Philip, Prince of Eulenburg

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Philip of Eulenburg
Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld
Count of Sandels
Philipp zu Eulenburg.jpg
Spouse(s) Augusta Sandels
Full name
Philip Frederick Alexander
Father Count Philipp Konrad of Eulenburg
Mother Baroness Alexandrine of Rothkirch and Panthen
Born (1847-02-12)12 February 1847
Königsberg, Kingdom of Prussia
Died 17 September 1921(1921-09-17) (aged 74)
Liebenberg, Germany

Philip Frederick Alexander, Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld, Count of Sandels, in German: Philipp Friedrich Alexander Fürst zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld, Graf von Sandels (12 February 1847 – 17 September 1921) was a politician and diplomat of imperial Germany in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was also a composer and writer.

Early life[edit]

Eulenburg was born at Königsberg, Province of Prussia, the eldest son of Philipp Konrad Graf zu Eulenburg (Königsberg, 24 April 1820 – Berlin, 5 March 1889) and of his wife, Alexandrine Freiin von Rothkirch und Panthen (Glogau, 20 June 1824 – Meran, 11 April 1902). The Eulenburgs were a Junker family which belonged to the Uradel (ancient nobility). For generations the family had served the House of Hohenzollern; his uncle, Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg served as Interior Minister of Prussia as did his cousin Botho zu Eulenburg.

Eulenburg attended the Vitzhumsches Gymnasium in Dresden, Saxony. In 1866 the Austro-Prussian War forced him to leave Saxony which was now enemy territory. He joined the Gardes du Corps as an officer cadet. He then attended the War Academy at Kassel from which he graduated in 1868. In 1869 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and 1871 he served under the German military governor of Strasbourg and received the Iron Cross.

After the Franco-Prussian War Eulenburg travelled in the Orient for a year. From 1872 to 1875 he attended the University of Leipzig and the University of Strasbourg. In 1875 he received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Giessen.

Civil service and diplomatic career[edit]

Eulenburg joined the Prussian civil service. He served first as a judge at a lower court in Lindow, Brandenburg, before being promoted to a higher court at Neuruppin. After only two years as a judge he transferred to the German Foreign Office.

In January 1881 Eulenburg was appointed third Secretary at the German Embassy in Paris, serving under Bernhard von Bülow. After only six months he was transferred to the Prussian embassy in Munich where he served seven years. In November 1888 Eulenburg was appointed Prussian ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. In March 1890 he was sent to Stuttgart as Prussian ambassador to the Kingdom of Württemberg. In April 1891 he returned to Munich, this time as Prussian ambassador to the Kingdom of Bavaria. In 1893 Eulenburg was appointed Germany's ambassador to Austria-Hungary, a position he held until 1902. During his time as ambassador in Vienna, Eulenburg who was a passionate Wagnerite befriended one of the world's leading Wagnerites, Houston Stewart Chamberlain who was living in Vienna at the time.[1] Besides for their shared love of Richard Wagner, Eulenburg, who was an anti-Semite, Anglophobe and an opponent of democracy found much to admire in Chamberlain's anti-Semitic, Anglophobe and anti-democratic writings.[2]

In 1900, Eulenburg was created 1st Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld and Count of Sandels (Fürst zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld, Graf von Sandels). The second title was in honour of the family of his wife, whose father was the last Swedish Count of Sandels. In 1901, Eulenburg introduced Chamberlain to Wilhelm II, who first met in Eulenburg's hunting lodge.[3]

Friendship with Wilhelm II[edit]

Eulenburg became a close friend of the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, who was twelve years his junior, prior to Wilhelm's accession to the imperial throne. Upon the accession of Wilhelm to the thrones of Prussia and Germany, Eulenburg assumed an unofficial position of immense influence, and among other things, was instrumental in the appointment of Bernhard von Bülow as head of the foreign office in 1897. Wilhelm II had long desired the appointment of "his own Bismarck" – a powerful chancellor who would enact the Kaiser's will – and Eulenburg was the first to suggest Bülow for this role.

