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uni'alumni 2015_ENG

Joseph Wirth was an active democrat at a time when this was not the “stand- ard position” of German politicians. He ascribed his political outlook to the forma- tive influence of the deeply rooted demo- cratic tradition in his homeland Baden. Konrad Adenauer’s Adversary Wirth was born in Freiburg on 6 Sep- tember 1879. After studying mathematics, economics, and natural sciences and earning a doctoral degree in mathematics, he worked initially as a school teacher. At the same time, he joined Freiburg’s city council for the Center Party, follow- ing in the footsteps of his father. At the suggestion of other party members, he ran for higher political offices and be- came a member of the Reichstag, the German parliament, in 1914. In the First World War, Wirth served as a volunteer medical orderly, although he had been exempted from military service. He then resumed his political career: He initially became Baden’s minister of finance, before going on to assume the same office for the Ger- man Empire in 1920. One year later he prevailed over fellow party member Konrad Adenauer to become Chancellor of the Weimar Republic at the age of 41. As he had made enemies among right-wing politicians and had opposed National Socialism from early on, Wirth went into exile from 1933 to 1945. He spent his time abroad looking for allies in his struggle to build up a democratic Germany. In the Vatican, for example, he tried to bring his influence to bear by convincing the Catholic Church to oppose the anti-Semitism in Germany. Wirth returned to Freiburg in 1949. However, he was unable to launch a sec- ond career in the newly founded CDU. He criticized his old opponent Adenauer for his one-sided politics of Western integration and didn’t even receive a pension from the government as former chancellor. Until his death on 3 January 1956, Wirth lived on modest means but remained politically and diplomatically active. Martin Jost “I lived in a lot of shared apartments: There were wild parties, live bands, and political discussions. My last one, in the Herdern neighborhood, was so legendary that it’s impossible to describe the atmosphere of the place. It was in an attic, more or less a temporary shelter with walls made of papier mâché, like those built after the Second World War. We installed a gas heating unit. The toilet remained where it was, in the stairwell, and the apartment had three attractive rooms and a self-made kitchen with shower, the latter unfortunately with a sewage pump you had to set each time you used it. Now and then someone would forget to turn it on – to the irritation of our landlord. I lived there with at least two other music lovers. Artists dropped by day and night and made music with us; sometimes even nuns showed up. When I stop to think that Antje Hecker, later my wife, dared to move into this apart- ment! I lived there throughout my time as a medical student and as a trainee at Loretto Hospital and the Center for Pediatrics and the Department of Medi- cine of the University of Freiburg Medical Center. Incidentally, this apartment is also where the idea for the first Zelt-Musik- Festival was born. Finally, there was the fire: One morning I was woken roughly in my smoke-filled room by a fireman. He had climbed through my roommate’s open window from a turntable ladder. My friend had fallen into a deep sleep while smoking early in the morning. Luckily people had seen the smoke. Otherwise, the beautiful historic building would have been destroyed – with grave consequences, because where would current President of the Federal Constitutional Court Prof. Dr. Andreas Voßkuhle live today other- wise?” Alexander Heisler is a doctor and founder of the Freiburg Zelt-Musik-Festival. Photo: Papier Mâché Music Studio MY FLAT: ALEXANDER HEISLER On 10 May 1921, Joseph Wirth, then 41 years old, was named Chancellor of the Weimar Republic. Photo: Joseph Wirth Foundation Democrat from Baden HISTORICAL GREATS: JOSEPH WIRTH 11uni'alumni 2015 Alumni Network