Friday, June 22nd, 1888. Meeting with Bismark
I’d been avoiding this meeting for a week, ever since I awoke the previous friday in Kaiser Wilhelm II’s body on the day of his, and now also my, coronation as Emperor of Germany.
Part of me was eager to meet Bismarck; from my future perspective, the man was a living legend. And I also dreaded meeting him, because he was a stiff necked prick who had numerous conflicts with Kaiser Wilhelm II in the brief period that that two shared power. In the original timeline, Wilhelm and Bismarck had a complicated relationship, that eventually devolved into hostility. That conflict consumed the first two years of Wilhelm’s reign, and left a black mark on Wilhelm’s reign for the next decade, with Bismarck sniping at the Kaiser and the Chancellors who came after him in letters published in newspapers. Not to mention that it left a bruise on Wilhelm’s ego that he would act out against the rest of his reign. I could handle the hits to my ego, but I needed the conflict between the two of us resolved.
I did not trust my ability to out maneuver Bismarck politically, and what’s more, I didn’t want to. There were too many things that I needed to change, for Germany and for the world, and I needed all the help I could get.
I could just run the clock out on him. It was an option. By this point, his health has been failing for years. He had just over a decade left to live from this point in my original timeline. With what I am going to ask of him, he may have even less time remaining. I am willing to work Bismarck into an earlier grave, and what’s more, he’ll probably end up thanking me for the opportunity.
And I needed Bismarck. I didn’t want to get rid of him any sooner than I had to. I had a lot of plans to undertake, plans that would go much smoother if I could keep him in Chancellor’s office for another couple of years. He was a patriot, and he was capable. I would strike a grand bargain with him, if I could. I needed to convince him to relent on the socialists, and to change direction on his taxation policy. Germany needed direct Federal taxation, and an end to the matricular payment system. This means constitutional reform.
Bismarck was canny bastard. I knew he would destroy the Kartell party and try to make cause with the Zentrum rather than risk losing power to me. He did it OTL, and it ended up destroying the Kartell and costing himself his position as Chancellor in the bargain. I needed both him and the Kartell party as they were today, at least for the next few years. If I could, I’d bring as many other former National Liberals back under the umbrella as possible. I wanted to keep the moderates strong, and not have the historical hollowing out of the middle parties in the Reichstag.
Bismark was going to be challenge, but I had several advantages. I knew what he wanted, from the many biographies of him I’d read, and I knew the course of action he would take over the next two years in the original timeline. And I didn’t have the many personal failings of Wilhelm II. I didn’t have Wilhelm’s ego, temper, and need of approval. If I could sell Bismarck on my plan, and get his agreement, it would go along way towards putting things right for the future.
I entered the lounge of my palace that I had chosen for this meeting, where Bismarck was already waiting. Bismarck stood as I entered the room, but I waved for him to sit down as I walked across the room to him. I sat in one of the other chairs around a low table, and motioned for my valet to leave, so I could speak with Bismarck in private.
I got right to the point. “I will speak plainly with you, Otto. I want you to remain as chancellor for as long as you can stand the burden, you wish to remain as chancellor for the same. To do this, we must work together, else factions in the Reichstag will see to it that you cannot remain in the post. Conflict between us would only weaken both our positions. That would be most unfortunate for Germany and myself, as I see no obvious candidate to replace you who can match your capabilities.“
“I am flattered that you think so highly of me, but this is nothing that we have not spoke of before,” replied Bismarck. Bismarck took the praise with grace, and the air of a trusted mentor. I knew the two men had had a good relationship, so I was not surprised.
“I know, but now that I am Kaiser, we must now talk of specifics, and not generalities. I have many goals for Germany, and would like your assistance in achieving them. I want to strike a bargain with you. We do not always agree, and we will not always agree. You disapprove of my support for much of the socialist’s demands. I could well be Kaiser for the next fifty years, if I am granted the same years as my grandfather. I must look to the future, and for the good of Germany I have decided to support much of the socialist’s demands. Not merely from a moral perspective, but from a practical one as well. Germany needs her people, needs them healthy, and needs them to remain in Germany and to not seek their fortunes abroad in America or elsewhere. We need them to be happy, or at least, not so unhappy as to leave our country, or to seek violent revolution. That would be the destruction of Germany.”
