The Mexican Standoff

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The Mexican Standoff

The Foreign Minister Lamsdorff offered an account of Rudolph’s fall from grace during the 1888 war games. He harvested the intelligence from a letter by the Russian Ambassador in Brussels to King Leopold the father-in-law of Rudolph and the royal inhabitant of the Reich’s doormat to Paris: Belgium. “The German Emperor made his inspection (of Austro Hungary’s Imperial Armies) not as a guest monarch but as an inspector assigned the task of carrying out a most careful review. The results of the inspection proved unfavorable and His Majesty did not conceal his displeasure. He particularly criticized the infantry of the chief inspector of which at the time was the Archduke Rudolph. Wilhelm II did not spare the heir to the throne and expressed his opinion to the Emperor and Empress with extreme openness.

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The later was offended and declared that she did not wish to remain in the presence of the German Emperor who was then obligated to apologize. On his return….. His Majesty wrote a letter to the Emperor Francis Joseph in which he explained that he had the right and was obligated to draw attention of his ally to the state of affairs in his army, because they must defend their common interests shoulder to shoulder, and then asked that a more experienced person than Archduke Rudolph should be appointed to the post of chief inspector general of the infantry. A result of the letter was a VIOLENT SCENE between Francis Joseph and his son WHO REFUSED TO RETIRE VOLUNTARILY.’

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Lamsdorff further noted that Kaiser Wilhelm II complained that during the war games the Austro Hungarian Army failed to properly march ( goose step) on parade and also failed to produce a drill manual on the request of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Likewise Kaiser Wilhelm II complained that the Mannlicher repeater rifle was grossly inferior to the Mauser 71/84 repeater rifle [the opposite was true]. And likewise the Mannlicher repeater rifle was grossly inferior to the new Commission repeater rifle being developed by Spandau [the opposite was true]. Likewise the Steyr bullet was grossly inferior to the new Spandau nitro bullet [the opposite was true]. Likewise the decision to adopt first 11 mm and then 8 mm instead of the correct 7.92 mm [the opposite was true because 7.92 was considered inconsistent to the then Rubin standard which was 8 mm]. Likewise that the Austro Hungarian Army should use Spandau products in general the 7.92 J bullet in particular instead of other inferior products —- referring to Steyr [the opposite was true].

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Waldersee echoed these reports with his own reports of fracases between various parties during the unexpectedly stressful war games despite an outstanding rollout of ultra modern gunnery. Both between Wilhelm II and Crown Prince Rudolph and also between Francis Joseph and Crown Prince Rudolph. Despite the success of the state of the art Mannlicher repeater rifle and Steyr 1610 fps 8 mm bullet fully salvaged from the 11 mm Debacle Rudolph was NOT REWARDED for his hard work to complete the rollout of ultra modern gunnery started by General Leopold. Instead, BOTH GENERALS LEOPOLD AND RUDOLPH WERE CASTRATED AND ORDERED TO RETIRE IN DISGRACE AND INCOMPETENCE.

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Besides being apparently irrational considering the high quality of the roll out of ultra modern gunnery, this made Rudolph’s point blank decision to disobey a direct order from Francis Joseph to retire in disgrace for incompetence like General Leopold and General Benedek extremely dangerous. Wales noted this in his report of the war games. Wales reported that the disturbing events during the war games ‘LED DIRECTLY TO THE CATASTROPHE’ of Mayerling.

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Clearly if much of this was leaked from Belgium then King Leopold must have been very concerned because of the implications of a fast approaching war which would yet again result in the Reich occupying and brutalizing Belgium as well as quite possibly deposing him and certainly depriving him of his Congo ‘Wedding Cake’. So the rumors of Rudolph’s fall from grace would be upsetting and foreboding. And rumors of the strangely disastrous war games in Godollo (despite the rollout of highly successful weaponry) resulting in the fall from grace of Crown Prince Rudolph would certainly be upsetting to the British and also the French as well as everyone involved in the top secret Entente negotiations which Wales was conducting to cage the Hohenzollern Eagle. The mysterious fall from grace of Crown Prince Rudolph was also ominous for anyone trying to predict the fallout of the fast approaching war. Either to stop the fast approaching war. Or else to survive the fast approaching war. A war coming so fast the French were already calling up reserves.


