Wilhelm Kaisen

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Carl Wilhelm Kaisen (born May 22, 1887 in Hamburg , † December 19, 1979 in Bremen ) was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). From 1920 to 1928 and 1933 he was a member of the Bremen citizenship . Between 1928 and 1933 he held the office of Senator for Welfare in Bremen. He spent the time of National Socialism in Bremen with his family as a farmer in what is now the Bremen district of Borgfeld , at that time still a rural community. After the end of World War II , the representatives of the American occupation forces reappointed him to the Senate . Shortly afterwards, they promoted him to its president and thus to Bremen's mayor . Kaisen had a decisive influence on the political and economic reconstruction of the Hanseatic city until he left the Senate in 1965. He pleaded for the West integration of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European unification . Within the SPD, he publicly represented positions that differed significantly from the negative attitude of the SPD party executive until the end of the 1950s. Kaisen is a symbol of the post-1945 reconstruction in Bremen.

Wilhelm Kaisen

Childhood and youth

Family background and school days

Wilhelm Kaisen (left) with parents and siblings around 1900

Wilhelm Kaisen was born in Hamburg-Eppendorf as the second of five children. His father Henrik (Hinrich) was a trained bricklayer , but later worked as a factory worker. His mother Minna, née Janzen, was born as the daughter of an estate manager in the Pinneberg district and, like her husband, had lived in Hamburg for several years. Before the cholera epidemic of 1892 , the family moved from the workers' quarter of Eppendorf to the still rural Hamburg-Alsterdorf . Because the father was often unemployed as a construction worker, especially in winter , the wife and children contributed to the family income.

One of the most important childhood memories of Kaiser's was the appreciation of work that ensured a living. At the same time, he valued the family cohesion in his parents' home, which would also shape his later life. After all, the young Wilhelm enjoyed the regular stays on the estate near Elmshorn with his maternal grandparents.

Wilhelm attended the elementary school in Alsterdorf from 1893 to 1900 . His teacher encouraged him so that Wilhelm Kaisen could spend the last school year at a secondary school in Eppendorf. His wish to become a teacher was dashed because his parents could not afford the school fees and because Wilhelm did not feel comfortable in the boys' school in Eppendorf. In 1900 he started as an unskilled worker in the soap factory C. Puhlmann & Sohn in Alsterdorf, where his father had been employed for years.

Entry into the world of work and military service

Kaisen at the age of 19

Kaisen spent his first working years as a factory worker in the production of soaps, and later of shoe polish. From 1905 to 1907 he trained as a plasterer ; this craft was in great demand during the Art Nouveau era . His new profession took Kaisen to various places in northern Germany and Denmark, including Copenhagen, during a long boom phase until 1914 .

From October 1907 to September 1909 Kaisen did his military service with the Field Artillery Regiment No. 9 of the Prussian Army in Itzehoe . He was harassed by some superiors because he had been a registered member of the Social Democratic Party since he was 18, but in retrospect viewed the recruiting period benevolently. According to his own assessment, he had succeeded in proving that representatives of the working class and avowed social democrats can also make good soldiers - not just those from “better circles”. His achievements were recognized. He left the military as a sergeant candidate and with distinction for his skills as a marksman.

Pre-war engagement in the labor movement

Entry into the SPD and first career steps

In 1905 Wilhelm Kaisen joined the SPD. His father had owned a SPD party book for a long time . He had experienced the repression against the party in the times of the Socialist Law (1878-1890) himself. It was not just family reasons that were decisive for Wilhelm Kaisen's entry. He was also motivated by his own experience of factory work, the legal status of workers and everyday experiences with the risk of accidents and poor industrial hygiene. The party also made educational offers to those interested. Kaisen used the evening courses of the workers' education association in Barmbek and acquired knowledge in sociology and economics . At the same time he took part in internal party discussions and trained his rhetorical skills.

Kaisen quickly made headway in the party, helped by his father's leading position in the Fuhlsbüttel party district . Wilhelm became secretary immediately after joining the party and was chairman of this district from the beginning of 1911 until the First World War . He made his first big public appearance at the May celebration of the Fuhlsbüttler comrades in 1913. In 1907, two years after joining the party, he joined the free trade union organization of plasterers , plasterers and white binders.

Berlin and new career prospects

Kaiser's political talent was noticed in the Hamburg state organization of the SPD. From October 1, 1913 to March 31, 1914, at her suggestion, he attended the SPD Party School in Berlin . Among the teachers who most impressed him, was Rosa Luxembourg , in the fields of economics and economic history taught. The head of the party school, Heinrich Schulz , also impressed Kaisen. He instructed his audience in newspaper theory and technology. In his course he also met his future wife Helene Schweida , the only woman among the 31 participants. The comrades from Bremen had delegated them.

After returning to Hamburg from Berlin, Kaisen aspired to a career in the social democratic newspaper industry. A few weeks later he was able to show his first success: The Hamburger Echo printed his article on May 17, 1914, which described the economic crises typical of capitalism with classic Marxist vocabulary .

First World War

Soldier on the Western Front

Kaisen was during the mobilization of Hamburg-Bahrenfeld convened, where one of reservists compiled Artillery Regiment allocated. This unit was transferred to France on August 3, 1914 and spent the entire war on the Western Front until November 1918 . Immediately after the war began, Kaisen was promoted to sergeant. Kaisen was in Flanders not and northern France directly in trench warfare used, but in the rear front. He was promoted to sergeant and received the Hanseatic Cross and the Iron Cross 2nd class.


During the war years he corresponded with Helene Schweida on political and private issues. They married on May 1, 1916 while on leave from the front in Worpswede . The marriage resulted in two sons and two daughters.

During the war, Kaisen, like the majority of the Hamburg Social Democrats, remained loyal to the “fatherland” line of the SPD and trade union leadership. His wife, however, leaned toward the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD). In Bremen, a strong left wing had already established itself before the war, which also dominated the political discussion in the local social democracy during the war years.

In the letters they wrote to each other in the second half of the war, the couple discussed their future prospects. Among other things, they had plans to emigrate to Denmark or the United States .

End of war

After the collapse of the empire's military resilience from autumn 1918 and the beginning of the November Revolution , his fellow regiments elected Kaisen as chairman of the soldiers' council . He attached great importance to a quick, orderly and loss-free return of his regiment. This project succeeded, shortly before Christmas 1918 the troops were back in Hamburg.

Politics in Bremen during the Weimar Republic

Change to the Weser

The Hamburg regional organization of the SPD appointed Kaisen to the extended leadership of the party after his return. At the same time, she made sure that he was employed at the local employment office, where he was, among many others, involved in reintegrating the returning soldiers into the world of work and employing workers from armaments factories in peace production.

His pregnant wife - their first son, Niels, was born on March 6, 1919 - stayed in Bremen and experienced the political events in the course of the Bremen Soviet Republic , its break-up and the subsequent strike actions. After these events, the SPD in Bremen had lost a lot of its reputation and influence among the workers, and the left had already held considerable weight in Bremen in the pre-war and war years. The SPD district of Hamburg-Nordwest - responsible for the Elbe-Weser triangle including the cities of Hamburg and Bremen - decided to undertake a comprehensive reorganization of the party and to improve public relations work in Bremen. In this context, Kaisen accepted the offer in June 1919 to work as a journalist for the SPD newspaper Bremer Volksblatt , founded at the end of January 1919 .

Journalistic work

In the editorial office, Kaisen was responsible for local politics . Despite his limited practical journalistic experience, he quickly earned the respect of colleagues who worked for competing workers' newspapers, such as Alfred Faust , who headed the Bremer Bürger-Zeitung , which was then part of the USPD , and who became spokesman for the Bremen Senate decades later. Kaisen developed into the undisputed leader in the editorial team of the Volksblatt. A good year after joining the editorial team, he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Volksblatt.

His articles pointed out the difference between social democratic politics and that of the bourgeois parties. He dealt sharply with those forces who attacked parliamentary democracy for reactionary motives. He opposed all attempts at revolutionizing from the left. Kaisen kept the course that the party leadership set for the majority social democracy across Germany. He signaled to the USPD that he was ready for political cooperation, but at the same time pointed out that this party had already turned down such offers several times. After the merger of the majority social democracy and the USPD, the USPD papers were discontinued and the editorial offices were merged with that of the Bremer Volksblatt. Kaisen became editor-in-chief of the new newspaper, which from October 1, 1922 was called the Bremer Volkszeitung . He held this post until the beginning of May 1925. Then he devoted himself more to his duties as a member of the citizenship.

Member of Parliament

In the SPD it was customary to nominate leading editors for parliamentary seats. With Wilhelm Kaisen there were other factors that led him to run for the Bremen citizenship: The reputation of the Bremen SPD suffered from the actions of those executives who during the November Revolution, the Bremen Council Republic and the subsequent riots almost exclusively on calm and order was throbbing. The exponents of this policy on the right wing of the party were punished on June 6, 1920 in the elections for Bremen citizenship - the party lost a third of the votes compared to the elections in March 1919. On June 6, 1920, the elections to the Reichstag took place at the same time . Here the SPD lost almost half of the voters who had voted for it on January 19, 1919 in the election for the German National Assembly in Bremen.

