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Theodor Heuss

From Academic Kids

Theodor Heuss (January 31, 1884 - December 12, 1963) was a German politician. He was the first person elected to a regular term as President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Theodor Heuss was born in Brackenheim, near Heilbronn. Theodor Heuss studied art history and state studies in Munich and Berlin. He received his doctorate in 1905 in Munich. In 1908 he married Elly Heuss-Knapp (1881-1952), with whom he had a son. After his studies he worked as a political journalist and presided over the magazine Die Hilfe ("The Help") in Berlin, from 1905 until 1912 for Friedrich Naumann. From 1912 to 1918 he was editor in chief of the Neckarzeitung (Neckar Newspaper) in Heilbronn. In Berlin, he worked as editor for the weekly newsletter Deutsche Politik ("German Politics"). In 1910 he joined the Fortschrittliche Volkspartei ("Progressive People's Party"), in which he was engaged until 1918. Between 1923 and 1926 he published the magazine Die Deutsche Nation ("The German Nation"). Heuss became a member of the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP – "German Democratic Party"), the political heir of the Fortschrittliche Volkspartei, in 1918 and was a member of parliament in the Reichstag 1924-1928 and 1930-1933. In 1933, along with his fellow DDP parlamentarians, he gave in to Nazi-orchestrated street pressure and voted in favour of the Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz), granting Adolf Hitler quasi-dictatorial powers. During Hitler's regime he stayed in contact with a network of liberals, leading to contacts with the resistance movement towards the end of the war.

After World War II he was the first Minister of Culture in Württemberg-Baden. In 1946 and 1947 he taught history at the TH (Technical College) Stuttgart. As co-founder of the short-lived Demokratische Volkspartei ("Democratic People's Party") he was a member of the Württemberg-Baden state parliament 1946-1949. In 1948, Heuss was named honorary professor (which is a superior title in Germany) at the TH Stuttgart. On December 12, 1948, he was elected head of West German and Berlin sections of the newly founded Freie Demokratische Partei ("Free Democratic Party"). He advocated uniting all the liberal parties in the Western occupation zones, overcoming the split between right liberals and left liberals that existed in the Weimar Repulic. In 1948 he was a member of the Parliamentary Council (Parlamentarischer Rat) with considerable influence on the Grundgesetz, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.

After being elected to the first German Bundestag, he relinquished his parliamentary mandate on September 12, 1949, when he was elected president, the highest state office, in the Federal Assembly (Bundesversammlung) against Kurt Schumacher. In 1954 he was reelected with no opposition and held office until September 12, 1959. He declined a third term in office however, as this would have necessitated changing the constitution.

Heuss shaped the office of president by his non-partisan governing. As a representative of the democratic-liberal and cultural traditions of Germany, he instated confidence in the German post-war republic in the international community. His state visits contributed greatly to the increase of appreciation toward the still young FRG. He was opposed to re-armament and the founding of the new West German Army in 1955, but had no power to stop it; however his ironical speech at the swearing in of the first new soldiers ("Nun siegt mal schön!", i.e. "Happy war-winning!") is well remembered.

In 1959 he was awarded the prestigous Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels). In 1963, he passed away in Stuttgart.

Since 1964, the Theodor-Heuss-Prize is awarded for exemplary democratic disposition. Heuss' former residence is now open to the public as the Theodor-Heuss-Haus. His image was imprinted on one series of the two-Mark coin.

External links

  • dhm.de (http://www.dhm.de/lemo/html/biografien/HeussTheodor/) - Museum of German History (German)
  • stiftung-heuss-haus.de (http://www.stiftung-heuss-haus.de/) - Foundation Theodor-Heuss-Haus (German)
  • bundespraesident.de (http://www.bundespraesident.de/-,11062/Theodor-Heuss.htm) Office of the President (also English)


Preceded by:
Karl Arnold as Acting President
President of Germany
1949-1959
Succeeded by:
Heinrich Lübke


de:Theodor Heuss fr:Theodor Heuss ja:テオドール・ホイス nl:Theodor Heuss nds:Theodor Heuss pl:Theodor Heuss sv:Theodor Heuss

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