Who's Who - Gottlieb von Jagow

Gottlieb von Jagow Gottlieb von Jagow (1863-1935) served as Germany's Foreign Minister from 1913-16 and during this period predicted both Britain and America's entry into the First World War.

With a diplomatic background - he was envoy to Luxembourg in 1907 and Italy in 1909 - von Jagow was appointed Wilhelm II's Foreign Minister in January 1913.  Jagow played the role of cautious, indeed pessimistic adviser to the somewhat more excitable Kaiser.  An advocate of improved Anglo-German relations - among Germany's pre-war political elite he was almost alone in this approach - he expressed his concerns that Britain might not, as widely expected, remain neutral in the event of a continental European conflict.

His role in the July Crisis of 1914 is however ambiguous; while he gave clear backing for Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg's support for Austria-Hungary's dealings with Serbia this was perhaps more in the hope that a general conflagration could be avoided via a united front than because he favoured war, although he acknowledged that war with Russia would eventually come.

Jagow's background was not especially militaristic: he was sceptical of the Schlieffen Plan (and opposed its necessary invasion of neutral Belgium) and, as the war progressed, he opposed Naval Minister Alfred von Tirpitz's constant lobbying for the adoption of a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare, correctly predicting in the latter case America's ultimate entry into the war.

When German military setback at the First Battle of the Marne brought to an end Army Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke's implementation of the Schlieffen Plan, von Jagow was prompt in urging a negotiated peace; without the slightest hint of success however.

His firm opposition to Tirpitz's strategy of unrestricted submarine warfare ultimately (and predictably) cost von Jagow his position in November 1916.

With the disastrous end to Germany's war in November 1918 - and the fall of Wilhelm II - von Jagow published his memoirs the following year; Ursachen und Ausbruch des Weltkrieg ('The World War's Causes and Start') appeared in 1919.  He played no further role in political affairs.

He died in 1935.

A 'Wibble-Wobble' was slang for tanks.

- Did you know?

Who's Who