Winston Churchill, Germany, and the Bible (12 October 2015, 29 Tishrei, 5776)
In April 1911 occurredÂ theÂ Agadir Crisis.
In 1906 at the Algeciras Cionference French Pre-eminence in Morocco had been accepted.
Meanwhile Germany feared the French might attempt to regain Alsace-Lorraine that had been taken from her in war in 1870.Â It was feared that France would attempt to involve either Britain or France in a war against Germany. Pre-emptive moves by Germany were being considered. Germany also wanted to expand its colonial possessions and to weaken British dominance of the seas by building a fleet of its own that would be at least two-thirds the size of the British One.
In April 1911 there was a local revolt in Morocco against the Sultan Spain and France sent forces to protect their claims. The Germans sent a gunboat under the pretext of also looking after its interests in the area. The British believed the Germans meant to turn Agadir (in Morocco) into a naval base on the Atlantic. Such a move would undermine the British Naval security. Britain sent battleships to Morocco, in case war broke out.Â British support of France showedÂ theÂ informal alliance between them (Entente Cordiale). There was a run on the banks in Germany threatening national stability. The KaiserÂ backed down and let the French take over most of Morocco. The Germans then demanded as compensation that France cede to her the French Congo . The British PM Lloyd George gave a speech that the Germans understood to be a threat. Germany then settled for the lesser area of the Cameroon.
Immediately afterwards Winston Churchill was made First Lord of the Admiralty. He decided that the power source of the British Navy would need to be converted from coal to oil.
The German action was understood by some to be a German attempt to frighten the British into making an alliance with her. Instead Britain and France drew closer together.
Churchill saw his task as preparing the navy for war with Germany which it now seemed evident was soon to come.
He describes his experience upon receiving news of his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty:
"The World Crisis", BY THE RT. HON. WINSTON S. CHURCHILL, London, 1923.
That night when I went to bed, I saw a large Bible lying on a table in my bedroom. My mind was dominated by the news I had received of the complete change in my station and of the task entrusted to me. I thought of the peril of Britain, peace-loving, unthinking, little prepared, of her power and virtue, and of her mission of good sense and fair play; thought of mighty Germany, towering up in the splendour of her imperial state and delving down in her profound, cold, patient, ruthless calculations. I thought of the army corps I had watched tramp past, wave after wave of valiant man- hood, at the Breslau manoeuvres in 1907; of the thousands of strong horses dragging cannon and great howitzers up the ridges and along the roads around Wurzburg in 1910. I thought of German education and thoroughness and all that their triumphs in science and philosophy implied. I thought of the sudden and successful wars by which her power had been set up. I opened the Book at random, and in the 9th Chapter of Deuteronomy I read:Â
1 Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
2 A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
3 Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee.
4 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee.
5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It seemed a message full of reassurance.Â