid.

(22) H. Schulthess (ed.), Europaischer Geschichtskalender, 19 (1878) (Nordlingen, 1879), p. 112.

(23) Hohenlohe to Bismarck, No. 177, 16 Dec. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(24) Emes. (London) 13 July 1878. (Special Edition); Times Newspapers Limited, The History of the Times (London, 1939), 2, pp. 524-26.

(25) Blowitz, Memoirs, p. 133.

(26) Bismarck to F.O, Tel. No. 37, 13 Sept. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(27) Ibid.

(28) Times (London), No. 293260, 14 Sept. 1878.

(29) Standard, 16 Sept. 1878.

(30) Times (London), No. 29362, 17 Sept. 1878.

(31) Ibid.

(32) Cf. M. Muller, Die Bedeutung des Berliner Kongresses fur die deutsch-russischen Beziehungen (Berlin, 1926).

(33) Bismarck to F.O., Tel. No. 37, 13 Sept. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(34) Most notably in a sensational lead article in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 195, 18 Aug. 1878.

(35) Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia signed an agreement in October 1873 to cooperate with one another in resolving contentious issues and in upholding the existing social order in Europe.

(36) Berchem to Bulow, No. 328, 15 Sept. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(37) Published in German translation in: Si. Petersburger Zeitung, No. 245, 14 Sept. 1878.

(38) Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 225, 22 Sept. 1878. Drafts of the article including Bismarck's corrections in: R 12861. PAAA.

(40) Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, No. 226, 24 Sept. 1878.

(41) This was clearly not an idle threat as Holstein feared for a time that be and Hohenlohe might be called as witnesses in a trial and might be forced to testify against their superior; see W. Frauendienst et al. (eds.), Die geheimen Papiere, I, pp. 117.

(42) Times (London), No. 29369, 25 Sept. 1878.

(43) W. Schussler (ed.), Otto von Bismarck. Die gesammelten Werke: Reden (Berlin, 1929), XII. p. 604. In his memoirs, Holstein attributed to Bismarck a much harsher statement than be actually made that is often quoted by historians. According to Holstein, Bismarck had stated that "in the future people will say that somebody lies like a Times correspondent." Die geheimen Papiere, I, pp. 117.

(44) Blowitz to Wesdehlen, 21 Sept. 1878. As an attachment to: Wesdehlen to Bulow, 25 Sept. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(45) Golos, No. 251, 23 Sept. 1878. Quoted in: L'Agente Russe, No. 404, 25 Sept. 1878.

(46) Berchem to Bulow, No. 352.28 Sept. 1878, R12861, PAAA.

(47) W. Schussler (ed.), Otto von Bismarck, XII, p. 3.

(48) This strategy is most clearly articulated in the famous Kissingen Memorandum; Cf. Henning K6hler, "Das Kissinger Diktat," in: Henning Kohler (ed.), Deutschland und der Westen (Berlin 1984), pp. 34-43. Also: Karl-Alexander Hampe, "Neues zum Kissinger Diktat Bismarck von 1877," Historisches Jahrbuch, 108 (1988), pp. 204-12.

(49) This strategy appears to have been successful in removing lingering suspicions on the part of British statesmen arising out of Bismarck's behaviour in 1875; C. Hoyer, Salisbury und Deutschland: Aussenpolitisches Denken und britische Deutschlandpolitik zwischen 1856 und 1880 (Husum, 2008), pp. 212-13.

(50) A good example: Neues Wiener Tageblatt, No. 261, 23 Sept. 1878.

(51) Die geheimen Papiere, I, p. 117.

(52) Diary entry, 5 May 1884: Die geheimen Papiere: Tagebuchblatter (G6ttingen, 1956), II, pp. 149-50.

(53) Alexander II to Kaiser Wilhelm l, 15 Aug. 1879; J. Lepsius, A. Bartholdy and F. Thimme (eds.), Die Grosse Politik der europaischen Kabinette (Berlin, 1924), III, pp. 14-16.

