Bernhard von Bülow

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Prince Bernhard von Bülow
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2004-0098A, Bernhard von Bülow.jpg
Chancellor of Germany
In office
October 17, 1900 – July 14, 1909
Monarch Wilhelm II
Preceded by Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst
Succeeded by Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
Minister-President of Prussia
In office
October 17, 1900 – July 14, 1909
Preceded by Chlodwig von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
Succeeded by Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
German Foreign Secretary
In office
October 1897 – October 16, 1900
Chancellor Chlodwig von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
Preceded by Adolf Marschall von Bieberstein
Succeeded by Oswald Freiherr von Richthofen
Foreign Minister of Prussia
In office
October 1897 – July 14, 1909
Preceded by Adolf Marschall von Bieberstein
Succeeded by Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
Personal details
Born Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow
(1849-05-03)May 3, 1849
Klein-Flottbeck, Duchy of Holstein
Died October 28, 1929(1929-10-28) (aged 80)
Rome, Italy
Alma mater University of Lausanne
University of Berlin
University of Leipzig
University of Greifswald
Religion Lutheran[1]

Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow (3 May 1849 – 28 October 1929), created Prince (Fürst) von Bülow in 1905, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.


Bülow spoke several languages, was a charming conversationalist and was comfortably at home in high society with a capacity to entertain and impress even his opponents. He was thought by some colleagues to be untrustworthy: Kiderlen referred to him as "the Eel",[2] as did Tirpitz.[3] Once he obtained power and position in the German government, had no overarching ideas of what to do with them, allowing others to guide policy. His character made him a good choice to work with Emperor Wilhelm II, who required agreement and flattery from his senior ministers even if sometimes they then ignored his instructions. He wrote four volumes of autobiography to be published after his death,[4] which markedly altered public perception of his character as they included his candid and malicious descriptions of others. He was a fine debater in the Reichstag, although generally lazy in carrying out his duties. He was described by Friedrich von Holstein, who was for 30 years the first councillor in the foreign department and a major influence on policy throughout that time, as having "read more Machiavelli than he could digest". His mother-in-law claimed that "Bernhard makes a secret out of everything."[5]

Family and early life[edit]

Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow was born at Klein-Flottbeck, Holstein (now part of Altona, a part of Hamburg). His father, Bernhard Ernst von Bülow, was a Danish and German statesman. His brother, Major-General Karl Ulrich von Bülow, was a cavalry commander during World War I who took part in the attack on Liège in August 1914. Bülow attributed his grasp of English and French to having learnt it from French and English governesses as a young child. His father spoke French, while his mother spoke English, as was common in Hamburg society.[6]

In 1856 his father was sent to the Federal Diet in Frankfurt to represent Holstein and Lauenburg, when Otto von Bismarck was also there to represent Prussia. He became a great friend of Bismarck's son Herbert when they played together. At age thirteen the family moved to Neustrelitz when his father became Chief Minister to the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, where Bernhard attended the Frankfort gymnasium, before attending Lausanne, Leipzig and Berlin universities.[7]

He volunteered for military service during the Franco-Prussian War and became a lance-corporal in the King's Hussar Regiment. In December 1870 the squadron was in action near Amiens, and he later described charging and killing French riflemen with his sabre. He was promoted to lieutenant and invited to remain in the army after the war, but declined.[7] He completed his law degree at the University of Greifswald in 1872. Afterwards, he entered first the Prussian Civil Service and then the diplomatic service.[7]

Diplomatic career[edit]

In 1873 his father became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the German government, serving under Chancellor Bismarck, and Bülow junior entered the diplomatic corps. His first short assignments were to Rome, St. Petersburg, Vienna and then Athens.[8] In 1876 he was appointed attaché to the German embassy in Paris, attended the Berlin Congress as a secretary, and became second secretary to the embassy in 1880.[9]

In 1884 he had hoped to be posted to London but instead became first secretary at the embassy in St. Petersburg. On the way to his new assignment he stayed for a couple of days at Varzin with the Bismarck family. Bismarck explained that he considered relations with Russia much more important than Britain, and this was why he had posted Bülow there. Bismarck reported himself impressed by Bülow's calmness and demeanour during this interview.[10] In Russia he acted as chargé d'affaires, in 1887 advocating ethnic cleansing of Poles from Polish territories of the German Empire in future armed conflict.[11] Bülow wrote regularly to the Foreign Office, complaining about his superior, Ambassador Schweinitz, who, however, was well-liked. Bülow earned for himself only a reputation as a schemer. In 1885 Holstein noted that Bülow was attempting to have Prince Hohenlohe removed as ambassador to France so that he might replace him, all the while exchanging friendly letters with Hohenlohe.[12]

