German Democratic Party

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German Democratic Party

Deutsche Demokratische Partei
Founded1918; 103 years ago (1918)
Dissolved1930; 91 years ago (1930)
Preceded byProgressive People's Party
Merged intoGerman State Party
Youth wingYoung Democrats
Paramilitary wingReichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold (1924–1930)
IdeologyClassical liberalism[1]
Social liberalism[2][3]
Economic liberalism[4]
Political positionCentre[7] to centre-left[6][8]
Colors  Black   Red   Gold (republican colors)[9]

The German Democratic Party (German: Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) was a liberal political party in Germany. It was founded in November 1918[10] by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party, left-wing members of the National Liberal Party and a new group calling themselves the Democrats (German: Demokraten).

In 1930, the party merged with the People's National Reich Association to form the German State Party.


The Democrats were a more left-wing or social-liberal party whereas the German People's Party was national-liberal. Many of the leading figures in the party had been supporters of Imperial Germany's aim of Weltpolitik[11] and Mitteleuropa.[citation needed]

Along with the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Centre Party, the Democratic Party was most committed to maintaining a democratic, republican form of government. Its social bases were middle-class entrepreneurs, civil servants, teachers, scientists and craftsmen. It considered itself also a devotedly national party and opposed the Treaty of Versailles, but it emphasized on the other hand the need for international collaboration and the protection of ethnic minorities. The party was the one voted for by most Jews.[12] The DDP was therefore dubbed the "party of Jews and professors".[13]

People and governments[edit]

The party's first leader was Protestant parish priest Friedrich Naumann, a popular and influential politician, who ten years earlier had failed with his Nationalsozialer Verein to link progressive intellectuals with the working class. He died early in 1919. Other well-known politicians of the DDP were Hugo Preuß, the main author of the Weimar Constitution; the eminent sociologist Max Weber and his brother Alfred. Physicist Albert Einstein co-signed the Democrats' founding document but was not an active party member.[14] Hjalmar Schacht, president of the Reichsbank and one of the founders of the party, left the party in 1926 and eventually helped Adolf Hitler to power. Women played a relatively active role in the party (i.e. compared to most other parties during that era). Notable female politicians include women's rights activists Helene Lange, Marianne Weber, Gertrud Bäumer and Marie-Elisabeth Lüders.

Nearly all German governments from 1918 to 1931 included ministers from the DDP, such as Walther Rathenau, Eugen Schiffer, Hugo Preuß, Kurt Riezler, Otto Gessler, Max Weber and Erich Koch-Weser. From their 18% share of the first German federal elections under proportional representation in 1919, they dropped, for example, to 4.9% in the 1928 German federal election and to 1.0% in the November 1932 German federal election.

The party merged with the more right-leaning People's National Reich Association to form the German State Party in 1930. With Ludwig Quidde (Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1927) and others, the party had a pacifist wing which left the party in 1930 and founded the Radical Democratic Party, which represented radical democratic and more left-wing policies.

Other prominent figures associated with the party included the philosophers Ernst Cassirer[15] and Ernst Troeltsch, the patron of the arts Harry Graf Kessler, and the pacifist Hellmut von Gerlach.

Election results[edit]

Election year Votes % Seats +/–
1919 5,641,825 18.6 (3rd)
75 / 423
New Party
1920 2,333,741 8.3 (6th)
39 / 459
Decrease 36
May 1924 1,655,129 5.7 (7th)
28 / 472
Decrease 11
December 1924 1,919,829 6.3 (6th)
32 / 493
Increase 4
1928 1,479,374 4.8 (6th)
25 / 491
Decrease 7

After 1945[edit]

After 1945, former politicians of the DDP joined mainly the new Free Democratic Party (1945/1948) as did the liberals from the German People's Party. First Federal President Theodor Heuss, a journalist and professor of history, had been a German State Party deputy in 1933. In the Soviet occupation zone, the liberal leader was former DDP minister Wilhelm Külz.

Other DDP members went to the Christian Democrats, such as Ernst Lemmer, the former leader of the Young Democrats and Federal Minister in 1956–1965, Ferdinand Friedensburg, interim mayor of Berlin during the 1948 blockade, and Otto Nuschke, leader of the East German CDU.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mommsen, Hans (1996). The Rise and Fall of Weimar Democracy. University of North Carolina Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-8078-2249-3.
  2. ^ Van De Grift, Liesbeth (2012). Securing the Communist State: The Reconstruction of Coercive Institutions in the Soviet Zone of Germany and Romania, 1944–48. Lexington Books. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7391-7178-3.
  3. ^ Lash, Scott; Urry, John (1987). The End of Organized Capitalism. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-7456-0068-9.
  4. ^ a b Kurlander, Eric (2006). The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism, 1898–1933. Berghahn Books. p. 197. ISBN 1-8454-5069-8.
  5. ^ Maier, Charles S. (1975). Recasting Bourgeois Europe: Stabilization in France, Germany and Italy in the Decade after World War I. Princeton University Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-691-05220-4.
  6. ^ a b Sartori, Giovanni (1976). Parties and Party Systems. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 156.
  7. ^ Lee, Stephen J. (1998). The Weimar Republic. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 0-415-17178-4.
  8. ^ Allinson, Mark (2015). Germany and Austria since 1814 (second ed.). Routledge. p. 58.
  9. ^ Preuss, Hugo (2008). Schwarz-Rot-Gold: Zum Nürnberger Parteitag (1920) [Black-Red-Gold: For the Nuremberg Party Congress (1920)]. Gesammelte Schriften – Vierter Band: Politik und Verfassung in der Weimarer Republik (in German). Mohr Siebeck. p. 155.
  10. ^ "German Democratic Party (DDP) Election Poster (1924)".
  11. ^ Smith, Woodruff D. (1989) The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism. Oxford University Press, p. 196–197.
  12. ^ Niewyk, Donald L. (1980) The Jews in Weimar Germany. Louisiana State University Press, p. 31.
  13. ^ Baumgarten, Albert I. (2010). Elias Bickerman as a historian of the Jews: a twentieth-century tale. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. p. 73. ISBN 9783161501715.
  14. ^ Möller, Horst (2018). Die Weimarer Republik: Demokratie in der Krise [The Weimar Republic: Democracy in Crisis] (in German). Piper.
  15. ^ Jones, Larry Eugene (2001). Crossing Boundaries: The Exclusion and Inclusion of Minorities in Germany and the United States. Berghahn Books. p. 125.

Further reading[edit]

  • Frye, Bruce B. (1963). "The German Democratic Party 1918–1930". Political Research Quarterly. 16 (1): 167–179. doi:10.1177/106591296301600112.