Kurt Schumacher - Early Career

Early Career

Kurt Schumacher was born in Kulm in West Prussia (now Chełmno in Poland), the son of a small businessman, member of the liberal German Free-minded Party and deputy in the municipal assembly. The young man was a brilliant student, but when the First World War broke out in 1914 he immediately abandoned his studies and joined the German Army. In December, at Bielawy west of Łowicz in Poland, he was so badly wounded that his right arm had to be amputated. After contracting dysentery, he was finally discharged from the army and was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd class. He returned to his law and politics studies in Halle, Leipzig and Berlin, where he graduated in 1919.

Inspired by Eduard Bernstein, Schumacher became a dedicated socialist and in 1918 joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) leading ex-servicemen in forming Workers and Soldiers Councils in Berlin during the revolutionary days following the fall of the German monarchy. He opposed various attempts by Communist groups to seize power. In 1920 the SPD sent him to Stuttgart to edit the party newspaper there, the Schwäbische Tagwacht.

Schumacher was elected to the Württemberg Landtag (state legislature) in 1924 and in 1928 became the SPD leader in the state. When the Nazi Party rose to prominence, Schumacher helped organize socialist militias to oppose them. In 1930 he was elected to the national legislature, the Reichstag. In August 1932 he was elected to the SPD leadership group; at age 38 he was youngest SPD member of the legislature.

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