On 9 January 1886, while still at St. Petersburg, he married Maria Anna Zoe Rosalia Beccadelli di Bologna, Principessa di Camporeale, Marchesa di Altavilla, whose first marriage with Count Karl von Dönhoff had been annulled by the Holy See in 1884. The princess, an accomplished pianist and pupil of Franz Liszt, was a stepdaughter of Marco Minghetti and the daughter of Donna Laura Minghetti (née Acton). Maria had been married for sixteen years and had three children. Bülow previously had numerous love affairs, but the marriage was intended to further his career. In 1888 he was offered the choice of appointments to Washington or Bucharest, and chose Bucharest as Maria objected to the prospect of traveling to America and leaving her family behind. He spent the next five years scheming to be appointed to Rome, where his wife was well connected. King Humbert was persuaded to write to Wilhelm saying that he would be pleased if Bülow became ambassador there, and in 1893 he duly did.[13]

A scheming courtier[edit]

On 21 June 1897 Bülow received a telegram instructing him to go to Kiel to speak to Wilhelm. On the way he stopped at Frankfurt while changing trains and spoke to Philip zu Eulenburg. Eulenburg explained that Wilhelm wanted a new State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and urged Bülow to take the post, which was the same one his father had once held. Eulenburg also passed on tips about how best to manage Wilhelm, who lived on praise and could not stand to be contradicted. In Berlin, Bülow first spoke to Holstein who advised him that although he would have preferred the present Secretary, Adolf Marschall von Bieberstein, to stay in the job, Wilhelm was determined to replace him, and that he would prefer the successor to be Bülow. Perhaps Bülow might be able to find him an ambassador's post in due course? Chancellor Hohenlohe, desperate to retire because of old age, urged Bülow to take the job, with an eye to succeeding him as chancellor. Bülow urged Hohenlohe to continue in office for as long as he could.[14]

On 26 June Bülow arrived in Kiel and met with Wilhelm. The Kaiser advised that it would be one of the new secretary's main tasks to set about building a world class fleet capable of taking on the British, without in the process, precipitating a war. Bülow asked for time to consider the offer, and on 3 August accepted. The two men formed a good working relationship. Rather than oppose Wilhelm, as some of his predecessors had done, Bülow agreed with him on all matters by sometimes privately relying on Wilhelm's bad memory and frequent changes of opinion to take the action he thought best rather than what Wilhelm had instructed. The post of Secretary of State was subordinate to that of the Chancellor and, under Bismarck's chancellorship, had been only a functionary. Under Bülow, this was largely reversed, Hohenlohe being content to let Bülow manage foreign affairs with his principal adviser, Holstein. Wilhelm would call on Bülow every morning to discuss state affairs but see the chancellor only rarely.[15]

Bernhard von Bülow

Imperial Secretary of State[edit]

Bülow also held a seat in the Prussian government: Although Wilhelm was emperor of all Germany, he was also king of Prussia. As Foreign Secretary, Bülow was chiefly responsible for carrying out the policy of colonial expansion with which the emperor had identified himself. He was welcomed by the Foreign Office because he was the first professional diplomat to be placed in charge since Bismarck's resignation in 1890.[citation needed] Bülow had been wary of accepting the post if Holstein remained as Imperial First Councillor, as Holstein had in practice held great authority in recent years. Holstein was regarded as indispensable due to his long experience in office, rank, cunning, and phenomenal memory of affairs of state throughout his time. Eulenburg advised Bülow to stake out a firm working relationship immediately on his arrival, and the two succeeded in working together.[16] In 1899, on bringing to a successful conclusion the negotiations by which Germany acquired the Caroline Islands , he was raised to the rank of Count.[citation needed]

