Prince Maximilian of Baden

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Prince Maximilian of Baden
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R04103, Prinz Max von Baden(cropped).jpg
Chancellor of the German Empire
In office
3 October 9 November 1918
Monarch Wilhelm II
Preceded by Georg von Hertling
Succeeded by Friedrich Ebert (as Chancellor of the Weimar Republic)
19th Minister President of Prussia
In office
3 October 9 November 1918
Preceded byGeorg von Hertling
Succeeded byFriedrich Ebert
Foreign minister of Prussia
In office
3 October 9 November 1918
Preceded byGeorg von Hertling
Succeeded byNone
Personal details
Maximilian Alexander Friedrich Wilhelm

(1867-07-10)10 July 1867
Baden-Baden, Grand Duchy of Baden
Died6 November 1929(1929-11-06) (aged 62)
Salem, Germany
Political partyNone
Children Princess Marie Alexandra of Baden
Berthold, Margrave of Baden
Parents Prince William of Baden
Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg

Maximilian, Margrave of Baden (Maximilian Alexander Friedrich Wilhelm; 10 July 1867 – 6 November 1929), [1] also known as Max von Baden, was a German prince and politician. He was heir presumptive to the grand ducal throne of Baden, and in October and November 1918 briefly served as Chancellor of the German Empire. He sued for peace on Germany's behalf at the end of World War I based on U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which included immediately transforming the government into a parliamentary system, by handing over the title of Chancellor to SPD Chairman Friedrich Ebert and unilaterally proclaiming the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II. Both events took place on 9 November 1918, the beginning of the Weimar Republic.

Grand Duchy of Baden grand duchy between 1806 and 1918

The Grand Duchy of Baden was a state in the southwest German Empire on the east bank of the Rhine. It existed between 1806 and 1918.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

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.


Early life

Prince Maximilian (left) with his cousin Victoria of Baden and her husband Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden (later king Gustaf V), Tullgarn Palace, about 1890. Crown princess Victoria of Baden with Max von Baden and crown prince Gustav in the 1890s.jpg
Prince Maximilian (left) with his cousin Victoria of Baden and her husband Crown Prince Gustaf of Sweden (later king Gustaf V), Tullgarn Palace, about 1890.

Born in Baden-Baden on 10 July 1867, Maximilian was a member of the House of Baden, the son of Prince Wilhelm Max (1829–1897), third son of Grand Duke Leopold (1790–1852) and Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg (1841–1914), a granddaughter of Eugène de Beauharnais. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Maximilian de Beauharnais, and bore a resemblance to his cousin, Emperor Napoleon III.

Baden-Baden Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Baden-Baden is a spa town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, south-western Germany, at the north-western border of the Black Forest mountain range on the small river Oos, ten kilometres east of the Rhine, the border with France, and forty kilometres north-east of Strasbourg, France.

Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden Grand Duke of Baden

Leopold succeeded in 1830 as the Grand Duke of Baden, reigning until his death in 1852.

Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg Wife of Prince Wilhelm of Baden

Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg, also known as Princess Maria Romanovskya, Maria, Princess Romanovskaja, Maria Herzogin von Leuchtenberg or Marie Maximiliane was the eldest daughter of Maximilian de Beauharnais, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia. She married Prince Wilhelm of Baden. The couple's son, Prince Maximilian of Baden, was Germany's last Imperial chancellor.

Max received a humanistic education at a Gymnasium secondary school and studied law and cameralism at the Leipzig University. In 1900, he married Princess Marie Louise of Hanover (1879–1948) at Gmunden. [2] [3] Upon the order of Queen Victoria, Prince Max was brought to Darmstadt in the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine as a suitor for Victoria's granddaughter, Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt. Alix was the daughter of Victoria's late daughter, Princess Alice, and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse. Alix quickly rejected Prince Max, as she was in love with Nicholas II, the future Tsar of Russia.[ citation needed ]

Humanities academic disciplines that study human culture

Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social, sciences as well as professional training.

Gymnasium (school) type of school providing advanced secondary education in Europe

A gymnasium is a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, and providing advanced secondary education in some parts of Europe comparable to British grammar schools, sixth form colleges and US preparatory high schools. In its current meaning, it usually refers to secondary schools focused on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Before the 20th century, the system of gymnasiums was a widespread feature of educational system throughout many countries of central, north, eastern, and south Europe.

Law System of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Early military and political career

After finishing his studies, he trained as an officer of the Prussian Army. Following the death of his uncle Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden in 1907, he became heir to the grand-ducal throne of his cousin Frederick II, whose marriage remained childless. [1] He also became president of the Erste Badische Kammer (the upper house of the parliament of Baden). [2] In 1911, Max applied for a military discharge with the rank of a Generalmajor (Major general). [2]

Prussian Army 1701-1871 land warfare branch of Prussias military, primary component and predecessor of the German Army to 1919

The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.

Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden sixth Grand Duke of Baden from 1856 to 1907

Frederick I was the sovereign Grand Duke of Baden, reigning from 1856 to 1907.

Frederick II, Grand Duke of Baden Grand Duke of Baden

Frederick II was the last sovereign Grand Duke of Baden, reigning from 1907 until the abolition of the German monarchies in 1918. The state of Baden originated from the area of the Grand Duchy. In 1951-1952, it became part of the new state of Baden-Württemberg.

World War I

Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he served as a general staff officer at the XIV Corps of the German Army as the representative of the Grand Duke (XIV Corps included the troops from Baden). [2] Shortly afterwards, however, he retired from his position (General der Kavallerie à la suite) as he was dissatisfied with his role in the military and was suffering from ill health. [2]

German General Staff Full-time body at the head of the Prussian Army and German Army

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.

XIV Corps (German Empire)

The XIV Army Corps / XIV AK was a corps level command of the German Army before and during World War I. It was, effectively, also the army of the Grand Duchy of Baden, which, in 1871, had been integrated into the Prussian Army command structure, as had the armies of most German states. Both divisions and the bulk of the corps' support units were from the grand duchy. The corps was established in 1870, after the Siege of Strasbourg.

German Army (German Empire) 1871-1919 land warfare branch of the German military

The Imperial German Army was the unified ground and air force of the German Empire. The term Deutsches Heer is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the Bundeswehr. The German Army was formed after the unification of Germany under Prussian leadership in 1871 and dissolved in 1919, after the defeat of the German Empire in World War I.

In October 1914, he became honorary president of the Baden section of the German Red Cross, thus beginning his work for prisoners-of-war inside and outside Germany in which he made use of his family connections to the Russian and Swedish courts as well as his connections to Switzerland. [2] In 1916, he became honorary president of the German-American support union for prisoners of war within the YMCA world alliance. [2]

The German Red Cross, or the DRK, is the national Red Cross Society in Germany.

YMCA worldwide organization

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), sometimes regionally called the Y, is a worldwide organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with more than 64 million beneficiaries from 120 national associations. It was founded on 6 June 1844 by Sir George Williams in London and aims to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy "body, mind, and spirit".

Due to his liberal stance he came into conflict with the policies of the Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL - Supreme Army Command) supreme command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. He openly spoke against the resumption of the unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, which provoked the declaration of war by the United States Congress on 6 April.

His activity in the interests of prisoners of war, as well as his tolerant, easy-going character gave him a reputation as an urbane personality who kept his distance from the extremes of nationalism and official war enthusiasm in evidence elsewhere at the time. [3] Since he was almost unknown to the public, it was mainly due to Kurt Hahn, who served since spring 1917 in the military office of the Foreign Ministry, that he was later considered for the position of chancellor. Hahn maintained close links with Secretary of State Wilhelm Solf and several Reichstag deputies like Eduard David (SPD) and Conrad Haußmann  [ de ] (FVP). David pushed for Max to be appointed Chancellor in July 1917, after the fall of Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. Max then put himself forward for the position in early September 1918, pointing out his links to the social democrats, but Emperor Wilhelm II turned him down. [3]



After the Oberste Heeresleitung told the government in late September 1918 that the German front was about to collapse and asked for immediate negotiation of an armistice, the cabinet of Chancellor Georg von Hertling resigned on 30 September 1918. Hertling, after consulting Vice-Chancellor Friedrich von Payer (FVP), suggested Prince Max of Baden as his successor to the Emperor. However, it took the additional support of Haußmann, Oberst Hans von Haeften  [ de ] (the liaison between OHL and Foreign Office) and Ludendorff himself, to have Wilhelm II appoint Max as Chancellor of Germany and Minister President of Prussia. [3]

Max was to head a new government based on the majority parties of the Reichstag (SPD, Centre Party and FVP). When Max arrived in Berlin on 1 October he had no idea that he would be asked to approach the Allies about an armistice. Max was horrified and fought against the plan. Moreover, he also admitted openly that he was no politician and that he did not think additional steps towards "parliamentarisation" and democratisation feasible as long as the war continued. Consequently, he did not favour a liberal reform of the constitution. [3] However, Emperor Wilhelm II convinced him to take the post and appointed him on 3 October 1918. The message asking for an armistice went out only on 4 October, not as originally planned on 1 October, hopefully to be accepted by US President Woodrow Wilson. [4] :44

