t is, however, impossible to say when, if ever, the rulers of Germany agreed to attack; and to the last the Imperial Chancellor, Bethmann-Hollweg, struggled to delay if not to avert the breach. But he gradually lost his grip on the Kaiser. The decisive factor in the Emperor's mind may have been the rout in 1912-13 of the Turks, on whom Germany had staked her credit in return for control of the Berlin-Baghdad route; for the free Balkan confederation, which loomed on the horizon, would bar for ever German expansion towards the East. The Balkan States themselves provided the German opportunity; the Treaty of Bukarest in 1913 entrenched discord in their hearts and reopened a path for German ambition and intrigue. Austria, not without the usual instigation, proposed to Italy a joint attack upon Serbia; the offer was not accepted, but by the winter of 1913-14 the Kaiser had gone over to the party which had resolved upon war and was seeking an occasion to palliate the cause.
The immeasurable distance between
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