Dirksen, Herbert von

(1882-1955)
   diplomat; the Republic's second Ambassador to Moscow. Born in Berlin* to Willibald von Dirksen, a specialist in international law, he studied law before entering the Prussian civil service.* After four years with the district commissioner's office in Bonn, he was trans-ferred in 1914 to the Commerce Ministry in Berlin. The outbreak of war brought his mobilization with a cavalry regiment. Having served two years on both fronts, he returned to the civil service as district chief of Namur, Belgium. In May 1918 he joined the diplomatic corps with the legation in Kiev; he was fortunate to escape the Ukraine's revolutionary turmoil in January 1919.
   Upon returning to Berlin, Dirksen was assigned to the Foreign Office's East-ern Department and given charge of the newly independent Baltic provinces.* In April 1920, after the Baltic expedition, he joined the German legation in Warsaw. When in 1921 the Foreign Office chose not to appoint an ambassador to Warsaw, Dirksen became charge d'affaires. In October 1921, after the Polish insurrection in Upper Silesia,* he returned to Berlin as chief of the Polish desk. Assigned to Danzig* in May 1923 as consul-general, he was determined to promote the city's unity with the Reich. To maintain its ethnicity, he champi-oned a major influx of economic aid to Danzig. Deeming the Free City a crucial linchpin to any revision of the eastern borders, he stated his conviction in August 1925 that Germany's best hope of regaining territories lost to Poland* was a Russo-Polish war.
   In February 1925 Dirksen returned to Berlin as deputy chief of the Foreign Office's Eastern Department. He played a crucial role in helping Gustav Strese-mann* balance Germany's East-West diplomatic axis during the period when the Republic signed the Locarno Treaties* and joined the League of Nations. His counsel was especially crucial in negotiations leading to the April 1926 Treaty of Berlin with the Soviets. He replaced Erich Wallroth as head of the Eastern Department in May 1928 and became Ambassador to Moscow six months later upon the death of Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau.* Despite his efforts, the years 1928-1933 witnessed a growing Russo-German estrangement. He escaped an assassination* attempt in March 1932. In August 1933 he was transferred to Tokyo and helped negotiate the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan. Ambassador to London from May 1938 until 3 September 1939, he retired in 1940 to his family's estate in Lower Silesia.
   REFERENCES:Dirksen, Moscow, Tokyo, London; Hilger and Meyer, Incompatible Allies; Kimmich, Free City.

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

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