Heinrich Claß

Heinrich Claß (February 29, 1868 – April 16, 1953) was a German right-wing politician, a Pan-Germanist, an anti-Semite and a "rabid racialist".[1] He presided the Pan-German League from 1908 to 1939.

Early life

Claß was born in Alzey. His father was a notary.[2] He studied law at the Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Freiburg and the University of Giessen up to 1891, when he became a legal trainee. In 1894, he settled in Mainz as a lawyer.

Political advocacy and involvement

In 1894 Claß was a founding member of the nationalist "German Association", which propagated "pure Germanism" by excluding ethnic minorities.[2]

In 1897, he became a member of the Pan-German League, where he was elected to the directorate in 1901. After becoming the president in 1908, he began to change the direction of the League to more radical positions.

He came into sharp conflict with Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, especially in the Agadir Crisis in 1911, where the League showed its radical positions. From the "hereditary hostility" to France and a "moral inferiority" of England, Claß advocated a speedy war, which was to lead the German Reich to "world power" and territorial expansion.[2]

Also in 1911 he was one of the founding members of the Deutscher Wehrverein (German Army Society), trying to push the armament of Germany.

Claß is commonly known for his books about far-right policy, written under the pseudonym Daniel Frymann or Einhart. The most famous of these was his 1912 book Wenn ich der Kaiser wär' (If I were the emperor), in which he agitates for imperialism, Pan-Germanism and Antisemitism.

During World War I, Claß called for the annexion of Belgium. In 1917, he founded the German Fatherland Party together with Alfred von Tirpitz and Wolfgang Kapp.

After 1918, Claß met Adolf Hitler and supported his putsch in 1923. In 1931, he was one of the founding members of the Harzburg Front. From 1933 to 1939, Claß was a member of the NSDAP in the Reichstag. It's noteworthy that Claß's radical imperialism and Pan-Germanism as well as his antisemitism had a significant influence on the Nazis.

Later life

From 1943 until 1953 he lived with his daughter in Jena where he died.[2]


  • Bilanz eines neuen Kurses. – Berlin : Alldt. Verl., 1903
  • (as Einhart): Deutsche Geschichte. – Leipzig : Diederich, 1909
  • (as Daniel Frymann): Wenn ich der Kaiser wär': Politische Wahrheiten und Notwendigkeiten. – Leipzig : Dieterich, 1912 (from 1925 known as Das Kaiserbuch)
  • West-Marokko deutsch!. – Munich : Lehmann, 1911
  • Wider den Strom : vom Werden und Wachsen der nationalen Opposition im alten Reich. – Leipzig : Köhler, 1932
  • Zum deutschen Kriegsziel. Eine Flugschrift. – Munich : Lehmann, 1917


  1. Pulzer, Peter (1988). The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (revised ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. XX. ISBN 0674771664.
  2. Heinrich Claß 1868–1953, Lebendiges Museum Online, Deutsches Historisches Museum (in German)

Further reading

  • Chickering, Roger (1984). We Men Who Feel Most German: Cultural Study of the Pan-German League, 1886-1914. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-0049430303.
  • Leicht, Johannes (2012). Heinrich Claß 1868–1953. Die politische Biographie eines Alldeutschen (in German). Paderborn: Schöningh. ISBN 978-3-506-77379-1.
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