Agadir Crisis

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The Agadir Crisis, also called the Second Moroccan Crisis, or the Panthersprung, was the international tension sparked by the deployment of a substantial force of French troops in the interior of Morocco in April 1911. France thus broke both with the Act of Algeciras that had ended the First Moroccan Crisis, and the Franco-German Accord of 1909.[1] Germany reacted by sending the gunboat Panther to the Moroccan port of Agadir on July 1, 1911.


Anglo-German tensions were high at this time partly due to an arms race between Imperial Germany and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland which included German plans to build a fleet that would be two thirds of the size of Britain's fleet. Germany's move was aimed at testing the relationship between Britain and France and possibly intimidating Britain into an alliance with Germany,[2] as well as enforcing claims for compensation for acceptance of effective French control of the North African kingdom of Morocco, where France's pre-eminence had been upheld by the 1906 Algeciras Conference following the First Moroccan Crisis of 1905-1906.

Timeline of events[edit]

Moroccan Rebellion and the Panther[edit]

In 1911 a rebellion broke out in Morocco against the Sultan, Abdelhafid. By early April 1911 the Sultan was besieged in his palace in Fez and the French prepared to send troops to help put down the rebellion under the pretext of protecting European lives and property. The French dispatched a flying column at the end of April 1911. On 8 June 1911 the Spanish army occupied Larache and three days later Ksar-el-Kebir. On 1 July 1911 the German gunboat Panther arrived at the port of Agadir under the pretext of protecting German trade interests. A German sales representative, Hermann Wilberg had been sent to Agadir, but only arrived three days after the Panther. There was an immediate reaction from the French and the British.

British Involvement[edit]

During the early summer of 1911 the British government attempted to restrain France from adopting hasty measures and to dissuade her from sending troops to Fez. The efforts failed, but Sir Edward Grey the British Foreign Secretary felt that his hands were tied and that he was forced to support France. In April he wrote: "what the French contemplate doing is not wise, but we cannot under our agreement interfere".[3]

The British became worried by Panther's arrival in Morocco. They believed that the Germans meant to turn Agadir into a naval base on the Atlantic.[4] The Royal Navy had a naval base in Gibraltar in the south of Spain. Britain was concerned that the Germans might have a base near the Atlantic and so sent battleships to Morocco in case war broke out. The British supported France as in the First Moroccan Crisis again showing the strength of the Entente Cordiale.

German Financial Crisis[edit]

In the middle of the crisis, Germany was hit by financial turmoil. The stock market plunged by 30 percent in a single day,[5] the public started cashing in currency notes for gold and there was a run on the banks. The Reichsbank lost a fifth of its gold reserves in one month. The crisis was rumored to have been orchestrated by the French finance minister.[5] Faced with the potential of being driven off the gold standard, the Kaiser backed down and let the French take over most of Morocco.


On July 7, the German ambassador in Paris informed the French Government that Germany had no territorial aspirations in Morocco and would negotiate for a French protectorate on the basis of "compensation" for Germany in the French Congo region and the safeguarding of her economic interests in Morocco. The German terms, as presented on July 15, while containing an offer to cede the northern part of Kamerun and Togoland, demanded from France the whole of the French Congo from the Sangha River to the sea, to which was later added the transfer of France's right to the preemption of the Belgian Congo.

On 21 July David Lloyd George delivered the Mansion House speech in which he declared that national honour was more precious than peace. The speech was interpreted by Germany as a warning that she could not impose an unreasonable settlement on France.[6] The speech read:

"If Britain is treated badly where her interests are vitally affected, as if she is of no account in the cabinet of nations, then I say emphatically that peace at that price would be a humiliation intolerable for a great country like ours to endure."

Franco-German negotiations initiated on July 9 in 1911 toward the Treaty of Fez led (on November 4) to a convention under which Germany accepted France's position in Morocco in return for territory in the French Equatorial African colony of Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo). This 275 000 km2 territory, known as Neukamerun, became part of the German colony of Kamerun, which, along with Togo, was captured by the allies early in World War I. The area is partly marshland where sleeping sickness was widespread, although it did give Germany an outlet on the Congo River. Also as part of the treaty, Germany ceded to France a small area of territory to the south-east of Fort Lamy, now part of Chad.


A column of French troops on the move in a tented encampment in Morocco, March 30, 1912.

France subsequently established a full protectorate over Morocco (March 30, 1912), ending what remained of the country's formal independence.

Instead of scaring Britain into turning toward Germany, the main result was to increase British fear and hostility and to draw Britain closer to France. British backing for France during the crisis reinforced the Entente between the two countries (and with Russia as well) and added to Anglo-German estrangement, deepening the divisions which would culminate in World War I.

Daniel Yergin, in his book, The Prize[7] had argued that it was this incident that led Winston Churchill, then Britain's Home Secretary, to the conclusion that the Royal Navy must convert its power source from coal to oil in order to preserve its supremacy. Until then, the locally abundant coal was favoured over riskier overseas oil (which came mostly from Persia), but the speed and efficiency offered by oil convinced him that "Mastery itself was the prize of the venture". Subsequently, Churchill was asked by Prime Minister Asquith to become First Lord of the Admiralty, which he accepted.

In modern Germany, the Agadir Crisis is still the best known example of gunboat diplomacy. The "Panther's jump" (Panthersprung) has become a popular figure of speech, characterising any given demonstration of power, especially an unnecessary one.

The crisis led to Britain and France making a naval agreement where the Royal Navy promised to protect the northern coast of France from German attack, while France concentrated her fleet in the western Mediterranean and agreed to protect British interests there. France was thus able to protect her communications with her North African colonies, and Britain to concentrate more force in home waters to oppose the German High Seas Fleet.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For the latter, cf. E. W. Edwards, "The Franco-German Agreement on Morocco, 1909", The English Historical Review, 78, 308 (1963), 483–513.
  2. ^ Kissinger, Henry (1995-04-04). Diplomacy. Simon & Schuster. p. 912. ISBN 0-671-51099-1. 
  3. ^ Quoted in M.L. Dockrill, British Policy During the Agadir Crisis of 1911 from F.H. Hinsley, British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey (Cambridge, 1977), p.271.
  4. ^ "TWO WAR CLOUDS MENACE EUROPE" (PDF). The New York Times. July 6, 1911. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  5. ^ a b Ahamed, Liaquat (2010). Lords of Finance. London: Windmill Books. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-09-949308-2. 
  6. ^ "The Morocco Crisis of 1911.". Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  7. ^ Yergin, Daniel (1993-01-01). The Prize : The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power. Free Press. p. 928. ISBN 0-671-79932-0. p.11-12, p153-154