Goerdeler, Carl

(1884-1945)
   politician; Oberburgermeister of Leipzig during 1930-1937. He was born in Schneidemühl (now Poland's* Pila) into a family that had a long history with Prussia s* civil service.* After completing a doctorate in law, he served briefly as a public prosecutor before following a career in municipal administration. In 1912 he became Solingen s chief jurist. He built a reputation for organization during World War I and brought order to the finances of Byelorussia and Lithuania in the wake of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. A devoted monarchist, he briefly left public life after the November Revolution.* During 1919 he vainly attempted to thwart those aspects of the Versailles Treaty* that impacted Danzig* and West Prussia—his home being in the latter area. Because of his distrust of parliamentary democracy, he joined the DNVP in 1922.
   Named Konigsberg's deputy Burgermeister in 1920, Goerdeler devoted his great energy and organizational talent to the city for ten years. Self-confident and noted for an unbounded optimism, he nurtured a special predilection for laissez-faire economics. An outspoken opponent of socialism, he contended that nature established its own economic laws. Political renown seemed assured when on 30 May 1930 he became Leipzig's Oberburgermeister. Among Ger-many s half dozen key cities, Leipzig was economically troubled when he took office. Although his course of strict austerity, which rescued the city from fiscal crisis, failed to endear him to Leipzigers, it was noticed in Berlin.* Judged a potential Chancellor, he was named Price Commissioner in December 1931 by Chancellor Heinrich Brüning,* an appointment that forced his resignation from the anti-Brüning DNVP. Combining social conservatism with economic liber-alism, he argued that Germany s salvation required its abandonment of parlia-mentary democracy. His success as Price Commissioner won him enough national attention that upon the collapse of Brüning's government, Franz von Papen* asked him to join his cabinet as Minister of Labor and Economics. Indignant that the incompetent Papen was appointed Brüning's successor, Goer-deler refused. His aspirations were dashed again when President Hindenburg* chose Kurt von Schleicher* to succeed Papen.
   Goerdeler remained Leipzig's Oberburgermeister until April 1937. Without joining the NSDAP, he was named Price Commissioner in January 1934; he served until July 1935. Initially believing that Hitler* was a good man sur-rounded by deviant followers, he welcomed the March 1933 Enabling Act* as the new government s best course. But while he was an optimist and an enthu-siastic nationalist, he was also a spiritual man of high honor and exacting prin-ciple, characteristics that led him to a key position in the resistance movement. When the opposition s plot came undone, Goerdeler was condemned as a traitor and executed on 2 February 1945. He had been earmarked to serve as Chancellor in a postcoup regime.
   REFERENCES:Balfour, Withstanding Hitler; Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; NDB, vol. 6; Snyder, Hitler's German Enemies.

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

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