Weimar political parties

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The Weimar Republic was in existence for thirteen years. In that time, some 40 parties were represented in the Reichstag. This fragmentation of political power was in part due to the peculiar parliamentary system of the Weimar Republic, and in part due to the many challenges facing German democracy in this period.

Weimar political parties[edit]

Left-wing[edit]

  • Kommunistische Arbeiter-Partei Deutschlands (KAPD) — Was an ultraleftist party that split from the KPD in 1920. They rejected participation in the Parliament and called for immediate revolutionary action. Immediately after its formation the party endured a series of splinters and lost much of the little influence it had.
  • Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) — Formed out of a number of left-wing groups, including the left wing of the USPD and the Spartacist League. It was a Marxist-Leninist party that advocated revolution by the proletariat and the creation of a communist regime according to the example of the Soviet Union. The party's major paper was the Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag).
  • Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Opposition) (KPO) — Split from the KPD in 1928, representing the "Right Opposition" of the Bukharinist against the Stalinist "Center" and the Trotskyist "Left Opposition". It never intended to be a real political party, but to influence the KPD.
  • Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (USPD) —, "Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany" - left wing faction that had split from the SPD in 1917. Parts of it split off, forming the Communist Party, while the majority reunited with the MSPD in 1922. It was a Marxist party that sought change through parliament and social progressive programs.
  • Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (SAPD) —, "Socialist Workers' Party of Germany" - left wing faction that had split from the SPD in 1931. Parts of the USPD and dissenters from the KPD and the KPO joined it, but it remained small. It's political positions were near to those of the USPD, wavering between the SPD and the KPD.
  • Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) — (between 1917 and 1922 also called Mehrheitssozialdemokratische Partei (MSPD) - Majority Social Democrats); they supported the parliamentary system of democracy, and extensive social programs in the economy. Its party newspaper was the Vorwärts.

Centre[edit]

  • Deutsche Demokratische Partei (DDP) — German Democratic Party. A social-liberal party. One of the two main liberal parties. Their party newspapers were the Vossische Zeitung and the Volkswacht.
  • The German State Party (DStP) — Formed in 1930 by the DDP, the People's National Reich Association and remains of the Christian Trade Unionists. In 1930, it published a "Manifesto of the German State Party".
  • Wirtschaftspartei. (Economic Party.)
  • Zentrumspartei — The Centre Party was the continuation of the pre-Weimar Catholic party of the same name. Their party newspaper was Germania.

Right-wing[edit]

  • Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP) — German People's Party. Originating from the pre-Weimar National Liberals, it was a centre-right national liberal party. Gustav Stresemann was its chairman.
  • Bayerische Volkspartei (BVP) — Bavarian People's Party, a Catholic and conservative party
  • Christlich-Nationale Bauern- und Landvolkpartei — Christian National Peasants' and Rural Peoples Party (splinter party)
  • Deutsche anti-semitische VereinigungGerman Anti-Semitic League (splinter party)
  • Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) — The German Workers' Party was formed in 1919, by Anton Drexler with Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart and Karl Harrer, and derived in part from the Thule Society, the cover organization of the occult ariosophist Germanenorden. This party added the adjective "National Socialist" in its name and became the "National Socialist German Workers' Party" (NSDAP) in 1920.
  • Deutsche Partei (DP) — German Party
  • Deutsche Reformpartei — German Reform Party (splinter party).
  • Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP) — German Völkisch Freedom Party; this was the party of General Ludendorff. It campaigned for an authoritarian regime that would be very nationalistic and promoted socioeconomic questions. It also sought to close the stock exchanges and nationalize the banks. In May 1924, it obtained 6.4% of the vote in alliance with NSDAP, but fell to 3% in the next election, in December 1924.
  • Deutschnationale Volkspartei (DNVP) — German National People's Party. It presented itself as a Volksgemeinschaft or non-class party. It included remnants from the German Conservative Party, the Free Conservative Party, the Völkische movement, the Christian Social movement, and the Pan-German Association. It established two labor unions; one for the blue-collar worker (the DNAB) and one for the white-collar worker (DNAgB), which had been politically unimportant. The DNVP was the main authoritarian right party of Weimar Germany, but moved to the radical right after coming under the control of press baron Alfred Hugenberg in 1928. It organized the National Opposition in 1929, together with leaders of the Stahlhelm, Dr. Schacht, the president of the central bank and Hitler's Nazi Party, to oppose Chancellor Hermann Müller's Grand Coalition.
  • Deutscher Volksverein — the German People's League was started in 1881 by Max Liebermann von Sonnenberg, a former officer, and Bernhard Förster, Nietzsche's brother in law.
  • Deutsches Landvolk. Cover name for the Christian National Peasant/Rural Party in the 1930 Reichstag elections.
  • Deutschsozialistische Partei (DSP) — The so-called "German-Socialist" Party. It was headed by Julius Streicher, and it was also highly organized, despite having a rather small size. In a controversial move, it dissolved itself in 1922 and many of its members entered the (then very new) Nazi Party.
  • Volksnationale Reichsvereinigung (People's National Reich Association.)
  • Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) — (National Socialist German Workers' Party or the Nazi Party) It advocated Volksgemeinschaft, a unity of all classes, following the corporatist fascist model.
  • National Bolsheviks — Led by Ernst Niekisch, they combined ultranationalism with social radicalism by claiming to espouse both 'German' principles and much of the programme carried out by the Bolsheviks under Lenin.

