Franz von Papen
Papen in 1933
| Chancellor of Germany |
1 June 1932 –17 November 1932
|President||Paul von Hindenburg|
|Preceded by||Heinrich Brüning|
|Succeeded by||Kurt von Schleicher|
|Vice-Chancellor of the German Reich|
30 January 1933 –7 August 1934
|Preceded by||Hermann Dietrich|
|Succeeded by||Franz Blücher (1949)|
|Reichskomissar of Prussia|
20 July 1932 –3 December 1932
|Preceded by||Otto Braun|
|Succeeded by||Kurt von Schleicher|
30 January 1933 –10 April 1933
|Preceded by||Kurt von Schleicher|
|Succeeded by||Hermann Göring|
Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen, Erbsälzer zu Werl und Neuwerk
29 October 1879
Werl, Province of Westphalia, German Empire
|Died||2 May 1969 89) (aged|
Sasbach, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
|Resting place||Wallerfangen, Germany|
|Political party|| Zentrum (1918–1932)|
Nazi Party (NSDAP; 1938–1945)
Martha von Boch-Galhau
(m. 1905;died 1961)
|Children||Friedrich Franz |
|Alma mater||Prussian Military Academy|
|Profession||Diplomat, military officer|
|Branch/service||Imperial German Army|
|Years of service||1898–1919|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen, Erbsälzer zu Werl und Neuwerk (German: [fɔn ˈpaːpn̩] (
National conservatism is a variant of conservatism common in Europe and Asia that concentrates on upholding national and cultural identity.
The title Chancellor has designated different offices in the history of Germany. It is currently used for the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the head of government of Germany.
Deputy to the Federal Chancellor is a title of one of the German cabinet members. The Chancellor is the head of government and, according to the constitution, gives this title to one of the Federal Ministers. This minister can use the constitutional powers of the Chancellor when officially replacing the Chancellor. This has never happened up to now, although, according to the internal reglement of the government, the Deputy chairs cabinet meetings when the Chancellor is absent.
Born into a wealthy family of Westphalian Roman Catholic aristocrats, Papen served in the Imperial German Army from 1898 onward and was trained as a German General Staff officer. He served as military attaché in Mexico and the United States from 1913 to 1915, organising acts of sabotage in the United States and financing Mexican forces in the Mexican Revolution. After being expelled from the United States in 1915, he served as a battalion commander on the Western Front of World War I and finished his war service in the Middle Eastern theatre as a lieutenant colonel.
Westphalia is a region in northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of 20,208 km2 (7,802 sq mi) and 7.9 million inhabitants.
The German General Staff, originally the Prussian General Staff and officially Great General Staff, was a full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and later, the German Army, responsible for the continuous study of all aspects of war, and for drawing up and reviewing plans for mobilization or campaign. It existed unofficially from 1806, and was formally established by law in 1814, the first general staff in existence. It was distinguished by the formal selection of its officers by intelligence and proven merit rather than patronage or wealth, and by the exhaustive and rigorously structured training which its staff officers undertook. Its rise and development gave the German armed forces a decisive strategic advantage over their adversaries for nearly a century and a half.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometers (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
Appointed Chancellor in 1932 by President Paul von Hindenburg, Papen ruled by presidential decree. He negotiated the end of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. He launched the Preußenschlag coup against the Social Democratic government of the Free State of Prussia. His failure to secure a base of support in the Reichstag led to his dismissal by Hindenburg and replacement by General Kurt von Schleicher. Determined to return to power, Papen, believing that Hitler could be controlled once he was in the government, persuaded Hindenburg to replace Schleicher as Chancellor with Hitler in 1933 in a cabinet not under Nazi Party domination. Papen and his allies were quickly marginalised by Hitler and he left the government after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, during which the Nazis killed some of his confidants. Subsequently, Papen served as an ambassador of the German Reich in Vienna from 1934 to 1938 and in Ankara from 1939 to 1944.
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known generally as Paul von Hindenburg was a German Generalfeldmarschall and statesman who commanded the Imperial German Army during the second half of World War I before later being elected President of the Weimar Republic in 1925. He played a key role in the Nazi "Seizure of Power" in January 1933 when, under pressure from advisers, he appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of a "Government of National Concentration", even though the Nazis were a minority in both the cabinet and the Reichstag.
Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic of Germany (1919–1933) allowed the President, under certain circumstances, to take emergency measures without the prior consent of the Reichstag. This power was understood to include the promulgation of "emergency decrees ".
The Lausanne Conference was a 1932 meeting of representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, and France that resulted in an agreement to suspend World War I reparations payments imposed on the defeated countries by the Treaty of Versailles. Held from June 16 to July 9, 1932, it was named for its location in Lausanne, Switzerland.
After the Second World War, Papen was indicted in the Nuremberg trials of war criminals before the International Military Tribunal but was acquitted of all charges. In 1947 a West German denazification court found Papen to have acted as a main culprit to crimes. Papen was given an eight year hard labour prison sentence but he was released on appeal in 1949. Papen's memoirs were published in 1952 and 1953, and he died in 1969.
The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals held after World War II by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war. The trials were most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, judicial, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany, who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. The trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany, and their decisions marked a turning point between classical and contemporary international law.
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of the National Socialist ideology (Nazism). It was carried out by removing those who had been Nazi Party or SS members from positions of power and influence and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism. The program of denazification was launched after the end of the Second World War and was solidified by the Potsdam Agreement in August 1945.
Papen was born into a wealthy and noble Roman Catholic family in Werl, Westphalia, the third child of Friedrich von Papen-Köningen (1839–1906) and his wife Anna Laura von Steffens (1852–1939)
Werl is a town located in the district of Soest in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The Province of Westphalia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.
