Walther Rathenau


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(b. 29 Sept. 1867, d. 24 June 1922).

German Foreign Secretary 1922 In 1899 Rathenau joined the board of the electrical conglomerate AEG (Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft), and became its chairman in 1915. He joined the left-liberal DDP (Deutsche Demokratische Partei), which was one of the supporters of the Weimar Republic, in 1918. As a financial adviser to the government he became a representative in the negotiations for the Versailles Treaty. He served as Minister for Reconstruction in 1921, after which he became increasingly involved in foreign policy. As Foreign Secretary from 1 February 1922 he concluded the Rapallo Treaty with Soviet Russia on 16 April 1922, whereby the two countries would resume diplomatic relations and renounce any claims for reparations arising from World War I. The treaty was heavily criticized by Britain and France, but for Germany and Russia it was a first step out of diplomatic isolation. Owing to his Jewish origins, Rathenau was murdered by members of the same far-right Consul Organization which had previously killed M. Erzberger.

Subjects: Literature — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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