In October 1900 Bülow was summoned to Wilhelm's hunting retreat at Hubertsstock, where Wilhelm asked Bülow to become Chancellor of the German Empire and Prime Minister of Prussia. Bülow queried whether he was the best man for the job: Wilhelm admitted he would have preferred Eulenburg on a personal level but was not sure he was sufficiently able. On 16 October, Bülow was summoned again, to Homburg, where the Kaiser met his train in person. Wilhelm explained that Hohenlohe had announced he could continue as chancellor no longer, and this time Bülow accepted the job. A replacement State Secretary was necessary, and the job was first offered to Holstein, who turned it down, preferring not to take a job that required appearing before the Reichstag. The post was given to Baron Oswald von Richthofen, who had already been serving as under secretary to Bülow. It was made clear that the State Secretary's post would now revert to the subordinate role it had played in Bismarck's time, with Holstein remaining the more important adviser on foreign affairs.[17]


Bernhard Fürst von Bülow (left) at Berlin's Tiergarten.

Bülow's mornings were reserved for Wilhelm, who would visit the chancellery every morning when in Berlin. His determination to remain on Wilhelm's good side was remarkable, even for those accustomed to the Supreme Warlord's irascible manner. Wilhelm's household controller noted, "Whenever, by oversight, he expresses an opinion in disagreement with the emperor, he remains silent for a few moments and then says the exact contrary, with the preface, 'as Your Majesty so wisely remarked'". He gave up tobacco, beer, coffee and liqueurs and took 35 minutes of exercise every morning and would ride in good weather through The Tiergarten. Sundays he would take long walks in the woods. In 1905, aged 56, he led his old Hussars regiment at the gallop in an Imperial parade and was rewarded by an appointment to the rank of major general. Wilhelm remarked to Eulenburg in 1901, "Since I have Bülow I can sleep peacefully".[18] His first conspicuous act as chancellor was a masterly defence in the Reichstag of German imperialism in China. Bülow often spent his time defending German foreign policy before the parliament, to say nothing of covering for the kaiser's many undiplomatic gaffes. In a speech of Nov 1906 he introduced the concept of 'encirclement' to the Reichstag that triggered the Teutonic press to blame Der Krieg in der Gegenwart.[19] To Germany the Entente was a disaster, but the Chancellor put a brave face on it.

Domestic policy[edit]

Various reforms were also introduced during Bernhard von Bulow’s time as chancellor, including an extension of the period in which workers could claim accident insurance (1900), the making of industrial arbitration courts compulsory for towns with a population of more than 20,000 (1901), and an extension of health insurance and further controls on child labour (1903). A polling booth law was introduced that improved the secret ballot in 1904. Two years later, payment for Reichstag deputies was introduced.[20]

Bismarckian legacy: the shrewd planner[edit]

Britain still held the balance of power in Europe. France and Britain had been colonial rivals and had a long mutual history, but Edward VII was determined to boost British popularity in France by a personal tour. Serious negotiations for a formal alliance began between the French ambassador to London, Cambon, and the British Foreign Secretary, the Marquess of Lansdowne. As part of settling differences, France agreed not to dispute British control of Egypt, if Britain supported France's claims to Morocco.[21]

There was skepticism among German ministers that anything would come of this apparent new friendliness: the King visited an angry Kaiser at Kiel on 25 June 1904. Schlieffen's Plan of 1904 ominously threatened Belgian neutrality. Reminded of Bismarck's rule that Berlin should not seek new enemies, Bulow warned the general in a cautionary tone to apply "plain common sense".[22] But this may have sounded too British for the Junckers Class: the Kaiser retorted "I shall not be trifled with."[23] On 24 March 1904, France formally informed the German ambassador of the new Anglo-French Convention. Prince Radolin, the ambassador, responded that he felt the agreement natural and justified. The German press noted that the deal in Morocco did not harm national interests and that French intervention to restore order in the country might help German trade. Still Bulow was cynical taking the social darwinist's view that expansion was a fact of life, "We can't do anything than carry out Weltpolitik".[24] The policy he invented was obliquely unknown even to the generals.[25]

Although not swayed by bellicose generals, Bulow followed the major intellectual influence of Max Weber's central planning agenda. If Prussia was euphoric, Bulow remained ambitious for Imperial grandiosity and World Power. Commercial growth in iron, steel, mining, railways, ironclads, and a new Navy was driven by huge outputs, and highly competitive contractors.[26] His chauvinism was extensive, a defensive embrasure against British alliance-building which Germany would reject utterly to bring to the negotiating table. He had promised to reply directly to Joseph Chamberlain, colonial secretary, but thought better of it, unintentionally gold plating the new Entente, "it is the English who must make advances to us."[27]

