Hugo Haase

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Hugo Haase


Hugo Haase
Federal Member of the Reichstag
In office
In office
Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
In office
Chairman of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany
In office
Personal details
Born(1863-09-29)29 September 1863
Allenstein, East Prussia
Died 7 November 1919(1919-11-07) (aged 56)
Political party SPD, USPD
Spouse(s) Thea Lichtenstein
Children Ernst Haase
Alma mater Königsberg University
Occupation lawyer

Hugo Haase (29 September 1863 – 7 November 1919) was a German socialist politician, jurist and pacifist. With Friedrich Ebert, he co-chaired of the Council of the People's Deputies after the German Revolution of 1918–19.

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 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.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

Jurist legal scholar or academic, a professional who studies, teaches, and develops law

A jurist is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence. Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer or law lecturer. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.


Early life

Hugo Haase was born on 29 September 1863 in Allenstein (today: Olsztyn), in the Province of East Prussia, the son of Jewish shoemaker and small businessman, Nathan Haase, and his wife Pauline [1] (née Anker).

After attending the Gymnasium at Rastenburg, [2] Haase studied law in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1887 and the next year established himself as a lawyer. He was the first socialist lawyer in East Prussia and mainly took on as clients people from the lower classes (workers, peasants), journalists and socialist functionaries. In 1894, Haase became the first Social Democrat in the municipal parliament (Stadtverordnetenversammlung )of Königsberg. In 1897, he was elected to the Reichstag in a by-election. [3]

Königsberg capital city in Prussia

Königsberg is the name for a former German city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally a Sambian or Old Prussian city, it later 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 until 1945. After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and Soviet forces and annexed by the Soviet Union thereafter, the city was renamed Kaliningrad. Few traces of the former Königsberg remain today.

Social Democratic Party of Germany political party in Germany

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

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.

In multiple legal cases, he defended Social Democrats against various politically motivated charges. High-profile cases that made him known throughout the country included the so-called Königsberger Geheimbundprozeß in 1904, in which he achieved acquittals for several politicians including the later Minister President of Prussia, Otto Braun. In 1907, Haase was counsel for Karl Liebknecht (SPD) who had been charged with high treason for publishing his screed Militarismus und Antimilitarismus. [3]

Otto Braun German politician

Otto Braun was a German Social Democratic politician who served as Prime Minister of Prussia for most of the time from 1920 to 1932. After the Nazis seized power in 1933, Braun went into exile in Switzerland.

Karl Liebknecht German socialist and a co-founder of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany

Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht was a German socialist, originally in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and later a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany which split way from the SPD. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919. The uprising was crushed by the SPD government and the Freikorps. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were executed.

Haase belonged to the so-called "revisionist" wing of the party, which in contrast to the Marxists, supported gradual reforms and no longer saw the best path to social and political change in revolution. In 1911, he became SPD chairman along with August Bebel, in 1912 Haase was reelected to the Reichstag and, together with Philipp Scheidemann, became chairman of the SPD Reichstag group. After Bebel's death in 1913, Haase and Friedrich Ebert were chosen as the party chairmen. [3] However, he remained active as a lawyer (now with an office in Berlin). By contrast with Ebert, Bebel and Scheidemann, Haase was not a home-grown party functionary but a radical intellectual. [1]

August Bebel German social democrat politician

Ferdinand August Bebel was a German socialist politician, writer, and orator. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) in 1869, which in 1875 merged with the General German Workers' Association into the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD). During the repression under the terms of the Anti-Socialist Laws, Bebel became the leading figure of the social democratic movement in Germany and from 1892 until his death served as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Philipp Scheidemann German chancellor

Philipp Heinrich Scheidemann was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). On 9 November 1918, in the midst of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, he proclaimed Germany a republic. Later, beginning in the early part of the following year, he became the second head of government of the Weimar Republic, acting in this post for 127 days.

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.

First World War, founding of the USPD

In July 1914, he organized the anti-World War I rallies of the SPD and on 31 July and 1 August fought for the SPD to vote in the Reichstag against an increase in war loans. However, he failed to accomplish this due to the opposition of Friedrich Ebert and the faction majority. In the decisive meeting of the SPD delegates on 3 August, only Haase and 13 others refused to support the loans. Bowing to party discipline, Haase then voted for the loans in the Reichstag and, as chairman, had to defend the SPD vote in the session of 4 August. [3] [1] It was Haase who read out the party's statement that "we won't abandon the Fatherland in the hour of danger", in response to which the imperial government created its so-called Burgfrieden policy. [4]

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.


