Joseph von Radowitz

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Joseph von Radowitz

Joseph Maria Ernst Christian Wilhelm von Radowitz (born February 6, 1797 in Blankenburg , † December 25, 1853 in Berlin ) was a Prussian lieutenant general , diplomat and politician . He was the pioneer and organizer of the Erfurt Union , an attempt at unification under Prussian leadership. For a short time during the autumn crisis of 1850 , he was a member of the cabinet as Foreign Minister. His son Joseph Maria also became an important Prussian diplomat.



Radowitz came from a Catholic, Hungarian family. He was the son of the ducal Braunschweig commission council of the same name (* 1746 - December 25, 1819 in Kassel ) and his wife Friederike Therese, born von Könitz (* October 20, 1766 - February 28, 1828 in Berlin, previously married to Haubold Reinhardt von Einsiedel, their son was Curt Haubold von Einsiedel ).


From 1808, Radowitz attended military schools in Mainz , Charleroi , Strasbourg , Paris and Kassel . In 1812 he joined the Westphalian army and took part in the wars of liberation on the side of the Napoleonic troops in the headquarters of Marshal Jacques MacDonald . He fought at Großgörschen and Leipzig . For the battle of Bautzen , in which he was wounded, Radowitz received the cross of the French Legion of Honor . In 1814 he joined the Hessian army and took part in the wars of liberation against Napoleon. He then taught at military schools in Hesse.

Radowitz was a member of the Schönfeld circle around Electress Auguste , a daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia , who lived separately from her husband . The Schoenfelder circle was opposed to Elector Wilhelm II. Of Hesse-Kassel and his mistress and later second wife, Emilie Ortlöpp . When the prince-elector dissolved the Schönfeld district, Radowitz was transferred to the Ziegenhain water fortress as a punishment. He then joined the Prussian army as a captain . There he made as part of Electress Auguste under her brother, King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , fast career. After King Friedrich Wilhelm IV took office in 1840, he became one of the king's closest advisers. From 1842 he was deployed as envoy, including in Karlsruhe , Vienna - where he experienced the revolution of 1848 - and at the German Confederation in Frankfurt am Main . In his memorandum "Germany and Friedrich Wilhelm IV." Warned of the outbreak of a possible revolution that could only be averted if Prussia tackled delayed reforms.

In 1848 Radowitz resigned from the Prussian civil service after deviating from the highly conservative course of the camarilla around Friedrich Wilhelm IV. From May 20, 1848 to May 30, 1849 he was a member of the Frankfurt National Assembly for the Westphalian constituency of Rüthen (constituency 7). "Radowitz represented an ideal solution for a candidacy in a predominantly Catholic and conservative landscape insofar as he was just as undoubtedly faithful [Catholic] as he was loyal to the [Prussian-Protestant] king." In the national assembly he was involved in military committees such as the naval committee and also in the Catholic club. Radowitz belonged to the conservative " Café Milani " faction and, against the will of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV., Was committed to the small German solution under the rule of Prussia.

Joseph von Radowitz

In close coordination with his king, Radowitz campaigned for the establishment of a nation state or at least a reform of the German Confederation . After Friedrich Wilhelm had rejected the imperial crown, he entrusted Radowitz with negotiations for the creation of the Erfurt Union , a federal state that was to be linked to Austria through a state union.

In 1850 Radowitz was appointed chairman of the Union's administrative council, and he was also a member of the Erfurt Union Parliament . However, this plan failed due to the resistance of medium-sized states such as Bavaria , but also Hanover and Saxony , which had initially joined the Union. A federal reform , as attempted at the Dresden Conferences of 1850/51, was also thwarted by the middle states, and there was also the fact that highly conservative currents in Prussia and Austria rejected a stronger unification of Germany.

From September 26 to November 3, 1850, Radowitz was Prussian Foreign Minister for a short time ; he had to resign when Friedrich Wilhelm IV officially turned away from the union project. His opponent Otto von Bismarck commented on this departure in a letter to Hermann Wagener , saying that he “rode around the table for joy in my chair. . . . ”Radowitz then became a special envoy in London . From August 1852 he was inspector general of military education and training for the Prussian army training.


Radowitz married on May 23, 1828 in Berlin with Maria Auguste Karoline Luise Countess von Voss from the house of Groß-Gievitz (born April 27, 1807 in Berlin; † October 1, 1889 ibid). The following children were born from the marriage:

  • Marie Luise Auguste Mathilde Christiane Gerhardine Albertine (born April 13, 1829 in Berlin)
  • Julius Felix Joseph Maria Friedrich August Karl Wilhelm (* December 5, 1830 in Berlin; † April 26, 1834 there)
  • Clemens Maria Ludwig Georg Hermann Leopold Alexis (1832–1890), Prussian lieutenant general
  • Paul Maria Ludwig Eugen (born June 15, 1835 in Berlin)
  • Joseph Maria (1839–1912), last German ambassador in Madrid


  • Konrad Canis : Joseph Maria von Radowitz. Counterrevolution and Prussian Union Policy. In: Helmut Bleiber u. a. (Ed.): Men of the Revolution of 1848. Volume 2, Akademie, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-05-000285-9 , pp. 449-486.
  • Wilhelm Corvinius (ed.): Radowitz - Selected writings. 3 volumes. Habbel, Regensburg 1911.
  • Ulrich Grun: From Rüthen to the first German parliament. The election of General von Radowitz 150 years ago , in: Soest district (ed.): Calendar of the Soest district , Soest 1998, ZDB -ID 619151-4 , pp. 85–87
  • Rüdiger Hachtmann : Joseph Maria von Radowitz. A German statesman rooted in Prussian soil. In: The Forty-Eight. Life pictures from the German revolution 1848/49. Munich 1998, pp. 277-289.
  • Paul Hassel: Joseph Maria von Radowitz. Mittler, Berlin 1905.
  • Bärbel Holtz:  Radowitz, Joseph Maria Ernst Christian Wilhelm. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4 , p. 99 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Rochus von Liliencron:  Radowitz, Joseph Maria von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 27, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1888, pp. 141-152.
  • Brigitte Meier: Joseph Maria Ernst Christian Wilhelm von Radowitz. Foreign and self-perception of a Hungarian Catholic in Prussian service. In: Ewald Grothe (Hrsg.): Conservative German politicians in the 19th century. Working - Effect - Perception (= publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse , 75), Historical Commission for Hesse. Marburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-942225-09-0 , pp. 83-104.
  • Friedrich Meinecke : Radowitz and the German Revolution. Mittler, Berlin 1913.
  • Walter Möring (Ed.): Joseph Maria von Radowitz. Postponed letters and records on the history of the years 1848–1853. Stuttgart, Berlin 1922. Reprint Osnabrück 1967.
  • Emil Ritter: Radowitz - A Catholic statesman in Prussia. Bachem, Cologne 1948.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ulrich Grun: From Rüthen to the first German Parliament: The election of General von Radowitz 150 years ago . In: District of Soest (ed.): Calendar of the district of Soest . Soest 1998, p. 85-87 .
  2. ^ Ulrich Grun: From Rüthen to the first German parliament. The election of General von Radowitz 150 years ago . In: District of Soest (ed.): Calendar of the district of Soest . Soest 1998, p. 86 .
  3. Gothaisches genealogical pocket book of the count's houses 1876. P. 959.