Bülow assured the British ambassador that he was pleased to see Britain and France settling their differences. He informed the Reichstag that Germany had no objections to the deal and no concerns about German interests in Morocco.[28] Holstein had a different view: intervention in Moroccan affairs was governed by the Treaty of Madrid. Holstein argued that Germany had been sidelined by not being included in the negotiations and that Morocco was a country that showed promise for German influence and trade, which must eventually suffer if it came under French control. Previously he had dismissed any possibility of agreement between France and Britain.[29] France now offered military assistance to Morocco to improve order in the country.[30] Bülow responded by supporting the position of an independent Morocco, encouraging the United States to become involved and threatened war if France intervened. He was now convinced that the new friendliness between France and Britain was a threat to Germany, particularly should the accord deepen; but France was ill prepared-for war. Despite possible risks of assassination, Bülow persuaded Wilhelm to make a visit to Tangier in 1905, where he made a speech supporting Morocco's independence, but his presence there simultaneously demonstrated Germany's determination to maintain its own influence.[31]

The Panther: German diplomacy[edit]

A friendly German naval presence in Morocco, and military base nearby, could threaten the British or important trade routes through the Mediterranean. They continued to support the beleaguered French Foreign minister, Theophile Delcassé. Lansdowne had been surprised by the German reaction, but Britain might take on the fledgling German fleet before it grew too large. On 3 June 1905, Abdelaziz of Morocco, at German prompting, rejected the French offer of assistance and called for an international conference. On 6 June when Delcassé resigned: news spread to Berlin. The following morning Bulow was elevated to the rank of prince (Fürst). The occasion coincided with the marriage of the crown prince and echoed the elevation of Bismarck to the rank of prince in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.[32] Germany continued to press for further French concessions. Bülow carefully instructed Radolin and also spoke to the French ambassador in Berlin. However the effect was somewhat the reverse of what he intended: it hardened the resolve of the French Premier Maurice Rouvier, to resist further demands for rapprochement. The Algeciras Conference commenced on 16 January 1906 at Algeciras Town Hall. During the conference, a British fleet of twenty battleships with accompanying cruisers and destroyers visited the port town and all the delegates were invited on board.[33]

The conference went badly for Germany, initially with a vote against German proposals 10-3. Holstein wished to threaten war against France, but Bülow drew back from this outcome, and Holstein was ordered not to take any further part. No satisfactory outcome for Germany was in sight by April, leaving the only course of action to wind the conference quickly as best he could. It was received badly in Germany, with objections raised in the press. On 5 April 1906, Bülow was obliged to appear before the Reichstag to defend the outcome, and during a heated exchange, collapsed and carried from the hall. At first it was thought he had suffered a fatal stroke. Lord Fitzmaurice in the House of Lords compared the incident with that of the death of Chatham, a compliment much appreciated in Germany. His collapse was ascribed to overwork and influenza, yet after a month's rest the chancellor was able to resume his duties.[34]


Cartoon satirising Bulow published October 1907 in Kladderadatsch titled 'On the maligning of Bülow', caption 'Good Mohrchen, you would never be such a bad dog!'.

In 1907, during the Harden-Moltke scandals, Adolf Brand, the founding editor of the homosexual periodical Der Eigene, printed a pamphlet alleging that Bülow had been blackmailed for engaging in homosexual practices and was morally obligated to oppose Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which outlawed homosexuality. Sued for slander and brought to trial on 7 November 1907, Brand asserted that the Chancellor had embraced and kissed his private secretary, Privy Councilor Max Scheefer at all-male gatherings hosted by Philipp zu Eulenburg.[citation needed] Testifying in his own defense, Bülow denied any such act but remarked that he had heard unsavoury rumours about Eulenburg. Taking the stand, Eulenburg defended himself against Brand's charge by denying that he had ever held such events, and against Bülow's insinuation by claiming that he had never engaged in same-sex acts, which subsequently led to a perjury trial. Despite concluding testimony by the chief of the Berlin police that Bülow may indeed have been the victim of a homosexual blackmailer, he easily prevailed in court, and Brand was sent to prison.

