When Wilhelm II became Kaiser of Germany in 1888 it was a surprise to most that he formed such a close bond with the elder statesman Bismarck. What few knew was that they both secretly shared the same aim – to cement the dominance of the German Reich through the total annexation of Austria Hungary. Wilhelm was keen on a sudden bold military stroke, but his mentor Bismarck was more wily and patient. His plan was to ensure that the other European powers were unable to intervene, leaving Austria isolated and unable to resist. The Iron Chancellor convinced the Kaiser to manipulate and deceive France, Britain and Russia into an expensive and draining global war that would ultimately remove their ability to prevent Germany’s rise to dominance of continental Europe.
In 1889 German agents began to flood the governments and establishments of the major powers. Over the next 5 years newspapers in England, Russia and France – controlled by secret Prussian interests – increasingly began to whip up public anxiety about the imperial ambitions of the other nations. British paranoia about Russian plans in India and French expansionism in Africa began to reach a fever pitch. In France, public outrage over British control and exploitation of the Suez canal caused riots in Paris and Algeria. In St Petersburg the Tsar increasingly lived in a closed circle of trusted advisers – most of them in the pay of Berlin. He became convinced that the British were about to restore support to Turkey and payroll an offensive in the Balkans.
France and Russia increasingly came together against their common enemy, with the “innocent” Bismarck cajoling, coaxing and manipulating their emotions. In January 1894 they signed their secret alliance that committed both to war with the British Empire. The victory would see India allocated to the Russian sphere of influence and all of Africa to France. Intense planning began, facilitated, in secret, by the intelligence agency of “neutral” Imperial Germany