- (1868-1953)politician; helped radicalize the DNVP. Born in Alzey, he attended Gymnasium in Mainz before studying law. He completed legal studies in 1895 and founded a law practice in Mainz. Family tra-dition fostered in him a rigid nationalism. After working with the anti-Semitic Deutschbund (German League), he became a leader in 1897 of the Rhineland-Hesse chapter of the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband). Under his growing influence the League evolved a biological anti-Semitism* comparable to that later espoused by Hitler.* In 1908 he became the League's chairman, an office he held until 1939. Class believed in the inevitability of a war in which France played the role of archvillain and England that of treacherous cousin. He used his position to attack the imperial government, and his propaganda brought him into repeated conflicts with the Kaiser's ministers. Among those making sweeping annexation demands once war began, he was a founder of the Fa-therland Party in 1917.During the Republic Class, as editor of the Deutsche Zeitung, encouraged an antidemocratic opposition. He defended both the 1920 Kapp* Putsch and the Beerhall Putsch* of 1923. In July 1925, responding to the DNVP's failure to oppose Gustav Stresemann's* Locarno Treaties,* he began a campaign of public rebuke that helped radicalize the Party. In January 1926 he devised plans for a rebellion that entailed President Hindenburg s* dissolution of the Reichstag* and formation of an authoritarian regency; upon uncovering the plot, Prussia s* Interior Ministry vainly attempted to convict Class for conspiring against the Constitution.* A devotee of Alfred Hugenberg,* Class championed the latter s efforts to replace Kuno von Westarp* as leader of the DNVP; indeed, before Hugenberg seized leadership in 1928, Class lamented that a man with such "ability, objectivity, and training" did not have greater influence. In 1929 he united with Hitler, Hugenberg, and Franz Seldte* (Stahlhelm* leader) in oppo-sition to the Young Plan*; in 1931 he was an influential member of the Harzburg Front.* Although Class entered the Reichstag in 1933 as a Nazi, Hitler suspected both his monarchism* and his ties to Hugenberg; his influence soon dwindled. The Pan-German League was officially dissolved on 13 March 1939.REFERENCES:Chamberlin, "Enemy on the Right"; Leopold, Alfred Hugenberg; NDB, vol. 3; Pulzer, Rise ofPolitical Anti-Semitism.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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