Daily Telegraph affair[edit]

In November 1907 Wilhelm made a long-planned state visit to Britain. He attempted to cancel the visit because of the recent scandals, but it went ahead and was so successful that he decided to remain in Britain for a holiday. He rented a house for the purpose from Colonel Edward Montague Stuart-Wortley and spoke freely to its owner while he was there. After he departed Stuart-Wortley wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph about these conversations, and submitted it to Wilhelm, requesting approval for its publication. The English manuscript was passed to Bülow to review for publication. Wilhelm had asked Bülow not to pass on the article to the Foreign Office, but Bülow did exactly that, sending it unread to State Secretary Schoen with a request to prepare an official translation and add any amendments that might be necessary.[citation needed]

Schoen was away, so instead it went to undersecretary Stemrich, who read it but passed it without comment to Reinhold Klehmet. Klehmet interpreted his instructions as meaning he should only correct any errors of fact and did not otherwise comment. It was returned to Bülow, still unread, to Wilhelm, who saw no reason not to publish. It duly appeared in print, and caused a storm. In the interview, Wilhelm expressed many controversial and offensive opinions:

  • The English were mad as March hares.
  • He could not understand why Britain repeatedly rejected his offers of friendship.
  • Most Germans disliked the English, so his own friendly attitude put him in a "distinct minority".
  • He had intervened against France and Russia on Britain's side during the Second Boer War.
  • He had provided the campaign plan used by the British during that war.
  • One day, Britain might come to be glad Germany was building up her fleet, in the face of the menace of Japan.[35]

Wilhelm thus managed to offend Japanese, French, Russian, and especially British, sensibilities. Germans were outraged that their Emperor claimed to have helped the British against the Boers, who were perceived to be of German origin.[why?][36]

Bülow accused the Foreign Office of failing to comment properly on the article. The office responded that it was the Chancellor's role to decide on publication in such a situation. Although Bülow denied having read the article, it remained unclear how he could have failed to do so given Wilhelm's continuous record of public gaffes. Questions arose as to Wilhelm's competence to rule and the role he should be permitted under the constitution. The matter was to be debated in the Reichstag where Bülow would have to defend his own position and that of the Emperor. Bülow wrote to Wilhelm, offering to resign unless Wilhelm could give him full support in this matter. Wilhelm agreed. Bülow arranged publication of a defense of events in Norddeutsch Allgemeine Zeitung, which glossed over Wilhelm's remarks and concentrated on the failings of the Foreign Office in not examining the article properly. It explained that Bülow had offered to take full responsibility for the office's failings, but the Emperor had refused to accept his resignation.[37]

Bülow succeeded in turning away criticism from himself in the Reichstag, and finished his speech to cheering from the assembly. Holstein observed that given the nature of the comments it would have been virtually impossible to defend Wilhelm for having made them and that Bülow could not have done other than what he did, which was to dispute the factual accuracy of much of what Wilhelm had said and leave blame for events squarely with him, with the explanation that the comments had been made with the best of intentions and would certainly not be repeated. He declared his conviction that the disastrous effects of the interview would induce the Emperor to observe strict reserve, even in private conversations, adding that, in the contrary case, neither he nor any successor of his could assume the responsibility.[38]

Von Bülow, Emperor Wilhelm II, Rudolf von Valentini (left to right) in 1908

Wilhelm was due to be away from Germany at the time of the Reichstag debate, this time on a trip to Austria, and received much criticism for not staying at home. Wilhelm queried whether he ought to cancel the trip, but Bülow advised him to continue with it. Holstein asked Bülow about Wilhelm's absence; Bülow denied advising Wilhelm to go. Matters were not improved when during the visit Count Hülsen-Haeseler, chief of the Military Cabinet, died from a heart attack at Donaueschingen, the estate of Prince Max von Fürstenberg. On Wilhelm's return Bülow persuaded him to endorse a statement that he concurred with the Chancellor's statements to the Reichstag: by now Wilhelm was close to breakdown and considering abdication.[39]

Wilhelm withdrew from public appearances for six weeks, which was generally seen as an act of penitence rather than the consequence of his depression. Public opinion began to reflect on whether the Chancellor had failed in his duty to properly advise the Emperor, and then again failed to defend Wilhelm's actions in the Reichstag. Wilhelm's own view of the affair began to change, increasingly blaming Bülow for failing to warn him of the difficulties the article would cause. He determined that Bülow would have to be replaced as Chancellor. In June 1909, difficulties arose in obtaining additional finance for ongoing ship construction. Wilhelm warned Bülow that if he failed to carry a majority for imposing inheritance taxes, he would have to resign. The tax was defeated by eight votes. On board the royal yacht Hohenzollern on 26 June, Bülow offered his resignation, exactly twelve years after accepting the office.