From the summer of 1920, Kaisen belonged to the shrunken SPD faction in the new citizenship. After moving to Bremen, in addition to his journalistic work, he had made a name for himself as a speaker and main speaker at many discussion and training events. In internal party discussions, he had advocated seeking an alliance with the Bremen USPD and only engaging in alliances with bourgeois parties if the USPD was included in the coalitions. With this view Kaisen hit the mood of the majority in the Bremen SPD. Overall, he did not act as a party leader, but as a man of the grassroots .

Kaisen made his first major parliamentary appearance when he motivated the SPD to dissolve the city defense. In the eyes of the workers' parties, this had increasingly developed from an initial police reserve to an instrument of violence against the workers. The common concern of the SPD, USPD and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) failed due to resistance from the bourgeois Senate.

In the following two years Kaisen made a name for himself within the SPD parliamentary group as a social politician . He called for a significant increase in transfer payments for pensioners, unemployed and welfare recipients. His socio-political commitment made him move up to the leadership ranks of the parliamentary group. Alternating with the SPD parliamentary group leader Emil Theil , Kaisen has held keynote speeches on budget policy since 1923 .

A characteristic of his ascent in the party was his delegation to all SPD party congresses between 1920 and 1927. From 1922 he was also deputy chairman of the Hamburg-Northwest district.


In April 1928 Wilhelm Kaisen took up the office of Senator for Welfare, which also had to control Bremen's labor market policy . He was a member of the Senate, which was formed by the SPD, the German Democratic Party (DDP) and the German People's Party until 1933 . When it entered the Bremen Senate, the SPD ended its years of opposition. This development was similar to that at the Reich level, where the SPD provided Reich Minister and Reich Chancellor as part of the Müller government from mid-1928 .

The welfare department was of considerable importance during the global economic crisis , because the number of people to be cared for increased, as did the financial expenses for the unemployed. While the welfare expenses in Bremen amounted to around 100,000 Reichsmarks per month in early 1929 , four years later they were over 1 million Reichsmarks.

The effects of the crisis came relatively late compared to the empire, but they hit the city with its specific economy oriented towards trade , shipping and shipbuilding hard. The climax of the crisis was the collapse of the Nordwolle Group in mid-1931 . The bankruptcy led to the total loss of a recently granted Bremen state loan. It also caused the bankruptcy of Danat-Bank , at that time the third-largest bank in Germany, and the largest bank in northwest Germany, the Schröder-Bank . The burdens from the bankruptcies of Nordwolle and the Schröder Bank were so great that Bremen's statehood was at times endangered.

Under these fiscal conditions, Kaisen tried to maintain welfare services for the increasing number of those in need. With his commitment, he gained a great reputation within the SPD. His leadership also convinced the bourgeois coalition partners. Even political opponents showed him respect.

Within the party, Kaisen became the first man in Bremen from 1928. In addition to his policy as Senator for Welfare, this was also due to his unwavering support for the republic as a whole, for social democratic participation in government at the Reich level, and for the SPD's policy of tolerance towards Heinrich Brüning's presidential cabinets from 1930 onwards . In the general election at the end of November 1930, Kaisen stood as the top candidate for the Social Democrats. In February 1931 he moved up to the office of deputy chairman of the SPD in Bremen.

In exile in Borgfeld

From senator to settler

On March 6, 1933, a few weeks after the National Socialist seizure of power , the SPD Senators Kaisen, Sommer and Klemann had to leave the Senate. In the weeks that followed, the SPD in Bremen insisted on giving the National Socialists no pretext for violence and persecution. She hoped in vain to prevent the labor movement from being smashed by strict legality . However, the organizations were banned in the course of the National Socialist expansion of rule. This also affected the Bremer Volkszeitung, whose editorial team Kaisen had rejoined after leaving the Senate. In a few weeks, Kaisen was in danger of being cut off from all sources of income as soon as the new rulers stopped paying transitional payments to the ex-senator.

Kaisen was arrested along with the other members of the Bremen SPD executive committee on May 12, 1933. Unlike many other imprisoned Social Democrats, he was not ill-treated in prison and was released after twelve days. However, the internment remained a decisive event for him, who believed in law and order, especially since his wife became seriously ill due to his arrest.

Kaisen thought of a way to stay with his family in Germany and earn a living, but at the same time to evade the access of the National Socialists. He applied for a settler position in Borgfeld, a then still rural community in the east of Bremen on the lowland of the Wümme . Kaisen acquired the last of these settlement sites in the summer of 1933, which was about two kilometers from the outskirts of Borgfeld and thus accommodated Kaiser's wish to retreat. After the settlement house was built, he and his family, which included his wife's father, moved from the city to the countryside in December 1933.

Political abstinence

In order not to endanger himself and his family, Kaisen strictly avoided any political or underground activity. His resolution to make himself more or less invisible was successful. He and his relatives were largely unmolested in their inner emigration . Until 1944 the Gestapo was only interested in him once: Shortly after Easter 1935, they questioned him in Borgfeld to obtain information for a trial against Bremen members of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold . Kaisen also avoided showing up in the city. After the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 , Kaisen came under the control of the Gestapo in the course of the Grid action . She arrested him on August 27, 1944, but released him that evening.

The necessary political abstinence did not mean that he severed all ties with previous campaigners. However, these contacts were never aimed at conspiracy , but primarily served to maintain personal acquaintances. When time and work allowed, Kaisen studied socialist writings. He was able to access them because his father-in-law had an extensive collection of relevant literature that he had brought with him to Borgfeld. Kaisen was in correspondence with a few Social Democrats. These included the long-time President of the Reichstag, Paul Löbe , the former Minister of the Interior of Prussia and the Reich, Carl Severing , and Alfred Faust.


Kaisen, who had become acquainted with agriculture as a child , accepted the challenges of his new farming existence. He showed so much ambition and skill that his neighbors, often experienced farmers, quickly gave up their initial skepticism towards the “townsperson” Kaisen and offered neighborly support and advice.

Initially, Kaisen and his family members concentrated on growing vegetables on the 30- acre farm, which were either sold to a local shop or distributed directly. The cultivation of potatoes and grain as well as livestock were used for personal needs. The income from the sale of the vegetables made it possible to lease adjacent fields. They also made it possible to operate dairy farming on a limited scale .

Kaisen identified with his new work so much that he never gave it up after the Second World War. He remained closely connected to agriculture, took care of his farm every morning and lived in the Borgfeld corridor without interruption since 1933 .

Reconstruction of Bremen

At the center of Bremen politics

In the last days of the war, the American historian Walter L. Dorn , later author of the denazification law and advisor to the American military governor for Germany, visited General Lucius D. Clay , Kaisen in Borgfeld. On behalf of the American occupation forces, he asked him to take part in the political reconstruction in Bremen and to be ready for entry into the Senate . As in the Weimar period, Kaisen then took over the post of Senator for Welfare. He got along well with the Governing Mayor Erich Vagts , appointed by the Americans , although he was increasingly criticized in the summer of 1945 due to his past as a public official in the Third Reich and was finally dropped by the Americans.

On August 1, 1945, Kaisen himself was appointed President of the Senate by the occupation authorities. In this function he maintained intensive working contacts with the American authorities and cooperated with them to our mutual satisfaction. The acceptance of Kaisens by the Americans was expressed, among other things, by the fact that they also appointed him president of the first post-war citizenship.

Kaisen felt it was imperative to distribute the burden of reconstruction on as many shoulders as possible. That is why he was always an advocate of the broadest possible coalition government, which should represent an alliance of merchants and workers. This was also the case when the SPD won absolute majorities after citizenship elections.

The Senate Kaisen II on January 6, 1946 in the Bremen town hall

Kaisen's understanding of office was shaped by the primacy that the Senate, in Kaisen's eyes, had over the citizens and therefore all parties. For the SPD and the SPD parliamentary group, this meant that they had to comply with the policies of the Senate and its President and support them. In the context of these political ideas, Kaisen was able to appear autocratic or even authoritarian, especially towards party members .

In the Senate he put despite his position as president of emphasis on in Bremen traditional collegiality , on interagency policy coordination as well as representation of this policy towards the occupation authorities and in other parts of Germany.

His modesty in his personal lifestyle and his straightforward, relaxed manner made him credible and popular in Bremen far beyond party lines, which was particularly evident in election campaigns and election results .

In the Senate, Justice Senator Theodor Spitta , who drafted the state constitutions in 1920 and again in 1947, was one of Kaisens confidants. The same applied to Finance Senator Wilhelm Nolting-Hauff , who, like Kaisen, advocated budget management strictly based on income. Interior Senator Adolf Ehlers also worked closely with Kaisen and was chosen by Kaisen to succeed him in the office of President of the Senate in the early 1960s. In questions of federal politics, Kaisen relied on the advice of Karl Carstens , who was Bremen's representative at the federal government. Alfred Faust, press spokesman for the Bremen Senate since mid-1950, became Kaiser's closest advisor.

