People's State of Hesse

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People's State of Hesse
coat of arms flag
Coat of arms of the People's State of Hesse Flag of the People's State of Hesse
Situation in the German Reich
Weimar Republic - Hesse (1925) .svg
Arose from Grand Duchy of Hesse
Incorporated into Greater Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate
Data from 1925
State capital Darmstadt
Form of government
Head of state President
Constitution Constitution of December 12, 1919
Consist 1918-1945
surface 7692 km²
Residents 1,347,279
Population density 175 inhabitants / km²
Religions 30.9% Roman Catholic
66.2% Ev.
1.5% Jews
1.4% others
anthem Hessen song
Reichsrat 2 votes
License Plate VO / VR / VS
administration 3 provinces
18 counties
977 municipalities
Map of the People's State of Hesse

The people's state of Hesse was a state of the German Empire from 1918/19 to 1934 . It was created after Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig was deposed on November 9, 1918 and the monarchy was abolished. In accordance with the Grand Duchy of Hesse , whose legal successor was the People's State of Hesse, the new state consisted of two larger, separate areas in central and southern Hesse (including Rheinhessen) and a number of smaller exclaves .

The suffix Volksstaat referred to the democracy introduced after the end of the monarchy and was used analogously to the designation free state (=  republic ) for other states of the Weimar Republic (1918/1919 to 1933).

After the First World War , in the course of the Allied occupation of the Rhineland due to the Treaty of Versailles, around 40 percent of the national territory, in particular the province of Rheinhessen on the left bank of the Rhine , but also temporarily areas of the Starkenburg province , were occupied by French troops until June 30, 1930. With the law on the rebuilding of the Reich of January 30, 1934, the country only continued to exist as a legal entity without the character of a state, but formally retained a state government. After the German surrender in early May 1945, the Hessian state was also subject to the Allied victorious powers, which divided the country into zones of occupation. The part to the left of the Rhine (roughly congruent with Rheinhessen) became part of the French zone , while the remaining areas became part of the US zone .

On September 19, 1945, the American occupying forces founded the new state of Greater Hesse (Greater Hesse), which included the right bank of the People's State of Hesse and the greater part of the Hesse-Nassau province , which in turn included the historic core area of ​​Hesse with the former Electorate Hesse. On the other hand, Rheinhessen on the left bank of the Rhine became, like the French-occupied parts of Nassau, an area of Rhineland-Palatinate .

Greater Hesse was renamed the State of Hesse on December 1, 1946, when the first new constitution of a state in the western zones came into force , and in 1949 it became a state of the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany .


After the proclamation of the republic on November 9, 1918, the first state parliament was freely elected on January 26, 1919. The parliament already passed a provisional constitution on February 20th in order to have a legal basis immediately. At the same time, deliberations began in the state parliament, which served as the constituent assembly . The final Hessian constitution was published on December 12, 1919. The constitution was amended three times:

  • with the law of November 4, 1924
  • with the law of September 27, 1927
  • by law of March 28, 1930

Parliament and House of Estates

State government

See also the Hessian state government .

The state sovereignty of the federal states was terminated with the “ Provisional Law on the Harmonization of the Lands with the Reich ” of March 31, 1933 and the “ Law on the Reconstruction of the Reich ” of January 30, 1934. Philipp Wilhelm Jung (1933 to 1935) and Jakob Sprenger (1935 to 1945), the Gauleiter in the Hessen-Nassau Gau , were appointed minister-presidents with limited powers .

Head of Government:

State President / Prime Minister / Leader of the state government :

Administrative division

After 1918, the People's State of Hesse took over the division of the Grand Duchy into the three provinces of Starkenburg, Rheinhessen and Upper Hesse, which in turn were divided into a total of 18 districts. The state territory enclosed 8 Baden and Prussian enclaves, while 11 Hessian exclaves were enclosed by Baden territory.

The provinces were abolished in 1937 after the provincial and district assemblies were dissolved in 1936. The year 1938 brought a comprehensive regional reform at the district level. On November 1, 1938, the Bensheim, Schotten and Oppenheim districts were dissolved. The total number of districts thus decreased to 15. At the same time, the cities of Darmstadt, Gießen, Mainz, Offenbach am Main and Worms were made independent as urban districts . With effect from January 1, 1939, all districts were renamed rural districts . This circular division of the people's state was in place until the end of the war in 1945.



On November 8, 1918, part of the troops stationed in Darmstadt revolted in Hesse as part of the November Revolution . Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig responded by appointing a Council of State , in which two representatives of the parties represented in the state parliament and the Grand Duke and his ministers were represented. In this body, the left-wing parties advocated the Grand Duke's abdication . The Grand Duke rejected this request, supported by the national liberal representatives in the State Council Arthur Osann and Heinrich Köhler .

Thereupon the Darmstadt Workers 'and Soldiers' Council declared on November 9, 1918 the removal of the Grand Duke. The workers 'and soldiers' council commissioned Ulrich to form a government. On November 14th, the interim government was formed from Carl Ulrich, Heinrich Fulda (SPD), Konrad Henrich ( Progressive Party ) and Otto von Brentano di Tremezzo ( center ). Even if the republic was created by the Workers 'and Soldiers' Council, Carl Ulrich was a staunch supporter of representative democracy. On November 27, he instructed the country's authorities not to accept orders from the councils, but only from the government. At the same time, free elections were scheduled for January 26, 1919.


