Girs, Nikolai Karlovich
Born May 9 (21), 1820, near Radzivilov, now Chervonoarmeisk; died Jan. 14 (26), 1895, in St. Petersburg. Russian diplomat. Minister of foreign affairs of Russia (1882-95). Born into the family of a civil servant.
Girs began governmental service in 1838 in the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1863 he became an envoy to Iran, in 1869 to Switzerland, and in 1872 to Sweden. In 1875 he was appointed director of the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and deputy of the minister. When Chancellor A. M. Gorchakov fell ill, Girs became the virtual director of the ministry after the Berlin Congress of 1878. As the director of foreign policy he was the obedient executor of the will of Alexander III. By personal convictions he favored a rapprochement with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He tried to avoid a clash with England as well. Girs strove to preserve the Alliance of Three Emperors; for this he was attacked by the anti-German faction of the ruling circle. The intensification of Austrian and German expansion in the Near East and the exacerbation of differences between Russia and Germany forced the tsarist regime into a rapprochement with France. Girs participated in the deliberation and the conclusion in 1893 of the Franco-Russian military convention.
REFERENCESIstoriia diplomatii, 2nd ed., vol. 2. Moscow, 1963.
Lamsdorf, V. N., Dnevnik (1886-92), [vols. 1-2.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1926-34.
I. V. BESTUZHEV-LADA