"MATTHIAS ERZBERGER (1875-1921), German politician, was born Sept.
He set himself in particularly sharp opposition to the German National party (the old Conservatives), on whom he laid the responsibility for the World War; the result was a personal dispute with the leader of the Nationalists, the former Secretary of State for the Treasury, Dr. Helfferich, and Erzberger was ultimately compelled to bring an action against Dr. Helfferich for slander.
The action resulted in Helfferich's being condemned to pay a small fine (the German law does not admit of any damages or penalties for slander); the court, however, in its judgment took the line that Helfferich's allegations regarding Erzberger's corrupt business practices and untruthful statements on the part of Erzberger were justified.
Erzberger was consequently compelled by his party to resign his ministerial office.
Erzberger was once more returned to the Reichstag at the general election of Jan.
Erzberger's power in German politics was based upon his great influence with the Catholic working classes in the Rhineland and Westphalia, in central Germany and in Silesia.
Thus the Tagliche Rundschau observed, in allusion to Erzberger's personal appearance, " he may be as round as a bullet, but he is not bullet-proof."
The climax of these attacks was that Erzberger was assassinated on Aug.
A fresh conflict arose over the measures which were taken by the President of the Reich, Ebert, on the advice of the Ministry of the Reich, as a sequel to the assassination of the Democratic Catholic Centre leader Erzberger (Aug.
Orders were issued from Berlin for the suppression of several Bavarian newspapers which had been indulging in violent denunciation of Erzberger, the Republican constitution and the Government of the Reich.
In the industrial regions of these districts the Catholic workmen were organized in their own trade unions on lines of very advanced social policy, and Erzberger became the leading exponent of their views in the Reichstag and on public platforms. On the other hand, he incurred the strong opposition of the conservative and landed section of the Catholics, of some of the higher clergy like Cardinal Archbishop Hartmann of Cologne (d.
Erzberger continued to be pursued by the relentless animosity of the reactionary parties, the Conservatives (now called Deutsch-Nationalen) and the National Liberals (now styling themselves the Deutsche Volkspartei).
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