German Democratic Party

German Democratic Party
German Democratic Party
Deutsche Demokratische Partei
Founded 1918
Dissolved 1930
Preceded by Progressive People's Party
Succeeded by German State Party
Newspaper NA; supported by Vossische Zeitung and Frankfurter Zeitung
Ideology Liberal democracy (historical label), Classical liberalism, Social liberalism, Republicanism (modern classification)
Political position Centre; bourgeois parties
International affiliation None
Official colors black-red-gold (republican colors)
Politics of Germany
Political parties

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The German Democratic Party (German: Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP) was founded in November 1918 by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party (Fortschrittliche Volkspartei), left members of the National Liberal Party (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.



The Democrats were a more left-wing or social liberal party, whereas the German People's Party 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 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 (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 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, and the eminent sociologist Max Weber. Hjalmar Schacht, once a prominent supporter of this party and president of the Reichsbank, left the party in 1926.

Nearly all German governments from 1918 to 1931 included ministers from the DDP, such as Walther Rathenau, Eugen Schiffer, Hugo Preuss, Otto Gessler, Max Weber and Erich Koch-Weser. From their 18% share of the first elections under proportional representation 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 to form the German State Party 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 (1945/1948), as did the liberals from the German People's Party. First Federal President Theodor Heuss, 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.

Other DDP members went to the Christian Democrats, such as Ernst Lemmer, the former leader of the Young Democrats and Federal Minister in 1956-1965.


See also

Further reading

  • Frye, Bruce B. (1963). "The German Democratic Party 1918-1930". Political Research Quarterly 16 (1): 167–179. doi:10.1177/106591296301600112. 

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