Kapp, Wolfgang

(1858-1922)
   bureaucrat and politician; famous for his role in the Kapp Putsch of March 1920. He was born in New York. His father was a journalist and historian who, after participating in the 1848 revolution, emigrated to America. Returning to Germany when Wolfgang was thirteen, Friedrich Kapp served as a liberal member of the Reichstag.* After Wolfgang earned his doctorate in law, he completed state exams and was appointed to the Finance Ministry. Proprietor of an estate near Konigsberg, and Landrat in Guben from 1891 to 1900, he became counselor in 1900 with Prussia's* Agriculture Ministry. Upon election in 1906 as Generaldirektor of the East Prussian Cham-ber (Landschaft), he left the civil service.
   Politically, Kapp was his father's opposite. Before and during World War I he opposed the foreign and agricultural policies of Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg. A rabid nationalist, he responded to the Reichstag's Peace Resolution of 1917 by founding, with Alfred von Tirpitz,* the Fatherland Party. While serving as the Party's cochairman, he held a Conservative seat in the Reichstag.
   Prompted by the Kaiserreich's collapse and the Polish threat to eastern Ger-many, Kapp joined the DNVP and, with like-minded individuals (e.g., Erich Ludendorff,* Colonel Max Bauer, and Waldemar Pabst*), formed the Nationale Vereinigung (National Union) in October 1919. He was dedicated to removal of the Republic and creation of a conservative dictatorship, but his groundwork was far from complete when on 13 March 1920 Walther von Lüttwitz* person-ally activated a putsch, ordered Freikorps* units into Berlin,* and designated Kapp the new Chancellor. The legal government fled to Stuttgart.
   Because of insufficient preparations, the putschists failed to secure the support of Berlin's bureaucracy, including the Reichsbank, and were greeted on 14 March by a general strike that doomed the action. Kapp resigned on 17 March and, with imprisonment threatening, fled to Sweden. When the 1922 trial of Traugott von Jagow, Kapp's Interior Minister, fostered the view that the putsch-ists had acted only as patriotic Germans, Kapp came home. Seriously ill with cancer, he surrendered to the Supreme Court and died before his case was de-cided.
   As aftermath to the foiled putsch, Germany's internal politics were polarized: the Right became more adamant in its disapproval of the Republic, while the Left demanded resumption of the November Revolution.* The uprising in the Ruhr of a so-called Red Army, a by-product of the putsch, compelled the hapless government to rely on the same Freikorps units that had just tried to displace it. German voters discerned the impairment of purpose. When elections were held in June 1920, the Weimar Coalition* lost its majority; it would never re-gain it.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Feldman, "Big Business"; NDB, vol. 11.

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

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