Helene Wessel

Helene Wessel ( born July 6, 1898 in Horde (now Dortmund ), † 13 October 1969 in Bonn) was a German politician. From 17 October 1949 to January 1952 she was chairman of the center, after which they founded, among others, Gustav Heinemann, the total German People's Party and eventually joined with that of the SPD. She was elected to the Parliamentary Council, making it one of the " mothers of the Basic Law ."

Life and career

Helene Wessel was born on July 6, 1898 in Hoerde the youngest of four children of the Reichsbahn officials Henry Wessel and his wife Helene Wessel, born in Linz. The parents were deeply influenced Catholic, the father of a member of the German Center Party. He died in 1905 at the consequences of an accident at work.

Helene Wessel attended only elementary and trade school, then completed a commercial apprenticeship in November 1915 and took a job as a secretary in the office Hörder party of the center. There she met John Gronowski, a friend of his father, who became her political mentor. In March 1923, she began a one-year course at the State Welfare School in Münster for youth and social welfare, they from their own resources - including by resolution of their stamp collection - paid. Since 1919, she became involved in the center, and was elected in May 1928 in the Prussian Landtag. So she gave her two professions on as party secretary and social worker of the Catholic Church. From October 1929 she left to continue their education at the Berlin Academy of German social and educational women's work to graduate welfare worker.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 Helene Wessel was classified as "politically unreliable". In the vote on the Enabling Act in Parliament she had included claims to be the voice. She first worked in the administration of St. John's Hospital, led in 1935 to conduct research on " cohesion of the Catholic family by religion " and by then was short -time secretary at the Catholic Women's League. As of April she was just a secretary, then a social worker at Catholic Welfare Association. As a first voluntary, then again professional social worker in the " Endangered care " lectured and published them, and sat down as a proponent of forced detention for a conservation law and the sterilization of " asocial " one.

After the Second World War she was active again politically, first again in the center, then in the All-German People 's Party ( GVP ). When that failed in the parliamentary elections in 1953 at the five - percent hurdle, she lost her mandate and worked for a time as a freelancer for the German Trade Union Federation. She joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany with (SPD ), for which it was in 1957 again elected to the Bundestag, which they then belonged to her death.

Helene Wessel died on 13 October 1969 at the age of 71 years in Bonn and was buried in the South Cemetery there.

Political activity

Helene Wessel, who worked since 1915 for the German Centre Party and her belonged since 1919, first became involved in Windthorst covenant. It was in 1922 the Westphalian state chairman from 1930 and belonged to the Federal Board of. About this activity they also reached leading positions in the center. In 1924, she was delegated to the Nazi Party Committee, the highest body between congresses. A year later she became a member of the Nazi Party Board. In May 1928, finally was elected to the Prussian Parliament for the electoral district of Westphalia- South. She was thus the youngest member of their group and was skilled spokeswoman for welfare issues. In the elections of April 1932 and in March 1933 she was able to defend its mandate. She refused to cooperate with the Nazis from severe, was with this position within their group but in the minority. With resolution of the Centre and the State Parliament initially ended Wessels political career.

After the end of the Nazi dictatorship, it followed up on their political work again. She joined again at the center and was on the first party congress in March 1946, its deputy chairman. Unlike many former party members not joined the newly founded Christian Democratic Union of Germany ( CDU), when, as they did not see it in the socially - progressive tradition of political Catholicism and her opinion in her too many reactionary forces and backers of Hitler were located. In September 1946, she was awarded the license Neue Westfälische Kurier, which is why they specifically moved to the place of publication Werl. In February 1946 she became a member of the Zone Advisory Board, as of April, she was a Member of the Westphalian county council and from October also appointed Landtag Nordrhein -Westfalen.

It participated in discussions about the renewal of Germany as part of the company Imshausen. In September 1948, she was elected with John Brockmann, representing the center in the Parliamentary Council, where she worked as a secretary. She was so beside Friederike Nadig, Elisabeth Selbert and Helene Weber one of the four " mothers of the Basic Law ", which they, however, refused to consent because of their opinion, the lack of democratic and social rights.

After the death of Fritz Stricker beginning in July 1949 Helene Wessel took over in October, the Federal Presidency of the center, the position she held until her party exit. She became the first female leader of a party in Germany. In the 1949 election, she was elected for the Centre Party in the first German Bundestag. There she also took over the group's presidency, which she retained after the merger with the Bayern party to the Federal Union ( FU) first. A female faction leader there in the Bundestag again until decades later. In addition, it was up to February 13, 1953 Chairman of the Committee on questions of public welfare.

Wessels vehement rejection of rearmament and its commitment to the emergency community for peace in Europe came in much of the party 's approval. In January 1952, she then joined the party chairmanship back, on November 12, all from the party. Together with Gustav Heinemann, Hans Bodensteiner, Thea Arnold, Hermann Etzel, Diether Posser and Johannes Rau, she founded on 29-30. November, the GVP. However, this failed at the next election to the newly introduced five-percent hurdle. After the dissolution of the CTP, she moved like most members of the SPD and reached 1957 on their country list again a parliamentary mandate, the position she held until her death. Until 1965, she directed the Committee on Petitions, then it was up to her death deputy chairman of this committee. More top jobs it but no longer took account of their poor health. You still engaged in the struggle movement of nuclear destruction, campaigned for international understanding and agreed in 1968 on the grounds that they have experienced the impact of the Enabling Act, against the emergency laws.


  • Living from welfare and employment. An examination of the cost burden for social security, welfare and care compared to family income from employment. Publishing company Müller, Berlin, 1931.
  • Preservation, not neglect: A generic welfare and eugenic necessity. van Gils, Geilenkirchen 1934.
  • Our way to Europe. Text of the speech in Berlin student house in front of the working groups, emergency community for the peace of Europe ' on 6 July 1952. Berlin working groups of the Emergency Association for the peace of Europe, Berlin, 1952.