Born: 29 October 1879 in Germany
Died: 2 May 1969 in Obersasbach, West Germany
Chancellor of Germany 1 June 1932 to 17 December 1932
Vice-Chancellor of Germany 30 January 1933 to 7 August 1934
Minister President of Prussia 20 July 1932 to 3 December 1932
Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was born on 29 October 1879 in Germany and was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, and General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933 to 1934. A member of the Catholic Centre Party until 1932, he was one of the most influential members of the group of close advisers to President Paul von Hindenburg in the late Weimar Republic. It was largely Franz von Papen, believing that Adolf Hitler could be controlled once he was in the government, who persuaded Paul von Hindenburg to put aside his scruples and approve Adolf Hitler as Chancellor in a cabinet not under National Socialist Party domination. However, Franz von Papen and his allies were quickly marginalised by Adolf Hitler and he left the government after the Night of the Long Knives, during which some of his confidants were killed by the Nazis.
Born to a wealthy and noble Roman Catholic family in Werl, Province of Westphalia, son of Friedrich von Papen zu Köningen 1839 to 1906 and wife Anna Laura von Steffens 1852 to 1939, Franz von Papen was educated as an officer, including a period as a military attendant in the Kaiser's Palace, before joining the German General Staff in March 1913. He entered diplomatic service in December 1913 as a military attaché to the German ambassador in the United States. He travelled to Mexico to which he was also accredited in early 1914 and observed the Mexican Revolution, returning to Washington, DC on the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. He married Martha von Boch-Galhau 1880 to 1961 on 3 May 1905.
Franz von Papen was expelled from the United States during World War I for alleged complicity in the planning of sabotage such as blowing up U.S. Rail lines. On 28 December 1915, he was declared persona non grata after his exposure and recalled to Germany. En route, his luggage was confiscated, and 126 check stubs were found showing payments to his agents. Franz von Papen went on to report on American attitudes, to both General Erich von Falkenhayn and Wilhelm II, German Emperor.
In April 1916, a United States federal grand jury issued an indictment against Franz von Papen for a plot to blow up Canada's Welland Canal, which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, but Franz von Papen was then safely home he remained under indictment until he became Chancellor of Germany, at which time the charges were dropped. Later in World War I, Franz von Papen served as an officer first on the Western Front, from 1917 as an officer on the General Staff in the Middle East, and as a major in the Ottoman army in Palestine.
Franz von Papen also served as intermediary between the Irish Volunteers and the German government regarding the purchase and delivery of arms to be used against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916, as well as serving as an intermediary with the Indian nationalists in the Hindu German Conspiracy. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he returned to Germany and left the army at the war's end in 1918.
He entered politics and joined the Catholic Centre Party (Zentrum), in which the monarchist Franz von Papen formed part of the conservative wing. He was a member of the parliament of Prussia from 1921 to 1932.
In the 1925 presidential elections, he surprised his party by supporting the right-wing candidate Paul von Hindenburg over the Centre Party's Wilhelm Marx.
He was a member of the Deutscher Herrenklub (German Gentlemen's Club) of Arthur Moeller van den Bruck.
Chancellor Franz von Papen (left) with his eventual successor, Minister of Defence Kurt von Schleicher On 1 June 1932 he moved from relative obscurity to supreme importance when President Paul von Hindenburg appointed him Chancellor, even though this meant replacing his own party's Heinrich Brüning.
The day before, he had promised party chairman Ludwig Kaas not to accept any appointment. After he broke his pledge, Kaas branded him the Ephialtes of the Centre Party Franz von Papen forestalled being expelled by leaving the party on 3 June 1932.
The French ambassador in Berlin, André François-Poncet, wrote at the time that Franz von Papen's selection by Paul von Hindenburg as chancellor met with incredulity. Franz von Papen, the ambassador continued, enjoyed the peculiarity of being taken seriously by neither his friends nor his enemies. He was reputed to be superficial, blundering, untrue, ambitious, vain, crafty and an intriguer
The cabinet which Franz von Papen formed, with the assistance of General Kurt von Schleicher, was known as the cabinet of barons or as the cabinet of monocles and was widely regarded with ridicule by Germans. Except from the conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), Franz von Papen had practically no support in the Reichstag.
Franz von Papen ruled in an authoritarian manner by launching a coup against the centre-left coalition government of Prussia (the so-called Preußenschlag) and repealing his predecessor's ban on the SA as a way to appease the Nazis, whom he hoped to lure into supporting his government. Riots resulted on the streets of Berlin, as 461 battles between Communists and the SA took place, leading to the deaths of 82 lives on both sides. Berlin was put on military shutdown and von Franz von Papen sent men to arrest the Prussian authorities, whom he suspected of being in league with the Communists. Hereafter, von Franz von Papen declared himself commander of the Prussian region, further weakening the democracy of the Weimar Republic.
Soon afterward, Franz von Papen called an election for July 1932 in hopes of getting a majority in the Reichstag. However, he didn't even come close in fact, the Nazis gained 123 seats to become the largest party. When this Reichstag first assembled, Franz von Papen obtained in advance from Paul von Hindenburg a decree to dissolve it. He initially did not bring it along, having received a promise that there would be an immediate objection to an expected Communist motion of censure. However, when no one objected, Franz von Papen ordered one of his messengers to get the order. When he demanded the floor in order to read it, newly elected Reichstag president Hermann Göring pretended not to see him his Nazis had decided to support the Communist motion. The censure vote passed overwhelmingly, forcing another election.
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