In 1886 Bismarck bellowed ‘The inferiority of our armaments would be sufficient to encourage France or Russia to fall upon us!’ Well! I declare! Do I detect a note of hysteria in the famous junker’s famously high pitched tenor voice? Lets back track to discover the cause for that panic shall we?
The Pin Rifle allowed Prussia to crush Denmark, the Habsburg Empire, France, rape Belgium, all while intimidating the German Principalities into creeping cravenly into the new Imperial Second Reich. The Pin Rifle allowed Bismarck to reap BILLIONS in war reparations including five billion alone from France (the largest such demand in history).
The Pin Rifle was both the making and unmaking of Prussia Germany. It made Germany too big for Europe but too small for the world. It set Germany on a Napoleonic course to conquer or subjugate all of Europe because now it could. It made Germany feel invincible. It gave the Junkers a divine destiny. A manifest destiny. Being egotists the Junkers embraced their manifest destiny fatally. It set Germany against Great Britain which was a sea power with a too small army. That meant the tiny island unhappy married to unhappy Ireland (a shotgun wedding no less!) survived by keeping Europe divided to stop another Napoleonic threat against it. So having Germany instead of France dominating the whole of Europe simply resurrected Napoleon with Bismarck playing the role. Instead of a too short man overcompensating it was a tall man with a too high pitched voice overcompensating. But the overcompensating ambition was the same and it led directly to a cold war with Britain which lasted pretty much into the 1950’s. London countered Bismarck by wooing Russia (despite the Great Game Cold War which also last pretty much into the 1970s). Britain also moved to buttress its old enemy France. The old enemy of my new enemy is my new friend.
Wales entered into top secret negotiations with Paris to restore the Balance of Powers. The Entente Cordiale. Wales represented Lord Aberdeen. The French representative was the brilliant Gambetta. Von Holstein, the spy master for Bismarck, then assassinated Gambetta with one of his infamous ‘suicides’ wrapped around a ‘sex scandal’ garnished by forged suicide notes. Likewise a key Russian was assassinated. So much for the Entente Cordiale!
Meanwhile Bismarck invested some of the war booty into a massive one million man army, a brand new modern 220 million riechmark navy and the reckless embrace of Military Keynesianism wedded to a full time War Economy. ‘Deficits don’t manner!’The Imperial Second Reich became the first massive example of the Military Industrial Complex in the modern world.
Bismarck also moved the Imperial Second Reich to the Gold Standard to directly challenge The City in The Mile in London. ‘We choose the gold standard not because gold is gold but because Britain is Britain!’The City was the epicenter of world finance for global trade. That is why the ‘Sterling’ was pinned to a gold standard. It had to be! So the rash move by Bismarck to challenge The City’s role as epicenter of world high finance was nothing short than a declaration of economic war.
And while Bismarck claimed he was now ‘sated’ by his Iron & Blood redrawing of the borders of Europe he did not persuade anyone with his ‘Peacemaker’ act —-especially as he was playing ‘Peacemaker’ with twin ‘Peacemaker’ guns! His ‘Peacemakers’ were not Colts but Pin Rifles!
But now the Pin Rifle was dangerously obsolete. Bismarck faced a foe such as he had never faced before! Technology! The Gun Crisis was upon him! And that Gun Crisis threatened to hurl Mr. Commanding Heights off his Valhalla throne as defacto dictator ruling in the name of Wilhelm The First and Wilhelm The Second!
The gun crisis featured the rush by every modern nation and Merchant of War toward the revolutionary repeater rifle, the full metal jacket bullet, and nitro powder. The first nation or Merchant of War to perfect the nitro and put it into the perfect full metal jacket bullet and then put that full metal jacket bullet inside the mechanism of a repeater rifle would have the gun to win all future wars. And unfortunately for Bismarck, he was busy manufacturing a war before Spandau could manufacture such gunnery and ammo. That would be Bismarck’s first fatal mistake! But not his last!
Major Rubin of the Swiss munitions located at Thurn pioneered the first great full metal jacket rifle bullet. It was a complex masterpiece for such a tiny thing. It allowed the caliber to be cut to 8mm instead of 11mm. It increased feet per second velocity. It increased piercing deadliness. It increased range. It increased target accuracy. It decreased fouling and wear on the barrel’s rifle pattern which likewise created accuracy and range. So the full metal jacket rifle bullet was revolution number one.
Rubin declared 8 mm to be simply divine and then hinted that the Swiss gods were whispering that he should develop a rimless bullet to further increase accuracy and a torpedo pointed bullet to further increase penetration. Then the Swiss demigod declared that the masterpiece was hamstrung by an Achilles Heel: black powder.
