Heine, Wolfgang

(1861-1944)
   politician; served as Prussia's* Interior Minister during 1919-1920. Born to upper-middle-class circumstances in Posen, he attended private schools before completing Gymnasium in Breslau (now Wroclaw). Following legal studies, he completed state exams in 1883 and be-came a minor judge in Prussia's civil service* the next year. In 1889 he opened a private practice in Berlin,* establishing himself by representing the SPD. He was elected in 1898 to the Reichstag* and retained his mandate until 1918. A right-wing socialist and revisionist, he was among the SPD's leading speakers, forcefully advocating intellectual freedom and judicial equality. He contributed regular articles to the Sozialistische Monatshefte and Berliner Tageblatt.
   On 27 November 1918 Heine became Prussian Justice Minister. He supported the 4 January 1919 dismissal of Berlin police commissioner Emil Eichhorn* (the act that sparked the bloody Spartacist Uprising*) and was named Prussian Interior Minister in March when Paul Hirsch became Prime Minister. With sup-port from Hirsch, he purged 10 percent of the bureaucrats whose monarchist biases discredited the new republic; as it happened, the Landrate remaining in Prussia's eastern provinces presented a serious threat during the Kapp* Putsch. Distrusted by the USPD and the Left of his own Party for rejecting a more thorough purge, he retained his portfolio only until March 1920; Kapp's* un-successful putsch was used by the Left to force his resignation, along with those of Defense Minister Gustav Noske* and Prussian Railway Minister Rudolf Oeser. He served in the National Assembly,* but forsook politics after he failed to retain his seat in the June 1920 Reichstag elections. Wilhelm Groener,* the future Defense Minister, likened him to Friedrich Ebert* and Noske, claiming that he was among the Republic's cleverest men. But opinions varied; Willy Hellpach,* a leading Democrat, maintained that he was "almost like a Prussian officer... self-confident and a bit domineering."
   Although Heine remained close to many in the Prussian government and occasionally advised his successor Carl Severing,* he was chiefly involved with his legal practice. In 1922, as President Ebert's counsel in a Munich-based slander case, he deemed Munich inimical to a fair hearing and advised Ebert to drop charges against a Nazi who had accused him of treason. In March 1933, while vacationing in Italy, he was alerted of impending arrest should he return to Germany; he thereupon emigrated to Switzerland.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Breitman, German Socialism; NDB, vol. 8; Orlow, Weimar Prussia, 1918-1925.

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

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