Maltzan, Ago

(Adolf Georg Otto) Freiherr zu Wartenberg und Penzlin von
(1877-1927)
   diplomat; State Secretary at the Foreign Office, he helped draft the Russo-German Trade Treaty of 1921 and the Rapallo Treaty.* Born to an old Mecklenburg Junker* family, he studied law and was active in the Prussian judicial service. In 1906 he moved to the diplomatic corps and served in Oslo and Rio de Janeiro before receiving a pivotal assignment in 1911 in St. Petersburg. During 1912-1917 he was charge d'affaires in Peking. When China declared war on Germany, he was reassigned to The Hague. He remained in Holland during the Armistice* as the Foreign Office's special representative. In early 1920, after brief service as charge to Estonia and Latvia, he joined a reorganized Foreign Office as counselor in charge of the Russian desk. He was promoted to ministerial director and head of the Eastern Department in November 1921 and became State Secretary a year later.
   Although Maltzan initially favored the White Russians in the Russian Civil War, when the Reds' fortunes improved, he endorsed Hans von Seeckt's* view that Germany should seek a modus vivendi with the Bolsheviks. He soon be-came the Foreign Office's chief advocate for an "eastern" orientation. In 1920 he advised taking the initiative in a reciprocal repatriation of prisoners of war with the Soviets. Acknowledging the need for renewed economic relations, he spearheaded negotiations leading to the Russo-German Trade Treaty of 6 May 1921. When Joseph Wirth's* first cabinet collapsed in October 1921, his influ-ence was endangered; however, a scheme to send him to Athens was foiled when Wirth formed a second cabinet. With enhanced independence, Maltzan endeavored to add a political dimension to relations with Russia, a plan that possessed Wirth's support. He was opposed to the fulfillment policy* with the West and argued that Germany could escape its isolation only through Moscow. Although the western-directed Walther Rathenau* became Foreign Minister in January 1922, Maltzan initiated a dialog the same month with Karl Radek, the Soviet Comintern secretary. Discussions remained hidden and informal through-out the winter of 1922, but the secrecy was cast off during April's Genoa Con-ference* when the Germans mediated the Rapallo Treaty with the Soviets. Maltzan's role was integral to the accord.
   Maltzan may have been the most powerful professional in the postwar Foreign Office. Independently wealthy, he made his Berlin* home a gathering point for diplomats and diverse political leaders. A consummate bureaucrat, he had no platform other than the improvement of Germany's international position. But his tactics did not always mirror those of his Foreign Minister. Named State Secretary in December 1922, he was exiled to Washington in 1924 when Gustav Stresemann,* committed to the western policy that bore fruit at Locarno,* re-placed him with Carl von Schubert.* Yet he served as Ambassador to the United States until his death and helped transform American attitudes toward Germany; he even advised a U.S. alliance as an alternative to joining the League of Nations.
   Lord d'Abernon, British Ambassador to Berlin, claimed that Maltzan was "perhaps the cleverest" of the men in the postwar Foreign Office. Some Ger-mans labeled him the "red Baron." In fact, he was a Realpolitiker whose eastern orientation was devoid of ideological significance.
   REFERENCES:D'Abernon, Diary; Dirksen, Moscow, Tokyo, London; Holborn, "Diplomats and Diplomacy"; NDB, vol. 15; Pogge von Strandmann, "Rapallo"; Post, Civil-Military Fabric.

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

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