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Arthur Stadthagen – Anwalt der Armen und Rechtslehrer der Arbeiterbewegung

Biographische Annäherungen an einen beinahe vergessenen sozialdemokratischen Juristen

Holger Czitrich-Stahl

Arthur Stadthagen (1857-1917) war als erster sozialdemokratischer Jurist im Deutschen Reichstag am Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuch (BGB) beteiligt, das am 1. Januar 1900 in Kraft trat und nach der Reichseinheit von 1871 die Rechtseinheit herstellte. Zu wichtigen Rechtsfragen verfasste Stadthagen populäre Stellungnahmen. Seine Rechtsratgeber Das Arbeiterrecht (1895) und Führer durch das Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch (1900) wurden zu Bestsellern. Er vertrat den Wahlkreis Potsdam 6 Niederbarnim von 1890 bis 1917 im Parlament. Außerdem lehrte er an der Parteischule der SPD. Stadthagen gehörte dem marxistischen Parteizentrum um August Bebel und Karl Kautsky an. Darüber hinaus galt er als ein Freund Rosa Luxemburgs. Nach seinem Ausschluss aus der SPD 1917 zählte er zu den Mitbegründern der USPD.

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Arthur Stadthagen was my mother’s uncle. He died before I was born, but when I was a child there was talk about him in the family, with some pride in his political achievements. I was aware that he was member of the Reichstag, an orator who on one occasion spoke for one and a half hours although he only had one lung, that he and his brother (my grandfather Julius) helped each other through University, that he was a good man and an important one. I did not take a great interest in his career while family and friends who knew him were alive. In recent years I have become more interested, especially as my grandsons, history students, became curious about him. In 2008 I visited Berlin after many years of absence, and hoped to learn more about Ar- thur and locate his speeches in the Reichstag. Enquiries to the Landesarchiv led me to Holger Czitrich-Stahl, who was researching Stadthagen’s life and career with a view to writing his biography. I was able to meet Holger in Berlin and we have kept in touch. He has found out and told me a great deal about my great-uncle, and it has been a pleasure to contribute to his knowledge of the Stadthagen family. I hope that his book will lead to the uncovering of further facts and information. I appreciate the enthusiasm and energy with which Holger has carried out his research, the organization of all the material and the writing...

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