Otto Braun

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This article is about the Prime Minister of Prussia. For the German Communist and once the Comintern military adviser to the Chinese Communist revolution see Otto Braun (Li De).
Otto Braun
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-10131, Otto Braun.jpg
Minister President of the Free State of Prussia
In office
6 April 1925 – 20 July 1932
Preceded by Wilhelm Marx
Succeeded by Franz von Papen
In office
5 November 1921 – 18 February 1925
Preceded by Adam Stegerwald
Succeeded by Wilhelm Marx
In office
27 March 1920 – 21 April 1921
Preceded by Paul Hirsch
Succeeded by Adam Stegerwald
Personal details
Born 28 January 1872 (1872-01-28)
Königsberg, East Prussia
Died 14 December 1955(1955-12-14) (aged 83)
Locarno, Switzerland
Political party SPD

Otto Braun (28 January 1872 – 14 December 1955) was a German Social Democratic politician who served as Prime Minister of Prussia for most of the time from 1920 to 1932. He was not a social revolutionary, says Holborn, but was "a determined democratic reformer" and a shrewd coalition builder.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Originally from Königsberg, East Prussia, Braun became a leader of the Social Democratic Party in that province, and in 1913 was elected to the Prussian House of Representatives. In 1919, he was elected to the Weimar National Assembly. In 1920, he became Prime Minister of Prussia, a position in which he served from 1920 and 1932, except for brief periods in 1921 and 1925. He was the Social Democratic presidential candidate in the first round of presidential elections in 1925, coming in second. He then withdrew his candidacy during the run-off in order to help the Centre Party's Wilhelm Marx defeat Paul von Hindenburg, who had not stood in the first round. Marx was eventually defeated by Hindenburg.

Prussian Prime Minister Otto Braun (left) in 1925

Braun's coalition government, one of the strongest bastions of the Weimar Republic, lost its majority in the April 1932 Prussian elections. However, while the Communists and National Socialists between them had a majority, they would not agree to form a new government or work with the other parties. The Prussian constitution stated that a government could only be removed if there was a positive majority for a prospective successor, so Braun's coalition remained in office as a caretaker government.

Braun's government was deposed in the Preußenschlag of July 1932, when Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen assumed direct control of Prussia's administration as Reich Commissioner. Braun, however, remained de jure Prime Minister and continued to represent the state of Prussia in the Reichsrat until January 1933, when Papen became Prime Minister for two months. Hermann Göring then held the office for the next twelve years until 1945. As an opponent of the Nazi regime, Braun decided to leave Germany and emigrated to Switzerland after Adolf Hitler attained the office of Chancellor in January 1933.

At the end of the Second World War, Braun approached the Allies to reinstate the previous democratic Prussian government, but they were not receptive to his proposition due to their earlier decision to abolish the state of Prussia and divide East Prussia between Poland and the Soviet Union. Braun died in exile in Locarno in 1955.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, 1840-1945 (1969) p 591
Preceded by
Paul Hirsch
Prime Minister of Prussia
1920–1921
Succeeded by
Adam Stegerwald
Preceded by
Adam Stegerwald
Prime Minister of Prussia
1921–1925
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Marx
Preceded by
Wilhelm Marx
Prime Minister of Prussia
1925–1932
Succeeded by
Franz von Papen