Wilhelm Marx

(b. 1863)

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(b. Cologne, 15 Jan. 1863; d. Bonn, 5 Aug. 1946)

German; Chancellor of Germany 1923–5, 1926–8, leader of Centre Party 1922–8 The son of an elementary school headmaster, Marx was brought up in a strongly Catholic home. He studied law at Bonn University and took up a legal career but was soon involved in politics, winning a seat in the Prussian parliament in 1899 and election to the Reichstag in 1910. On the point of retiring he was persuaded in 1921 to take over the chairmanship of the centre group in the Reichstag. In the following year he was elected national chairman. Marx supported Weimar democracy, worked in the Catholic interest, but ignored the Vatican's disapproval of his co-operation with the SPD and strove to build a ‘coalition of reason’ of moderates. He was a German patriot but worked for international accord. He succeeded at the London reparations conference of 1924 in getting a reasonable agreement for Germany in that Germany accepted the Dawes Plan in exchange for speedier Allied withdrawal from the Rhineland. His third government took Germany into the League of Nations in 1926.

He was Chancellor from November 1923 to January 1925, and from May 1926 to June 1928, but formed four cabinets during these years. It was a tragedy for Germany that Marx failed to beat von Hindenburg for the presidency in 1925. Backed by the SPD, his own Centre Party, and other moderates, he attracted 13,751,605 votes against Hindenburg's 14,655,641 and 1,931,151 for the Communist Ernst Thälmann. In December 1926 Scheidemann (SPD) attacked the government because of the secret co-operation between the armed forces and the Soviet Red Army. The government fell but Marx survived. He remained in the Reichstag until 1932 and then withdrew from political activity.

Subjects: Politics.

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