Bismarck looked at me and nodded, but didn’t say anything, so I continued.
“France has already been defeated as our rival, though the world does not realize it. Germany defeated her not just on the battlefield, but also in the bedroom, which is a far greater defeat. The population of France in 1871 was thirty seven million. Our population numbered forty one million. In the nearly eighteen years since then, France has gained roughly a million and a half souls. While our nation numbers in excess of forty eight million. Especially when accounting for all of our emigration, we are rapidly outbreeding her. We now outnumber her by a considerable margin, where a century ago she had more people. That margin grows year by year. To prevent the same from happening to us, I must see to the welfare of all Germans, so that more of them grow up healthy, and remain in Germany, and do not leave our country to America, taking their potential with them. I must see to their health and contentment, lest they cause unrest or emigrate. To that end, I am supporting much of the reforms of the socialists.”
I paused to see his reaction. Bismarck was not the easiest person to read, but I thought he was still with me, so I continued.
“And there is another more practical reason for my support. I fear the Kartell is going to lose the the next elections, and badly. Particularly the National Liberals. The anti-socialist laws are not working. A law that no one will follow and that cannot be enforced does nothing but reduce respect of citizens for the state. We should make concessions to the socialists now to minimize the damage. Pull as many of them back to the National Liberals as possible. Maybe even get the Liberal Union back out of the Free Minded Party. The concessions I plan to champion are those that we are going to have to make anyway, if the Reichstag elections go as badly as I think. It is far better to get something in trade now, then to get nothing in trade after the elections. Better still, if we can frame those concessions as a victory for the National Liberal portion of the Kartell now, before the elections, that should help their standings. We need to draw off as much of the support of the Socialists as we can, and channel it through the Liberals. We must keep the National Liberal party strong, as a viable alternative to the Socialists. The National Liberal party has wings that are strongly nationalistic. They are people we can work with on common interests. Those wings can be strengthened, and directed to the benefit of Germany in a way that a stronger socialist party cannot be. If the socialists win, all the anti-socialist laws will be allowed to lapse anyway, and we may have to make far greater concessions. It is far better that we repeal them, and be seen doing so, and get something in return. The alternative is that the Kartell is defeated and fractured. What would you do in that case? Would you make common cause with the Zentrum to try to hold on to power? Make your every action contingent upon the approval of the Papists? How would you govern, when your government coalition would depend upon their cooperation? I would be forced to demand your resignation.”
I was playing up Wilhelm’s anti-Catholic tendencies, but couching them in practical concerns. I thought it would resonate better with Bismarck. Bismarck had no love for the Zentrum, but that wouldn’t stop him from trying to make a deal with them OTL, to stay in power. I needed to make it clear that was a red line that he could not cross.
Bismarck sat for a moment longer, then he spoke. I could hear the resistance in his voice. I knew I had gotten his back up with the talk of his resignation, but I needed him to know where we both stood. I wanted no misunderstandings getting us into conflict. Much like how if Britain had only made it clear that Belgium’s neutrality was a red line, things would have gone differently.
“If we were to make concessions to the Socialists, and give these victories to the National Liberals, what is it you want in return from them?”
“Constitutional Reform. Direct Taxation by the federal government, an end to the Frankenstein clause and the Lex Huene. Money. Army funding, enough money to implement universal conscription and a vast increase in our reserve formations. Reforms to our army, and replacement of the seven year army budget with a four year army budget. Education reform to keep the schools out of the hands of the clergy entirely. And money to build our navy and colonial empire as I see fit, likewise specifics to be discussed later. In that order of priority. For all this we will need taxation reform, which will mean reform to the constitution. I want the Kartell’s support for this. The federal government needs the power of direct taxation. The matricular payment system is unsustainable, the poorest states will never be able to fulfill their obligations, and will resist at every turn attempts to collect those funds. And the natural limitations of customs and duties means those tools cannot provide the funds Germany needs to keep pace with her potential enemies. In addition, I want the Prussian tax system reformed, along the lines proposed by Scholz, with a few changes, both to make them more efficient and give them political appeal”
Bismarck inhaled and seemed to bristle slightly at this. I knew these were touchy issues for him, though I knew he had at least been neutral on Scholz’s proposals in 1885. Next, I appealed to his concern over Germany’s power and status in the world.
