Herbert von Dirksen

Herbert von Dirksen (April 2, 1882 in Berlin - December 19,1955 in Munich) was a German diplomat who is best remembered as the last German Ambassador to Britain before World War Two.

Dirksen was born to a recently ennobled family [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . In 1905, he graduated with a "Referendar" (junior barrister) legal degree and in 1907, he went on a tour around the world [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . After working as assistant judge, in 1910 Dirksen went on a four month trip to Rhodesia, South Africa and German East Africa [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . During World War One, Dirksen served in the German Army as a lieutenant and won the Iron Cross, Second Class [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . After the war, he joined the German Foreign Office [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] .

Between 1923-25, Dirksen served as German Consul in the Free City of Danzig [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . In 1928, in a major promotion, Dirksen became the Ministerial Director of the East Division of the Foreign Office [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . Later, that same year, he was appointed German Ambassador to the Soviet Union [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . In early 1933, Dirksen was highly concerned that the anti-Communist rhetoric of the Nazis might damage the good state of German-Soviet relations [Kershaw, Ian "Hitler Hubris", New York: Norton 1999 page 544.] . In response, Prince Bernard von Bülow, the State Secretary of the "Auswärtiges Amt" sought to reassure Dirksen that:"The National Socialists faced with responsibility are naturally different people and follow a policy other than that which they have previously proclaimed. That's always been so and is the same with all parties" [Kershaw, Ian "Hitler Hubris", New York: Norton 1999 page 544.] . Despite Bülow's assessment, German-Soviet relations started to decline, which left Dirksen very worried [Kershaw, Ian "Hitler Hubris", New York: Norton 1999 page 544.] .

In May 1933, Dirksen had a meeting with Adolf Hitler in which he advised the Führer that he was allowing relations with the Soviet Union to deteriorate to a unacceptable extent [Weinbeg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 65.] . Much to Dirksen's disappointment, Hitler informed him that he wished for an anti-Soviet understanding with Poland, which Dirksen protested implied recognition of the German-Polish border [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 66.] . In August 1933, Dirksen was warned by the Soviet Premier Vyacheslav Molotov that the state of German-Soviet relations would depend on how friendly the "Reich" chose to be towards the Soviet Union [Haslam, "The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Struggle" page 22] .

In October 1933, he became the German Ambassador to Japan. Shortly after his arrival in Tokyo, Dirksen become involved with the efforts of a shady German businessman, drug-dealer, Nazi Party member and friend of Hermann Göring named Ferdinand Heye to become Special Trade Commissioner in Manchukuo [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 127.] . Dirksen's backing for Heye's schemes for a monopoly of Manchurian soybeans plus his advocacy of German recognition of Manchukuo brought him into conflict with his superior, the Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath, who preferred better relations with China then with Japan [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 128.] . In early 1934, Dirksen himself come into conflict with Heye over the latter's attempts to secure not just a soybean monpoly, but all German business in Manchuria into his hands [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 130.] . In addition, Heye acting on his own informed the Japanese that German recognition of Manchukuo would soon be coming, a claim that strained German relations with both the Chinese (who were offended at the idea of German recognition for Manchukuo) and the Japanese (who were offended when German recognition did not come). The dispute were finally settled in February 1935 when Heye was finally disallowed by Hitler [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, page 131.] .

In 1938-39, he was German Ambassador at the Court of St. James. Dirksen's relations with his superior, Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop were very poor. Dirksen despised Ribbentrop as "an unwholesome, half-comical figure" [Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976 page 68.] . In December 1938, the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave a speech to the correspondents of the German News Agency in London with Dirksen present [ Maiolo, Joseph "The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany", Macmillan Press: London, 1998 page 169] . When Chamberlain spoke of the "futility of ambition, if ambition leads to the desire for domination", Dirksen who interpreted that remark as a implied criticism of Hitler led the all of the assembled German journalists in walking out in protest [ Maiolo, Joseph "The Royal Navy and Nazi Germany", Macmillan Press: London, 1998 page 169] . In 1939, Dirksen reported to Berlin that Britain would not honor her committments to Poland, and would back down if Germany invaded that nation. In August 1939 Dirksen reported that Chamberlain knew “the social structure of Britain, even the conception of the British Empire, would not survive the chaos of even a victorious war”, and so would abandon her committments to Poland [Overy, Richard & Wheatcroft, Andrew "The Road To War", London: Macmillan, 1989 page 56] . Dirksen’s main motive for reporting that Britain would do nothing in the event of German aggression against Poland was his very strongly held anti-Polish feelings. Dirksen strongly disliked Poland, and did not wish for any information that might dissuade Hitler from launching Fall Weiss from reaching him. Dirksen's messages had the effect in convincing Adolf Hitler that any German attack on Poland would result only in a localized German-Polish war, not a world war. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 followed by a British declaration of war on Germany on September 3 had the effect of ruining Dirksen's diplomatic career, and he never held a major post again.

ee also

*Soviet-German relations before 1941

Endnotes

References

*Dirksen, Herbert von "Moscow Tokyo London: Twenty Years of German Foreign Policy" Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952.
*Snyder, Louis "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich" New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
*Schorske, Carl "Two German Ambassadors: Dirksen and Schulenburg" pages 477-511 from "The Diplomats 1919-1939" edited by Gordon A. Craig and Felix Gilbert, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1953.
*Mund, Gerald "Herbert von Dirksen (1882-1955). Ein deutscher Diplomat in Kaiserreich, Weimarer Republik und Drittem Reich. Eine Biografie." Berlin: dissertation.de - Verlag im Internet, 2003.
*Mund, Gerald: "Ostasien im Spiegel der deutschen Diplomatie. Die privatdienstliche Korrespondenz des Diplomaten Herbert von Dirksen von 1933 bis 1938." Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2006 (= Historische Mitteilungen der Ranke-Gesellschaft, Beiheft 63).
*Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Diplomatic Revolution in Europe 1933-36", Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, ISBN 226-88509-7.


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