Friedrich Naumann

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Friedrich Naumann
Portrait Friedrich Naumann (ca. 1911).jpg
In office
Personal details
Born (1860-03-25)25 March 1860
Störmthal (now part of Großpösna) near Leipzig
Died 24 August 1919(1919-08-24) (aged 59)
Political party Christian Social Party
National-Social Association
Freeminded Union
Freeminded People's Party
Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Maria Magdalena Zimmermann
Occupation Theologian, Politician
Religion Protestantism

Friedrich Naumann (25 March 1860 – 24 August 1919) was a German liberal politician and Protestant parish pastor. In 1894 he founded the weekly magazine Die Hilfe ("The Help") to address the social question from a non-marxist middle class point of view. In 1896 he also founded the National-Social Association, in an attempt to provide a social liberal alternative to the Social Democrats, that could address the growing social rift between rich industrialists and the poor working class. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation of the liberal Free Democratic Party is named after him.


Naumann was born in Großpösna, near Leipzig.

His ideal was that of helping the working class, who lived in miserable circumstances (he worked at Johann Hinrich Wichern's Rauhes Haus in Hamburg). His goal was to raise interest in this issue among the middle class. To this end he wrote the short book, "Soziale Briefe An Reiche Leute" published in Göttingen in 1895.

However, he was hindered by the German middle class fear of the proletariat, who were regarded as potential revolutionaries. In 1890 Friedrich joined to the conservative party, the Christian Social Party, but he left the party six years later in 1896, because of his liberal ideals.

Later in his life, Naumann faced major opposition from conservatives. Industrialists like Freiherr von Stumm called Naumann and his associates allies of the socialists. Naumann wanted to preserve Christian values, which he hoped would improve the fraught relations between workers and corporate businessmen. His party the National-Social Association, co-founded with Rudolph Sohm in 1896, failed in the elections of 1898 and 1903 and was then dissolved into the Freeminded Union.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Naumann, who was a monarchist and adherent of the German emperor Wilhelm II, espoused a liberal imperialism. He was influenced by his friend, the German sociologist Max Weber, one of the most pronounced critics of Wilhelm II. Naumann tried to involve Weber in politics, but this failed due to the bad health and temper of Weber.

Naumann became a member of the Reichstag in 1907.

Naumann is often considered a German nationalist with annexionist ideals, due to his book Mitteleuropa.

In 1919 Friedrich Naumann was a co-founder of the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) with Theodor Wolff and Hugo Preuss, the "father of the constitution of the Weimar Republic", and, shortly before his death, was elected as the first president of the party.

He is the author of Mitteleuropa, a book on the geopolitics of the Central Europe. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation associated with the Freie Demokratische Partei is named after him.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Friedrich Naumann at Wikimedia Commons
  • Friedrich Naumann, Christabel Margaret Meredith, William James Ashley (1917). Central Europe. King.