Murder of Walter Rathenau (1922)


The following report on the murder of German politician Walter Rathenau appeared in the New York Times in June 1922:

“Republican and monarchist Germany met at the crossroads today. Between them law the body of Walter Rathenau, who loved and served the republic and who died like a soldier, his body torn to bits of hand grenade and bullets.

This body, which tomorrow will lie in the Reichstag and over which funeral orations will be preached, not unlike the funeral orations over the body of Julius Caesar as Shakespeare portrayed them, will become a symbol for a coming war to the death between those who follow the Kaiser and those who follow democracy.

Whether the coming war will be one of more bloodshed and violence – the monarchists who have killed Rathenau have openly announced that the anniversary of the Versailles Treaty will be celebrated with anti-republican demonstrations throughout the land – will soon be known. Already the government has taken military measures. Certain it is that from today the weak, backbone-less compromising attitude with the monarchists will be gone.

So Chancellor Wirth announced today, when with head bowed and tears in his eyes he told the Reichstag: ‘This is the end: this is the end, and we must go another way’.”