Papen was sent to a cadet school in Bensberg of his own volition at the age of 11 in 1891. His four years of service there were followed by three years of training at Prussian Main Military academy in Lichterfelde. He was trained as a Herrenreiter ("gentleman rider").He served for a period as a military attendant in the Kaiser's Palace and as a second lieutenant in his father's old unit, the Westphalian Uhlan Regiment No. 5 in Düsseldorf. Papen joined the German General Staff as a captain in March 1913.
Bergisch Gladbach, is a city in the Cologne/Bonn Region of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and capital of the Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis (district).
Kaiser is the German word for "emperor". Like the Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian word Tsar, it is directly derived from the Roman emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens (clan) Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar, the forebear of the first imperial family, belonged. In general the German title was only used for rulers over kings (König). Although the British monarchs styled "Emperor of India" were also called Kaisar-i-Hind in Hindi and Urdu, this word, although ultimately sharing the same Latin origin, is derived from the Greek: Καῖσαρ (kaisar), not the German Kaiser.
He married Martha von Boch-Galhau (1880–1961) on 3 May 1905. Papen's wife was the daughter of a wealthy Saarland industrialist whose dowry made him a very rich man.An excellent horseman and a man of much charm, Papen cut a dashing figure and during this time, befriended Kurt von Schleicher. Papen was proud of his family's having been granted hereditary rights since 1298 to mine brine salt at Werl. He always believed in the superiority of the aristocracy over commoners. Fluent in both French and English, he travelled widely all over Europe, the Middle East and North America. He was devoted to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Influenced by the books of General Friedrich von Bernhardi, Papen was a militarist throughout his life.
He entered the diplomatic service in December 1913 as a military attaché to the German ambassador in the United States. In early 1914 he travelled to Mexico (to which he was also accredited) and observed the Mexican Revolution. At one time, when the anti-Huerta Zapatistas were advancing on Mexico City, Papen organised a group of European volunteers to fight for Mexican General Victoriano Huerta.In the spring of 1914, as German military attaché to Mexico, Papen was deeply involved in selling arms to the government of General Huerta, believing he could place Mexico in the German sphere of influence, though the collapse of Huerta's regime in July 1914 ended that hope. In April 1914, Papen personally observed the United States occupation of Veracruz when the US seized the city of Veracruz, despite orders from Berlin to stay in Mexico City. During his time in Mexico, Papen acquired the love of international intrigue and adventure that characterised his later diplomatic postings in the United States, Austria and Turkey. On 30 July 1914, Papen arrived in Washington, D.C. from Mexico to take up his post as German military attaché to the United States.
During the First World War, he tried to buy weapons in the United States for his country, but the British blockade made shipping arms to Germany almost impossible.On 22 August 1914, Papen hired US private detective Paul Koeing, based in New York City, to conduct a sabotage and bombing campaign against businesses in New York owned by citizens from the Allied nations. Papen, who was given an unlimited fund of cash to draw on by Berlin, attempted to block the British, French and Russian governments from buying war supplies in the United States. Papen set up a front company that tried to preclusively purchase every hydraulic press in the US for the next two years to limit artillery shell production by US firms with contracts with the Allies. To enable German citizens living in the Americas to go home to Germany, Papen set up an operation in New York to forge US passports.
Starting in September 1914, Papen abused his diplomatic immunity as German military attaché and US neutrality to start organising plans for an invasion of Canada, as well as a campaign of sabotage against canals, bridges and railroads.In October 1914, Papen became involved in the Hindu–German Conspiracy, when he contacted anti-British Indian nationalists living in California, and arranged for weapons to be handed over to them. In February 1915, he organised the Vanceboro international bridge bombing, while his diplomatic immunity protected him from arrest. At the same time, he was involved in plans to restore Huerta to power, arranging for the arming and financing of the planned invasion of Mexico.
Papen's activities were known to British intelligence, which shared its information with the US government.As a result he was expelled from the United States for complicity in the planning of acts of sabotage. On 28 December 1915, he was declared persona non grata after his exposure and was recalled to Germany. Upon his return, he was given the Iron Cross.
Papen remained involved in plots in the Americas as he contacted in February 1916 the Mexican Colonel Gonzalo Enrile, living in Cuba, in an attempt to arrange German support for Félix Díaz, the would-be strongman of Mexico.Papen also served as an intermediary between the Irish Volunteers and the German government regarding the purchase and delivery of arms to be used against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916, as well as serving as an intermediary with Indian nationalists. In April 1916, a United States federal grand jury issued an indictment against Papen for a plot to blow up Canada's Welland Canal; he remained under indictment until he became Chancellor of Germany, at which time the charges were dropped.
As a Roman Catholic, Papen belonged to the Zentrum, the right of the center party that almost all German Catholics supported, but during the course of the war, the nationalist conservative Papen became estranged from his party.Papen disapproved of Matthias Erzberger, whose efforts to pull the Zentrum to the left, he was opposed to and regarded the Reichstag Peace Resolution of 19 July 1917 as almost treason.
Later in World War I, Papen returned to the army on active service, first on the Western Front. In 1916 Papen took command of the 2nd Reserve Battalion of the 93rd Regiment of the 4th Guards Infantry Division fighting in Flanders.On 22 August 1916 Papen's battalion took heavy losses while successfully resisting a British attack during the Battle of the Somme. Between November 1916–February 1917, Papen's battalion was engaged in almost continuous heavy fighting. He was awarded the Iron Cross, 1st Class. On 11 April 1917, Papen fought at Vimy Ridge, where his battalion was defeated with heavy losses by the Canadian Corps.
