Born in Westphalia, he studied various German universities and the London School of Economics before serving in the army in World War I. In 1925 he was elected to the Reichstag, the Parliament of the Weimar Republic, in which he represented Breslau, and in 1929, he became head of the Center Party.
Recognized for his financial acumen, he was appointed Reichskanzler (Chancellor) on March 29, 1930, after the collapse of Social Democrat Hermann Müller's coalition government in an effort to remedy the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. Within a month, however, his remedy to the dire situation -- increased taxes and severe budget cuts -- had been rejected by the Reichstag and were only implemented in the summer, when President Paul von Hindenburg began ruling by decree based on Article 48 of the Weimar constitution, circumventing Parliament. The measures were unsuccessful, and when negotiations over rearmament failed, Brüning resigned his position as Chancellor on May 30, 1932. He was briefly succeeded by Franz von Papen, a member of his party's own right wing, before Adolf Hitler became Chancellor on January 30, 1933.
Brüning fled Germany in 1934 to escape Hitler's political purges. He settled in the United Kingdom and later the United States, where he taught at Harvard University's School of Business Administration. He returned to Germany in 1952 and died in the United States in 1970.
|Chancellors of Germany||Succeeded by:
Franz von Papen