Gustav Bauer

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Gustav Bauer
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J0113-0500-001, Gustav Bauer(cropped).jpg
Bauer in 1920
Chancellor of Germany
In office
21 June 1919 26 March 1920
President Friedrich Ebert
Preceded by Philipp Scheidemann
Succeeded by Hermann Müller
Vice-Chancellor of Germany
In office
10 May 1921 14 November 1922
Chancellor Joseph Wirth
Preceded by Rudolf Heinze
Succeeded by Robert Schmidt
Reich Minister of the Treasury
In office
10 May 1921 14 November 1922
ChancellorJoseph Wirth
Preceded byGustav Bauer
Succeeded by Heinrich Albert
In office
31 January 1920 21 June 1920
ChancellorGustav Bauer
Hermann Müller
Preceded by Wilhelm Mayer
Succeeded by Hans von Raumer
Reich Minister of Labour
In office
13 February 1919 20 June 1919
Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded by Alexander Schlicke
State Secretary of the Reich Labor Office
In office
4 October 1918 13 February 1919
Chancellor Prince Maximilian of Baden
Philipp Scheidemann
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byPosition abolished (himself as Reich Minister of Labour)
Reich Minister of Transport
In office
2 May 1920 21 June 1920
ChancellorHermann Müller
Preceded by Johannes Bell
Succeeded by Wilhelm Groener
Personal details
Gustav Adolf Bauer

(1870-01-06)6 January 1870
Darkehmen, East Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, North German Confederation
Died16 September 1944(1944-09-16) (aged 74)
Berlin, Nazi Germany
Political party Social Democratic Party of Germany
Spouse(s)Hedwig Moch

Gustav Adolf Bauer ( Loudspeaker.svg listen  ; 6 January 1870 – 16 September 1944) was a German Social Democratic Party leader and 11th Chancellor of Germany from June 1919 to March 1920. He served as head of government for nine months. Prior to becoming head of government, Bauer had been Minister of Labour in the first democratically elected German cabinet. After his cabinet was brought down by the Kapp Putsch in March 1920, Bauer served as vice-chancellor, Minister of the Treasury, and Minister of Transportation in other cabinets of the Weimar Republic from May 1920 to November 1922. In 1924 and 1925 he was involved in the Barmat scandal.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Social Democratic Party of Germany Social-democratic political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.


Early life

Bauer was born on 6 January 1870 in Darkehmen, near Königsberg in East Prussia (now Ozyorsk, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia) as the son of bailiff Gustav Bauer and his wife Henriette (née Groß). From 1876 to 1884, he attended the Volksschule in Königsberg. After 1884, he worked as a clerk and later head clerk for a lawyer at Königsberg. [1]

Königsberg capital city in Prussia

Königsberg is the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally a Sambian or Old Prussian settlement, it then belonged to the State of the Teutonic Order, the Duchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and Nazi Germany. After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and the Red Army, it was annexed by the Soviet Union and its surviving inhabitants forcibly expelled. Thereafter, the city was renamed Kaliningrad. Few traces of the former Königsberg remain today.

East Prussia province of Prussia

East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.

Ozyorsk, Kaliningrad Oblast Town in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia

Ozyorsk, known prior to 1938 by its German name Darkehmen, and from 1938 to 1946 as Angerapp, is a town and the administrative center of Ozyorsky District in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the Angrapa River near the border with the Polish Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, 120 kilometers (75 mi) southeast of Kaliningrad, the administrative center of the oblast. Population: 4,740 (2010 Census); 5,801 (2002 Census); 6,219 (1989 Census).

