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max fechner bio

Max Fechner

References

  • Beckert, R.: Lieber Genosse Max. Aufstieg und Fall des ersten Justizministers der DDR Max Fechner (2003)

Fechner, born in 1892, was active in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from the early age of eighteen. Due to the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, he had to continue his political activities underground, which led to multiple arrests.

After the end of World War II, he took over leadership positions in the newly formed Social Democratic Party. He was a proponent of the forced merger of the KPD and SPD and was named Minister of Justice after the founding of the GDR in October 1949. During this period, he contributed significantly to the coordination of the judicial system in East Germany.

During the June 17th uprising in 1953, Fechner criticized the state’s crackdown on demonstrators. He was dismissed from his office "because of partisan and anti-state behavior," arrested, and ousted from the SED. After two years of detention in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, the Supreme Court of the GDR sentenced him to eight years' imprisonment. Throughout the course of de-Stalinization after the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow (February 1956), Fechner was released in 1957 and reinstated in the SED but never officially pardoned. He died in 1973 in Berlin.