All-German People's Party

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All-German People's Party
Leader Gustav Heinemann
Founded 1952
Dissolved 1957
Split from Christian Democratic Union and Centre Party
Merged into Social Democratic Party of Germany
Ideology Centrism,
Christian democracy, Christian left, Social democracy, Pacifism, Neutralism
Political position centre to centre-left
International affiliation none
Politics of Germany
Political parties
Helene Wessel on the founding convention 1952

The All-German People's Party (German: Gesamtdeutsche Volkspartei, GVP) was a political party in the Federal Republic of Germany. The party was founded on November 29, 1952 and ceased to exist in 1957. It was a Christian, pacifist, left bourgeois party that opposed re-armament of Germany because it believed that re-armament would make German reunification impossible.

Foundation and aims[edit]

The party was formed by a number of former CDU or German Centre Party members and Confessing Church supporters, who opposed the re-armament of Germany and a close co-operation with the Western powers. The forerunner of the party was the association Notgemeinschaft für den Frieden Europas, founded in November 1951 by Gustav Heinemann.

Heinemann had been in 1949/1950 minister of the internal affairs (CDU member). Together with Helene Wessel, until the begin of 1952 chair of the catholic Deutsche Zentrumspartei, and two other persons he formed the Präsidium of the party which did not have a chairman. Heinemann and Wessel often appeared together in order to appeal to Protestants and Catholics at the same time.

The party believed in détente and favoured plebiscites. It refused to use Christianity for anticommunism and advocated to fight racial and religious prejudice. On economics the party was not interested in a more precise programme due to the different views among its members.

Elections and legacy[edit]

In the only Bundestag election the party took part in - the 1953 election – they only managed to obtain 1.3% of votes (for the common list with the East German funded Bund der Deutschen (Alliance of Germans). The only electoral success of the GVP was the local election of North Rhine-Westphalia on October 28, 1956 where the party got 78 seats. After they could only win 1.6% in the Baden-Württemberg legislative election of 1956, the GVP was formally disbanded on May 19, 1957.

The party recommended that members join the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Some members had already left the GVP for the SPD. The Social Democrats had refused to adopt GVP members on their lists for the federal election of 1957 but granted good list positions to some former GVP members (among them Heinemann and Wessel). This helped SPD to open itself to parts of the Christian bourgeoisie.

A number of former GVP members had substantial careers in the Social Democratic party. Erhard Eppler became federal minister on development aid, Jürgen Schmude on education and Diether Posser state minister in North Rhine-Westphalia. Most noteworthy, Gustav Heinemann and Johannes Rau, until 2010 the only SPD presidents of Germany, had both been GVP members.

Literature in German[edit]

  • Siegfried Heimann: Die Gesamtdeutsche Volkspartei; in: Richard Stöss (Hrsg.): Parteien-Handbuch. Die Parteien der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1945–1980, Band 2; Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1984; ISBN 3-531-11592-8
  • Barbara Jobke: Aufstieg und Verfall einer wertorientierten Bewegung. Dargestellt am Beispiel der Gesamtdeutschen Volkspartei; Universität, Dissertation Tübingen 1974
  • Diether Koch: Heinemann und die Deutschlandfrage; München: Kaiser, 1972; ISBN 3-459-00813-X
  • Josef Müller: Die Gesamtdeutsche Volkspartei. Entstehung und Politik unter dem Primat nationaler Wiedervereinigung 1950-1957; Düsseldorf: Droste-Verlag, 1990; ISBN 3-7700-5160-2