Bund der Deutschen
Origins of the BdD and its program until the foundation of the German Peace Union
The BdD resulted from the opposition movement to Konrad Adenauer's policies of Western integration. After signing of the general agreement on June 26, 1952, the German Union (Deutsche Sammlung) was founded in Dortmund. Members of the presidium were the former state chancellor Joseph Wirth (CDU), Katharina von Kardorff-Oheimb and Wilhelm Elfes (also former CDU member). The Deutsche Sammlung called for an opposition to the Western integration and demanded that every opportunity for German re-unification should be used.
The foundation of the BdD followed the initiative of the politbureau of the Socialist Unity Party of East Germany. Despite the fact that 'bourgeois' politicians like Joseph Wirth, Wilhelm Elfes made up the leadership, the party organisation and finances were in firm control of communist functionaries. The goal of the SED was to form a so-called National Front of bourgeois and "national" forces ("national-gesinnte"), similar to the communist-controlled 'National Front' in East Germany.
The core program of the BdD was a policy of neutrality as well as opposition to the re-armament of West Germany and the Western integration. Unlike Konrad Adenauer's policies, an understanding/a compromise with the USSR was sought.
Though the BdD tried to advance economic and social demands of the middle classes and the peasants, it also sought socialisation of the large industrial enterprises. In 1956 the Communist Party of Germany was forbidden just like re-foundation of possible communist successor parties. Therefore, in the late 1950s, the BdD started to act increasingly as a substitute (Ersatzorganisation) for West German communists.
The BdD as a component of the DFU
With the foundation of the German Peace Union (Deutsche Friedensunion) the SED preferred to fuse the BdD with the newly founded GDR-sponsored organisation DFU. The constitutional court of North Rhine-Westphalia thus classified the BdD in 1964 as a cadre organisation of the DFU. In effect the BdD –despite continued existence of its own organisation – no longer took part in elections but rather delegated its candidates to the DFU list. On 2 November 1968 the German Communist Party, DFU, BdD and other leftist groupings formed a common list, the Democratic Progress Action (Aktion Demokratischer Fortschritt) for the Bundestag election of 1969. The number of BdD members had fallen (according to SED records) from 12,000 (1953/1955) to less than 3,000 (1965).
The BdD was never officially disbanded but it fused de facto after its last party conference in 1968 with the DFU. The last chairman of the party was Josef Weber (chairman since 1964; previously general secretary of the BdD and later a DFU and ADF functionary).
In 1953, the Deutsche Volkszeitung was founded as a BdD-close body. The weekly Freitag, still published today, was the indirect successor to that newspaper.
The BdD took part in the following Bundestag resp. Landtag elections:
- 1953 election to Bundestag in a joint ticket with the GVP - 318,475 votes (1.2%).
- 1954 election to North Rhine-Westphalia landtag 19,515 votes (0.3%).
- 1954 election to Schleswig-Holstein landtag 10,009 votes (0.8%).
- 1954 election to Hesse landtag 12,047 votes (0.5%).
- 1954 election to Bavaria landtag 43,720 votes (0.4%).
- 1955 election to Lower Saxony landtag 8,600 votes (0.3%).
- 1955 election to Rhineland-Palatinate landtag 10,527 votes (0.7%).
- 1955 election to Bremen city council 3,988 votes (1.1%).
- 1956 election to Baden-Württemberg landtag 18,077 votes (0.6%).
- 1957 the BdD had its own list on Bundestag election and won 58,725 votes (0.2%).
- 1957 election to Hamburg city council 3,469 votes (0.3%).
- 1958 election to North Rhine-Westphalia landtag 176 votes (0.0% (-0.3 %)).
- 1958 election to Schleswig-Holstein landtag 6,037 votes (0.5% (-0.3 %)).
- 1959 election to Lower Saxony landtag 4.947 votes (0.1% (-0.2 %)).
- 1959 election to Rhineland-Palatinate landtag 6.613 votes (0.4% (-0.3 %)).
- 1959 election to Bremen city council 1.337 votes (0.3% (-0.8 %)).
- 1961 election to Baden-Württemberg landtag 15.333 votes (0.5% (-0.1 %)).
Notes and references
- the (re-)foundation of an openly communist political party had become possible in the course of changes in the West German society during the late 1960s