Black powder was obsolete. It filled the battlefield with smoke. It exposed snipers. It caused draftees to turn their faces away as they fired —compromising accuracy. And it fouled the rifle barrel’s crucial rifle pattern. Once too much fouling occurred inside the gun the gun was compromised on the battlefield. And such fouling made cleaning time consuming as well as crucial. Nitro was the future no less than the perfect repeater rifle to shoot the Rubin masterpiece the full metal jacket bullet.
Then Rubin worked on his Swiss repeater with Colonel Schmidt. Meanwhile Mauser and Mannlicher and Browning and every other gunnery designer rushed to work on their prototype repeaters. The race to create the repeater rifle was on!
Rubin should have warned one and all from his commanding heights in the Swiss Alps that the crucial point in the gun crisis would occur when the nitro was put into the full metal jacket bullet and that full metal jacket bullet was put into the repeater rifle. No matter how glorious each part of the puzzle was —- the crucial interface would make or break the final product. If the repeater and bullet and nitro did not interface perfectly the result would be guns which blew up.
Meanwhile everyone raided chemists to help develop the first nitro powder (which later caused Nobel to create the Peace Price in guilt over how his invention was exploited). Schonbein, Swiss, produced the first nitrocellulose based on an element of cotton fibers. It proved to be disastrously unstable. German and Austrian chemists substituted wood for cotton for their nitrocellulose. It did not blow up nearly so badly but reinforced the perception that nitro ‘blanc’ powder was too risky to ever be trusted.
Duttenhofer tried wood charcoal nitro and blew up his factory and workers on a regular basis. Ditto his warehouses. If his product did not blow up workers it turned ‘stale’ and did not so much as fizzle. But Duttenhofer persevered with glorious stubbornness. He was a German and believed that Germans were the best so naturally they would produce the best. It was inconceivable that he would not get the prize first. It is not known if he paid out life insurance to his dead and maimed workers. But the end justifies any means! Human beings are expendable! The Manifest Destiny of the Imperial Second Reich was the Siren’s Call! And one and all rushed to embrace her, blinded by her fatal allure!Meanwhile a Frenchman named Vielle actually cracked the code to the shock of every Junker in the Imperial Second Reich.
Vielle dissolved guncotton and collodion wool in alcohol to create a gelatin which was then dried into a plastic compound. This was then further flaked or ‘corned’ into grains to produce the final nitrocellulose blanc powder. If only half of this enterprise had been devoted toward finding the cure to syphilis or else gonorrhea or else TB!
The final product was a nitro powder which was fairly stable, did not go ‘stale, and boasted 2000 fps velocity as well as range and penetration. It did not create smoke. It appeared to be less fouling. And it was ideal for Rubin’s full metal jacket 8mm small caliber bullet. The French version was called the 8 mm Balle. The mediocre Lebel tubular magazine repeater was then carefully rifled to shoot this remarkable bullet. It was called the Meille Miracle! The French had scored the Triad Wedding of the Century! The first repeater to shoot the first full metal jacket filled with the first nitro! Drum roll please! Damn those Frenchie Frogs!
‘The inferiority of our armaments would be sufficient to encourage France or Russia to fall upon us!’ Hence the note of hysteria in the famously high pitched tenor voice of Bismarck!
Steyr heard the high pitched screak of Bismarck. Everyone did. How could they not? What happened next tested the fiber of the men who starred in the Gun Crisis.
Steyr had a commercial hit called the 1610 fps custom black powder full metal jacket bullet. It was the best black powder full metal jacket on the market. Steyr then decided that the mediocre Lebel with its laborious tubular magazine so slowed down loading it nullified the brilliance of the nitro full metal jacket bullet. The Meille Miracle was overrated. Mano u mano on the battlefield the Steyr Miracle tied the Meille Miracle. And Austro Hungary and France did not anticipate a war. So why panic? So Steyr didn’t!
Inspector of Infantry Archduke Leopold and his replacement Inspector General Rudolph worked with Steyr and Mannlicher to use the panic to force Francis Joseph and Albrecht to correct their disastrous 11 mm blunder instead (ordered by Francis Joseph and Albrecht to use up old stockpiles 11 mm ammo despite the fact they were ordering a state of the art repeater to shoot obsolete ammo) . A tie for first place was good enough until 90 when Steyr R & D would bring on line their upgraded hybrid black powder/ nitro powder full metal jacket bullet. And Steyr R & D was on schedule producing their full nitro by 95 complete with rimless torpedo full metal jacket upgrade. (It was actually done by 92). There was no commercial reason to either panic or rush. So the priority was to fix the 11 mm Debacle. The 11 mm Debacle was salvaged throughout 87 (with costly cost overruns ) . By the 88 war games the army was fully supplied and trained and gloriously happy with their sweet girl of a repeater and bullet.
