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Czech, Ludwig

CZECH, LUDWIG

CZECH, LUDWIG (1870–1942), leader of the German Social-Democratic Party in Czechoslovakia. Born in Lemberg, Czech was the son of a minor railroad official from Moravia. While studying law in Vienna, he came under the influence of Victor *Adler and joined the Austrian Social Democratic Party. He practiced law in Bruenn and was an active figure in politics, editing the party organ Volksfreund from 1897 to 1901. Czech campaigned for universal suffrage and improvement in workers' conditions. In 1901 he obtained the support of Thomas G. *Masaryk, in organizing a textile workers' strike and demanded a reduction of the working day to ten hours. Following the independence of Czechoslovakia, Ludwig Czech became vice chairman (1919) and later chairman (1921) of the German Social Democratic Party in Czechoslovakia. He led the activist wing of the party which stood for collaboration with the republic. In 1929 he was made minister of social welfare. In this capacity he issued food vouchers known as "Czechkarten" to unemployed workers, no longer entitled to regular relief, during the depression of the early 1930s. Czech became minister of works in 1934. He continued in office until shortly after the German Anschluss with Austria in 1938 when he resigned from both his ministerial and party posts. He was deported, already ill, to *Theresienstadt in March 1942.

bibliography:

J. Braunthal, In Search of the Millennium (1945), 292–6; J.W. Bruegel, Ludwig Czech, Arbeiterfuehrer und Staatsmann (1960), includes bibliography.

[Meir Lamed]

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