Holstein, Friedrich von frē´drĭkh fən hôl´shtīn [key]
, 1837–1909, German diplomat. After the Congress of Berlin (1878) he became a powerful figure in shaping German foreign policy. His official position was (1878–1906) political counselor in the foreign office, and during his life he was almost totally unknown outside government circles. During the 1880s he attempted to thwart Chancellor Bismarck's Russian policy, favoring instead closer ties with Austria-Hungary; after Bismarck's fall (1890) he allowed the 1887 Reinsurance Treaty with Russia to lapse. He favored rapprochement with Great Britain but set the terms too high, mistakenly believing that Britain would never come to terms with France or Russia. When Britain and France reached agreement in 1904, Holstein tried to break their entente by provoking (1905) a crisis over Morocco. His advice was ignored by Chancellor Bülow, who feared war with Britain, and Holstein resigned. Germany subsequently found itself isolated at the international conference at Algeciras on Morocco.
See his papers, ed. by N. Rich and M. H. Fisher (4 vol., tr. 1955–63); study by N. Rich (2 vol., 1965).
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