Enfield Armory likewise declined to panic. Their Lee Metford was evolving into their soon to be famous Lee Enfield Repeater. Their version of the 8mm full metal jacket was progressing nicely. Their ‘Mad Minute’ was soon to awe and shock the world. Nitro could be phased in. So the British kept to their R & D.
Mauser likewise kept to his 95 goal of producing his masterpiece. After the 71/ 84 model debacle he refused to allow himself to be rushed by Spandau or Berlin or anyone.
Browning likewise chose to concentrate on breaking the Maxim Machine Gun Monopoly of copyrights of the machine gun. He machine gun would awe and shock the world. That was his priority. And it never occurred to Browning to cheat. Break the monopoly (with the help of the British) and then produce his masterpiece. You don’t steal patents of your fellow gun designers. You challenge copyright monopolies in open court. Gun Designers have rules. Honor. Respect for each other’s genius. It was an code of honor which Spandau would choose to ignore at its peril.
Bismarck’s screak of panic panicked Spandau. From his Commanding Heights Bismarck ordered Spandau to produce their gun and bullet and nitro or else! But they had neither gun or bullet and nitro. And now the French appeared to have both gun and bullet and nitro! It was a disaster! The panic of Bismarck caused him to now make his second fatal mistake. He ordered Spandau to cut corners and produce a repeater and full metal jacket bullet and nitro by any means. Just do it! NOW!
So in early 1887 Spandau committed industrial espionage through the Ambassador in Paris (who was actually helping to manufacture the war). A mysterious Judas named Schabele offered to deliver samples of the Lebel repeater and Balle 8mm
full metal jacket bullets loaded with Vielle nitro for 20,000 reichmarks. What a mark up from Judas’ 30 pieces of silver! The deal did not include manufacturing specs or blueprints or information about the R & D which produced the Meille Miracle. Just samples of the final repeater and nitro bullet. Spandau spies bought it. Likewise Spandau pilfered patents from Rubin, Vielle, Lee, Mauser, and Mannlicher as well as Loewe and Steyr. Then Spandau used this industrial espionage and pilfering of patents and copyrights as a short cut to produce their Commission Repeater Rifle and Patrone 88 full metal jacket nitro bullet.
Now putting aside the ethics for a moment, this meant that Spandau cut corners in a panicked rush to produce a product based on espionage and pilfering instead of solid R & D. So if anything went wrong with the byproduct of such poisonous fruits of Industrial Espionage then Spandau would not have any R & D to help them correct mistakes or ‘hiccups’. There would not be a track record to go back to. There would not be a history of research and development to use as if a map if they got lost in their development. They could not go back to the drawing boards. And of course it left Spandau wide open to counter Industrial espionage.
For instance this mysterious Judas named Schabele. Who was he? Was he a genuine rotter? Or was he a double agent selling Spandau a boondoggle? Was this wonderful gift genuine? Or a Trojan Horse? A ‘Fatal Gift’? Likewise did Steyr and Mannlicher and Mauser realize they were being pilfered and did they either withhold crucial information (Mauser and Mannlicher) or else doctored booty to be pilfered (Steyr) in reverse industrial sabotage as revenge for Spandau’s contemptible behavior? No one will ever know for sure.
But by cutting corners and pilfering Spandau left itself wide open to counter espionage while alienating allies (Mauser and Loewe and Mannlicher and Steyr). It is remarkable that Mauser blandly worked on his 95 masterpiece while knowing his brilliant bolt was pilfered. He was so bland he declined to warn Spandau that his bolt was fatally incompatible with the pilfered Mannlicher repeater mechanism and barrel. Loewe likewise blandly manufactured sample bullets while their Mauser patents and industrial copyrights were pilfered. Loewe declined to warn Spandau about the terrible defects of those bullets based on pilfered Balle 8 mm bullets. Loewe was no fool. Neither was Mauser. Why piss off such experts and geniuses? Ditto Rubin? Why piss off Rubin by pilfering his patents. It left Spandau wide open when their full metal jacket failed. Rubin declined to offer help. Why should he?
Mannlicher was furious. He threatened to sue. He likewise declined to warn Spandau that his exquisitely sweet girl of a slim gun was fatally incompatible with Mauser’s bolt shoved like some gigantic Junker’s manhood down the vagina mechanism of his sweet girl of a repeater.