Chancellor Max von Baden and Vice-chancellor Friedrich von Payer (2nd from left) leaving the Reichstag, October 1918 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R04159, Berlin, Deutelmoser, Max v. Baden, v. Radowitz.jpg
Chancellor Max von Baden and Vice-chancellor Friedrich von Payer (2nd from left) leaving the Reichstag, October 1918

In office

Although Max had serious reservations about the conditions under which the OHL was willing to conduct negotiations and tried to interpret Wilson's Fourteen Points in a way most favourable to the German position, [3] he accepted the charge. He appointed a government that for the first time included representatives of the largest party in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, as state secretaries: Philipp Scheidemann and Gustav Bauer. This was following up on an idea of Ludendorff's and former Foreign Secretary Paul von Hintze's (as the representative of the Hertling cabinet) who had agreed on 29 September that the request for an armistice must not come from the old regime, but from one based on the majority parties. [4] :36–37 The official reason for appointing a government that was based on a parliamentary majority was to make it harder for the American president to refuse a peace offer. The need to convince Wilson was also the driving factor behind the move towards "parliamentarisation" that was to make the Chancellor and his government answerable to the Reichstag, as they had not been under the Empire so far. Ludendorff, however, was interested in shifting the blame for the lost war to the politicians and to the Reichstag parties. [4] :33–34

The Allies were cautious, distrusting Max as a member of a ruling family of Germany. These doubts were intensified by the publication of a personal letter Max had written to Prince Alexander zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst in early 1918, in which he had expressed criticism of "parliamentarisation" and his opposition to the Friedensresolution of the Reichstag of July 1917, when a majority had demanded a negotiated peace rather than a peace by victory. [3] President Wilson reacted with reserve to the German initiative and took his time to agree to the request for an armistice, sending three diplomatic notes between 8 October and 23 October. When Ludendorff changed his mind about the armistice and suddenly advocated continued fighting, Max opposed him in a cabinet meeting on 17 October. [4] :50 On 24 October, Ludendorff issued an army order that called Wilson's third note "unacceptable" and called on the troops to fight on. On 25 October, Hindenburg and Ludendorff then ignored explicit instructions by the Chancellor and travelled to Berlin. Max asked for Ludendorff to be dismissed and Wilhelm II agreed. On 26 October, the Emperor told Ludendorff that he had lost his trust. Ludendorff offered his resignation and Wilhelm II accepted. [4] :51

While trying to move towards an armistice, Max von Baden, advised closely by Hahn (who also wrote his speeches), Haußmann and Walter Simons, worked with the representatives of the majority parties in his cabinet (Scheidemann and Bauer for the SPD, Matthias Erzberger, Karl Trimborn  [ de ] and Adolf Gröber  [ de ] for the Centre Party, von Payer and, after 14 October, Haußmann for the FVP). Although some of the initiatives were a result of the notes sent by Wilson, they were also in line with the parties' manifestoes: making the Chancellor, his government and the Prussian Minister of War answerable to parliament (Reichstag and Preußischer Landtag), introducing a more democratic voting system in the place of the Dreiklassenwahlrecht (Three-class franchise) in Prussia, the replacement of the Governor of Alsace-Lorraine with the Mayor of Straßburg, appointing a local deputy from the Centre Party as Secretary of State for Alsace-Lorraine and some other adjustments in government personnel. [3]

Pushed by the social democrats, the government passed a widespread amnesty, under which political prisoners like Karl Liebknecht were released. Under Max von Baden, the bureaucracy, military and political leadership of the old Reich began a cooperation with the leaders of the majority parties and with the individual States of the Reich. This cooperation would have a significant impact on later events during the revolution. [3]

In late October, the Imperial constitution was changed, turning the German Empire into a parliamentary system. However, Wilson's third note seemed to imply that negotiations of an armistice would be dependent on the abdication of Wilhelm II. The government of Chancellor Max von Baden now feared that a military collapse and a socialist revolution at home were becoming likelier with every day that went by. In fact, the government's efforts to secure an armistice were interrupted by the Kiel mutiny which began with events at Wilhelmshaven on 30 October and the outbreak of revolution in Germany in early November. On 1 November, Max wrote to all the ruling Princes of Germany, asking them whether they would approve of an abdication by the Emperor. [3] On 6 November, the Chancellor sent Erzberger to conduct the negotiations with the Allies. Maximilian, seriously ill with Spanish influenza, urged Wilhelm II to abdicate. The Emperor, who had fled from revolutionary Berlin to the Spa headquarters of the OHL, despite similar advice by Hindenburg and Ludendorff's successor Wilhelm Groener of the OHL, was willing to consider abdication only as Emperor, not as King of Prussia. [5]

