German People's Party

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German People's Party
Party logo
Federal Archives Picture 146-1989-040-27, Gustav Stresemann.jpg
Party leader At the time of the greatest importance of the DVP: Gustav Stresemann ; later Ernst Scholz and Eduard Dingeldey
founding December 15, 1918
resolution 4th July 1933
Alignment National liberalism ,
Constitutional monarchy ,
economic liberalism ,
moderate nationalism
Colours) Black White Red
Parliament seats Most recently (March 1933):
Number of members 800,000 (1920)

The German People's Party ( DVP ) was a national liberal party of the Weimar Republic , which succeeded the National Liberal Party in 1918 . In addition to the left-liberal German Democratic Party (DDP), she represented political liberalism between 1918 and 1933.

Well-known politicians are the founding chairman and later Chancellor and Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann ; the lawyer and industrialist Jakob Riesser , co-founder of the party; the administrative lawyer Ernst von Richter , who was finance minister during the hyperinflation in the Free State of Prussia ; Julius Curtius , who served as Minister of Economics and Foreign Affairs; Hans von Raumer , who served as Reich Treasury Minister and Reich Economics Minister ; Otto Boelitz , who later founded the CDU in Westphalia, and Gerhard Graf von Kanitz , who was a member of the Prussian state parliament and previously independent Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture . With the exception of the Wirth I and Wirth II cabinets (1921/1922), the DVP was represented in all Weimar governments from 1920 to 1931 .



After the end of the First World War and the German Empire , the party system in Germany more or less persisted. This was because the “socio-moral” milieus (groups with a common religion, social status, culture, etc.) persisted. In the political center there were strong efforts in both the National Liberal Party and the Progressive People's Party to overcome the historical split between “Democrats” and “Liberals” and to form a large bourgeois-democratic party. Hjalmar Schacht , Alfred Weber and Theodor Wolff were driving forces.

At the beginning of the November Revolution, the party leaders Gustav Stresemann (National Liberals ) and Otto Fischbeck (progressive) also spoke about such possibilities. Negotiations between the two parties began on November 15, 1918, and on the same day they agreed on a program that demanded considerable concessions from the National Liberals, such as a commitment to the republic as the future form of government. On November 16, representatives of both parties issued a call for the formation of a German Democratic Party . For the first time it seemed possible to unite the civil, non-denominational forces in Germany. When Stresemann asked Alfred Weber whether he could be admitted to the executive committee of the new party, he expressed concerns because Stresemann had become known as an annexation politician; there was nothing wrong with his participation and a candidacy for the Weimar National Assembly .

The further negotiations on the merger on November 18 and 19, 1918 finally failed because of Stresemann's personality; the bulk of the National Liberal board members were unwilling to drop their political minds and most gifted rhetoricians. As a result, Stresemann wrote a call for the formation of the German People's Party on November 20, together with Robert Friedberg , Paul Vogel and Otto Hugo , which was finally established provisionally on November 22, 1918 and finally on December 15, 1918 by resolution of the central board of the previous National Liberal Party . In doing so, it was important not to see itself as a new founding, but merely to be a reorganization of the previous National Liberal Party, said Stresemann at the DVP Reich Party Congress in Cologne in 1926. The board resolution came about with 33:28 votes. There were further attempts to reach an agreement with the DDP between the two dates, but these failed. Stresemann remained party chairman until his death in 1929.

Build up and consolidate

Electoral advertising by the DVP in the Reichstag elections in December 1924

Although the DVP initially rejected the Weimar Constitution , it was involved in almost all imperial governments from 1920 to 1931. This was mainly due to Stresemann's role: he was a monarchist , but recognized that a return to monarchy could only be achieved through a coup with a subsequent civil war, a path that he resolutely rejected. At the party congress in Jena on April 13, 1919, he declared:

We must not go from one bloodbath to another. (...) The path to inner peace can only be found on the basis of a republican form of government. That's why we're working on it. (quoted from Schelm-Spangenberg, see literature )

Initially, this balancing act - helping to build it up despite the rejection of the republic - was successful: The People's Party criticized the Versailles Treaty and the enormous burdens associated with it, as well as Matthias Erzberger's ( center ) tax policy , which particularly affected medium-sized businesses. In contrast to the German National People's Party , however, it was not directed destructively against the republic, but rather combined its criticism with reform proposals in line with the system. However, like its chairman Stresemann, the party played a role that was not very friendly to the republic during the Kapp Putsch : at first they openly tolerated the putsch, but opposed violence. It was only when the failure of the coup became evident that efforts were made to mediate between the coup plotters and the imperial government. In the Reichstag election in 1920 , the DVP was able to improve to 13.9% of the votes; the Weimar coalition of the SPD, the center and the DDP had lost its overwhelming majority from the 1919 election. At the time the DVP had around 800,000 members.

