Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 1996

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Beverly Heckart

Second Committee Member

James Brennan

Third Committee Member

Zoltan Kramar


This thesis traces the political career of Johann Victor Bredt from its beginning in Imperial Germany to its close in the Weimar Republic. Bredt was a professor of constitutional law and national economy who attained prominence as a representative of middle-class business interests and, in 1930, served as Minister of Justice with Germany's last democratic government. Bredt's political career ended with Adolf Hitler's assumption of power. Bredt's memoirs, selected publications, government documents, and memoirs of some of his contemporaries, as well as English and German secondary sources on German society all shed light on the life of this political figure. The story revealed is tragic. Bredt was a talented and driven man who struggled to further middle-class interests and erect a stable German republic. He tried to adapt himself and his constituency as times changed and Germany's circumstances worsened through war, revolution and socio-political turmoil. Yet Bredt could not free himself entirely from the imperial past, and the German middle class remained fixated on former times. Germany's plunge into Nazism, supported by Bredt's old middle class, represented the ruin of his plans and aspirations.