Papen, Franz von

(1879-1969)
   Chancellor; achieved the demise of the Republic by persuading President Hindenburg* to appoint Hitler* Chancellor. Born to a family of Catholic* nobles in the Westphalian village of Werl, he pursued a military career, was commissioned a cavalry lieutenant in 1897, and during 1913-1915 served as military attache to Washington. Forced to leave the United States when he became embroiled in its conflict with Mexico, he served on the Western Front prior to assignment with the Turkish General Staff. In 1919 he resigned his commission to pursue politics. He joined the Center Party* and represented its right wing in the Prussian Landtag during 1920-1928 and 1930-1932. From 1923 he was on the board of Germania, a conservative Cath-olic newspaper.* A popular member of the Herrenklub,* Papen was a prototype of the conservative Weimar politician: willing to accept the Republic, he dis-dained parliamentary democracy.
   The Herrenklub introduced Papen to leading industrialists and Junkers.* With their support—a base that included Kurt von Schleicher*—Papen, until then a nonentity, gained appointment as Chancellor on 1 June 1932. The Herrenklub also furnished his cabinet, dubbed the cabinet of barons." With his power resting on Hindenburg, he rescinded a ban on the Nazi SA* and on 20 July 1932 used a riot in the Hamburg suburb of Altona (see Bloody Sunday") as pretext for deposing the SPD government of Prussia* in an ill-advised effort to neutralize the Nazis. His Preussenschlag (Prussian coup), resulting from his overnight appointment as Prussian Reich Commissioner, provided an unconsti-tutional model for Hitler's forthcoming actions.
   Papen's standing was ruined on 12 September when the Reichstag,* under the presidency of Hermann Goring,* voted 512-12 to censure his government. Although he had achieved a diplomatic success at July's Lausanne Conference,* his reactionary policies failed to allay Germany's internal crisis. Dismissed on 2 December, he immediately sought revenge on Schleicher, his successor and erstwhile sponsor. In a plot hatched at the Herrenklub, he met secretly with Hitler on 4 January 1933 at the home of Cologne banker Kurt von Schroder. The resultant understanding assured his appointment as Vice Chancellor in a Hitler-led cabinet. He retained office until July 1934, when, having narrowly escaped execution in the prior month's Rohm* purge, he joined the diplomatic mission in Vienna. Acquitted at Nuremberg, he was sentenced by a denazifi-cation court to eight years in a labor camp. He was released in 1949.
   REFERENCES:David Abraham, Collapse of the Weimar Republic;Jurgen Bach, Franz von Papen; Dorpalen, Hindenburg; Orlow, Weimar Prussia, 1925-1933; Papen, Mem-oirs; Wheeler-Bennett, Hindenburg.

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

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