Marriage and family[edit]

On 20 November 1875, at Stockholm, Eulenburg married Augusta Sandels (Stockholm, 12 May 1853 – Liebenberg, 14 December 1941), daughter of Samuel August, the last Count Sandels, and of his wife, Hedvig Henrietta Emilie Augusta Tersmeden. Count Johan August Sandels was her grandfather. They had eight children:

  • Philipp Graf zu Eulenburg (Wulkow, 16 November 1876 – Berlin, 28 June 1878)
  • Astrid Gräfin zu Eulenburg (Berlin, 25 March 1879 … Paris, 23 March 1881)
  • Alexandrine (Adine) Elise Klara Antonia Gräfin zu Eulenburg (Liebenberg, 1 July 1880 – Friedelhausen, 3 February 1957), married at Liebenberg, 15 June 1910 Eberhard Graf von Schwerin (Weilburg, 11 July 1882 – Giessen, 4 April 1954)
  • Friedrich Wend 2. Fürst zu Eulenburg und Hertefeld Graf von Sandels (Starnberg, 19 September 1881 – Weeze, 1 August 1963), married at Liebenberg, 21 May 1904 Marie Freiin Mayr von Melnhof (Vienna, 8 April 1884 – Weeze, 3 February 1960)
  • Augusta Alexandrine Gräfin zu Eulenburg (Starnberg, 1 September 1882 – Starnberg, 28 January 1974), married in London, 4 February 1907 (div 1931) Edmund Jaroljmek
  • Sigwart Botho Philipp August Graf zu Eulenburg (Munich, 10 January 1884 – k.a. Jasło, Galicia, 2 June 1915), married in Leipzig, 21 September 1909 Helene Staegemann (Hannover, 18 April 1877 – Partenkirchen, 20 August 1923)
  • Karl Kuno Eberhard Wend Graf zu Eulenburg (Starnberg, 16 June 1885 – Weeze, 4 December 1975), married firstly Saint Helier, Jersey, 27 May 1908 (div 1923) Sophie Moshammer (Munich, 9 April 1891 – Munich, 8 May 1944), married secondly in Munich, 5 November 1923 Geertruida Verwey (Utrecht, 6 May 1901 – Weeze, 28 October 1987)
  • Viktoria Ada Astrid Agnes Gräfin zu Eulenburg (Starnberg, 13 July 1886 – Starnberg, 23 September 1967), married at Liebenberg, 12 May 1909 (div 1921) Prof. Otto Ludwig Haas-Heye (Heidelberg, 16 December 1879 – Mannheim, 9 June 1959)

Viktoria is the great-grandmother of Sophie, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein.


Although he was married, Eulenburg was connected in homosexual liaisons with members of the Kaiser's inner circle, including Count Kuno von Moltke, the military commander of Berlin. Sources say that he continued to have homosexual relationships even after the marriage. The public exposure of these liaisons in 1907 led to the Harden-Eulenburg Affair. In 1908, Eulenburg was placed on trial for perjury due to his denial of his homosexuality; the trial was repeatedly postponed due to Eulenburg's claim of poor health. Eulenburg died in Liebenberg in 1921, aged 74.[4]


Before and during World War I, Prince Eulenburg was strongly in favor of German expansionism.[5] In an essay he wrote in April 1912 entitled "The German Fleet", Eulenburg wrote that he believed "that the Kaiser nor the German government want the war" (emphasis in the original), which he held to be inevitable.[6] But he wrote that Germany was the principal cause of international tensions, writing that:

Our Battle Fleet – not the British one – has sparked off the naval arms race among the Great Powers, with the result that even Austria is now engaging in the dreadnought gamble. For it is a gamble if even the dreadnoughts which cost millions are rendered obsolescent in the shortest space of time by the invention of new types of ships, and if financially ordered States are ruined and finally driven into wars of desperation by the continued building of such giant ships... That the fact of our building this threatening Battle Fleet will possibly or even probably lead to a decision to pursue a policy of violence. If at the same time the Government preaches peace, then the dictates of logic force me to accuse this Government of the "nation of philosophers" either of stupidity or of deliberate deception.[6]

Eulenburg concluded that the naval build-up advocated by Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz known as the Tirpitz Plan was wasteful in the extreme, arguing that Germany would have been better served by a small cruiser fleet capable of protecting the German merchant marine and coastlines, and allowing the billions of marks spent on the Navy to go to social reforms and the Army instead.[6] Eulenburg argued that the great expansion of the German Navy was unnecessary as Germany was "neither an island nor a boat, but a beautiful green field on the Continent in which the sheep, guarded by the military sheepdogs, get fat while the oxen engage in politics."[7] ("Schaf" (sheep) and "Ochse" (ox) can be used to describe a lack of intelligence in German.)

