Franz Seldte

Franz Seldte

German politician, one of the leaders of the Steel Helmet organization
Date of Birth: 29.06.1882
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Franz Seldte
  2. Early Life and Military Career
  3. Political Career
  4. Stahlhelm and Coalition with the Nazis
  5. Later Years and Death

Biography of Franz Seldte

Early Life and Military Career

Franz Seldte was a German political figure and one of the leaders of the organization "Stahlhelm" (Steel Helmet). He was born in Magdeburg to a family of a chemical factory owner. After completing his gymnasium, Seldte enrolled in the Braunschweig University of Technology, specializing in chemistry. In 1906, he volunteered for military service and in 1908, he found a job in his field.

During World War I, Seldte achieved the rank of Major and lost his left hand in combat. He was awarded the Iron Cross first and second classes for his valor on the Western and Tyrolean fronts. On November 13, 1918, Seldte founded the "Union of Frontline Soldiers" and a month later, with the help of former general staff officer Theodor Duesterberg, he established the militarized organization "Stahlhelm".

Political Career

From June 1932 to May 23, 1945, Seldte served as the Reich Minister of Labour. On July 26, 1933, he became an Obergruppenführer in the SA (Sturmabteilung). He also worked as a state councilor in Prussia for some time.

Stahlhelm and Coalition with the Nazis

"Stahlhelm" was primarily composed of former combatants from World War I. In the late 1920s, Seldte and Duesterberg became co-chairmen of the organization. Sharing common beliefs, including the rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and the necessity to pay reparations, "Stahlhelm" formed a coalition with Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) and Alfred Hugenberg's German National People's Party. The alliance produced a program called the "Demands against the Young Plan".

In the early 1930s, conflicts arose between "Stahlhelm" and the SA. Attempts by Seldte, Duesterberg, and Hitler to resolve the situation were unsuccessful. On October 11, 1931, Seldte left "Stahlhelm" to join the Harzburg Front, a coalition aimed at uniting all right-wing and nationalist groups.

Later Years and Death

In June 1932, Seldte was appointed as the Reich Minister of Labour in Franz von Papen's government. On April 27, 1933, he joined the National Socialists. His main focus was initially on combating unemployment and establishing labor camps. In the same year, Seldte became a member of the Reichstag and the Council of Elders. He was also appointed as a member of the Prussian State Council the following year. On February 17, 1934, "Stahlhelm" effectively merged into the NSDAP and was renamed the National Socialist League of Former Servicemen, with Seldte remaining as its leader.

As a Nazi, Seldte gradually saw his powers diminish as various responsibilities of his ministry were transferred to different social and party organizations within the Third Reich. By the end of the war, his regained authority played a diminished role due to the overall situation in the country. On March 23, 1945, Seldte was arrested by the Americans and was expected to stand trial before one of the American tribunals in Nuremberg. However, he passed away in an American military hospital before the legal proceedings began on April 1, 1947.