Snippet 2

Collected Essays about The Great Kaiser (c) 1981

Raymond Poincare – Christmas Cards – 1920

Of the many insidious and ingenious things the Kaiser Wilhelm has done over the years, perhaps the most insidious and ingenious are his Christmas cards. He took what had been a quaint English tradition, and turned it into a weapon for Germany. A subtle weapon, whose bite would not be felt for years.

His first Christmas as Kaiser he sent one to France, Britain, the United States, Italy, Austria, Russia and Japan. The following Christmas, nearly every other Nation in Europe received one. The year after, just about every nation in the world that had diplomatic relations with Germany received one.

And they always came with a letter addressed to the people of that nation, from the people of Germany. The ones to France were always similar in message. How the people of Germany wanted nothing but peace with their neighbors to the west. How France and Germany are brother countries, descended from Charlemagne. How our two nations could achieve a lasting peace and prosperity, if they worked together. It always ended with an offer of a defensive alliance with Germany, either bilateral or outright membership in the Central Powers, and always included an offer of a non-aggression treaty as a first step. “To build trust and goodwill between our peoples, to show our good intentions towards each other and to the world.” It was kind and heartfelt. It was also a relentless assault upon France’s willingness to fight Germany. The Kaiser was always consistent in his message. Christmas after Christmas, it made rejecting the German entreaties just a bit harder. Especially when it was noticed that no such offers of alliance were ever extended to Britain or Russia in their Christmas cards.

Let’s not pretend the Kaiser didn’t know what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing. Like no other ruler before him, the Kaiser understands soft power. The Kaiser always plans years ahead, doing things whose results may not be felt for a decade or more. And there is always more to everything he does than the obvious. He also paid newspapers to print the whole letter, especially in those countries he felt it would not see the light of day otherwise, or in those he felt his letter needed more exposure. In the minor nations, and especially in South America and Japan, this was never necessary. The former were happy for any positive attention by Europe, hoping for improved relations, and the latter considered it a great honor, both to be thought of as a fellow great nation by Germany, and to receive such a message from an “Emperor”.

The letters were always well written. They were always personalized to each country, and each year they were completely new. They often contained congratulations about some good news of the recipient country the past year. I have heard he had teams of writers spend days on each one, making sure each was exactly the perfect message, both writing the original German one, and making sure the translation was perfect.

In 1903 he stopped sending them to Russia, but did send one to the Polish people that year, and again in 1904. In hindsight, it is very obvious what that meant.

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From: Assistant Foreign Minister for Spain

To: Personal Secretary of His Royal Highness Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Spanish Ambassador called upon our office and was quite perturbed. He was enquiring as to what exactly was meant by the Kaiser naming the cocktail of rum, lime and Coca-Cola a “Cuba Libre”.

To: Assistant Foreign Minister for Spain

From: Personal Secretary of His Royal Highness Kaiser Wilhelm II

His Royal Highness denies that he came up with that name, states that is what the drink has always been called, and that he neither invented it or named it.

From: Assistant Foreign Minister for Spain

To: Personal Secretary of His Royal Highness Kaiser Wilhelm II

Given that the Kaiser owns the European bottling and distribution rights to Coca-Cola, and is a fifty percent shareholder in the American “The Coca-Cola Company” and that no one in Europe seems to have heard of Coca-Cola until the Kaiser bought the rights and became a shareholder, the Spanish Ambassador is skeptical of the that argument. In the interest of improving relations with Spain, would the Kaiser consider renaming the beverage? Given his fame as a noted cocktail connoisseur, and as the owner of the European rights to its unique ingredient, would he be willing to put his influence on the subject towards renaming the cocktail to something less upsetting to the Spanish?

To: Assistant Foreign Minister for Spain

From: Personal Secretary of His Royal Highness Kaiser Wilhelm II

The Kaiser says, and I quote “Rum, lime and coke is a goddamn Cuba Libre. I didn’t come up with it, I didn’t name it, and I damn well won’t be changing it. If the Spanish don’t like it, they can invent their own cocktail. If they make one with coke in it, other than Jack and Coke or Crown and Coke, they can name that one. I suggest trying red wine and coke. I’ve heard Basques like that.”

GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH3

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Pre-Dawn – Feb 9th – Admiral Dewa

Togo had orders to follow up his night attack immediately, to make the most of the element of surprise, and to seek a decisive engagement if possible. Togo would not to give the Pacific Squadron any more time to recover than he had to. He was determined to strike a second blow before the Russians recovered.

Admiral Dewa, commanding the Third Division of the Combined Fleet, was on the approach towards Port Arthur with his four protected cruisers, Kasagi, Chitose, Takasago, and Yoshino, when they encountered the protected cruiser Diana. It was a surprise encounter to both parties in the early morning hours with the barest hint of twilight in the sky. Diana, the only remaining cruiser available to Admiral Stark, was on patrol twenty kilometers off the roadstead. Her lookouts spotted the four approaching light cruisers at less than four kilometers distance. Without a moment of delay, her captain ordered flank speed and an immediate turn to port, seeking the protection of the battleships and shore batteries. The anxious gunners manning Diana’s 152mm guns opened fire on the enemy ships as she turned and fled back towards Port Arthur. The roar of ship’s cannon shattered the quiet of the sea at night for the men of Third Division, and alerted the Japanese to Diana’s presence, as they had not spotted her till that moment. The Japanese were thrown into confusion, as they were unaware they had encountered only a single ship, and spent valuable minutes searching about for more. After a couple of minutes, Dewa gave the order to pursue what seemed to be a single patrolling cruiser. Continue reading GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH3

GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH2

Chapter 2

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Feb 9th 1904 –

Admiral Togo w/ the Combined Fleet – South East of Round Island, Yellow Sea

“Climb Mount Niitaka”

Admiral Togo read the message that his radio man handed him. The coded message meant the Russian Pacific Squadron was at anchor in the roadstead, and that the attack could go forward.

Togo ordered a signal by means of both flag and lamp sent to those ships who had the next part in this plan. A signal that read “Attack as Previously Arranged. I pray for your success” was sent to the three assigned flotillas of destroyers, and to the ships they were escorting. The Commanding officer of the first flotilla signaled back “We expect sure success”. Togo had done all he could. The last two months of training and preparation has come down to this night. By dawn, Japan would be at war with Russia, and Togo would know if Yamamoto’s gamble paid off. For now, there was nothing left for Togo to do but wait. Come dawn, the Combined Fleet may still have a part to play in this drama.

Continue reading GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH2

GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH1

Chapter 1

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July 1903

The German Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan met with Prime Minister Katsura Taro and Foreign Minister Jutaro Komura. The ambassador rendered his assurances that the German Empire will faithfully fulfill all the terms, both public and secret, of the alliance between the two nations, in the event of a war with Russia. The German Ambassador reiterated Germany’s position that Russia is merely stalling for time, waiting for the completion of the trans-Siberian railroad, and will never make concessions regarding Manchuria, and that negotiations are at an impasse.

The Japanese Prime Minister agreed, and told the ambassador barring a surprise breakthrough, that Japan will move forward with Case Green early next year.

The Ambassador replied that he will inform the Kaiser, and that Germany will immediately begin her final preparations. He informed the two men that the German Naval attache will be sent over to the Admiralty with the most recent planning revisions and status updates, and will forward any additional information as it is received from Berlin.

Continue reading GDK-Russo-Japanese War CH1