CONGRESS OF BERLIN

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Lord Gort
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CONGRESS OF BERLIN

Post by Lord Gort » 26 Apr 2003 17:59

I thought I would plonk this here as Bismarck was seen as the honest broker in this treaty, but did he just aleniate Russia against him>?


With what success did the congress of Berlin in 1878 secure peace in the balkans between the years 1878 and 1890?

This is an A-level history question,


I was thinking along the lines of how it didnt placate balkan nationalism, the eastern question remained....etc


Can any of you guys help, I know its obscure but please!

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Beowulf
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Re: CONGRESS OF BERLIN

Post by Beowulf » 04 May 2003 00:45

Lord Gort wrote:I thought I would plonk this here as Bismarck was seen as the honest broker in this treaty, but did he just aleniate Russia against him>?


With what success did the congress of Berlin in 1878 secure peace in the balkans between the years 1878 and 1890?

This is an A-level history question,


I was thinking along the lines of how it didnt placate balkan nationalism, the eastern question remained....etc


Can any of you guys help, I know its obscure but please!


As I understood it, the Congress of Berlin was called for the primary purpose of making peace between the Ottomans and the Russians, and addressing the grievances of both these major players. It did secure peace for awhile (at least there were no major wars until WWI), but Bismarck hardly alienated the Russians to any large degree. If he had, there would never have been the Alliance of three emperors or the reassurance treaty he signed with Russia after that.

As to placating nationalism in the Balkans, that has only been recently acheived (and might still be a dubious thing.) Way back then, Russia and Austria both had aspirations in the Balkans which complicated matters greatly, as you know, and the Brits refused to keep their greedy little fingers out of the mess as well, being willing to go to war to prevent Russian access to the Mediterranean. The Balkans was a tinderbox and Bismarck knew it. He even predicted WWI with amazing accuracy, saying that "some damned foolishness in the Balkans" would probably set it all off. He knew it was beyond his power to reconcile all differences completely at that time, but did his best, which was damned good. At least it brought a few decades of peace.

Another way to look at it is that his diplomatic efforts might have brought peace when there really should have been war. We might look at it as having delayed the inevitable for 40 years, allowing the rapid technological advances of the day to make the war much bloodier and more terrible than it could possibly have been in the 1870s. Ironically, this episode of diplomatic magnanimity might have been the key to Germany's eventual downfall. If Bismarck had let the Russians and the Turks and the Brits and probably the Austrians just have at it and bloody each other up deciding the whole affair while Germany stood aside clicking her tounge, the matter would have been more permanently decided and the other major powers would have been weakened by war while Germany remained peacefully prosperous. Imagine a WWI which happened in 1877-1880 and does not involve Germany or France, and precludes the possibility of a later WWI with those two nations being the most bloodied! It's ironic indeed to think that Bismarck's great triumph, the Concert of Europe, might actually have been his greatest blunder.

Kind Regards,

B.

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Lord Gort
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Post by Lord Gort » 05 Jun 2003 19:17

but Bismarck hardly alienated the Russians to any large degree




The Berlin Congress left Germany out of favour with Russia. Relations between the two nations were not helped by the introduction in Germany of tarriffs on Russian products such as timber and corn. A renewal of the Drei Kaiserbund which had collapsed in the crisis seemed unlikely.

The reinsurance treaty of 1887 was caused by the apppointment of the revanche exponent Georges Boulanger as minsiter for war in France, the reinsurance treaty recognized Russian interests in Bulgaria, and so ran contrary to agreements with Austria. So Bismarck encouraged the mediterranean agreement desdigned to prevent further Russian balkan expansion. He also prevented German loans from reaching Russia which undermined her. Whilst this was a succesful short term measure it had an unfortunate long term consequence. Russia looked to France for money and you know the rest.....



regards,

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Qvist
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Post by Qvist » 26 Jun 2003 14:19

Well, Bismarck apparently tried rather desperately to avoid the whole thing, going so far as to suggest Paris as a more suitable location (in which case he would not have been so compelled to act as the broker). The Russians came to Berlin hoping for German support, but of course got no more than Bismarck could give them - help in saving face.

I think it would be a little misguided to think in terms of the congress as an attempt to solve Balkans problems - rather it was an exercise for winding down a particular conflict and maintaining the European order. The Balkans problem, I think, essentially had no solution given the configuration of states at the time - it was a zero sum game where anybody's gain were somebody else's loss. Thus the Balkans constituted a perpetual scene for rivalry, a state of affairs which no congress could resolve permanently. Barring comprehensive defeat in a major war for one of the involved powers there was no possible solution to any of the major issues that would be acceptable to all parties. And the avoidance of a major general war, of course, was in itself an overriding objective - particularly for Bismarck, who couldn't have cared less how the various Balkans issues came out as long as he didn't have to fight anybody over them. So, the Berlin Congress simply resolved one particular crisis, it did not in itself prevent new ones, nor did it or could it rectify the fundamental underlying problems.

That's my two cents anyway.

cheers

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