Securing Bremen's independence

When the federal states were brought into line , the National Socialist rulers also abolished Bremen's sovereignty in 1933 . As one of their main concerns, leading Bremen politicians worked towards regaining and securing Bremen's independence after the end of the Second World War. One starting point for the implementation of this goal was the role of Bremen and its environs for the American occupation zone . Agreements between Great Britain and the United States had led to the formation of an American enclave in the British zone of occupation . It should serve to supply the American zone of occupation in central and southern Germany. On May 9, 1945, on behalf of Erich Vagts, Theodor Spitta presented an expert opinion that recommended the restoration of Bremen's independence. Kaisen agreed to this report, but he subsequently took into account concerns expressed by representatives of areas to the left and right of the Lower Weser . These areas of Prussia and Oldenburg did not want to be governed from Bremen. In discussions between the responsible American and British authorities about the administrative order in the Lower Weser region, an agreement was reached in December 1945 to add Bremen, the port area at the mouth of the Weser and the city of Wesermünde to the American enclave.

Proclamation No. 3 by the American military authorities, which establishes Bremen's status as an independent country

The opponents of Bremen's independence did not fall silent. The leadership of the state of Hanover and Lower Saxony wanted to continue to take over the American enclave in their own area. Kaisen and his Senate rejected such plans, pointing out that, as in the past, Bremen will have a special task for the whole of Germany in the future due to the city's special focus on sea trade and shipping. The American military government supported the Senate on this issue. At the end of October 1946, the British and American authorities finally came to an agreement on the issue: Bremen should not be incorporated into the British zone in the future either. On January 21, 1947, retroactively to January 1, 1947, the State of Bremen was formed with Proclamation No. 3, which consisted of the city of Bremen, the Bremen region, the Wesermünde district and the Bremen harbor at the mouth of the Weser. The Senate under Kaisen was henceforth the state government. On March 10, 1947, Wesermünde was renamed Bremerhaven .

In the course of 1947, Spitta coordinated work on the state constitution of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen . Kaisen had the controversial draft, which had been approved by the constitutional deputation on August 1, 1947, changed on controversial points. The modifications mainly concerned opportunities for socialization , questions of participation and questions of the school system . On September 15, 1947, the revised draft was passed by the citizens with a large majority and approved by the population on October 12, 1947 by referendum .

In the run-up to the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and in the 1950s, in the course of the discussions about the reorganization of the federal territory, plans were circulating for the establishment of a north-western state including Bremen and Hamburg. Kaisen rejected these considerations. He regarded the two Hanseatic cities as trustees for all of Germany in matters of foreign trade , a function that established the independence of Bremen and Hamburg.


By order of the American occupation authorities in Bremen after the end of the Third Reich, as in all of Germany, all National Socialist organizations were dissolved, the Nazi symbols were removed from the public and all persons who had joined the National Socialists before May 1, 1937 were released from the public administration German Workers' Party had joined or were considered enthusiastic supporters. Throughout Germany, the denazification processes since the end of 1947 have been overshadowed by the looming Cold War . In Bremen, the questionnaire and panel procedure used proved to be ineffective.

Kaisen considered denazification to be a necessary prerequisite for the creation of the democratic state. At the same time, however, he denied the occupying powers the right to judge a “German guilt”. For Kaisen, it was more important than questionnaires and ruling chambers that each individual dealt with their behavior in the Third Reich. Insight into faulty behavior can only be gained through this reflection .

Kaisen made the chosen formal path of denazification jointly responsible for the lack of urgently needed specialist staff in the administration and for the economic revival to progress only slowly at first. It was important to him to quickly complete the denazification procedures, which were perceived as a burden. From 1948 onwards, the Americans - until then the occupying power most interested in a thorough political cleansing - also had other main political goals, which came together in the containment of Moscow-style communism , which was perceived as a danger . They too were now striving to end the denazification, which was largely completed in 1949. Nevertheless, there was a public conflict with the Americans in which Kaisen chose harsh words. Joseph Francis Napoli, the US officer responsible for denazification in Bremen, publicly criticized Bremen's denazification practice after his return to the United States. Charles Richardson Jeffs , Director of the Bremen Military Government, endorsed this judgment. Kaisen rejected the allegations indignantly, mainly because neither of them had consulted him beforehand on this matter, although they had an extremely good relationship with the Bremen Senate President. However, contemporary studies have already shown that American criticism is justified. A study presented at the end of 1949 by the responsible Senator for Political Liberation, Alexander Lifschütz , showed that of the 400,000 adults questioned in Bremen by sheet, only 16,500 had to endure a court hearing. Around 800 of them were classified in the top three categories, so they were considered to be the main culprit, the offender or the minor offender . Many of them were demoted to followers on the path of grace by 1952 .

Kaisen could also be won for advances aimed at pardoning convicted war criminals . In 1952, Erwin Schulz's lawyer , who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen Trial in 1948 and was pardoned to 15 years in 1951, turned to Kaisen. As leader of Einsatzkommando 5 of Einsatzgruppe C, Schulz was responsible for numerous mass murders in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine . His lawyer asked for an endorsement of an act of grace. Kaisen campaigned for Schulz with the American High Commissioner Walter J. Donnelly and his successor James Bryant Conant . During his time in Bremen he always behaved honestly towards imprisoned social democrats. The efforts were successful: In 1954 Schulz was released on parole from the Landsberg correctional facility .

Relationship with communists

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, many social democrats in Bremen were inclined to work closely with the communists. After the forced unification of the KPD and SPD to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in the Soviet occupation zone in April 1946, this willingness cooled significantly. Kaisen did well because he considered the ideological differences of the two parties to be irreconcilable. His attitude towards the KPD was exclusively shaped by pragmatic points of view. First of all, he wanted to prevent the KPD from gaining popularity through opposition to the decisions of the post-war senate. He incorporated them into the government through the appointment of Adolf Ehlers and Hermann Wolters . After both KPD functionaries converted to the SPD in protest against the founding of the SED, Kaisen stuck to Käthe Popall , who had been senator since summer 1945. At the same time he appointed Albert Häusler to the Senate. Kaisen changed this involvement of KPD members in early 1948 mainly because he saw little use in it.

The Korean War was the reason for the establishment of the state agency for the protection of the constitution and for the establishment of riot police units. Added to this was the dissolution of citizenship committees and their formation without members of the KPD parliamentary group. In addition, KPD functionaries no longer received invitations to Senate receptions. Despite this policy of exclusion, Bremen did not take part in attempts to ban all cover organizations of the KPD. Even officials in Bremen were not checked for possible KPD membership.

Kaisen considered the idea of ​​banning the KPD to be wrong. He argued that the dispute should not be conducted with legal means, but with arguments. The KPD ban criticized Kaisen publicly as unwise. In Bremen, in contrast to other federal states, there were no trials of communists after they had continued their political activity after the KPD ban.

Economic reconstruction

March 1949: Cotton is unloaded from the USA in the port of Bremen . It is financed from funds from the Marshall Plan.

In the post-war years, the revitalization of the port, trade, shipping and shipbuilding was of central importance for Kaisen. The maxim was to first promote the port and only then the city.

After the port had reached roughly the handling rates of the best pre-war years by the end of the 1940s , among other things because the American authorities actively supported the clearing of the docks and the repair of the quays , Kaisen turned his attention to shipping and shipbuilding. The provisions of the Potsdam Agreement led to the confiscation of German merchant ships. They also prohibited the construction of larger ships in German shipyards . In Bremen, the restriction on shipbuilding particularly affected the AG Weser . Its existence was in danger above all because it was initially intended as an object to be dismantled and Krupp AG held the majority of the shares in the Großwerft, a company whose owners were suspected of being the main culprit in National Socialist crimes. The dismantling plans failed in the face of the Cold War, the plants did not go to the Soviet Union as planned , but remained on the Weser . Intensive efforts to loosen the restrictions in shipbuilding led to success in the Petersberg Agreement at the end of 1949 . To work towards lifting remaining restrictions, Kaisen traveled to the United States for six weeks in mid-1950. With his visit, however, he did not achieve a binding promise for the complete approval of German shipbuilding.

The Korean War also brought about the breakthrough here. Funds from the Marshall Plan could now also be used in shipbuilding. At the same time, foreign shipping companies were now able to place orders with German shipyards. The complete lifting of the restrictions on German shipbuilding led to a boom in Bremen until the end of the 1950s.

The settlement of the Klöckner-Hütte in Bremen in the mid-1950s was another focus of the Bremen economic policy coordinated by Kaisen . After the iron and steel company became aware of its intentions, the Senate immediately initiated all the necessary preparatory work at the end of 1953. In September 1954, Bremen finally succeeded in asserting itself against the possible alternative location in Wesel . For this success, Kaisen's regular lecturing activities in the Ruhr area were considered to be decisive - in his lectures he had repeatedly highlighted the advantages of a close connection between the Ruhr and Waterkant .

Rebuilding the city

New development area Bremen-Vahr, photo from 1960

In the first few years, the creation of living space through repairs and new construction lagged behind the efforts to get Bremen's economy going again. Until the currency reform , the Bremen Senate hardly channeled any money into the housing market. When they did flow, they went exclusively to private investors. The rampant housing shortage could not be alleviated by so-called kaisen houses - repaired garden houses or makeshift accommodation .

Brisk construction activity did not start in the center of Bremen until the beginning of 1950, when the traffic route plan for Bremen city center was approved. Construction activity expanded to other parts of the city from mid-1950 after the Federal Housing Act came into force. Now the city and state of Bremen acted as investors.

