Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter

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Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter

Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter (10 July 1852 – 30 December 1912, né Alfred Kiderlen) was a German diplomat and politician, who served as Foreign Secretary and head of the Foreign Office from 27 June 1910 to 30 December 1912.


The son of a banker from the Kingdom of Württemberg, Robert Kiderlen, and Baroness Marie von Waechter, he was born in Stuttgart. His father was elevated to the personal nobility in 1852. In 1868, Alfreds mother Marie Kiderlen and her children Alfred, Sarah and Johanna were elevated to the hereditary nobility with the name von Kiderlen-Waechter, combining the names and coats of arms of the Kiderlen and Waechter families. His name is occasionally spelled Kiderlen-Wächter, however, the correct spelling is Kiderlen-Waechter.

Kiderlen-Waechter fought as a volunteer in the Franco-German War (1870-1) and then studied at different universities, retaining throughout his subsequent career a good deal of the jovial manner of a German student (burschikos). Following studies of law, he joined the foreign office in 1879. Some years later, he accompanied the emperor to Russia, Sweden and Denmark. He was minister in the free town of Hamburg in 1894, and was stationed in Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Paris and Constantinople. He served as envoy to Copenhagen 1895-1896. Later, he served for ten years as envoy to Bucharest.

In Romania he gathered a deep knowledge of Eastern politics, which led to his acting temporarily as chief at the foreign office, and acting as ambassador at Constantinople during the illness of the actual ambassador. He negotiated the construction of the Baghdad Railway. In 1908, he was appointed Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and returned to Berlin. He played a central role during the Bosnia Crisis, and negotiated an agreement with France over Morocco.

After the resignation of Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow in 1910, Kiderlen became Secretary of State. He conducted negotiations in 1911 during the Agadir Crisis and was severely criticised both at home and abroad for his provocative attitude in the Panther incident which triggered it. His attempts to reach an understanding with other great powers largely failed. However, he succeeded in relieving the strained relations between Germany and Great Britain, and endeavored to make a friend of Russia.

Kiderlen-Waechter died in Stuttgart in 1912. His personal papers are held in the Manuscripts and Archives division of the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University.


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