1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kiderlen-Wächter, Alfred von

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Kiderlen-Wächter, Alfred von
See also Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

KIDERLEN-WÄCHTER, ALFRED VON (1852-1912), German diplomatist, was born at Stallgast July 10 1852, and was the son of a banker, Robert Kiderlen, who had married Baroness Marie von Wächter. He 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 (burschikos) manner of a German student. In 1879 he entered the German Foreign Office, where he was regarded as one of the most promising members of the small clique that gathered round the celebrated and much over-rated Herr von Holstein. After holding various diplomatic posts, among them that of Prussian minister to Hamburg, he was sent to Bucharest in 1900 and remained there for 10 years, when he was recalled to occupy the post of Foreign Secretary under the somewhat inexperienced Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann Hollweg. He was soon in the thick of the negotiations with France (1911) which arose over the Agadir incident, and which, owing to the state of Kiderlen-Wächter's health, were partly conducted between him and the French ambassador, Jules Cambon, at the Bavarian spa of Kissingen. The mystery which Kiderlen-Wächter, with the complicity of his chief, Bethmann Hollweg, chose to maintain with regard to Germany's ultimate intentions in Morocco, was largely responsible for the crisis which arose between the Western Powers and Germany and which necessitated very plain speaking in the House of Commons by Sir Edward Grey (Nov. 27 1911), and had previously given occasion for a very firm declaration on the British attitude by Mr. Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the Mansion House (July 21 1911). French public opinion was, moreover, indignant at certain negotiations which were secretly carried on with Berlin by the French Prime Minister, M. Caillaux, behind the back of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, de Selves. An agreement on the basis of a cession of territory in the French Congo in exchange for a German declaration of complete désintéressement in Morocco was nevertheless ultimately effected. Kiderlen-Wächter died at Stuttgart Dec. 30 1912. (G. S.)