The first step was the appointment of a Reich governor on May 5, 1933, with which the Gauleiter in the Gau Hessen-Nassau Jakob Sprenger was looked after. In the course of 1933, Sprenger downsized the government of the People's State of Hesse through various ordinances and personnel decisions. Sprenger reserved the latter personally, even if his function as Reich Governor did not legitimize him. By the end of the year he had cut the number of ministers from five to one minister and a state secretary and that of senior ministerial officials from 40 to nine. All ministries were to Hessian Ministry summarized the Prime Minister of the title President revoked.

In addition, Sprenger prevailed in the personal power struggle against Prime Minister Ferdinand Werner . Werner, although a member of the NSDAP himself, ensured that the state administration worked in a largely correct manner and supported Police Commissioner Werner Best in his actions against the SA . Above all, however, Werner resisted Sprenger's attempts to merge the people's state with the other parts of the state in the Hessen-Nassau Gau. It escalated when Sprenger wanted to merge the four chambers of commerce in his area. Werner intervened personally against Adolf Hitler , but was ultimately unsuccessful. Sprenger then urged the Prime Minister to resign on September 20, 1933 and appointed Philipp Wilhelm Jung as his successor , who only carried the title of Minister of State .

With the law on the rebuilding of the Reich of January 30, 1934, the Landtag was repealed and the sovereign rights of the People's State of Hesse were transferred to the Reich. The state government was subordinated to the Reich government. The Reich government obtained constitutional power for Hesse. This ended the statehood of the People's State of Hesse; the country now existed only as a legal entity without the character of a state, but formally retained a state government. After Sprenger and Jung fell out in early 1935, Hitler appointed Sprenger head of government on March 1, 1935 under the Reich Governor Act. After Saxony, the People's State of Hesse was the second Reich member in which the NSDAP Gauleitung had completely replaced the highest state administration. The previous deputy Gauleiter Heinrich Reiner became State Secretary in the Sprenger cabinet without any other ministers.

With effect from April 1, 1937, Sprenger passed a law that dissolved the provinces of Upper Hesse, Rheinhessen and Starkenburg.

Post-war development

After the military occupation of the People's State of Hesse by the Allies, the Rhine became the zone boundary between Rheinhessen on the left bank of the Rhine in the French occupation zone , while the main part on the right bank of the Rhine was in the American occupation zone .

On April 14, 1945, Ludwig Bergsträsser took over from the US military government the task of building a supra-regional administration as chairman (from May 8, 1945 president) of a "German government" to be established with its seat in Darmstadt.

Bergstrasse's powers were fully extended to the former provinces of Starkenburg and Upper Hesse of the People's State of Hesse by the beginning of August 1945 and his administration was renamed "German Government of the State of Hesse".

After the proclamation of Greater Hesse by the American military government on September 19, 1945, the previous Darmstadt "German government" was renamed "District President Hesse" on November 4, 1945, and finally "District President Darmstadt" on January 21, 1946. The People's State of Hesse, with its areas on the right bank of the Rhine, was incorporated into the new state as the administrative district of Darmstadt . Rheinhessen, on the left bank of the Rhine, became part of Rhineland-Palatinate in 1946 as the administrative district of Rheinhessen .

coat of arms

On February 20, 1920, the people of Hessen received a new coat of arms.

Coat of arms of the People's State of Hesse
Blazon : “The coat of arms shows the silver-red striped lion on a blue field. Above it sits golden foliage with blue fruits in the shape of a crown. "

The design comes from the pen of the German heraldist Otto Hupp (1859–1949), who also designed numerous other national coats of arms, for example the Bavarian national coat of arms from 1923.


Web links

Individual evidence

  2. ^ Constitution of the People's State of Hesse
  3. RegBl. P. 367
  4. RegBl. P. 170
  5. RegBl. P. 49
  6. Article "Hessen" (2) in: Der Große Brockhaus, 15th edition
  7. District: Gießen Historical outline, see 1938  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  8. § 4 of the Third Ordinance on the Rebuilding of the Reich of November 28, 1938
  9. Headlines from Bensheim on the 175th anniversary of the "Bergsträßer Anzeiger". (PDF; 9.0 MB) The creation of the Bergstrasse district. 2007, p. 109 , archived from the original on October 5, 2016 ; Retrieved February 9, 2015 .
  10. ^ Friedrich Knöpp: The People's State of Hesse 1918–1933. In: Uwe Schultz: History of Hessen. Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-8062-0332-6
  11. ^ Archive information system Hessen (Arcinsys Hessen): Search for "German Government of the State of Hessen" in the holdings of the HStAD
  12. ^ Dieter Emrich: 60 years of the Hessian coat of arms. History, precursors, origins. In: History sheets district Bergstrasse. 42, 2009, pp. 177-200. Quoted from: New coat of arms for the people of Hessen, February 20, 1920. Contemporary history in Hessen (as of August 29, 2017). In: Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (LAGIS). Hessian State Office for Historical Cultural Studies (HLGL), accessed on October 22, 2017 .