A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 32

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search


unharmed and hoist the French flag there; and French susceptibilities were painfully irritated when Sir Herbert Kitchener, the conqueror of the Khalifa, declined to recognize the validity of the French occupation. The French government acknowledged the British claim, but French sentiment cherished yet another grievance against what it regarded as British aggression.

Two years after the reconquest of the Sudan, the antagonism of the Dutch to the British in South Africa resulted in the outbreak of the South African War. In the first months the British troops met with a series of to verses, but by the following midsummer they were in occupation of the two capitals, Bloemfontein and Pretoria. In September the annexation of the Boer states was proclaimed. Nevertheless the Boers refused to submit, maintaining a persistent guerilla warfare until so many of them had been rounded up that the remnant could no longer keep the field; and in May, 1902, the peace of Vereeniging terminated the war.

The republics were annexed, to be administered temporarily as crown colonies, but instead of exacting indemnities the victors provided large sums for the reinstatement of the farms which had suffered in the war. There had certainly been on the continent a strong inclination to intervene, but though the Kaiser's attitude in the preceding years had caused some resentment in England, during the war his influence was certainly exerted to discourage intervention. It may be that he realized the practical futility of attempting, as matters stood, to challenge the British fleet; for it was while the war was in progress that he developed an unprecedented naval programme for Germany which was difficult to dissociate from the idea of rivalry with the leading maritime Power.

The South African War had not long been ended when new factors began to influence European relations. In Great Britain, where for half a century free trade had been the accepted theory and practice on all hands, a new propaganda was vigorously pushed and in some quarters enthusiastically adopted, but it had a political effect which could hardly have been anticipated; it was interpreted in Germany as being malevolently directed against German commerce and German prosperity. That conception was unaffected by the defeat of the tariff reformers at the general election of 1906, and the conviction was thoroughly established in the popular mind that the

← 31   ·   32   ·   33 →
(page index)