Gottlieb von Jagow

Gottlieb von Jagow

Gottlieb von Jagow was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1863. He held the post of Foreign Secretary from January 1913 to November 1916, when he was replaced by Arthur Zimmermann.

Gottlieb von Jagow died in 1935.

Primary Sources

(1) Gottlieb von Jagow, letter to Prince Lichnowsky, the German ambassador in London (18th July, 1914)

We must see to localizing the conflict between Austria and Serbia. Whether this is possible will depend in the first place on Russia and in the second place on the moderating influence of the other members of the Entente. The more boldness Austria displays, the more strongly we support her, the more likely is Russia to keep quiet. There is certain to be some blustering in St. Petersburg, but at bottom Russia is not now ready to strike. France and England will not want war now. In a few years according to all expert opinion Russia will be ready to strike. Then she will crush us with the numbers of her soldiers, then she will have built her Baltic fleet and strategic railways. Our group meanwhile will be growing steadily weaker. Russia knows this well and therefore absolutely wants peace for several years more. If localization is not attainable and if Russia attacks Austria, then we cannot sacrifice Austria. We should then find ourselves in a not exactly proud isolation. I have no wish for a preventive war, but if the fight offers itself, we dare not flinch. I still hope and believe that the conflict can be localized. England's attitude in this matter will be of great importance.

(2) Sir Edward Grey, Twenty-Five Years (1925).

I really felt angry with von Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow. They had given us to understand that they had not seen the terms of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia before it was sent; they had been critical of it when they saw it. Von Jagow had said that, as a diplomatic document, it left something to be desired, and contained some demands that Serbia could not comply with. By their own admission they had allowed their weaker Ally to handle a situation on which the peace of Europe might depend, without asking beforehand what she was going to say and without apparently lifting a finger to moderate her, when she had delivered an ultimatum of the terms of which they did not entirely approve. Now they vetoed the only certain means of peaceful settlement without, as far as I knew, even referring it to Austria at all. The complacency with which they had let Austria launch the ultimatum on Serbia was deplorable, and to me unaccountable; the blocking of a Conference was still worse.

(3) Gottlieb von Jagow, statement issued after the sinking of the Lusitania (18th May, 1915)

Lastly, the Imperial Government must specially point out that on her last trip the Lusitania, as on earlier occasions, had Canadian troops and munitions on board, including no less than 5,400 cases of ammunition destined for the destruction of brave German soldiers who are fulfilling with self-sacrifice and devotion their duty in the service of the Fatherland. The German Government believes that it acts in just self-defense when it seeks to protect the lives of its soldiers by destroying ammunition destined for the enemy with the means of war at its command.