Kruger telegram

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The Kruger telegram was a message sent by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II to Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic, on 3 January 1896. The Kaiser congratulated the president on repelling the Jameson Raid, a sortie by 600 British irregulars from Cape Colony into the Transvaal under the command of Leander Starr Jameson. The raid was intended to trigger an anti-government uprising by the primarily British expatriate miners, but was a fiasco with 65 of the raiders killed to only one Boer, and the rest surrendering. The telegram caused huge indignation in the UK, and led to a further inflammation of tensions between Britain and Germany.

The telegram

The telegram read:

In his Memoirs,[2] the Kaiser claimed that the Kruger telegram had been composed by Adolf Marschall von Bieberstein, one of the Secretaries of State. According to the Kaiser:

The Kaiser also asserted that there was a subsequent Russo-French proposal for war against England.


The telegram was applauded by the conservative German press and criticised in the liberal papers due to the potential of conflict with Britain. It caused huge indignation in Great Britain and led to a further deterioration in relations between the two countries. The telegram was taken to mean that the Kaiser endorsed the Transvaal's independence in what was seen by the British as their sphere of influence, and the reference to "friendly powers" was interpreted by them as meaning that assistance would have been available from Germany if necessary and that such assistance might be available in the future.

The Times newspaper proclaimed that "England will concede nothing to menaces and will not lie down under insult." The windows of German shops were broken, and German sailors were attacked in London. The German diplomatic response was essentially conciliatory, with the Kaiser responding to a letter from Queen Victoria (his grandmother) with "Never was the Telegram intended as a step against England or your Government...."


  1. ^ van der Poel, J - The Jameson Raid, p135
  2. ^ My Memoirs, pp. 79-83
  3. ^ My Memoirs, p. 84


Primary sources

  • My Memoirs: 1878–1918 by William II, London: Cassell & Co. 1922.
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