Wilhelm Bracke

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Wilhelm Bracke
Samuel Spiers and Wilhelm Bracke's theses on the democratic program by Johann Jacoby 1868
Wilhelm Bracke
Grave of Wilhelm Brackes and his wife Emilie, b. Walter, in the Petrifriedhof .

Hermann August Franz Wilhelm Gotthard Bracke (born May 29, 1842 in Braunschweig , † April 27, 1880 there ) was a German social democrat , publisher and publicist . He was instrumental in founding the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP), the forerunner of today's SPD .

life and work

Born as the son of Andreas Bracke, a miller and a Braunschweig grain trader, he went to a secondary school , contrary to his father's wishes, to complete a commercial apprenticeship so that he could later take over his father’s trading business after attending the Martino-Katharineum . He himself wanted to study physics or chemistry later. During his studies at the Collegium Carolinum he became a member of the General German Workers' Association (ADAV), which was founded by Ferdinand Lassalle , and co-founded the Braunschweig fraternity Germania in autumn 1861.

Over time, he became increasingly active on a political level. On September 6, 1865, he founded a section of the General German Workers' Association in Braunschweig, organized meetings and became a member of the board of directors of the ADAV.

Bracke married Emilie Walter on January 24, 1869, the daughter of the master carpenter Karl Heinrich Walter (1813–1879) from Eschershausen and his wife Johanne Caroline Gerke (1814–1885). The Bracke-Walter marriage had five children.

In 1869 he met Karl Marx in Hanover with Louis Kugelmann , with whom he would stay in contact throughout his life. Within the ADAV he represented oppositional views that he shared with August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht . This tendency led to the split-off of a group of members and the founding of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany at the founding party congress from August 7 to 9, 1869 in Eisenach . After the founding of the party, Wilhelm Bracke became its spokesman; Braunschweig was chosen as the first seat. In 1870 he was arrested for a call for peace and sentenced to three months in prison. After his release from prison he founded his own publishing house and the newspaper Braunschweiger Volksfreund . Among other things, he published the first biography of Karl Marx.

In 1872 he was the first social democrat to be elected to the city council of Braunschweig. In 1877 he became a member of the Reichstag . In the Reichstag session on October 11, 1878, Bracke uttered the words that corresponded to the attitude of all Social Democrats during the Socialist Act : “Gentlemen, I want to tell you: we don't give a damn about the whole law.” For health reasons, he had to retire in 1879 hand back.

Wilhelm Bracke died on April 27, 1880 at the age of 37. More than 30,000 people gave him their last escort on May 2, 1880 . His grave is on the Petrifriedhof in Braunschweig.

A school in Braunschweig was named after him, the Wilhelm-Bracke-Gesamtschule (integrated comprehensive school with upper secondary school).

On his 125th birthday, the “ Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhandels zu Leipzig” donated the Wilhelm Bracke Medal for “exemplary work in the service of books”.


  • On the workers question. In: The Social Democrat . Berlin from November 3rd and 8th and December 22nd, 1867.
  • The women's work. In: The Social Democrat. Berlin, December 6th and 8th, 1867.
  • One position at a time! In: Braunschweiger Volksfreund from February 18, 1873.
  • The Brunswick committee of the social-democratic workers' party in Lötzen and before the court. Braunschweig 1872. Digitized
  • Lassalle's proposal. A word to the 4th Congress of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party. Braunschweig 1873. MDZ digitized
  • The spectrum. In: Volks-Kalender 1876. Braunschweig 1875.
  • “Down with the Social Democrats!” Braunschweig 1876 (digitized, Berlin 1896) .
  • The desperation in the liberal camp. Answer to the seven articles in the Magdeburgische Zeitung and the diatribe by Herr Unruh . Braunschweig 1876. MDZ digitized
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing . In: Volks-Kalender 1878. Braunschweig 1877.
  • Beware of the 300 million new taxes! In addition to an appendix: Bracke's speeches in the German Reichstag in 1877 and 1878. Braunschweig 1878. MDZ digitized
  • The sky. A scientific sketch. In: Poor Conrad . Leipzig 1878.


