1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bülow, Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin, Prince von

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Bülow, Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin, Prince von

See also Bernhard von Bülow on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BÜLOW, BERNHARD HEINRICH KARL MARTIN, Prince von (see 4.793). — Prince Bülow, after his resignation of the German chancellorship in 1909, 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 centre 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 (Engl. translation, M. Lavenz, 1914). In a revised edition (Engl. translation 1916) he omitted or altered many passages which seemed compromising in the light of the World War, e.g. his exposition of his policy of lulling Great Britain into a sense of security, while the great German navy was being constructed. He was understood to be in deep disfavour with William II., who never forgave him his attitude and action with regard to the Daily Telegraph interview in 1908.

On the outbreak of war Bülow found opportunity to identify himself publicly with the German cause, and, from his own point of view, he doubtless felt what, after Germany's collapse, was made a ground of bitter reproach to him, that no one had been more actively identified than he with the main lines of the German policy which led up to the war.

He was once more to be employed in the service of his country, this time on a desperate enterprise. Italy, which had declared her neutrality at the outbreak of the war, did not eventually confine herself to the declaration that the casus foederis had not arisen for her as a member of the Triple Alliance. She had already intimated (July 5 1914) through diplomatic channels that she considered the action of Austria-Hungary against Serbia to be aggressive and provocative. On Dec. 9 1914 Baron Sonnino addressed a note to the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Count Berchtold, calling attention to Art. 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 its 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 and Trieste were formally opened. Austria-Hungary manifested great reluctance to enter upon the question of compensations, but Berlin was more alert and more anxiously concerned. Prince Bülow was, therefore, entrusted with the temporary charge of the German embassy in Rome, the actual ambassador, Herr von Flotow, going on sick-leave (Dec. 19 1914). He at once plunged into active negotiations, and began by expressing his entire sympathy on principle with the Italian demand for compensations. He had, however, to fight the intransigeance of the Hungarian prime minister, Tisza, and Tisza's nominee, who was Berchtold's successor, Baron Burian. Bülow was from the first for the complete cession of the Trentino 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. Early in April 1915 Italy put forward in the course of the negotiations, which were secret, her demands for the Trentino, Trieste, the Cuzolari Is., off the Dalmatian coast, the recognition by Austria-Hungary of Italian sovereignty over Vallona, etc. The negotiations dragged on till the middle of May, when Bülow made a grave but characteristic tactical mistake. He is understood to have induced the Italian ex-premier Giolitti to come to Rome from Turin in the hope that Giolitti's following in the Chamber would be powerful enough 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 the Austro-Hungarian ambassador Macchio, among the partisans of Giolitti behind the back of the Italian Government. 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 May 20 expressed confidence in Salandra, general mobilization was ordered on May 22, and the formal declaration of war against Austria-Hungary followed on May 23 1915. On May 24 Bülow left Rome.

During the war he lived in Berlin, and although since the peace he has again resided in Rome for part of every year, he spends many months in Germany. His name was mentioned in a ministerial crisis of 1921 as a possible chancellor, but he was entirely inacceptable to the vast majority of the German people and of the Reichstag. (G. S.)