After Vimy, Papen asked for a transfer to the Middle East, which was approved.From June 1917 Papen served as an officer on the General Staff in the Middle East, and then as an officer attached to the Ottoman army in Palestine. During his time in the Ottoman Empire, Papen was in "the know" about the Armenian genocide, which did not appear to have morally troubled him at all either at the time or later in his life. During his time in Constantinople, Papen befriended Joachim von Ribbentrop. Between October–December 1917, Papen took part in the heavy fighting in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he returned to Germany and left the army soon after the armistice which halted the fighting in November 1918.
After the Ottomans signed an armistice with the Allies on 30 October 1918, the German Asia Corps was ordered home, and Papen was in the mountains at Karapunar when he heard on 11 November 1918 that the war was over.The new republic ordered soldier's councils to be organised in the German Army, including the Asian corps, which General Otto Liman von Sanders attempted to obey, and which Papen refused to obey. Sanders ordered Papen arrested for his insubordination, which caused Papen to leave his post without permission as he fled to Germany in civilian clothing to personally meet Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, who had the charges dropped.
After leaving the German Army in the spring of 1919, Papen purchased a country estate, the Haus Merfeld, living the life of a "gentleman farmer" in Dülmen.In April 1920, during the Communist uprising in the Ruhr, Papen took command of a Freikorps unit to protect Roman Catholicism from the "Red marauders". Impressed with his leadership of his Freikorps unit, Papen decided to pursue a career in politics. In the fall of 1920, the president of the Westphalian Farmer's Association, Baron Engelbert von Kerkerinck zur Borg, told Papen his association would campaign for him if he ran for the Prussian Landtag.
Papen entered politics and joined the Centre Party, better known as the Zentrum. The monarchist Papen formed part of the conservative, anti-Semitic wing of the party that rejected democracy and the Weimar Coalition with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Papen's politics were much closer to the German National People's Party than to the Zentrum, and he seems to have belonged to the Zentrum on the account of his Roman Catholicism and a hope that he could shift his party to the right.Papen exercised a certain degree of power in the Zentrum by the virtue of being the largest shareholder in the Catholic newspaper Germania, which was the most prestigious of the Catholic papers in Germany.
Papen was a member of the Landtag of Prussia from 1921 to 1928 and from 1930 to 1932, representing a rural, Catholic constituency in Westphalia.Papen rarely attended the sessions of the Landtag and never spoke at the meetings during his time as a Landtag deputy. Papen tried to have his name entered into the Zentrum party list for the Reichstag elections of May 1924, but was blocked by the Zentrum's leadership. In February 1925, Papen was one of the six Zentrum deputies in the Landtag who voted with the German National People's Party and the German People's Party against the SPD-Zentrum government. Papen was nearly expelled from the Zentrum for breaking with party discipline in the Landtag. In the 1925 presidential elections, he surprised his party by supporting the right-wing candidate Paul von Hindenburg over Wilhelm Marx. Papen was a member of the exclusive Deutscher Herrenklub (German Gentlemen's Club) of Arthur Moeller van den Bruck.
In March 1930, Papen welcomed the coming of presidential government.As the presidential government of chancellor Heinrich Brüning depended upon the Social Democrats in the Reichstag to "tolerate" it by not voting to cancel laws passed under Article 48, Papen grew more critical. In a speech before a group of farmers in October 1931, Papen called for Brüning to disallow the SPD and base his presidential government on "tolerance" from the NSDAP instead. Papen demanded that Brüning transform the "concealed dictatorship" of a presidential government into a dictatorship that would unite all of the German right under its banner. In the 1932 presidential elections, Papen voted for Hindenburg on the grounds he was the best man to unite the right, while in the Prussian Landtag's election of speaker of the Landtag, Papen voted for the Nazi Hans Kerrl.
On 1 June 1932 Papen moved from relative obscurity to supreme importance when president Hindenburg appointed him Chancellor. Papen owed his appointment to the Chancellorship to General Kurt von Schleicher, an old friend from the pre-war General Staff and influential advisor of President Hindenburg. Schleicher, who now became Defence Minister, selected the entire cabinet himself.The day before, Papen had promised party chairman Ludwig Kaas he would not accept any appointment. After he broke his pledge, Kaas branded him the "Ephialtes of the Centre Party"; Papen forestalled being expelled from the party by leaving it on 3 June 1932.
The cabinet that Papen formed was known as the "cabinet of barons" or "cabinet of monocles".Papen had little support in the Reichstag; the only parties committed to supporting him was the far-right/national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP) and the Conservative-Liberal German People's Party. However, Papen became very close to Hindenburg. Papen first met Hitler in June 1932.
The first act of the Papen government was to dissolve the Reichstag and call a national election for July 1932, in the hope that the Nazis would win the largest number of seats in the Reichstag, which would allow him the majority he needed to establish an authoritarian government.In a so-called "presidential government", Papen would rule by Article 48, having emergency decrees signed into effect by President Hindenburg. On 15 June 1932, the new government lifted the ban on the SA and the SS, as Schleicher envisioned that violence on the streets would justify need for the new authoritarian regime.
On June–July 1932 Papen represented Germany at the Lausanne conference where, on 9 July, German reparation obligations were cancelled.Germany had ceased paying reparations in June 1931 under the Hoover moratorium, and most of the groundwork for the Lausanne conference had been done by Brüning, but Papen took the credit for freeing Germany from paying reparations to France. In exchange for cancelling reparations, Germany was supposed to make a one-time payment of 3 million Reichmarks to France, a commitment that Papen repudiated immediately upon his return to Berlin.