In 1895, he became president of the Verband der Büroangestellten, a white-collar union that he co-founded. He also was editor of the publication Der Büroangestellte ("The Office Worker") and in 1903 was named head of the Zentral-Arbeiter-Sekretariat der Freien Gewerkschaften in Berlin ("Central Secretary of Independent Unions"). [2] In 1908, Bauer became second chairman of the Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften (General Commission of Trade Unions) in Berlin, a position he kept until 1918. [1]

On 2 October 1911, Bauer married Hedwig Moch. [1]

Political career

Imperial Germany and revolutionary period

In 1912, Bauer was elected to the Reichstag for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in a Breslau constituency. In October 1918, Bauer became Secretary of State at theReichsarbeitsamt (Labour) in Max von Baden's cabinet. [1] Bauer remained in this position throughout the revolution of 1918/19. After Max von Baden resigned in November 1918, Bauer continued to serve under Reichskanzler Friedrich Ebert and then under the Council of the People's Deputies, also headed by Ebert. While serving as Minister of Labour, Bauer introduced the Factory Constitution Law and issued a number of decrees, including universal voting rights for those aged 20 and above in all types of elections, regulated wage agreements, protection from arbitrary dismissal with appeal as a right, the re-instalment of demobilised workers, a national health insurance, local municipality social welfare (split between the states and government), the right of civil-service associations, agricultural labour reform, domestic labour reforms, and the eight-hour workday. [3]

Reichstag (German Empire) parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1918

The Reichstag was the Parliament of Germany from 1871 to 1918. Legislation was shared between the Reichstag and the Bundesrat, which was the Imperial Council of the reigning princes of the German States.

Friedrich Ebert 19th and 20th-century German politician and president of Germany

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925.

Council of the Peoples Deputies Rat der Volksbauftragten, supervising organ in the German November Revolution

The Council of the People's Deputies was the name given to the government of the November Revolution in Germany from November 1918 until February 1919. The Council de facto took over the function of head of state (Kaiser) and head of government (Chancellor), and issued decretes replacing the legislation of parliament (Reichstag) and Federal Council. The state secretaries stayed in office or were replaced by the Council.

Weimar Republic

In January 1919, Bauer was elected to the National Assembly for Magdeburg. [2] In February, he became Reichsarbeitsminister in Philipp Scheidemann's cabinet. After Scheidemann resigned in June 1919 as a protest against the Treaty of Versailles, Bauer succeeded him as Reichsministerpräsident, heading the Cabinet Bauer. His government signed the Treaty. When the Weimar Constitution came into force in August 1919, Bauer became Reichskanzler (Chancellor). [1] Bauer's time as Chancellor witnessed the passage of the Reich Settlement Law of August 1919, [4] [5] which redistributed large estates among smaller farmers, although only 3% of small-scale farmers had benefitted from this law by 1928. [6] The Allotment Garden and Small-Lease-Holding Ordinance of July 1919 provided legal protection for non-commercially used property such as workers’ gardens and “Schreber” gardens. [7] In October 1919, a law came into force that entitled insured women to a lump sum of 50 marks from their insurance board to cover the cost of childbirth, together with confinement compensation for 10 weeks. In addition, maternity care was covered by a 25 mark payment and a daily breastfeeding bonus of one mark fifty for 10 weeks. This law also entitled the wives and daughters of insured employees (both female and male) to certain types of support in connection with pregnancy. [8] Following a similar decree issued in December 1918, an important decree was issued in support of Jugendpflege (youth welfare) in November 1919. [9]

1919 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 19 January 1919, although members of the standing army in the east voted for their representatives only on 2 February. The elections were the first of the new Weimar Republic following World War I and the Revolution of 1918–19. It was also the first German election held using proportional representation and with women's suffrage. It is also reckoned as the first truly free and fair all-German election, as it was the first to be held after the scrapping of the old constituencies that over-represented rural areas. The voting age was lowered to 20, down from 25 which it had been in the Reichstag election of 1912.

Weimar National Assembly 20th-century constitutional convention in Germany

The Weimar National Assembly was the constitutional convention and de facto parliament of Germany from 6 February 1919 to 6 June 1920. The assembly drew up the new constitution which was in force from 1919 to 1933, technically remaining in effect even until the end of Nazi rule in 1945. It convened in Weimar, Thuringia and is the reason for this period in German history becoming known as the Weimar Republic.