Other political organizations[edit]

  • League of Agrarians (Bund der Landwirte). It took the name Reichslandbund (RLB) after 1920.
  • Allgemeiner Deutscher Beamtenbund (ADB) a civil servants league started by the SPD.
  • Bavarian Peasants' League (Peasant League) operated throughout Germany but especially in its stronghold of Bavaria. It had democratic, anticlerical leanings and subscribed to a narrow Bavarian particularism
  • Bauernvereine. Farmers' associations associated with the Center Party and were located in the Catholic west and south.
  • Bauernverein. Peasant association located in Schleswig-Holstein. Without religious ties, it initially supported a liberal economic and political policy.
  • Christian Social Movement
  • Deutsche Landwirtschafsrat (German Agricultural Council)
  • Federation of German Retail Business
  • Green Front. An umbrella group which consisted of the Landbund (RLB), the Deutsche Bauernshaft (formerly Bauernbund), the Association of Christian-German Peasant Unions, and the German Agricultural Council. It too heavily promoted the Junkers interest and drove many farmers out.
  • Landvolkbewegung (Landvolk) (Rural People's movement) A farmers' movement mainly in Schleswig-Holstein formed in the aftermath of the January 1928 demonstrations.
  • Reichsbund der Deserteure — National Association of Deserters; led by Karl Liebknecht; formed before the breakup from the Independent Socialists.
  • Reichslandbund — Natural Rural League
  • Spartakusbund (Spartacist League) — (1918–1919) left wing of the USPD led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, became the German Communist Party.

Unions[edit]

  • Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (ADGB)
  • Allgemeiner freier Angestelltenbund (AfA) white-collar employee union affiliated with the SPD-dominated free trade unions.
  • Deutscher Landarbeiterverband (German Agricultural Labor Union). SPD organized.
  • Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband (DHV) (National Association of Commercial Employees.) — the conservative white collar worker union. The DHV leadership did not fully support the NSDAP because it didn't recognize the independence of unions.
  • Gesamtverband Deutscher Beamtengewerkschaften (GDB) was a conservative civil service union.
  • Gewerkschaftsbund der Angestellten (GdA) was a Hirsch-Duncker union.
  • Gewerkschaftsbund deutscher Angestelltenverbände (Gedag) Conservative white-collar union
  • Reichsbund Deutscher Angestellten-Berufsverbände Conservative white-collar union.
  • Vereinigung der chrislichen-deutschen Bauernvereine (Association of Christian-German Peasant Unions).
  • Zentralverband der Angestellten (ZdA), an association of white-collar unions started by the SPD.
  • Party of socialist national liberation (NSFP) (Combined list of the Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP) and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
  • Nationalsozialistische Freiheitsbewegung (NSFB)(Combined list of the Deutschvölkische Freiheitspartei (DVFP) and the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)

Other Organizations[edit]

  • Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-German Association)
  • Katholische Burschenvereine. Catholic youth associations that the Catholic Church started in southern Germany to provide Catholic youth with numerous activities.
  • Deutsches Handwerk. German crafts organization headed by Zeleny. Zeleny advocated positions that would improve conditions for the old middle class. It would later back the NSDAP.
  • Tatkreis movement
  • Völkisch movement

Secret societies[edit]

  • Organisation Consul (OC) — In July 1921, Captain Ehrhardt and several members of his brigade formed this organization to commit political assassinations.(2)
  • Feme — an irregular tribunal based on ones from medieval Germany that at the time would administer justice when the government was too weak to maintain order. (Both of these organizations overlapped.)(2)

Reichstag election results[edit]

All vote numbers in thousands.