Rudolph likewise declined to warn Spandau about the crucial 318 rifle extra deep pattern in the Mannlicher barrel and the crucial research done on calibrating which said that Spandau’s gun should have a different rifling than it had. Steyr had a huge R & D program so they understood every tiny detail of what was going wrong with the Frankenstien Gun. They declined to offer help before well into 89 and into 90. Likewise no one in the know bothered to warn Spandau that their Frankenstein gun generated too much pressure. And the fouling was atypical. But no one bothered to warn Spandau. No one volunteered crucial intel. But then why should they? They had been ripped off! Why rip them off? Why piss of Mannlicher? Steyr? The Austro Hungarians who were their allies?
In fact, why not take advantage of the brilliance of their Austro Hungarian allies? Why not cut a contract with Mannlicher and Steyr the largest manufacturer of damn near the best product on the market to supply the Imperial Second Reich? After all, Spandau could not mass produce enough. Sooner or later they had to turn to Steyr anyway. So why not just order off the menu now? This is where Bismarck then made yet another terrible mistake.
His Junker pride prevented him from accepting the reality that Mannlicher and Steyr had gotten so damn close to the prize they were tied in first place with the damn French! Bismarck’s Junker pride was so great and his Junker contempt for his Austro Hungarian and Bohemian allies was also so great he gagged at the idea of simply ordering off the Bohemian shelf for proven products of Austrian Czech genius which Leopold and Rudolph were quickly correcting to keep damn near the best!
So Bismarck ordered Spandau to triumph not only over the damn French but the damn Austro Hungarians —- while stealing their genius! Instead of buying the best off the shelf Bismarck ordered them to confiscate from ‘inferiors’ according to Junker entitlement as the Best of the Best! It was the same behavior that caused Bismarck to rape Belgium while destroying France while threatening to flatten Paris the cultural capital of Europe while the Parisians starved. The strong takes! The superior rapes! The winner crushes! The Ubermensch tramples the Untermensch under the Junker boot into the mire and then slashes their inferior faces with the Junker spur! Thus spoke Zarathustra Bismarck from his Valhalla Commanding Heights per Nietzsche to the fanfare of Wagner!
However it was quietly remarkable that Steyr, racially inferior though it might be, could so quickly ‘fix’ the gun after received the sweetheart deal which Rudolph forced Spandau to offer to Steyr to make up for patent infringement. After Steyr manufactured their quota of Frankenstein guns for Spandau then and only then did they ‘fixed’ the Frankenstein gun. And magically it ceased to blow up. Too bad all of those Frankenstein guns were blowing up back in the Imperial Second Reich. The Turks later carefully checked every Commission Rifle for the retrofit plate before using it. Ditto today amateur shooters carefully check the retrofit plate on their Frankenstein gun before they shoot it. Who wants to be blown up?
Can it be wondered at that Spandau and Bismarck became so paranoid about conspiracies and counter espionage being waged against them? They left themselves wide open for counter espionage by cutting corners in their panicked rush to produce a gun and ammo in time for their upcoming war. And let’s face it. Why would Mauser or Loewe or Mannlicher or Steyr or Rubin or Vielle or Rudolph or the French blandly let Spandau cheat when even Browning was willing to spend years breaking the Maxim Copyright before launching his masterpiece Browning Machine Gun?
Why did Spandau leave itself wide open? It panicked because the Commanding Heights mentality was bellowing in panic. Why did the Commanding Heights panic? The Commanding Heights was Bismarck. And Bismarck was panicking. Why was Bismarck panicking? Because he was busy manufacturing a war before Spandau could manufacture gunnery and ammo to wage war. Why was Bismarck manufacturing a war?
Willy wanted to play Warlord and his Imperial Second Reich’s deficit was out of control. Its War Economy was imploding. And its Military Industrial Complex was so corrupt, bloated, and inefficient it was not able to produce top weapons compared to capitalistic economies like France or Austro Hungary or Britain where economic competition made Darwin a honorary member of Hume and Smith and Ricardo as the Quartet of the English School of Economics.
The Krupp Heavy Artillery model had just failed. Spandau was producing squat. Likewise Berlin would spend one billion to launch their dreadnought navy (through its expensive Wilhelm Canal) only to still be drastically behind Britain who effortlessly maintained a two for one race with the War Economy of Berlin. By 1914 Berlin was spending 72% of its GNP on War. Britain was spending 10%. Who won the war on producing more top quality guns or ammo or artillery or dreadnoughts or later tanks? Britain. Which nation became the biggest war manufacturer for WW1. America. Capitalism triumphs! (The same way Capitalism ultimately triumphed and defeated the Communistic Soviet Union later in the century). Maybe Bismarck should have read ‘Wealth Of Nations’ by Adam Smith before building his Commanding Heights War Economy. Or else perhaps he should have acquired an advance copy of Niall Fergusson’s ‘Civilization The West And The Rest’ and read the ‘blue jeans’ chapter before creating his parasitic Imperial Second Reich.
