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SINGER, PAUL:

German Social Democrat and deputy; born in Berlin Jan. 16, 1844. After having attended the real-school of his native city he entered upon a commercial career, and in 1869 established a cloak-factory, with his brother as partner. The business was successful; and he amassed a considerable fortune. Interesting himself in politics, and becoming absorbed in the study of the conditions of the laboring classes, he affiliated with the Social-Democratic party, and soon became, beside Bebel and Liebknecht, one of its recognized and respected leaders. In 1884 he was elected a member of the Reichstag from the fourth electoral district of Berlin, which returns usually a larger Social-Democratic vote than any other district in Germany. He at once took a prominent, part in the Reichstag deliberations, as well as in the councils of his party, and acquired skill as a debater and parliamentarian. His entrance into political life was almost contemporaneous with the rigorous enforcement of harsh measures against the Socialists, whose organization had acquired great strength during its twenty years of existence. Many Socialists were expelled from the country; and Singer contributed 5,000 marks toward the maintenance of their families. He himself was the subject of an order of expulsion in 1886; but the order was soon rescinded. One of the most notable of his parliamentary addresses is a reply to Eugen Richter, the leader of the "Freisinnige Partei" (Liberal party), who, in the session of 1897, introduced in the Reichstag a measure for the revision of the factory laws.

Singer is distinguished for his public charities. He was one of the chief founders of the Refuge for the Homeless, a large and very important institution in Berlin, which provides shelter for all who seek it. On one occasion the chief of the Berlin police sought to make use of the refuge for detective purposes, officers entering it in search of suspicious characters. On learning this, Singer brought the matter before the board of managers, which gave him full powers to deal with the question. When the chief of police realized that Singer was prepared, as the only alternative, to close the institution, he gave a positive promise to discontinue the surveillance.

Bibliography:
  • Stegman and Hugo, Handbuch des Socialismus, p. 750, Zurich, 1897;
  • Edwin A. Curley, Social Democrats in the Reichstag, in Harper's Magazine, lxxi. 343-349.
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