Wilhelm Hoegner

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Wilhelm Hoegner
Minister President of Bavaria
In office
1945–1946
Preceded by Fritz Schäffer
Succeeded by Hans Ehard
In office
1954–1957
Preceded by Hans Ehard
Succeeded by Hanns Seidel
Minister of Justice
In office
1945–1947
Minister of the Interior
In office
1950–1954
Personal details
Born (1887-09-23)23 September 1887
Munich
Died 5 March 1980(1980-03-05)
Munich
Nationality German
Political party SPD
Occupation Lawyer

Wilhelm Hoegner (23 September 1887 in Munich – 5 March 1980 in Munich) was the second Bavarian prime minister (SPD) after World War II (1945–46 and 1954–57) and father of the Bavarian constitution. He has been the only Social Democrat to hold this office since 1920.

Biography[edit]

Wilhelm Hoegner was born in Munich in 1887, the son of Michael Georg Hoegner and Therese Engelhardt. Growing up in Burghausen, he studied law in Munich, Berlin and Erlangen. After graduation, he worked as a lawyer, then Staatsanwalt, a state prosecutor, and in 1919 he also became a member of the SPD. He married Anna Woock in 1918, who he had two children with. From 1924 to 1930, he was a member of the Landtag of Bavaria, the state parliament, for his party.

He was involved in the investigation into Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 and through this became part of the opposition to the Nazis. He published, anonymously, a paper on the findings of the investigation, which is considered an important historical document due to the fact that the Nazis destroyed all official reports from the inquest after 1933.[1] He actively opposed Hitler in his time as a member of the German Reichstag from 1930 to 1933. For this reason, he was dismissed from government service after the Nazi takeover in 1933 and had to escape to Austria, and from there, in 1934, to Switzerland, where he worked as a free lance writer. He was in contact there with other German refugees from the Nazis and worked with them in an organisation called Demokratisches Deutschland, aimed against the Nazis.

Upon his return to Bavaria in June 1945, he served at the court in Munich. He became prime minister of Bavaria from 1945 to 1946, after the sudden dismissal of Fritz Schäffer,[2] also holding the post of Minister of Justice until 1947. He became known in this time as the father of the new Bavarian constitution. After losing the election in December 1946, he was replaced as Bavarian prime minister by Hans Ehard but remained as Minister of Justice. When his party decided to leave the coalition with the Christian Social Union (CSU), he opposed this move and temporarily lost influence within the SPD, resigning from his ministerial post.

From 1946 to 1970, he was again a member of the Bavarian Landtag (parliament), leading the SPD faction there from 1958 to 1962. He held the post of Minister of the Interior from 1950 to 1954, when Bavaria was ruled by a CSU-SPD coalition. During this time, he devoted a great deal of effort towards the reunion of the Palatinate with the rest of Bavaria, but ultimately failed, with only 7.6 percent of all eligible voters in the Palatinate opting for a reunion.[3]

He became prime minister of Bavaria for a second time in 1954, when he led a four-party grand coalition parties until 1957. The coalition fell apart before the end of its term after the 1957 federal elections and, as of 2013, Wilhelm Hoegner is still the last non-CSU prime minister of Bavaria.

He was also a member of the German Bundestag from 1961 to 1962.

While being a social democrat, Hoegner was not a doctrinaire socialist, and he always preferred a common-sense approach to politics and the economy, rather than radical theories. He considered being a social democrat to be wholly compatible with Christian ethics and values, an important factor in the traditionally conservative / Catholic-dominated state of Bavaria.[4]

Hoegner died, aged 92, almost blind but mentally still in full capacity, on 5 March 1980 in Munich.[5]

Honors[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Die verratene Republik (in German), by Wilhelm Hoegner, Munich, 1979.
  • Der Volksbetrug der Nationalsozialisten (in German), by Wilhelm Hoegner
  • Der Schwierige Außenseiter: Erinnerungen eines Abgeordneten, Emigranten und Ministerpräsidenten (in German), by Wilhelm Hoegner, Munich, publisher: Isar Verlag, 1959

"The Guilt of the Communists"[edit]

Hoegner's book, "Die verratene Republik", ("The betrayed republic") Munich 1979, contains a remarkable chapter with this title. Hoegner blames the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), as having played a decisive role in Hitler's assumption of power. The declared main enemy of the Communists was not Hitler or the conservative parties in Germany, but the SPD, the social democrats, who the Communists called the "social fascists". The intention of the Communists was to bring Hitler to power whereafter a Communist revolution in Germany would take place and a Communist dictatorship would be established. Hoegner mentions astonishing facts in this chapter, e.g. that 500,000 communists had voted for Hitler in the election for president of the German Reich in 1932.

Sources[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Anonymous (was Wilhelm Hoegner), Hitler und Kahr. Die bayerischen Napoleonsgrößen von 1923, 1928 Historisches Lexikon Bayerns. Accessed 9 May 2008 (German)
  2. ^ "You Don't Know What You Want" Time Magazine, 8 October 1945. Accessed 9 May 2008
  3. ^ Pfalz (19./20. Jahrhundert) Historisches Lexikon Bayerns. Accessed 9 May 2008 (German)
  4. ^ Anthony James Nicholls, Freedom with Responsibility: The Social Market Economy in Germany, 1918-1963 Oxford University Press, p. 251. Accessed 3 May 2010
  5. ^ Hildegard Kronawitter, Wilhelm Hoegner (PDF) Accessed 9 May 2008 (German)
  6. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 37. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Fritz Schäffer
Prime Minister of Bavaria
1945 – 1946
Succeeded by
Hans Ehard
Preceded by
Hans Ehard
Prime Minister of Bavaria
1954 – 1957
Succeeded by
Hanns Seidel