Papen, Franz von (1879-1969)


German diplomat, vice-chancellor to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, born in Werl. He served as the German military attaché in Mexico from 1913 to 1915, when he was transferred to the German embassy in Washington, D.C. Later in 1915 he was recalled to Germany on the demand of President Woodrow Wilson, who accused him of activities harmful to the neutrality of the United States. After World War I he became an influential publisher in Germany and was a Catholic Center party member of the Prussian diet from 1921 to 1932. He was designated chancellor of Germany in May 1932, but his ultraconservative administration aroused such opposition that he was forced to resign in November of the same year. In the ensuing period he played an important role in the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, who made him vice-chancellor in January 1933. Von Papen was special minister, then ambassador, to Austria between 1934 and 1938. During World War II he served as ambassador to Turkey. He was tried in 1946 as a war criminal but was acquitted because of insufficient evidence. In February 1947 a German court sentenced him to eight years in prison, but in 1949 he was released because of his age and ill health. An English translation of his memoirs was published as Memoirs in 1953.