Dorten, Hans Adam

(1880-1963)
   politician; a separatist leader in the Rhineland.* Born to a wealthy porcelain manufacturer in Bonn, he completed a doctorate in law and, after prolonged studies in England, settled in Duïsseldorf in 1902 as a government solicitor. But given his family's wealth and his own disposition, he came to despise a career that he did not need. Spending consid-erable time with his racing stables and on extended world tours, he was indig-nant at a 1914 promotion that required his relocation to Berlin.*
   Dorten served four years as an artillery officer before being dishonorably discharged for criticizing the Kaiser. The Armistice* saved him from a court-martial and prompted a political career. He emerged from the war with a hatred for anything Prussian, and his meeting in December 1918 with a group of Duïs-seldorf industrialists convinced him to dedicate his energies to Rhenish inde-pendence. Unable to win Konrad Adenauer,* the Rhineland's most important politician, to his cause, he cultivated a mutually unreliable relationship with the French. He proclaimed "an autonomous Rhenish Republic in federation with the Reich" on 1 June 1919, but the ill-timed venture failed to attract mass local support, and the French government, fully engaged at Versailles, disavowed it.
   Dorten was not easily defeated. In June 1920 he founded the Rheinische Volksvereinigung (Rhenish People's Union) and established two newspapers,* the Rheinischer Herold and the Rheinische Warte, as propaganda tools. But his efforts once again miscarried when in 1922 the German press revealed that he had rushed to Paris upon Raymond Poincare's inauguration as Premier; with some justice, Dorten was identified as an agent of the French and Belgian au-thorities.
   The year 1923, when Volksvereinigung membership reached a high of 20,000, was rich in opportunity for Dorten. With the Rhineland still occupied, France and Belgium invaded the Ruhr. As 1923 progressed, inflation* became hyper-bolic, the states of Saxony* and Thuringia* became radicalized, and Bavaria's* experiment with dictatorship culminated in the Beerhall Putsch.* Cursed by perpetual crisis, Berlin was ill equipped to counter separatist activities. Yet Dor-ten's Aachen coup of 21 October 1923 proved to be his swan song. Poor plan-ning, mistrust between France and Belgium, and infighting among the separatists—Dorten's leadership was challenged by Friedrich Matthes—all conspired to defeat him. Failure was ultimately owed, however, to the Rhine-landers; separatism commanded little respect among either city officials or the population at large. On 1 January 1924 Dorten fled to his villa in Nice. Taking French citizenship, he worked thereafter as a business consultant.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; McDougall, France's Rhine-land Diplomacy.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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