Hermann Brill

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Hermann Brill (1930)

Hermann Louis Brill (born February 9, 1895 in Graefenroda ; † June 22, 1959 in Wiesbaden ) was a German politician ( USPD , SPD ), resistance fighter , university professor and publicist . Between 1919 and 1953 he was a member of various parliaments during the period of the German Empire , the Weimar Republic and the Federal Republic. From June to July 1945, Brill was President of Thuringia under American occupation , and from July 1946 to September 1949, Head of the Hessian State Chancellery under Prime Minister Karl Geiler and Christian Stock .

Live and act

Origin and education

Hermann Brill was born in Graefenroda in Thuringia, the oldest of five children of a master tailor. From 1901 to 1909 he attended the community school in Ohrdruf and from 1909 to 1914 the Herzog Ernst seminar in Gotha to become a teacher. He passed the first teacher examination in 1914 and the second in 1920. In the meantime, he took as an officer candidate in the field airship troops on World War part. He then worked as a teacher at an elementary school until 1921 and was then employed as an assistant at the Thuringian Ministry of National Education. From 1921 to 1923 he was a member of the Thuringian state government under August Frölich . Between 1923 and 1924 he was ministerial director in the Thuringian Ministry of the Interior, where he was responsible for the police and political departments. As a civil servant on hold, Brill studied law , political economy, sociology and philosophy in Jena from 1924 to 1926 , where he received his doctorate in law in 1929 .

Member of the state parliament and member of the Reichstag

His political engagement began in 1918 when he joined the USPD . In 1919 he was elected to the state parliament of the then still independent Free State of Saxony-Gotha . After the formation of the state of Thuringia in 1920, he became a member of the state parliament . In 1922 he left the USPD and switched to the SPD . Brill remained in the state parliament until, like all social democrats, his mandate was revoked in 1933 at the beginning of the National Socialist era . From July to November 1932 Brill was also a member of the Reichstag .

Resistance and persecution

After a bourgeois-National Socialist coalition had taken over the government in Thuringia in January 1930, the fight against National Socialism began for Brill . As a member of the Thuringian State Court of Justice and as a member of the state parliament, he fought primarily against the policies of the National Socialist Interior and People's Education Minister Wilhelm Frick .

As chairman of a committee of inquiry that the Thuringian state parliament had set up to investigate Frick's practices in 1932, Brill also called Adolf Hitler as a witness. During the questioning, which lasted only 30 minutes for Hitler and during which the witness “could no longer remember” most of the facts, Brill and other committee members enraged Hitler with their detailed questions to such an extent that Hitler and the Nazi party accompanying him Party members had to be called to order several times. Brill characterized the picture that the “Führer” and his Nazi entourage gave as follows: “In this scene I saw the hysterical Hitler without a mask. […] Goebbels had jumped on his chair like a schoolboy. [...] The picture resembled a rioting school class. "

After Hitler came to power in Germany , Brill resigned from the SPD in May 1933 because he was disappointed by the Social Democrats' passive attitude towards Hitler. A year later he founded the German People's Front resistance group in Berlin together with the bookseller Otto Brass . Before that, he was a leader in the resistance movement Neu Beginnen . During this time Brill wrote essays and leaflets and was arrested several times by the Gestapo . Because of high treason , he was sentenced to twelve years in prison and spent four years in prison Brandenburg-Gorden .

Buchenwald Concentration Camp and the Buchenwald Manifesto

At the end of 1943 he was taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp . There he founded an illegal Popular Front Committee on July 5, 1944 and became its chairman. Other members were Werner Hilpert , Walter Wolf and Ernst Thape . On April 19, 1945 after the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp, a meeting took place on Brill's initiative, at which the Buchenwald manifesto of the democratic socialists was adopted.

District President in Thuringia

Memorial plaque for Hermann Brill in Weimar, William-Shakespeare-Straße 8

After the liberation from the camp, he developed a plan for the administrative reconstruction of Thuringia on behalf of the then still American occupying power. In May 1945 he founded the Association of Democratic Socialists . According to Brill, both the SPD and the KPD had failed in the Weimar Republic . In his opinion, both parties had to merge in order to achieve democratic socialism. In June 1945 he was appointed Thuringian regional president, but lost this office again in July after Thuringia had become part of the Soviet occupation zone . His ideas about the new beginning of the German labor movement collided with those of the Soviet occupying power. Brill was arrested and interrogated twice. In his home town of Thuringia he was unable to gain a foothold politically or professionally. At the end of 1945 he left Thuringia and soon went to Hesse.

Head of the State Chancellery and Administrative Reform in Hesse

From July 1946 to 1949 he was head of the Hessian State Chancellery. He rejoined the SPD. On March 31, 1947, the Hessian state government set up a cabinet commission to prepare for administrative reform ; The chairman of the commission was Hermann Brill. The results of the commission, in particular the dissolution of “dwarf communities” with less than 300 inhabitants and the reduction in the number of rural districts to 31, formed the basis of a permanent reform, which finally came to an end with the territorial reform from 1972 to 1977 .