In June 1920, the People's Party participated for the first time in a Reich government, the Fehrenbach cabinet . After the SPD, as the main founder of the republic, suffered considerable losses in the election and withdrew into the opposition despite its position as still the strongest force, its previous coalition partners, the Catholic Center and the left-liberal DDP, which had also lost considerable votes to right-wing parties, formed together with the DVP a minority government tolerated by the SPD. However, this only happened under the condition that the DVP would protect the republic. There she appointed Rudolf Heinze as Minister of Justice and Vice Chancellor, Ernst Scholz became Minister of Economics and Hans von Raumer Minister of the Treasury. Stresemann was not yet a member of this cabinet. As early as May 1921, with the failure of the Fehrenbach cabinet, the DVP left the Reich government again, but supported the governments of the center politician Joseph Wirth , which represented a revival of the Weimar coalition, on a case-by-case basis in the Reichstag. When the “Cabinet of the Economy” was formed in November 1922 under the non-party Wilhelm Cuno , the DVP also took part in the government with Rudolf Heinze, who was again Minister of Justice, and Johann Becker (Economy). The minority government (the parties represented in the government only had 172 of the 459 seats in the Reichstag) was under heavy pressure from the right and left from the start, especially since the political conditions ( occupation of the Ruhr and hyperinflation ) made it difficult to govern. After Cuno's government collapsed in the war in the Ruhr, Stresemann formed the famous grand coalition with the SPD , Zentrum and DDP for the first time on August 13, 1923 as the only Reich government under the leadership of the People's Party. This basic constellation was to become the most common government composition of the short-lived republic. Stresemann was only able to lead the government for a quarter of a year, as he was also voted out of office due to the conditions in the Ruhr, but in this short time the first steps towards the consolidation of the Weimar Republic were initiated. Despite violent attacks by the oppositional DNVP, the passive resistance against the occupation of the Ruhr was given up and the German inflation 1914 to 1923 was fought with the introduction of the Rentenmark on November 15, 1923.

Both the Republic and the People's Party had consolidated. Although the DVP was unable to maintain the result of 1920, it won 8.7 to 10.1 percent of the vote in the three Reichstag elections between 1924 and 1928. Despite Stresemann's only brief reign, the People's Party had finally arrived in the Weimar Republic and should be one of the main pillars here. Stresemann was always represented as Foreign Minister in the following cabinets until his death. He worked hard to end Germany's isolation from foreign policy and to achieve a peaceful revision of the Treaty of Versailles . His involvement in 1924, among other things, in the creation of the Dawes Plan or in the contracts concluded during the Locarno Conference in 1925 was decisive . This contributed to the admission of the German Reich into the League of Nations in 1926. Gustav Stresemann was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 together with his French counterpart Aristide Briand .

At first it was a matter of bourgeois cabinets, in which the DNVP was represented at times in addition to the DVP, Zentrum, DDP and Bavarian People 's Party, from 1928 to 1930 the People's Party also took part in the second cabinet of the Social Democrat Müller . In terms of foreign policy, the party was in favor of an understanding with the Western powers and thus for a typical republican foreign policy. Foreign Minister Stresemann recognized the global changes of the 20th century as well as the global economic interdependence. After Stresemann's death in October 1929, the previous Minister of Economic Affairs, Julius Curtius, succeeded him in the Foreign Office and appeared more demanding. The revisionism of mutual understanding by Stresemann, according to Andreas Rödder, gave way to a negotiation revisionism, which, however, still pursued its goals peacefully.

