Brauns, Heinrich

(1868-1939)
   priest and politician; Labor Minister and promoter of the Christian Labor Movement (Christliche Gewerkschaftsbe-wegung). Born to a Cologne tailor, he studied theology at Bonn and returned to Cologne during 1886-1890 for seminary studies. In 1900, after a decade as a pastor, he turned to social work with the Volksverein fur das katholische Deutschland, a Catholic* group headquartered in München-Gladbach. Dubbed the "red Chaplain, he split his time between social work and studies that led in 1905 to a doctorate in political science. He was soon in charge of the Volks-verein and became a prewar leader of the Catholic labor movement.
   Brauns enjoyed key contacts in the Center Party,* and his political interest was activated by the war. He entered the National Assembly* in 1919 and the Reichstag* in 1920 (he retained his seat until March 1933). Respected for his social convictions, he assumed the Labor Ministry in June 1920 under Kon-stantin Fehrenbach.* Because he was Fehrenbach s third choice for the post, few expected him to retain office for long. But whereas Fehrenbach resigned in 1921, Brauns held his portfolio for eight years. As Chancellors came and went, he became known as "Heinrich the Eternal (Heinrich der Ewige), using his office to advance tenets held as Volksverein leader—among them, greater parity in the workplace. To level class differences, he created factory committees with representatives from labor and management. That his agenda came to naught was due less to his work than to political and economic changes; throughout the thirteen successive cabinets to which he belonged, the environment steadily shifted to the Right. Although he opposed the Center s left wing for fear of binding the Party too closely to the SPD, as a leader of the Volksverein (liqui-dated in 1930), he was widely identified with the Left. Coalition politics forced his replacement in June 1928.
   Brauns soon became chairman of the Reichstag s social policy committee, a responsibility he held until January 1933. Engaged in public speaking from 1928, he focused his lectures on social and political issues. During 1929-1931 he led the German delegation to meetings of the International Workers Confer-ence in Geneva; Heinrich Brüning,* meanwhile, asked him to lead the Com-mission of Investigation into the World Economic Crisis. He refused to run for reelection in March 1933, and his work with the Catholic workers movement was soon proscribed by the NSDAP.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Ellen Evans, "Adam Steger-wald and German Center Party; Mockenhaupt, "Heinrich Brauns ; NDB, vol. 2.

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

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