Papen's economic policies, which were all enacted through Article 48, were to cut the payments offered by the unemployment insurance fund, subject jobless Germans seeking unemployment insurance to a means test, lower wages (including those reached by collective bargaining), while arranging tax cuts for corporations and the rich.These policies made Papen deeply unpopular.
On 11 July 1932 Papen received the support of the cabinet and the president for a decree allowing the Reich government to take over the Prussian government, which was dominated by the Social Democrats, a move that was later justified through the rumour that the Social Democrats and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) were planning a merger.On 20 July, Papen launched a coup against the centre-left coalition government of Prussia in the so-called Preußenschlag . Berlin was put on military shutdown and Papen sent men to arrest the Prussian authorities, whom he accused with no evidence of being in league with the Communists. Hereafter, Papen declared himself commissioner of Prussia by way of another emergency decree that he elicited from Hindenburg, further weakening the democracy of the Weimar Republic.
On 23 July, Papen had German representatives walk out of the World Disarmament Conference after the French delegation warned that allowing Germany Gleichberechtigung ("equality of status") in armaments would lead to another world war. Papen announced that the Reich would not return to the conference until the other powers agreed to consider his demand for Gleichberechtigung.
In the Reichstag election of 31 July the Nazis won the largest number of seats. Papen expected the Nazis to support his government and offered Hitler the position of Vice-Chancellor.Hitler demanded the Chancellorship for himself. On 11 August, the public holiday of Constitution Day, which commemorated the adoption of the Weimar Constitution in 1919, Papen and his Interior Minister Baron Wilhelm von Gayl called a press conference to announce plans for a new constitution that would, in effect, turn Germany into a dictatorship.
On 8 August Papen brought in via Article 48 a new law that drastically streamlined the judicial process in death penalty cases while limiting the right of appeal.A few hours later in the town of Potempa, five SA men killed the Communist labourer Konrad Pietrzuch, launching the cause célèbre of the Potempa Murder of 1932. The "Potempa five" were promptly convicted and sentenced to death. The Potempa case generated enormous media attention, and on 2 September, Papen in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for Prussia reduced the sentences of the five SA men down to life imprisonment after Hitler made it clear that he would not support Papen's government if the "Potempa five" were executed.
When the new Reichstag first assembled, Papen hoped to use the opportunity to drop all pretense of democracy. He obtained in advance from Hindenburg a decree to dissolve it, then secured another decree to suspend elections for the time being.When the Reichstag met on 12 September, it elected Hermann Göring as speaker. Next the Communists made a motion of no confidence in the Papen government. The Nazis voted for the motion, which carried by 512 votes to 42. Realizing that he did not have nearly enough support for his government, Papen decided to call another election to punish the Reichstag for the vote of no-confidence.
On 27 October, the Supreme Court of Germany issued a ruling that Papen's coup deposing the Prussian government was illegal, but allowed Papen to retain his control of Prussia.In November 1932, Papen violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles by passing an umbau (rebuilding) programme for the German Navy of one aircraft carrier, six battleships, six cruisers, six destroyer flotillas and sixteen U-boats, intended to allow Germany to control both the North Sea and the Baltic.
In the November 1932 election the Nazis lost seats, but Papen was still unable to secure a Reichstag that could be counted on not to pass another vote of no-confidence in his government.Papen's attempt to negotiate with Hitler failed. Under pressure from Schleicher, Papen resigned on 17 November and formed a caretaker government. Papen told his cabinet that he planned to have martial law declared, which would allow him to rule as a dictator. However, at a cabinet meeting the next day, Papen was informed by Schleicher's associate General Eugen Ott that there was no way to maintain order against the Nazis and Communists. Realizing that Schleicher was moving to undercut him, Papen asked Hindenburg to fire Schleicher as defence minister. Instead, Hindenburg appointed Schleicher as chancellor.
After his resignation, Papen regularly visited Hindenburg, missing no opportunity to attack Schleicher in these visits.Schleicher had promised Hindenburg that he would never attack Papen in public when he became Chancellor, but in a bid to distance himself from the very unpopular Papen, Schleicher in a series of speeches in December 1932-January 1933 did just that, upsetting Hindenburg. Papen was embittered by the way his former best friend, Schleicher, had brought him down, and was determined to become Chancellor again. On 4 January 1933, Hitler and Papen met at the banker Baron Kurt Baron von Schröder's house in Cologne to discuss a common strategy against Schleicher.
On 9 January 1933, Papen and Hindenburg agreed to form a new government that would bring in Hitler.On the evening of 22 January, in a meeting at the house of Joachim von Ribbentrop in Berlin, Papen made the concession of abandoning his claim to the Chancellorship and committed to support Hitler as Chancellor in a proposed "Government of National Concentration", in which Papen would serve as Vice-Chancellor and Minister-President of Prussia. On 23 January, Papen presented to Hindenburg his idea for Hitler to be made Chancellor, while keeping him "boxed" in. On the same day Schleicher, to avoid a vote of no-confidence in the Reichstag when it reconvened on 31 January, asked the president to declare a state of emergency. Hindenburg declined and Schleicher resigned on 28 January.
In the morning of 29 January, Papen met with Hitler and Hermann Göring at his apartment, where it was agreed that Papen would serve as Vice-Chancellor and Commissioner for Prussia.It was in the same meeting that Papen first learned that Hitler wanted to dissolve the Reichstag when he became Chancellor and, once the Nazis had won a majority of the seats in the ensuing elections, to activate the Enabling Act. In the end, the President, who had previously vowed never to let Hitler become Chancellor, appointed Hitler to the post on 30 January 1933, with Papen as Vice-Chancellor.
