1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bernstorff, Count Johann Heinrich von
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Bernstorff, Count Johann Heinrich von
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BERNSTORFF, COUNT JOHANN HEINRICH VON (1862- ), German diplomatist and politician, was born in London Nov. 14 1862, the son of the Prussian diplomatist Count Albrecht von Bernstorff. He entered the diplomatic service in 1899, was secretary of legation successively at Belgrade, Dresden, St. Petersburg and Munich, and (1902-6) councillor of embassy in London. He then went as consul-general to Cairo, whence he proceeded as German ambassador in 1909 to Washington and remained there until America's declaration of war against Germany in April 1917. He made great efforts to facilitate mediation by President Wilson, but he did not receive the support he expected from authoritative quarters in Berlin. He himself has repudiated any active connection with the criminal plots and intrigues which were conducted by German agents, including the German military attaché, Boy-Ed, in America before the rupture of relations; he also maintains that he entirely disapproved of the German foreign secretary, Zimmermann's, monstrous proposals to Mexico. If so his position must have been an exceedingly difficult and anomalous one. On the American declaration of war he returned to Germany and was sent as ambassador to Constantinople, where he was employed until 1918. In various publications he has endeavoured to prove that Germany, if she had followed the proper policy, could have avoided war with America. This statement of his views excited much controversy in his own country. When the revolution broke out Bernstorff left the diplomatic service, but has since taken an active part in parliamentary politics as a member of the Democratic party in the Reichstag, and has also maintained a close connexion with the international press and with pacific post-war propaganda.
- (C. K.)