“Germany needs money and not all taxes are the same. Some cause more damage to the economy per mark raised than others. Britain and France have great power in their financial systems. It lets them raise vast sums far more efficiently than our nation can. France can outspend us because she can raise funds to an extent that is impossible for us. Without direct taxation, the Empire will be hamstrung in its finances, falling ever farther behind, and will become more and more dependent upon borrowing to meets its needs. That would put Germany in an ever weaker position internationally. We would become like Russia, dependent upon foreign money to finance its bonds. We would regress to a pauper state, relying upon either French or British money, as we did during the wars of the previous century. And they would have the power of the purse strings over us.”
Fear of powerlessness against our historic enemy to the west was an argument that held nearly universal weight with Germans, and rightly so. By 1890, France had waged war in Germany dozens of times, with armies marauding back and forth for years at a stretch. Two hundred fifty years of French aggression and interference had left cultural marks on Germany. The Franco-Prussian war was still recent, and had only slightly altered the historical balance of injuries. I decided to also throw in an appeal to his ego on top of the fear, uncertainty and doubt.
“Otto, you are an old man. A great man, but still an old one. You may live another ten years. I may live another fifty. Maybe Germany doesn’t need this today, but Germany will need this power one day, and without someone like you to help me get it then, we might not have it when we need it. That is why I want to make the change now, while you are still here to help me do it. I am not sure I could accomplish it alone.”
“I’ve spent years trying to build indirect revenue streams for the Federal government, that are outside the control of the Reichstag. My goal for more than a decade has been to render the Imperial treasury free from control by any elected body.”
“I know you have, and it hasn’t worked. And it won’t work. The Reichstag will thwart you at every turn, no matter what angle you take, just as they did over your insurance, liquor and tobacco monopoly attempts. The Reichstag doesn’t want the federal government to have a monopoly on any industry. There are too many who would oppose it due to personal financial reasons, regardless of what industry you pick. Others will oppose it on philosophical or practical grounds. The indirect taxes harm the lowest classes the most, causing unrest, and in any event we will never be able to raise sufficient funds off the price of grain, stamps, liquor and tobacco. Put higher tariffs on wheat to raise funds, the price of a loaf of bread goes a penny higher, and watch unrest bubble up across all our cities. I will be making this the key issue of the next reichstag election. This issue should help the National Liberals just as the Great Army budget helped the Kartell in the last election. And I will also wage a campaign of persuasion across the Bundesrat for support to amend the constitution. The poor states will be the most in favor, as the matricular payments are unfair to them. I will use all my influence to persuade those princes to support it. I will start with the Thuringer Staaten.
“And what is it that you will offer me?” asked Bismark. I could hear in the tone of his voice that his resistance was failing. I could feel that he was starting to come around to my position, but that I hadn’t sold him completely on the deal.
“My continued support and cooperation towards yourself as Chancellor. My influence in support of those domestic policies we agree upon, in coordination with yourself. The dignity and gravitas of my office, wielded effectively, can move men. I will support your foreign policy towards Russia, though I believe a war with them in the long term is inevitable. I will put my influence as much as possible at your disposal on any other foreign policy matter that we agree upon ahead of time. I would support a rapprochement with France, including offering them a similar reinsurance treaty. In fact, I would support a public declaration of such an offer, as well as a public declaration of our Reinsurance Treaty with Russia. It would put Germany as the guarantor of peace in Europe, and remove uncertainty as to our position in all possible war scenarios. Everyone would know where Germany stood in any possible war, so there could be no web of secret alliances that cause that Europe to stumble into a general war.”
