Bülow, Bernhard Wilhelm von

(1885-1936)
   diplomat; origi-nated the concept of an Austro-German customs union. Born in Potsdam, he came from a family long wedded to the diplomatic service (his uncle was For-eign Minister and Reich Chancellor between 1897 and 1909). He entered the foreign service in 1911, serving initially as an attache; during 1915-1916 he was legation secretary in Constantinople and Athens. From 1917 until the end of World War I he was assigned to the Foreign Office. A participant at Brest-Litovsk and the Versailles deliberations, he vigorously opposed acceptance of the Versailles Treaty.*
   Although Bülow retired to write in 1919, he agreed in 1923 to head a com-mittee reporting to the League of Nations. Soon named ministerial director and head of the Foreign Office's European Department, he succeeded Carl von Schu-bert* as State Secretary in June 1930. It was at this juncture that he floated his plan for a customs union. Remaining an outspoken critic of Versailles—he pub-lished Versailler Völkerbund (Versailles's League of Nations) in 1923—he be-lieved that such a venture could lead to a more active and independent foreign policy.* When the union was vetoed in 1931 by the Hague Court, Bülow's chief, Julius Curtius,* was impelled to resign as Foreign Minister.
   Bülow remains an enigma. A nationalist, he was devoted to peace. In 1932-1933 he was the German most resolved to achieve a settlement at the World Disarmament Conference.* His character, shaped by the duty and idealism in-nate to the old aristocracy, can be easily misread. He was neither a man for the spotlight nor capable of easy diplomatic compromise: both factors account for his failure to become Foreign Minister. Those closest to him were struck by his depth. Ernst von Weizsacker stated that he was, along "with Maltzan,* the best horse in our stable between the two World Wars." Inspired by a religious at-tachment to Germany (ein Vaterlandsgefuhl), he also believed in the perfecti-bility of the League (he despised it as originally created). But the sense of duty that led him to rejoin the foreign service during the crisis year of 1923 induced him to remain after Hitler* became Chancellor.
   REFERENCES:Bennett, German Rearmament; Eyck, History ofthe Weimar Rep blic, vol. 2; Memoirs of Ernst von Weizacker; NDB, vol. 2.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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