Based on his experience, Kaisen generally advocated the construction of homes and small rural settlements for workers. Nevertheless, he agreed to the construction of - in the meantime controversial - large estates, which were particularly demanded by the unions. The trade union housing association GEWOBA built the garden city Vahr in the east of Bremen from 1954 . In May 1957 Kaisen laid the foundation stone for the large Neue Vahr housing estate . Around 10,000 apartments for 30,000 people were built in around four years of construction. At the end of 1960, the reconstruction with these major construction projects was largely completed. During these years Kaisen became the symbol of reconstruction and the dominant political force in Bremen.

German political and federal German initiatives

Prime Minister's Conferences

July 4, 1947: The country council of the British zone meets in Celle . Kaisen (front left) with Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (front center) and Hermann Lüdemann (front right).

In Kaisen's opinion, the Germans had forfeited their right to self-determination for a long period of time . Nevertheless, he advocated taking initiatives on the German side to improve the overall situation. At his invitation, the heads of the provincial administrations and provisional state governments of the British zone met with the prime ministers of the countries of the American zone on February 28 and March 1, 1946. All of the people invited by Kaisen appeared at this conference, which was supposed to serve the cross-zonal coordination - the Bavarian Prime Minister Wilhelm Hoegner (SPD) only sent one “observer”. At the suggestion of the Prime Minister of Württemberg-Baden , Reinhold Maier ( Democratic People's Party ), which Kaisen emphatically supported, the conference recommended that a state council be established in the British zone, as it already existed in the American zone . Building on this, a North-South Council should be envisaged. The representatives of the American occupation forces present supported these intentions, but the representatives of the British occupation authorities rejected them. This first Bremen meeting remained without any tangible result, even though it was the first cross-zonal meeting that set an example. Another result was the beginning of the long-term close cooperation between Kaisen and Maier.

Kaisen intended in his efforts for interzonal coordination to involve the authorities of the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) on an equal footing. Accordingly, during a visit to Thuringia , he suggested a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Soviet Zone, saying that Germany should not allow itself to be separated by the Iron Curtain . In his public report on the trip to Thuringia, he relativized the importance and consequences of the establishment of the SED, which he judged to be only external conformity. For this assessment, he received harsh criticism from the SPD leadership around Kurt Schumacher .

At the beginning of October 1946, Prime Ministers met again in Bremen. Kaisen had previously invited representatives from the American and British zones and, for the first time, representatives from the countries that were in the French occupation zone and the Soviet Zone. Pressure from the French and Soviet authorities prevented their participation. The rump conference nevertheless passed the ambitious resolution to set up a German state council in the near future. This council, consisting of the minister-presidents of the federal states, should form the provisional German central authority. The vision presented with this resolution differed significantly from the realities in Bremen, where in October 1946 representatives from two zones, rather than four, conferred.

In June 1947 the new Bavarian Prime Minister Hans Ehard ( Christian Social Union ; CSU) initiated the Munich Prime Minister's Conference . It was welcomed by Kaisen, because the five prime ministers from the Soviet occupation zone were supposed to participate in it for the first time. However, they left before the actual start of the conference because their suggestion was not followed to first talk about the all-German political structures instead of concentrating exclusively on questions of economic cooperation. Against this background, the hopes with which Kaisen had come to the conference quickly vanished. At the meeting itself he spoke about the situation of the German prisoners of war , whose immediate release he demanded. This concern was emphatically supported by those present. He also explained to his colleagues what task, in his opinion, Bremen could take on in contemporary Germany.

Initiatives up to the founding of the Federal Republic

A central German political authority for the whole of Germany was becoming increasingly distant in view of the developing division of Germany . For this reason, Kaisen worked to promote the formation of a western state that should encompass the three western zones of occupation. For this reason, in April 1948, he demanded that the occupying powers not send the military governors but German representatives to the international bodies that had been set up with the Marshall Plan. The question of the representation of Germany by Germans was thus openly addressed.

The fact that the division in Germany would be deepened with steps towards a western state also appeared to Kaisen to be the lesser evil compared to a continuation of the economic misery in post-war Germany. A West German state would have to take over the interests of the East Germans in trust until an all-German solution was within reach.

The deviation of the Bremen Senate President from the Germany conception of the SPD executive committee, which prioritized the unity of Germany and at the same time saw the parties - not the prime ministers - as opposed to the occupying powers, was obvious.

However, the occupation authorities did not adhere to the parties, but on July 1, 1948, by handing over the Frankfurt documents , instructed the prime minister to call a meeting soon to draft a constitution for the western state. A currency reform had already been carried out in the western zones a few days earlier.

Kaisen in conversation with Hanns Haberer during the Rittersturz conference

The Prime Ministers who dealt with the documents at the Rittersturz Conference were concerned that they would be held responsible for the final division of Germany if they followed the demands contained in the Frankfurt documents completely and immediately. They successfully asked not to speak of a constitution and a constituent assembly, but of a constitution and a parliamentary council . With the Frankfurt documents, the prime ministers were also called upon to submit proposals for a reorganization of the states. On this issue Kaisen feared attacks on Bremen's independence. A month later, he and his Hamburg counterpart Max Brauer presented a memorandum that was intended to establish the special role of Bremen and Hamburg. In this way, Brauer and Kaisen put a stop to the emerging debates about a regional restructuring in northern Germany.

Kaisen's commitment in the following months was aimed at getting the SPD to agree to the Basic Law. The chances were bad here for a long time. Schumacher wanted a Germany that had equal rights at the international level. Restrictions on German sovereignty are unacceptable. In the opinion of the party leadership, if Schumacher and the SPD had given in on this issue, Schumacher's opponent would have been right: The chairman of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and later first Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer considered the issue of German sovereignty to be secondary. The first priority was the formation of a West German central authority. There were also considerable differences between Schumacher and the Western Allies on the question of whether the Western state should be structured more federalistically, as requested by the occupying powers, or more centralistically, as Schumacher wanted. Kaisen tried again and again to dissuade Schumacher from his course of keeping the SPD in opposition to the emerging developments. However, he did not succeed. The SPD only abandoned its threat of not agreeing to the Basic Law when the Allies made concessions in April 1949, primarily aimed at strengthening the federal level of the new western state.

Initiatives after the founding of the state

After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, the influence of the Prime Ministers in Germany policy declined sharply. The Federal Council was compared to German government and Bundestag no equivalent power center. Kaisen therefore had to look for other stages for political initiatives in Germany.

After the first elections to the Bundestag on August 14, 1949 , which were disappointing for the SPD , Kaisen pleaded for the formation of a grand coalition of the CDU and the SPD. This was in line with his idea of ​​tackling reconstruction efforts together. For Kaisen, such a constellation would have brought with it the prospect of a ministerial office. In the SPD, however, the project of a grand coalition was not able to win a majority, just as little as in the CDU. Schumacher on the one hand and Adenauer on the other hand argued strictly against such proposals and prevailed.

The office of the Federal President offered another opportunity for national political profiling. Among the prime ministers, Kaisen was seen as a possible candidate for this office. Adenauer, however, was not ready to drop Theodor Heuss . Heuss was chosen as the joint candidate of the Union and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the ministers of his government. Kurt Schumacher finally let himself run as a candidate for the SPD. With this candidacy he wanted to send a signal against the Adenauer cabinet , which he vehemently rejected.

From then on, Kaisen was advised to use the Bundesrat's limited options if he wanted to participate in Germany's policy. In the Federal Council, however, Bremen behaved cautiously and avoided open confrontations with the federal government. Instead, Kaisen was interested in good relations with Adenauer and the federal government and therefore appointed Carstens and later the CDU politician Heinrich Barth as Bremen's representative at the federal government. In addition, Kaisen agreed with the basic lines of Adenauer's foreign policy. He, too, considered a clear connection to the West and the rearmament of the Federal Republic necessary because he saw an expansionist power in the Soviet Union . The agreement between Chancellor and Kaisen went so far that the news magazine Der Spiegel reported speculation that Kaisen could become the first foreign minister under Adenauer.

Despite general agreement, Kaisen saw rearmament and integration into the West at the same time as burdens. For one thing, he repeatedly feared publicly that rising defense budgets could be at the expense of those funds that were urgently needed for economic reconstruction. On the other hand, Kaisen openly addressed the deterioration in German-Soviet relations that had arisen in 1955 after the establishment of the Western European Union and Germany's accession to NATO . In Kaisen's assessment, these steps reduced the incentive for the Soviet Union to make serious progress on the German question. In his opinion, this could lead to increasing alienation of the population on both sides of the inner-German border . In this context, Kaisen pleaded for funds to be set aside early, which would have to be used for support measures in East Germany in the event of reunification. This proposal went without a great response, as did Kaisen's suggestion, formulated in early 1959, that Soviet demands, as expressed in the Berlin ultimatum , should not simply be rejected, but should be answered with constructive counter-proposals.

Europe idea

Council of Europe

The division of Germany and Europe ended Bremen's trade relations with eastern Germany and the eastern European countries . Kaisen therefore worked hard to find replacements for these lost connections. In his opinion, the Marshall Plan offered great opportunities on this point, too , as it intended a comprehensive economic recovery in Western Europe. He strongly supported the promotion of European unification efforts and repeatedly warned his party comrades against taking opposition politics into the field of foreign policy.