At the formation of Hitler's cabinet on 30 January, only three Nazis held cabinet portfolios: Hitler, Göring, and Wilhelm Frick. The other eight posts were held by conservatives close to Papen. Additionally, as part of the deal that allowed Hitler to become Chancellor, Papen was granted the right to attend every meeting between Hitler and Hindenburg. Moreover, Cabinet decisions were made by majority vote. Papen believed that his conservative friends' majority in the Cabinet and his closeness to Hindenburg would keep Hitler in check.
Hitler and his allies instead quickly marginalised Papen and the rest of the cabinet. For example, as part of the deal between Hitler and Papen, Göring had been appointed interior minister of Prussia, thus putting the largest police force in Germany under Nazi control. He frequently acted without consulting his nominal superior, Papen. On 1 February 1933, Hitler presented to the cabinet an Article 48 decree law that had been drafted by Papen in November 1932 allowing the police to take people into "protective custody" without charges. It was signed into law by Hindenburg on 4 February as the "Decree for the Protection of the German People".
On the evening of 27 February 1933, Papen joined Hitler, Göring and Goebbels at the burning Reichstag and told him that he shared their belief that this was the signal for Communist revolution.On 18 March 1933, in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for Prussia, Papen freed the "Potempa Five" under the grounds the murder of Konrad Pietzuch was an act of self-defense, making the five SA men "innocent victims" of a miscarriage of justice. Neither Papen nor his conservative allies waged a fight against the Reichstag Fire Decree in late February or the Enabling Act in March. After the Enabling Act was passed, serious deliberations more or less ceased at cabinet meetings when they took place at all, which subsequently neutralised Papen's attempt to "box" Hitler in through cabinet-based decision-making.
Papen endorsed Hitler's plan presented at a cabinet meeting on 7 March 1933 to destroy the Zentrum by severing the Catholic Church from the Zentrum.This was the origin of the Reichskonkordat that Papen was to negotiate with the Roman Catholic Church later in the spring of 1933. Papen founded a new political party on 5 April 1933 called the League of German Catholics Cross and Eagle, which was intended as a conservative Catholic party that would hold the NSDAP in check while at the same time working with the NSDAP. Both the Zentrum and the Bavarian People's Party declined to merge into Papen's new party while the rival Coalition of Catholic Germans which was sponsored by the NSDAP proved more effective at recruiting German Catholics.
On 8 April Papen travelled to the Vatican to offer a 'Reichskonkordat' that defined the German state's relationship with the Roman Catholic Church. During his stay in Rome, Papen met the Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and failed to persuade him to drop his support for the Austrian chancellor Dollfuss.Papen was euphoric at the Reichskonkordat that he negotiated with Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli in Rome, believing that this was a diplomatic success that restored his status in Germany, guaranteed the rights of German Catholics in the Third Reich, and required the disbandment of the Zentrum and the Bavarian People's Party, thereby achieving one of Papen's main political goals since June 1932. During Papen's absence, the Nazified Landtag of Prussia elected Göring as prime minister on 10 April. Papen saw the end of the Zentrum that he had engineered as one of his greatest achievements. Later in May 1933, he was forced to disband the League of German Catholics Cross and Eagle owing to lack of public interest.
In September 1933, Papen visited Budapest to meet the Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Gömbös, and to discuss how Germany and Hungary might best co-operate against Czechoslovakia.The Hungarians wanted the volksdeutsche (ethnic German) minorities in the Banat, Transylvania, Slovakia and Carpathia to agitate to return to Hungary in co-operation with the Magyar minorities, a demand that Papen refused to meet. In September 1933, when the Soviet Union ended its secret military co-operation with Germany, the Soviets justified their move under the grounds that Papen had informed the French of the Soviet support for German violations of the Versailles Treaty.
On 14 November 1933, Papen was appointed the Reich Commissioner for the Saar.The Saarland was under the rule of the League of Nations and a referendum was scheduled for 1935 under which the Saarlanders had the option to return to Germany, join France, or retain the status quo. As a conservative Catholic whose wife was from the Saarland, Papen had much understanding of the heavily Catholic region, and Papen gave numerous speeches urging the Saarlanders to vote to return to Germany. Papen was successful in persuading the majority of the Catholic clergy in the Saarland to campaign for a return to Germany, and 90% of the Saarland voted to return to Germany in the 1935 referendum.
Papen began covert talks with other conservative forces with the aim of convincing Hindenburg to restore the balance of power back to the conservatives.By May 1934, it had become clear that Hindenburg was dying, with doctors telling Papen that the President only had a few months left to live. Papen together with Otto Meissner, Hindenburg's chief of staff, and Major Oskar von Hindenburg, Hindenburg's son, drafted a "political will and last testament", which the President signed on 11 May 1934. At Papen's request, the will called for the dismissal of certain National Socialist ministers from the cabinet, and regular cabinet meetings, which would have achieved Papen's plan of January 1933 for a broad governing coalition of the right.
With the Army command recently having hinted at the need for Hitler to control the SA, Papen delivered an address at the University of Marburg on 17 June 1934 where he called for the restoration of some freedoms, demanded an end to the calls for a "second revolution" and advocated the cessation of SA terror in the streets.Papen intended to "tame" Hitler with the Marburg speech, and gave the speech without any effort at co-ordination beforehand with either Hindenburg or the Reichswehr. The speech was crafted by Papen's speech writer, Edgar Julius Jung, with the assistance of Papen's secretary Herbert von Bose and Catholic leader Erich Klausener, and Papen had first seen the text of the speech only two hours before he delivered it at the University of Marburg. The "Marburg speech" was well received by the graduating students of Marburg university who all loudly cheered on the Vice-Chancellor. Extracts from speech were reproduced in the Frankfurter Zeitung, the most prestigious newspaper in Germany and from there picked up by the foreign press.
