Müller, Hermann

(1876-1931)
   politician; led the Republic's long-lived Great Coalition.* He was born in Mannheim to a middle-class home; his father was a factory director. He studied business and then clerked for com-mercial firms in Frankfurt and Breslau. In 1893 he joined the SPD; he became editor in 1899 of the Görlitzer Volkszeitung and served on the Görlitz city council in 1903-1906. He relocated to Berlin* in 1906 to join the SPD's Par-teivorstand and served in the Party's Press and Foreign Relations offices. A Party moderate, he reported from Paris when war erupted the considerable sup-port among French workers in favor of war credits; thereafter he had no qualms over supporting SPD policy.
   Müller entered the Reichstag* in 1916. During the revolution he represented the SPD on the Berlin executive of the Workers and Soldiers Councils.* He was elected to the National Assembly* and remained in the Reichstag from June 1920 until his death, serving as faction leader during 1920-1928. Clever and influential, he became Foreign Minister in June 1919 and, with Transportation Minister Johannes Bell of the Center Party,* assumed the burden of signing the Versailles Treaty.* As Chancellor during March-June 1920, he led the last Wei-mar Coalition.* A pragmatist, he believed that socialism was attainable only through compromise with the liberal, middle-class parties. But his reputation was damaged after the Kapp* Putsch when he was irresolute when faced with Communist insurrection in the Ruhr. Atypically, it was Müller who entered the motion of no confidence in November 1923 that toppled the cabinet of Gustav Stresemann.*
   Müller returned as Chancellor in the Great Coalition of June 1928 to March 1930. Buffeted by several frustrating episodes, his government was perpetually spurned by at least one member of his broad-based coalition, including the SPD (Otto Wels,* cochairman of the faction, remarked in January 1930 that the Party and the government should not be confused with one another). The controversial issues that rocked his government included construction of a pocket battleship (permitted by Versailles), reform of reparations* via the Young Plan,* and fund-ing of unemployment insurance in the wake of the depression.* Ultimately, it was the inability of the SPD and the DVP to compromise on a means to finance unemployment insurance that ruined his coalition. Some time before he resigned, Müller (already quite ill) accurately predicted that his cabinet's collapse would end parliamentary democracy in Germany. Hindenburg,* who otherwise loathed the SPD, later claimed that Müller was the best of his Chancellors.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Breitman, German Socialism; Eyck, History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 2; Maurer, Reichsfinanzen.

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

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