Revolution and resignation

On 7 November, Max met with Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD, and discussed his plan to go to Spa and convince Wilhelm II to abdicate. He considered installing Prince Eitel Friedrich, Wilhelm's second son, as regent; [4] :76 however, the outbreak of the revolution in Berlin prevented Max from implementing his plan. Ebert decided that to keep control of the socialist uprising the Emperor must abdicate quickly and a new government was required. [4] :77 As the masses gathered in Berlin, at noon on 9 November 1918, Maximilian went ahead and unilaterally announced the abdication, as well as the renunciation of Crown Prince Wilhelm. [4] :86

Shortly thereafter, Ebert appeared in the Reichskanzlei and demanded that the office of government be handed over to him and the SPD, as that was the only way to keep up law and order. In an unconstitutional move, Max resigned and appointed Ebert as his successor. [4] :87 On the same day, Philipp Scheidemann spontaneously proclaimed Germany a republic in order to placate the masses and prevent a socialist revolution. When Maximilian later visited Ebert to say goodbye before leaving Berlin, Ebert – who urgently wanted to keep up the old order, improving it through parliamentary rule, and head a legitimate, not a revolutionary government – asked him to stay on as regent (Reichsverweser). Maximilian refused and, turning his back on politics for good, departed for Baden. [4] :90

Although events had overtaken him during his tenure at the Reichskanzlei and he was not considered a strong Chancellor, Max is seen today as having played a vital role in enabling the transition from the old regime to a democratic government based on the majority parties and the Reichstag. This made the government of Ebert that emerged from the November revolution acceptable to some conservative forces in the bureaucracy and military, which was one of Ebert's strongest aims. They were thus willing to ally themselves with him against the more radical demands by the revolutionaries on the far-left. [3]

Maximilian and Marie Louise with their children, 1914 Maximilian von Baden.jpg
Maximilian and Marie Louise with their children, 1914

Later life and death

Maximilian spent the rest of his life in retirement. He rejected a mandate to the 1919 Weimar National Assembly, offered to him by the German Democratic politician Max Weber. In 1920, together with Kurt Hahn, he established the Schule Schloss Salem boarding school, which was intended to help educate a new German intellectual elite. [2]

Max also published a number of books, assisted by Hahn: Völkerbund und Rechtsfriede (1919), Die moralische Offensive (1921) and Erinnerungen und Dokumente (1927). [3]

In 1928, following the death of Grand Duke Frederick II, who had been deposed in November 1918 when the German monarchies were abolished, Maximilian became head of the House of Zähringen, assuming the dynasty's historical title of Margrave of Baden. He died at Salem on 6 November the following year. [2]


Maximilian was married to Princess Marie Louise of Hanover and Cumberland, eldest daughter of Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover, and Thyra of Denmark, on 10 July 1900 in Gmunden, Austria-Hungary. The couple had two children: [1]

Titles, styles and honours

Titles and styles


Domestic [6] [7] [8]
Foreign [6] [7] [8]


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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Almanach de Gotha. Haus Baden (Maison de Bade). Justus Perthes, Gotha, 1944, p. 18, (French).
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Biografie Prinz Max von Baden (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2013.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Biografie Prinz Max von Baden (German)". Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Haffner, Sebastian (2002). Die deutsche Revolution 1918/19 (German). Kindler. ISBN   3-463-40423-0.
  5. Wilhelm II (1922). The Kaiser's Memoirs. Translated by Thomas R. Ybarra. Harper & Brothers Publishers. pp. 285–91.
  6. 1 2 Rangliste der Königlich Preußischen Armee und des XIII. (Königlich Württembergischen) Armeekorps für 1914. Hrsg.: Kriegsministerium. Ernst Siegfried Mittler & Sohn. Berlin 1914. S. 355.
  7. 1 2 Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Württemberg 1907. S. 30.
  8. 1 2 Lothar Machtan: Prinz Max von Baden: Der letzte Kanzler des Kaisers. Suhrkamp Verlag. Berlin 2013. ISBN   978-3-518-42407-0. S. 246.
  9. "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 463. ISBN   978-87-7674-434-2.
Prince Maximilian of Baden
Born: 10 July 1867 Died: 6 November 1929
Political offices
Preceded by
Georg Graf von Hertling
Chancellor of Germany
Prime Minister of Prussia

3 October – 9 November 1918
Succeeded by
Friedrich Ebert
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Frederick II
Grand Duke of Baden
8 August 1928 – 6 November 1929
Reason for succession failure:
Grand Duchy abolished in 1918
Succeeded by