So how did Spandau go so terribly wrong with their Frankenstein gun and bullet?. Paul S Scarlata details the shocking debacle in grim detail. The pilfered bullet came as a sample. No R& D. No manufacturing specs. Spandau also had pilfered Rubin patents. But not the man and his genius. They jumped right into rimless which Rubin was slowly developing with good reason. Rimless was tricky. Rimless was a goal. But to pilfer a bullet sample and pilfer Rubin patents was one thing. It was another to jump beyond Rubin immediately into rimless sans any sort of R & D whatsoever. Their rimless was fatally weak.
Spandau changed the Rubin 8 mm to 7.92 because of disasters in caliber without bothering to understand why the caliber disaster was happening or why the Rubin 8 mm was derailing when it should not be derailing. This was because of mysterious fouling and abnormal wear of the rifle patterning when the nitro Rubin full metal jacket was suppose to STOP fouling and wear. Not aggravate fouling and wear!
Likewise the Spandau bullet boasted (if that is the word) bad metal alloys, brittle cases, cracking of neck joints, loose bullets, weak rims and weaker no rims, stale powder. When the nitro was not ‘stale’ it was exploding. In the bullet. In the gun’s repeater mechanism causing hands to be blown off or the gun to blow up. Likewise there was blowback of bullets blowing the bolts back into the faces of the shooters blowing out their eyes. Clearly there was too much pressure being applied. But Spandau did not have the R & D to go back to the drawing boards to find out what was going wrong. Spandau kept reassuring Bismarck that it was all just ‘hiccups’ and ‘teething pains’ which would be fixed. Could be fixed. But could the ‘hiccups’ be fixed? Meanwhile the guns kept blowing up.
Then there was the nitro. The nitro was simply wrong. Everything about the nitro was wrong. Either this pilfered bullet was not a genuine Vielle or else the rumors of a Meille Miracle were premature or else it was a Trojan Horse’s Fatal Gift. The nitro set Spandau’s R & D back for a decade. It was not fixed until 1896 when Spandau basically reinvented the nitro. Meanwhile the Steyr full nitro bullet was launched by 92 to much commercial success. The New & Improved Vielle Bullet was likewise launched with much success. All before Spandau could salvage their product by basically reinventing it. This ‘fatal gift’ likewise sabotaged the German program to create a Maxim Machine Gun. It took to 1901 to fix that. No wonder Spandau and Bismarck raved of sabotage! The ‘Fatal Gift’ was ultimately a fatal disaster for Spandau and for the Imperial Second Reich! Instead of being ‘second’ out of the gate the Germans ended up last out of the gate!
Likewise Spandau took a Mannlicher Repeater, the best in the world, and added a pilfered Mauser 90% bolt. The knockoff was called Schlegelmilch. A knockoff of the Mauser 71. The Mannlicher was designed for a straight bolt for fast shooting with exactly the NEEDFUL PRESSURE. The Mauser applied the most pressure of any bolt. They should have pilfered a Lee which they did contemplate doing at one point. The Lee 60% bolt was a hybrid between a Mauser and a Mannlicher. But it still would have blown up any Mannicher mechanism. And the Mauser 71bolt was not developed to be used with nitro. Mauser was still working on that. Ditto his bolt upgrades of anti-blowback flauge and additional lug bolts to secure the bolt to stop it blowing out of the gun into a shooter’s face. He declined to share his genius with Spandau however. I can’t imagine why! Well! Actually I can! Spandau might bellow ‘We Germans can do better than that!’ but their pilfering of other people’s genius was causing blowback and blinding their shooters or else blowing up their guns and blowing off hands.
Next Spandau looted a Lebel rifle pattern on the assumption that it was ‘special’ for nitro. But the barrel was the Mannlicher which was the slimmest barrel of an gun. Mannlicher understood his sweet girl’s delicate proportions. Spandau did not. The Mieg cover knockoff only rusted the barrel without contributing to the success. Mieg sued anyway.
Next Spandau looted the Mannlicher enbloc packet magazine clip which was his most famous invention of all. Bad Spandau! Spandau just made the clip fall straight down and inserted a punched out circle design on the clip. Sure. the clip could be inserted by either end because of the rimless bullets but the rimless bullets were so weak the rims were falling off. Mannlicher’s finger groves allowed his shooter to shoot even in the dark despite his one way loading system which was the perfection of speed and grace while being absolutely fumble proof. The Spandau enbloc packet clip was a Mannlicher knockoff. (Interestingly Spandau later slavishly followed Mauser and ordered Steyr to retrofit their now fixed Frankenstein gun to shoot a la Mauser with a stripper. That only cut down the speed which the Mannlicher enbloc packet magazine clip offered while increasing fumbling .To the end Spandau failed to understand the gun crisis or produce a good gun.)