Kaisen saw a first great opportunity on the way to a united Europe in the Council of Europe . In 1950 the Council of Europe's Council of Ministers asked the Federal Republic of Germany to join. However, since such an invitation was also sent to Saarland , the SPD leadership refused to join. The Federal Republic would only be treated there like a member of lesser law. Kaisen considered the rejection of membership by the SPD leadership to be wrong and agreed with the mayors of Berlin and Hamburg, Ernst Reuter and Max Brauer.

The Bundestag and Bundesrat voted for the Federal Republic to join by a majority. This gave Kaisen the prospect of becoming a member of the Advisory Assembly of the Council of Europe, because the Bundesrat initially demanded that six of the 18 German delegates should belong to the Bundesrat. Kurt Schumacher thwarted the chances of social democratic supporters of Europe such as Kaisen and Brauer, because he only granted the Bundestag the right to elect these delegates.

Montan Union

The plan presented by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in May 1950 to create a common market for coal and steel also offered prospects for the states of Western Europe to grow together. Kurt Schumacher opposed. Kaisen, however, assessed these plans as unreservedly positive. He hoped this would provide further opportunities for Bremen's economy; He saw advantages for the European steel and coal industry in strengthening their international competitiveness. At the same time, Kaisen emphasized that Germany would join the bodies of the Montan Union as an equal partner. His support of the coal and steel union brought him another reprimand from the party leadership, without this being able to detract from his commitment.

European Defense Community

In the course of the Cold War , plans for the economic, political and military unification of Western Europe were pushed forward almost simultaneously. NATO was founded in 1949 . In the course of the Korean War , the American side called for a stronger military commitment by the countries of Western Europe to defend the Free World and, in this context, considered the establishment of German military units - an idea that initially aroused strong concerns in the Benelux countries and France. Building on the Pleven Plan presented in October 1950 , the Benelux countries, France, the Federal Republic and Italy began negotiations to form a European Defense Community (EDC), which led to an agreement in May 1952. A corresponding military organization should be established.

Kaisen thought the EDC was politically correct, because for him the danger of a Soviet attack on Western Europe was real. In addition, he saw the formation of joint military facilities as an opportunity for Germany to be perceived more and more as an equal partner in Europe. He also found the joint advantageous, which linked Germany's EVG accession to the so-called Germany Treaty . This should lead to the final termination of all occupation rights and the full sovereignty of the Federal Republic.

Kaisen's assessments again contradicted the SPD leadership. This saw in a German participation in military alliances such as the EVG or NATO, above all, the danger of putting insurmountable hurdles in the way of the desired reunification of Germany. However, the party leadership and Kaisen agreed on two important points: the Bundestag could only decide whether to join the Federal Republic with a two-thirds majority, because a constitutional amendment was pending here . In addition, the decision should not be made until the second legislative period, because the voter could not have known in the federal election of 1949 that a decision of such importance would be pending by 1953. Kaisen subsequently worked out that the constitutionality of the treaties must be clarified beyond any doubt, otherwise he could not agree to them. This approach enabled him to maintain the balance between his substantive approval of Adenauer's policies on the one hand and the party season on which the SPD leadership insisted even after Kurt Schumacher's death in 1952 on the other.

In May 1953, the Federal Council approved the plans to establish the EVG without the Federal Constitutional Court having previously ruled that these plans were compatible with the Basic Law. Bremen voted no in this Federal Council vote and thus adhered to the requirements of the SPD leadership. In terms of content, Kaisen remained convinced of the correctness of the EVG even after ratification .

Nevertheless, the EVG did not come about. The French National Assembly rejected ratification at the end of August 1954 because of concerns about German rearmament.

Germany's accession to NATO, which was decided in autumn 1954 with the Paris Treaties , was from Kaisen's point of view not a sufficient substitute for membership in the EVG, because it lacked the common European dimension.

European Economic Community

At the beginning of 1955 the foreign ministers of the member states of the coal and steel union tackled the expansion of the common market to other economic sectors and the formation of common structures for the civil use of nuclear energy. In the spring of 1957, both of these led to the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) with the Treaty of Rome . Kaisen advocated support for these projects at an early stage because he saw the economic advantages that this development would have for Germany and Bremen. In this context, he disregarded the votes of Bremen SPD senators who demanded that the Bundesrat should have an important say in appointing members of the German delegation for these new European community bodies - a request that the Bundestag strictly rejected. Kaisen did not want the two European joint projects to be delayed or even endangered by insisting on delegation principles.

Business trips to other Western European countries

Kaisen went on a number of business trips to other European countries and made personal contacts with politicians at the national and local levels, representatives of authorities and journalists. He also made himself personally familiar with the special conditions on site. Wherever possible, he combined these trips abroad with visits to farms in order to get his own picture in this regard.

One of the most important trips of this kind took place in the spring of 1951. It led Kaisen to France. The week-long trip could be understood as a return visit to the reception that was prepared by André François-Poncet , the French High Commissioner, in Bremen in October 1950 . The work program of the trip to France, which François-Poncet had strongly supported, included a meeting with the French Foreign Minister Schuman and with the leadership of the French Socialists from the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO). For Schuman and the French comrades, Kaisen was an interesting conversation partner because, as a social democrat like them, he was in favor of the coal and steel union. At the same time, Adenauer had provided Kaisen with instructions for talking to Schuman before his departure - orders that Kaisen was happy to follow.

Several trips took him to Belgium . The goal of the first visit, made in May 1951, was Antwerp , where Kaisen was particularly interested in the conditions in the port and the possibilities of Bremen and Antwerp to assert themselves in the European competition with other port cities. A lasting friendship developed with the long-time mayor of the city, Lode Craeybeckx. In 1953 Kaisen traveled unofficially to Brussels , where he met leading Belgian politicians, business representatives and journalists at a “European dinner” declared as “private”. A year later he officially performed in the Belgian capital. He gave a lecture in which he strongly advocated European unification. This trip was agreed with the German embassy and the Foreign Office . Both trips to Brussels came about at the instigation of Paul-Henri Spaak , a leader of the Belgian Socialist Party and multiple prime minister of the country.

In the fall of 1953 Kaisen visited Great Britain. This trip had no political gain worth mentioning, as the British had long been reserved about the European unification initiatives on the continent.

Pro-European non-governmental organizations

Kaisen was involved in a number of groups committed to the idea of ​​European unification. This included the “ Moral Armament ” group directed by the American theologian Frank Buchman . This group sought a reconciliation of workers and owners of capital through a moral renewal, and in the process opposed communist ideologies. Kaisen invited representatives of this group to Bremen in 1949 and arranged a meeting with all members of the Senate. Since 1951 he has distanced himself from the Buchman circle because he believed that this group wanted to use him for their purposes, which included militant anti-communism .

Kaisen saw another institution promoting the idea of ​​Europe in the Evangelical Academy in Hermannsburg . From 1950 he appeared there several times as a speaker and used this to present his ideas for Europe, which differed from the SPD executive committee.

Kaisen also worked in the European Union . For the first time he received an invitation to an international congress of the European movement, which met in May 1947 in The Hague . However, he did not accept this invitation because the SPD leadership forbade all invited Social Democrats to participate. In November 1949 Kaisen was elected to the office of chairman of the Bremen regional association of the European Union. As one of his first official acts, he invited the SFIO representative André Philip , who headed the Mouvement socialiste pour les États-Unis d'Europe (MSEUE) and was considered a proven pro-European among the French socialists. Three years later, this contact would lead to Kaisen taking over the chairmanship of the German MSEUE section. For the time being, however, Kaiser's activities within the European Union did not take place across Germany or Europe. In 1950 he was initially elected to the Presidium of the European Union. However, he did not take up this office. As it turned out, leading representatives of the European Union had apparently intended to punish Carlo Schmid by electing Kaiser's Carlo Schmid , who until then had been part of the Presidium of the European Union, but had strictly adhered to Schumacher's line in decisions in the Bundestag. In the spring of 1951, Kaisen resigned from his position as Bremen state chairman of the European Union.

Paul Henri Spaak and André Philip urged Kaisen to join the leadership of the German MSEUE and thus to give it greater weight in the Federal Republic. In November 1953 he took over the chairmanship of the German section. The Senate colleagues Ehlers and Annemarie Mevissen also moved into this body. This initiative was widely discussed in the press and interpreted as a sign of a turnaround in European policy for the SPD. The party leadership around Erich Ollenhauer viewed this step with suspicion.

The move into the leadership of the German MSEUE section was also a springboard for further offices. In 1953 he was the only prominent German social democrat to take part in the Congress of the European Movement in The Hague at Spaak's invitation. In mid-1954 Kaisen was re-elected to the Presidium of the European Union, this time he accepted the election with the consent of the SPD leadership. Kaisen stopped working at MSEUE when there was a scandal in August 1954: Kaisen and Brauer had canceled early for an international MSEUE congress in Milan . In the press releases of the MSEUE, however, it was claimed that both had exposed themselves in Milan during the congress for the MSEUE and the European cause.

In the second half of the 1950s, Kaisen reduced his involvement in European politics. On the one hand, this was due to the fact that the SPD reoriented itself programmatically after the lost federal election of 1957 - a development that came to a preliminary conclusion with the Godesberg program - and not Kaisen, but others like Carlo Schmid, Herbert Wehner and Fritz Erler publicly with it - also European policy - change. On the other hand, the European unification process stalled, not least because the Eurosceptic Charles de Gaulle had moved into the center of power in France.

