Paul Hertz

Paul Hertz was born in 1888 in Worms and came from a Jewish family. In 1903, he began training as a merchant and became active in a trade union. In 1908, he formally abandoned the Jewish faith. From 1910, he began studying national economics at Munich University, which accepted him despite his failure to complete his school education, and completed his studies with a doctorate in 1914. In 1917, he joined the Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei (USPD – “Independent Socialist Party of Germany”) and became business editor of the party newspaper “Freiheit” (Freedom). He began his political career in 1920 in Berlin, where he became councillor for nutrition, finance and taxation in the district of Charlottenburg. A short time later, the Weimar Republic’s first elections to the Reichstag were held. Paul Hertz was elected a member of parliament on behalf of the USPD. After the right wing of the party re-joined the SPD, he represented the SPD in parliament from 1922.
Shortly after the National Socialists seized power, he travelled in his capacity as SPD politician to Denmark and Sweden to inform fellow Social Democrats there about the situation in Germany. On his return, he was able to avoid arrest thanks to a tip-off and fled to Prague via Zurich. He continued to remain active in the SPD while there, working for the exiles’ newspaper “Die sozialistische Aktion” (The Socialist Action) and served on the advisory board of the League of Nations. In 1938, Hertz and his family fled to Paris. A year later, they emigrated to the US.
In 1949, at the request of the mayor, Ernst Reuter, Hertz returned to Berlin. In part because of the expertise and contacts he had acquired in the US, he was made Senator for the Marshall Plan and Banking, with responsibility for the emergency programme in Berlin. Later, he became Senator for Economics and Finance, which included responsibility for residential construction in the city. His work represented a major contribution to rebuilding efforts in post-war Berlin. Paul Hertz died on October 23, 1961, in Berlin.