18 October 1900

Count Bernhard von Bülow becomes chancellor of Germany

Count Bernhard von Bülow, born Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow on May 3, 1849, and died on October 28, 1929, was a prominent German statesman and diplomat who played a significant role in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909 and is known for his contributions to German foreign policy during a critical period in European history.

Family and Early Life: Bülow came from a noble Prussian family. He was born in Klein-Flottbek, near Altona, which is now part of Hamburg, Germany. He was well-educated and came from a family with a strong tradition of service to the Prussian state.

Early Career: Bülow began his diplomatic career in 1873, serving in various positions within the Prussian Foreign Office. He gained experience as a diplomat in various European capitals, including Rome, Vienna, and St. Petersburg.

Rise to Power: In 1897, Bülow was appointed as the State Secretary for the German Foreign Office, serving under Chancellor Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst. His diplomatic skills and understanding of international affairs contributed to his rapid rise within the German government.

Chancellorship: In 1900, Bülow succeeded Prince Hohenlohe as the Chancellor of the German Empire, a position he held until 1909. As Chancellor, he was responsible for overseeing the government and representing Germany on the international stage.

Bülow’s Diplomacy: Bülow was known for his realpolitik approach to foreign policy, which focused on pursuing Germany’s national interests through pragmatic and calculated diplomacy. He played a significant role in shaping Germany’s relationships with other European powers, particularly with the British Empire.

Naval Arms Race: During Bülow’s tenure as Chancellor, Germany engaged in a naval arms race with Great Britain. This competition, known as the Anglo-German naval arms race, contributed to tensions between the two nations and was a source of concern in international relations.

Moroccan Crises: Bülow’s foreign policy was also tested during the Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911, where Germany was involved in disputes over Morocco’s sovereignty and its relationship with France. These crises revealed the complexities of European power politics and rivalries.

Resignation: Bülow’s resignation in 1909 marked the end of his political career. His government faced growing challenges and internal dissent, and his role as Chancellor became increasingly untenable.

Count Bernhard von Bülow’s political career was marked by his efforts to assert Germany’s interests on the international stage, but it also faced criticism and challenges, both domestically and internationally. After his resignation, he retired from politics and wrote several books and memoirs. His legacy continues to be a subject of historical analysis and debate, particularly regarding his role in shaping Germany’s foreign policy during a pivotal period in European history.