- Historical event:
- 24 June 1922
- Rathenau reached the peak of his political career in 1922, becoming the Foreign Minister of Germany. Although he was a German nationalist and even opposed Zionism, extreme right-wingers hated him simply because he was a Jew and was powerful and rich.
Walther Rathenau, one of the richest German citizens, inherited a vast fortune from his father, Emil Rathenau, founder and owner of the famous company AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft).
Walther received a quality education and firstly worked as an engineer and after his father’s death joined the AEG board. He got involved in politics. Although he was a Jew, he opposed Zionism, arguing that the German Jews must be assimilated into society, rather than stand out from it.
Rathenau reached the peak of his political career in 1922, becoming the Foreign Minister of Germany. Although he was a German nationalist, extreme right-wingers hated him simply because he was a Jew and was powerful and rich. They literally considered him to be the “Elder of Zion” from the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.
On this day Rathenau was driving his usual route from his house towards his workplace in the ministry (located in the famous Wilhelmstraße in Berlin, where Hitler’s office was also later located). On the way, he was passed by a car full of armed extreme rightists. They opened fire on Rathenau and threw a bomb at his car. Rathenau’s death shocked people across Europe. Albert Einstein later said that he was very upset by Rathenau’s death, as it proved the existence of anti-Semitic and anti-pacifistic factors in Germany.