Bismarck seemed surprised at this. The Wilhelm he knew until last friday was a bellicose and temperamental man, who ran hot and cold, eager for war with Russia one month, France another. That ended here. I was of a very different nature, and Bismarck was starting to notice.
“I will lend personal support a new commercial treaty with our trading partners, something Germany shall need to do as the Frankfort treaty will expire. I will rein in Waldersee, and dash his ambitions for the Chief of Staff position as a stepping stone to the Chancellorship. I know of your personal animosity towards the man.”
Bismarck seemed even more surprised that, knowing what a good relationship Wilhelm had with Waldersee. Dropping Waldersee like that represented my most definite outward expression of personal change from the Wilhelm that everyone knew, that I had allowed out so far. Time to dangle the biggest carrot I had out for the Chancellor.
“And lastly, if we succeed in keeping the Kartell in power, and the Zentrum and Socialists out for six years and achieve my goals in that time, and you support my choices for your successors, I will grant you the mediatization of your house that I know you desire.”
I knew I had Bismarck’s interest now. Historically, receiving only the honorific title Duke of Lauenburg and not mediatization had been his greatest disappointment, one he was bitter about for the rest of his life.
“But if start you state making cause with the Zentrum party and working against the Kartell, I shall have to assume our deal is off, and ask for your resignation. As a first gesture towards this arrangement, I make this offer. Your son in law Count Rantzau is entirely to sympathetic with the ultramontanes for my taste, and I am concerned over where his loyalties and priorities lie. I had thought to argue for Philipp von Eulenburg appointment for Ambassador to Bavaria, but I will make a deal with you instead. I will support Count Rantzau’s appointment to the Munich embassy, on the condition that no religious orders be permitted to return at all, under any circumstances, and that both you and he that clear to the government in Bavaria that we, both you AND I, will oppose any action in that direction. I’ll not have the Jesuits returning in the guise of some other organization, be they Vincentians,Redemptorists, or any other religious order. I do not need more groups that are beholden to none but the Pope, and who act at his direction, coming into Germany. That would send the wrong message to everyone; it would look bad to our allies in Italy as well as to our own domestic audience. It is bad enough that we must deal with the Zentrum as they are. ”
This was not hyperbole on my part, and Bismarck and I both knew it. Pope Leo XIII had personally intervened just the prior year, in 1887, to order the Zentrum to accept Bismarck’s proposal to end the Kulturekampf. The leaders of the Zentrum wanted more than Bismarck was willing to offer, while the ultra conservatives were resistant to even offering that much. Bismarck in turn had to pressure his own party, just as the Pope had to pressure the Zentrum, to get the deal done. That the Pope had that much power and authority over any party in Germany did not sit well with either of us, though it had proved beneficial in that instance. Bismarck had enjoyed being able to call on both chambers of the Landtag to support the authority of the Pope against rebellious Catholics, to support the authority of both Pope and Kaiser against subversion and anarchy.
I knew from OTL that Bismarck’s approval of the return of the Redemptorists was first sign that Bismarck was planning to fracture the Kartell and try to bring about a Conservative-Center alliance. OTL the Kaiser had informed Bismarck that he was to veto the return, and to inform Bavarian government. The Kaiser’s veto never reached the Bavarian government. Instead, Rantzau informed them that the Chancellor wanted them to return. The Kaiser’s position was never communicated by the Prussian Embassy. That would be the point of no return for the Bismarck and the Kaiser’s relationship. It served as the final confirmation to Eulenburg and Holstein’s of what Bismarck was attempting, leading directly to the final confrontation between Kaiser and Chancellor, and Bismarck’s resignation.
What’s worse, the return of the Redemptorists would bring down the current liberal Bavarian government, and bring in a Zentrum majority in the kingdom’s parliament, as well as bolster the number of Zentrum representatives in the Imperial Diet.
