Reuter, Ernst

(1889-1953)
   socialist politician; served briefly in 1921 as the KPD's General Secretary. Born in the Schleswig village of Apenrade to a Prussian official, he pursued history and classical studies until his father dis-owned him and terminated his support for joining the SPD. Although he com-pleted state civil-service* exams in 1912, he declined a state position in favor of teaching at the SPD's Party School in Berlin.* As business manager for the pacifist Bund Neues Deutschland, he engaged in antiwar activities until he was inducted in March 1915. He was wounded and captured by the Russians in August 1916; his socialist agitation while he was in a labor camp came to Lenin's attention. In May 1918 Lenin named him People's Commissar for the Volga Germans. With Karl Radek, he slipped back into Germany in December 1918 with a letter from Lenin stating that "young Reuter has a brilliant and lucid mind—but is somewhat independent."
   During the Republic's early years Reuter rose rapidly in the KPD hierarchy. As an activist in Upper Silesia* and Berlin (he used the pseudonym "Fries-land") and as leader with Ruth Fischer* of the left wing, he was named to the Zentrale and elected general secretary in August 1921. But he soon altered his posture; within five months his open criticism of the Comintern's intrusion into KPD affairs prompted his removal from all Party offices. As one of those Com-munists who vainly attempted to maintain the KPD's independence, he was expelled from the Party in January 1922. After a brief interval with the USPD he rejoined the SPD in late 1922. He was soon absorbed in municipal politics and was one of Berlin's departmental directors when in 1926 he unified the city's transportation system. Elected Oberburgermeister of Magdeburg in April 1931 and sent to the Reichstag* in July 1932, he was totally committed to the Republic.
   The Nazis abrogated Reuter's Reichstag mandate in June 1933. Arrested the same month, he was in and out of concentration camps until pacifist connections contrived his emigration to London in January 1935. From March 1935 until his return to Germany in 1946, he lived in Turkey, teaching city planning and advising the Turkish Transportation Ministry. In 1947 he was elected Oberbur-germeister of Berlin. Portraying West Berlin as an "island in a red sea," he became a symbol of freedom and democracy during the Berlin Blockade.
   REFERENCES:Angress, Stillborn Revolution; Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Brandt, Ernst Reuter.

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

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