Mannlicher and Steyr later threatened to sue unless Spandau cut them a sweetheart deal to mass produce the Frankenstein gun (which they fixed for international sales ). Rudolph threw all of his spindly weight of authority as Inspector General behind this despite the fact Francis Joseph was so cowered by Bismarck he mutely endured by insulted by Willy, told Sisi to endure being insulted, told Rudolph to allow the pillaging of Steyr and Mannlicher, and then offered to placate Willy by adopting the Spandau Frankenstein gun and bullet and abandoning the Mannlicher gun and Steyr bullet —– all while requesting and then ordering Rudolph to resign for ‘incompetence’ for ordering the 11mm Debacle (be the scapegoat), for standing by Steyr and Mannlicher (as was right and proper), and for refusing to adopt Spandau products (which proved he understood the extent of the Gun Crisis unlike everyone else).
To cover up their thievery and to prepare for Bismarck’s upcoming war Spandau rushed superficial testing before the Autumn War Games in Austro Hungary. Bismarck reassured Willy that he could strut and brag and bluster all he wanted at those war games. He had the best gun and ammo in the world! ‘We Junkers are the best! We can do anything better than anyone else!’
Despite the very limited and superficial testing predating the War Games Bismarck drew up the imperial degree to bless the launching of the Frankenstein gun and bullet. The imperial degree was signed by Willy late in November of 88. So Willy both Pre War Games and post War Games continued to strut and bellow and brag about possessing the best gun and bullet in the world. Willy even bellowed at Francis Joseph that he should adopt the Spandau products and abandon the Mannlicher/Steyr products. Willy especially bellowed that Steyr should abandon it R & D into nitro. Spandau had achieved perfection! Anything Steyr had was therefore obsolete! Such obsolescence therefore endangered the Prussian Austrian Alliance. Clearly Bismarck was covering up the extent of the Spandau Debacle to his Kaiser!
Instead of confessing all to Willy Bismarck took a secret train to Vienna for a surprise depths of night meeting with Rudolph who presided over the Steyr Miracle and the salvaging of the 11 mm Debacle as well as successful war games (at least as far as Steyr gunnery was concerned). This surprise meeting occurred despite waging a brutal newspaper war with Rudolph and despite egging Willy into continuing to order Francis Joseph to fire Rudolph as Inspector General of Infantry. And this surprise meeting occurred despite the fact von Holstein was manufacturing his assassination and Scotland Yard, Paris Secret Services, and Belgium Secret Services were frantically routing warnings of assassination to Vienna (though Taaffe apparently declined to route those warnings to Francis Joseph or Sisi). This top secret meeting is still mysterious to this day but it should be noted that the mountain came to Mohammad. The Great Junker, Mr. Commanding Heights himself, came to Rudolph in the dead of night.
And it should also be noted that the timing occurred right in the middle of Bismarck’s stonewalling of the extent of the Spandau Debacle while lying to Willy. The timing also hints of another terrible mistake which Bismarck was about to make.
Manufacturing specs had to be handed out by December of 88 or else January of 89. But January would be pushing it. To produce enough Frankenstein guns and bullets for this upcoming war Spandau had to hand out the specs to Loewe and Steyr who were the only large private manufacturers capable of handling it. Steyr was pretty much the largest gunnery and ammo manufacturer in the world. If Steyr did not come on board Spandau could never produce enough guns. The due date to start tooling was pretty much now. So the decision what gun and bullet to mass produce had to be made now.
Bismarck had to green light or else red light the Frankenstein gun and bullet. Or else Bismarck had to ask his worst enemy Rudolph to oversee the mass production of the best gun (Mannlicher) and best bullet (Steyr) in time for a projected war with France. The Prussian Austrian Treaty committed Austro Hungary to fight as the ally of the Imperial Second Reich. Who was chained to what corpse now?
If Bismarck was forced to take this course of action then Rudolph as Inspector General would have been obligated to be involved. Rudolph and Leopold over saw the Steyr Miracle, salvaged the 11 mm Debacle, and over saw the War Games. Rudolph and Leopold were the only Habsburgs who were experts in the gun crisis. Both were being ordered to take the fall for gross incompetence by Albrecht and Francis Joseph. Both were being ordered to resign as scapegoats for the sins of powerful men. And now one of those powerful men was standing in Rudolph’s parlor. Sins and all. Sins not admitted. Confession not made. Mea Culpa stonewalled and covered up and plastered over and covered by red Iron & Blood wallpaper.
