Born: 10 July 1867
Died: 6 November 1929
Born on 10 July 1867 in Baden Baden the son of the Grand Duke Frederick I’s brother Prince Wilhelm, Max von Baden became heir to the grand duchy in 1907.
Max’s early role during World War One was chiefly confined to welfare work for prisoners of war (of all nationalities). Over time however he became a focal point for moderate political opinion opposed to the extreme right-wing policies as demonstrated by the Third Supreme Command, a virtual military dictatorship led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff.
In 1917 he came out in firm opposition to a resumption in unrestricted submarine warfare. Instigated in any event the policy ultimately proved disastrous, eventually drawing the neutral U.S. into the war against the Central Powers.
Appointed Chancellor by Wilhelm II in October 1918 (succeeding Georg Hertling) with Germany staring military defeat in the face, the Kaiser and the military high command hoped that Max could – with his reputation for moderation, in particular his opposition to unrestricted submarine warfare – negotiate favourable armistice terms via U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
Quickly unveiling limited necessary constitutional reforms he soon came to realise that changes beyond the cosmetic were required in order to save Germany from revolution. Thus he determined to bring about the resignation of the effective leader of the Third Supreme Command, Erich Ludendorff in late October.
Caught between the socialists on the left who demanded the Kaiser’s abdication and those on the right who refused to countenance the idea, Max prevaricated, unsure whether to pursue the possibility of a constitutional monarchy.
In the event the decision was made for him by Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann, who declared the creation of a German republic on the Reichstag balcony on 9 November. He confirmed Scheidemann’s move before on the same day announcing his own retirement in the wake of the Kiel naval mutiny. He consequently handed power over to Social Democratic Party leader Friedrich Ebert.
Max’s decision to approve the removal of the Kaiser, and his willingness to transfer power to the moderates earned him the undying wrath of the right and military figures throughout the 1920s.
He died at the age of 62 on 6 November 1929 in Baden.