- (1875-1946), politician; cochairman of the USPD. Born in Koïnigsberg, he apprenticed as a painter and dabbled in art studies. After joining the SPD in 1902, he helped edit Konigsberg's Freie Volkszeitung. While serving first as secretary of West Prussia's* SPD (1906-1912) and then as editor of Stuttgart's Schwabische Tagwacht, he became an ardent pacifist. In November 1914, upon siding with Party radicals against the SPD s vote for war credits, he lost his editorial post. Linked with those who eventually formed the Spartacus League,* he also joined a Wuïrttemberg-based movement to split the SPD. In 1915 he began editing Der Sozialdemokrat; convicted in mid-1916 of "political offenses, he served three months in prison and then was inducted into the army.From November 1918 through January 1919 Crispien served Wurttemberg's revolutionary government as Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. But he rapidly diverged from his old Spartacist colleagues. In March 1919, at the USPD's first postwar conference, he became Party cochairman with Hugo Haase* (his election followed Haase's refusal to serve with Ernst Daumig*). Presumed to be a radical, he retained his position while becoming increasingly conservative. Following Haase s death in November 1919, Crispien became a mainstay for the status quo. Yet while he resisted proposals to stage a putsch against the Republic, he remained a critic of the SPD during the regime s early years.After attending the 1920 Comintern Congress in Moscow, Crispien returned an outspoken opponent of Bolshevism. When the USPD voted late in 1920 to join the KPD, he opposed the motion, and the Party split. He remained as cochairman of the rump USPD until the members voted to rejoin the SPD two years later; a popular orator, he was one of three cochairmen of the reunited Party and represented the SPD's left wing in the Reichstag.* His experience with the international labor movement—he sat on the executive of the Socialist (Second) International—and his emphatic pacifism earned him the intense hatred of the nationalistic Right. In grave danger once Hitler became Chancellor, Cris-pien left for Austria* in March 1933 and ultimately emigrated to Switzerland, settling in Bern as a painter.REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Morgan, Socialist Left.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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