Today is the anniversary of two important events in German history. The earlier one occurred in 1906. On April 7th of that year the Algeciras Conference ended when Germany, Britain, France, the US, Russia, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and several other nations signed the last act of the Algeciras Conference. The Act provided for the creation of a State Bank of Morocco which would issue gold backed bank notes. The Act also regulated Morocco’s spending and trade policies. Finally, the Act reorganized the Moroccan police force in several port cities, going so far as to appoint Spanish and French officers to command the forces and also to set salaries of the Moroccan police. The Act represented an expansion of French power in Morocco and a refutation of German attempts to increase its international prestige at France’s expense. As I mentioned in my post on the First Moroccan Crisis, Germany had opposed French expansion in Morocco and called for an international conference to discuss the administration of the nation. The Algeciras Conference, however, backfired on Germany. Of the nations there, only Austria supported Germany and so Germany was forced to sign the final treaty in order to save face. In the end, the Conference further strengthened Anglo-French relations and made the international community more suspicious of German aims. Further, Germany’s embarrassment at the Conference increased the level of jingoism among the population and made all of the political parties, with the exception of the Social Democrat Party and the Liberal Party, supportive of a war. The Conference thus set up the alliances that would become the Allied and the Central Powers in WWI, even foreshadowing Italy’s betrayal of Austria and Germany in that it supported Britain and France at the Conference. The outcome of the Algeciras Conference shows just how damaging failed diplomacy can be to a nation. In strengthening the alliance between Britain and France, Germany contributed to its own defeat in the First World War.
The second event in German history that happened on April 7th was the 2018 attack on Münster. On that day, a man named Jens Alexander Rüther drove a camper van into cafes and terraces in a square in the center of the city. Rüther killed four people and injured twenty. He also killed himself, bringing the total death toll to five. Authorities determined that the reasons for Rüther’s attack were conditions in his life, namely drug addiction, psychiatric illness, and possibly relationship problems. We must not forget this attack not only because it is important to remember those who died, but also because we must not forget to always be mindful of those around us and pay attention to the mental health of friends and family. Before committing the attack, Rüther had said that he wanted to commit suicide in a spectacular manner. Terrible attacks like this can be prevented from happening again if we report rather than ignore statements like those and have people who are mentally ill be treated rather than left to their own devices and potentially hurt themselves and others.