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The Accused in the Rathenau Trial (October 13, 1922)

The Organization Consul was a secret, ultra-nationalist, terrorist organization that was formed from elements of the Ehrhardt naval brigade [Marinebrigade Erhardt] after the brigade was dissolved by the government in the wake of the Kapp Putsch. The group was named after “Consul Eichmann,” the alias of its leader, Hermann Ehrhardt. The Organization Consul dedicated itself to the destruction of the Weimar Republic through the assassination of leading politicians. It hoped to foment a revolt on the Left, and to use that opportunity to lead a right-wing counterrevolution. The Organization Consul was widely assumed to have been responsible for the murders of Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau, and the attempted murder of Phillip Scheidemann. In direct response to Rathenau’s assassination, the government passed the Law for the Protection of the Republic [Republikschutzgesetz] in 1922. The law gave the security forces enhanced power to repress groups that conspired against the state.

This photo shows the defendants in the Rathenau murder trial (from left to right): Ernst von Salomon, Ernst Werner Techow, Karl Tillessen, Waldemar Niedrig, Friedrich Warnecke, Hans Gert Techow. Ernst von Salomon (far left) was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in Rathenau’s murder. In 1951, he published Der Fragebogen [The Questionnaire], an autobiographical novel that centered on the Allied Military Government's denazification program. The book became a controversial bestseller.

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The Accused in the Rathenau Trial (October 13, 1922)

© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz