Heinrich Häberlin

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Heinrich Häberlin

Heinrich Häberlin (born September 6, 1868 in Weinfelden , † February 26, 1947 in Frauenfeld , entitled to live in Bissegg and Frauenfeld) was a Swiss politician ( FDP ) and judge . From 1904 he was a member of the National Council and from 1905 a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Thurgau . For four years he chaired the FDP parliamentary group in the Federal Assembly . In 1920 he was elected to the Federal Council and headed the Justice and Police Department until 1934 . Häberlin played a major role in standardizing the criminal law . Characteristic for his term of office were two laws that were rejected by the people to expand state protection , which became known as Lex Häberlin I and II. They were supposed to protect the bourgeois-democratic state system from extremist influences, but in the political context of the interwar period they were primarily directed against left-wing groups.


Family, studies and work

Häberlin came from an influential Thurgau family that produced several liberal politicians. His father Friedrich Heinrich Häberlin was a member of the Grand Council , government councilor and national councilor for many years . His uncle Eduard Häberlin held so many different mandates in the 1860s that the opposition fought the accumulation of offices known as the "Häberlin system" and finally implemented a constitutional reform in 1869. The mother Anna Gmünder came from Herisau .

Häberlin spent his compulsory schooling in Weinfelden. He then attended the canton school in Frauenfeld , which he graduated with the Matura in 1887 . During his school years he was a member of the student connection Thurgovia . He began to study law at the University of Zurich and continued his studies at the University of Leipzig and the Humboldt University in Berlin . He did not finish his doctoral thesis because another student had finished the chosen topic before him. Häberlin received his patent as a lawyer in 1891 and did a short internship in Lausanne in the office of Federal Councilor Louis Ruchonnet . In 1892 he opened his own law firm in Weinfelden, which he relocated to the canton capital of Frauenfeld two years later . After a short time as a clerk in Bischofszell , he presided over the Frauenfeld district court from 1899 to 1920 .

During his stay in Lausanne he met Paula Freyenmuth, the daughter of a master builder in Frauenfeld. They married in 1897 and had two children together. In the military, Häberlin had the rank of colonel and commanded an infantry regiment in the First World War . His son Fritz Häberlin , born in 1899, served as a federal judge for over 25 years in the mid-20th century .

Cantonal and federal politics

At the turn of the century, Häberlin turned to politics. He ran successfully in a by-election and was a member of the National Council until 1920 . From 1914 to 1918 he was chairman of the FDP parliamentary group . He was committed to opposition to proportional representation , but suffered a definitive defeat in this matter in 1919. In 1918/19 he was President of the National Council , and from 1911 to 1920 he was a member of the Central Committee of the nationwide FDP. In parallel to his political activities on a national level, Häberlin was also active in the canton of Thurgau. In 1905 he was elected to the Thurgau Grand Council , to which he belonged for 15 years. He was President of the Grand Council twice (1909/10 and 1915/16). In addition, he presided over the Thurgau FDP cantonal party from 1908 to 1915.

In January 1920 Federal Councilor Felix Calonder announced his resignation. It was undisputed that his successor would be from Eastern Switzerland. The initially favored St. Gallen National Councilor Robert Forrer turned down a candidacy for health reasons. Albert Mächler , another member of the St. Gallen National Council, had also been in discussion, but did not see any chances. The parliamentary group then decided unanimously to nominate Häberlin. In the Federal Council election on February 12, 1920, he received 124 of 159 valid votes in the first ballot. In John Baumann , the Council of States of Appenzell Outer Rhodes , accounted for 13 votes, to other persons 20 votes. The social democratic group abstained and put in a blank.

Federal Council

Häberlin took up his new office immediately and took over the Justice and Police Department . His main task was to oversee various legislative reforms. These include the Military Criminal Law (1927), the Law on the Administration of Administrative Justice (1928), the Expropriation Law (1930) and the revision of the commercial law provisions in the Code of Obligations . Its influence was most sustained in the standardization of criminal law : the focus should no longer be on the crime alone; the personality of the perpetrator should now also be included in the decision-making process. For this purpose, scientific knowledge of criminal law should be put into practice as far as possible. Häberlin's successor Johannes Baumann completed the work, which came into force in 1942, four years after the referendum was won. In 1926 and 1931, Häberlin served as Federal President .

