Bethmann-Hollweg Theobald von (1856--1921), the chancellor (prime minister) of Germany, 1900--17. He was an advocate of reform and peace but was too weak-willed to exert much influence over German policy before World War I. In 1914 Bethmann-Hollweg tried to persuade the British ambassador to Germany that the 1839 treaty guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality was not worth fighting over, reportedly calling it "a scrap of paper." In 1916 he advocated a negotiated peace; the military forced him to resign the next year.