Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial

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The logo of the Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial

The Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial in Heidelberg is the seat of the Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial Foundation and also serves as a location for numerous events. The memorial commemorates the first Reich President of the Weimar Republic who was born there in 1871 .

The federal, non-partisan public law foundation established by a law passed by the German Bundestag in December 1986 is one of the six so-called political memorial foundations in Germany. It started work in 1989, 70 years after Friedrich Ebert was elected President of the Reich. According to the federal law, the task of the foundation is "to preserve the memory of the work of the first German Reich President Friedrich Ebert and to make a contribution to the understanding of German history of his time".

The Friedrich-Ebert-Haus in Heidelberg

Friedrich Ebert's birthplace above the courtyard entrance
Access from Pfaffengasse (2012)

The foundation is based in the birthplace of the first Reich President at Heidelberg Pfaffengasse 18, where it maintains the listed Friedrich-Ebert-Haus. In the center of the house is the 46 m² apartment in which Friedrich Ebert was born on February 4, 1871, almost at the same time as the German Empire was founded, the seventh of nine children of the tailor Karl Ebert and his wife Katharina. He spends childhood and youth here with his parents and five siblings (three others die in infancy). The apartment, which was also his father's place of work at the time, can no longer be presented as it was in Ebert's time. However, photos of workers' apartments in the empire give an insight into the milieu in which the son of a small craftsman grows up.

In addition, the permanent exhibition, redesigned in 2007, “From Workers' Leader to President - Friedrich Ebert (1871–1925)” traces the path of the social democratic party leader to the top of the first German democracy, embedded in the history of his time. In the house there is also a public library with more than 8,000 books and brochures, the focus of which is on the history of the German labor movement and the time of Friedrich Ebert in general. Rare pamphlets and memoranda are particularly valuable. The memorial also collects documents on Friedrich Ebert and his time. Because Friedrich Ebert's estate was destroyed in a bombing war in World War II, only a few documents have come down to us. In addition to around 60 Ebert letters and a few items from his personal possession, the foundation has a collection of photos and a collection of original posters and newspapers from his time.

With a diverse range of events, the house has established itself as a place of remembrance and learning about German democratic history. This can be seen in the steadily growing number of visitors, in research and publication activities as well as in the variety and breadth of their political-historical educational activities, especially with schoolchildren. The number of visitors to the memorial is around 60,000 per year. In 2008 the limit of one million visitors was exceeded.

History of the memorial

Living room of Friedrich Ebert's birthplace

On May 7, 1962, a memorial was built in the home where he was born, on the initiative of the City of Heidelberg and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation . The impetus for this came as early as 1960 from Alfred Nau , the then deputy chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. In 1984 the city of Heidelberg bought the entire property around the apartment for 1.35 million marks. This gave the opportunity to enlarge the exhibition. In 1986 an association was set up to develop a permanent exhibition and to coordinate the renovation measures. After a foundation under public law was brought into being by the federal law of December 1986, it took responsibility. The first chairman of the foundation's board of trustees was the future Federal President Johannes Rau , who - at the time still Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia - gave the speech at the opening ceremony of the memorial on February 11, 1989, the 70th anniversary of Friedrich Ebert's election as Reich President "Friedrich Ebert - His life, his work, his time" was handed over to the public.

In 1996 an extension could be handed over to its intended purpose; This gives the foundation enough space for special exhibitions, seminars and conferences on political education. The first exhibition was replaced in July 2007 by the current permanent exhibition entitled “From Workers' Leader to Reich President - Friedrich Ebert (1871–1925)”, which traces Ebert's path with new content and new forms of presentation.

The "Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial Foundation"

Kitchen in Friedrich Ebert's birthplace

The Ebert House is supported by the "Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte Foundation", which consists of a board of trustees and a board of directors. The board of trustees (chairman: Henning Scherf , retired mayor, Bremen) decides in particular on the appointment and dismissal of the board of directors as well as the focus of the foundation's work. The board of directors (chairman: Hanspeter Blatt, Berlin), appointed by the board of trustees for four years, manages the foundation. The management of current affairs is the responsibility of the managing director (Walter Mühlhausen) who is also a member of the board. The voluntary scientific advisory board of 15 members (chairman; Dirk Schumann, University of Göttingen) assists the committees with advice on scientific questions.

In addition to maintaining the house where Friedrich Ebert was born, the foundation conducts and promotes research on the first Reich President and his time. The results of the research and the conferences organized by the foundation are published in the “Wissenschaftliche Schriftenreihe” and the “Kleine Schriften” series. In addition, three of the Foundation's traveling exhibitions are traveling across the country:

  • Friedrich Ebert 1871–1925 - From journeyman saddler to head of state
  • The Chancellor of the Weimar Republic - Twelve résumés in pictures
  • The republic laughs at this - Friedrich Ebert and 'his Reich Chancellor' in the caricature

A tour of the permanent exhibition

Museum (2012) entrance in the Secret Annex

The new permanent exhibition "From Workers' Leader to Reich President - Friedrich Ebert (1871–1925)", which opened in 2007 and presents Friedrich Ebert's path to the highest state office, enables a biographical perspective on German history from the German Empire to the Weimar Republic. The exhibition extends over ten rooms. In a varied design, it embeds the path of the Heidelberg tailor's son from childhood and youth to the highest office in the history of his time, which is characterized by upheavals and upheavals.

