Wilhelm Marx

Last updated
Wilhelm Marx
Reichskanzler Wilhelm Marx (cropped).jpg
Chancellor of Germany
(Weimar Republic)
In office
17 May 1926 12 June 1928
President Paul von Hindenburg
Deputy Oskar Hergt
Preceded by Hans Luther
Succeeded by Hermann Müller
In office
30 November 1923 15 January 1925
President Friedrich Ebert
Deputy Karl Jarres
Preceded by Gustav Stresemann
Succeeded by Hans Luther
Minister President of Prussia
In office
18 February 1925 6 April 1925
Preceded by Otto Braun
Succeeded by Otto Braun
Personal details
Born(1863-01-15)15 January 1863
Cologne, Germany
Died5 August 1946(1946-08-05) (aged 83)
Bonn, Germany
Political party Centre
Spouse(s)Johanna Verkoyen
Occupation Lawyer

Wilhelm Marx (15 January 1863 – 5 August 1946) was a German lawyer, Catholic politician and a member of the Centre Party. He was Chancellor of Germany twice, from 1923 to 1925 and again from 1926 to 1928, and he also served briefly as Minister President of Prussia in 1925, during the Weimar Republic. With a total of 3 years, 73 days, he was the longest-serving Chancellor during the Weimar Republic (when adding both of his terms; Heinrich Brüning had the longest continuous tenure with 2 years, 61 days, slightly longer than Marx' first term).

Centre Party (Germany) Catholic political party in Germany

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.

Chancellor of Germany Head of government of Germany

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.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.


Early life

He was born in 1863 in Cologne to Johann Marx, the rector of a Catholic school (1822-1882) and his wife, Gertrude (1826-1909). He had a sister, Barbara, who later headed the Cologne Ursulines.

Cologne city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Cologne is the largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and its 1 million+ (2016) inhabitants make it the fourth most populous city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. The largest city on the Rhine, it is also the most populous city both of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, which is Germany's largest and one of Europe's major metropolitan areas, and of the Rhineland. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of North Rhine-Westphalia's capital of Düsseldorf and 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Bonn. It is the largest city in the Central Franconian and Ripuarian dialect areas.

Ursulines religious institutes of the Catholic Church

The term Ursulines refers to a number of religious institutes of the Catholic Church. The best known group was founded in 1535 at Brescia, Italy, by Angela Merici (1474–1540), for the education of girls and the care of the sick and needy. Their patron saint is Saint Ursula. They are divided into two branches, one being the monastic Order of St. Ursula, among whom the largest group is the Ursulines of the Roman Union, described in this article. The other branch is the Company of St. Ursula, commonly called the "Angelines", who follow the original form of life established by their foundress.

Marx passed his Abitur at the Marzellengymnasium in 1881. He then studied jurisprudence at the University of Bonn from 1881 to 1884. As a student he became a member of Katholischer Studentenverein Arminia Bonn (a part of Kartellverband). [1]

Abitur is a qualification granted by university-preparatory schools in Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia. It is conferred on students who pass their final exams at the end of their secondary education, usually after twelve or thirteen years of schooling. In German, the term Abitur has roots in the archaic word Abiturium, which in turn was derived from the Latin abiturus.

Dreikönigsgymnasium oldest secondary school in Cologne

The Dreikönigsgymnasium is a regular public Gymnasium located in Cologne, Germany. Founded in 1450, it is the oldest school in Cologne and one of the oldest in Germany.

Jurisprudence theoretical study of law, by philosophers and social scientists

Jurisprudence or legal theory is the theoretical study of law. Scholars of jurisprudence seek to explain the nature of law in its most general form and provide a deeper understanding of legal reasoning, legal systems, legal institutions, and the role of law in society.

Marx married Johanna Verkoyen (18711946) in 1891, and they had a total of four children (three sons and a daughter). [1]

In 1888, he passed the Zweite Staatsprüfung for the Prussian civil service and began working as an assessor in Cologne and Waldbröl and later in the land registry in Simmern. In 1894 he became a judge at Elberfeld. In 1904, Marx became Landgerichtsrat at Cologne, in 1907 Oberlandesgerichtsrat at Düsseldorf, in January 1921 Landgerichtspräsident in Limburg an der Lahn and on 27 September 1921 Senatspräsident of the Kammergericht Berlin without the requirement to serve the same day that he was elected president of the Reichstag fraction of the Centre Party. [1]

In some jurisdictions, an assessor is a judge's or magistrate's assistant. This is the historical meaning of this word.