The speech incensed Hitler, and its publication was suppressed by the Propaganda Ministry.Papen told Hitler that unless the ban on the Marburg speech was lifted and Hitler declared himself willing to follow the line recommended by Papen in the Marburg speech, he would resign and would inform Hindenburg why he had resigned. Hitler outwitted Papen by telling him that he agreed with all of the criticism of his regime made in the Marburg speech; told him Goebbels was wrong to ban the speech and he would have the ban lifted at once; and promised that the SA would be put in their place, provided Papen agreed not to resign and would meet with Hindenburg in a joint interview with him. Papen accepted Hitler's suggestions.
Two weeks after the Marburg speech, Hitler responded to the armed forces' demands to suppress the ambitions of Ernst Röhm and the SA by purging the SA leadership. The purge, known as the Night of the Long Knives, took place between 30 June and 2 July 1934. Though Papen's bold speech against some of the excesses committed by the Nazis had angered Hitler, the latter was aware that he could not act directly against the Vice-Chancellor without offending Hindenburg. Instead, in the Night of the Long Knives, the Vice-Chancellery, Papen's office, was ransacked by the Schutzstaffel (SS); his associates Herbert von Bose, Erich Klausener and Edgar Julius Jung were shot. Papen himself was placed under house arrest at his villa with his telephone line cut. Some accounts indicate that this "protective custody" was ordered by Göring, who felt the ex-diplomat could be useful in the future.
Reportedly Papen arrived at the Chancellery, exhausted from days of house arrest without sleep, to find the Chancellor seated with other Nazi ministers around a round table, with no place for him but a hole in the middle. He insisted on a private audience with Hitler and announced his resignation, stating, "My service to the Fatherland is over!" The following day, Papen's resignation as Vice-Chancellor was formally accepted and publicised, with no successor appointed. When Hindenburg died on 2 August, the last conservative obstacles to complete Nazi rule were gone.
Hitler offered Papen the assignment of German ambassador to Vienna, which Papen accepted.Papen was a German nationalist who always believed that Austria was destined to join Germany in an Anschluss and felt that a success in bringing that about might restore his career. Papen during his time as an ambassador to Austria stood outside the normal chain of command of the Auswärtige Amt as Papen refused to take orders from the Foreign Minister Baron von Neurath, and instead Papen reported directly to Hitler.
Papen met often with Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg to assure him that Germany did not wish to annexe his country, and only wanted the banned Austrian Nazi Party to participate in Austrian politics.In late 1934-early 1935, Papen took a break from his duties as German ambassador in Vienna to lead the Deutsche Front ("German Front") in the Saarland plebiscite on 13 January 1935, where the League of Nations observers monitoring the vote noted Papen's "ruthless methods" as he campaigned for the region to return to Germany.
Papen also contributed to achieving Hitler's goal of undermining Austrian sovereignty and bringing about the Nazis' long-dreamed-of Anschluss (annexation by Germany).On 28 August 1935, Papen negotiated a deal under which the German press would cease its attacks on the Austrian government, in return for which the Austrian press would cease its attacks on Germany's. Papen played a major role in negotiating the 1936 Austro-German agreement under which Austria declared itself a "German state" whose foreign policy would always be aligned with Berlin's and allowed for members of the "national opposition" to enter the Austrian cabinet in exchange for which the Austrian Nazis abandoned their terrorist campaign against the government. The treaty Papen signed in Vienna on 11 July 1936 promised that Germany would not seek to annexe Austria and largely placed Austria in the German sphere of influence, greatly reducing Italian influence on Austria. In July 1936, Papen reported to Hitler that the Austro-German treaty he had just signed was the "decisive step" towards ending Austrian independence, and it was only a matter of time before the Anschluss took place.
In the summer and fall of 1937, Papen pressured the Austrians to include more Nazis in the government.In September 1937, Papen returned to Berlin when Benito Mussolini visited Germany, serving as Hitler's adviser on Italo-German talks about Austria. Though Papen was dismissed from his mission in Austria on 4 February 1938, Hitler drafted him to arrange a meeting between the German dictator and Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. The ultimatum that Hitler presented to Schuschnigg at the meeting on 12 February 1938 led to the Austrian government's capitulation to German threats and pressure, and paved the way for the Anschluss.
Papen later served the German government as Ambassador to Turkey from 1939 to 1944. In April 1938, after the retirement of the previous ambassador, Frederich von Keller on his 65th birthday, the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop attempted to appoint Papen as ambassador in Ankara, but the appointment was vetoed by the Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who remembered Papen well with considerable distaste when he had served alongside him in World War I.In November 1938 and in February 1939, the new Turkish president General İsmet İnönü again vetoed Ribbentrop's attempts to have Papen appointed as German ambassador to Turkey. In April 1939, Turkey accepted Papen as ambassador. Papen was keen to return to Turkey, where he had served during World War I.
Papen arrived in Turkey on 27 April 1939, just after the signing of a British-Turkish declaration of friendship.İnönü wanted Turkey to join the British-inspired "peace front" that was meant to stop Germany. On 24 June 1939, France and Turkey signed a declaration committing them to upholding collective security in the Balkans. On 21 August 1939, Papen presented Turkey with a diplomatic note threatening economic sanctions and the cancellation of all arms contacts if Turkey did not cease leaning towards joining the British-French "peace front", a threat that Turkey rebuffed.
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and two days later on 3 September 1939 the UK and France declared war on Germany.Papen claimed later to have been opposed to Hitler's foreign policy in 1939 and was very depressed when he heard the news of the German attack on Poland on the radio. Papen continued his work of representing the Reich in Turkey under the grounds that resigning in protest "would indicate the moral weakening in Germany", which was something he could never do.
