Franz von Papen
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen, Erbsälzer zu Werl und Neuwerk (Template:IPA-de; 29 October 1879Template:Spaced ndash2 May 1969) was a German conservative politician, diplomat, Prussian nobleman and General Staff officer. He served as the chancellor of Germany in 1932, and then as the vice-chancellor under Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1934.
Born into a wealthy family of Westphalian Catholic aristocrats, Papen served in the Prussian Army from 1898 onward and was trained as a German General Staff officer. He served as military attaché in Mexico and the United States from 1913 to 1915, organising acts of sabotage in the United States and financing Mexican forces in the Mexican Revolution.
After being expelled from the United States in 1915, he served as a battalion commander on the Western Front of World War I and finished his war service in the Middle Eastern theatre as a lieutenant colonel.
Appointed chancellor in 1932 by President Paul von Hindenburg, Papen ruled by presidential decree. He negotiated the end of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. He launched the Preußenschlag coup against the Social Democratic government of the Free State of Prussia. His failure to secure a base of support in the Reichstag led to his dismissal by Hindenburg and replacement by General Kurt von Schleicher.
Determined to return to power, Papen, believing that Adolf Hitler could be controlled once he was in the government, persuaded Hindenburg into appointing Hitler as chancellor and Papen as vice-chancellor in 1933 in a cabinet ostensibly not under Nazi Party domination. With military dictatorship the only alternative to Nazi rule, Hindenburg consented. Papen and his allies were quickly marginalized by Hitler and he left the government after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, during which the Nazis killed some of his confidants. Subsequently, Papen served as an ambassador of Germany in Vienna from 1934 to 1938 and in Ankara from 1939 to 1944.
After the Second World War, Papen was indicted in the Nuremberg trials of war criminals before the International Military Tribunal but was acquitted of all charges. In 1947, a West German denazification court found Papen to have acted as the main culprit in crimes relating to the Nazi government. Papen was given an eight-year hard labour prison sentence but released on appeal in 1949. Papen's memoirs were published in 1952 and 1953, and he died in 1969.