Otto R. Hauser Papers, 1860-1972


Otto Robert Hauser was born in Tubingen, Germany on May 11, 1886. His father, Christian Jakob Hauser, was a teacher and young Hauser grew up in a comfortable, middle class environment. He attended the Tubingen Gymnasium and in 1904 entered the university of Tubingen, where he studied philosophy and law. In 1906 Hauser ended his studies and emigrated to the United States. In Chicago Hauser found employment with Marshall Field and Co. and later in a succession of manual labor positions. At the same time Hauser experienced a spiritual crisis that eventually led him to the Rochester Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago Theological Seminary. In 1912 Hauser became minister of a church in Englewood, a poor area of Chicago, where he helped to establish a food cooperative. In 1915 he accepted a call to Immanuel Baptist Church (later the First German Baptist Church) in Milwaukee, Wis. where he remained until late 1927 when he resigned to enter politics. During those years, he presided over the construction of a new church and of the Baptists' Roger Williams Hospital and Home for the Aged.

In 1916 Hauser joined the Socialist Party, in whose activities he had become increasingly involved. He held a variety of posts in the party including serving as director of the Milwaukee Leader. In 1928 he ran for governor on the Socialist ticket against Walter Kohler, Sr. He tried again in 1934, this time running for Congress, and although he lost, he finished in a respectable second. Between 1932 and 1940, Hauser was secretary to Milwaukee's Socialist mayor, Daniel W. Hoan. After Hoan's defeat in 1940, Hauser turned to real estate, joining his brother in forming Hauser Housing Service.

In 1945 Hauser helped to organize American Relief for Germany, and he served as its president throughout its existence from 1945 to 1951. In 1947 he traveled throughout Germany and his report of living conditions helped to arouse popular concern for the necessity of rehabilitating Germany. Hauser's efforts enabled American Relief for Germany to send almost $3.5 million in aid. In appreciation the German Federal Republic awarded him the Cross of Merit, First Class in 1956.

Hauser continued in the real estate business until his retirement in 1963. He died in Madison on February 24, 1972.