Eduard David

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Eduard David
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H28785, Dr. Eduard David.jpg
Minister of the Interior
In office
21 June 1919 – 3/4 October 1919
Chancellor Philipp Scheidemann
Preceded by Hugo Preuß
Succeeded by Erich Koch-Weser
Personal details
Born (1863-06-11)11 June 1863
Died 24 December 1930(1930-12-24) (aged 67)
Nationality German
Political party Social Democratic Party of Germany
Alma mater University of Giessen
Occupation Teacher

Eduard Heinrich Rudolph David (11 June 1863 – 24 December 1930) was a German politician. He was an important figure in the history of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and of the German political labour movement. After the German Revolution of 1918-19 he was Minister of the Interior in the Cabinet Bauer from June 1919 to October 1919 and served as Minister without Portfolio in other cabinets, including the very first democratically elected government of the Weimar Republic. David was also briefly the first president of the Weimar National Assembly which drew up the Weimar Constitution and ratified the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

Early life

Eduard David was born on 11 June 1863 in Ediger/Mosel as the son of Johann Heinrich David, a Prussian civil servant, and his wife Wilhelmine Elisabeth (née Werner).[1] After completing a four-year commercial apprenticeship (kaufmännische Lehre), David studied at the university at Gießen where he was introduced to socialist ideals. He then became a teacher at a Gymnasium and in 1893 founded the Mitteldeutsche Sonntagszeitung, a newspaper. His support for the Social Democratic Party (SPD) led to his dismissal from the civil service in 1894.[1]

David was married twice. In 1896, he married Gertrud Swiderski (one daughter) and in 1911 Hermine Schmidt (one son).[1]

Political career

In the 1890s, David became a proponent of agricultural policies favouring small holdings, arguing for their viability in a series of articles in the Sozialdemokrat in August and September 1894 (later expanded into his major work Sozialismus und Landwirtschaft of 1903). It was the first socialist assault on the universality of the Marxist teaching that small holdings would increasingly be replaced by large estates, making David the first Revisionist of his party.[1]

From 1896, David was a member of the Landtag of Hesse and after 1903 a member of the Reichstag for the SPD. He was one of the leading politicians of the "Majority" SPD when the party split during the First World War and was instrumental in framing his party's policy stand on the war.[1]

In October 1918, when the SPD became part of the Imperial government for the first time under the new chancellor Max von Baden, David became Under Secretary at the Foreign Office.[1]

In February 1919, David was elected president of the new National Assembly,[1] but as part of a deal establishing the first democratically elected government, the Cabinet Scheidemann, he relinquished that post in favour of Constantin Fehrenbach (Zentrum) and became Minister without Portfolio under the new Ministerpräsident, Philipp Scheidemann (SPD).

After Scheidemann's cabinet resigned in June 1919 in protest over the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles, a new government was formed by Gustav Bauer (SPD) and David became Reichsminister des Innern (Minister of the Interior), a position he held from 21 June to 4 October 1919.[1] In early October, the German Democratic Party (DDP) which had left the coalition government in June rejoined, thus reestablishing the Weimar Coalition of SPD, DDP and Zentrum. Erich Koch-Weser (DDP) took over as Minister of the Interior and David once again was Minister without Portfolio. He retained this position in the first cabinet of Hermann Müller, who formed the new government when the Cabinet Bauer resigned in March 1920.[1]

In 1922, David was appointed Reichsbevollmächtigter in Hesse and from 1923 to 1927 he taught political sciences at what was then the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt. He died on 24 December 1930 in Berlin.[1]

David is now considered one of the key personages of the history of the political labour movement in Germany as he influenced the development of the SPD in the pre-WWI period as one of the leading advocates of reformistic policies.[1]


  • Zweck und Mittel einer einheitlichen Organisation der derutschen Studentenschaft, 1888
  • Sozialismus und Landwirtschaft, 1903
  • Referentenführer, 1907
  • Sozialdemokratie und Vaterlandsverteidigung, 1915
  • Die Sozialdemokratie im Weltkrieg, 1915
  • Wer trägt die Schuld am Krieg?, 1917
  • Die Siedlungsgesetzgebung, 1921
  • Um die Fahne der Deutschen Republik, 1921
  • Die Befriedung Europas, 1926
  • Aus Deutschlands schwerster Zeit, Schriften und Reden aus den Jahren 1914-19, 1927.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 "Biografie Eduard David (German)". Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Retrieved 5 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>