Sollmann, Wilhelm

   politician and journalist; one of the SPD s pragmatists, he regularly sponsored collaboration with the moderate bour-geois parties. Born to a middle-class home in the village of Oberlind, near Coburg, he completed a business apprenticeship in Cologne and attended the local Handelshochschule. In 1907, soon after joining the SPD, he founded a youth group, Freie Jugend Köln. Shifting his attention to journalism, he joined the staff of the Rheinische Zeitung in 1911 and remained at the newspaper* (with a one-year interruption) until 1933—from 1920 as editor-in-chief. Mean-while, he entered the Reichstag* in 1914 via by-election and became chairman of the Cologne SPD in 1915.
   An adherent of Germany s war effort, Sollmann served on Cologne s city council during 1915-1923. He helped Konrad Adenauer* moderate the temper of Cologne s Workers and Soldiers Council* during the Armistice* and was elected to the National Assembly* in January 1919. In the wake of the March 1920 Kapp* Putsch he championed the embattled Defense Minister, Gustav Noske*; he then declined the proffered Defense portfolio. Founding the journal Sozialdemokratischer Pressedienst in 1920, he encouraged socialist debate on defense and other issues. With Noske and Otto Braun,* he led a minority of prominent SPD leaders who sought to foster trust with the Reichswehr.*
   Sollmann developed considerable expertise in the areas of defense, education, and foreign affairs. He opposed Rhenish separatism in the early 1920s, promoted a Great Coalition* in the crisis year of 1923, and served during August-No-vember 1923 as Interior Minister under Gustav Stresemann,* but he was foiled in his effort at resolving the crisis with Saxony.* For the balance of the Weimar era he worked to broaden the base of support for the Republic and challenged the SPD to extend its appeal beyond the working classes. With deputies from other parties, he served on the Arbeitsausschuss Deutscher Verbände (Action Committee of German Associations) and the Interparlamentarische Union (In-ter-Parliamentary Union).
   An outspoken critic of the NSDAP (he maligned Joseph Goebbels* in the Reichstag), Sollmann was savagely beaten by Nazis on 9 March 1933. In May he fled to the Saar,* where he founded and edited Deutsche Freiheit. He moved to Luxemburg in February 1935 and then emigrated to the United States in January 1937. The Quakers secured him a position at Swarthmore.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Harold Gordon, Reichswehr; Kühn, Wilhelm Sollmann; Schumacher, M.d.R.

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

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