Downturn and end

There was internal opposition to Stresemann as early as the 1920s, especially around the industrialist Hugo Stinnes . She strove for a much closer cooperation with the DNVP , but was initially unable to prevail in view of the consolidation of the party and republic. The former Reich Economics Minister Johann Becker and other representatives of the right wing, such as the entrepreneur Albert Vögler , drew the consequences in 1924 and founded the National Liberal Reich Party , which joined the DNVP in 1925. After Stresemann's death in October 1929, Ernst Scholz became party chairman; the DVP tended more to the right. In Thuringia , for example, she participated with the Baum-Frick government in the first state government with NSDAP participation. The DVP was still represented in the first Brüning cabinet , but the downturn had begun. The Reichstag election of September 14, 1930 threw the DVP back to the low level of 1919. The moderate party leader Scholz, also in bad health, had to finally resign and in November 1930 make room for Eduard Dingeldey from Hesse . This, a representative of the younger generation, tried to mediate between the party wings in order to create a political recovery with a unified DVP.

The elections of 1932 at the latest, however, showed that the DVP could not outdo the DNVP and the NSDAP in terms of emphasized national awareness. It sank to insignificance, which no longer prevented a list connection with the DNVP for the Reichstag election in November . On the contrary: Many representatives of the liberal wing, but also a large number of the members of the German National Sales Aid Association , who had previously deliberately decided in favor of the DVP by rejecting Alfred Hugenberg's person from the DNVP, left the party.

While the vice-chairman of the DVP, Otto Hugo , demanded in the spring of 1933 that the party be completely transferred to the NSDAP, Dingeldey refused to do so until June. Only when the National Socialists threatened him with personal consequences did he announce the decision to dissolve itself on July 4, 1933, taken by the Reich Executive Committee on June 27, 1933.

Idea basics and program

The liberal popular term that shaped the political thinking in the DVP was fed by impulses from romanticism and idealism . Like the National Liberal Party of the Empire, it saw itself primarily as a liberal and less as a democratic party, which was expressed in the fact that in its politics the freedom of the individual from state interference was more important than the enforcement of majority decisions against the interests of individuals . Their image of man was shaped by the notion that the individual who qualifies himself through self-acquired education and property knows better what is important for him and thus for society as the sum of all individuals than the purely quantitative mass. On the other hand, she called on the intellectual and economic elites to have their actions judged by moral standards and to serve society out of responsibility.

Only on the basis of these principles can one understand why the DVP, which as a supporter of an enlightened constitutional monarchy had rejected the Weimar Imperial Constitution , fully sided with the republic at the latest after the failure of the Kapp Putsch . Stresemann made this clear in a speech on October 25, 1923, in which, as Reich Chancellor at the time, he stated in the face of hyperinflation and the war on the Ruhr :

“In this emergency of the present, I nationally name the person who, when the cart is in the dirt, lends a hand to pull it out, but not the person who stands by and says: 'It doesn't help, and you are not them right men to do it. '"

Members and Representatives

The members and representatives of the DVP, especially committed, principled scholars and officials, belonged to the middle and upper classes of society. They represented the wealthy, educated bourgeoisie that had already come together in the National Liberal Party during the German Empire. With Alexander Graf zu Dohna and Wilhelm Kahl, two well-known professors of the DVP parliamentary group belonged to the National Assembly. Since 1922 there was a party-affiliated student association, the Reich Committee of the University Groups of the German People's Party , whose influence in the majority right-wing student body, however, remained comparatively small.

Election results and structural distribution

Reich President candidate Karl Jarres gives his first election speech on March 18, 1925 in the Berlin Philharmonic .
Election results of the DVP in the Weimar Republic (1919–1933)

The DVP had its voter base predominantly in the large and medium-sized cities: In the Reichstag elections of 1920 in cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants it won an average of 13.2% of the votes, while in small communities with less than 2000 inhabitants it won only 7.2%. who received votes.

From a denominational point of view, the DVP was a predominantly Protestant party. In areas with a very high percentage of Roman Catholic voters, the DVP's share of the vote always remained far below the national average. On the other hand, the lower the proportion of Catholics, the greater the percentage of DVP votes.

The electoral structure of the DVP was thus similar to the earlier National Liberal Party in terms of denomination and urbanity.

