Breitscheid, Rudolf

(1874-1944)
   politician; a champion of Gustav Stresemann's* fulfillment policy.* Born to a bookshop clerk in Cologne, he studied economics and earned a doctorate in 1898. The same year he assumed editorial positions for newspapers* in Hamburg and Hanover. Moving to Berlin* in 1905, he was soon elected to Wilmersdorf's governing council and served until 1910 as secretary of the Association for Trade Agreements (Handelsver-tragsverein). When the Liberal Alliance (Freisinnige Vereinigung), which he joined in 1903, adopted a political program advocated by Friedrich Naumann* (a program deemed too "middle class" by Breitscheid), Breitscheid separated from the group and, with Theodor Barth and Hellmut von Gerlach,* founded the Dem-ocratic Alliance (Demokratische Vereinigung). But failing to generate support— he ran unsuccessfully for the Reichstag* in 1912—he joined the SPD. Sym-pathizing with those who split with the SPD during the war to form the USPD, he published the new Party's newspaper, Der Sozialist, during 1917-1923. From 11 November 1918 until 4 February 1919 he was Interior Minister in Prussia's* revolutionary government. Elected to the Reichstag in 1920, he became co-chairman of the SPD faction when the socialist parties reunited in 1922.
   With his friend and colleague Rudolf Hilferding,* Breitscheid was reputed the SPD's strongest intellect. Generally speaking for the Party on foreign-policy issues, he ardently sponsored the Great Coalition* and reconciliation with France. When Germany joined the League of Nations, Stresemann asked him to serve on the League delegation, an assignment he retained until 1930. During 1931-1933 he sat with the SPD's Parteivorstand.
   Breitscheid fled Germany in April 1933, going first to Switzerland and then to Paris. When France was invaded in 1940, he joined Hilferding in Marseilles and there applied for a Swiss visa. The French police released him to the Ge-stapo in February 1941; he died at Buchenwald in an air raid.
   REFERENCES:Deak, Weimar Germany's Left-Wing Intellectuals; NDB, vol. 2; Schu-macher, M.d.R.

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

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