Relationship to the party leadership of the SPD

Conflicts with Schumacher

The ongoing conflicts with Schumacher initially arose from the different tasks that both of them faced. As mayor, Kaisen was responsible for ensuring that the economic and material reconstruction in Bremen proceeded as quickly as possible. Like all other country chiefs, he had to come to terms with the responsible occupying power. Schumacher's goal was the reorganization of the party and the development of political concepts for the whole of Germany.

The claim of leading social democrats in the countries to participate in fundamental decisions of the party exacerbated the conflict. This claim collided with Schumacher's unconditional claim to power within the party, who had established himself as the first man in the party since the winter of 1945/1946.

With regard to Kaisen and Schumacher, there were additional aspects: Schumacher mistrusted all leading Social Democrats who, before 1933, had not adopted the same aggressive tone against the National Socialists as he himself or other “militant socialists” such as Carlo Mierendorff , Theodor Haubach or Julius Leber . He also thought Kaisen was a party member who was intellectually inferior to him. In addition, both politicians both demanded and achieved allegiance from their ranks. Kaiser's demand for a say and Schumacher's claims to submission created considerable tensions when they came together.

A high point in the conflict-ridden relationship resulted from Schumacher's famous words to Adenauer's address, whom he called a "Federal Chancellor of the Allies" on the night of November 24-25 , 1949 in the plenary hall of the German Bundestag, and then for 20 days of Bundestag sessions was excluded. The party leadership then called on the branches of the SPD to public protest rallies. Kaisen believed both Schumacher's words and the calls to protest were wrong. In his opinion, they drove the SPD into the role of a nationalist opposition to the Allies - a situation that was extremely dangerous for Germany and the party. Kaisen also considered the Petersberg Agreement , which Schumacher so flared up against Adenauer, to be correct because it meant the end of the dismantling and showed the way to diplomatic equality of the Federal Republic. Kaisen formulated his sharp criticism of Schumacher not only in letters to the party executive, but also publicly in newspaper articles at the end of 1949, including in the Weser-Kurier and in the world . These publications led to outrage in the party executive and caused the final break between Schumacher and Kaisen.

In May 1950, Schumacher's course in foreign policy was expressly confirmed at the SPD's Hamburg party congress - Schumacher had made the vote on it a question of confidence. Kaisen, who was absent because of a trip to the USA, lost his seat on the party executive committee, which he had been a member of since May 9, 1946. As the only one of the social democratic heads of government, he was no longer part of this party committee.

Compensation with Ollenhauer

Erich Ollenhauer, photo from 1953

After the death of Kurt Schumacher in August 1952, Erich Ollenhauer took over the office of SPD chairman. Kaisen found it much easier to deal with him, because like him, Ollenhauer was essentially a supporter of pragmatic politics. This led to both an organizational reform and the formulation of a new basic program being achieved during his term of office. In addition, the personal appearance of Ollenhauer Kaisen made contact easier: like Kaisen, the new party leader was known for his modest personal lifestyle; like Kaisen, Ollenhauer came from the proletarian milieu .

However, when Ollenhauer took office, the SPD did not change course. It remained in opposition to Adenauer's foreign policy. The result of the Bundestag election in 1953 spoke in favor of Kaisen's positions . The SPD lost slightly and stayed with less than 30 percent of the vote, while the CDU / CSU gained 15 percentage points and achieved a share of the vote of over 45 percent. With its coalition partners, the Union had a two-thirds majority in the second Bundestag. The SPD election results in Bremen deviated noticeably from the national trend. Here the SPD gained 4.6 percentage points. Journalists and some Social Democrats interpreted this effect as a result of Kaiser's European positions.

The President of the Bremen Senate did not use this result for a general settlement with the party. In any case, he rejected all further considerations about a gathering of the internal party opposition against the party leadership. He publicly warned, however, that in the future he should address the concerns of those Social Democrats who were responsible for government in the countries. After the state elections in Bremen in 1955 - the SPD was able to improve significantly from 39.1 to 47.7 percent of the vote and won the majority of the seats - the last critics of Kaisens from the “apparatus” of the party leadership fell silent. He formed a coalition with the CDU and FDP and was confirmed on December 28, 1955.

Kaisen's final rehabilitation took place after the SPD, in reaction to its disappointing performance in the federal elections of 1957, ousted Schumacher's last loyal followers through organizational reform and set up an advisory board to coordinate the federal and state levels, which Kaisen headed from autumn 1959 . In November 1960, Kaisen finally moved back to the party executive.

The formulation of fundamentally different positions was of course no longer necessary for Kaisen, because the party had changed considerably since the mid-1950s towards a pragmatic understanding of politics. It no longer posed itself as an uncompromising opponent of the governing parties, but as a “better party”. Its executives made it a point to highlight similarities with the government and spoke of a commonality policy.

Despite these changes, Kaisen did not become the personification of the new SPD. As early as 1962, Kaisen decided not to be re-elected to the party executive committee. He left his place to Adolf Ehlers. A little later he finally gave up the office of chairman of the party council.

Autumn of the Kaisen era

Germany policy until the mid-1960s

Wilhelm Kaisen (center) in 1959 at a reception by the Federal Council in Bonn

Kaisen was aware that the influence of the Prime Ministers in Germany and foreign policy at the beginning of the 1960s was significantly less than in the first post-war years. Nevertheless, on suitable occasions, he tried to continue to set accents in these subject areas. The reason for this was the policy of Adenauer, who had successfully promoted the integration of the Federal Republic into the West, but who lacked the initiative to relax relations with the Soviet Union. Instead, the federal government relied solely on the claim to sole representation , which was expressed in the Hallstein Doctrine .

Kaisen himself was unwilling to accept the division of Germany. In September 1960 he spoke at a rally on the occasion of the Homeland Day . He sharply condemned the expulsion of the Germans after 1945 and emphasized that the areas of the German Reich on the other side of the Oder and Neisse rivers had to be considered German territory until a peace treaty was signed.

The Germany plan presented by the SPD in March 1959 was supported by Kaisen. Here he saw a basis on which to negotiate a confederation and then a reunification. Kaisen defended this plan emphatically against voices who believed that the Germany plan represented a threat to the West's ties to the West and that sooner or later it could lead to its Bolshevization .

The building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961 was largely a burden for Kaisen to Adenauer's rigid Germany policy. However, he did not have high hopes that this event would lead to a change of course.

Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, July 1961

Kaisen also considered Adenauer's strong orientation towards France and de Gaulle problematic. For his part, he repeatedly emphasized the importance of good German-American relations . One of the reasons why he traveled to the United States for several weeks in the fall of 1962. This trip coincided with the Cuban Missile Crisis . In the wake of this crisis, Kaisen repeatedly warned publicly that the US could withdraw from Europe if France continued to try to instrumentalize Europe for French great power ambitions at the expense of the Americans. Kaisen therefore did not regret the de facto failure of a Franco-German special union, which de Gaulle should have justified in the Élysée Treaty in 1963 .

To Kaiser's annoyance, the change in the Chancellery from Adenauer to Ludwig Erhard in the autumn of 1963 did not lead to any fundamental change in German politics. In his first meeting with the new Chancellor, Kaisen had suggested a new German political initiative, but his suggestions did not lead to tangible results.

One of Kaiser's last major foreign policy initiatives failed to materialize. Kaisen decided in the fall of 1964 to pay an official visit to Moscow - an invitation to this effect had been in place since early 1958. The corresponding concrete travel plans were postponed several times, however, because the Federal Government initially asked him to wait for Nikita Khrushchev's visit, which was planned for the end of October 1964 . Kaiser's visit to Moscow, which was then planned for the spring of 1965, came to nothing because Khrushchev was surprisingly ousted a few days earlier. Kaisen finally refused Kaiser's renewed invitation by the Soviet authorities because the visit could only have been made in the period after his resignation as President of the Senate.

Bremen politics between 1960 and 1965

Bremen Town Hall, photo from May 10, 1962

Wilhelm Kaisen triumphed in the state election of October 11, 1959 . He won 54.9 percent of the vote after an election campaign that was almost exclusively tailored to his person. Nevertheless, the coalition of SPD, FDP and CDU did not succeed - the Bremen CDU, driven by the federal CDU, made demands in the coalition negotiations that hardly corresponded to their performance in the election. From then on the SPD and FDP formed a coalition senate.

The collapse of the Borgward Group in the summer of 1961 led for the first time to major public criticism of economic policy decisions by the Senate, because the bankruptcy meant that previous Senate guarantees were lost. At the same time, the appointment of the renovator Johannes Semler was considered a mistake because he was chairman of the supervisory board of BMW , Borgward's fiercest rival at the time. In particular, the financial burdens that the state of Bremen incurred as a result of the collapse of the car manufacturer, Kaisen took as an opportunity to publicly repeat his principle that the state's spending policy must be based on state revenue.

