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Franz Von Papen

(b. 1879)


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(b. Werl, 29 Oct. 1879; d. Obersasbach, 2 May 1969)

German; Chancellor of Germany 1932, ambassador to Austria 1934–8, and to Turkey 1938–44 Born into a wealthy, aristocratic family Von Papen chose a military career, being promoted to captain and posted to the general staff in 1913. During the First World War he served in the German embassies in Mexico and Washington, where he was expelled for spying activities. With the rank of lieutenant-general he was then sent to Palestine to help Germany's ally Turkey. After the war he resigned from the army and took up politics. Although a member of the Catholic Centre Party he remained a monarchist and right-wing nationalist.

His links with industry and the military secured his appointment as German Chancellor on 1 June 1932. Totally unrepresentative of parliament, his government could only be a stop-gap. It lost a vote of confidence proposed by the Communists and supported by the Nazis. After the election of 6 November 1932 Von Papen's government fell and was eventually replaced by Hitler on 30 January 1933. Von Papen agreed to serve as Deputy Chancellor in Hitler's first government, in which the Nazis were in a minority. Thus he gave respectability to Hitler in Germany's ruling circles. Hitler was able to outmanœuvre him at every turn and, when some of his closest associates were murdered in the Nazi blood purges of June 1934, he continued to serve. By 1936 he was banished as ambassador to Austria where he paved the way for its eventual takeover by Germany. From April 1939 he served as ambassador to Turkey.

Although Von Papen was acquitted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946, he had played a decisive part in the rise of Hitler and remained identified with his regime to the end.

Subjects: Social sciencesPolitics


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