Björkö, Treaty of
(1905)
   An abortive Russo-German pact. Against the background of the Russo-Japanese War and the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905, Germany attempted to split Russia from its alliance partner France. Kaiser Wilhelm II met the Russian Tsar Nicholas II at Björkö off the southern coast of Finland on July 24, 1905 and convinced him to agree to a defensive alliance with Germany, which seemed to give Germany the upper hand internationally after the quashing of French ambitions in Morocco. The meeting was a result of the German Kaiser’s attempt at personal rule, and he prided himself on his achievement. The treaty would have freed Germany of the threat of a war on two fronts. Nicholas’s advisors soon counseled against the agreement, however, because it would upset the European balance of power and make Russia dependent on Germany. The treaty was rejected in favor of Russia’s alliance with France in November 1905, leading to a deterioration of relations between Germany and Russia. Although often dismissed as a non-event by historians, Wilhelm II was correct in his estimation of the treaty’s potential importance. If successful, the European balance of power could have been significantly altered and ultimately war might have been avoided.
   FURTHER READING:
    McLean, Roderick R. “Dreams of a German Europe: Wilhelm II and the Treaty of Björkö of 1909.” In Mombauer, Annika and Deist, Wilhelm, eds. The Kaiser: New Research on Wilhelm II ’ s Role in Imperial Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 119–142.
   ANNIKA MOMBAUER

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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