German Democratic Party

German Democratic Party

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The German Democratic Party ( was founded in November 1918 by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party
Progressive People's Party (Germany)
The Progressive People's Party was a liberal party of late Imperial Germany. It was formed in 6 March, 1910 as a merger of Freeminded People's Party, Freeminded Union, and German People's Party in order to unify the various liberal groups represented in parliament...

 (Fortschrittliche Volkspartei), left members of the National Liberal Party
National Liberal Party (Germany)
The National Liberal Party was a German political party which flourished between 1867 and 1918. It was formed by Prussian liberals who put aside their differences with Bismarck over domestic policy due to their support for his highly successful foreign policy, which resulted in the unification of...

 (Nationalliberale Partei), and a new group calling themself the Democrats.

In 1930 the party was renamed Deutsche Staatspartei, but had to dissolve itself in 1933.

Politics


The Democrats were a more left-wing or social liberal
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

 party, whereas the German People's Party
German People's Party
The German People's Party was a national liberal party in Weimar Germany and a successor to the National Liberal Party of the German Empire.-Ideology:...

 was right-wing liberal. Along with the Social Democrats and the Centre Party, the Democratic party was most committed to maintaining a democratic, republican form of government. It considered itself also a devotedly national party and opposed the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 but emphasized on the other hand the need for international collaboration and the protection of ethnic minorities. A Phd thesis of 1978 (by Jürgen C. Hess) called the DDP the party of "democratic nationalism". With Ludwig Quidde
Ludwig Quidde
Ludwig Quidde was a German pacifist who is mainly remembered today for his acerbic criticism of German Emperor Wilhelm II. Quidde's long career spanned four different eras of German history: that of Bismarck ; the Hohenzollern Empire under Wilhelm II ; the Weimar Republic ; and, finally, Nazi...

 (Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1927) and others the party had a pacifist wing which left the Democrats in 1930.

The party was attacked by some for being a party of Jews and professors (and, indeed, Jews formed one of its most loyal voter groups). It social basis were middle class entrepreneurs, civil servants, teachers, scientists and craftsmen.

Persons and governments


The party's first leader of the Protestant parish priest Friedrich Naumann who was popular and influential but failed with his Nationalsozialer Verein
National-Social Association
The National-Social Association was a political party in the German Empire, founded in 1896 by Friedrich Naumann.In the second half of the 19th century Germany underwent a rapid industrialization, which was connected with rising social problems...

ten years earlier to link progressive intellctuals with the worker's class. He died early in 1919. Other still known politicians of the DDP were Hugo Preuß, the main author of the Weimar constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, and the eminent sociologist Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

. Hjalmar Schacht
Hjalmar Schacht
Dr. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht was a German economist, banker, liberal politician, and co-founder of the German Democratic Party. He served as the Currency Commissioner and President of the Reichsbank under the Weimar Republic...

, once a prominent supporter of this party and president of the Reichsbank
Reichsbank
The Reichsbank was the central bank of Germany from 1876 until 1945. It was founded on 1 January 1876 . The Reichsbank was a privately owned central bank of Prussia, under close control by the Reich government. Its first president was Hermann von Dechend...

, left the party in 1926.

Nearly all German governments from 1918 to 1931 included ministers from the DDP, such as Walther Rathenau
Walther Rathenau
Walther Rathenau was a German Jewish industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman who served as Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, Eugen Schiffer
Eugen Schiffer
Eugen Schiffer , was the German Minister of Finances and Vice-Chancellor from 13 February to 19 April 1919 and 3 October 1919 to 27 March 1920. From 1919 to 1920 and again in 1921 he served as Minister of Justice....

, Hugo Preuss
Hugo Preuss
Hugo Preuß was a German lawyer and liberal politician.Preuß is often regarded as the father of the German constitution of the Weimar Republic . However, his idea was more of a skeletal structure and not a word for word democratic plan...

, Otto Gessler
Otto Gessler
Otto Karl Gessler was a German politician during the Weimar Republic. From 1910 until 1914, he was mayor of Regensburg and from 1913 to 1919 mayor of Nuremberg. He served in Weimar cabinets from 1919 until 1928, usually as Minister of Defence.-Biography:Gessler was born in Ludwigsburg in the...

, Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 and Erich Koch-Weser
Erich Koch-Weser
Erich Koch-Weser was a German lawyer and liberal politician...

. From their 18% share of the first elections under proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 in 1919, they dropped to for example 4,9% in 1928 and 1,0% in November 1932. An attempted merger with the Young German Order
Young German Order
The Young German Order was a large para-military organisation in Weimar Germany. Its name and symbol were inspired by the Teutonic Knights ....

 to form the German State Party
German State Party
The German State Party was a short-lived German political party of the Weimar Republic, formed by the merger of the German Democratic Party with the People's National Reich Association in July 1930...

 in 1930 failed miserably, and the party's Reichstag delegation became practically insignificant.

After 1945


The party was practically banned by the National Socialists in 1933. Former politicians of the DDP joined in 1945 and following years especially the new Free Democratic Party
Free Democratic Party (Germany)
The Free Democratic Party , abbreviated to FDP, is a centre-right classical liberal political party in Germany. It is led by Philipp Rösler and currently serves as the junior coalition partner to the Union in the German federal government...

 (1945/1948), as did the liberals from the German People's Party
German People's Party
The German People's Party was a national liberal party in Weimar Germany and a successor to the National Liberal Party of the German Empire.-Ideology:...

. First Federal President Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss
Theodor Heuss was a liberal German politician who served as the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany after World War II from 1949 to 1959...

, a journalist and professor in history, was a DDP deputy in 1933. In the Soviet occupation zone the liberal leader was former DDP minister Wilhelm Külz
Wilhelm Külz
Wilhelm Külz was a German politician . In 1926 he was interior minister of the Weimar Republic. After 1945 he took actively part in establishing the LDPD...

.

Other DDP members went to the Christian Democrats
Christian Democratic Union (Germany)
The Christian Democratic Union of Germany is a Christian democratic and conservative political party in Germany. It is regarded as on the centre-right of the German political spectrum...

, such as Ernst Lemmer, the former leader of the Young Democrats and Federal Minister in 1956-1965.

See also

  • Liberalism
    Liberalism
    Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

  • List of liberal parties
  • Liberalism in Germany
    Liberalism in Germany
    This article aims to give an historical overview of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily...

  • Weimar Republic
    Weimar Republic
    The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...