National Democratic Party of Germany (East Germany)

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National-Democratic Party of Germany
National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands
Founded 1948
Dissolved 27 March 1990
Merged into Free Democratic Party
Headquarters East Berlin, East Germany
Membership (late 1980s) ca. 110,000[1]
Party flag
Flagge der NDPD.svg

The National-Democratic Party of Germany (German: National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands, NDPD) was an East German political party that acted as an organisation for former members of the NSDAP, the Wehrmacht and middle classes. It should not be confused with the National Democratic Party of Germany (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD), which was a party in West Germany and continues as a minor, non-governmental party in the modern united Germany.

History[edit]

The NDPD was co-founded by Lothar Bolz, Wilhelm Adam (former member of the SA) and others. It was intended to reach out to social groups that had been attracted by the Nazi Party before 1945 (such as military men and some of the middle classes) and provide them with a political outlet, so that they would not be tempted to support the far-right again or turn to the anti-communist Western Allies. Considering the fact that German nationalism was a potent force during the interwar era and that millions of Germans were members of NSDAP, Stalin wanted to use them to create a new pro-Soviet and anti-Western strain in German politics.[2] According to top Soviet diplomat Vladimir Semyonov Stalin even suggested that they could be allowed to continue publishing their own newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter. German Communists and some Soviet officials were initially appalled by Stalin's ideas and weren't enthusiastic in their implementation. [3]

NDPD house in East Berlin in 1959

The NDPD was recognized by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany on 16 August 1948 and later sent 52 delegates to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, as part of the National Front. None of these ever voted against the government on any issue, similarly to other block parties which were effectively puppets of the ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Nonetheless, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became an independent agent in politics, participating in the only free Volkskammer election ever held (March 18, 1990). NDPD was not included in the electoral cartel of the other liberal-to-be parties in East Germany and entered the race alone. The results were a debacle, though: with 44,292 votes (0.38%) they received fewer votes than they (nominally) had members. After these results, they soon merged with the West German Free Democrats (FDP).[4]

According to Klaus Schroeder,[5] the NDPD had fewer former Nazis among its ranks than the communist Socialist Unity Party of Germany had. This was due to the NDPD being much smaller than the SED.

The NDPD programme demanded, among other things, the promotion of the middle class. Bolz was one of the few prominent members who was not a former Nazi and was, in fact, a member of the SED until he founded the new party. He had previously been a member of the Communist Party of Germany until it was suppressed by the Nazis. The NDPD was established by the communist authorities with the aim of claiming support among these ranks of society. The NDPD was organised on democratic centralist grounds and had 110,000 members in the late 1980s.

The party was supposed to represent liberalism, like the Liberal-Democratic Party of Germany, and (at least initially) also played with the German national sentiment. However, the NDPD was even more loyal to the SED and was reluctant to criticise the government even during the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.

On 27 March 1990 the NDPD became part of the Bund Freier Demokraten, a short-lived organization that eventually merged into the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Chairmen of the NDPD[edit]

Lothar Bolz 1948–1972
Heinrich Homann 1972–1989
Günter Hartmann 1989–1990
Wolfgang Glaeser 1990
Wolfgang Rauls 1990

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dirk Jurich, Staatssozialismus und gesellschaftliche Differenzierung: eine empirische Studie, p.31. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006, ISBN 3825898938
  2. ^ Zubok, Vladislav. A failed empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007, p. 89.
  3. ^ Zubok, Vladislav. A failed empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007, p. 90.
  4. ^ Udo Leuschner Geschichte der FDP http://www.udo-leuschner.de/liberalismus/fdp26.htm
  5. ^ Klaus Schroeder: Der SED-Staat. Partei, Staat und Gesellschaft 1949–1990, 2. Auflage, Propyläen: München 2000 (1998), S. 42/43.

External links[edit]