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Franz von Papen

Papen, Franz von (fränts fən päˈpən) [key], 1879–1969, German politician. Appointed (1913) military attaché to the German embassy in Washington, he was implicated in espionage activities that led (1915) the U.S. government to request his recall. He subsequently served in Turkey during World War I and, after the war, entered politics. He was (1921–32) a member of the Catholic Center party in the Prussian parliament. Although a political unknown, he was chosen (June, 1932) by President Paul von Hindenburg to succeed Heinrich Brüning as German chancellor in the hope that he could obtain support from right and center. He was, however, expelled from his party for accepting this post, and his cabinet won support only from a minority on the right. In seeking to weaken the left, he contributed to the rise of the National Socialists (Nazis), chiefly by lifting (June) the ban on their militia. In July he suspended the Prussian government and ousted its Socialist premier. Two successive elections failed to bring Papen substantial support in the Reichstag, and when he submitted his formal resignation after the elections of Nov., 1932, it was accepted. Kurt von Schleicher succeeded him as chancellor, but Papen remained a close confidant of Hindenburg and sought to return to power through an alliance with the Nazis. He succeeded in bringing Adolf Hitler to power and was appointed vice chancellor in the new cabinet. Although Hitler soon eliminated his conservative allies from the cabinet, Papen continued to serve the Hitler regime, even after several of his close associates were murdered in the "blood purge" of June, 1934. As German minister to Vienna, he helped to prepare the German annexation of Austria (1938). From 1939 to 1944 he was ambassador to Turkey. Papen was acquitted (1946) by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal. A sentence to eight years' hard labor imposed (1947) by a German "denazification" court was rescinded in 1949. His memoirs appeared in 1952 (tr. 1953).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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