Who's Who - Wilhelm Solf

Wilhelm Solf Wilhelm Heinrich Solf (1862-1936) served as Germany's Colonial Secretary from 1911 and, in the days prior to revolution in Germany, as its last Imperial Foreign Minister.

A firm advocate and supporter of Kaiser Wilhelm II's desire to construct a German empire to compete with Europe's other major colonial powers, Britain and France, Solf served from 1900-11 as Governor of Western Samoa.

In 1911, upon his return from Western Samoa, Solf embarked upon a new brief as the Imperial Colonial Secretary.  Unfortunately for Solf's ambitions the outbreak of the First World War actually led to a diminishment of Germany's colonies in Africa and in the Pacific, to Britain and Japan respectively.

In consequence Solf lobbied for a negotiated peace settlement in 1917 and 1918 which would restore Germany's African colonies while ceding her gains in the west since 1914.  Since the declaration of war in August 1914 Solf had been firm in his opposition to an annexationist policy in the west.

He further came out in opposition to the Third Supreme Command's implementation of unrestricted submarine warfare, a disastrous policy move which directly led to U.S. entry into the war in April 1917.

With military defeat imminent and the likelihood of revolution growing Solf was appointed Imperial Foreign Minister in October 1918.  In this capacity he undertook negotiations for an armistice with the Allies which came into effect at 11 am on 11 November 1918.

He resigned as Foreign Minister on 13 December 1918 with the onset of the German revolution.  From 1920-28 he served as German Ambassador to Japan in Tokyo, helping to negotiate the German-Japan treaty of 1927.

Although he supported the election of former German Army Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg as German President in 1932, Solf planned to co-found a new moderate party together with other moderates; the endeavour was however unsuccessful.

He died in 1936.

A 'Woolly Bear' comprised a German shrapnel shell, which burst with a cloud-like explosion.

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