Waldbröl Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Waldbröl is a town in the southern part of the Oberbergischer Kreis, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Simmern Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Simmern is a town of roughly 7,600 inhabitants (2013) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, the district seat of the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis, and the seat of the like-named Verbandsgemeinde. In the Rhineland-Palatinate state development plan, it is set out as a middle centre.

Under the German Empire, dominated by the Protestant Prussia, his religion and political activities were a handicap for his career as a lawyer. [1]

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.

Early political career

Marx started his political activities in Elberfeld, where he became active in the Centre Party. From 1899 to 1918, he was a member of the Abgeordnetenhaus, the lower chamber of the Landtag of Prussia. From 1899 to 1904, he was the head of the Elberfeld Centre Party. From 1906 to 1919, he was the deputy head of the party in the Rhineland. In 1907, he became the chairman of the Düsseldorf Centre Party and in 1910, he presided over the Augsburg Katholikentag . From 1910 to 1918, he was a member of the Reichstag. In 1911, he founded the Katholische Schulorganisation to fight against the secularisation of the German school system. [1]

Marx was elected to the Weimar National Assembly in 1919 and then to the reconstituted Reichstag in 1920, where he remained until 1932. He supported the Reichstag Peace Resolution of 1917 and opposed demands for territorial gains from World War I popular among Rhineland Centrists. Marx also opposed the German Revolution but supported the new Weimar Republic. The Weimar constitution granted Catholics full civil rights, unlike the previous constitution. Marx opposed separatism in the Rhineland and argued against the creation of the Rhenish Republic in December 1918. In the summer of 1919, Marx was one of the few Centre Party members supporting German signature of the Treaty of Versailles, as he feared that failure to do so would result in French annexation of the occupied Rhineland. [1]

After Karl Trimborn  [ de ], Eduard Burlage  [ de ] and Matthias Erzberger died, Marx became the head of the Reichstag fraction of the Centre Party on 27 September 1921 and, on 17 January 1922, party chairman. He supported Chancellor Joseph Wirth in his Erfüllungspolitik which attempted to comply with the Treaty of Versailles, notably the reparation demands of the Allies, as far as possible. Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno received Marx's help in mobilising civil disobedience against the Occupation of the Ruhr. However, Marx then helped to replace Cuno's cabinet with the Grand Coalition headed by Gustav Stresemann. When Stresemann's government fell in November 1923, Marx himself stepped up. [1]


On 30 November 1923, Marx formed a minority cabinet based on the Centre Party, DVP, BVP and DDP. Then, the financial and economic situation of the Reich was dire, and the central government's authority was challenged by right- and left-wing state governments as well as by separatism in the Rhineland. The cabinet's achievements included stabilizing the currency following the introduction of the Rentenmark, fiscal consolidation, the resolution of the conflict between the Reich and Bavaria's right-wing government and de-escalation in the occupied territories. [1]

In January 1924, the Emminger Reform replaced the system of trial by jury in Germany with a mixed system of career and lay judges.

Following the May election, the second Marx cabinet was formed on 3 June 1924. It was once again a minority government, based on parties that did not have an outright Reichstag majority; it lasted until December 1924. Its focus was on relations with the Allies and on regaining control of the occupied territories in the west. In August, the government signed up to the Dawes Plan on reparation payments. After the December Reichstag elections, Marx was unable to form a cabinet and resigned on 15 December 1924. He remained in office as caretaker until 15 January 1925. [1]

In social policy, Marx's first period as Chancellor saw the introduction (in 1924) of family allowances for state employees. [2]

Presidential candidate

In February 1925, Marx became Minister President of Prussia, following a call by the Centre Party in the Landtag. On 18 March, his party nominated him for the presidential election following the death of President Friedrich Ebert. In the first round of voting, Marx was the Centre Party's and, in the second round, the entire Weimar Coalition's candidate. Marx received close to 4 million votes in the first round. However, in the runoff he was defeated by Paul von Hindenburg, as Ernst Thälmann the Communist candidate also stood and split the vote. In addition, the BVP had called on its supporters to vote for Hindenburg.

Marx lost by 13.7 million to Hindenburg's 14.6 million votes. In April, Otto Braun replaced Marx as Minister President. [1] Marx resigned after he had been unable to form a working cabinet. [3]

Again chancellor

Centre party leader Marx at the Reichstag, June 1928. Bundesarchiv Bild 102-06072, Wilhelm Marx.jpg
Centre party leader Marx at the Reichstag, June 1928.