For this reason, he refused state aid for Bremen shipyards, which suffered from the decline in the shipbuilding industry in the early 1960s. Kaisen also responded to calls for an expansion of the Bremen port, whose bottlenecks were becoming more and more apparent, due to insufficient budgetary resources. Kaisen's insistence on strict budgetary discipline aroused increasingly the displeasure of young politicians in the Bremen SPD towards the end of his term of office. In the parliamentary group, those forces who also pushed for a more independent articulation of the SPD interests in the Senate received an influx. The leader of this group was parliamentary group leader Richard Boljahn . Overall, according to these politicians, the influence of the citizens should grow at the expense of the Senate.

The only new project that Kaisen emphatically supported and for which he was prepared to take fiscal risks was the establishment of the University of Bremen . Because Kaisen nevertheless endeavored to minimize the financial burden, Bremen entered into lengthy negotiations with the federal government and other federal states. In the spring of 1964, an agreement was reached on mixed financing. However, plans to lay the foundation stone in 1965 failed. It was not until the winter semester 1971/1972, long after Kaisen left politics in Bremen, that lectures began.

Succession arrangements and resignation

Even before the state elections in October 1959, leading Social Democrats were considering who should succeed Kaisen if he were no longer available. They strove to build a "second man" in addition to Kaisen in good time. Kaisen himself favored Adolf Ehlers. After a moment's hesitation, he was ready. The change in the office of President of the Senate was planned internally in the SPD for 1963, the year of the next state elections. In public, however, Kaisen was reluctant to announce this step, because he wanted to serve as President of the Senate without restrictions for the entire legislative period. It was not until the state party conference of the Bremen SPD on October 28, 1962 that Kaisen announced the decision not to run as the SPD's top candidate in the 1963 state election. The delegates then nominated Ehlers as the top candidate.

A serious illness that forced Ehlers to end his political career shattered this plan in early 1963. Kaisen himself was asked to lead the SPD in the election campaign - a third party behind Kaisen and Ehlers was not ready. The SPD led the election campaign without highlighting its top candidate as prominently as it did in 1959. Instead, the Bremen SPD endeavored to focus on material landmarks of the reconstruction and modernity of Bremen - the Neue Vahr, modern port facilities, swimming pools, schools. This strategy was also well received by voters, with the SPD receiving 54.7 percent of the vote on September 29, 1963.

Even after this election, Kaisen avoided giving the public a date for resignation. Richard Boljahn therefore asked him unequivocally to do so at a state party conference on March 15, 1964, because Willy Dehnkamp , who had been chosen as Kaiser's successor, needed enough time to familiarize himself with the official business of a Bremen mayor. Kaisen then declared on March 17, 1964 that he would resign in mid-July 1965. Although Kaisen publicly tried to downplay the fact that Boljahn had urged him to announce a resignation date, his public appeal gnawed at him. To make matters worse, in the following months there was occasional resistance to proposals and decisions from Kaiser's within the Bremen Senate. He wasn't as assertive as he had once been.

On July 17, 1965, Kaisen took his leave at a large ceremony attended by leading representatives of the federal government, the states, the Senate and the citizenry. Kaisen was awarded Bremen honorary citizenship and the Bremen Medal of Honor in gold .

Retired politician

Private citizen

In the first two years after his resignation, Kaisen made himself scarce in public. A thank-you event by the Bremen SPD in August 1965 for his political life's work and a public ceremony at the University of Hamburg in February 1966 on the occasion of the award of the Freiherr vom Stein Prize to Kaisen were the exception here. Kaisen helped run his farm and looked after his wife Helene, who had meanwhile become dependent on care, until her death in early September 1973. In the winter of 1967/1968 he also wrote his memoirs.

Adviser and sponsor of Hans Koschnick

Hans Koschnick, 1968

The general election of October 1, 1967 ended with a defeat for the SPD. This time she only got 46 percent of the vote, a loss of almost nine percentage points, for which Willy Dehnkamp took responsibility. His successor in the office of President of the Senate was Hans Koschnick . Koschnick, who intended to take on Kaiser's political legacy, demonstratively sought advice from Kaisers - by telephone, in writing and through visits to Borgfeld. Kaisen used his reputation with the Bremen comrades several times to help Koschnick, especially in his early days, in building a strong position in the party and in relation to the SPD parliamentary group. For example, in May 1968, for the first time since his resignation, he appeared again at a state party conference of the Bremen SPD and advocated supporting Koschnick in his plan to approve the emergency laws in the Federal Council. The activities of the extra-parliamentary opposition generally met with little understanding from Kaisen. For example, in a letter to Adolf Ehlers , he held the Bremen tram riots of 1968 to be largely groundless. A rehabilitation of theory in the party, as the young Henning Scherf promised in 1972 when he took office as chairman of the SPD in Bremen, Kaisen also rejected.

Publicist in the government wing

In the 1950s Herbert Wehner was one of Schumacher's closest confidants and supported his resolution to oust Kaisen from the SPD executive committee. The relationship between Kaisen and Wehner improved sustainably after he was elected parliamentary group leader of the SPD in the Bundestag in 1969 and viewed Kaisen as someone who had pleaded for decades for the SPD to be able to govern in an alliance with bourgeois parties - a definition that Wehner also made for the SPD at the end of the 1960s considered to be trend-setting. Kaisen paid tribute to Wehner in 1976 with a contribution to a commemorative publication on his 70th birthday. In particular , Kaisen praised his role in the transformation of the SPD from a workers' party into a people 's party and Wehner's keynote speech in the German Bundestag on June 30, 1960, in which he formulated the SPD's change of course in foreign, German and alliance policy.

This journalistic appreciation of Wehner was part of a loose series of other contributions from Kaiser's for social democratic media. He embedded current developments in the Federal Republic and the SPD in larger historical contexts. From his considerations, Kaisen tried specifically to derive “lessons” for the present. Overall, from his point of view, these publications should help to encourage the SPD to secure the political equality of the workforce, which has been achieved over many decades, and at the same time to continue striving for more just economic and social conditions. He emphatically supported Helmut Schmidt's economic, energy and retrofitting policy against growing resistance from within his own party. Kaisen's last contribution was dedicated to the 1979 party congress in Berlin - his reflections appeared a few weeks before his death. In this essay he again supported Schmidt's energy policy and spoke out in favor of unreserved support from the government. Kaisen showed himself to be a member of the governmental wing in the social democracy even after his active political career.

Grave of Wilhelm and Helene Kaisen in the Riensberger Friedhof (2014)

Wilhelm Kaisen died in 1979 after a short stay in the Bremen Central Hospital St. Jürgen . He was buried with his wife Helene in the Riensberg cemetery (grave no. F0164).



Kaisen bust in Borgfeld
Kaisen monument in downtown Bremen

Literature situation and research

On the occasion of Kaisen's 90th birthday, a documentary about Kaisen was published in 1977, which was published by Hans Koschnick under the title “Confidence and Resistance”. Using speeches, newspaper reports, letters, minutes of meetings and other source material, she traced Kaisen's life and work.

In 1980, one year after Kaisen's death, a documentary entitled "Encounters with Wilhelm Kaisen" was also published on behalf of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. In this work, the life of Kaisers was depicted through the impressions of people he knew and were friends with. These included social democrats, politicians from other parties, business representatives and journalists. Often, by referring to corresponding speeches, letters or other communications, it was not just the view of these people that was presented to Kaisen; the documentation also tried to bring Kaisen closer through his reaction to these people. In particular, his correspondence with these contemporaries was used for this.

In 1989 the historian Renate Meyer-Braun published an article in the “Bremisches Jahrbuch”, a periodical of the Bremen State Archives, which shed light on the conflicted relationship between Kaisen and the SPD executive committee in the 1950s. She made particular use of the correspondence between Alfred Faust and Fritz Heine . Two years later she portrayed Kaisen in another essay. She focused on Kaisen's activities between mid-1945 and the founding of the Federal Republic in mid-1949. During this time, Kaisen, in his role as West German Prime Minister, acted like a "trustee of the German people", to which the collection of articles is dedicated, in which the contribution by Meyer-Braun appeared.

In 2000, the historian Karl-Ludwig Sommer finally presented a comprehensive political biography of Wilhelm Kaisen. Due to the intensive exhaustion of the available source material, it is the most extensive work on the topic.


See also



  • Franklin Kopitzsch : Kaisen, Carl Wilhelm. In: derselbe and Dirk Brietzke (eds.): Hamburgische Biographie . Lexicon of persons. Vol. 3. Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-8353-0081-4 , p. 189 f.
  • Hans Koschnick , ed. And introduction: Confidence and stability. Wilhelm Kaisen. A documentation . Röver, Bremen 1977. ISBN 3-87681-069-8 .
  • Renate Meyer-Braun: "Rebel" Wilhelm Kaisen. His relationship to the SPD executive board as reflected in an exchange of letters between Alfred Faust and Fritz Heine from 1950 to 1956 . In: Bremisches Jahrbuch , Volume 67, Bremen 1989, pp. 109-139.
  • Renate Meyer-Braun: Bremen. Wilhelm Kaisen. In: Walter Mühlhausen , Cornelia Regin (ed.): Trustee of the German people. The Prime Ministers of the western occupation zones after the first free state elections. Political portraits. In: Kasseler Forschungen zur Zeitgeschichte , Vol. 9, Verl. Kasseler Forschungen zur Zeitgeschichte, Melsungen 1991, pp. 163–180, ISBN 3-925523-06-5 .
  • Hartmut Müller (Ed.): Encounters with Wilhelm Kaisen , Hauschild Verlag , Bremen 1980, ISBN 3-920699-33-5 .
  • Hartmut Müller: With Rosa Luxemburg you learn political economy - Helene Schweida and Wilhelm Kaisen in 1913/1914 at the party school in Berlin. A journey through time . In: Bremisches Jahrbuch , Volume 82, Bremen 2003, pp. 205–223.
  • Hartmut Müller: "Once again I have forgotten that I am only a woman". Everyday life between politics and love - Helene Kaisen in the First World War . In: Bremisches Jahrbuch , Volume 85, Bremen 2006, pp. 4–26.
  • Karl-Ludwig Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen. A political biography . Ed .: Wilhelm-und-Helene-Kaisen-Stiftung Bremen , JHW ​​Dietz Nachf., Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-8012-0293-3 .