After the national strike of 1918, Swiss politics became increasingly polarized. Under the impression of growing communist and socialist agitation , the bourgeois parties strove for increased internal state protection . The state should be given legal remedies to act against socialist propaganda, agitation and mass strikes; in addition, pacifist propaganda in the army should be stopped. The bill passed by parliament was officially called the “Federal Act on the Amendment of Federal Criminal Law of February 4, 1853 with regard to crimes against the constitutional order and internal security and with regard to the introduction of conditional sentences”, but was mainly referred to as “ Lex Häberlin ” or “ Overthrow Law ». The workers' organizations managed a referendum . In the extremely polemical campaign, Häberlin was stylized as the main enemy of social democracy. On September 24, 1922, the people rejected the bill with 55.4% no votes.

Häberlin had to accept another vote defeat five years later. On May 15, 1927, the people clearly rejected the “Federal Law on Automobile and Bicycle Traffic” with 59.9% no votes. Disappointed about the rejection of the bill, which would have brought legal standardization in road traffic, Häberlin complained about the lack of trust in his authorities and the “ cantonal league ”. He seriously considered resigning, but allowed his party friends to persuade him to continue. He brought the new edition of the Road Traffic Act through in 1932 after a referendum against it had not come off.

At the beginning of the 1930s, the situation came to a head again at the political extremes. On November 9, 1932, 13 participants in an anti-fascist protest rally in Geneva were shot dead by soldiers. Under the impression of the seizure of power in Germany in January 1933, right-wing extremist groups rose temporarily in the “ spring of the front ” . Häberlin was initially reluctant to reissue the State Protection Act of 1922, but then tried to win the Social Democrats over to the cause. When during the parliamentary deliberations on the “Federal Law for the Protection of Public Order” the bourgeois parties pushed through several tightening motions, the left opposed the bill and launched a referendum. The law, also known as "Lex Häberlin II", failed in the referendum of March 11, 1934 with 53.8% no.

further activities

One day after the loss of the vote, Häberlin announced his resignation, which took place on April 30, 1934. Another reason for his fatigue was the ongoing quarrels between his Federal Council colleagues Edmund Schulthess and Jean-Marie Musy . Häberlin then worked in numerous organizations. He had been President of the Pro Juventute Board of Trustees since 1924 . In this position, which he held until 1937, he helped to propagate the persecution of the Yeniche . In a brochure published by the Kinder der Landstrasse organization in 1927, he described the "basket families" as a "dark spot in our Swiss country, which is so proud of its cultural order" that should be removed. As a Federal Councilor, he had ensured that federal subsidies were granted for this action, which was aimed specifically at a minority.

From 1921 until his death, Häberlin chaired the Ulrico Hoepli Foundation, from 1939 to 1944 the Pro Helvetia cultural foundation and from 1936 to 1946 the Federal Commission for Nature and Heritage Protection. He also sat on the board of directors of the Swiss Accident Insurance Fund . In 1930 he received an honorary doctorate from the law faculty of the University of Basel . Häberlin made another political appearance in 1937/38 when he campaigned for the new penal law he had launched and for Romansh as the fourth national language. He died on February 26, 1947 at the age of 78.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Verena Rothenbühler: Eduard Häberlin. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  2. ^ Walter Labhart: Federal Councilor Ludwig Forrer, 1845–1921. (= Neujahrsblatt der Stadtbibliothek Winterthur . Volume 303). Winterthur City Library , Winterthur 1973, p. 18.
  3. ^ A b Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 319.
  4. Verena Rothenbühler: Fritz Häberlin. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  5. ^ Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 320.
  6. ^ A b Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. Pp. 321-322.
  7. ^ Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 321.
  8. ↑ Referendum on September 24, 1922. admin.ch , August 20, 2013, accessed on August 24, 2013 .
  9. Referendum of May 15, 1927. admin.ch, August 20, 2013, accessed on August 24, 2013 .
  10. ^ Federal law on motor vehicle and bicycle traffic. admin.ch, August 20, 2013, accessed on August 24, 2013 .
  11. ^ A b Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 322.
  12. Referendum of March 11, 1934. admin.ch, August 20, 2013, accessed on August 24, 2013 .
  13. Thomas Huonker : A dark spot . In: Remember what's going on. Racism in the sights . Pestalozzianum, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-03755-105-9 , pp. 167–174 ( online [PDF; 586 kB ]).
  14. ^ Soland: The Federal Council Lexicon. P. 323.
predecessor Office successor
Felix Calonder Member of the Swiss Federal Council
Johannes Baumann