  • Regional= Total for regional parties not listed individually
  • Rightist= Total for right-wing parties not listed individually
  • Splinter= Total for splinter parties not listed individually or among regional or rightist
6/6/1920
  includes by-elections in Schleswig-Holstein and East Prussia (20/2/1921)
  and Upper Silesia (19/11/1922)
Eligible 35,920 
Turnout  28,196 
% Voting 78.4
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD       590     4
USPD     5047    83
SPD      6104   103
Centre   3910    64
BVP      1173    21
DDP      2334    39
WP        219     4
DVP      3919    65
DNVP     4249    71     
Regional  709     5     
Splinter  161     0
Total   28415   459
05/04/1924
Eligible 38,375 
Turnout  29,282
% Voting 76.3
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      3693    45
USPD      235     0
SPD      6009   100
Centre   3914    65
BVP       947    16
DDP      1655    28
WP        530    10
DVP      2728    45
DNVP     5697    95
NSFP     1918    32
Regional  608     5
Rightist  666    10
Splinter  682     4
Total   29282   455
12/07/1924
Eligible 33,987
Turnout  30,290
% Voting 77.7
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      2709    45
USPD       99     0
SPD      7881   131
Centre   4092    69
BVP      1134    19
DDP      1920    32
WP        639    17
DVP      3049    51
DNVP     6206   103
NSFB      907    14
Regional  708     4
Rightist  545     8
Splinter  401     0
Total   30290   493
20/5/1928   
Eligible 41,224 
Turnout  30,754 
% Voting 74.6   
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      3265    54
SPD      9153   153
Centre   3712    61
BVP       946    17
DDP      1479    25
WP       1388    23
DVP      2680    45
DNVP     4382    73
NSDAP     810    12
Regional  956     3
Rightist 1025    23
Splinter  958     2
Total   30754   491
14/9/1930
Eligible 42,958
Turnout  34,971
% Voting 81.4
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      4592    77
SPD      8578   143
Centre   4128    68
BVP      1059    19
DDP      1322    20
WP       1362    23
DVP      1578    30
DNVP     2458    41
NSDAP    6383   107
Regional  683     3
Rightist 2373    46
Splinter  455     0
Total   34971   577
31/7/1932   
Eligible 44,211 
Turnout  36,882
% Voting 83.4   
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      5283    89     
SPD      7960   133
Centre   4589    75
BVP      1193    22
DDP       372     4
WP        147     2
DVP       136     7
DNVP     2177    37
NSDAP   13769   230
Regional  219     0
Rightist  552     9
Splinter  185     0
Total   36582   608
11/06/1932  
Eligible 44,374 
Turnout  35,471 
% Voting 79.9   
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      5980   100
SPD      7248   121
Centre   4230    70
BVP      1095    20
DDP       336     2
WP        110     1
DVP       661    11
DNVP     2959    52
NSDAP   11737   196
Regional  353     1
Rightist  510    10
Splinter  252     0
Total   35471   584
03/05/1933  
Eligible 44,665 
Turnout  39,343 
% Voting 88.1   
(Party, Votes, Seats)
KPD      4848    81     
SPD      7181   120
Centre   4425    74
BVP      1074    18
DDP       334     5     
DVP       432     2
DNVP     3137    52
NSDAP   17277   288
Regional  l246    0
Rightist  384     7
Splinter    5     0
Total   39343   647

List by abbreviation[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. The Logic of Evil, The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925–1933, William Brustein, Yale University Press, New Haven, CN, 1996.
  2. Why Hitler, The Genesis of the Nazi Reich, Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr., Praeger, Westport, CT, 1996. pg 72.