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German History in Documents and Images
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Reich Commissioner Hugo Preuß (August 1919)
Politician Hugo Preuß (1860-1925) was a liberal professor of constitutional law, a founding member of the German Democratic Party (DDP), and the main architect of the Weimar Constitution. After a new government was formed in February 1919, he briefly served as Minister of the Interior until the Scheidemann cabinet resigned in protest against the ratification of the Versailles Treaty. He was subsequently appointed Reich Commissar for Constitutional Matters, in which capacity he is pictured in this photo from August 1919. On July 31, shortly before this picture was taken, the National Assembly passed Germany’s first parliamentary-democratic constitution, which was largely drafted by Preuß. The constitution created the fundamental basis for Germany’s political and legal re-organization as a republic. Later on, anti-Semitic, anti-republic propaganda would cite Preuß’ Jewish origins as evidence of the constitution’s “un-German” character.