Erzberger, Matthias

Erzberger, Matthias

(mätē`äs ĕrts`bĕrgər), 1875–1921, German public official. He was a leader of the left wing of the Catholic Center party in the Reichstag from 1903. Early in World War I, he supported an annexationist policy, but in 1917 he led the fight for the Reichstag peace resolution. He helped build the democratic coalition that pressed for more parliamentary government. He joined (Oct., 1918) the cabinet of Maximilian, prince of BadenMaximilian, prince of Baden
(Max of Baden), 1867–1929, German statesman, last chancellor of imperial Germany. A liberal, he was made imperial chancellor at the end of World War I as Germany neared defeat.
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 and headed the German delegation that signed the armistice. A member of the first republican cabinet under Philipp Scheidemann, he pressed for acceptance of the Treaty of Versailles. When Scheidemann resigned (June, 1919) rather than sign the treaty, Erzberger joined the new cabinet as vice chancellor and finance minister. He introduced drastic reforms, centralizing tax collection and bringing all railroads under national control. His policies were opposed by conservatives and reactionaries, who also despised him for his signing of the humiliating 1918 armistice. When an old rival, former finance minister Karl Helfferich, ruthlessly attacked Erzberger in a pamphlet questioning his competence and veracity, Erzberger sued. When the court found some of the charges libelous but—probably unwarrantedly—sustained others, Erzberger resigned.


See K. Epstein, Matthias Erzberger and the Dilemma of German Democracy (1971).

Erzberger, Matthias


Born Sept. 20, 1875, in Buttenhausen; died Aug. 26, 1921, in Bad Griesbach. German political figure.

A member of the left wing of the Catholic Center Party, Erzberger was first elected to the Reichstag in 1903. At the beginning of World War I, he advocated annexations by Germany. After the victory of the February Revolution of 1917 in Russia he urged the Reichstag to search for a way to end the war. In July of that year he sponsored a “peace resolution.” Erzberger entered the government in October 1918. He headed the German delegation in the armistice negotiations with the Entente. On Nov. 11, 1918, he signed the Compiégne Armistice. In 1919 and 1920 he served as vice-chancellor and minister of finance. Erzberger was assassinated by reactionaries.


In Russian translation:
Germaniia i Antanta: Memuary. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.