Birthday: April 7, 1882
Died At Age: 52
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Kurt Ferdinand Friedrich Hermann von Schleicher
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Brandenburg, Germany
Famous as: Former Chancellor of Germany
Spouse/Ex-: Elisabeth von Schleicher (m. 1931)
Died on: June 30, 1934
place of death: Potsdam-Babelsberg, Nazi Germany
education: Prussian Military Academy
Kurt Ferdinand Friedrich Hermann von Schleicher was a German general and a noted political figure, who served as the last Chancellor of Germany during the ‘Weimar Republic.’ He was a rival for power with Adolf Hitler during 1932–33. He joined the Prussian Army as a lieutenant and gradually moved up acquiring power as head of the ‘Armed Forces Department of Reichswehr.’ He became a close advisor to President Paul von Hindenburg and later served as head of ‘Office of Ministerial Affairs’ (Ministeramt) of the Defense Ministry. He played a major role in the fall of Hermann Müller government and induction of Heinrich Brüning as Chancellor. Schleicher served as the Reich Minister of Defense in Franz von Papen’s cabinet and played an important role in the putsch in Prussia that saw Papen takeover the ‘Free State of Prussia.’ He, however, arranged for the removal of Papen from office to become the new Chancellor of Germany. He initially tried to tame Hitler, but the two became rivals for power. Eventually, Schleicher had to resign as Chancellor of Germany and was killed by Hitler’s the ‘Schutzstaffel’ (SS) during the ‘Night of the Long Knives.’
Childhood & Early Life
Kurt Ferdinand Friedrich Hermann von Schleicher was born on April 7, 1882, in Brandenburg an der Havel, German Empire, to Hermann Friedrich Ferdinand von Schleicher, a Prussian officer and noble, and Magdalena Heyn. He had an elder sister, Thusnelda Luise Amalie Magdalene, and a younger brother, Ludwig-Ferdinand Friedrich.
From 1896 till 1900, he attended the Hauptkadettenanstalt in Lichterfelde. On March 22, 1900, he was elevated as Leutnant and delegated to the 3rd Foot Guards. He served as adjutant of the Fusilier battalion of his regiment, from November 1, 1906 to October 31, 1909.
Meanwhile on October 18, 1909, he was inducted as ‘Oberleutnant’ following which he was delegated to the ‘Prussian Military Academy.’ On September 24, 1913, he graduated and thereafter delegated to the German General Staff; he joined the Railway Department by choice. On December 18, 1909, he was elevated as Captain.
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Army Service During & After the First World War
During the First World War he was delegated to the General Staff of the Supreme Army Command. He worked in the Kriegsamt (War Office) from November 1916 to May 1917. His role during the ‘Kerensky Offensive’ as Chief of Staff of the 237th Division on the Eastern Front marked his only front-line assignment.
On July 15, 1918, he was promoted to Major. After his mentor, Wilhelm Groener, undertook the de facto command of the German Army in late October that year, Schleicher served as a liaison between the civil and military authorities.
At the time of ‘German Revolution,’ from November 1918 till the adoption of the Weimar Constitution in August 1919, Schleicher remained liaison between the Army and the newly formed ‘Weimar Republic.’ He was instrumental in negotiating the ‘Ebert–Groener’ pact. He helped in forming the German military volunteer units, ‘Freikorps,’ in early January 1919, to repress rebels of the left-wing.
He played a crucial role in the endeavour of ‘Reichswehr’ in avoiding the constraints established by the ‘Treaty of Versailles.’ In this regard, he even formed ‘Sondergruppe R,’ a secret group within the ‘Reichswehr,’ in spring 1921, to work with the ‘Red Army.’
He had a steady rise in the ‘Reichswehr’; he became Lieutenant Colonel on January 1, 1924, Colonel in 1926, and Generalmajor on January 29, 1929.
Meanwhile, after the 1923 hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic, Schleicher remained instrumental in Reichswehr’s taking control of much of the nation’s administration between September 1923 and February 1924. In 1926, he became a close advisor of President Paul von Hindenburg.
After Groener became Minister of Defense in 1928, he formed ‘Ministeramt’ (Office of the Ministerial Affairs) for Schleicher and the latter was appointed ‘Chef des Ministeramtes,’ on February 1, 1929.
Political Moves, Endeavours & Assassination
Schleicher, along with Otto Meißner, Groener, President Hindenburg's son, Major Oskar von Hindenburg, and General Wilhelm Groener were main members of the ‘Kamarilla’ that surrounded the President. The idea of forming a presidential government based on the "25/48/53 formula," where the Chancellor would be responsible to the President instead of the Reichstag, was given by Schleicher. He played a major role in intensifying a dispute within Chancellor Hermann Müller’s coalition, which led to the fall of Müller’s government on March 27, 1930, and also helping Heinrich Brüning to become the new Chancellor.
His conflict with Brüning and the then Reich Minister of Defense, Groener, led to their fall in May 1932, and the appointment of Franz von Papen as the new Chancellor. Schleicher selected Papen for the position as he thought he could exercise full control over him. Papen again inducted him as the new Reich Minister of Defense on June 1, 1932. On June 4, 1932, according to Schleicher's "gentlemen's agreement" with Adolf Hitler, the government dissolved the ‘Reichstag.’
Schleicher had a hand behind the coup in Prussia in 1932, when Papen took over the ‘Free State of Prussia’ applying an emergency decree issued by President Hindenburg. Schleicher later developed a rift with Papen and made arrangements for the collapse of Papen’s government on December 3, 1932, when he himself became the new Chancellor of Germany. The same day he also assumed the office as the ‘Minister President of Prussia.’
His plan of negotiating with the leader of the left-wing branch of the Nazi Party, ‘Gregor Strasser,’ in withdrawing the latter from the Nazi party failed as Hitler isolated Strasser in the party. Schleicher also made an unsuccessful attempt to “tame” Hitler for cooperating with his government and give up claim for chancellorship and even threatened Hitler of forming a Querfront ("cross-front"), an anti-Nazi alliance of parties. But this scheme of Schleicher also did not work. President Hindenburg also refused his suggestion of dispersing the Reichstag and rule as a de facto dictator.
He missed an opportunity to save his government on January 20, 1933. In a turn of events, Schleicher, who was striving with his deteriorating health and a political deadlock, finally resigned as Chancellor on January 28, 1933 and favoured Hitler’s chancellorship. The same day he stepped down as ‘Reich Minister of Defense’ and ‘Minister President of Prussia.’ Hitler rose to power a couple of days later as the new Chancellor of Germany.
Schleicher made a final attempt to regain power by exploiting the ongoing rift between Hitler and Ernst Röhm on the function of ‘Sturmabteilung‘ (SA), the original paramilitary of Nazi party. By now, Hitler was planning to get Schleicher eliminated. On June 30, 1934, Schleicher was murdered, along with his wife, Elisabeth, at his home in Potsdam-Babelsberg, Nazi Germany. The couple were shot to death by the Schutzstaffel (SS) on the very first day of the ‘Night of the Long Knives.’
Family, Personal Life
Schleicher married Elisabeth von Schleicher, ex-wife of his cousin Bogislaw von Schleicher on July 28, 1931. Her father was a Prussian general Victor von Hennigs.