View of the exhibition: Room 1

ROOM 1 is dedicated to the childhood and youth of Friedrich Ebert, who joined the social democratic movement on a wandering journey (1889–1891). Although socially ostracized in the empire and temporarily suppressed by an exceptional law, the social democracy, the party of the socially disadvantaged and the politically discriminated, recorded a steady rise. This is where the journeyman saddler finds his political home.

In his Bremen years (1891–1905), shown in ROOMS 2 and 3, Friedrich Ebert rose from a keen recruiter for the labor movement to one of its leading representatives. Married to the factory worker Louise Rump since 1894 - the marriage had five children - the voluntary functionary developed through self-study into a socio-political expert who wanted to wrest political and social reforms step by step from the imperial class state. ROOM 4 encompasses Ebert's years in the leadership of the SPD: elected to the executive committee in 1905 and one of the two party chairmen in 1913, Friedrich Ebert proves himself to be a capable organizer of the SPD, which rose to become a mass party with over a million members by the First World War from 1912 the strongest parliamentary group in the Reichstag. But in the unfinished constitutional state, it remains the marginalized party of the "patriotic journeymen" kept out of power.

That changes in the First World War, which is symbolized in ROOM 5 in a "trenches". During the war, Friedrich Ebert pursued a "truce" policy with which the SPD largely renounced opposition to the state. His struggle for party unity is in vain. The minority opposed to this standstill policy split off in 1917. 1917 is also a personal fateful year: two of his sons are killed at the front. Under the sign of the defeat in the war and the spreading revolution, Friedrich Ebert takes political responsibility [passage to ROOM 6]. On November 9, 1918 he took over the Reich Chancellorship. As the leading head of the revolutionary government formed the next day from the SPD and the USPD, which split off in 1917, he sets the course for parliamentary democracy. Despite urgent problems and internal political disputes, it is possible to avert the threatening chaos and implement fundamental reforms.

View of the exhibition: room 6

On February 11, 1919, the Weimar constitution-making German National Assembly elects Friedrich Ebert as Reich President . The media installation in ROOM 6 focuses on the first democratically elected head of state of the German Reich, who has extensive rights. Room 7 deals with the existential crisis of 1923, which can only be overcome with the consistent use of presidential power. The transition to ROOM 8 is dedicated to the man beyond the office, who gave only little insight into his private life, where Ebert's largely unknown side is illuminated through private photos. Even as a representative of the republic, he tends to stay in the background, deliberately setting himself apart from the imperial pomp with his public appearances without glitz and glamor. But large parts of the population mourn the empire. Some want to overthrow the young republic and stage a dirty smear campaign against the Reich President, who for them embodies the unloved new state as a symbolic figure. Ebert leads over 200 lawsuits to save his honor - not always with success [ROOM 9].

Friedrich Ebert died on February 28, 1925 as a result of a long delayed appendectomy, which eventually led to peritonitis [ROOM 10]. His consistent policy contributed significantly to the stabilization of the Weimar Republic. After his death, however, and the election of General Field Marshal von Hindenburg as Reich President, the right and left-wing extremist, anti-republic positions increasingly gained the upper hand. In 1933, President von Hindenburg, who was re-elected in 1932, hands over government power to the National Socialists. They single-mindedly set up their twelve-year "millennial empire", a criminal dictatorship. A timeline at the end gives an insight into the memory of Friedrich Ebert, whose policies were by no means undisputed during the revolutionary times of 1918/19 and also as Reich President, but who is now recognized as a founding father of German democracy.


  • Walter Mühlhausen: Friedrich Ebert. His life, his work, his time. Accompanying volume to the permanent exhibition in the Reich President Friedrich Ebert Memorial . Heidelberg 1999.
  • Walter Mühlhausen (Ed.): Remembrance and Commemoration - 20 Years of President Friedrich Ebert Memorial . Heidelberg 2009.
  • Walter Mühlhausen: Friedrich Ebert, social democrat and statesman . Leinfelden-Echterdingen 2010.
  • State Office for Monument Preservation (Hrsg.): Monument topography Federal Republic of Germany, cultural monuments in Baden-Württemberg, city district of Heidelberg . Thorbecke-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-7995-0426-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Report of the Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte Foundation for the year 2008 , Heidelberg 2009, p. 12.
  2. ^ Walter Mühlhausen: On the history of the origins of the memorial , in: Walter Mühlhausen (Ed.): Erinnern und Gedenken - 20 years Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte , Heidelberg 2009, pp. 63-88.
  3. Bernd Braun: "The eye is a stronger seducer than the word" - the traveling exhibitions of the foundation , in: Walter Mühlhausen (Ed.): Erinnern und Gedenken - 20 years Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte , Heidelberg 2009, p. 119 –138, here pp. 122–125.
  4. Ibid., Pp. 127-135.
  5. ^ Report of the Reichspräsident-Friedrich-Ebert-Gedenkstätte Foundation for the year 2009 , Heidelberg 2010, p. 10.

Coordinates: 49 ° 24 '44.9 "  N , 8 ° 42' 29.9"  E