Rudolph was an intelligent, careful, progressive, and technologically savvy royal prince. Rudolph was also a workaholic who took his job in the military very seriously and worked overtime when appointed Inspector General of the Infantry as the highly successful gunnery roll out testified. Rudolph was also very well known across Europe and Britain. Very visible. And very impressive to anyone other than Pan Germans or Prussians or Taafe or the Hofburg ironically. The British liked him. The French liked him. Americans liked him. Brussels liked him despite his testy relationship to Stephanie the Brussels Rubber Princess. During the 87 Jubilee in London every international diplomat remarked how well Rudolph impressed them —- and how terribly Willy alienated them.

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So Rudolph was seen by many people as the exact antipode to Willy whose premiere at his coronation sent ‘The Willies’ through the nervous nerves of everyone despite the presence of the dangerously aging safety brake of Bismarck. And it said something that old Iron & Blood Bismarck was now seen as a safety brake to his creation the warmongering Willy. In fact, if Rudolph and Bismarck both fell from grace, then there would be no one to contain Willy The Warlord except Wales and his Entente. Clearly it was more preferable for Bismarck and Rudolph to exist as internal safety brakes to contain Willy The Warlord inside the Reich and its ally Austro Hungary rather than to simply rely on Wales and his Entente. Wales and his Entente pretty much meant cold war and then hot war to cage the Hohenzollern Eagle. Clearly the insider brakes of Bismarck and Rudolph were preferable. So now Rudolph’s fall from grace sent the shivers through the nervous nerves of everyone as France called up drafts and Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands secretly prepared diverse scenarios to face a fast approaching war everyone was sure would occur.

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Russia of course would be following the fall from grace of Crown Prince Rudolph. Wales’ wooing for the Entente required either Russia or else Austria to sign the Entente. Rudolph’s obvious fall from grace despite the highly successful rollout of ultra modern gunnery could only mean one thing. Austro Hungary would not join the Entente. Francis Joseph clearly chose Willy as well as the Prussian Austrian Alliance over his own son despite the fact there were rumors of fast approaching war. It was a fast approaching war which almost certainly would drag in Austro Hungary against France and possibly Britain and Belgium and even the Netherlands if the Reich invaded France through both Belgium and the Netherlands which some top secret blitzkrieg scenarios postulated. Wales and his fraction like Third Admiral Fisher were aggressive in selling Whitehall in the need to fight with France on the continent as well as the seas rather than see France along with Belgium and the Netherlands fall to the Reich which would force Britain to relive the Napoleon Crisis of a hostile Europe arranged against Britain and the threat of invasion across the militarized Channel. Offence rather than defense.


The fall of grace of Crown Prince Rudolph was all the more shocking because of the rumors speeding across the industrial world that the Spandau rollout of ultra modern weaponry was stumbling.

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So the Reich and its hostage ally Austro Hungary would face this fast approaching war armed with obsolete needle pin rifles and defective Mauser 71/84 rifles plus a failed Krupp heavy artillery piece against a highly successful new French heavy artillery piece and a solid if mediocre Lebel rifle which fired the only successful nitro presently available. All alongside the Mad Minute of the Lee Metford rifle and Belgium snipers and guerrilla partisans welding Browning (howbeit with inferior tubular magazines) and possibly the Dutch welding Steyr Mannlichers no less than the Austro Hungarian Armies. This was not a reassuring scenario for anyone who understood ultra modern gunnery. Yet there was no other rational explanation for Rudolph’s fall from grace despite doing an outstanding job as Inspector General in rolling out state of the art gunnery for the Austro Hungarian Imperial Armies.

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And surely the techno savvy Rudolph would have told Francis Joseph and Albrecht this. Rudolph was an expert in the gun crisis. Yet now Crown Prince Rudolph was fallen from grace and ordered to retire in disgrace. This meant that Russia now could not just dangle with Francis Joseph doing the heavy lifting of joining the Entente to cage the Reich. Russia now faced a dangerous cross roads.


Russia could trust the top secret Russian Prussian Treaty baited by the promise that on Francis Joseph’s death the Habsburg Empire would be cannibalized by Russia and Prussia Germany. Or else Russia could consider the Reich in general and Willy in particular so recklessly unstable and warmongering the only safe choice would be to join the Entente itself to cage the Hohenzollern Eagle. The aging Czar now had to replay the top secret first meeting between himself and Willy The Warlord over and over in his mind as he debated the forks in the road. How sane was Willy? How in control was Bismarck? And what if Bismarck toppled?