“And I will be making great cuts in my household budget. I will be freeing up as much funds as I can for several personal projects. Some of that I could make use of similar to how you have used the Welf Funds in the past, to influence newspapers and candidates for the Reichstag. And I have an idea I want to share with you, how we can pick and choose which elections to contest and how to best to support candidates. I call it “survey sampling”…
The following day I met with Bismarck again. This time Albert von Maybach, Prussian Minister of Public Works, was also present. The Prussian State Railways were under his management. He had previously been the President of the Imperial Railway Office, appointed to the post by Bismarck in 1874. After two years of fruitless efforts to create a unified railway, where he was thwarted by middle German states, he resigned the pointless and powerless office, and had become Under Secretary of State in the Prussian Ministry of Trade. He took over as minister upon the resignation of Heinrich von Achenbach in March of 1878. He immediately made the nationalizations of the most important state railway lines his top priority. He had remained that post until 1879, when the Ministry of Public Works was split off from them Ministry of Trade. Administration of the Prussian State railways was transferred to this new Ministry, and he continued his life’s work of trying to build a unified German railway network.
I was going to help him with this. Step one in my plan was to buy out the DHPG, in its entirety. Step two was to break it up, and sell it, plus all of Germany’s state interests in each of those islands, to the highest bidders in each case. Step three was to take the monies from that plan, pay back the loans I took, and use the remainder to start buying up railway companies, starting with the Mecklenburg Friedrich-Franz Railway Company, and the Hessian Ludwig Railway Company. Historically, the Mecklenburg company would be nationalized for a second time in two years as part of the Mecklenburg State Railway company. The Hessian company would be nationalized in a decade, as part of the merger between the Prussian and Hessian state railway companies. The combined Prussian-Hessian Railway Company would be the largest company in Germany in 1907, with have 486,318 employees. I was going to jump start the process and enlarge it. The Friedrich-Franz Railway would be the first piece of this. Any other minor private railways in either Hesse or Mecklenburg will also be bought up as soon as possible.
Kaiser Wilhelm the Second didn’t know or care for business. I didn’t have that failing. Each state having her own railway company was inefficient, and wasteful. Germany would get her national railway company. But it would take a lot of time, effort, and money. And I had a plan as to where I could get a quick infusion of cash. In the future, people would buy and flip houses for profit. As far as I know, no one has ever tried to buy and flip a colony. But I was willing to give it a shot.
I told the men present that I planned to devote any profits from the sale of our South Sea interests back into this scheme, after I paid off the loans. That should give Bismarck a healthy motivation to get top dollar for our various holdings. By getting out of Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands, not only would we get a huge influx of cash, but we would we save a huge amount of future expenses. Unfortunately, only I knew that for sure, but I did mention that as well. The total of just the past two years, and the estimate for this year’s expedition, if needed, were already a substantial sum.
I informed the two men that I planned to cut my court expenditures in half, and keep them there for the foreseeable future. I had already cut it by a third. The rest of the reductions would take place over time, as men retired and were not replaced. I also let both men know that I was taking steps to increase my revenues as part of reducing my costs, but those steps would take longer. I planned to make a full fifty percent of my incomes available for this and other schemes for the betterment of Germany. That would eventually amount to eleven million marks per year, or more, if I could increase my revenue or cut my expense further. The railroads would be by far the largest of the schemes I had planned, and would probably consume the majority of those funds for the next few years, but wasn’t the only one. Fortunately, most of the others were longer term, and were currently in incubation stage, not yet requiring any massive investments.
I didn’t necessarily want to be a railroad baron. I would prefer, after all is said and done, for the Imperial Government to buy out my interests in these railroads, as part of combining them with the other state railways, into a truly national agency. Or perhaps I would retain an ownership stake in whatever company that is created at the end. II wasn’t quite clear on how that would work yet, but I had started to get some ideas. Much of this would depend on negotiations with the various German states.
Historically, Hesse as part of the the combined Prussia-Hessen railroads retained ownerships of their railways, and the income from their lines, but everything else was pretty much followed Prussian regulations alone. All staff wore the Prussian uniform, although the Hessians were allowed to wear a Hessian insignia in addition. I could probably stretch that sort of generosity of meaningless gesture to all the other states.
