A last-minute private peace initiative:Albert ballin's mediation efforts between Germany and Britain, 1908-1914

Lior Lehrs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As relations between Germany and Britain were deteriorating during the years 1908- 1914, Albert Ballin, a German businessman, became concerned and decided to promote Anglo-German talks on naval arms limitations in order to halt the naval arms race and improve relations between the two states. This article analyses Albert Ballin's - and his British friend Ernest Cassel's - private peace initiatives during the years 1908-1914 as a historical example of 'unofficial diplomacy' long before this term was discussed in International Relations literature. It examines the tools and conditions that created the basis for Ballin's initiatives and explores his role in the diplomatic processes between Germany and Britain before the First World War. Ballin's and Cassel's unofficial, persistent peace efforts had some effect on the official diplomatic sphere and led to official negotiations, but they ultimately failed in their attempt to promote an agreement or to prevent the war.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)297-322
Number of pages26
JournalThe Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* I am grateful to Alexander Cors and Miriam Kallis for their assistance with German transla-tion. I am also indebted to the journal’s anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions. In addition, I would like to thank the Israel Institute, the Taub Center for Israel Studies and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace for their support of my research project.

Publisher Copyright:
©2017 koninklijke brill nv,leiden.


  • Anglo-German relations
  • First world war
  • Mediation
  • Track-two diplomacy
  • Unofficial diplomacy


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