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Kurt von Schleicher

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Kurt von Schleicher
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Order: 23rd Chancellor of Germany
Term of Office: December 3, 1932 - January 28, 1933
Predecessor: Franz von Papen
Successor: Adolf Hitler
Date of Birth: 4 April 1882
Date of Death: 30 June 1934
Political Party:
Profession: military officer

Kurt von Schleicher (4 April 188230 June 1934) was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic.

He was born in Brandenburg, the son of a Prussian officer and a shipowner's daughter. He entered the German Army in 1900 as a second lieutenant after graduating from a cadet training school. During World War I he served on the staff of Wilhelm Groener.

During the 1920s, Schleicher moved up steadily in the Reichswehr, or army, becoming the primary liaison between the army and civilian government officials. He generally preferred to operate behind the scenes, planting stories in friendly newspapers and relying on a casual network of informers to find out what other government departments were planning. In this capacity, he headed up the Ministeramt or Office of the Ministerial Affairs. Although essentially a Prussian authoritarian in his views on order, discipline and the so-called decadence of the Weimar era, Schleicher also believed that the Army had a social function, that of an institution unifying the diverse elements in society. Interestingly, he was also opposed to policies such as Eastern Aid (Osthilfe) for the bankrupt East Elbian estates of his fellow Junkers. In economic policy, therefore, he was a relative moderate.

Schleicher became a major figure behind the scenes in the presidential cabinet government of Heinrich Brüning between 1930 and 1932, serving as an aide to General Wilhelm Groener, the Minister of Defence. Eventually, Schleicher, who established a close relationship with President Paul von Hindenburg, came into conflict with Brüning and Groener, and his intrigues were largely responsible for their fall in May of 1932.

Schleicher became Minister of Defence under the new Chancellor, Franz von Papen, whom he had hand-picked. He was not as conservative as Papen, however, as evidenced in a 1932 radio address in which he bluntly announced his unambiguous opposition to either a military dictatorship or a puppet regime to be backed by military force. Eventually, Papen and Schleicher came into conflict, and when, following the November 1932 elections, the government could not maintain a working parliamentary majority, Papen was forced to resign, and Schleicher succeeded him as Chancellor of Germany.

Schleicher hoped to attain a majority in the Reichstag by forming a so-called Querfront, meaning "cross-front," whereby he would unify Germany's fractious special interests around a non-parliamentary, authoritarian but participatory regime. Thus, he reached out to the Social Democratic labor unions, the Christian labour unions and the more left-wing branch of the NSDAP or Nazis, led by Gregor Strasser. Strasser, however, was already losing the internal power struggle with Hitler.

Although Schleicher made some initial progress, he was ultimately rebuffed by both sides. Meanwhile, the ousted Papen now had Hindenburg's ear, because the latter was beginning to have misgivings about Schleicher's "cryptoparliamentarianism" and willingness to work with the SPD, whom the old President despised. Papen was urging the aged President to appoint Hitler as Chancellor in a coalition with the Nationalists the DNVP, or Deutsche Nationalistische Volkspartei, German National People's Party who, together with Papen, would supposedly be able to moderate Nazi excesses. Unbeknownst to Schleicher, Papen was holding secret meetings with both Hitler and Hindenburg, who then refused Schleicher's request for emergency powers and another dissolution of the Reichstag. The President dismissed Schleicher, calling Hitler into power on January 30, 1933.

Schleicher and his wife Elisabeth were murdered during the Night of the Long Knives on June 30, 1934, along with other supposed enemies of the National Socialist regime. His sixteen-year-old stepdaughter was the one who found the bodies.

Schleicher's Cabinet, December 1932 - January 1933

Preceded by:
Wilhelm Groener
Minister of Defence
1932
Succeeded by:
Ferdinand von Bredow
Preceded by:
Franz von Papen
Chancellor of Germany
1932–1933
Succeeded by:
Adolf Hitler
Prime Minister of Prussia
1932–1933
Succeeded by:
Franz von Papen
de:Kurt von Schleicher

es:Kurt von Schleicher nl:Kurt von Schleicher fi:Kurt von Schleicher sv:Kurt von Schleicher

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