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Jakob Kaiser (wall-plaque at Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Berlin)

Jakob Kaiser (8 February 1888 - 7 May 1961) was a German politician and resistance leader during World War II.

Jakob Kaiser was born in the Franconian town of Hammelburg. In his younger years he was a bookbinder. He joined a Catholic trade union and the Catholic Centre Party. He was one of the most important union leaders during the Weimar Republic. From 1924 to 1933 Kaiser was a member of the Executive Committee of the Christian Trade Union.


After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Hitler abolished all unions, with exception of the German Labour Front, a Nazi trade union. Kaiser opposed National Socialism and he joined the resistance in 1934. In 1938 he was arrested and after his release he continued his work for the German resistance.

He became a close associate of the former Mayor of Leipzig, Carl Goerdeler. Kaiser was involved in the attempt by Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, a young German officer, to kill Hitler. After the attempt on Hitler's life he ordered the arrest of Kaiser, but he had gone into hiding. His relatives were sent to a concentration camp.

Leader of the East German CDU

After the war, Kaiser became involved in politics and he was the co-founder of the East Berlin section of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He was elected president of the Berlin CDU (both the Western and Eastern sections of the party).

Kaiser belonged to a group within the CDU called the Christian Socialist. They called for the nationalisation of some major industries.

In 1946 Kaiser helped found the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB). In the same year he was elected co-chairman of the East German CDU (together with Ernst Lemmer). Although he was a progressive man, he was critical of the Communist Party of Germany and her leaders that were supported by Soviet authorities. He refused to join the so-called German Congress, because it was controlled by the communists.

In 1947 during the Ahlen conference, a joint conference of West and East German CDU leaders, Kaiser's plan of nationalisation of key industries and other moderate leftwing ideas were adopted by the party.

In 1947 the Soviets forced him to resign as party chairman. However, he remained a member of the party's Executive Committee. After a while, Ernst Lemmer was also forced to resign.

In 1948 Kaiser was forced to leave East Berlin and he went to West Berlin where he joined the West German Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Within the CDU he became a major rival of Konrad Adenauer, the party leader. Kaiser disagreed with Adenauer's social market economy and called for the nationalisation of key industries. Kaiser strongly believed in a neutral, united Germany, and hoped that Germany would be a bridge between the West and the East.

In 1950 Kaiser was elected chairman of the West German CDU. From 1949 until 1957 he was Minister of All-German Affairs in Adenauer's cabinet.

Kaiser's grave

See also



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