Eduard Müller (politician, 1848)

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Eduard Müller

Eduard Müller (born November 12, 1848 in Dresden , † November 9, 1919 in Bern , entitled to live in Nidau ) was a Swiss lawyer , judge , officer and politician ( FDP ). Among other things, he worked as a court president, journalist and extraordinary federal prosecutor; in the military he rose to the rank of colonel division . His political career began in 1882 when he was elected to the Grand Council of the Canton of Bern . In 1884 he was elected to the National Council , in 1888 Mayor of Bern and in 1895 to the Federal Council (of which he was a member until his death). His greatest accomplishments include the introduction of the civil code and the revision of the military articles in the federal constitution .


Studies and career

Müller was born in Dresden in the Kingdom of Saxony , where his father, who later became a professor of theology, Eduard Müller senior, worked as a Protestant pastor; his mother Eleonore Auguste Berthelen came from this city. In 1849 the family returned to Switzerland. She settled in Bern , where her father took over the parish of the Heiliggeistkirche . His son Eduard Müller attended the city schools, and in 1864 he began studying theology in Geneva . However, three years later, he changed the subject, dealt a thing of the University of Bern with the law and joined the student association Helvetia in. After semesters abroad at the universities of Leipzig , Heidelberg and Paris , he was admitted to the bar in 1872 and joined Christian Sahli's law firm as an intern .

In 1874 Müller was elected by the Grand Council as court president of the district of Bern . In the same year he married Emma Vogt. In 1877 he was nicknamed "the red miller": members of an anarchist workers' association marched through Bern with a red flag and were attacked by angry citizens. Instead of holding the anarchists accountable as expected, Müller severely punished the attackers. In 1880 he resigned as a magistrate and opened his own law firm. He also worked as an editor for the Berner Nachrichten (predecessor of the Berner Zeitung ). In 1885 he was Associate Federal Prosecutor and, as such, led a nationwide investigation into anarchists. His investigation report resulted in various legal changes, including the reintroduction of a permanent federal prosecutor's office. In it he also stated that anarchism could only be combated if the justified demands of the working class were met.

In addition to his professional career, Müller also pursued a military career. In 1872 he was promoted to captain , two years later to major . As a lieutenant colonel , he commanded the 9th Infantry Regiment from 1879. In 1885 he was promoted to colonel and colonel brigadier . In 1888 he took over command of the 5th division as a colonel division, and in 1892 that of the 3rd division.

Local and national politics

The Liberal Party of the City of Bern elected Müller as its president in 1882. In the same year he was elected to the Grand Council, which he presided over in 1885/86. His main concern was the reorganization of the judiciary and the drafting of a new cantonal constitution (which, however, was ultimately rejected). Once it was the Liberals managed to overthrow the conservative city government, Müller was in 1888 for mayor elected by Bern. His merits include the establishment of an unemployment benefit as well as the construction of training workshops, community apartments and a poor institution.

Müller ran for the National Council elections in 1884 and was successful in the Bern-Mittelland constituency , albeit a tight one. He soon assumed a leading position in the National Council as well . In doing so, he made particular merits in drafting the military court system. In 1890 he was President of the National Council . He was a member of the commission that prepared the revision of the military articles in the federal constitution . Although he was able to convince parliament to approve the articles, the people rejected them in November 1895.

After Karl Schenk 's accidental death , Müller's candidacy for his successor was largely undisputed; there were no serious opponents. On August 16, 1895, the Federal Assembly elected him in the first ballot. He received 136 of 164 valid votes, various other people received 28 votes. The conservatives were bothered by the fact that he had left the Evangelical Reformed Church , but after the election, the positive comments outweighed them. Compared to various other radical liberals, he was considered the lesser evil.

Federal Council

During his 24-year tenure, Müller headed three departments: the Justice and Police Department until 1897 , the Military Department until 1911 , and then again the Justice and Police Department. In 1899, 1907 and 1913, when he was Federal President , he took over the rotation of the Political Department and was thus temporarily foreign minister.

As Minister of Justice, Müller was particularly concerned with the standardization of civil and criminal law. In 1892 the Federal Council commissioned Eugen Huber to draw up a preliminary draft. In 1898 the people adopted an amendment to the constitution, which laid down the principle of legal unification. Huber finished his work in 1904 with the definitive draft of the civil code (ZGB). The parliamentary deliberations dragged on until 1907, and after a four-year transition period, the Civil Code finally came into force in 1912. For his efforts to unify the Criminal Code, which was only concluded in 1942, Müller was awarded by the University of Zurich , the honorary doctorate .

Even as Minister of Defense, Müller was able to draw on his legal experience. After the failure of the revision of the military articles in the constitution, he worked out a less centralized variant after he had asked the arms and department heads to formulate their wishes and suggestions in writing. After tough negotiations with the army leadership, a compromise solution was found. Although it assigned the leadership of the military to the federal government, the cantons continued to provide and armed the infantry battalions , the landsturm and auxiliary services, as well as the dragoons' squadrons . The people accepted the bill on November 3, 1907. In 1906, Müller came into the crossfire of criticism after neutral Switzerland was commissioned by the Algeciras Conference to help resolve the first Moroccan crisis . He gave his cousin Armin Müller ("Morocco-Müller") the job of supervising the Moroccan police forces as inspector general. The unsuccessful mission had to be broken off after five years. Also in 1911, Müller was able to complete the reorganization of the troop order.


After Ludwig Forrer's resignation in December 1917, a new Vice President had to be elected. In French- speaking Switzerland in particular , Müller's candidacy met with resistance, as he had shown a decidedly pro-German attitude at the beginning of the First World War . Nevertheless, Müller was given preference over Gustave Ador . In August 1918 Felix Calonder proposed that the office of Foreign Minister be decoupled from that of Federal President. But Müller was only willing to take over the presidium together with the chairmanship of the Political Department, and he categorically rejected compromise proposals. This was followed by a spiteful campaign in the French-language press (with a particular focus on the fact that his mother was German), whereupon Müller renounced the presidium. He intended to resign in late 1919, but died a little less than two months earlier at the age of almost 71.


Urs Paul Engeler sees Müller as a representative of the left wing of the FDP. In his study on anarchism in Switzerland, written for the Federal Council in 1885, he warned against police surveillance of political parties and social movements, as this could lead to a violation of civil liberties. But that is exactly what actually happened in the following decades - with the culmination of the Fichenskandal . In addition, Müller, as a Federal Councilor , was no longer able to remember his principles so much after the state strike, where the strike leaders were prosecuted with his express consent. In 1885 he said that such movements were legitimized by widespread social poverty.


Web links

Commons : Eduard Müller  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 216.
  2. ^ Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 216-217.
  3. a b c Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 217.
  4. ^ Federal resolution on the revision of the military articles of the Federal Constitution , result of the vote of November 3, 1895 on
  5. ^ Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 217-218.
  6. Federal Decree on the revision of Article 64 of the Federal Constitution , result of the vote of November 13, 1898 on
  7. ^ A b Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 218.
  8. ^ Military organization of the Swiss Confederation , result of the vote of November 3rd, 1907 on
  9. ^ Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 219-220.
  10. ^ Martig: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 220.
  11. Urs Paul Engeler : Big Brother Switzerland . Weltwoche-ABC-Verlag, Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-85504-128-8 .
predecessor Office successor
Karl Schenk Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Karl Scheurer