Herrenchiemsee and the Basic Law

In 1948 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention in Herrenchiemsee and worked on the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany . From 1949 to 1953 he was a member of the German Bundestag for the SPD and u. a. active in the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Legal and Constitutional Committee and the Berlin and All-German Committee. He was directly elected to parliament in the constituency of Frankfurt am Main I. In 1949 Brill became the first chairman of the Königsteiner Kreis , an association of former lawyers, economists and civil servants from the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR.

Hermann Brill's tomb
Memorial plaque on the house at Karlsruher Strasse 13 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf

Professor in Frankfurt am Main and Speyer; the "case of Brill"

Hermann Brill later taught political science and constitutional history as an honorary professor at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and as a lecturer at the German University of Administrative Sciences in Speyer .

Because of his appointment as honorary professor for public law by the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Erwin Stein in 1947, there was a long and violent dispute with the University of Frankfurt under the conservative rector Walter Hallstein, which was highly regarded by the public . In the course of the conflict, a state secretary resigned, the opposition LDP (later the FDP) introduced two major questions in the Hessian state parliament and in 1950 set up an investigative committee.

Several reports that the Frankfurt University obtained, including in New York from the highly respected constitutional lawyer Franz Neumann , all came to a positive result for Hermann Brill, so that no allegations of inadequate qualifications could be made. Rather, in addition to the claim made by the Frankfurt University of an absolutely autonomous appointment policy, the presumption of political motives against the representative of a "left-wing government" was also obvious.

In the last decade of his life, Brill wrote numerous publications on topics such as the legal issues of reunification and administrative reform.

Hermann Brill was with Martha Brill, geb. Pluskat (1904–1980) married. He was buried in the north cemetery in Wiesbaden .


There are streets in Wiesbaden, Frankfurt am Main and Erfurt and a square in Weimar is named after him. The house of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Thuringia in Erfurt is also named after Hermann Brill.

In August 2009, the then President of the Thuringian State Parliament, Dagmar Schipanski, unveiled a plaque on the wall opposite the Ricarda-Huch slogan in the foyer of the parliamentary group building with the words: The Thuringian State Parliament commemorates all persecuted politicians in the state of Thuringia 1945 - 1952 , among which the following three Politicians named and portrayed are: Hermann Becker (LDP), Hermann Brill (SPD) and Hugo Dornhofer (CDU).

In addition, the meeting room F 003 used by the SPD parliamentary group in the Thuringian state parliament bears the name Hermann-Brill-Saal .


  • Against the current (= ways to socialism. Issue 1, ZDB -ID 525955-1 ). Bollwerk-Verlag Drott, Offenbach 1946.
  • Separation of powers in the modern state. In: trade union monthly books, 7th year, issue 7, 1956, pp. 385–393, online (PDF; 92 kB) .
  • The Soviet system of rule. The road to state slavery (= Red White Papers . Vol. 2). Red White Papers, Cologne 1951.


  • Manfred Overesch : Hermann Brill in Thuringia 1895-1946. A fighter against Hitler and Ulbricht (= political and social history. Vol. 29, ISSN  0941-7621 ). Dietz, Bonn 1992
  • Marlis Gräfe, Bernhard Post, Andreas Schneider (eds.): The Secret State Police in the NS Gau Thuringia 1933–1945 (= sources on the history of Thuringia. Vol. 24, half-vol. 2). 3rd, unchanged edition. State Center for Political Education Thuringia, Erfurt 2005, ISBN 3-931426-83-1 , including the biography of Hermann Brill, (PDF; 1.47 MB) .
  • Siegfried Mielke (Ed.) With the collaboration of Marion Goers, Stefan Heinz , Matthias Oden, Sebastian Bödecker: Unique. Lecturers, students and representatives of the German University of Politics (1920–1933) in the resistance against National Socialism. Lukas-Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86732-032-0 , pp. 228-235.
  • Bernd FlorathBrill, Hermann . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 1. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Renate Knigge-Tesche, Peter Reif-Spirek (eds.): Hermann Louis Brill (1895–1959). Resistance fighter and indomitable democrat. Thrun-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2011, ISBN 978-3-9809513-6-4 .

Web links

Commons : Hermann Brill  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ 2nd session, Weimar, Friday, October 7th . In: Stenographic reports on the sessions of the II. Landtag of Thuringia . tape 1 , p. 9–28 ( uni-jena.de [accessed on May 11, 2019]).
  2. Manfred Overesch: Die Einbürgerung Hitler 1930 , in: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , 40th Jg., H. 4, Munich 1992, P. 562 f.
  3. ^ The administrative reform in Hesse , Wiesbaden 1947 (Volume I), 1948 (Volume II materials)
  4. HDMI (ed.): Administrative reform in Hesse - Assessment, measures considerations perspective , Wiesbaden f, Carl Ritter & Co. 1968 p.7.
  5. ^ Dietfrid Krause-Vilmar : Hermann Brill and the establishment of the Institute for Contemporary History. In: Newsletter on the history and impact of the Holocaust. (= Information from the Fritz Bauer Institute. 29). Autumn 2006, pp. 19-23 ( online , PDF; 65.6 kB).
  6. Hermann Louis Brill, article in MDR-Zeitreise ( Memento from September 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Thus the study by Wolf-Arno Kropat: The conflict between the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs Stein and the University of Frankfurt over a democratic higher education reform and the "Brill case" (1947–1950). In: Nassauische Annalen 113 (2002), pp. 505-539, here: p. 522