1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hertling, Georg, Count von
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Hertling, Georg, Count von
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HERTLING, GEORG, Count von (1843-1919), German statesman, was born Aug. 31 1843 at Darmstadt. In 1882 he became professor of philosophy in the university of Munich, and during his tenure of this chair he published books on Aristotle (1871) and on Albertus Magnus (1880). From 1875 to 1890, and again from 1893 to 1912, he was a member of the Reichstag, and after 1909 led for a time the Centre (Catholic) party in that Assembly. The Regent of Bavaria made him in 1891 a life member of the Upper House of the Bavarian Diet. In 1912 he was appointed Bavarian Minister-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs. King Ludwig III. elevated him to the rank of Count. He had been urged by the Emperor to accept the Chancellorship when Bethmann Hollweg resigned in July 1917, but declined on the ground that he saw no prospect of being able to work in harmony with the higher military command. When Michaelis was got rid of in Oct. 1917 he yielded to pressure which was put upon him, and, although 74 years of age and in a precarious state of health, assumed the burden of the Chancellorship, which he sustained for the ensuing 12 months. The encroachments of the military authorities, particularly Ludendorff, upon the political conduct of the empire became even more serious during Hertling's Chancellorship than they had been during that of Bethmann Hollweg. Hertling's son, an officer who was attached to him as aide-de-camp, has, in a book possessing both political interest and real literary merit, Ein Jahr in der Reichskanzlei (1919), given an account of the difficulties which the Chancellor experienced in his dealings with the Emperor and with Ludendorff. It fell to Hertling's lot, moreover, to endeavour to persuade the reactionary Prussian Chamber and the Prussian Herrenhaus to pass the bill which, in fulfilment of the Emperor's belated proclamations, had been introduced for the equalization of the Prussian franchise. In this he failed, although upon one occasion he had gone so far as to warn the Upper House that the question was one which concerned “the existence of the dynasty.” Indeed, two “Chancellor” crises within four months had done much to undermine the whole system of Imperial and Prussian semi-absolutism, and to shake the confidence of the masses in the possibility of a successful issue of the war. The failure of the spring and summer offensives of 1918 destroyed Hertling's hope that he might eventually be able to negotiate with the Allied and Associated Powers on anything like equal terms. Feeling among the masses and also in large sections of the army was giving cause for great anxiety. The necessity for the introduction of real parliamentary government, against which, in accordance with the conservative principles of a lifetime, he struggled, became paramount. His health too was broken. His resignation was accepted on Sept. 30 1918. He died on Jan. 4 1919 at his country home at Ruhpolding in Upper Bavaria. He left reminiscences which were published in 1919 under the title of Erinnerungcn aus meinem Leben.