But at the same time, Eulenburg's rejection of navalism was based on the idea that it was the wrong way to pursue German ambitions. Eulenburg wrote:

Is the purpose behind the building of a Battle Fleet the establishment of German predominance over the entire face of the earth? The destruction of British domination? If so, then the building of a Battle Fleet would indeed be necessary – but even only if there were no other means of attaining this goal.[8]

Eulenburg wrote that the best way of pursuing German power politics were "The unification of the Powers of the European Continent".[8] Eulenburg stated that the "great Napoleon" thought the unification of all Europe under French leadership was the only way of "breaking England's domination of the sea".[8] Eulenburg wrote that Napoleon had failed because Russia was unwilling and because "military communications were totally inadequate at the time."[8] By contrast, Eulenburg wrote:

Today, on the other hand, we can assume that Europe's land armies would be just as well placed as her navies to destroy England's world position. Indeed, it might actually be more effective to defeat the English colonial army than to attack the English fleet. Using existing railroad lines stretching from Madrid to Siberia and Persia, the nearly completed Baghdad railroad and the Cape-Cairo Railway, the English could be so seriously threatened in Asia and Africa as to make them think twice before they exploit their naval advantage in far-away places against members of the continental European coalition... Our standing German Army would become almost fantastically strong if even one quarter of the billions spent on the Navy were used to expand it, so that it would act as a tremendous magnet to the Powers of the coalition and attract and bind them to the strongest Power despite their unwillingness to lose their independence. The countries of Europe would bow to the peaceful leadership of such a mighty Germany in the same way as the federal German states bow to the leadership of a mighty Prussia."[9]

Eulenburg argued that the money saved by cutting back on the Navy would allow every German town to have an Army garrison "which would act as an ever-alert military police force against the excesses of Social Democracy".[9] Eulenburg ended his essay by arguing that his proposals were not meant to prevent a war, but to ensure that Germany would win a war against Britain, which Eulenburg claimed was inevitable.[9] Eulenburg ended by writing:

And why not war? We Prussians are accustomed to it. Our recent history, which is still fresh in everyone's mind, demonstrates the advancement of the State through war and the use of force. We have not fared too badly by using these methods.

Only we never pursued this course honestly.

Honestly like Napoleon who never denied that he was striving for world domination! Honestly like the English who took whatever they wanted without asking. Honestly like the Russians, who added one Asiatic state after another to the Tsar's empire without trumpeting promises of peace throughout the world before.

For opportunistic reasons we have falsified history, we have written the words "German loyalty", "German truth", "the German temperament" on every street corner and have hidden our carefully laid plans for war behind them.

In this sense, however, we have always remained true to ourselves, following in the footsteps of Frederick the Great who, through his troops were already on the march to Silesia, wrote to the Empress Maria Theresa that "he valued peace above all things and would not dream of beginning a war". In the footsteps of Bismarck, who managed to persuade the German people in 1870 that they have been too deeply humiliated by France not to draw the sword.

So we now build dreadnoughts, and the Kaiser and his government never stop singing us their song of peace, which we must safeguard as if it were the Holy Grail.

Therefore war. If we succeed – tant mieux. Then we can become pour de bon a military state and organise and rule the conquered lands with a firm military hand. Arm in order to conquer. Honestly and ruthlessly."[10]

In 1914, Eulenburg welcomed and supported World War I, and was particularly proud of the way the German government made it appear that Russian mobilization had forced war on Germany.[11] In a letter, Eulenburg wrote:

"'We were forced into the War by Russia'; so people think-and so they are supposed to think. The manner in which this "fact" was demonstrated to us by means of documents had a Bismarckian touch that appealed to me; was it Bethmann? Jagow? Zimmermann? I do not know. My guess is Zimmermann plus Jagow."[11]

Eulenburg felt that the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia was "Prussian to the marrow" since its terms were cleanly meant to inspire rejection and he believed that nobody in the Austrian government was capable of writing such an ultimatum without German prompting.[12] Eulenburg wrote that:

"It was officially maintained in Berlin that "the German Government was not aware of the content of the note". That may be so.

But who, in such case is the Government? Certainly it includes the Kaiser, the Reich Chancellor and the ministers. But the Government is not, for example Privy Councilor Zimmermann, the Chief of the General Staff and other gentlemen-who are even in a position to correct such a note.

What is undeniable, however, is that the note was a provocation...