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With Crown Prince Rudolph fallen from grace, Bismarck was now the only aging safety brake on a young and often irrational kaiser who was already drunken on power and in love with war. Clearly the safer fork in the road would have Russia safely basking on the side lines as Rudolph wooed Francis Joseph into joining the Entente to cage the Reich. The Willy Road was an infinitely more dangerous gamble. But with Rudolph fallen from grace Russia now faced taking either the Willy Road or else the Wales Road. Neither road was as safe as the Rudolph Road.


Crown Prince Rudolph’s fall from grace was telegraphed around the capitals of Europe as Willy and Bismarck’s minions planted their axes in Rudolph’s back. Alas, they were not the only axes. Beck Rzikowsky drafted a blistering letter for his boss Supreme Commander Albrecht to Emperor Francis Joseph pinning the blame for the 11 mm Debacle directly on Rudolph despite previously ordering General Archduke Leopold to take the blame for events actually ordered by Albrecht and signed off by Francis Joseph.


Francis Joseph naturally agreed with The Gravedigger’s version of events. Likewise Francis Joseph accepted at face value the statement by Beck Rzikowsky who was the ADC to Albrecht The Gravedigger that Rudolph failed to produce a drill manual when it was buried under the mass of papers on the desk of The Gravedigger of the Habsburgs. And Francis Joseph also accepted at face value Willy’s rant about gunnery technology even though Willy’s rant proved Willy was a technological ignoramus. The trouble was Francis Joseph was also a technological ignoramus. Francis Joseph relied on his Supreme Commander who was Albrecht. Beside going senile, Albrecht, the Gravedigger of the Habsburgs, was also a technological ignoramus. And the Gravedigger relied on his ADC Beck Rzikowsky. And Beck Rzikowsky was a ruthlessly ambitious technological ignoramus. was obsessed-that-rudolph-was-part-of-hungarian-conspirachy-with-andrassy and he commanded the roll commandos --- and he had messed up the final Mannlicher prototype gun causing millions in cost over runs - which Rudolph had to salvage per his job as inspector general .jpg was obsessed-that-rudolph-was-part-of-hungarian-conspirachy-with-andrassy and he commanded the roll commandos — and he had messed up the final Mannlicher prototype gun causing millions in cost over runs – which Rudolph had to salvage per his job as inspector general .jpg

It said something dreadful that Francis Joseph and Albrecht and Beck Rzikowsky all ordered the only two Habsburgs who understood ultra modern gunnery to resign in disgrace. Who was really endangering the Imperial Armies of Austro Hungary? General Archduke Leopold and Inspector General Archduke Rudolph who together presided over a highly successful rollout of ultra modern gunnery during the 1888 war games while setting the foundation for its consummation in the 95 rollout? Or Francis Joseph, Albrecht, and Beck Rzikowsky who ordered Leopold and Rudolph to resign in disgrace while allowing the weaponry modernization program to stagnate from a first place tie with France into mediocrity and finally border line obsolescence by 1914?

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The target of damnation was now pinned on Rudolph’s back. Francis Joseph’s son was now expendable. Rudolph’s honor. Rudolph’s career. And therefore in theory Rudolph’s life. And if Rudolph’s life was expendable then that would also be Rudolph’s fault. Not Francis Joseph. Rudolph was now officially the Habsburg Scapegoat for the sins of Beck Rzikowsky, Supreme Commander Archduke Albrecht The Gravedigger of the Habsburgs, and Emperor Francis Joseph as well as the sins of Kaiser Wilhelm II and Bismarck. The fact the accusations listed in the letter of resignation were all lies or distortions or half truths or else implications of rumors was irrelevant. The fact that Willy’s incoherent gibberings proved he was both an technological ignoramus and more importantly, that he was being lied to by Spandau and Bismarck was irrelevant. The fact that Albrecht and Beck Rzikowsky were also lying was also irrelevant. The fact that Rudolph was rewarded for a job well done with a direct order to resign in disgrace for gross incompetence which was completely unjust was also irrelevant.



Francis Joseph never even questioned the justice of expecting his son to fall on his sword and sacrifice his honor and career as the official Habsburg scapegoat of the Hofburg. It was a given. It was expected. It was required. No less than Benedek and Leopold, Rudolph was expected to sacrifice himself for his emperor. Period. The fact that Rudolph point blank refused was considered the shockingly unforgivable part. The fact that Rudolph declared he would not remove himself and would continue to do his job as Inspector General until he was legally removed was the shockingly unforgivable part. The fact Rudolph demanded a formal court martial where in he could publically refute the charges leveled against him was considered the shockingly unforgivable part. This is what propelled the crisis forward. This is the action which was seen by Francis Joseph as not only shocking but defacto mutiny. Even treason. Which in a sense it was. Francis Joseph was the benign dictator of a genteel police state. His favorite motto was ‘I command to be obeyed!’. And Rudolph, a military officer, point blank refused a direct military command from his Supreme Commander and Emperor.


