Wirth, Karl Joseph

Wirth, Karl Joseph

(kärl yō`zĕf vĭrt), 1879–1956, German statesman. A leader of the Catholic Center party, he succeeded (1920) Matthias Erzberger as minister of finance. In 1921, Wirth became chancellor, pledging the fulfillment of World War I treaty obligations. With Walter RathenauRathenau, Walther
, 1867–1922, German industrialist, social theorist, and statesman. Son of Emil Rathenau (1838–1915), founder of the German public utilities company Allgemeine Elektrizitätsgesellschaft (A.E.G.
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 he represented Germany at the Genoa reparations conference of 1922 and while there signed the Treaty of Rapallo with the Soviet Union. Currency inflation caused the fall of the Wirth ministry in Nov., 1922, but Wirth later held cabinet posts. He fled Germany in 1933, returned to West Germany after World War II, and favored a neutral, reunified Germany. Increasingly pro-Soviet, he received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1955.

Wirth, Karl Joseph

 

Born Sept. 6, 1879, in Freiburg; died there Jan. 3, 1956. German politician and statesman.

Born into a petit bourgeois family, Wirth graduated from the university in Freiburg. He was the leader of the left wing of the Catholic Center Party and deputy to the Reichstag (1914-18 and 1920-33). From May 1921 to November 1922, Wirth was chancellor and later both chancellor and minister of foreign affairs. The Wirth government signed the Soviet-German Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. He was minister of the interior during 1930-31. Wirth lived in emigration from 1933 to 1948. In 1953, while living in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), he founded and became the leader of the Union of Germans, which fights for unity, peace, and freedom. Wirth opposed the revival of militarism in the FRG and advocated the establishment of friendly relations with the USSR. In 1952 he became a member of the World Peace Council. Wirth received the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Between Nations (1955).

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