Theodor Heuss


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(b. Brackenheim, 31 Jan. 1884; d. Stuttgart, 12 Dec. 1963)

German; President of the Federal Republic of Germany 1949–59 Although he had been a member of the Reichstag since 1924 on the left-liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) list, Heuss voted for Hitler's enabling act in 1933. Heuss worked as a liberal journalist before the First World War and as an academic after it. He had denounced Hitler, but, like all the other non-socialist members of parliament, capitulated to him in the decisive moment. His vote did him little good; he worked as a journalist until 1936 when he was banned from writing.

In 1945 he was briefly Minister of Culture in Baden-Württemberg and then professor of politics at the Technical University of Stuttgart. He remained interested in active politics helping to establish the Free Democratic Party (FDP), becoming its leader in 1948. In 1949 he struck a deal with Adenauer: the Christian Democrats would vote for Heuss as President if his colleagues would vote for Adenauer as Chancellor. The result was that both were elected, Heuss on the second ballot.

Heuss, already 66, had the features of a kindly father-figure. He also acknowledged his past mistakes, which was also advantageous as so many others had made the same political mistakes. He was re-elected in 1954 with a large majority. Never a Nazi, he was able to represent the new state abroad, visiting Greece (1956), Turkey (1957), Canada, the USA, and Britain in 1958.

Subjects: Literature.

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