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. For the family background of Kais, see K.-L. Summer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 23–28.
  2. On the coinage of Kaiser's childhood, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 28–30 as well as p. 23 f and p. 120.
  3. For his school career see K.-L. Summer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 33 f. See also Encounters with Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 11.
  4. During Kaisen's time as a plasterer, see K.-L. Summer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 34 f.
  5. For military service in Kais, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 34 and p. 50 f.
  6. On Kaisen's activities in the social democratic labor movement from 1905 until the outbreak of war see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 35–45. At the time of Kaiser's at the Reichsschule of the SPD see also H. Müller: With Rosa Luxemburg they learn economics .
  7. K.-L. reports on Kaisen's war years. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 47–62. The relationship between Wilhelm and Helene Kaisen also analyzes H. Müller, "Once again I have forgotten that I am only a woman" .
  8. On Kaisen's activities from December 1918 until he moved to Bremen the following summer, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 62 and p. 70–72.
  9. On Kaisen's journalistic work in the early years of the republic see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 72, p. 74–76 and p. 84.
  10. ^ Overview of the results of the state elections from 1919 to 1933 in Bremen.
  11. Overview of the results of the Reichstag elections from 1919 to 1933 in Bremen.
  12. On Kaisen's party-political profile, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 77–81.
  13. On the rise of Kaisen's faction and party, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 85–87.
  14. In the list of senators Bremer is Kaisen in the following years several times.
  15. K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 97 f. Theodor Spitta, one of the leading figures of the bourgeois senators, wrote about Kaisen in 1938: “Besides Mayor Deichmann [...] there was also a man of special talent for administration, Senator Kaisen (member of the Senate 1928– 1930), who quickly familiarized himself with Senate affairs and, because of his expert and objective work in the welfare sector, was recognized by wide circles of the bourgeoisie. "(Theodor Spitta: Dr. Martin Donandt, Mayor of Bremen. A Bremen image of life and time , Bremen 1938, p. 130, quoted after encounters with Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 72.). The Weser Zeitung overturned after the seizure of power gradually to the side of the new rulers. On March 4, 1933, she joined the chorus of those who welcomed the removal of the SPD senators from the Bremen Senate. Literally it said: “Each of these three senators may have their merits. Above all, we appreciate the achievements of Senator Kaisen in the area of ​​social welfare. But the time has run out. ”(Quoted after Confidence and Stability. Wilhelm Kaisen. A documentation , p. 65.)
  16. On Kaisens administration as Senator for Welfare, on the effects of the global economic crisis on the Bremen economy and the Bremen labor market as well as on Kaisens rise in the ranks of the Bremen SPD between 1928 and 1933 see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 94–100 and pp. 106 f.
  17. ^ Fritz Peters: Bremen between 1933 and 1945. Eine Chronik, Bremen 1951, p. 24
  18. On the legality course of the Bremen SPD, on Kaisens imprisonment and on resettlement to Borgfeld, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 111–121.
  19. On the type and forms of expression of Kaisen's pre-political forms of activity during the Third Reich, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 122–124, pp. 132–133, pp. 136–138.
  20. Note in: vorwärts 5/2012, p. 25 ("Who was it?") By Lothar Pollähne.
  21. On Kaisen's activities as a farmer during the Nazi era see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 121 f and p. 128–130.
  22. ^ Text of the law for liberation from National Socialism and militarism
  23. See obituary - Walter L. Dorn . In: Der Spiegel . No. 10 , 1963 ( online ). and the biographical information in New Beginning on Ruins. The diaries of the Mayor of Bremen Theodor Spitta 1945–1947 , ed. by Ursula Büttner … With an introduction by Werner Jochmann ( Biographical Sources on German History after 1945 , Vol. 13), Oldenbourg, Munich 1992, p. 117 , ISBN 3-486-55938-9 .
  24. Kaisen remained Bremen's mayor for 20 years .
  25. For the section “At the center of Bremen politics” see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 139–166.
  26. For the development from the American enclave to the state constitution of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the influence of Kaisers there, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 179–189. See also R. Meyer-Braun: Bremen. Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 168 f.
  27. For Napoli, see the relevant information on the Arlington National Cemetery website .
  28. On denazification in Bremen and Kaisen's position in the denazification debate, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 189–205 and R. Meyer-Braun: Bremen. Wilhelm Kaisen , p. 170 f. Hans Hesse is fundamental here: Constructions of innocence. Denazification using the example of Bremen and Bremerhaven 1945–1953 , publications from the State Archives of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Vol. 67, Ed. Adolf E. Hofmeister, dissertation at the Free University of Berlin, Bremen 2005. ISBN 3-925729-46-1 .
  29. On the activities of the Senate for Erwin Schulz see Michael Wildt : Generation des Unbedingten. The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office . Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-930908-75-1 , pp. 779-784.
  30. On Kaiser's attitude towards the KPD, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 205–211.
  31. On the rebuilding of Bremen's economy and Kaiser's contribution to it, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 212–226.
  32. See the information on a project to preserve the Kaisen houses. ( Memento from April 23, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  33. For housing construction in Bremen after the Second World War in the Kaisen era, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 226–234. The assessment of Kaiser's dominant position can be found there on p. 234.
  34. For the article section Minister President Conferences see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 240–256.
  35. On Kaisen's initiatives in the period from the Munich Prime Minister's Conference to the adoption of the Basic Law by the Parliamentary Council, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 259–275.
  36. Keyword-like information on Barth in the Federal Archives .
  37. Hearsay . In: Der Spiegel . No. 17 , 1952, pp. 3 ( online ).
  38. ^ On the federal and Germany political initiatives of Kais after 1949 see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 275–291.
  39. On Kaisen's attitude towards the Council of Europe, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 303–308.
  40. On Kaisen's attitude towards the Montan-Union, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 309–316.
  41. On Kaisens attitude to the question of the EVG, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 316–327.
  42. On Kaisens attitude towards the EEC see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 328–331.
  43. Information ( memento of June 15, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) on the website of the Gazet newspaper of Antwerp (Dutch).
  44. On Kaisen's business trips to other European countries, see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 331–342.
  45. ^ Mouvement socialiste pour les États-Unis d'Europe = Socialist movement for the United States of Europe .
  46. K.-L. gives a lecture on Kaisen's participation in organizations that promoted the idea of ​​European unification. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 342–361.
  47. On the relationship between Kaisen and Schumacher see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 363–372 and pp. 375–392.
  48. On this new strategy of the common policy see in particular Kurt Klotzbach : Der Weg zur Staatspartei. Programmatics, practical politics and organization of the German social democracy 1945 to 1965 , Verlag JHW Dietz Nachf. Berlin / Bonn 1982, ISBN 3-8012-0073-6 . Pp. 497-532.
  49. On the relationship between Ollenhauer and Kaisen see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 372–375 and pp. 393–405. For the SPD result in the Bundestag elections and its contemporary interpretation, see p. 395 f.
  50. K.-L. reports on Kaiser's Germany and foreign policy activities in the first half of the 1960s. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 411–430.
  51. On the problems of the last five years of the Kaisen era see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 430–456. The reference to the influence of the federal CDU on the Bremen CDU in the coalition negotiations at the end of 1959 / beginning of 1960 can be found there on p. 431.
  52. For the regulation of the succession see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 456–474. For the ceremony on July 17, 1965 see K.-L. Summer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 9–13.
  53. K.-L. reports on Kaiser's extensive withdrawal from the public. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 475–482.
  54. On Kaisens function as mentor for Hans Koschnick see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 484–490.
  55. On Wehner's speech on June 30, 1960 see Christoph Meyer: Herbert Wehner. Biography , Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2006, pp. 230–336. ISBN 3-423-24551-4 . Excerpts from the tape recording of this speech in Microsoft Encarta .
  56. On the journalistic articles that Kaisen wrote in old age and on the development of the relationship between Kaisen and Wehner see K.-L. Sommer: Wilhelm Kaisen , pp. 492–507. A list of Kaiser's essays can be found in the database of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung library. Some essays can be viewed online there. See the link in the "Web Links" section.
  57. ^ Homepage of the Wilhelm and Helene Kaisen Foundation.
  58. ^ Rudolf Matzner : Wilhelm Kaisen. A memorial in honor of the former mayor. In: Heimat-Rundblick. History, culture, nature . No. 100, 1/2012 ( spring 2012 ). Druckerpresse-Verlag , ISSN  2191-4257 , p. 24.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on January 16, 2009 in this version .