Marx considered leaving politics but on 26 January 1926 he accepted an appointment as Reichsminister der Justiz (Minister of Justice) and Minister for the Occupied Territories, in the second cabinet of Hans Luther. After Luther's government fell, Stresemann suggested Marx as chancellor and Hindenburg appointed him on 17 May 1926. [1]

Marx kept in place Luther's decree on the flag (Flaggenstreik  [ de ]), which had resulted in the previous cabinet's demise. Marx's cabinet unexpectedly survived the referendum on the expropriation of the princes and succeeded in bringing Germany into the League of Nations. Marx also managed to force military commander-in-chief Hans von Seeckt into retirement without provoking resistance by the Reichswehr. He resigned as chancellor on 17 December 1926 over a lost Reichstag vote on the issue of clandestine military relations between the Reichswehr and the Soviet Union. [1]

The Social Democrats, who had brought down the cabinet, thereby ruled themselves out of a role in the next one. In January 1927, Marx formed a new government with participation by the far-right DNVP. This fourth and final Marx cabinet extended the Republikschutzgesetz  [ de ] (including the ban on the former emperor to enter the country), and passed a law on working hours (14 April 1927) as well as the Gesetz über Arbeitsvermittlung und Arbeitslosenversicherung of 16 July 1927 which established a comprehensive unemployment insurance system. [1] The same year, the government sought to standardize locally administered poor relief payments by fixing them in line with the prices of essential goods. The same year, Germany became the first major industrial nation to sign the Washington Agreement for extended maternity leave. [2]

Although the coalition broke up over the issue of the Reichsschulgesetz (school law) and the blame was put on the DVP, it was mostly internal opposition within the Centre Party, notably by Joseph Wirth, Adam Stegerwald, Heinrich Imbusch  [ de ] and Theodor von Guérard that resulted in the cabinet's fall. Marx resigned on 12 June. After putting into action an emergency program, Marx was finally dismissed as chancellor by Hindenburg on 29 June 1928. In total, his four terms in office made him the longest-serving Reichskanzler of the Weimar Republic. [1]

Later life

After the Centre Party's poor performance at the polls in May, Marx eventually also resigned, as party chairman, on 8 December 1928. He then focused on work for numerous associations and civil organisations. In 1932, he resigned his seat in the Reichstag and retired. [1] [3]

During Nazi Germany, Marx was charged in the so-called Volksvereinsprozeß (named after the People's Association for Catholic Germany which he had chaired) in 1933, but the charge against him was dropped in 1935. After the end of World War II, he continued to live in Bonn, where he died in 1946. [1] Marx is buried at the Melaten-Friedhof of Cologne.

Fourth cabinet (January 1927 – June 1928)


Related Research Articles

German Peoples Party German liberal political party

The German People's Party was a national liberal party in Weimar Germany and a successor to the National Liberal Party of the German Empire. A right-wing liberal or conservative-liberal party, its most famous member was Chancellor and Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann, a 1926 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

German National Peoples Party political party

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.

1925 German presidential election presidential election in Germany

Presidential elections were held in Germany on 29 March 1925, with a second round run-off on 26 April. They were the first direct elections to the office of President of the Reich, Germany's head of state during the 1919–33 Weimar Republic. The first President, Friedrich Ebert, who had died on 28 February 1925, had been elected indirectly, by the National Assembly, but the Weimar Constitution required that his successor be elected by the "whole German people". Paul von Hindenburg was elected as the second president of Germany in the second round of voting.

March 1933 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 5 March 1933, after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January and just six days after the Reichstag fire. Nazi stormtroopers had unleashed a widespread campaign of violence against the Communist Party (KPD), left-wingers, trade unionists, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and the Centre Party. They were the last multi-party elections in a unified Germany until 1990.

Harzburg Front political party

The Harzburg Front was a short-lived radical right-wing, anti-democratic political alliance in Weimar Germany, formed in 1931 as an attempt to present a unified opposition to the government of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning. It was a coalition of the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP) under millionaire press-baron Alfred Hugenberg with Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party (NSDAP), the leadership of the Stahlhelm paramilitary veterans' association, the Agricultural League and the Pan-German League organizations.

Karl Jarres German politician (Liberal)

Karl Jarres was a politician of the German People's Party during the Weimar Republic. From 1923 to 1924/1925, he was Minister of the Interior and Vice-Chancellor of Germany. Jarres was also the long-serving mayor of Duisburg from 1914 to 1933. After the Nazis deposed him, he started a career in industry.

Johann Becker was a German lawyer and politician of the German People's Party. From January 1916 to November 1918 he served as finance minister of the Grand Duchy of Hesse. He was elected a member of the Weimar National Assembly in 1919. He continued to serve as a delegate in the Reichstag until 1930. In 1922/1923 he was Minister of Economics, under Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno, during the onset of hyperinflation.