The fact Rudolph’s refusal to obey a direct military command and resign in disgrace for incompetence after successfully presiding over a successful gunnery modernization program during the 1888 war games took on a life of its own. The Gun Crisis now became the Mexican Standoff. The Mexican Standoff dragged on for almost three months amidst continuous confrontations with Francis Joseph and Rudolph until days before Rudolph’s sudden decision to go to Mayerling. This occurred after yet another ugly confrontation when Rudolph mysteriously kissed his estranged father’s hand before the eyes of the smirking Kaiser Wilhelm II during that infamous German Embassy Ball.

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But between the 1888 war games and late January of 1889 Rudolph dug in his heels and absolutely refused to resign in disgrace. All while declaring he would continue to do his job as INSPECTOR GENERAL with all which it entailed. Therefore the only way to remove INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph legally was a public court martial. This crisis was not because Rudolph was an archduke and crown prince. This crisis was because Rudolph was a military officer as well as an archduke and crown prince. An archduke or crown prince as a civilian could be removed. But not INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph. Especially as INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph’s job description particularly oversaw his nation’s gunnery programs which allowed him to also know about other nations’ gunnery programs. To be exact: the Imperial Second Reich’s gunnery program —– which was in serious trouble amidst rumors of a fast approaching war.


And INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph’s known position during rumors of a fast approaching war was that the Prussian Austrian Alliance did not compel Austro Hungary to fight shoulder to shoulder alongside the Reich in a war it would probably lose disastrously. And INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph’s close friends were people like Wales and Clemenceau and his father-in-law was Leopold of Belgium. All nations which would be pitted against the Reich if this fast approaching war materialized. The letter of resignation for disgrace was not just for incompetence. It was also for endangering the Prussian Austrian Alliance. It was also for somehow endangering or else threatening the Imperial Second Reich which was a key ally. In sort, between the lines of that letter of resignation in disgrace for incompetence were accusations of treason for using his military position as INSPECTOR GENERAL to aid and abet the enemies of the Reich as well as advocating his country breaking its alliance to join the enemies of the Reich, or at least staying neutral as enemies of the Reich fought back against a Reich —– welding possibly defective weaponry —– which Rudolph might have either leaked to enemies of the Reich or else facilitated or aided or abetted or conspired to cause.

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So both the direct accusations and the implied accusations leveled against INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph were dire as well as misleading, distorted, unfair, false, or absurd. Some of the most dangerous accusations might actually be true. Even the perception that the most dangerous accusations might possibly be true would be enough to indict and convict INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph in a top secret star chamber court-martial in a genteel totalitarian police state followed by an officer of the Roll Commanders delivering a revolver loaded with one bullet for INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph to do the right thing as an officer and gentleman and shoot himself. Or else Roll Commando assassins would shoot INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph as a traitor.

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[Judith Listowel has confirmed that Group Captain Rudolph Taafe was told by Edward Taafe (the last owner of the mysterious Tin Box of Prime Minister Taafe) that two Roll Commandos shot INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph after he went to Mayerling facing an ultimatum to either shoot himself as an officer and a gentleman or else be shot.]

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But unlike Benedek, Rudolph also made it clear he would defend himself by refuting the charges made against him by Supreme Commander Archduke Albrecht, his ADC Beck Rzikowsky, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Bismarck, and of course Francis Joseph. All of the charges. Both listed and implied. And of course this was both impossible and suicidal. As even Rudolph admitted to his friends afterwards. “I am going to be killed. I know too much.” Such powerful men would never ever allow a public court-martial where their dirty linen would be publically aired, especially as such a public venue would also air national security secrets and information about ultra modern weaponry as a potential war was approaching.

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So in a sense INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph did commit suicide. He committed professional suicide by refusing to resign in disgrace for incompetence like General Leopold. He committed professional suicide when he also refused to stand mute in a rigged kangaroo court martial like General Benedek. Instead, Rudolph double dared Francis Joseph in a Mexican Standoff with the hope his father would remember that INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph was also HIS SON Rudolph and also the CROWN PRINCE & HEIR APPARENT. Rudolph hoped that would persuade Francis Joseph into simply letting Rudolph continue to serve as INSPECTOR GENERAL honorably. Rudolph hoped his father would back his son rather than backing Albrecht and Willy and Bismarck however sadly and desperately naive that might sound. The Mexican Standoff was an ultimatum by Emperor Francis Joseph versus an ultimatum by INSPECTOR GENERAL Archduke Crown Prince Heir Apparent Rudolph the son of Francis Joseph. EMPEROR versus INSPECTOR GENERAL. FATHER versus SON.


