Hergt, Oskar

   politician; served as first leader of the DNVP (1918-1924). Born to a businessman in Naumburg in Prussian Saxony, he stud-ied law before joining the Prussian civil service* in 1902. After several years with the Finance Ministry, he became the Abgeordnetenhaus' s budget recorder in 1909, a position he retained for six years. In 1917 he was appointed Prussia s* last royal Finance Minister. Although he had never been a party member, he was named chairman of the new DNVP on 9 December 1918; he entered the National Assembly* in 1919 and remained in the Reichstag* until 1933.
   Hergt envisioned the DNVP as a Christian-conservative coalition that, while appealing to the Junkers,* was not dependent on them. Although he loathed the rabid anti-Semites and removed them from the Party in 1922, he was a mon-archist who opposed parliamentary democracy and the Republic. Yet he rejected the 1920 Kapp* Putsch and aimed to cooperate with the parties of the Weimar Coalition.* In consequence of the DNVP's gains in the May 1924 Reichstag elections, he hoped to bring the DNVP into a coalition government. It was at this juncture—the DNVP, with 106 seats, was the Reichstag s second-largest faction—that he was forced to retire as Party and faction chairman. Although he was personally opposed to the Dawes Plan,* he suspended faction discipline during the Dawes vote to avoid a Party split; a violation of DNVP protocol, the act compelled his resignation on 23 October 1924.
   From January 1927 through June 1928 Hergt was Justice Minister under Wil-helm Marx.* Remarkably, he managed during this interval to convince a ma-jority of his faction to back an extension of the Law for the Protection of the Republic*—a law implicitly barring restoration of the monarchy. When crisis threatened Party unity in 1928, DNVP moderates once again supported Hergt for chairman; however, Alfred Hugenberg,* the candidate of the radical Right, won a narrow victory. Although many prominent moderates soon left the Party, Hergt remained. He retired from politics in 1933 and lived thereafter in Gottin-gen. Despite his Party offices, he was always in the shadow of either Karl Helfferich* or Kuno von Westarp.* He was esteemed for maintaining his in-dependence and moderation among the Party s extremists.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Hertzman, DNVP; Leopold, Alfred Hugenberg; NDB, vol. 8.

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

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