Held, Heinrich

(1868-1938)
   politician and journalist; Bavaria's* Prime Minister during 1924-1933. Born to a music* director in the Hessen town of Erbach, he grew up in a devoutly Catholic* and anti-Prussian home. Intending to become a violinist, he began postsecondary studies at a conservatory, but he soon switched to law and, transferring to Strassburg, completed legal exams in 1894. Still dissatisfied, he resolved in 1897 to follow journalism. In 1899 he was named editor of the Regensburger Morgenblatt, eventually becoming part owner in 1906 through marriage. His popularity led to appointment as city attorney in 1908, a major step in a city governed by Protestants.* A champion of the Christian workers' movement, he was elected to the Landtag in 1907, a seat he retained until 1933. Representing the Center Party,* he developed bud-getary expertise and served from 1911 on the Finance Committee. In 1914 he became faction chairman. World War I softened his Catholic biases as he joined the chorus for far-reaching annexations and agitated for incorporation of Alsace-Lorraine* into Bavaria.
   During the November Revolution,* which traumatized him, Held helped found the BVP. Although he became the Party's Landtag faction leader, he suffered a nervous breakdown early in 1919. Because he was forced to abstain from politics, Georg Heim* (Held's mentor) consolidated his position as Party leader. Not a born Bavarian (his detractors dubbed him Hessen Held), he used the Regensburger Anzeiger (formerly the Morgenblatt) to consolidate his po-litical base. In 1921, after he replaced Heim as BVP chairman, he became pres-ident of the Frankfurt-based Catholic Assembly. Less complaisant than many colleagues about the Bavarian-based Vaterlandische Verbande, he broke with Party colleague Gustav von Kahr* in 1923 over the state's position vis-a-vis the NSDAP.
   Supported by the DNVP (the Bayerische Mittelpartei in Bavaria until 1924), the DVP, the Bavarian Peasants' League, and his own Party, Held replaced Eugen von Knilling* as Prime Minister in May 1924. Thereafter, until Hitler* became Chancellor, he was Bavaria's leading figure; the BVP ran him unsuc-cessfully for Reichspräsident in 1925. Forced to shed his once-radical particu-larism, he became an unlikely symbol of moderation. Yet he managed to provoke occasional problems: for example, in a February 1926 speech before the Landtag, he spawned a minor incident by demanding self-determination for Germans in South Tirol. His evenhanded opposition to fanaticism and his ability to compromise on governing issues were crucial in consolidating Bavaria during his years as Prime Minister. Under his leadership Bavaria regulated its economic and cultural development, and he actively engaged in negotiations to establish relations between Berlin* and Rome. In national debates over constitutional centralization, Held, without compromising his loyalty to Germany, championed a federalistic structure. From August 1930, when his cabinet no longer com-manded a parliamentary majority, he retained his post as a caretaker manager.
   Through Franz von Papen's* Prussian coup and Hitler's seizure of power, Bavaria's pseudoautonomous position ended. Although Held was a monarchist, he chose not to join efforts to restore the Wittelsbach monarchy as a means of checking Nazi designs on Bavaria. When Hitler named Franz von Epp* Bavarian State Commissioner on 8 March 1933, Held went to Switzerland to announce his resignation. He eventually returned to Regensburg.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Ellen Evans, German Center Party; Garnett, Lion, Eagle, and Swastika; Harold Gordon, Hitler; NDB, vol. 8; Schön-hoven, "Heinrich Held."

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

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