I wanted to eliminate even the fiction of ownership still lying with the individual states. Far better if everyone involved can only point to shares. So that no one state can ever back out and say “I own this line and you own that line” but rather each state could only say “I own this percent of this line, and you own that precent of this line.” It will make ever splitting up this company back into its constituent states companies much much harder.
For that reason, the end result will most likely have to be some sort of joint stock company, with the only legal owners of the stock being the various German states, the Federal government, and myself as Kaiser. This would allow some liquidity, as the states could sell their shares to each other, to the Imperial Government, or to myself, but no one else.
And it would make sharing the incomes, a key goal of both states involved in the deal historically, much easier. Where historically Hesse only received the incomes from the Hesse lines, now Hesse would receive a share of the incomes from ALL the lines, in proportion to her stock. It would prevent bias among the shareholders whenever a new or expanded line is proposed, as they would all get the same profits regardless of if it was inside Hesse, or Prussia, or somewhere else. It should make planning capital expenditures easier, by removing motivation to steer them out selfish regional interests.
End of June 1888
I wrote a note to Bismarck today. I told him to cancel all my trips abroad this summer, and for the rest of the year, unless he could think of a compelling diplomatic reason for it. I don’t need to honor my own coronation as Kaiser, and stoke my own ego. Historically, the Kaiser had within weeks of his ascension gone on a cruiser of the nations in the Baltic. That ruffled a few feathers in England, especially my Grandmother, who saw a lack of proper mourning, in addition to the Kaiser making diplomatic waves. I wanted just the opposite. I wanted Germany to be seen as a rock in international politics. Consistent and unmoving, never the one to cause crisis and stir up events. But more than that I wanted to put on a display for the domestic political audience. I wanted to start building up a personal reputation for consistency and hard work. I wanted to show the people that the smooth running of government was undisturbed, and that the continuity of the state was intact. To do that, I had to work, and be seen working.
And I certainly don’t need to do it in England, attempting to win the approval of my extended family. It will probably just piss them off, especially my uncle Edward, who is still just crown prince. The last thing I want is for him to think I’m rubbing my new status in his face. Likewise I really didn’t feel like I needed to take an extended cruise of the Baltic.
I explain this to Bismarck, and then defer to his judgement on the matter. If he insists I make a state trip to England, then I will, but not till next year. I will do it escorted by one or two of my naval vessels that isn’t doing anything else, and not make a big production of it. I will probably use only one or two of my Sachsen class, and nothing else. I don’t want Britain thinking about my navy at all, so the less they see of it, the better. The Sachsen class would have been just a part of the flotilla of escorts the Kaiser took with him, and aren’t good for much else. They certainly aren’t any good for sending to distant overseas stations. I don’t want to make nearly that sort of splash. I’ll be going to England to wage a campaign of quiet personal diplomacy.
Plus I want to free up SMS Irene to send to German East Africa as soon as possible on a training cruise, with at least one other warship. I don’t need her escorting me and my oversized toy boat, if I don’t go on the trip this year. This is all cover for them to assist with the putting down the Abushiri revolt, which will be happening soon. It will be very convenient if she just happens to be in Dar es Salaam on an extended training exercise with another couple of ships and a couple company of Marines when the uprising happens.
Come to think of it, I should sell the yacht Hohenzollern in a few years. It is reaching the end of its life, and I don’t plan to use it for vanity trips anymore. And cancel any plans for a Hohenzollern II. I don’t need a 6500 ton personal yacht. I don’t need a fight with the Reichstag over a vanity project, using the flimsy excuse that it could serve as an “Aviso” in wartime. What utter bollocks, I can’t believe the Kaiser pulled that off OTL. Anyone with eyes could tell that Hohenzollern II was useless as a warship. If I’m going to have a budgetary fight with the Reichstag, it’s going to be for something worthwhile.
