Friday, August 31, 2012

Monarchist Profile: Reinhold Wulle

Reinhold Wulle was a Pomeranian politician, a searching man who became an ardent Prussian monarchist and one of many such victims of the Nazi regime in Germany that is seldom, if ever, remembered today. He was born in Falkenberg on August 1, 1882 and went to school in Halle and Zerbst. After finishing his preliminary education in 1902 he studied German literature, history and theology in Halle, Jena and Berlin. After graduating in 1908 he worked for a number of different newspapers in Dresden, Chemnitz and Essen until 1918. From that time until entering politics in 1920 he served as the chief editor for the newspaper of the Pan-German League, a nationalist movement founded in the 19th Century to promote German colonial expansion, the unity of German minorities in other countries into an all-German nation-state and which, during World War I, opposed any expansion of democracy and supported the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare against Great Britain. By the time Wulle was serving as their chief editor many war leaders associated themselves with the League and they were at the forefront in placing blame for the German defeat on socialists and democracy advocates.

Wulle first moved into politics in 1920 when he co-founded, along with Arnold Ruge and Richard Kunze the ‘German People’s Workers Ring Berlin’ but this did not last long as during the summer months it was absorbed into the larger “German National People’s Party” (DNVP) which included many monarchists and looked back with nostalgia on the glories of the recently replaced German Empire. It was, originally, a specifically monarchist party intent on restoring the ‘Kaiserreich’ but over time became more inclined toward a simplistic, military dictatorship. Wulle, whose political views were not quite fully developed, quickly came to be recognized as the unofficial leader of the more populist wing of the DNVP. In 1922 Wulle collaborated with Wilhelm Henning and Albrecht von Graefe in establishing the ‘German Populist Freedom Party’ (DVFP), a minor party known for its ardent nationalism and anti-Semitism due to the Jews being not only non-Germans but linked with the socialist and communist revolutionary movements (a widespread belief at the time). Rumors also quickly sprang up that they were collaborating with secretive forces within the army intent on the re-armament of Germany in spite of the Versailles Treaty. Wulle, however, maintained that he had no association with this group.

It is not surprising, given their nationalism, suspicion of Jews and communists as well as their hatred of the Versailles Treaty that the DVFP under Wulle would come to see the still fledgling Nazi Party as potential allies and for a time, such as in his reelection to the Reichstag in 1924, this was the case, however, Wulle had considerable problems with the Nazis from the very beginning. He opposed their egalitarian rhetoric, their embrace of socialism and use of ‘class warfare’ to rally the workers of Germany against the elite leadership of the Weimar Republic. Within a year he had broken from the Nazis and reformed his old party and became well known amongst those on the right of the political spectrum opposed to the rising power of the Nazis. Wulle had also, over time, become more and more convinced that monarchy was the only form of government natural to Germany, especially the line of kings who had long guided the destiny of Prussia as well as presiding over the Prussian-led unification of the German states. In spite of his problems with the Nazis, he remained, therefore, an ever avowed enemy of the failed Weimar Republic and he continued to advocate for the rejection of Versailles and the union of all Germans within a single state.

In the contentious election between Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and Adolf Hitler, Wulle preferred the Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm though his father the Kaiser forbid him to run for office as it would necessitate his swearing allegiance to the republic. As we know, Hindenburg won the election but by 1933 Adolf Hitler had, by various means, gathered sufficient support to become overall leader of Germany. Like many at the time, Wulle tried to look at the bright side. The Weimar Republic was finally gone, the national pride of the German people had been reawakened and he hoped that the dictatorship of Hitler would only be a temporary stepping stone to the restoration of the Prussian monarchy. That same year, Wulle began to organize his supporters around a new organization, the monarchist ‘German Freedom Society’ His work was focused on Prussia and he concentrated his efforts there to build a movement that would renew feelings of loyalty toward the House of Hohenzollern and lead ultimately to the return of the monarchy.

At first, the Nazi authorities took little notice but over time Wulle gained enough support for the brown-shirts to become concerned. In 1938 he was arrested for violating the law which banned all parties and organizations besides the Nazi Party and he, of course, lost his seat in the Reich Chamber. Originally confined to a prison in Berlin, after the start of World War II he was moved to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940. In this he was more fortunate than some as Sachsenhausen was exclusively for political prisoners and, as concentration camps went, others were much worse. He would also occasionally receive gifts of cigars from Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm, as a show of his moral support. Wulle survived the war and in 1945 moved to Gronau where he picked up his old cause and carried on as before, forming the ‘German Construction Party’ with Joachim Ostau to push for Prussian-style conservatism, Christianity, German nationalism and, of course, the restoration of the monarchy. He looked back on the Nazi period as a time when the soul of Germany had come under attack and that the country needed to return to its monarchial roots and reject the revolutionary politics that had ruined it. A year later this party merged with the German conservative party and Reinhold Wulle remained a notable figure on the right in German politics until his death on July 16, 1950.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog. I'm not a mad monarchist but rather a weird one. Keep up the cool blog.


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