German Conservative Party

German Conservative Party

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The German Conservative Party was a right-wing
Right-wing politics
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...

 political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, founded in 1876.

Policies


It was generally seen as representing the interests of the German nobility
German nobility
The German nobility was the elite hereditary ruling class or aristocratic class from ca. 500 B.C. to the Holy Roman Empire and what is now Germany.-Principles of German nobility:...

, the East Elbian Junker
Junker
A Junker was a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. These families were mostly part of the German Uradel and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories during the medieval Ostsiedlung. The abbreviation of Junker is Jkr...

s (landowners) and the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union
Prussian Union (Evangelical Christian Church)
The Prussian Union was the merger of the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Prussia, by a series of decrees – among them the Unionsurkunde – by King Frederick William III...

, and had its political stronghold in the Prussian Diet
Preußischer Landtag
Preußischer Landtag or Prussian Landtag was the Landtag of the Kingdom of Prussia, which was implemented in 1849 after the dissolution of the Prussian National Assembly, building on the tradition of the Prussian estates that had existed from the 14th century in various forms and states in Teutonic...

, where the three-class franchise
Prussian three-class franchise
After the 1848 revolutions in the German states, the Prussian three-class franchise system was introduced in 1849 by the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV for the election of the Lower House of the Prussian state parliament. It was completely abolished only in 1918...

 gave rural elites disproportionate power. Predominantly Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 traditionalists, the party members had been skeptical at first about the 1871 Unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

 —unlike the Free Conservative Party
Free Conservative Party
The Free Conservative Party was a right-wing political party in Prussia and the German Empire, which emerged from the Conservatives in the Prussian Landtag in 1866...

, a national conservative
National conservatism
National conservatism is a political term used primarily in Europe to describe a variant of conservatism which concentrates more on national interests than standard conservatism as well as upholding cultural and ethnic identity, while not being outspokenly nationalist or supporting a far-right...

 split-off dominated by business magnate
Business magnate
A business magnate, sometimes referred to as a capitalist, czar, mogul, tycoon, baron, oligarch, or industrialist, is an informal term used to refer to an entrepreneur who has reached prominence and derived a notable amount of wealth from a particular industry .-Etymology:The word magnate itself...

s unrestrictedly supporting the policies of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

.

The policies of "Old Conservatives" like Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke was a German Field Marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as one of the great strategists of the latter 19th century, and the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field...

 or Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau
Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau
Elard Kurt Maria Fürchtegott von Oldenburg-Januschau was a German Junker and conservative politician.- Biography :...

 generally embraced support for the powers of the monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 and opposition to economic liberalism
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 and democratization
Democratization
Democratization is the transition to a more democratic political regime. It may be the transition from an authoritarian regime to a full democracy, a transition from an authoritarian political system to a semi-democracy or transition from a semi-authoritarian political system to a democratic...

, the introduction of electoral reform
Electoral reform
Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That can include reforms of:...

 in Prussia, or true parliamentary government in Germany as a whole. Due to universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

, on federal level the DKP had to face strikingly decreased significance: In the 1878 federal election it gained 13.0% of the votes cast and entered the Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

 parliament with 59 deputies. Afterwards the party, which furthermore lost votes as Germans moved from rural areas to new industrial centers in the west (Ostflucht
Ostflucht
The Ostflucht was a movement by residents of the former eastern territories of Germany, such as East Prussia, West Prussia, Silesia and Province of Posen beginning around 1850, to the more industrialized western German Rhine and Ruhr provinces...

), forged an electoral alliance with the Christian Social Party
Christian Social Party (Germany)
The Christian Social Party was a right-wing political party in the German Empire, founded in 1878 by Adolf Stoecker as the Christlichsoziale Arbeiterpartei . The party combined a strong Christian and conservative programme with progressive ideas on labour, and tried to provide an alternative for...

 under Adolf Stoecker
Adolf Stoecker
Adolf Stoecker was the court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm II, a politician, and a German Lutheran theologian who founded one of the first Christian Social Gospel political parties in Germany, the Christian Social Party.-Life:Stoecker was born in Halberstadt, Province of Saxony.A staunch Protestant,...

 opportunistically embracing antisemitism. The 1892 party program denounced a "demoralizing Jewish influence"; however, when this attitude failed to halt the party's fall in the polls, this element was de-emphasized. Stoecker finally revoked the alliance in 1896.

Though predominantly Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 the party opposed the Kulturkampf
Kulturkampf
The German term refers to German policies in relation to secularity and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, enacted from 1871 to 1878 by the Prime Minister of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck. The Kulturkampf did not extend to the other German states such as Bavaria...

, but approached to Bismarck when during the Long Depression
Long Depression
The Long Depression was a worldwide economic crisis, felt most heavily in Europe and the United States, which had been experiencing strong economic growth fueled by the Second Industrial Revolution in the decade following the American Civil War. At the time, the episode was labeled the Great...

 the chancellor began to implement protectionist
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 policies by restricting corn imports from Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Following this, the DKP strongly opposed the "New Course" of his successor Leo von Caprivi
Leo von Caprivi
Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli was a German major general and statesman, who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor of Germany...

, it also withdrew its confidence in Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow , named in 1905 Prince von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.Bülow was described as possessing every quality except greatness...

, when he tried to implement an inheritance tax
Inheritance tax
An inheritance tax or estate tax is a levy paid by a person who inherits money or property or a tax on the estate of a person who has died...

 reform and finally had to resign in 1909 after the Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

Affair. The party supported Emperor Wilhelm II's naval policies and Germany's arms race
World War I naval arms race
The naval arms race of the early 20th Century preceded and was one of the several intertwined causes for World War I. It was primarily between the United Kingdom and the German Empire...

 with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, but initially kept its distance towards colonialism
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

 and the activists of the Pan-German League
Pan-German League
The Pan-German League was an extremist, ultra-nationalist political interest organization which was officially founded in 1891, a year after the Zanzibar Treaty was signed. It was concerned with a host of issues, concentrating on imperialism, anti-semitism, the so called Polish Question, and...

.

The party was dissolved following the fall of the monarchy in November 1918 and the German Revolution. Most of its supporters turned to the newly established German National People's Party
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

. The Deutschkonservative Partei had no direct connection to the Deutsche Rechtspartei
Deutsche Rechtspartei
The German Right Party was a right-wing political party that emerged in the British zone of Allied-occupied Germany after the Second World War....

founded in 1946, which used the name Deutsche Konservative Partei (German Conservative Party) in parts of West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

.

Literature

  • Booms, Hans: Die Deutschkonservative Partei. Preußischer Charakter, Reichsauffassung, Nationalbegriff. Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1954 (Beiträge zur Geschichte des Parlamentarismus und der politischen Parteien. vol. 3) - 135 pages
  • Stillich, Oscar: Die Konservativen. Eine wissenschaftliche Darlegung ihrer Grundsätze und ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung. Leipzig: Verlag Werner Klinkhardt, 1908 (Die politischen Parteien in Deutschland, vol. 1); History of the "German Conservative Party" see pages 208 - 256

External links