Constantin Fehrenbach

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Constantin Fehrenbach
Fehrenbach in 1913
Chancellor of Germany
(Weimar Republic)
In office
25 June 1920 – 10 May 1921
PresidentFriedrich Ebert
DeputyRudolf Heinze
Preceded byHermann Müller
Succeeded byJoseph Wirth
President of the Weimar National Assembly / President of the Reichstag
In office
14 February 1919 – 21 June 1920
PresidentFriedrich Ebert
ChancellorPhilipp Scheidemann
Preceded byEduard David
Succeeded byPaul Löbe (as President of the Reichstag)
In office
June 1918 – November 1918
MonarchWilhelm II
ChancellorGeorg von Hertling
Prince Maximilian of Baden
Preceded byJohannes Kaempf
Succeeded byEduard David (as President of the Weimar National Assembly)
Member of the Reichstag
In office
24 June 1920 – 26 March 1926
Member of the Weimar National Assembly
In office
6 February 1919 – 21 May 1920
Personal details
Born(1852-01-11)11 January 1852
Wellendingen, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Died26 March 1926(1926-03-26) (aged 74)
Freiburg im Breisgau
Political partyCentre Party

Constantin Fehrenbach, sometimes falsely,[1] Konstantin Fehrenbach (11 January 1852 – 26 March 1926), was a German Catholic politician who was one of the major leaders of the Centre Party or Zentrum. He served as the president of the Reichstag in 1918, and then as the president of the Weimar National Assembly from 1919 to 1920. In June 1920, Fehrenbach became the chancellor of Germany. He resigned in May 1921 over the issue of war reparation payments to the Allies. Fehrenbach headed the Centre Party's Reichstag fraction from 1923 until his death in 1926.

Early life[edit]

Constantin Fehrenbach was born on 11 January 1852 in Wellendingen near Bonndorf in what was then the Grand Duchy of Baden as the son of Johann Georg Fehrenbach, a teacher (1826–1895), and his wife Rosina (1832–1900), née Gensecke.[2]

From 1871 to 1878, Fehrenbach studied theology, then law at Freiburg im Breisgau and in 1882 began to practise law there, soon becoming a successful criminal lawyer. In 1879, Fehrenbach married Maria (1855–1921), née Hossner at Freiburg. They had one daughter.[2][3]

Political career[edit]


In 1884, Fehrenbach started his political career by becoming a member of the Freiburg city council (parliament). The next year, Fehrenbach became a member of the Landtag (diet) of Baden for the Catholic Zentrum. However, in 1887 he resigned his seat after disagreements with the leader of the party in Baden, Theodor Wacker [de]. In 1895, Fehrenbach became Stadtrat in Freiburg (member of the city government) and in 1896 Kreisabgeordneter (district representative). In 1901 he was reelected to the Landtag and remained a member until 1913 (in 1907–1909 as president). In 1903, he also became a member of the Reichstag where his oratory skills were widely acclaimed. In particular, his speech on the Saverne Affair in 1913 made him famous nationwide for his defence of the rights of the people of Alsace and all citizens of the German Reich against the powers of the military. In 1917, Fehrenbach became the chairman of the Hauptausschuss of the Reichstag and supported the "peace resolution" in favour of a negotiated peace. In July 1918, Fehrenbach became the last president of the Imperial Reichstag.[2][3]

Weimar Republic[edit]

After the German Revolution of 1918–1919, Fehrenbach once again became president of the parliament, the Weimar National Assembly in February 1919. In that office, he succeeded due to a talent for achieving compromise and a quiet and self-controlled nature. Within the Zentrum, he was a member of the party's right wing.[2]

In June 1920, Fehrenbach formed the first Weimar Republic cabinet without participation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The SPD remained the largest party in the newly elected Reichstag, which succeeded the National Assembly. As Chancellor, Fehrenbach represented Germany at the Spa Conference of 1920 and the London Conference (1921) [de]. He tried in vain to get the US government to work as a mediator.[2][3] In social policy, unemployment benefits were improved during Fehrenbach's time as chancellor, with the maximum benefit for single males over the age of 21 increased in November 1920 from 7 to 10 marks.[4]

Fehrenbach resigned in May 1921, as the DVP had withdrawn its support for the government's foreign policy of trying to cooperate with the Allies on the issue of reparations. In particular, Fehrenbach had failed to get the Reichstag's approval for a fixing of German reparation payments at 132 billion gold mark. Although he officially resigned on 4 May, he remained in charge of the caretaker government until his replacement by Joseph Wirth on 10 May.[2][3][5]

In 1922, Fehrenbach became a judge on the Staatsgerichtshof [de], the legal guardian of the Weimar Constitution. In late 1923, Fehrenbach was elected head of the Zentrum fraction in the Reichstag. He remained in that office until his death in 1926. He also became vice-chairman of the Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus [de], an organization fighting antisemitism.[2][3]

Later life and death[edit]

Fehrenbach died on 26 March 1926 in Freiburg im Breisgau.[2]


  1. ^ Bernd Braun: Constantin Fehrenbach (1852–1926), in: Reinhold Weber, Ines Mayer: Politische Köpfe aus Südwestdeutschland, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2005, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biografie Konstantin Fehrenbach (German)". Bayerische Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Konstantin Fehrenbach (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  4. ^ Feldman, Gerald D. (1997-03-06). The Great Disorder: Politics, Economics, and Society in the German Inflation, 1914–1924. Oxford University Press. p. 232. ISBN 9780199880195. Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Der Rücktritt des Kabinetts (German)". Bundesarchiv. Retrieved 28 February 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Chancellor of Germany
25 June 1920 – 4 May 1921
Succeeded by