Wilhelm Külz in March 1946.
|Minister of the Interior
20 January 1926 – 1 February 1927
|Chancellor||Hans Luther (1926)
Wilhelm Marx (1926–1927)
|Preceded by||Otto Geßler|
|Succeeded by||Walter von Keudell|
18 February 1875|
Borna, Kingdom of Saxony
|Died||10 April 1948
|Political party||German Democratic Party (1918–1933)
Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (1945–1948)
|Alma mater||University of Leipzig
University of Tübingen
|Occupation||Lawyer, politician, civil servant|
Wilhelm Külz (18 February 1875 – 10 April 1948) was a German liberal politician of the National Liberal Party, the German Democratic Party (DDP) and later the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (LDPD). He held public office both in the German Empire and in the Weimar Republic. In 1926, he served as interior minister of Germany in the cabinets of chancellors Hans Luther and Wilhelm Marx.
Wilhelm Külz was born on 18 February 1875 at Borna near Leipzig in the Kingdom of Saxony. Wilhelm was the son of Otto Külz (1839-1921), a Protestant priest, and his wife Anna (1849-1914, née Paschasius). He had a sister, Käthe (1878-1924) and a twin brother, Ludwig (1875-1938). From a conservative family, Wilhelm studied law at the University of Leipzig. He then served in the military (as Reserveleutnant).
Külz married Erna Freymond (1881-1963) in 1901. They had one son, Helmut. Also in 1901, he was awarded a doctorate at the Staatswissenschaftliche Fakultät of the University of Tübingen with a thesis on the peace-time strength of the army. He then joined the civil service, working at various courts and as city councillor at Leipzig, Hainichen, Zittau and Meerane. In 1904, he became mayor of Bückeburg and president of the Landtag of the Principality of Lippe. As an expert in administration, the Reichskolonialamt (the Imperial ministry for the colonies) made him Reichskommissar of the colony German South-West Africa where he worked on establishing a self-government in 1907/8.
After returning to Bückeburg, Külz was a Reichstag candidate for the National Liberals in 1912, but was not elected. That same year, he was elected Oberbürgermeister (mayor) of Zittau, an office he held until 1923. In World War I Külz served as Hauptmann (captain) and Kompanieführer.
In 1919, he joined the German Democratic Party (DDP), which he represented first in the Weimar National Assembly and then from 1922-32 in the Reichstag. In 1923, he was elected as 2. Bürgermeister of Dresden.
Elected as Oberbürgermeister (mayor) of Dresden in 1931, Külz was removed from office by the Reichskommissar for Saxony in March 1933, after he refused to hoist a flag with the Nazi's swastika over city hall. Until 1945, he was then active as a private entrepreneur.
After 1945, he took a leading role in establishing the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (LDPD). He founded the Berlin branch of the LDPD in the summer of 1945 and acted as LDPD chairman from November 1945 after the first leader Waldemar Koch was deposed by Soviet orders.
On 17 March 1947, in a conference in Rothenburg ob der Tauber Külz and Theodor Heuss were elected co-chairmen of the planned Democratic Party of Germany (DPD), aimed at uniting liberals of both the Soviet and the Western occupation zones.
These plans were never realized, though, as Wilhelm Külz, unlike the East German CDU leader Jakob Kaiser, participated in SED-dominated Deutscher Volkskongress (German People's Congress for Unity and True Peace) that took place on 6 December 1947. This brought about internal confrontations both within the LDPD as well as between the East and West German partners in the DPD. Although the LDPD leadership criticized that participation, it was unable to take any further steps demanded by the West German liberals.
During a session of the united leadership of the DPD that took place on 18 January 1948 and which Külz refused to attend, Theodor Heuss argued that the Liberal Democrats' unwillingness to take any measures against Külz proved their commitment to "the Russian conception of German unity". Arthur Lieutenant, the spokesman of the LDPD on the matter, declared that under those circumstances and considering reproaches laid against East German liberals, no further co-operation was possible. This was in fact the end of DPD.
Together with Otto Nuschke (CDU) and Wilhelm Pieck (SED), Wilhelm Külz led the German People's Council (Deutscher Volksrat), forerunner of Volkskammer of GDR. From 1945 on, Külz was the publisher of the LDPD daily Der Morgen.
In March 1948, Külz once again was the representative of the LDPD at the Deutscher Volkskongress, organized at the behest of the Soviet authorities and the SED.
On the morning of 10 April 1948 Wilhelm Külz was found by his party deputy, Arthur Lieutenant, to have died in the night at his Berlin apartment, apparently from a heart attack.
Although mostly unknown in West Germany and in Germany today, Külz was viewed in East Germany as a prime example of a bourgeois but upright citizen who found his way to socialism. He was seen as one of the founding fathers of the GDR.
Wilhelm-Külz-Stiftung, a foundation close to the FDP, is named after him.
Works by and on Wilhelm Külz
- Külz, Wilhelm (1989), Robel, Hergard, ed., Ein Liberaler zwischen Ost und West: Aufzeichnungen 1947–1948 (in German), Munich: Oldenbourg, ISBN 3-486-54101-3.
- Schneider, Werner (1978), Die Deutsche Demokratische Partei in der Weimarer Republik: 1924–1930 (in German), Munich: Fink, ISBN 3-7705-1549-8.
- "Biografie Wilhelm Külz (German)". Bayerische Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
- "Tragt mich voraus: Ein Mensch voll väterlicher Güte". 16/1948. Der Spiegel (online). 17 April 1948. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany