Maximilian I
Grand Duke of Baden
Reign 8 August 1928 – 6 November 1929
Predecessor Frederick II
Successor Berthold II
8th Chancellor of Germany
In office 3 October 1918 – 26 March 1920
Predecessor Georg von Hertling
Successor Constantin Fehrenbach
Spouse Princess Marie Louise of Hanover
Full name
German: Maximilian Alexander Friedrich Wilhelm
Maximilian Alexander Frederick William
House House of Zähringen
Father Prince Wilhelm of Baden
Mother Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg
Born 10 July 1867
Baden-Baden, Baden Flagge Großherzogtum Baden (1871-1891).svg
Died 6 November 1929 (aged 62)
Salem, Baden, Germany Flag of the German Empire.svg
Religion Lutheranism

Maximilian I (10 July 1867 – 6 November 1929), was a German prince and politician. He was the eigth Grand Duke of Baden from August 1928 to November 1929. From 1918 to 1920 he served as Chancellor of Germany, overseeing the transformation into a parliamentary system during the "October reforms" at the end of World War I.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Prince Maximilian (left) with his cousin Victoria of Baden and her husband Gustaf V of Sweden, Tullgarn Palace, about 1890

Born in Baden-Baden on 10 July 1867, Maximilian was a member of the House of Baden, the son of Prince Wilhelm Max (1829–1897), third son of Grand Duke Leopold (1790–1852) and Princess Maria Maximilianovna of Leuchtenberg (1841-1914), a granddaughter of Eugène de Beauharnais and niece of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Maximilian de Beauharnais, and bore a resemblance to his cousin, Emperor Napoleon III.

Max received a humanistic education at a Gymnasium secondary school and studied law and cameralism at the Leipzig University. In 1900, he married Princess Marie Louise of Hanover (1879-1948) at Gmunden. Upon the order of Queen Victoria, Prince Max was brought to Darmstadt in the kingdom of Hesse as a suitor for Victoria's granddaughter, Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt. Alix was the daughter of Victoria's late daughter, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse. Alix quickly rejected Prince Max. She was in love with Nicholas II, the future Tsar of Russia.

Early military and political career[edit | edit source]

After finishing his studies, he trained as an officer of the Prussian Army. Following the death of his uncle Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden in 1907, he became designated heir to the grand-ducal throne of his cousin Frederick II, whose marriage remained childless. He also became president of the Erste Badische Kammer (the upper house of the parliament of Baden). In 1911, Max applied for a military discharge with the rank of a Generalmajor (Major general).

World War I[edit | edit source]

Upon the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he served as a general staff officer at the XIV Corps of the German Army as the representative of the Grand Duke (XIV Corps inlcluded the troops from Baden). Shortly afterwards, however, he retired from his position (General der Kavallerie à la suite) as he was dissatisfied with his role in the military and was suffering from ill health.

In October 1914, he became honorary president of the Baden section of the German Red Cross, thus beginning his work for prisoners-of-war in- and outside of Germany in which he made use of his family connections to the Russian and Swedish courts as well as his connections to Switzerland. In 1916, he became honorary president of the German-American support union for prisoners-of-war within the YMCA world alliance.

Due to his liberal stance he came into conflict with the policies of the Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) supreme command under Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff. He openly spoke against the resumption of the unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, which was fortunately abandoned.

His activity in the interests of prisoners-of-war, as well as his tolerant, easy-going character gave him a reputation as an urbane personality who kept his distance from the extremes of nationalism and official war enthusiasm in evidence elsewhere at the time. Since he was almost unknown in public, it was mainly due to Kurt Hahn, since spring 1917 in the military office of the Foreign Ministry, that he was later considered for the position of Chancellor. Hahn maintained close links with Secretary of State Wilhelm Solf and several Reichstag deputies like Eduard David (SPD) and Conrad Haußmann (FVP). David pushed for Max to be appointed Chancellor in July 1917, after the fall of Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg. Max then put himself forward for the position in early September 1918, pointing out his links to the social democrats, but Emperor Wilhelm II turned him down.

Chancellor[edit | edit source]

Appointment[edit | edit source]

After the Oberste Heeresleitung was told by the government in late September 1918 that the home front was about to collapse and asked for immediate end of all hostilities, the cabinet of Chancellor Georg von Hertling resigned on 30 September 1918. Hertling, after consulting Vice-Chancellor Friedrich von Payer (FVP), suggested Max von Baden as his successor to the Emperor. However, it took the additional support of Haußmann, Oberst Hans von Haeften (the liaison between OHL and Foreign Office) and Ludendorff himself, to have Wilhelm II appoint Max as Chancellor of Germany and Minister President of Prussia.

Max was to head a new government based on the majority parties of the Reichstag (SPD, Centre Party and FVP). When Max arrived in Berlin on 1 October he had no idea that he would be asked to reform the entire Reich. Max was horrified to learn that the Italian front was still raging and fought for an armistice. Moreover, he also admitted openly that he was no politician and that he did not think additional steps towards "parliamentarisation" and democratisation feasible as long as the war continued. Consequently, he did not favour a liberal reform of the constitution. However, Emperor Wilhelm II convinced him to take the post and appointed him on 3 October 1918. The announcement for constitutional reform went out only on 4 October, not as originally planned on 1 October, hopefully to be accepted by the Reichstag.

Chancellor Max von Baden and Vice-chancellor Friedrich von Payer (2nd from left) leaving the Reichstag, October 1918

In office[edit | edit source]

Although Max had serious reservations about the conditions under which the OHL was willing to conduct negotiations, he accepted the charge. He appointed a government that for the first time included representatives of the largest party in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, as state secretaries: Philipp Scheidemann and Gustav Bauer. This was following up on an idea of Ludendorff's and former Foreign Secretary Paul von Hintze's (as the representative of the Hertling cabinet) who had agreed on 29 September that the negotiations must not come from the old regime, but from one based on the majority parties. The official reason for appointing a government that was based on a parliamentary majority was to make it harder for the world to view Germany as an ambitious dominator. The need to convince the United States was also the driving factor behind the move towards "parliamentarisation" that was to make the Chancellor and his government answerable to the Reichstag, as they had not been under the Empire so far. Ludendorff, however, was interested in shifting the blame for the unrest to the politicians and to the Reichstag parties.

Whilst trying to move towards peace, Max von Baden, advised closely by Hahn (who also wrote his speeches), Haußmann and Walter Simons worked with the representatives of the majority parties in his cabinet (Scheidemann and Bauer for the SPD, Matthias Erzberger, Karl Trimborn and Adolf Gröber for the Centre Party, von Payer and, after 14 October, Haußmann for the FVP). Many of the initiatives were in line with the parties' manifestoes: making the Chancellor, his government and the Prussian Minister of War answerable to parliament (Reichstag and Preußischer Landtag), introducing a more democratic voting system in the place of the Dreiklassenwahlrecht in Prussia, the replacement of the Governor of Alsace-Lorraine with the Mayor of Straßburg, appointing a local deputy from the Centre Party as Secretary of State for Alsace-Lorraine and some other adjustments in government personnel.

Pushed by the social democrats, the government passed a widespread amnesty, under which political prisoners like Karl Liebknecht were released. Under Max von Baden, the bureaucracy, military and political leadership of the old Reich began a cooperation with the leaders of the majority parties and with the individual States of the Reich. This cooperation would have a significant impact on later events.

In late October, the Imperial constitution was changed, turning the German Empire into a provisional parliamentary system. However, the government was distracted with preparations for the upcoming peace conference. The government of Chancellor Max von Baden now believed that a socialist revolution at home were becoming less likely with every day that went by. However, the government's efforts to secure an armistice with Italy were interrupted by the Kiel mutiny which began with events at Wilhelmshaven on 30 October. On 1 November, Max wrote to all the ruling Princes of Germany, asking them whether they would approve of changes to the constitution. On 3 November, the Chancellor sent Erzberger to represent Germany at the negotiations with Italy.

Revolution and Berlin[edit | edit source]

The week of 5 to 12 January 1919 became known as Spartakuswoche ("Spartacus week"), but historians view this as a misnomer. The "Spartacist uprising" was more an attempt by the Berlin workers to gain what they thought had been the perfect opertunity for a revolution and what they now seemed to be in the process of losing. The trigger was a trivial event: The head of the Berlin police, a member of the USPD, refused to accept his dismissal. The USPD called for a demonstration of solidarity but was itself surprised by the reaction as hundreds of thousands, many of them armed, gathered in the city centre on 5 January. They seized the newspapers and railway stations. Representatives from USPD and KPD decided to topple the government. However, the next day, the gathered masses did not seize government buildings, as the expected support from the military had not materialized. Max started to negotiate with the leaders of the uprising but simultaneously prepared for military action. Gustav Noske was made commander of the Freikorps and Max worked to mobilise the regular armed forces of the Berlin area on the government's side. From 9 to 12 January on Max's orders, regular forces and Freikorps successfully and bloodily suppressed the uprising.

It was decided that a peace conference would be held in Berlin. (The treaties signed by all parties were signed in the various localities in the area, but deliberated upon in Berlin). It was decided that since the conference was being held in Germany, Max would be the most appropriate president.

The Conference progress was much slower than anticipated and decisions were constantly being tabled. It was this slow pace that induced Max to give an interview showing his irritation to an American journalist. He said he believed that Germany had won the war industrially and commercially as its factories were intact and its debts would soon be overcome.

