Rudolf Wissell

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Rudolf Wissell (left), 1930

Rudolf Wissell (also Rudolf Wissel , born March 8, 1869 in Göttingen , † December 13, 1962 in Berlin ) was a German politician ( SPD ). During the Weimar Republic , he held office as Reich Economics Minister and Reich Labor Minister, among other things.


Life in the Empire (1869-1919)

Wissell was born the son of a head helmsman. After attending the public school in Bremen from 1876 to 1883, he was trained as a lathe operator and mechanical engineer by 1887. He then worked as a mechanical engineer, first in Bremen and then until 1901 at the Imperial Torpedo Workshop and at Bohn and Kähler in Kiel . In 1888 he became chairman of the professional association of locksmiths and mechanical engineers , which he incorporated into the German Metalworkers' Association in 1890 . In the same year he married. The marriage resulted in five children, including Rudolf Wissell junior.

Memorial plaque on the house at Wiesenerstraße 22 in Berlin-Tempelhof

From 1901 to 1908 Wissell was a trade union official in Lübeck . From that time on, Wissell became more politically active in the SPD, to which he had belonged since 1888 and in which he was assigned to the right wing of the party. On the basis of the new electoral law passed on August 9, 1905, with the corresponding constitutional amendment, on November 14th in the country and on the 17th in the city the renewal of a third of the citizenship, with 40 new members to be elected, was carried out. In order to keep the number of citizenship members at 80 after those elected since 1899, the drawing of five members was necessary. In the new elections that have now taken place, Wissell was newly elected to the citizenry. From 1908 Wissell was a member of the Central Workers' Secretariat of the trade unions in Berlin. From 1916 he worked part-time as an editor for the SPD organ Vorwärts .

In March 1918 Wissell came to the constituency of Potsdam 6 in the Reichstag of the German Empire, to which he belonged until the collapse of the monarchy in November of the same year. On December 28, 1918, Wissell was appointed to the Council of People's Representatives together with Gustav Noske . The appointments resulted from the fact that the three USPD members of the council had withdrawn from it, which opened up the possibility for the SPD to send further representatives to the council. As the second chairman of the general commission of the trade unions, he also campaigned for an agreement with employers and against the establishment of a soviet republic during the revolution. One result of these efforts was the agreement of the Stinnes-Legien Agreement , in which the employers' associations recognized the trade unions for the first time as “appointed representatives of the workers”.

Weimar Republic (1919–1933)

First cabinet meeting of the Scheidemann cabinet on February 13, 1919 in Weimar. v. l. To right: Ulrich Rauscher , Press Officer of the Reich Government, Robert Schmidt , Nutrition, Eugen Schiffer , Finance, Philipp Scheidemann , Reich Chancellor, Otto Landsberg , Justice, Rudolf Wissell , Economy, Gustav Bauer , Labor, Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau , Foreign Affairs, Eduard David without Portefeuille, Hugo Preuss , Interior, Johannes Giesberts , Post, Johannes Bell , Colonies, Georg Gothein , Schatz, Gustav Noske , Reichswehr

In January 1919, Wissell was elected to the Weimar National Assembly as the SPD candidate for constituency 4 (Potsdam 1-9) . A year and a half later, in June 1920, Wissell entered the first Reichstag of the Weimar Republic as a candidate of the SPD for constituency 4 (Potsdam I) . Having been re-elected seven times between 1924 and 1933, he was a member of the German parliament for 13 years, from June 1920 to June 1933.

In addition to his work as a member of the Reichstag, Wissell took on various high political offices in the 1920s. From February to July 1919, Rudolf Wissell was the republic's first economics minister. In this capacity, he advocated an "economy that is planned and controlled in favor of the national community". After his plans failed, he resigned. In the years 1928–1930, Wissell belonged to the so-called “ Cabinet of Personalities ” under Hermann Müller as Reich Labor Minister .

Due to his public work, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Kiel in 1929 .

As a recognized social politician , Wissell was a board member of the ADGB from 1919 to 1924 . From 1924 to 1932 he also acted as an obligatory arbitrator in collective bargaining disputes in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Wissell took part in the vote on the Enabling Act on March 23, 1933. The SPD parliamentary group was the only one to vote against the law intended to pave the way for the dictatorship.

Nazi period and post-war period (1933–1962)

After the " seizure of power " by the National Socialists , Wissell was ousted from public life as a prominent social democrat. He was imprisoned for two months and his mandate in the Reichstag was revoked in June 1933. After that he lived withdrawn in Berlin until 1945.

After 1945, Wissell took part in the reconstruction of the Berlin SPD. He strictly rejected a union of the SPD and KPD . In his later years he received numerous honors. In 1949 he was made an honorary citizen of Berlin, and in 1954 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit with a star and shoulder ribbon .


Wissell was buried in an honorary grave of the State of Berlin in the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirchhof of the Evangelical parish Zum Heiligen Kreuz in Berlin-Mariendorf (Eisenacher Straße 62); the tomb is 2-W Erb. 105.

Today the Rudolf-Wissell-Brücke of the Berlin city ring as well as the Rudolf-Wissell-Siedlung in Staaken , the Rudolf-Wissell-Primary School in Gesundbrunnen and the Rudolf-Wissell-Straße in his native Göttingen remind of Wissell's life and political life Activity.

A memorial stone honors him in the Rudolf-Wissell-Siedlung .


Rudolf Wissell's daughter Ulrike Wissell (* 1899; † 2000) married the Social Democrat and later President of the Berlin House of Representatives Otto Friedrich Bach (* 1899; † 1981) on June 7, 1924 .

Rudolf Wissell 's son of the same name (* 1902, † 1985) was also active in the SPD.


  • The old stonemasons Law and Habit , publishing house of the Central Association of Stone Workers of Germany, Leipzig 1927.
  • The old craft law and custom , 2 volumes, Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, Berlin 1929.
  • The social thought in the old handicraft , Verlag Reimar Hobbing, Berlin 1930.


Web links

Commons : Rudolf Wissell  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Constitutions of the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck
  2. ^ Citizenship replacement election. In: Vaterstadtische Blätter ; Year 1905, No. 47, edition of November 19, 1905, pp. 193–194
  3. Honorary graves of the State of Berlin (PDF; 566 kB) Status: September 2009