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But the relationship between Francis Joseph and Rudolph was so frayed there was no emotional bond which could outweigh accusations against INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph —– especially as Francis Joseph was also pathologically terrified of increasingly senile Gravedigger of the Habsburgs Albrecht and also Iron & Blood Bismarck as indicated by the fact Francis Joseph endangered his Imperial Armies by refusing to relieve Albrecht from duty or else court martial Albrecht for senility and paranoia and likewise was so cowered by Bismarck he allowed Pan German Willy to humiliate him in his own capital city while allowing Pan German Willy to openly boast that he planned to march into Vienna on Francis Joseph’s death and bestow the ‘gift’ of rulership on the Austrian German people while cutting secret treaties with Russia to cannibalize Austro Hungary. This pathological fear of Francis Joseph combined with his lack of emotional bond with his son all tilted the weights against Rudolph his son and heir apparent.

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For now on Francis Joseph just saw INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph engaging in mutiny and treason against his totalitarian authority in criminal defiance of military authority. So the Mexican Standoff was a gamble Rudolph probably knew he would lose. Nevertheless, INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph point blank refused to resign. Between the end of the 1888 war games and January of 1889 Rudolph continued to refuse to resign in disgrace and dug in while Taafe and Bismarck unleashed rabid Pan German critics and vicious newspaper campaigns while hurling nonstop and shocking accusations including sexual depravity, drunkenness, drug addiction, incompetence, godlessness, immorality with Jews, and implied treason. A non stop litany of libels which no other Habsburg has ever been subjected to. And Francis Joseph permitted it to happen. And when Rudolph sustained a serious concussion from a fall from a horse in November the only response by Francis Joseph to Rudolph’s stubborn refusal to quit his job as INSPECTOR GENERAL was that Rudolph was inviting his pain and misery upon himself by persisting in ‘working too hard’. An obvious dig at Rudolph’s stubborn refusal to resign his job as INSPECTOR GENERAL even for the more benign reason of ill health caused by a serious concussion.

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INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph continued to double dare a ruthlessly autocratic emperor who previously sacrificed his father, mother, brother, and kindred, a notoriously unstable and power mad kaiser, an equally notoriously dictatorial chancellor who boasted of his good luck of seeing anyone who opposed him dying at ‘exactly the right time’, as well as a Habsburg nicknamed The Gravedigger to all court martial him. All while stubbornly refusing to quit as INSPECTOR GENERAL. All while stubbornly continuing to do his job as INSPECTOR GENERAL. All while knowing that this all but invited a totalitarian police state to liquidate him. Make that two totalitarian police states. Austro Hungary and the Imperial Second Reich. Make that two police states with notorious secret police and spy organizations who were notorious in their ruthlessness. And Albrecht The Senile & Paranoid, nicknamed The Gravedigger, commanded the Roll Commandos who were assassins among other things. And this double dare lasted for almost three months and only ceased when a double agent serving both Taafe and von Holstein the spy master of Bismarck started to racket up his unwanted and sinister attentions on Rudolph’s significant other: Mizzi Caspar.


INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph’s fall from grace commenced and Rudolph’s fall would be free fall. Plummeting straight down. The crash site would later have a name: Mayerling.


Ironically Mayerling was a shabby converted farm estate which Rudolph could only afford to buy when he was promoted to INSPECTOR GENERAL. And Mayerling during those last fateful hours was surrounded by Roll Commandos and five Prussians with links to Spandau and von Holstein the spy master of Bismarck. And Mary Vetsera was delivered by Countess Wimpffen who was a creature of von Holstein to the train station to arrive at Mayerling uninvited as Bratfisch later told Rudolph’s gentleman spy and sometime secretary Count Fritsche. Mary, an unstable girl suffering from eroto mania and a suicidal obsession with love and death.

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Mary, the classic sort of convenient corpse such as Petri often exploited to garnish assassinations decked out as suicides by von Holstein the spy master of Berlin. And the secret police of Taafe casually watched it unfold and did nothing. And five Prussians dangled at the front gates to watch the corpses be discovered. All as Crown Princess Stephanie predicted to her lover Lonyay a month before Mayerling even happened.

