Bauer, Gustav

(1870-1944)
   politician; led the coalition that signed the Versailles Treaty* and accepted the Constitution.* Born in the East Prussian village of Darkehmen, he worked in his youth as an attorney's aide in Konigs-berg. A troubled experience, Bauer was politicized by the work and in 1895 founded the Union of Office Employees. He directed the Berlin-based Central Workers Secretariat of Free Trade Unions from 1903; in 1908 he became Vice Chairman of the General Commission of German Trade Unions, a position he retained until 1918. A lifelong Social Democrat, he entered the Reichstag* in 1912. During World War I he served with the chamber's advisory council to the Food Office. In October 1918 Prinz Max* von Baden named him State Secretary for Labor.
   After his election to the National Assembly,* Bauer joined Philipp Scheide-mann's* cabinet as Labor Minister. To address the demands of the Workers' Councils,* he established a National Economic Council* and proposed intro-duction of the Factory Council Law.* When Scheidemann resigned in June 1919 rather than accept the Versailles Treaty, Bauer became Prime Minister. His gov-ernment witnessed three key events: (1) signature of the treaty on 28 June 1919; (2) acceptance of the Constitution on 11 August 1919 (thereby reintroducing the titles "Chancellor" and "Reichstag"); and (3) the abortive Kapp* Putsch of March 1920.
   Bauer's cabinet survived until 27 March 1920, when repercussions from the Kapp Putsch caused its collapse. He was Hermann Müller's* first Treasury Min-ister and then became Joseph Wirth's* Vice Chancellor. A personal connection with the accused in the 1925 trial of Julius Barmat* led to his suspension from the SPD; rehabilitation followed at the same year's annual Party meeting. Throughout the turmoil of war and revolutionary unrest his pragmatism con-vinced him that the SPD should lead in coalition with the middle-class parties. Retiring from politics in 1928, he resided thereafter chiefly in Berlin* (the NSDAP briefly imprisoned him in 1933).
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Breitman, German Socialism; ADB, vol. 1.

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

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