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German politician of the Catholic Center Party, Chancellor under the Weimar Republic (1921‒22).

Wirth was elected to the Reichstag in 1914, and served on the western and eastern fronts until 1917. In 1920, he succeeded Matthias Erzberger as Minister of Finance in the Weimar Republic and carried through the latter's system of national taxation. In 1921, in face of an Allied ultimatum on war reparations, he became Chancellor and formed a new cabinet along cross-party lines, retained finance for himself, appointed Walter Rathenau Minister of Reconstructions, and accepted the Allies' terms. He is well known for his speech before the Reichstag after the assassination of Rathenau in 1922.

In 1925, he left the Catholic Center Party in protest against its close ties with the Nationalist Party, and in 1929 he joined the Social Democratic Party. After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, he was forced into exile. After World War II, he returned to German politics.


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  • DLA 69.930/11 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Halm, dated November 2, 1922

    Schenker acknowledges receipt of two booklets on youth and the new republic, returns them, comments on them critically: idealistic German democrats desire maximal remuneration with minimal work; illustrates point by difficulties with maids in Schenker household; German democrats naively overestimate social and intellectual status of non-German commoners (French, British, American); Schenker decries cosmopolitanism and those Germans who advocate individuality at the expense of society; Schenker praises the fascists as countering communism and social leveling, compares Mussolini's Italy favorably with present-day Germany.

  • OJ 10/1, [74] Handwritten letter from Dahms to Schenker, dated February 9, 1923

    Dahms reports change of address and explains circumstances; has sent a prospectus to UE; progress on subscriptions to his de luxe edition and a new American contact; synopsis of his planned Bel Canto book. — He praises the "Miscellanea" in Tonwille 3, and comments on Schenker's understanding of democracy.

  • OJ 10/1, [78] Handwritten letter from Dahms to Schenker, dated August 23, 1923

    Dahms has received Tonwille 4 but not yet examined it. — Has deferred work on his Haydn book because of financial problems over Musik des Südens and poor take-up of subscriptions. — Debates whether to attend the Leipzig musicology conference. — Comments on German politics as the occupation of the Ruhr unfolds, and compares German attitudes with Italian.