If faced with a war per a treaty Rudolph would have had to be involved. It was too important. His job would have required it. The whole point of the war games which Rudolph oversaw per his job was to test which gun and bullet should be used in the upcoming war.
Francis Joseph had no one else capable or expert to take over unless he went back to Leopold. But Francis Joseph had ordered Leopold to resign in disgrace and was ordering Rudolph to likewise resign in disgrace.
The 11 mm Debacle already proved that neither Francis Joseph or Albrecht knew squat about modern gunnery or ammo or the gun crisis. The fact that Francis Joseph was willing to cave into Willy’s bullying about buying Spandau products while abandoning Steyr products while allowing Spandau to rob patents and copyrights with impunity while ordering his kindred Leopold and son Rudolph to become royal scapegoats all proved that Francis Joseph had absolutely no concept of the gun crisis. He was as ignorant as Willy. Worse, he was criminally craven in his pathological terror of Bismarck.
So Bismarck would have had to accept Rudolph’s help to salvage the Spandau Debacle after overseeing the Steyr Triumph and the salvage of the 11 mm Debacle. And he would have had to accept Rudolph’s help knowing that Rudolph knew that Bismarck was lying to Willy while shamelessly bullying Francis Joseph. And he would have had to accept Rudolph’s help knowing that Rudolph favored jettisoning the Prussian Austrian Treaty for Wales’ Entente to cage the Hohenzollern Eagle.
Much of the newspaper war between Bismarck’s minions and Rudolph and his European liberal syndicates of papers (including Szeps syndicate and in-law the French politician Clemenceau) was over this upcoming war and if Austro Hungary was really obligated to fight per that infamous treaty. Rudolph argued (in unsigned articles ) that his nation was not obligated to save the Imperial Second Reich from engaging in a disastrous war they could very well lose. Rudolph agued that France was not Austro Hungary’s enemy but Prussia very well might be (especially if Willy was openly boasting of marching into Vienna to rule FOR Francis Joseph while offering to carve up Austro Hungary between Prussia Germany and Russia which Willy was very publically doing ). Though unsigned and carefully devoid of details about the gun crisis, Rudolph’s view point was frightening if Francis Joseph actually embraced it. The Gun Crisis was over for Vienna. Their army was now fully supplied and trained to weld MannlicherRepeaters and Steyr 1610 fps full metal jacket bullets which tied Vienna with the Meille Miracle of Paris. The Steyr R & D was on schedule to produce a hybrid nitro by 90 and full nitro by 95 along with a New & Improved Mannlicher best Repeater Rifle in the world. Now the Gun Crisis was focused as if a bull’s eye on Berlin. That was Bismarck’s problem.
Why did Bismarck secretly train to confront Rudolph in the depths of night late in November of 88 as the Gun Crisis threw Bismarck into the spotlight as if an oversized cockroach scurrying frantically for some place to hide? After ordering his minions in the papers to label Rudolph a traitor to the German People and a threat to not only the Prussian Austrian Treaty but to the Imperial Second Reich’s very survival? Apparently Bismarck took Rudolph as seriously as Francis Joseph did not!
What accusations were hurled? The servants hurdled outside the closed door in awe and terror? Loschek quaking as he ran one nervy hand over his balding skull? Perhaps with the butler holding a shotgun with shaking hands? What deal was offered during that mysterious depths of night meeting in that cold parlor? [Fireplaces at night went dead cold until freezing dawn when servants scurried about frantically to stoke them to heat the cold digs for their masters]. Did a single oil lamp illuminate the cold parlor with sinister shadows? Or did a terrified maid have time to hastily light a flickering fire in the cold ashes of the dead fireplace?
Bismarck in his military overcoat and cap? Hunkering like a tall but massive titan about to crash? His gnarled hands thrust into the pockets of his heavy winter coat? His oddly (considering his size ) tenor voice grading and harsh?
Rudolph in a hastily grabbed dressing gown over his flannel night shirt? His military cut red hair ruffled like fur? His voice surprisingly deep for his spindly limbs and starved body ? His deep baritone edged with an unexpected Prussian German accent like Bismarck rather than the softer Viennese accent which Junkers despised as sloppy?
Bismarck would have towered over Rudolph who was only a tad over average height. And Bismarck would have outweighed Rudolph too. Rudolph would have appeared fragile. Bismarck’s shock of white hair and walrus mustache would have formed an odd contrast with Rudolph’s Hungarian mustache with its dramatic flare. But having recently shaved off his beard for his 30th birthday Rudolph’s pronounced Habsburg lower lip and chin would have been exposed so Bismarck would have seen that nervy tick which tormented Rudolph during moments of stress. Bismarck might have smoked a cigar to warm up. Rudolph would have lit a cigarette being a chain smoker. Rudolph’s unexpected brown eyes with those odd flicks of gold and green would have flashed greenish as if ‘wolfish’ as people have testified when Rudolph got angry. And those flashing eyes had that ‘Wittelsbach tilt’ which gave them a ‘sinister’ cast. When Rudolph was really angry those eyes could flash with such infamous rage . Rudolph would have been very angry now.
