General German Workers' Association

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General German
Workers' Association

Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiter-Verein
Founder Ferdinand Lassalle
Founded 23 May 1869; 149 years ago (23 May 1869)
Dissolved 1875; 143 years ago (1875)
Succeeded by Social Democratic Party of Germany
Headquarters Berlin
Lipsia (since 1868)
Newspaper Der Sozial-Demokrat
Der Agitator
Neuer Social-Demokrat
Membership 15,000
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Left-wing
Colors      Red

The General German Workers' Association (German: Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiter-Verein, ADAV) was a German political party founded on 23 May 1863 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony by Ferdinand Lassalle.

The organization existed by this name until 1875, when it combined with the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) to form the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany. This unified organization was renamed soon thereafter the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), which presently remains in existence and dates its origins to the founding of the ADAV.

The ADAV was the first German Labour Party, formed in Prussia prior to the establishment of the German Empire. Its members were known colloquially throughout Germany as Lassalleans.

Organizational history[edit]

Establishment[edit]

Ferdinand Lassalle, founder of the ADAV

The ADAV was founded in Leipzig by Ferdinand Lassalle and twelve delegates from some of the most important cities in Germany, namely Barmen, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Elberfeld, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Harburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Mainz and Solingen.

The ADAV sought to advance the interests of the working class and to work for the establishment of socialism by the use of electoral politics.[1] Lassalle acted as president from 23 May 1863 until his death in a duel on 31 August 1864.

The unofficial organ of the ADAV was the newspaper Der Sozial-Demokrat (The Social Democrat),[1] launching publication in Berlin on 15 December 1864.[2] The publication initially won promises of editorial contributions from the radical exiles Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, but the pair soon disfavored the notion owing to the allegiance of the Sozial-Demokrat and the ADAV to the memory and ideas of their nemesis Lassalle.[3]

Development[edit]

Lassalle had been expecting many thousands to become members of the association, but by 1864 there were only 4,600 and merging with the SDAP was the best option to gain influence. The ADAV was in part financially assisted by funds obtained by Lassalle through his personal relations.

The ADAV had its first congress, called a General Assembly, in Düsseldorf on 27 December 1864.[4] Marx and his associates had hoped that this gathering would cause the organization to join the newly established International Workingmen's Association (First International), which they helped manage, but the gathering did not discuss affiliation, further disaffecting Marx from the group.[4]

Wilhelm Liebknecht was a member until 1865, but as the ADAV tried to cooperate with Otto von Bismarck's government, for example on the question of women's suffrage, Liebknecht became disillusioned with the association. He had been writing for Der Sozial-Demokrat, but as a result of disagreement with the newspaper's Prussia-friendly rhetoric he quit the organization to establish the Saxon People's Party along with August Bebel. In 1869, Liebknecht became a co-founder of the SDAP in Eisenach as a branch of the International Workingmen's Association.

Liebknecht was to meet again with his old ADAV colleagues as the lack of support for the ADAV caused them to join forces with Liebknecht's SDAP in 1875.

Merger and legacy[edit]

Together with the SDAP, the ADAV formed the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany at the Socialist Unity Conference in Gotha. The manifesto of the new organization was the Gotha Program, which urged "universal, equal, direct suffrage".

In 1890, the party was renamed the Social Democratic Party of Germany and it still exists under this name. The SDP now dates its origins to the founding of the ADAV and celebrated its 150th anniversary in the spring of 2013.[5]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tom Goyens (2007). Beer and Revolution: The German Anarchist Movement in New York City, 1880-1914. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 65.
  2. ^ Vladimir Sazonov (1987). Footnotes to Marx-Engels Collected Works: Volume 42: Marx and Engels, 1864-68. New York: International Publishers. p. 599. fn. 80.
  3. ^ Karl Marx in London to Carl Siebel in Elberfeld. Marx-Engels Collected Works: Volume 42. p. 58.
  4. ^ a b Sazonov. Footnotes to Marx-Engels Collected Works: Volume 42. p. 599, fn. 82.
  5. ^ Peter Schwarz (23 May 2013). "The SPD Celebrates its 150th Anniversary". World Socialist Web Site.

Presidents[edit]