Magdeburg Large city in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Magdeburg is the capital city and the second largest city of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is situated on the Elbe River.

Various improvements to unemployment benefits were also carried out during Bauer's time as chancellor. A winter supplement was provided in October 1919, and certain modifications were carried out in January 1920. In addition, the maximum benefit for single males over the age of 21 was increased from three and a half to six marks in February 1920. A decree of October 1919, however, ordered all Reich unemployment relief funds to be withdrawn from those municipal authorities that went beyond the maximum scales. [10]

In the field of sickness insurance, a decree of 28 June 1919 bestowed upon rural funds the same right of self-government that other funds had. An order of 27 October 1919 empowered the Reich Minister of Labour to encourage through grants and loans "measures which were estimated to create opportunities for employment". [11] In December 1919, laws were passed that extended compulsory insurance against infirmity and old age to certain new classes of workpeople. [12] The Betriebsrätegesetz (Factory Council Act) of February 1920 established works councils at workplaces with 20 or more on the payroll as a means of improving lines of communication between labour and management. [13] In addition, a series of progressive tax reforms were implemented under the auspices of finance minister Matthias Erzberger, [14] such as the Reich Revenue Law of July 1919, which gave the Reich sole authority for levying and administering taxes, [15] the levying of war taxes on income and wealth as well as inheritance taxation in July 1919, [16] and a one-off wealth tax in December 1919. [17]

In March 1920, the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch attempted to depose the government. Bauer, along with other SPD members of the cabinet and president Ebert, signed a call for a general strike against the putsch. Most of the cabinet left Berlin for Dresden, then Stuttgart. However, some ministers remained in the capital and, led by vice-chancellor Eugen Schiffer negotiated with the putschists. Once the putsch had collapsed, the Bauer government was forced to resign on 27 March—mostly as a result of the negotiations conducted with Kapp and his fellow conspirators. Bauer was succeeded as chancellor by Hermann Müller (also SPD). [1]

However, Bauer joined the new cabinet as Reichsschatzminister at the Treasury, a position he held until June 1920. From May to June 1920, Bauer was also Minister of Transportation. In the Reichstag elections of June 1920, he was reelected to parliament. [1] However, the new government formed on 25 June excluded the SPD.

Bauer rejoined the cabinet of Joseph Wirth in May 1921 as Reichsschatzminister and vice-chancellor. He held those positions throughout the term of office of Wirth (until November 1922). Throughout this time, Bauer was also a member of the Reichstag for Magdeburg and he retained his seat after leaving the government. However, in November 1924 he became involved in the Barmat scandal due to a personal relationship with the accused, Julius Barmat. On 7 February 1925, he was forced by the SPD parliamentary group to relinquish his seat in the Reichstag and on 14 February was expelled from the party. [1]

Yet on 14 May 1926, Bauer's expulsion was overturned by the party. He returned to the Reichstag until 1928, when he left parliament and retired from public life. [1]

Later life

After the Nazi party took power in 1933, Bauer was arrested on 29 June 1933. He was supposed to have misappropriated public funds. However, the charge was based on alleged statements made by his son in school. When it turned out that Bauer's marriage was childless and there was in fact no son, he was released after a week of custody. The lawsuit was dismissed only in 1935, however. [1]

Bauer died in Hersdorf (Berlin Reinickendorf) on 16 September 1944. [1]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Biografie Gustav Bauer (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Biografie Gustav Bauer(German)". Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
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  4. "FAOLEX". Retrieved 26 September 2014.
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  6. Gerschenkron, A. (1966). Bread and Democracy in Germany. Cornell University Press. p. 130. ISBN   9780801495861.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Labour Minister of Germany
Succeeded by
Alexander Schlicke
Preceded by
Philipp Scheidemann
Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Hermann Müller
Preceded by
Johannes Bell
Transportation Minister of Germany
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Groener
Preceded by
Rudolf Heinze
Vice Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Robert Schmidt