Grzesinski, Albert

(1879-1947)
   politician and trade-union* official; served as Berlin's* Police President and Prussia's* Interior Minister. Born in Treptow an der Tollense in Pomerania, he went to Offenbach in 1897 as a metalworker. In 1907 he became secretary of a German Metalworkers' Union (Deutscher Metallarbeiterverband, DMV) local and chairman of the local SPD. By 1913 he led Kassel's Trade Union Cartel. Through energy and ingenuity he built his reputation during the war; when the November Revolution* forced the Kaiser's abdication, he became chairman of Kassel's Workers' and Soldiers' Council.* He remained on Kassel's city council until 1924, but declined offers to serve as Bürgermeister.
   Grzesinski rose to national prominence in December 1918 with election to the Central Council (Zentralrat) of the interim German Socialist Republic. He served throughout 1919-1933 in the Prussian Landtag. As the Defense Ministry official responsible for demobilization, he was a candidate for the Defense port-folio when Gustav Noske* resigned in March 1920; instead, he led the Reichs-abwicklungsamt (demobilization office) until 1921 and then served briefly as a Labor Ministry commissioner. He was appointed chief of the Prussian State Police in 1922, became Berlin's Police President in 1925, and replaced Carl Severing* as Prussian Interior Minister in October 1926. He was an able and energetic minister, but revelations about his private life (while married, he lived with an American actress) forced his resignation in February 1930. He was immediately reinstated as Berlin Police President and he retained the post until Franz von Papen* deposed the Prussian government in July 1932. Especially hated by the NSDAP (he tried to deport Hitler* in 1932 "as an undesirable alien"), he fled to France on 5 March 1933. After working for the French Interior Ministry's Refugee Commission, he emigrated in 1937 to the United States.
   Grzesinski coupled self-confidence and ambition with an instinct for leader-ship. Finding joy in conflict, even within the ranks of his Party, he enjoyed little personal popularity with SPD colleagues. During his years as police commis-sioner he led an internecine war on Berlin's streets with Communists and Nazis; the conflict's growing ferocity did not endear him to republicans. Yet next to Otto Braun,* whom he served and admired, he is deemed among the most commanding SPD officials of the period. Especially significant were his reforms that broke the hold of "old" Prussia in both the Interior Ministry and the Police Commission.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Grzesinski, Inside Germany; Liang, Berlin Police Force; NDB, vol. 7; Orlow, Weimar Prussia, 1925-1933.

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

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