On 19 October 1939, Papen suffered a notable setback when Turkey signed a treaty of alliance with France and the UK.During the Phoney War, the conservative Catholic Papen found himself to his own discomfort working together with Soviet diplomats in Ankara to pressure Turkey not to enter the war on the Allied side. In June 1940, with France's defeat, İnönü abandoned his pro-Allied neutrality, and Papen's influence in Ankara dramatically increased.
Between 1940 and 1942 Papen signed three economic agreements that placed Turkey in the German economic sphere of influence.Papen hinted more than once to Turkey that Germany was prepared to support Bulgarian claims to Thrace if Turkey did not prove more accommodating to Germany. In May 1941, when the Germans dispatched an expeditionary force to Iraq to fight against the British in the Anglo-Iraqi War, Papen persuaded Turkey to allow arms in Syria to be shipped along a railroad linking Syria to Iraq. In June 1941, Papen successfully negotiated a Treaty of Friendship and Non-aggression with Turkey, signed on 17 June 1941, which prevented Turkey from entering the war on the Allied side. After Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union that began on 22 June 1941, Papen persuaded Turkey to close the Turkish straits to Soviet warships, but was unable to have the straits closed to Soviet merchant ships as he demanded.
Papen claimed after the war to have done everything within his power to save Turkish Jews living in countries occupied by Germany from deportation to the death camps, but an examination of the Auswärtige Amt's records do not support him.During the war, Papen used his connections with Turkish Army officers with whom he served in World War I to try to influence Turkey into joining the Axis, held parties at the German embassy which were attended by leading Turkish politicians and used "special funds" to bribe Turks into following a pro-German line. As an ambassador to Turkey, Papen survived a Soviet assassination attempt on 24 February 1942 by agents from the NKVD: a bomb exploded prematurely, killing the bomber and no-one else, although Papen was slightly injured. In 1943, Papen frustrated a British attempt to have Turkey join the war on the Allied side by getting Hitler to send a letter to Inönü assuring him that Germany had no interest in invading Turkey and by threatening to have the Luftwaffe bomb Istanbul if Turkey joined the Allies.
In the summer and fall of 1943, realising the war was lost, Papen attended secret meetings with the agents of the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Istanbul.Papen exaggerated his power in Germany to the OSS, and asked for US support to make him dictator of a post-Hitler Germany. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt rejected the offer when he heard of it and told the OSS to stop talking to Papen. From October 1943, Papen and the German embassy gained access to the "Cicero" documents of Elyesa Bazna, including information on Operation Overlord and the Tehran Conference, which Papen revealed selectively to Inönu to strain Allied-Turkish relations. In January 1944, Papen, after learning via the "Cicero" documents of a British plan to have the Royal Air Force use airfields in Turkey to bomb the oil fields of Ploiești in Romania, told the Turkish foreign minister Hüseyin Numan Menemencioğlu that if Turkey allowed the RAF to use Turkish air fields to bomb Ploiești, the Luftwaffe would use its bases in Bulgaria and Greece to bomb and destroy Istanbul and Izmir.
On 20 April 1944, Turkey, wishing to ingratiate itself with the Allies, ceased selling chromium to Germany.On 26 May 1944 Menemencioğlu announced that Turkey was reducing exports to Germany by 50%, and on 2 August 1944 Turkey severed diplomatic relations with Germany, forcing Papen to return to Berlin. After Pope Pius XI died in February 1939, his successor Pope Pius XII did not renew Papen's honorary title of Papal chamberlain . As nuncio, the future Pope John XXIII, Angelo Roncalli, became acquainted with Papen in Greece and Turkey during World War II. The German government considered appointing Papen ambassador to the Holy See, but Pope Pius XII, after consulting Konrad von Preysing, Bishop of Berlin, rejected this proposal. In August 1944, Papen had his last meeting with Hitler after arriving back in Germany from Turkey. Here, Hitler awarded Papen the Knight's Cross of the War Merit Cross. In September 1944, Papen settled at his estate at Wallerfangen in the Saarland that had been given to him by his father-in-law. On 29 November 1944, Papen could hear in the distance the guns of the advancing US Third Army, which caused him and his family to flee deeper into Germany.
Papen was captured along with his son Franz Jr. at his own home by First Lieutenant Thomas McKinleyand members of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, in April 1945. Also present during the capture was a small band from the 550th Airborne glider Infantry. Papen was forced by the US to visit a concentration camp to see first-hand the nature of the regime he had served from start to finish and had done so much to bring about.
Papen was one of the defendants at the main Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. The investigating Tribunal found no solid evidence to support claims that Papen had been involved in the annexation of Austria.The court acquitted him, stating that while he had committed a number of "political immoralities," these actions were not punishable under the "conspiracy to commit crimes against peace" written in Papen's indictment.
Papen was subsequently sentenced to eight years hard labour by a West German denazification court, but was released on appeal in 1949. Until 1954, Papen was forbidden to publish in West Germany, and so he wrote a series of articles in newspapers in Spain, attacking the Federal Republic from a conservative Catholic position in much the same terms that he had attacked the Weimar Republic.Papen tried unsuccessfully to restart his political career in the 1950s; he lived at the Castle of Benzenhofen near Ravensburg in Upper Swabia. Pope John XXIII restored his title of Papal Chamberlain on 24 July 1959. Papen was also a Knight of Malta, and was awarded the Grand Cross of the Pontifical Order of Pius IX.
