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Rudolf Wissell (8 March 1869 – 13 December 1962) was a German politician in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). During the Weimar Republic, he held office as the Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister for Labour.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany.
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 in itself have monarchical connotations per se. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.
Rudolf Wissell was born on 8 March 1869 in Göttingen, in the Prussian Province of Hanover. His father was Ludwig Wissel, a helmsman, his mother was Ulrike, née Klimmet. He went to school in Bremen from 1876-83. In 1883, he started an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer. Finishing in 1887, Wissell started to work at a machine builder in Bremen.).
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.
The Province of Hanover was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1868 to 1946.
In 1888, Wissel became a member of the (still illegal) SPD and chairman of the Fachverein der Schlosser und Maschinenbauer (a union). In 1890, he brought the Fachverein into the newly founded Deutscher Metallarbeiter-Verband . From 1891-3, he served in a Prussian Grenadier regiment stationed in Posen. Following military service, Wissell worked as a lathe operator at Kiel and for the Metallarbeiter-Verband from 1893-1901. He also attended courses in law. In 1901, Wissell he became a full-time union functionary as Arbeitersekretär of the unions at Lübeck.
A grenadier was originally a specialized soldier, first established as a distinct role in the mid-to-late 17th century, for the throwing of grenades and sometimes assault operations. At that time grenadiers were chosen from the strongest and largest soldiers. By the 18th century, dedicated grenade throwing of this sort was no longer relevant, but grenadiers were still chosen for being the most physically powerful soldiers and would lead assaults in the field of battle. Grenadiers would also often lead the storming of fortification breaches in siege warfare, although this role was more usually fulfilled by all-arm units of volunteers called forlorn hopes, and might also be fulfilled by sappers or pioneers.
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 249,023 (2016).
Involving himself in social policy, he was a member of the Bürgerschaft, Lübeck's city parliament, from 1905-8. In 1908, he joined the Generalkommission der Gewerkschaften (the central workers' secretariat of trade unions) in Berlin, later becoming head of its social policy department.
The General Commission of German Trade Unions was an umbrella body for German trade unions during the German Empire, from the end of the Anti-Socialist Laws in 1890 up to 1919. In 1919, a successor organisation was named the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, and then in 1949, the current Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund was formed.
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,723,914 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which is, with 6,004,857 (2015) inhabitants and an area of 30,370 square km, Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.
In 1916-8, Wissell worked part-time in the SPD newspaper Vorwärts , as editor for social policy issues.
In March 1918, Wissel was elected to the Reichstag for the electoral district Niederbarnim/"Potsdam 6"; where he belonged to the party's right wing. In the German Revolution, Wissell became Zweiter Vorsitzender (deputy chairman) of the Generalkommission where he opposed the formation of a government based on workers' and soldiers' councils and argued for an agreement with employers. He supported the foundation of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (ADG).
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.
A soviet republic is a republic in which the government is formed of soviets and politics are based on soviet democracy.
One result of his arguments was the conclusion of the Stinnes-Legien Agreement, which meant that the employer's associations for the first time recognised the trade unions as the representatives of the workers.
On 28 December 1918, the three representatives of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) withdrew from the Council of the People's Deputies, the de facto government of Germany, and Wissell along with Gustav Noske became members.
In January 1919, Wissel was elected for the SPD to the National Assembly. One and a half years later, in June 1920, he was elected to the first Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. He was re-elected seven times from 1924 to 1933, and was a member of the German parliament for almost exactly 13 years, from June 1920 to June 1933.
Apart from his work as a member of the Reichstag, Wissell filled various high public offices in the 1920s. From February to July 1919, he was the first Reichswirtschaftsminister (Minister for Economic Affairs) of the republic. In this function in the cabinets of Philipp Scheidemann and Gustav Bauer, he opposed the left-wing councils and worked towards a socially controlled economy for the benefit of the community. When he was unable to convince his party and the government of the merits of this plan, he resigned.
From 1928 to 1930, as Minister of Labour he belonged to the Kabinett der Persönlichkeiten (Cabinet of Personalities) under Hermann Müller. In this position, he opposed all strikes to help overcome the Great Depression.
As a politician engaged in social policy, Wissell was a member of the executive committee of the ADG from 1919 to 1924. From 1924 to 1932, he was also an arbitrator in pay negotiations in Berlin and Brandenburg. In 1929, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Kiel due to his public service.
The important parliamentary activities that Wissell participated in during his time in the Reichstag included the vote on the Enabling Act in March 1933: here, he was one of 94 members who voted against the law that created the legal foundations for the Nazi dictatorship. It was passed by 444 votes to 94.
After the Nazis' rise to power in early 1933, Wissell was expelled from public life, being a prominent Social Democrat. His Reichstag membership was revoked in June 1933. He was also placed under arrest for two months and was under police supervision for another two years. Retired, he then lived a withdrawn life in Berlin until 1945.
After 1945, Wissell worked on rebuilding the SPD in Berlin. He clearly rejected a unification of the SPD and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). In the last years of his life, he received many different honours: in 1949 he became an honorary citizen of Berlin and in 1954 received the Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz (Great Cross of Merit).
Wissell died in West Berlin on 13 December 1962.He was buried in a grave of honour of the Berlin Senate in the graveyard of the Protestant church Zum Heiligen Kreuz in the Berlin district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg.
Today, his name is carried by the Rudolf-Wissell-Brückebetween Charlottenburg und Charlottenburg-Nord, at 960 meters the longest road bridge of Berlin, as well as the Rudolf-Wissell-Siedlung (Rudolf Wissell Settlement) in Staaken, built in the 1970s, and the Rudolf-Wissell-Grundschule (Rudolf Wissell Primary School) in Gesundbrunnen.
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.
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.
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