Helene Wessel

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Helene Wessel (6 July 1898 - 13 October 1969) was a German politician. From October 1949 to January 1952 she was chairman of the Centre Party and a founding member of the All-German People's Party, which eventually joined the SPD. She was elected to the Parlamentarischer Rat,[1] the West German constitutional convention.

Early Life[edit]

Helene Wessel was born on 6 July 1898 in Hoerde(now Dortmund ) the youngest of four children of the Reichsbahn officials Henry Wessel and his wife Helene Wessel, born in Linz. Her parents were deeply influenced by their Catholic faith, her father being a member of the German Center Party. He died in 1905 at the consequences of an unknown accident.

She completed a commercial apprenticeship in November 1915 and took a job as a secretary in the office of the Centre Party Horder. In March 1923, she began a one-year course at the State Welfare School in Munster for youth and social welfare . Since 1919, she became involved in the center party, and was elected in May 1928 in the Prussian parliament. She managed two professions on as party secretary and another as a social worker of the Catholic Church. From October 1929 she settled at the Berlin Academy of German social and educational women's work to educate graduate welfare workers. After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 Wessel was classified as "politically unreliable".

Political career[edit]

After the Second World War she was active politically again. In 1949 she was one of the Center part's representatives in the Bundestag and also was elected chairwoman of the party, the first woman ever to lead a German party. In 1951 she vocally opposed Adenauer's policy of German rearmament and joined forces with the CDU's Gustav Heinemann, the former Minister of the Interior. The two formed the "Notgemeinschaft zur Rettung des Friedens in Europa" ("Emergency community for saving peace in Europe"), an initiative intended to prevent rearmament. Wessel resigned from her post and in November 1952 and left the party. Immediately afterwards, Wessel and Heinemann turned the "Notgemeinschaft" into a political party, the "Gesamtdeutsche Volkspartei" ("Whole-German People's Party" aka GVP), that failed badly in the elections of 1953. In 1957 the GVP dissolved and most members joined the SPD.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Der Parlamentarische Rat 1948 / 49" (in German). Retrieved 2012-01-07.