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But is it suicide if Stephanie knew before the fact that it would occur? Is it suicide if spies and secret police and Prussians from Spandau and Roll Commandos garish the crime scene? Is it suicide if Bratfisch told Fritsche that it was not suicide’? saying that mayerling-was-not-what-everyone-said-it-was-.jpg saying that mayerling-was-not-what-everyone-said-it-was-.jpg

Is it suicide if Rudolph never invited Mary to Mayerling and spend the entire last day of his life pretending she did not exist as she was locked upstairs while INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph worked on an article about Godollo between furious telegrams to a Magyar in Budapest who fouled up an important military defense bill concerning the use of German as the command language for the Imperial Armies?

Is it suicide if the ultimatum facing INSPECTOR GENERAL Rudolph was to either shoot himself as an officer and gentleman by 7:30 A.M. on January 30th or else be liquidated by Roll Commandos aided and abetted by secret police and ruthless spy organizations including one which boasted previous notorious assassinations dressed as murder/suicides garnished by manufactured sex scandals?

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Events between the war games of 88 and 91 proved that General Leopold and Inspector General Rudolph presided over a highly successful rollout of ultra modern gunnery which actually, (unbelievably though it might sound) tied the moldering empire with France in first place because the Lebel repeater rifle was so slow to load even with wonderful 2000 fps Vielle nitro while the Mannlicher repeater rifle was so fast to load and shoot with all-but-the-best Steyr 1610 fps custom gunpowder. Meanwhile, Bismarck presided over a disastrous rollout of ultra modern weaponry. Though unknown during the 1888 war games, events spiraling out of control through 91 resulted in even the notorious Pan German reporter Herman Ahlwardt admitting that an ‘unspeakable attempt’ had been made to ‘put a rifle in the hands of German soldiers that must be almost less dangerous to the enemy than to the user’. Howbeit the rabid Pan German also blamed the fiendish conspiracy to arm the German Army along the Lorraine Border with France with dangerously defective weaponry on International Jewry in general and Ludwig Loewe in particular after initially blaming Steyr Manufacturing and Rudolph. And Rudolph was initially blamed during the vicious newspaper wars until Rudolph’s death. And Steyr Manufacturing was blamed after Rudolph’s death in conjunction with Ludwig Loewe Manufacturing. So clearly Bismarck was taking scapegoats no less than Albrecht and Francis Joseph. But ultimately scapegoats would not save old Iron & Blood from the consequences of a disastrous roll out of ultra modern gunnery. By 92 Bismarck would be fired as he was forced to cancel the long anticipated war when it became painfully obvious even to Willy The Witless that the Reich would lose because of defective weaponry. A defective repeater rifle. And also defective ammunition.

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And despite all of the accusations of incompetence used against Inspector General Rudolph between the end of the 1888 war games and his death in January of 1889 the Austro Hungarian weaponry modernization program climaxed with the 1895 roll out of the state of the art Mannlicher repeater rifle along with the premiere of the 1890 1950 fps and then the 1893 Steyr 2000 fps nitro ultra modern full metal jacket 8 mm bullet. All to great acclaim. All well ahead of Mauser’s 1896 repeater. All well ahead of Spandau’s prolonged and never entirely successful salvaging of its troubled Commission Rifle which not even Steyr could entirely exorcize from its hex of defects. All well ahead of Spandau’s troubled attempts to salvage its equally prolonged and therefore notoriously defective 7.92 J nitro ammo which would continue to haunt the Reich in various forms up to 1900. A fatal gift that kept on giving. And when the long anticipated war finally did break out, WWI, the weaponry welded by the armies were by and large the weapons first premiered in 1886 and 1888 and perfected between 1895 and 1896. So General Leopold and Inspector General Rudolph’s hard work armed Austro Hungary for WWI (though incompetent successors allowed the quality of that work to stagnant after 1895).


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So while biographers of Mayerling assume Rudolph had no job, in fact Inspector General Rudolph had a very important job. Besides killing him, that job oversaw weapons ultimately used in WWI.


Please read the gun expert Paul S. Scarlata’s pair of great books on the gun crisis: ‘Mannlicher Military Rifles’ and ‘The German Gew. 88 Commission Rifle’ for more details about the triumph of the Steyr rollout of ultra modern gunnery overseen by General Archduke Leopold and his successor who was Inspector General Archduke Rudolph and the debacle of the Spandau rollout of ultra modern gunnery overseen by Bismarck.




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