Max (Maximilian), Prinz von Baden

(1867-1929)
   Chancellor; introduced the Kaiserreich's short-lived experiment with parliamentary monar-chy. He was born to Wilhelm von Baden in Baden-Baden. His father, descended from the house of Zahringen, was a Prussian general; his mother, a Leuchten-berg-Romanowsky, was a granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I. In 1907, upon the death of Grossherzog Friedrich von Baden, he became heir to his childless cousin Friedrich II. Gaining a broadly humanistic education, plus a doctorate in jurisprudence, he cultivated intellectual and artistic interests and was a friend of the religious writer Johannes Müller. He was a Prussian officer and retired from the army as a major-general in 1911.
   Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, "Bademax," as his friends called him, was posted to the Fourteenth Army Corps, to which Baden's troops were sub-ordinate. But beset with a weak constitution, he soon came home. In October 1914 he became honorary chairman of Baden's Red Cross. Viewing the position as more than honorific, he dedicated himself to prisoners of war, both within and outside of Germany. He used numerous international connections (Prince von Bülow dubbed him "the ideal diplomat"), especially in Switzerland and with the YMCA, to advance his efforts. He was known for his dignity; the work earned him a degree of respect enjoyed by few Germans. But his esteem had an international, not a domestic, basis. Aloof from the official war policies of Germany, he was an unlikely candidate for Chancellor; indeed, he was little known in Germany. His selection was owed chiefly to Kurt Hahn, a military advisor at the Foreign Office. When Erich Ludendorff* suffered nervous col-lapse on 29 September 1918, Chancellor Georg von Hertling went to the Kaiser and recommended Max as his successor.
   Not entirely to the liking of any party, Prinz Max became Chancellor on 3 October 1918 and led a country on the brink of revolutionary ferment. Yet his approximately five weeks in office were marked by two milestones: first, facing impending defeat, he negotiated a prearmistice agreement with Woodrow Wil-son; second, because of the fragile domestic situation, he gained the Kaiser's consent for systemic changes leading to parliamentary monarchy. Both devel-opments, part of a "revolution from above," were deemed essential to the main-tenance of Germany's monarchy.
   Although Max's accomplishments addressed key concerns among the masses—peace negotiations were opened, the SPD entered a coalition govern-ment, and the constitution of 28 October removed most of the Kaiser's powers— further revolution was not averted. His lack of political instinct was largely to blame: with a prince as Chancellor and a general as War Minister, and with the prohibition of assembly still in effect, he should have energetically publicized his actions. But it was the Naval Command that triggered further change. While Max deliberated with the enemy, the admirals prepared a major operation against the British. When sailors unwilling to abide the admirals' plan revolted in Kiel on 4 November, the November Revolution* was under way. Within hours Work-ers' and Soldiers' Councils* assumed control of German cities. Doubting their right to govern, the authorities simply dissolved. Revolt became revolution when it spread to Berlin* on 9 November, forced the Kaiser's abdication, and led a shaken Max to deliver his office to Friedrich Ebert.
   After his resignation Max left Berlin and, with Hahn, founded Schlossschule Salem, a "prep school" near Lake Constance. Dedicated to the ideals of both men, Salem School sought to educate a new German elite conspicuous for self-control, honesty, and a cosmopolitanism that admitted the good in all human beings. Closed by the Nazis (Hahn was of Jewish ancestry), Salem was reopened in 1946.
   REFERENCES:Bülow, Memoirs; Klaus Epstein, "Wrong Man"; Golo Mann, Reminis-cences and Reflections; Matthias and Morsey, Regierung; Maximilian, Memoirs; NDB, vol. 16.

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

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