On 14 July, the resignation was announced and Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg became the new Chancellor. Wilhelm dined with the Bülows, expressing his regret that the prince was determined to resign. He observed that he had been informed that some of those who voted against the inheritance tax had done so out of animosity against Bülow and his handling of the Telegraph affair rather than opposition to the tax. For his services to the state Prince von Bülow was awarded the Order of the Black Eagle set in diamonds.[40]


After his resignation of the German chancellorship in 1909, Bülow lived principally at the villa in Rome which he had purchased with a view to his retirement. Part of the summer he usually spent at Flottbeck near Hamburg, or on the island of Norderney. A large fortune left him by a cousin, a Hamburg merchant, enabled him to live in elegant leisure and to make his house in Rome a center of literary and political society. He employed his leisure in writing for the centenary celebrations of the Wars of Liberation, a remarkable book on Imperial Germany, extolling its achievements and defending the main lines of his own foreign policy.[a][41] In a revised edition of his book on Imperial Germany published after the start of World War I, he omitted or altered many passages which seemed compromising in light of the war, for example his policy of lulling Great Britain into a false sense of security, while the great German navy was being constructed. He was understood to be in deeply malodorous company with William II, who never forgave him his attitude and action with regard to the Daily Telegraph interview in 1908.[41]

Wartime diplomat[edit]

From 1914-15, Bülow was ambassador to Italy but failed to bring King Victor Emmanuel to join the Central Powers. Italy had declared her neutrality at the outbreak of the war. However she intimated (on 5 July 1914) through diplomatic channels that Austria-Hungary's Ultimatum to Serbia was aggressive and provocative. On 9 December 1914, Baron Sonnino addressed a note to the Count Berchtold, calling attention to Article VII of the treaty by which Italy participated in the Triple Alliance, with particular reference to the words in that clause according to which the Austro-Hungarian Government was bound, in the event of disturbing the status quo in the Balkans, even by a temporary occupation of Serbian territory, to come to an agreement with Italy and to arrange for compensations. By this note, the questions of the Trentino Agreement and Trieste were formally opened.[41]

Austria-Hungary manifested great reluctance to enter upon the question of compensations, but Berlin was more alert to her own concerns. Bülow was, therefore, entrusted with the temporary charge of the German embassy in Rome; the actual ambassador, Flotow, went on sick leave (19 December 1914). Bülow at once plunged into active negotiations; on principle he was entirely sympathic with Italian demands for compensation. He had, however, to fight the intransigeance of the Hungarian prime minister, Tisza, and Tisza's nominee, who was Berchtold's successor, Baron von Burian. Bülow was from the first for the complete cession of the Trentino region to Italy, but Austria-Hungary was willing to cede only part of it. Sonnino, for his part, pointed out that Italian feeling would not be satisfied even with the whole of the Trentino, but would also, in accordance with the ''irredentist'' programme, demand Trieste. Bülow continued to urge that all he could mediate for was the Trentino but that Austria would fight to keep Trieste.[41]

Early in April 1915, Italy's secret negotiations demanded the Trentino, Trieste, the Cuzolari Islands, off the Dalmatian coast. Austria-Hungary recognised Italian sovereignty over Vallona, etc. Yet negotiations dragged on until the middle of May, when Bülow made a grave but characteristic tactical mistake. He induced the Italian ex-premier Giolitti to come to Rome from Turin in the hope that his following in the Chamber would be sufficient to prevent a rupture and to bring about the acceptance of the Austro-Hungarian terms. An equally characteristic propaganda was believed to have been instituted by Bülow, in conjunction with Vienna's envoy Macchio, among the partisans of Giolitti behind the back of the Italian government.[41]

