Prince Karl Max Lichnowsky

German Ambassador to London, 1912-1914

By: Rich Hephner

General Information

When Prince Lichnowsky took over as ambassador to London in the Fall of 1912, he was given a difficult task, but was not expected to accomplish it. It was his responsibility to repair damaged relations between Great Britain and Germany. He excelled at this job. Between the time of his appointment on 1912 and his departure in 1914 the Prince negotiated a colonial treaty, secured the peace of Europe in the1912 Conference of Ambassadors, and brought about better feelings between Great Britain and Germany.

His success made his superiors in Berlin distrustful of him and his close relationship with the British foreign office. In July 1914, Lichnowsky pleaded with Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Gottlieb von Jagow, to use discretion in their support of Austria. In his view, Britain would definitely support Russia and France in a war defending Serbia against Austrian aggression. The Chancellor and the Secretary did not trust Prince Lichnowsky’s judgment because they believed him to be easily duped by the British. After the war started, Lichnowsky returned to Germany and spent the rest of his life trying to justify his actions.

See Also: Jul-1914: The July Crisis


"The maintenance of Austria is of importance to us, only in that alliance we must be the LEADING partner, not the BLEEDING partner."
Lichnowsky to Jagow, 23-Jul-14 [Caps. are his]

"Had Lichnowsky continued to be the trusted representative of his government, had they dealt frankly with him, and through him with us, after the murder of the Archduke, war might have been avoided."
British Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey