Liberal Democratic Party of Germany

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The Liberal Democratic Party of Germany (German: Liberal-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands, LDPD) was a political party in East Germany. Like the other allied parties of the SED in the National Front it had 52 representatives in the Volkskammer.


The history of the party dates back to June 1946, when a group led by Waldemar Koch took the initiative in refounding German Democratic Party. At first there were some speculation of forming a united liberal party with the Christian Democrats, but the idea was abandoned soon and on July 5, 1946, the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany was officially founded.

It was first of all aimed at uniting Weimar Republic-era members of the German Democratic Party, German People's Party and German National People's Party. Unlike the CDU, the Liberal Democratic Party was firmly for private ownership and opposed to nationalization of important private enterprises. Among the new anti-fascist parties, Liberal Democratic Party was the most anti-communist at the time.

After internal fighting and under pressure from Soviet authorities, Koch was replaced with the more pliable Wilhelm Külz in November 1945.

In the last free election, of 1946, the Liberal Democrats finished third, behind the SED and the CDU. At the end of 1948, during the culmination of their opposition to the SED seizure of power, the LDP had more than 200,000 members, 23% of whom were younger than 25.

Unification attempts[edit]

Wilhelm Külz (left) in December 1947 with Wilhelm Pieck (SED) and Otto Nuschke (CDU) at the "People's Congress"

In July 1946 the LDP and the liberal parties in the Western Zones founded a joint Coordination committee with the aim of forming an All-Germany liberal party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DPD). The founding of the Democratic Party of Germany began with a conference in Rothenburg ob der Tauber on March 17, 1947. Wilhelm Külz and Theodor Heuss (representing Western liberals) acted as co-chairman. Such undertakings failed quickly, owing to Külz's participation in the SED-sponsored German People's Congress for Unity and Just Peace. Although the LDP's Vorstand or leadership criticized that participation, it refused to take any further steps demanded by the West German liberals.

The failure of unification became imminent when on the session of the united leadership of DPD that took part on January 18, 1948 and which Külz refused to attend, Theodor Heuss argued that Liberal Democrats' unwillingness to take any measures against Külz proved their commitment to 'the Russian conception of German unity'. Upon in, Arthur Lieutenant, the spokesman of LDPD on the matter, declared that under those circumstances and concerning reproaches laid against East German liberals, any co-operation had been made impossible. This was in fact the end of DPD.

A Blockpartei[edit]

Party convention in 1987, with singer Dagmar Frederic and professor Zippel of Charité

After 1949 it shared the same fate as the other legal East German parties. As a block party (Blockpartei) it jettisoned its original ideology, acting as a "helpmeet" to the Communist SED. Another block party, the NDPD, appealed to almost the same social groups.

LDPD member Johannes Dieckmann was the chairman of the Volkskammer from 1949 to 1969, and as such was ex officio vice president of the GDR from 1949 to 1960.

Manfred Gerlach was the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party from 1967 to his resignation in 1990. The central newspaper of LDPD used to be the daily Der Morgen.

Originally its used the name Liberal Democratic Party (Liberal-Demokratische Partei (LDP)), but in October, 1951 it was ordered to add the "D" for "Germany" (Deutschland) into its name in order to serve the all-German propaganda of that time of the SED.[citation needed] In the 1987, the party had 106,000 members.[1]

Gerlach had initially been a loyal partner of the SED, but began moving toward a more independent line in the 1980s. At an extraordinary party congress held 9–10 February 1990 in Dresden it returned to genuine liberal policies and dropped "of Germany" from its name. On 12 February 1990 it joined the Association of Free Democrats which finally merged into the Free Democratic Party in 11 August 1990.

Foreign contacts[edit]

The LDPD had contacts with other (nominally) liberal parties in the Communist bloc: Polish Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Demokratyczne, SD), the Czechoslovak Socialist Party (Československá strana socialistická, CSS),[2] the Democratic Party of Vietnam and the Korean Democratic Party (Chõson Sahoeminjudang, CS).[3] The Liberal Democratic Party of GDR also had some contacts with the West German FDP; in 1960s and 1970s, the relations were cool, but contacts intensified in 1980s.[4]

Chairmen of the LDPD[edit]

Chairman Manfred Gerlach (left) in December 1989

Manfred Gerlach Hans Loch Wilhelm Külz Waldemar Koch

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dirk Jurich, Staatssozialismus und gesellschaftliche Differenzierung: eine empirische Studie, p.31. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006, ISBN 3825898938
  2. ^ which represented liberalism, despite its name
  3. ^ Peter Joachim Lapp Die "befreundeten Parteien" der SED, 1988, p. 104
  4. ^ Peter Joachim Lapp Die "befreundeten Parteien" der SED, 1988, pp. 108-109.

External links[edit]