Spahn, Martin

(1875-1945)
   politician and historian; best known for his dramatic 1921 rupture with the Center Party.* Born in the town of Marienburg (now Poland s* Malbork) to Peter Spahn, a high-ranking Catholic* politician, Martin studied history and earned a doctorate in 1896. He completed his Ha-bilitation in 1898 and profited in 1901 from efforts to create religious parity in academic life by being appointed full professor of political science at Strassburg. A member of Strassburg's city council during 1908-1918, he was also chairman of the council s Center faction from 1912 (he became chairman of Alsace s Party in 1909). During 1910-1912 he was in the Reichstag.*
   A monarchist who believed that Catholics should come to terms with Bis-marck s Reich, Spahn was already a critic of his Party s leftist orientation during World War I. Since the war sharpened his nationalism, he attacked the Center in 1919 when it entered into coalition with the SPD; his alienation was increased by its support for the Weimar Constitution.* In the summer of 1920 Maximilian Pfeiffer, a member of the Reichstag faction, wrote that while the "father sits in all of the commissions and in all of the leading positions of the faction in spite of considerable physical weakness, his son and his son-in-law [Karl Gorres] abuse us. Indeed, both son and son-in-law polemicized incessantly against a Party for which Peter Spahn had labored for decades. Just after the August 1921 murder of Matthias Erzberger,* Martin moved his membership to the DNVP. Returned to the Reichstag in May 1924, he sat in opposition to his father, who died in August 1925.
   Meanwhile, Spahn left Strassburg at the end of the war and, with Konrad Adenauer s* help, gained appointment at Cologne s new university. But politics led him to Berlin,* where in 1922 he led a new academic institution (the Pol-itisches Kolleg) sponsored by Alfred Hugenberg.* His decision aroused a storm among many who claimed that in time of crisis he abandoned both his Party and the Rhineland.*
   With Gorres, who also joined the DNVP, Spahn formed the Party's Catholic Committee. For the balance of the decade he worked to draw the Center away from the DDP and the SPD. His rebuke of the Center for promoting secular education in coalition with the SPD—Spahn labeled the endeavor a "brutal attack by world Jewry —induced the Center to reexamine its political ties and seek a new alliance with the DNVP (see School Bill). Yet after Hugenberg became DNVP chairman in October 1928, Spahn was increasingly disillusioned. In 1929 he defied Hugenberg's opposition to the Young Plan,* and in 1930 he almost delivered the Catholic Committee to the new Conservative People s Party.* Upon the DNVP's dissolution he joined the NSDAP. He returned to the University of Cologne in 1933 and was a Nazi until the end of World War II, dying within days of Germany s surrender.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Clemens, Martin Spahn; Ellen Evans, German Center Party; Neubach, "Peter Spahn."

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

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