In detail, the DVP achieved the following results in the Reichstag elections:

January 19, 1919 04.4% 19 seats List of members
June 6, 1920 013.9% 62 seats List of members
May 4, 1924 09.2% 45 seats List of members
December 7, 1924 010.1% 51 seats List of members
May 20, 1928 08.7% 45 seats List of members
September 14, 1930 04.7% 30 seats List of members
July 31, 1932 01.2% 7 seats List of members
November 6, 1932 01.9% 11 seats List of members
March 5, 1933 01.1% 2 seats List of members

1) There are also three seats from community lists with the DDP (WK 21) and the DNVP (WKe 18, 22, 36)

In the Reich presidential election in 1925 , DVP candidate Karl Jarres received 38.8 percent in the first ballot, as a representative of the DVP, DNVP and the economic party. In the second ballot, the DVP supported Paul von Hindenburg , and this against the center representative Wilhelm Marx .

Support in the press

In contrast to the German Democratic Party , which was openly sponsored by the large liberal newspapers in Berlin (including Vossische Zeitung , Berliner Tageblatt ), the DVP only received support from the Kölnische Zeitung , the Magdeburgische Zeitung , the Tälichen Rundschau and the Königsberger Allgemeine Zeitung . The other big parties of the beginning Weimar Republic were better positioned in the media: the SPD had its own newspapers, the ideas of the center were promoted by the Catholic newspapers, and the DNVP had Hugenberg's opinion empire behind it.


Even if the DVP was considered the party of big industrial capital, it always had to struggle with financial problems. While the DDP was able to rely mainly on Berlin and Hamburg companies, especially in the early days of the Weimar Republic, the Rhenish-Westphalian heavy industry primarily supported the DNVP. With Hugo Stinnes and Albert Vögler , only two of the great economic barons were on the side of the People's Party. The death of Stinnes and Vögler's resignation from the party, both in 1924, significantly reduced the DVP's donation base. The Kali-Verein and the companies of the Hansabund , an anti-monopoly interest group led by DVP politician Rießer, contributed smaller amounts .

Party leader

  • 1918–1929 Gustav Stresemann (1878–1929), Reich Chancellor and Reich Minister
  • 1929–1931 Ernst Scholz (1874–1932), Reich Minister
  • 1931–1933 Eduard Dingeldey (1886–1942), parliamentary group leader, party leader in Hesse

Known members

Effect on party foundations in 1945

Politicians from the ranks of the DVP took part in the founding of the DP , FDP and CDU after the Second World War .

Web links

Commons : German People's Party  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Eberhard Kolb / Ludwig Richter (edit.): National liberalism in the Weimar Republic. The governing bodies of the German People's Party 1918–1933 . Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1999 (= sources on the history of parliamentarism and political parties , series 3: The Weimar Republic , vol. 9), ISBN 3-7700-5219-6 .


  • Larry Eugene Jones: German Liberalism and the Dissolution of the Weimar Party System 1918–1933. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1988, ISBN 0-8078-1764-3 .
  • Dieter Langewiesche : Liberalism in Germany . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1988, ISBN 3-518-11286-4 , pp. 240-286.
  • Ludwig Richter: The German People's Party 1918–1933 . Droste publishing house. Düsseldorf 2002, ISBN 978-3-7700-5243-1 .
  • Ursula Schelm-Spangenberg: The German People's Party in Braunschweig . Dissertation, University of Hamburg, Braunschweig 1964 (= Braunschweiger Werkstücke , Vol. 30).
  • Karl Wortmann: History of the German People's Party 1917–1918 . 1926.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ DHM LeMO .
  2. ^ Peter Lösche : Brief history of the German parties , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart a. a. 1993, p. 68.
  3. ^ Deutsches Historisches Museum: DVP - Positioning in the political landscape, 2nd section .
  4. Gottfried Niedhart : The foreign policy of the Weimar Republic (= Encyclopedia of German History , 53). 2nd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2006 (1999), p. 52.
  5. ^ Peter Krüger : The foreign policy of the republic of Weimar . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1985, p. 552.
  6. Gottfried Niedhart : The foreign policy of the Weimar Republic (= Encyclopedia of German History , 53). 2nd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2006 (1999), p. 79.
  7. Erich Eyck : History of the Weimar Republic , Volume 1, Rentsch, Erlenbach-Zurich 1962, p. 412 f.
  8. Brockhaus. Handbook of Knowledge. Third volume. Verlag FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1929. New edition with addendum, Leipzig 1933, p. 138: Magdeburgische Zeitung Polit. Direction: German People's Party.
  9. ^ Daily review ( .