BERLIN (Jul. 20)
Martial law was declared today in Prussia, occupying two thirds of the territory of the German republic and seat of its leading industrial sections, by a special decree, signed by President Paul von Hindenburg.
Chancellor Franz von Papen was named Reich’s Commissioner in Prussia. Premier Otto Braun and Minister of Interior Karl Severing were ordered to yield their portfolios. This the latter refused to do on the ground that it was unconstitutional and asserted that he would yield his office only by force.
The Prussian government will take its claims that the presidential decrees are unconstitutional to the Supreme Court.
States rights were ended in Prussia and the control of the police force comprising 90,000 men was ceded to the Reich Administration with General Kurt von Schleicher, Federal Minister of Defense in charge.
The action of the Federal government is interpreted in some circles as concession to the demands of Adolph Hitler and Alfred Hugenberg who asked that the police and the Prussian administration be taken over by the Reich in order to quell political disturbances.
Franz Bracht, Lord Mayor of Essen, was named Prussian Premier and Minister of Interior.
The martial law order abrogated the articles of the constitution dealing with the right of free speech, the right of assembly, the rights of private property and telephone and postal communications. All these rights may be curtailed as necessity dictates.
High treason, mob violence, arson, the use of explosives, damaging of railways and similar offenses may be punishable by death instead of life imprisonment as hitherto.
The Minister of Justice, moreover, may be required, on demand from the Executive authority to constitute special courts to try law breakers.