A referendum to expropriate the property of the former ruling houses was held in Germany on 20 June 1926. Although a majority of those who voted voted in favour, the voter turnout of 39% was too low for the proposal to pass into law.

First Müller cabinet cabinet

Cabinet Müller I or the first Cabinet Müller was the third democratically elected government of Germany and the second in office after the Weimar Constitution came into force in August 1919. It was named after the new Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Hermann Müller of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The cabinet was based on the same three centre-left parties as the previous one: the SPD, the German Center Party (Zentrum) and the German Democratic Party (DDP). It was formed in March 1920 after the resignation of the Cabinet Bauer. The Cabinet Müller resigned in reaction to the outcome of the Reichstag elections of 6 June 1920.

Fehrenbach cabinet

The Fehrenbach cabinet was the fourth democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich. It was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Konstantin Fehrenbach and took office on 25 June 1920 when it replaced the First Müller cabinet.

Cuno cabinet

The Cuno cabinet was the seventh democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Wilhelm Cuno and took office on 22 November 1922 when it replaced the Second Wirth cabinet under Joseph Wirth. The Cuno cabinet was forced to resign on 12 August 1923 and was replaced the next day by the first cabinet of Gustav Stresemann.

First Stresemann cabinet

The First Stresemann cabinet was the eighth democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Gustav Stresemann and took office on 13 August 1923 when it replaced the Cuno cabinet under Wilhelm Cuno. The cabinet resigned late on 3 October 1923 and was replaced on 6 October by another cabinet formed by Stresemann.

Second Stresemann cabinet

The Second Stresemann cabinet was the ninth democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Gustav Stresemann and took office on 6 October 1923 when it replaced the First Stresemann cabinet which had resigned on 3 October. Stresemann's second cabinet resigned on 23 November 1923 and was replaced on 30 November by the first cabinet under chancellor Wilhelm Marx.

First Marx cabinet

The First Marx cabinet was the tenth democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Wilhelm Marx and took office on 30 November 1923 when it replaced the Second Stresemann cabinet which had resigned on 23 November. Marx' first cabinet resigned on 26 May 1924 and was replaced on 3 June by another cabinet under his chancellorship.

Second Marx cabinet

The Second Marx cabinet was the 11th democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Wilhelm Marx and took office on 3 June 1924 when it replaced the First Marx cabinet which had resigned on 26 May. Marx' second cabinet resigned on 15 December 1924 and was replaced on 15 January 1925 by a cabinet led by Hans Luther.

First Luther cabinet cabinet

The First Luther cabinet was the 12th democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Hans Luther and was in office for only a year. On 15 January 1925 it replaced the Second Marx cabinet which had resigned on 15 December 1924. Luther resigned with his cabinet on 5 December 1925 following the signature of the Locarno treaties but remained in office as caretaker. He formed another government on 20 January 1926.

Second Luther cabinet

The Second Luther cabinet was the 13th democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Hans Luther and was in office for not quite four months. On 20 January 1926 it replaced the First Luther cabinet which had resigned on 5 December 1925. Luther resigned as chancellor on 13 May 1926. His cabinet remained in office as a caretaker government until 17 May 1926, but was led by Otto Gessler in its final days. On 17 May, Wilhelm Marx formed a new government, virtually unchanged from the second Luther cabinet except for the departure of Luther.

Third Marx cabinet

The Third Marx cabinet was the 14th democratically elected Reichsregierung of the German Reich, during the period in which it is now usually referred to as the Weimar Republic. The cabinet was named after Reichskanzler (chancellor) Wilhelm Marx and was in office for only seven months. On 17 May 1926 it replaced the Second Luther cabinet after the resignation of Hans Luther on 13 May 1926. Marx resigned with his cabinet on 17 December 1926 but remained in office as caretaker. He formed another government on 29 January 1927.

Von Schleicher Cabinet

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.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 "Biografie Wilhelm Marx (German)". Bayerische Nationalbibliothek. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  2. 1 2 Foundations of the Welfare State, 2nd Edition by Pat Thane, published 1996
  3. 1 2 "Biografie Wilhelm Marx (German)". Deutsches Historisches Museum. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
Political offices
Preceded by
Gustav Stresemann
Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Hans Luther
Preceded by
Otto Braun
Prime Minister of Prussia
Succeeded by
Otto Braun
Preceded by
Hans Luther
Chancellor of Germany
Succeeded by
Hermann Müller