Who's Who - Hugo Haase

Hugo Haase Hugo Haase (1863-1919) was a leading left-wing SPD politician whose protest at the conduct of the war led him to resign and lead a splinter party dedicated to ending the war in 1917.

Born on 29 September 1863 in East Prussia the son of a shoemaker, Haase studied law in Konigsberg before joining the SPD in 1887.  In practising law Haase developed a reputation for defending workers, farmers and fellow left-wing social democrats.

In 1894 he was elected to the Konigsberg parliament and three years later was elected to the Reichstag.  He was elected co-chairman of the party along with August Bebel in 1911.

Having left the Reichstag in 1907 Haase secured his return in 1912, remaining until the close of the war and engulfing revolution.  Bebel's death in 1913 saw Friedrich Ebert succeed him as party leader; Haase meanwhile remained co-chairman along with Ebert.

Opposed to the declaration of war in August 1914 and a confirmed pacifist Haase nevertheless agreed to follow the party line and vote in favour of the government's war appropriations bill.  Increasingly unhappy however with the conduct of the war he finally resigned his co-chairmanship in 1916, disgusted at the annexationist war aims of the government.

April 1917 saw Haase split from the party and become one of the co-founders of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) which boasted an overtly pacifist policy.

The end of the war and the consequent revolution of November 1918 brought Haase back into the government alongside Ebert, this time as a member of the coalition Council of People's Commissioners.  Haase was given limited responsibility for external affairs and Germany's colonies.

In late December 1918 Haase and his two fellow USPD government representatives - Dittmann and Barth - resigned in protest at the new government's military policy.

On 8 October 1919 Haase was seriously wounded by a lone right-wing gunman and died of his injuries on 7 November 1919.

A 'Toasting Fork' was a bayonet, often used for the named purpose.

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