The prime minister, Salandra, suddenly resigned. There was a great outburst of popular indignation, fanned by the impassioned eloquence of d'Annunzio and finding expression in demonstrations in front of the Quirinal (the royal palace) and on the Capitol, the municipal centre of Rome. After a great majority in the Italian Parliament had on 20 May expressed confidence in Salandra, general mobilization was ordered on 22 May, and the formal declaration of war against Austria-Hungary followed on 23 May 1915.[41] The very next day Bülow left Rome.[41] He regarded his task as impossible in any case, and on returning remarked: "Morale and attitude of the German people: A-1. Political leadership: Z-Minus."[41] During World War I, he lived in Berlin, although after the peace he again resided in Rome for part of every year, spending the rest of the year in Germany. His name was mentioned in a ministerial crisis of 1921, raised as a possible chancellor.[41] Although many of the leading figures in the Reichstag (including Matthias Erzberger) hoped that Bülow would succeed Bethmann Hollweg upon the dismissal in 1917, he was entirely unacceptable to the vast majority of the German people and of the Reichstag.[41]

Prince von Bülow died on 28 October 1929 in Rome, Italy, aged 80.

Titles and Honours[edit]

German Decorations

Foreign decorations

Preceded by
Prince Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst
Chancellor of Germany
Prime Minister of Prussia

Succeeded by
Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg


  1. ^ Engl. translation, M. Lavenz, 1914; English translation 1916)


  1. ^
  2. ^ Taylor, Alan (1954). The Struggle for Mastery of Europe 1848-1918. UK: Oxford. pp. 459–460. ISBN 0198812701. 
  3. ^ Tuchman (1962), p.8
  4. ^ "Ghostwriter von Wilhem II. - Business And Science" (in German). Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  5. ^ Massie pp. 138-39
  6. ^ Bülow Vol IV, p. 20
  7. ^ a b c Massie p. 140
  8. ^ Massie pp. 140-41
  9. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bülow, Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin, Prince von". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 793. 
  10. ^ Massie p. 141
  11. ^ Hostages of Modernization, ed. Strauss, 1993, p. 35
  12. ^ Massie p. 142
  13. ^ Massie pp. 142-43
  14. ^ Massie pp. 143-44
  15. ^ Massie pp. 144-46
  16. ^ Massie p. 146
  17. ^ Massie pp. 147-48
  18. ^ Massie pp. 148-49
  19. ^ 'The War in the Present', Jan 1909 by Schlieffen; E.M.Carroll, Germany and the Great Powers, p.577-8; Ham, p.95
  20. ^ Sally Waller. AQA History: The Development of Germany, 1871-1925
  21. ^ Massie pp. 346-348
  22. ^ Bulow to Schlieffen, p.28
  23. ^ Wilhelm II to Bulow, quoted in Tuchman, p.29
  24. ^ quoted in Kennedy, Anglo-German Antagonism, p.311; Ham, p.55
  25. ^ Gen. Alfred von Waldersee, "We are supposed to be pursuing Weltpolitik, if only i knew what that was supposed to be;" quoted in Clark, The Sleepwalkers, p.51
  26. ^ Geiss, July 1914, p.23; Ham, p.58. For eminent business analysis see, Fischer (1967), p.13-18
  27. ^ Bulow to Wilhelm II, cited in Albertini, vol.1, pp.113-114; Ham, pp.74-6
  28. ^ Massie pp. 344-49
  29. ^ Massie pp. 349
  30. ^ Massie pp. 353-354
  31. ^ Massie p. 349
  32. ^ Massie pp. 360-63
  33. ^ Massie p.366
  34. ^ Massie pp. 367-68
  35. ^ Cowles, Virginia (1963). The Kaiser. Harper & Row. pp. 258–259. LCCN 63-20288. 
  36. ^ Massie pp. 680-87
  37. ^ Massie pp. 685-88
  38. ^ Massie pp. 689-90
  39. ^ Massie pp. 690-91
  40. ^ Massie pp. 692-95
  41. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Bülow, Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin, Prince von". Encyclopædia Britannica. 30 (12th ed.). London & New York. pp. 522–523. 
  42. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Württemberg 1907, Page 50
  • Robert K. Massie. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-03260-7. 
  • Bernhard von Bülow (1932). Memoirs of Prince von Bülow Vol IV, 1849-1897. translated from German by Geoffrey Dunlop and F. A. Voight. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 
  • Fischer, Fritz, Germany's War Aims 1914-1918, London, 1967
  • Ham, Paul, 1914: The Year the World Ended, London: Doubleday, 2013
  • Tuchman, Barbra, The Guns of August, London: Macmillan, 1962

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