Brecht, Arnold

(1884-1977)
   bureaucrat; represented Prussia's* de-posed SPD government before the Supreme Court in 1932. He was born in Lübeck, where his father ran the Lübeck-Büchner Railroad Company. During 1902-1905 he studied law and German literature. He completed state judicial exams in 1910 and worked briefly as a judge before accepting appointment with the Justice Ministry. He remained with the ministry until Prinz Max* von Baden transferred him to the Chancellery in 1918. Although Brecht was strictly nonpartisan during the Republic, he was com-mitted to democracy. Appointed director at the Interior Ministry in 1921, he helped draft the Law for the Protection of the Republic* in 1922. His respon-sibilities included preliminary legal work for the 1923 currency reform and efforts at reforming Germany s system of proportional representation. In April 1927, as a State Undersecretary, he was abruptly retired by Interior Minister Walter von Keudell,* a member of the DNVP opposed to his politics. Otto Braun,* Prussian Prime Minister, quickly appointed him ministerial director for his government; the post made him Prussia s representative to the Reichsrat (see Constitution). Thereafter, he focused vainly on converting Germany into a uni-tary state by diverting many Prussian functions to the Reich government while establishing a sharper division between Reich and state responsibilities.
   When Franz von Papen,* acting as Reichskommissar for Prussia, dismissed Braun's government in July 1932, Brecht filed suit with the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court deemed Papen s action unconstitutional, its deci-sion allowed for misinterpretation. On 2 February 1933 Brecht delivered the last free speech in the Reichsrat, reading Hitler* his constitutional duties as Chan-cellor and receiving in turn Hitler's oath of office. Soon dismissed, he eventually accepted appointment with New York s New School for Social Research. After World War II he helped draft West Germany s constitution. Erich Eyck* called him "one of the best of the nation s civil servants.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Brecht, Political Education and Prelude to Silence; Eyck, History ofthe Weimar Republic, vol. 2.

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

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