  • Georg Eckert : From the beginnings of the Brunswick labor movement. Unpublished Bracke letters. . Limbach, Braunschweig 1955
  • Karl Marx Friedrich Engels. Correspondence with Wilhelm Bracke (1869–1880) . Ed. U. a. by Heinrich Gemkow . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1963 (Library of Marxism-Leninism Volume 62)
  • Georg Eckert: On the history of the Braunschweig section of the I. International. The correspondence between Leonhard von Bonhorst and Johann Philipp Becker . In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch . Vol. 43, Braunschweig 1962, pp. 131-172
  • Georg Eckert: From the correspondence of the Braunschweig Committee of the Social Democratic Workers' Party . In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch Vol. 45, Braunschweig 1964
  • Heinrich Gemkow : Bracke's encounter with Marx. An unpublished letter. In: Contributions to the history of the German labor movement, issue 3/1965, Berlin 1965, pp. 487-490
  • Heinrich Gemkow: In the struggle to found the party. Unpublished letters to Bebel and Liebknecht (June to August 1869) . In: Contributions to the history of the German labor movement, issue 4/1969, Berlin 1969, pp. 620–639
  • Georg Eckert: Hundred years of Lötzen chain affair. Two unknown letters from Wilhelm Bracke to the head of the "German Language Section" of the international workers' association . In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch . Vol. 51, Braunschweig 1970
  • Erich Kundel: New Bracke Letters for the Unification Congress 1875 . In: Contributions to the history of the German labor movement, issue 4/1977, Berlin 1977, pp. 605–616


  • Bracke, Wilhelm . In: Franz Osterroth : Biographical Lexicon of Socialism . 1st part: Deceased personalities . JHW Dietz Nachf., Hanover 1960, pp. 37-39.
  • Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Volume 7: Supplement A – K. Winter, Heidelberg 2013, ISBN 978-3-8253-6050-4 , pp. 136-137.
  • Heinrich Leonhard: Wilhelm Bracke. Life and Work. Commemorative publication on the 50th anniversary of his death on April 27, 1930 . Rieke, Braunschweig 1930.
  • Georg Eckert: Wilhelm Bracke and the beginnings of the Brunswick labor movement. A. Simbach, Braunschweig 1957.
  • Wolfgang Friedrich: Wilhelm Bracke - bookseller of the revolutionary social democracy . In: Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels, Leipzig 1959, No. 46.
  • Georg Eckert: Wilhelm Bracke. In: Lower Saxony images of life. Vol. 4, Hildesheim 1960.
  • Georg Eckert: The Brunswick workers' movement under the socialist law. Part 1 (1878-1884). Braunschweig 1961. (= sources and research on Braunschweigische history, vol. 16)
  • Georg Eckert: Wilhelm Bracke and the propaganda for the 1st volume of "Capital" by Karl Marx (1867/68) . In: Braunschweigisches Jahrbuch. Vol. 48, Braunschweig 1967, pp. 102-137.
  • Jutta Seidel : Bracke, Hermann August Franz Wilhelm Gotthard. In: History of the German labor movement. Biographical Lexicon . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1970, pp. 57-59.
  • Jutta Seidel: Wilhelm Bracke. from Lassallean to Marxist. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1986. (= History series).
  • Klaus Erich Pollmann (Ed.): Wilhelm Bracke. Contributions to the colloquium on May 29, 1992. (= Kleine Schriften, 24). City archive, Braunschweig 1992.
  • Horst-Rüdiger Jarck , Günter Scheel (Ed.): Braunschweigisches Biographisches Lexikon. 19th and 20th centuries. Hannover 1996, pp. 85-86.
  • Wilhelm Bracke, the man of the people, the friend of humanity. Edited by Frieder Schöbel. 3. revised Edition of the SPD sub-district Braunschweig, Braunschweig 2005, ISBN 3-926701-65-X .
  • H. Welsch: Bracke, Wilhelm . In: Biographical Lexicon on German History. From the beginning until 1917 . Edited by Karl Obermann u. a. Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1967, pp. 62–63.

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Bracke  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ H. Voigt: Thoughts and wishes as a commemorative publication for the 50th anniversary of the foundation celebration of the Germania fraternity in Braunschweig. 1861-1911 . Wilhelmshöhe 1911.
  2. ^ Georg Eckert: The pamphlets of the Lassallean community in Braunschweig In: Archive for social history. Vol. 2, Verlag für Literatur und Zeitgeschehen, Hannover 1962, pp. 295–358.
  3. Heinz Hümmler: opposition to Lassalle. The revolutionary proletarian opposition in the General German Workers' Association 1862/63 - 1866 . Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1963.
  4. ^ Friedrich Engels: Karl Marx . In: Volks-Kalender, Braunschweig 1878. Marx-Engels Werke Vol. 19. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1962, pp. 96-106.
  5. ^ Jutta Seidel: Wilhelm Bracke. From Lassallean to Marxist. Facsimile after p. 176.
  6. ^ Website of the Wilhelm Bracke Comprehensive School