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Johann Ludwig ("Lutz") Graf Schwerin von Krosigk


In office
1 May – 23 May 1945
President Karl Dönitz
Preceded by Joseph Goebbels (Chancellor)
Succeeded by Allied military occupation 1945-1949
Konrad Adenauer (Chancellor of West Germany)
Otto Grotewohl (East Germany) (as Chairman of the Council of Ministers (GDR))

In office
2 May – 23 May 1945
President Karl Dönitz
Chancellor Himself (Leading Minister)
Preceded by Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Succeeded by Allied military occupation 1945-1949
Konrad Adenauer (West Germany)

In office
1 June 1932 – 23 May 1945
President Paul von Hindenburg (1932-1934)
Adolf Hitler (Führer, 1934-1945)
Karl Dönitz (1945)
Chancellor Franz von Papen (1932)
Kurt von Schleicher (1932-1933)
Adolf Hitler (1933-1945)
Joseph Goebbels (1945)
Himself (Leading Minister, 1945)
Preceded by Hermann R. Dietrich
Succeeded by Allied military occupation 1945-1949
Fritz Schäffer (West Germany)
Hans Loch (East Germany)

Born 22 August 1887
Died 4 March 1977 (aged 89)
Political party None
Alma mater University of Halle
University of Lausanne
University of Oxford
Occupation Soldier (Officer), Nobleman

Johann Ludwig (Lutz) Graf Schwerin von Krosigk, (22 August 1887 – 4 March 1977) was a German jurist and senior government official, who served during May 1945 in the historically unique position of Leading Minister of the German Reich, the equivalent of a Chancellorship in the short-lived Flensburg government of Reich President Karl Donitz. Von Krosigk was also Foreign Minister in the provisional government, an office which had next to no purpose given the state of Germany and its administration at the time. In addition, he remained at his post as Finance Minister of Germany, which he had assumed in 1932 (under Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen) and held throughout the span of the Third Reich.

Contents

Early life

He was born Johann Ludwig von Krosigk in Rathmannsdorf, Anhalt, Germany to a father from an old noble family of Anhalt and a mother who was a daughter of a Count (Graf) von Schwerin. He studied law and political science in Halle, in Lausanne and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. During World War I, he served in the German Army, finally as a First Lieutenant, and was awarded the Iron Cross. In 1918, Krosigk married Baroness Ehrengard von Plettenberg, with whom he had four sons and five daughters. In 1922 he became Oberregierungsrat (senior government official) and 1929 ministerial director and superior of the budget department at the German Reichs finance ministerium. In 1931, he joined the department of reparations payments, formed to deal with the reparations Germany owed the Allied Powers after World War I.

During the Nazi years

Pre-World War II

A non-partisan conservative who was not a member of the Nazi Party, Schwerin von Krosigk was appointed Minister of Finance by Franz von Papen in 1932, and continued in that office at the request of President Paul von Hindenburg under Kurt von Schleicher and throughout the period of Nazi rule. Several members of his family took part in assassination attempts against Adolf Hitler. Schwerin von Krosigk was rarely seen in public appearances and Hitler did not have regular Cabinet meetings.

World War II

At the defendants of the Ministries Trial.
(In second row:sitting at the far right)

On 1 May 1945, Schwerin von Krosigk was asked to be the Chancellor (Reichskanzler) of the Acting Government by President (Reichspräsident) Karl Dönitz after the suicide of Goebbels. He declined but accepted the role of "Leading Minister".

The rapidly advancing Allied forces limited the jurisdiction of the new German government to an area around Flensburg near the Danish border, where Dönitz's headquarters were located, along with Mürwik. Accordingly this administration was referred to as the Flensburg government. Dönitz and Schwerin von Krosigk attempted to negotiate an armistice with the Western allies while continuing to resist the Soviet Army. On 7 May 1945, Dönitz authorized the signature of the German Instrument of Surrender to the Allies, that took place in Rheims before General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He would later authorize the German military to sign another instrument of surrender in Berlin, in a ceremony presided over by the Soviets. The speech by Winston Churchill announcing victory to the British people is evidence of a de facto recognition of the Flensburg Government's authority, since Churchill mentioned that the surrender was authorized by "Grand Admiral Dönitz, the designated Head of the German State". However, after the unconditional surrender, the Flensburg government was not recognised by the Allies and was dissolved when its members were captured by British forces on 23 May 1945, at Flensburg.

Schwerin von Krosigk was tried at Nuremberg along with other leading members of the German government during the time of Nazi government. Found guilty in the Ministries Trial in 1949, Schwerin von Krosigk was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, but was released during an amnesty in 1951.

After World War II

In later years Schwerin von Krosigk wrote several books on economic policy, as well as two versions of his memoirs. He was one of the first to refer to an "Iron Curtain" coming down across Europe, in a broadcast to the German people on 2 May 1945, a phrase which he had picked up from an article by Joseph Goebbels, [1] and later used by Churchill in a speech that made the phrase famous. Schwerin von Krosigk died in 1977 in the city of Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany, aged 89.

Works

  • Es geschah in Deutschland, 1951
  • Die große Zeit des Feuers - Der Weg der deutschen Industrie, 3 volumes, 1959
  • Alles auf Wagnis - der Kaufmann gestern, heute und morgen, 1963
  • Persönliche Erinnerungen, memoirs, 3 volumes, 1974
  • Staatsbankrott (Studie über die deutsche Finanzpolitik von 1920 bis 1945), 1975
  • Memoiren (short version of Persönliche Erinnerungen), 1977

Footnotes

  1. ^ 'Das Jahr 2000,' Das Reich, 25 February 1945, pp. 1-2

Terminology note

  • Regarding personal names, Graf used to be a German title, translated as Count, but is now (since 1918) seen as part of the person's family name. The feminine form is Gräfin.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Hermann R. Dietrich
Minister of Finance
1932–1945
Succeeded by
Fritz Schäffer (West Germany)
Hans Loch (East Germany)
Preceded by
Joseph Goebbels
Leading Minister of Germany
(Flensburg government)

1 May–23, 1945
Succeeded by
Allied military occupation 1945-1949
Konrad Adenauer (West Germany)
Otto Grotewohl (East Germany)
Preceded by
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1 May–23, 1945
Succeeded by
Konrad Adenauer (West Germany)
Georg Dertinger (East Germany)







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