All this, after our provocative move, was no more than a charade-it gratified me and brought back old memories"[12]

Despite his disgrace, Eulenburg had many friends in the government, especially the military, and so was very well informed about German decision-making behind the scenes during the July Crisis.[12] In reply to a letter Eulenburg wrote his friend, General Helmuth von Moltke, the Chief of the General Staff, told him that he had "arrived at the conviction that-if it were still at all possible for us to win-we had to attack this year."[12] In a December 1917 letter, Eulenburg wrote

"One can be in two minds about our foreign position, but not about the situation at home. Prussia leads Europe, but has herself fallen into the hands of foreigners, among whom I count the Kaiser and the Jews. For the Bethmanns too are nothing, but internationalist chatterboxes."[13]

In a letter of 21 March 1918 about the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Eulenburg wrote:

"In whatever way we win, our victory must and will engender the most dreadful hatred of us, so that, with our great-grandchildren in mind, we must fashion frontiers which can provide a certain guarantee of safety in the military as well as the economic sphere. Of course we shall be able to use admiration-but the hatred will be greater and our geographically unfortunate position must be corrected if that well deserved admiration is not to be weakened by the accusation of stupidity. But who is to undertake the correction of unfortunate geographical position? Surely only the military genius of our Army leaders-or were you perhaps thinking of leaving it to our politicians? If the latter had not dug their grave long ago, we would now be calling it Brest-Litovsk."[13]

After World War I, Eulenburg changed his mind about the war, and now claimed in his letters that, had he remained Ambassador to Austria during the July Crisis, he would have prevented the war.[14] In a letter, Eulenburg asked whether one should "lay the blame on the Austrian Government alone because they followed the incitements of their stronger and therefore in military matters absolutely dominant ally?"[15] Eulenburg argued that:

"Germany is the stronger of the Allies. Without her consent, Austria cannot go to war with Russia-Serbia. The stronger partner is in a position to propose a conference and the weaker is compelled to accept."[15]

Eulenburg went on to write:

"Serbia is Russia. If Austria marches against Serbia and if Berlin does not prevent Austria's belligerent action, then the great breaking wave of World War rolls irresistibly towards us. I repeat: Berlin must know that, otherwise idiots live in the Wilhelmstrasse. Kaiser Wilhelm must know that.

If Austria takes the step upon which she has decided at the Cabinet meeting of July 7th and if Kaiser Wilhelm assures Austria of his loyalty to the Alliance under any circumstances, then he also shares Count Berchtold's policy with regard to war with Russia-and Russia is the ally of France.

The situation which I have briefly described here is an established fact that cannot be masked."[14]

In a letter to his friend Wolfgang Putlitz, Eulenburg stated that his views about the truth of 1914 were "dangerous", and "this letter must be destroyed for the sake of the Fatherland."[16] In 1932, Eulenburg's friend, Professor Kurt Breysig, with whom Eulenburg shared many secrets published a book The German Spirit and its Essence, which stated that Germany could have avoided World War I by taking up the "excellent" British offer of an international conference.[16] When the book was republished later in 1932 by the German Book Society, the passages critical of German actions in the July Crisis were removed without Breysig's knowledge or permission.[17]


Among his works are:[18]

  • Skaldengesänge ("Old Norse songs," 1892)
  • Rosenlieder ("Rose songs") This collection of songs was quite popular in his lifetime and often performed in the salon of Marie von Schleinitz. It was recorded for EMI in 1976 by Cathy Berberian on the LP Wie einst in schöner'n Tagen. A version on CD was released in March 2013 on the EMI Electrola label.
  • Dichtungen ("Poems," 1892)
  • Das Weihnachtsbuch ("The Christmas book," 1892)
  • Erich und Erika und andere Erzählungen für Kinder ("Eric and Erica and other tales for children," 1893)
  • Abenderzählungen, Märchen und Träume ("Evening tales, stories, and dreams," 1894)


  1. ^ Buruma, Ian Anglopmania An European Love Affair London: Vintage Books, 2000 page 219
  2. ^ Buruma, Ian Anglopmania An European Love Affair London: Vintage Books, 2000 page 219
  3. ^ Buruma, Ian Anglopmania An European Love Affair London: Vintage Books, 2000 page 219
  4. ^ Hunnicutt, Alex (2004). "Eulenburg-Hertefeld, Philipp, Prince zu". Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  5. ^ Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 57.
  6. ^ a b c Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 59.
  7. ^ Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design?, Elek: London, 1973 pages 59–60.
  8. ^ a b c d Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 60.
  9. ^ a b c Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 61.
  10. ^ Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 62.
  11. ^ a b Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 63.
  12. ^ a b c d Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 64.
  13. ^ a b Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 58.
  14. ^ a b Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 67.
  15. ^ a b Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 66.
  16. ^ a b Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 page 69.
  17. ^ Röhl, John 1914: Delusion or Design? Elek: London, 1973 pages 68–69.
  18. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Eulenburg, Philipp, Prince". New International Encyclopedia. 1905. 

Further Reading[edit]

  • Norman Domeier: The Eulenburg Affair. A Cultural History of Politics in Imperial Germany (German History in Context 1), New York 2015, ISBN 978-1571139122.