(54) Otto Pflanze, Bismarck and the Development of Germany (Princeton, 1990), II, p. 278.

(55) A good example of this perspective: B. Waller, "Wirtsehaft, Machtkampfund personliche Rivalitat in der Aussenpolitik Bismarcks vom Berliner Kongress bis zum Abschluss des Zweibundes," in: R. Melville and H.-J. Schroder (eds.), Der Berliner Kongress von 1878 (Wiesbaden, 1982), pp. 153-62.

(56) Reuss to Bulow, Private, 24 Sept. 1878, R8489, PAAA.

(57) Robert Lucius von Ballhausen, Bismarck-Erinnerungen des Staatsministers Freiherrn Lucius von Ballhausen (Berlin, 1920), diary entry. 22 Feb. 1878, p. 129; cited in Jonathan Steinberg. Bismarck: A Life (Oxford, 2011), p. 11; Steinberg incorrectly gives the year of the diary entry as 1875.

(58) Morier to Granville, 31 July 1870; quoted in: Karina Urbach, Bismarck's Favourite Englishman: Lord Odo Russell's Mission to Berlin (London, 1999), p. 61; Steinberg, Bismarek: A Life, p. 128.

(59) One example of this was the famous Radowitz mission: James Stone, "The Radowitz Mission: A Study in Bismarckian Foreign Policy," Militargeschichtliche Mitteilungen, 51 (1992), pp. 47-71; Ulrich Lappenkuper, Die Mission Radowitz: Untersuchungen zur Russlandpolitik Otto von Bismarcks (1871-1875) (Gottingen, 1990).

(60) Wilhelm Schussler, "Bismarcks Bundnisangebot an Russland 'Durch dick und dunn' im Herbst 1876," HZ, 147 (1933), pp. 106-14. Friedrich Frahm, "Bismarck vor der Option zwischen Russland und Osterreich im Herbst 1876," HZ, 149 (1934), pp. 522-43.

(61) Heinz-Alfred Pohl, Bismarcks 'Einflussnahme' auf die Staatsform in Frankreich 1871-1877: Zum Problem des Stellenwerts von Pressepolitik im Rahmen der auswartigen Beziehungen (Frankfurt am Main, 1984); Allan Mitchell, The German Influence in France after 1870: The Formation of the French Republic (Chapel Hill, 1979).

(62) James Stone, "Bismarck versus Gladstone: Regime Change and German Foreign Policy, 1880-1885,'" Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke Gesellschaft, 23 (2010), pp. 167-200.

(63) This is the interpretation presented in: Stone, The War Scare of 1875, pp. 179-248. In his study, Janorschke takes the opposite position, arguing that this infamous article was published against Bismarck's will by overzealous underlings. Bismarck, Europa und die 'Krieg-in-Sicht'-Krise von 1875, pp. 189-208.

(64) Klaus Hildebrandt, Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Auflenpolitik von Bismarck bis Hitler (Stuttgart, 1995), pp. 13-33. The terra was first used to describe the German Empire by Ludwig Dehio, "Das sterbende Staatensystem," in: L Dehio (ed.), Deutschland und die Weltpolitik im 20. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1955), pp. 123-41.

James J. Stone received his master's degree in Modern History from the Freie Universitat in Berlin and completed his doctorate at Philipps-Universitat in Marburg. He specializes in the history of the German Empire with a focus on foreign and defence policy. He has written numerous papers on Bismarck's statesmanship and recently published the first English-language monograph dealing with the famous war scare of 1875. He is currently co-editing a collection of the political correspondence of Heinrich Vil Prince Reuss that is scheduled to be published at the end of 2014.

The author would like to acknowledge the kind assistance of the staff of the Politisches Archiv des Auswartigen Amts in Berlin. He would also like to recognize the late Professor Ivo Lambi for his support and encouragement to research further this period of German history.
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Title Annotation:Abstract/Resume analytique; Prince Otto von Bismarck's conversation with Henri Opper de Blowitz
Author:Stone, James J.
Publication:Canadian Journal of History
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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