Since the war games Rudolph had been waging a fierce newspaper war with Bismarck’s minions even as agents warned him that von Holstein was plotting his demise and Smutty Petri was circulating flawless forgeries of Rudolph’s pre-carpal tunnel handwriting. And Rudolph would have had to know about the star chamber court martial which Albrecht was setting up. Taaffe’s spies were following Rudolph day and night. And Mary’s insane erotic mania and stalking must have been increasingly unnerving. Rudolph was avoiding her since that one 10 minute meeting set up by Larisch to extort money from Rudolph. Rudolph meet Wales one last time and clung to MC. Rudolph did recently acknowledge Mary: he offered to buy the Vetsera clan tickets to Monte Carlo —- one way . The jokey hint was not taken however. Mary was being fed cheap junk by Larisch to fed her erotic mania so Mary was aggressively stalking. The secret police did not bother to restrain Mary. Why? Nor her mother? Why? Despite the fact Helen Vetsera was talking about extortion and blackmail of Habsurg royals. Why?Despite the fact Mary was talking about suicide. Why? A double suicide with Crown Prince Rudolph? Why? So both men felt cornered as their enemies closed in.
But Rudolph had far more reason to be afraid. He knew and respected Gambetta who died a victim of a von Holstein sex scandal garnished ‘suicide’. Rudolph had to be worried that Mary’s insanity was being manipulated to become the next sordid sex scandal to garnish another von Holstein ‘suicide’. Holstein’s creature, Smutty Petri an ex-Catholic cleric, had a perchant for manufacturing kinky sex scandals to garnish von Holstein’s ‘suicides’. The point was to not just to kill the man but also his reputation and honor.
What threats were made? What negotiations deadlocked? Whatever failed to happen the fact remains that Bismarck was so spooked he came in the dead of night to confront the man who was now top of his list of enemies. That says something. What? We will never know. But when a spooked titan comes calling in the dead of night the man hosting that spooked titan cannot be some unimportant twit. Rudolph had to be very important to Bismarck. Or else Rudolph had something that Bismarck desperately wanted or needed.
Meanwhile the twenty top secret Spandau test guns blew up in endless ways to the horror of the testing shooters who labeled the gun and bullet the ‘Jew’s Musket’ because the sample bullets were manufactured by Loewe who manufactured for Mauser. What was causing the blowing up? The gun? The full metal jacket bullet? The nitro? Or all three? Spandau did not know. Bismarck ordered a ‘Veil of Secrecy’. He neglected to tell anyone —– including Willy The Warlord. That was Bismarck’s next fatal mistake. His persistent stonewalling of the crisis was spiraling into a cover up while the war he was manufacturing, which Willy was thrilled to see, was coming closer and closer and closer.
Spandau desperately claimed ‘pre-production hiccups’ and ‘teething pains’ as guns and bullets blew up. The tests were fatally rushed. It was obvious something terrible was happening. But Spandau had no R & D to fall back on to go back. They could not go back to the drawing boards and figure out what was going wrong. And Spandau’s high hat gall had alienated Mauser and Loewe and Mannlicher and Steyr and Rudolph who had so capably salvaged the gun crisis for Vienna. That was Bismarck’s next fatal mistake.
How could such a mess even happen? The mess happened because Bismarck was so panicked he rushed and ordered Spandau to cut corners and commit industrial espionage . Then he rushed crucial tests recklessly for a self imposed future date: a war he was manufacturing which was coming fast without a working repeater or full metal jacket nitro bullet in sight : except of course if Bismarck simply bought off the menu at Steyr. And that Bismarck simply could not do. Now all of Bismarck’s sins were coming home to roost. But like all towering titans about to be hurled off their commanding heights Bismarck turned to scapegoats.
A Commanding Heights bureaucracy and mentality means everyone lower down on the totem pole covers up in preparation for ducking or else dying. And a Commanding Heights bureaucracy ultimately means the buck and the reichmark stops at the top. Did Spandau stonewall? Sure! The more interesting question was when did Bismarck stonewall? When did Bismarck really start to understand that the gun crisis was turning personal? That the Spandau Miracle was birthing a Frankenstein gun and bullet? And he was entirely responsible for the disaster? When did his stonewalling turn into a cover up? When did his bluster to Willy turn into lying to Willy? And when did his stonewalling and blustering lying cross the Rubicon into endangering his country?