German National People's Party
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|German National People's Party
|Preceded by||German Conservative Party, Free Conservative Party, German Fatherland Party, National Liberal Party|
|Succeeded by||Single-party-system of NSDAP (1933-1945)|
|Newspaper||NA; supported by Alfred Hugenberg's media group|
|Paramilitary wing||Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten|
|Colors||Black, white, red (imperial colors)|
The German National People's Party (German: Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) 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 supported by the Pan-German League.
Generally hostile towards the republican Weimar constitution, the DNVP spent most of the inter-war period in opposition. Largely supported by landowners and wealthy industrialists, it favoured a monarchist platform and was strongly opposed to the Treaty of Versailles.
Extremely nationalistic and reactionary and originally favouring restoration of German monarchy, it later supported creation of an authoritarian state. Its supporters came from dedicated nationalists, the aristocracy, parts of the middle class and big business. While it sought the ultimate demise of Weimar Republic, it participated in its politics and ruling government to keep Socialists out of power. Before its alliance with Nazis, the party sought support of the national liberal German People's Party.
Between 1925 and 1928, the party slightly moderated its tone and actively cooperated in successive governments. In 1928, however, after a disastrous showing at the polls (the party's share of votes fell from 21% in 1924 to 14%), Alfred Hugenberg, leader of the party's hardliner wing who demanded "annihilation of Polish population" in 1899, became chairman. Hugenberg returned the party to a course of fundamental opposition against the Republic, but abandoned its previous monarchism in favour of more hardline nationalism and reluctant co-operation with the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), better known as the Nazi Party. In 1929, this resulted in the former chairman Kuno Graf von Westarp and other members leaving the party and forming the more moderate Conservative People's Party. The DNVP was declining rapidly as many workers and peasants began to support the more populist and less aristocratic NSDAP, leaving the party with mostly upper middle class and upper class support.
In 1931, the DNVP, the NSDAP and the Stahlhelm paramilitary organisation briefly formed an uneasy alliance known as the Harzburger Front. The DNVP hoped to control the NSDAP through this coalition and to curb the Nazis' extremism, but the pact only served to strengthen the NSDAP by giving it access to funding and political respectability while obscuring the DNVP's own less extreme platform.
The following year, the DNVP became the only significant party to support Franz von Papen in his short tenure as Chancellor. Performing badly in subsequent elections, the party ended up as junior coalition partners to the NSDAP in the so-called, short-lived Regierung der nationalen Konzentration (Government of National Concentration) on Adolf Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933, supporting the Enabling Act that authorised Hitler's government with legislative powers.
Hitler's patience with his conservative allies was limited, and the DNVP representatives in his first Cabinet were quickly bullied into resignation. Shortly thereafter, DNVP members were coerced into joining the NSDAP or retiring from political life altogether. Under growing Nazi pressure, the party dissolved itself in June 1933, and a month later the Nazi Party was officially declared to be the only legally permitted party in Germany.
In post-war Germany, no serious attempt was made to recreate the party as a political force when conservative and centrist forces united into bigger parties like the CDU and the CSU, its Bavarian branch. The DNVP was briefly revived in 1962, but the new DVNP soon afterwards was merged into the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Today, there is no mainstream national conservative political party in Germany similar to the DNVP, as the CDU/CSU is more to the centre.
In his book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer wrote that the DNVP's status as a far-right party rather than a mainstream conservative party was a main reason for the Weimar Republic's downfall.
- 1918–1924 Oskar Hergt (1869–1967)
- 1924–1928 Kuno Graf von Westarp (1864–1945)
- 1928–1933 Alfred Hugenberg (1865–1951)
Further reading 
- Hertzman, Lewis (1963), DNVP: Right-wing opposition in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1924, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press
- Kitchen, Martin (2006), Europe Between the Wars: A Political History (Second ed.), Pearson Education, p. 249
- Barth, Boris (2006), Genozid: Völkermord im 20. Jahrhundert : Geschichte, Theorien, Kontroversen (in German), C. H. Beck, p. 176
- Serge, Victor (2011), Witness to the German Revolution, Haymarket Books, p. 232
- Gunlicks, Arthur B. (2011), Comparing Liberal Democracies: The United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union, iUniverse, p. 127
- Ringer, Fritz K. (1990), The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890-1933, University Press of New England, p. 201
- Eric D. Weitz, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2007), 95-96.
- Adolf Hitler: a biographical companion David Nicholls page 178 November 1, 2000 The main nationalist party the German National People's Party DNVP was divided between reactionary conservative monarchists, who wished to turn the clock back to the pre-1918 Kaisereich, and more radical volkisch and anti-semitic elements. It also inherited the support of old Pan-German League, whose nationalistsm rested on belief in the inherent superiority of the German people
- A history of Nazi Germany:1919-1945 Joseph W. Bendersky page 7 Burnham; 2 edition , 2000
- E. Kolb, The Weimar Republic, 2nd ed. (New York: Rutledge, 2005), 224-5