After World War I, German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
was asked how his choices, and those of other European statesmen, led to the most devastating war.
Craig writes of Germany's first chancellor in World War I, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
, "As soon as hostilities commenced, he found himself in a situation in which nearly all the political parties, the business community, a high proportion of the university professoriate, the bulk of the middle class, and significant portions of the working class were desirous of the most ambitious kind of territorial expansion and were sure that the war would make this possible.
Worse, at about 1900 hours, Pourtales reappeared to read a telegram from Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
(1856-1921), the German Imperial Chancellor, to the effect that, "if Russia continued her military preparations, even though she did not proceed to mobilize, Germany would find herself compelled to mobilize, in which case she would immediately proceed to take the offensive." (212) This assertion signaled a hardening in Berlin's position that rendered von Jagow's assertion two days earlier a dead letter and the partial mobilization option dead before arrival (although on the next day the tsar would require more persuading).
On 7 February 1915, in a response to the British blockade of Germany, Chancellor Theobald Bethmann Hollweg
attempted to solidify Germany's place by issuing an official proclamation clearly outlining the illegality of Britain's blockade.
The "Blank Check" to Austria by the German Chancellor, Bethmann Hollweg
, and the Emperor, William II, clearly pointed to Germany's guilt in the war's causation.
Berchtold exulted in having received a blank check from the Kaiser, which was even cosigned by the customarily timorous Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
. Berchtold intended to cash it promptly.
The kaiser sent Churchill a "courteous" message that a naval holiday "would only be possible between allies." (16) To his intimates the kaiser was much less courteous: he branded Churchill's speech "arrogant." Germany's Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg
also dismissed Churchill's initiative.
Had he seen it earlier (it arrived in Berlin late on the evening of the 26th), it seems very likely that his meeting with Bethmann Hollweg
and other senior advisors at Potsdam on the 27th might well have compelled the Chancellor to rescind his blank cheque to Austria.
(45.) Friedrich Payer, Von Bethmann Hollweg
bis Ebert: Erinnerungen und Bilder (Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Societats-Druckerei, 1923), 142-43; I am indebted to Geyer, "Insurrectionary Warfare," for this citation.