Papen published a number of books and memoirs, in which he defended his policies and dealt with the years 1930 to 1933 as well as early western Cold War politics. Papen praised the Schuman Plan as "wise and statesmanlike" and believed in the economic and military unification and integration of Western Europe.In 1952 and 1953, Papen published his memoirs in two volumes in Switzerland. Right up until his death in 1969, Papen gave speeches and wrote articles in the newspapers defending himself against the charge that he had played a crucial role in having Hitler appointed Chancellor and that he had served a criminal regime, which led to vitriolic exchanges with West German historians, journalists and political scientists. Franz von Papen died in Obersasbach, West Germany, on 2 May 1969 at the age of 89.
Franz von Papen has been portrayed in by these actors in these film, television and theatrical productions:
The Weimar Republic is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.
The Night of the Long Knives, or the Röhm Purge, also called Operation Hummingbird, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when Adolf Hitler, urged on by Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, ordered a series of political extrajudicial executions intended to consolidate his hold on power in Germany, as well as to alleviate the concerns of the German military about the role of Ernst Röhm and the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis' own mass paramilitary organization. Nazi propaganda presented the murders as a preventive measure against an alleged imminent coup by the SA under Röhm – the so-called Röhm Putsch.
The Enabling Act of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich, was an amendment passed on 23 March 1933 to the Weimar Constitution that gave the German Cabinet — in effect, Chancellor Adolf Hitler — the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag. The Enabling Act gave Hitler plenary powers and followed on the heels of the Reichstag Fire Decree, which had abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. The combined effect of the two laws was to transform Hitler's government into a legal dictatorship.
Heinrich Aloysius Maria Elisabeth Brüning was a German Centre Party politician and academic, who served as Chancellor of Germany during the Weimar Republic from 1930 to 1932.
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. A leading figure in nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, he became the country's leading media proprietor during the inter-war period. As leader of the German National People's Party he was instrumental in helping Adolf Hitler become Chancellor of Germany and served in his first cabinet in 1933, hoping to control Hitler and use him as his "tool." Those plans backfired, and by the end of 1933 Hugenberg had been pushed to the sidelines. Although Hugenberg continued to serve as a "guest" member of the Reichstag until 1945, he wielded no political influence.
Kurt Ferdinand Friedrich Hermann von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the Weimar Republic. A rival for power with Adolf Hitler, Schleicher was murdered by Hitler's SS during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934.
The German Centre Party is a lay Catholic political party in Germany, primarily influential during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. In English it is often called the Catholic Centre Party. Formed in 1870, it successfully battled the Kulturkampf which Chancellor Otto von Bismarck launched in Prussia to reduce the power of the Catholic Church. It soon won a quarter of the seats in the Reichstag, and its middle position on most issues allowed it to play a decisive role in the formation of majorities.
The German National People's Party was a national-conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the Nazi Party, it was the major conservative and nationalist party in Weimar Germany. It was an alliance of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch and antisemitic elements supported by the Pan-German League.
The Reichspräsident was the German head of state under the Weimar constitution, which was officially in force from 1919 to 1945. In English he was usually simply referred to as the President of Germany. The German title Reichspräsident literally means President of the Reich, the term Reich referring to the federal nation state established in 1871.
The early timeline of Nazism begins with its origins and continues until Hitler's rise to power.
The Hitler Cabinetde jure formed the government of Nazi Germany between 30 January 1933 and 30 April 1945 upon the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of the German Reich by president Paul von Hindenburg. Contrived by the national conservative politician Franz von Papen, who reserved the office of the Vice-Chancellor for himself. Originally, Hitler's first cabinet was called the Reich Cabinet of National Salvation, which was a coalition of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), it became an exclusively Nazi cabinet when the DNVP was intimidated into dissolving itself.
Federal elections were held in Germany on 6 November 1932. They saw a four percent drop in votes for the Nazi Party and slight increases for the Communists and the national conservative DNVP. It was the last free and fair all-German election before the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933, as the following elections of March 1933 were already accompanied by massive suppression, especially against Communist and Social Democratic politicians.
Federal elections were held in Germany on 31 July 1932, following the premature dissolution of the Reichstag. They saw great gains by the Nazi Party, which for the first time became the largest party in parliament but without winning a majority.
Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.
Oskar Wilhelm Robert Paul Ludwig Hellmuth von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg was a German Generalleutnant. The son and aide-de-camp to Field Marshal and Reich President Paul von Hindenburg had considerable influence on the appointment of Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in January 1933.
Adolf Hitler's rise to power began in Germany in September 1919 when Hitler joined the political party then known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP. The name was changed in 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP. It was anti-Marxist and opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles, advocating extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler's "rise" can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month. President Paul von Hindenburg had already appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues. The Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection.
Victims of the Night of the Long Knives – the Nazi purge in which Hitler and the Nazi regime used the Schutzstaffel (SS) to deal with the problem of Ernst Röhm and his Sturmabteilung (SA) brownshirts, as well as past opponents of the party – numbered at least 85 people murdered. It took place in Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934.
The Von Schleicher Cabinetde jure formed the government of Weimar Germany between 3 December 1932 and 28 January 1933 upon the resignation of Franz von Papen. The cabinet was made up of holdovers from Papen's which featured many right-wing independents or German National People's Party (DNVP). The government was followed by the Hitler Cabinet after Schleicher's own resignation. This was to be the last Weimar government before the rise of Nazi Germany.
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| Chancellor of Germany |
Kurt von Schleicher
(as prime minister)
| Reichskomissar of Prussia |
Kurt von Schleicher
Hermann R. Dietrich
| Vice-Chancellor of Germany |
Franz Blücher (in 1949)
Kurt von Schleicher
| Reichskomissar of Prussia |
(as prime minister)
| German Ambassador to Austria |
Friedrich von Keller
| German Ambassador to Turkey |
Wilhelm Haas (in 1952)