1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kahr, August Richard von

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KAHR, AUGUST RICHARD VON (1862-       ), Bavarian Minister-President from March 14 1920 to Sept. 20 1921, was born on Nov. 29 1862 at Weissenburg in Bavaria. After March 14 1920 he came into office under military influences as a secondary result of the Kapp coup (March 13) in Berlin. The most powerful party in Bavaria, the Bavarian Volkspartei, was then in a state of much anxiety as a result of the experiences of Bolshevism, anarchy and violence through which Munich had passed in the spring of 1919. The Ministry presided over by the Moderate Socialist Hoffmann had, it is true, succeeded in quelling Bolshevism with the aid of Republican troops from Prussia and Württemberg. The great majority of the Bavarian Catholic Volkspartei, however, as well as Liberals of various shades, not to speak of the Royalists and reactionaries, wanted further guarantees against a recurrence of the Bolshevist terror. The Kapp coup in Berlin, which in some of its aspects sprang from similar anxieties in Prussia, gave the signal for political action in Munich, and at a midnight sitting the Bavarian Socialist Ministry was somewhat unceremoniously hustled out of office — it is alleged under military pressure — and a Coalition Cabinet under von Kahr installed. The Coalition included reactionary Conservatives whose influence became more and more predominant. They were backed up by formerly Liberal Bavarian journals which had been bought up by the Prussian great industrialists. The new Minister-President had been Landeshauptmann — the highest position in the provincial administrative hierarchy in Upper Franconia. He was known as a capable and energetic bureaucrat and as nothing else. Under his Government a formal state of siege was maintained, and the police under the reactionary prefect Poehner exercised the greatest severity in the supervision of foreigners and even of non-Bavarian Germans, who were only admitted to the country by special permit. Above all, von Kahr and his Ministry endeavoured to maintain the armed volunteer force, the Einwohnerwehr. But the Reichstag in Berlin had passed a law for disarmament of this force, and the Government of the Reich insisted that Bavaria, like the rest of Germany, should comply in this respect with the Treaty of Versailles, the Spa decisions and the reiterated demands of the Allied Powers. Repeatedly it seemed as if the conflict between the Government of the Reich and that of Bavaria would end in open rupture. In the late summer of 1921, however, the Bavarian Government — formally at any rate — gave way, and it was understood that, by arrangement, the Einwohnerwehr was surrendering its arms and equipment. 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. 26 1921). 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. Von Kahr and his Ministry questioned the right of the Reich to apply such measures to one of the German federated states without previous arrangement, or least consultation, with the Government of that state. A serious complication was that the attitude of the Bavarian Government was supported by the Prussian reactionaries, several of whom, like Ludendorff, had taken up their residence in Bavaria and were hoping to make it the centre of an anti-Republican or Royalist movement for the whole of Germany. The Government of the Reich, under Dr. Wirth as Chancellor, manifested considerable firmness, and ultimately in Sept. 1921 von Kahr resigned and was succeeded as Minister-President by the minister in Darmstadt, Count Lerchenfeld, a man of experience and character, who commanded the confidence of the Catholic Volkspartei and of the Bavarian Liberals of all shades.