Far better to use the money to build a second improved Kaiserin Augusta, with only two larger screws and a better clipper bow, so she is more seaworthy. It makes no sense for the Kaiser to have a personal yacht that has to be escorted by a warship. Especially since I plan to hardly ever use it. I have far too much to do to spend years at sea just in idleness. The OTL Kaiser spent a total of more than four years, sixteen hundred days, on Hohenzollern II, taking extended trips and cruises wherever he fancied. Far better to just get a lift in one of my navy’s warships. I am an Admiral, after all. Just add an oversized Admiral’s bridge, and a half a dozen nice cabins or state rooms to Germany’s next protected cruiser, make her the cruiser squadron flagship, and be done with it. It will be good enough for my needs, when I need to travel to overseas. If travel abroad on one of Germany’s warships is good enough for Germany brave sailors and men, it is good enough for her Kaiser. Oooh, I should really publicize my position on that. That would make great PR. If I do have to make a trip abroad and need more than just personal transport, I can just charter something for the time I need it. I’d still have to have it escorted by one or two warships, and that relieves the state of the expense of upkeep the rest of the time.
And i could sell that to the Reichstag far more easily. Hell, I could just invite any abgeordneter on board the ship during construction to see for themselves if they don’t believe she’s going to be a working warship. That’s a good idea, it would also help me build up my reputation for honesty and transparency in dealing with the Reichstag.
And the rest of the time, which will be almost all of the time, she can be put to work in Germany’s navy. And that extra space on the flagship cruiser can be used by an admiral commanding the squadron, or perhaps for births for prize crews in case of war, or even as brigs to hold the crews from prizes. In any event, I don’t need my own ship. I hated going on cruises, I never much saw the point of just wasting time on the ocean doing nothing but eating and drinking.
I will send SMS Adler and Eber, two gunboats as part of the new Ost Africa Geschwader. Since there is no Samoa crisis for Germany, I don’t need the ships. I’ve sold it to the US, they can deal with it. And they will avoid being wreck by the Typhoon that will his Apia harbor this september, and sink both of them. Sucks to by anyone in the harbor March 15, 1889, Apia cyclone will wreck the harbor. Sucks for anyone there.
My initial estimates for buying out the railways had been far too low. I had fifty million marks from the sale of our assets in the Pacific. In the end, I needed thirty million marks to buy the Mecklenburg Friedrich-Franz Railway Company. That left me only twenty million marks. Half of that went into the my share of the Timiskaming Railway. Which left me only ten million marks for startup capital of the Cobalt mines and any other projects.
My capital outlay requirement for my many overseas projects over the following two years meant it was almost the end of 1891 before I had any funds free to do much domestically. Even then, the sums, through massive on an individual scale, were not sufficient to do any major railway acquisitions. It would not be until 1892 that I could begin doing that, when revenues from Kirkland Lake started to come in as well. The Hessian-Ludwig Railway would cost nearly 300 million marks. The Palatinate Railways would cost just over 200 million marks. Those were the two largest acquisitions, but there were many others.
1894 was the turning point. Six years since I arrived. The economy had picked up, the OTL Grunderzeit of 1874/1879 to 1890/1895 was definitely over. My purchases, from the flood of Canadian gold and silver, of the many separate railways, over the past six years, had injected a lot of capital into the German economy. I suspected that the economy been boosted above OTL, but I had no way to know this, nor by how much.
Politically, I had accomplished much.
Delicate balancing between the various parties. The German Free Conservatives supported free trade, which I was in favor of in most circumstances. I counted on their support for the treaties of 1891.
Split of the Free Minded Party into the Free Minded People’s Party and Free Minded Union, and drag many of them back into the National Liberals. Drag the National Liberals back to the left slightly. Get them to support reduction in some tariffs, especially on agriculture. Lower cost of bread for lowest classes. Offest the reduction in rural farm income with a massive reduction in all forms of rural taxes. Old taxes on buildings, buildings and property. Replace with a tax just on the value of land. Roll this into income tax reform.
Indirect taxes are the most regressive. Consumption taxes hurt those least able to pay. Bismarck does not understand this.