Unlike Lammasch and Talaat Pasha, Max on the whole stood on the side of generosity and moderation. He did not want to utterly destroy the British economy or the French political system—as had beed demanded with Russia—with massive reparations. Max von Baden was also responsible for the pro-colony shift in the peace conditions regarding overseas territories. Instead of simply demanding the return of captured German colonies as was planned before, additional territories were asked for. The German western border, other than the annexation of Luxembourg, remained unchanged.

Democracy and later term[edit | edit source]

While negotiating peace in Berlin, the Nationalversammlung (constituent assembly) convened in Weimar. When the new democratic constitution came into force in August 1919, Germany was now officially a parliamentary monarchy at the national level. Max witnessed the passage of the Reich Settlement Law of August 1919, which redistributed large estates among smaller farmers, although only 3% of small-scale farmers had benefitted from this law by 1928. In October 1919, a law came into force that entitled insured women to a lump sum of 50 marks from their insurance board to cover the cost of childbirth, together with confinement compensation for 10 weeks. In addition, maternity care was covered by a 25 mark payment and a daily breastfeeding bonus of one mark fifty for 10 weeks. This law also entitled the wives and daughters of insured employees (both female and male) to certain types of support in connection with pregnancy.

Various improvements to unemployment benefits were also carried out during this time. A winter supplement was provided in October 1919, and certain modifications were carried out in January 1920. In addition, the maximum benefit for single males over the age of 21 was increased from three and a half to six marks in February 1920. A decree of October 1919, however, ordered all Reich unemployment relief funds to be withdrawn from those municipal authorities that went beyond the maximum scales.

In the field of sickness insurance, a decree of 28 June 1919 bestowed upon rural funds the same right of self-government that other funds had. An order of 27 October 1919 empowered the Reich Minister of Labour to encourage through grants and loans "measures which were estimated to create opportunities for employment". In December 1919, laws were passed that extended compulsory insurance against infirmity and old age to certain new classes of workpeople. The Betriebsrätegesetz (Factory Council Act) of February 1920 established works councils at workplaces with 20 or more on the payroll as a means of improving lines of communication between labour and management. In addition, a series of progressive tax reforms were implemented under the auspices of finance minister Matthias Erzberger, such as the Reich Revenue Law of July 1919, which gave the Reich sole authority for levying and administering taxes, the levying of war taxes on income and wealth as well as inheritance taxation in July 1919, and a one-off wealth tax in December 1919.

In March 1920, the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putschattempted to depose the government. The Chancellor, along with other SPD members of the cabinet and the Emperor, signed a call for a general strike against the putsch. Most of the cabinet left Berlin for Dresden, then Stuttgart. However, some ministers remained in the capital and, led by vice-chancellor Friedrich von Payer negotiated with the putschists. Once the putsch had collapsed, the Baden government was forced to resign on 27 March—mostly as a result of the negotiations conducted with Kapp and his fellow conspirators. Max von Baden was succeeded as chancellor by Wilhelm Solf.

Later life and death[edit | edit source]

Later in 1920, together with Kurt Hahn, he established the Schule Schloss Salem boarding school, which was intended to help educate a new German intellectual elite. Max also published a number of books, assisted by Hahn: Völkerbund und Rechtsfriede (1919), Die moralische Offensive (1921) and Erinnerungen und Dokumente (1927).

In 1928, following the death of Frederick II, Maximilian became Grand Duke of Baden. Unfortunately the chancellorship combined with his sevre influenza in 1918 he was gravely ill. He died at Salem on 6 November the following year.

Maximilian and Marie Louise with their children, 1914

Children[edit | edit source]

Maximilian was married to Princess Marie Louise of Hanover and Cumberland, eldest daughter of Ernest Augustus II of Hanover and Thyra of Denmark. The couple had two children:

Styles[edit | edit source]

Monarchical styles of
Maximilian I, Grand Duke of Baden
Wappen Deutsches Reich - Grossherzogtum Baden.png
Reference style His Royal Highness
Spoken style Your Royal Highness
Alternative style Sir
  • 10 July 1867 - 28 September 1907: His Grand Ducal Highness Prince Maximilian of Baden
  • 28 September 1907 - 9 August 1928: His Royal Highness Prince Maximilian of Baden
  • 9 August 1928 - 6 November 1929: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Baden
Maximilian I, Grand Duke of Baden
Born: 10 July 1867 Died: 6 November 1929
Political offices
Preceded by
Georg Graf von Hertling
Chancellor of Germany
Prime Minister of Prussia

3 October 1918 – 26 March 1920
Succeeded by
Constantin Fehrenbach
German nobility
Preceded by
Frederick II
Grand Duke of Baden
8 August 1928 – 6 November 1929
Succeeded by
Berthold II
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