"Three and a Half Men": the Bülow-Hammann System of Public Relations before the First World War
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This dissertation analyzes the history of the press bureau of the German Foreign Office before the First World War. Methodologically, the work tries to locate European international history in a larger political, intellectual, and cultural context by examining German statesmen and their attempts to cultivate a consensus for their policies in the Reichstag and the press from 1890 to 1914. Relying upon official documents, memoirs, personal letters, and published newspaper articles, it argues that the death of the "Old Diplomacy," usually associated with the years after the Versailles Peace Treaty, actually began as early as 1890. This development caused German statesmen after Bismarck's dismissal to invent new ways of building public support for their policies through the creation of what is labeled here the "Bülow-Hammann System" of public relations. Eschewing Bismarckian methods of compulsion, this new system cultivated personal connections with journalists from trusted newspapers who would toe a government line for inside information. The system initially worked well to meet the new openness of the international milieu after 1890. But eventually these methods failed to stem criticism on the nationalist right and socialist left after 1909, when Germany's position vis-à-vis France, Britain, and Russia greatly deteriorated. As a result, more modern methods of dealing with public opinion had to be developed in Germany after 1914--the dissemination of outright propaganda and the use of modern press conferences--to cultivate support for governmental policies.
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