Burgfriedenspolitik —literally "castle peace politics" but more accurately a political policy of "party truce" — is a German term used for the political truce the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the other political parties agreed to during World War I. The trade unions refrained from striking, the SPD voted for war credits in the Reichstag and the parties agreed not to criticize the government and its war. There were several reasons for the Burgfrieden politics: the Social Democrats believed it was their patriotic duty to support the government in war; they were afraid of government repression should they protest against the war; they feared living under an autocratic Russian Czar more than the German constitutional monarchy and its Kaiser; and they hoped to achieve political reforms after the war, including the abrogation of the inequitable three-class voting system, by cooperating with the government.

After the collapse of German war plans at the end of 1914, Haase became more and more vocal against the policies of the SPD faction. He was forced to resign as faction leader in 1915. That June, he signed the manifesto Gebot der Stunde which openly opposed the war aims of the government. In March 1916, Haase and 18 other SPD delegates voted against the government's emergency budget. He was forced to resign as party chairman of the SPD. He then founded and led the Sozialdemokratische Arbeitsgemeinschaft. In April 1917, Haase became chairman of the newly founded Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), which split from the so-called "Majority Social Democrats" group and advocated immediate peace negotiations. [3] [1]

USPD Board: Arthur Crispien, Wilhelm Dittmann, Viktor Adler, Richard Lipinski, Wilhelm Bock, Alfred Henke, Eduard Bernstein, Fritz Geyer, Fritz Zubeil, Hugo Haase, Fritz Kunert, Georg Ledebour, Arthur Hagen and Emanuel Wurm USPD-Vorstand.jpg
USPD Board: Arthur Crispien, Wilhelm Dittmann, Viktor Adler, Richard Lipinski, Wilhelm Bock, Alfred Henke, Eduard Bernstein, Fritz Geyer, Fritz Zubeil, Hugo Haase, Fritz Kunert, Georg Ledebour, Arthur Hagen and Emanuel Wurm
Tomb of Hugo Haase in Berlin. B-Friedrichsfelde Zentralfriedhof 03-2015 img12 Hugo Haase.jpg
Tomb of Hugo Haase in Berlin.

German revolution, Council of the People's Deputies and 1919

In the course of the German Revolution in November 1918, along with the majority Social Democrats' leader Ebert, Haase became joint chairman of the provisional government, the Council of the People's Deputies. Haase thus distanced himself from those in the USPD who were seeking to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat through powerful soldiers' and workers' councils. [3]

After the Council led by Ebert ordered the bloody suppression of the revolutionary Volksmarinedivision during Christmas 1918, Haase and the two other USPD representatives Wilhelm Dittman and Emil Barth left the government on 29 December in protest. [3]

Even then, Haase supported continued cooperation with the SPD and was in favour of elections to the Weimar National Assembly—both views not universally popular in his party where many preferred a council-based republic. [1] After the founding of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) in late 1918/early 1919, Haase argued in favour of a reunification between USPD and majority SPD. [3]

Notwithstanding this position, many in the majority SPD loathed him. This was mainly due to the fact that the USPD's very existence provided a political alternative to the left of the SPD, which was particularly attractive to many workers. In order to retain the support of the revolutionary masses, the SPD leadership thus was forced to steer a more leftist course than they would otherwise have chosen if left to their own devices. It also made their job of feeding the population, keeping up law and order and decommissioning the huge war-time army whilst replacing the Empire with a republic harder by threatening to antagonize the mostly conservative civil service and, in particular, the leadership of the military. [1]

The Haase-led USPD only achieved a disappointing 7% of the vote for the National Assembly on 19 January 1919.


On 8 October 1919, immediately prior to his death Haase was walking into the Reichstag with the intention of exposing an alliance between Ebert and Rüdiger Von der Goltz, a Freikorps general active in the Baltic. He was shot by Johann Voss as he entered the building. Voss was declared insane within two days and committed to a mental asylum. Some left wing activists suggested that he was a paid assassin. [5] Haase was severely injured and died on 7 November. [3] A memorial meeting held on Saturday 10 November was raided by the Haase is buried on the Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde in Berlin.

Hugo Haase had been married to Thea (née Lichtenstein) with whom he had a son. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Biografie Hugo Haase(German)". Bayerische Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  2. Tucker, Spencer; Roberts, Priscilla Mary (2005). Encyclopedia of World War I. p. 529.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Biografie Hugo Haase (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  4. "The Socialists Support the War". August 4, 1914.
  5. "Infected Wounds Kill Hugo Haase" (PDF). The Communist World. 1 (3). 15 November 1919. Retrieved 4 December 2017.