German National People's Party

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German National People's Party
Logo of the DNVP
Party leader Oskar Hergt (1918–1924)
Johann Friedrich Winckler (1924–1926)
Kuno Graf von Westarp (1926–1928)
Alfred Hugenberg (1928–1933)
founding November 24, 1918
resolution June 27, 1933
Headquarters Berlin
Youth organization Bismarck Youth
Alignment Monarchism ,
nationalism ,
national conservatism ,
anti-Semitism ,
ethnic nationalism
Colours) Black White Red
Reichsführer conference of the DNVP 1932, Privy Councilor Reinhold Quaatz gives a speech

The German National People's Party ( DNVP ) was a national-conservative party in the Weimar Republic , whose program contained nationalism , national liberalism , anti-Semitism , imperial - monarchist conservatism and ethnic elements. After initially being clearly hostile to the Republic and having supported the Kapp Putsch of 1920, for example , it became increasingly involved in imperial and state governments from the mid-1920s . After the election defeat in 1928 and the election of the publisher Alfred Hugenberg as party chairman, the party again represented extreme nationalist views and demands. As a result of the cooperation with the NSDAP , the DNVP increasingly lost its importance from 1930. After the self-dissolution in June 1933, its members of the Reichstag joined the NSDAP faction.



Anti-Semitic canvassing for the 1930 Reichstag election
Canvassing for the Reichstag election of July 1932

The German National People's Party was founded on November 24, 1918 and existed until June 1933. It was the successor to the German Conservative Party , the Reich and Free Conservative Party , the Fatherland Party and a number of smaller national conservative and partly anti-Semitic groups; in addition, individual members of the right wing of the National Liberal Party of the DNVP joined. The DNVP saw itself as a representative of the "patriotic associations". For this reason, she took the attribute German national in her party name, which in the German Empire and in the Weimar Republic , unlike in Austrian German nationalism , meant " völkisch " and " patriotic ". In 1922 a large part of the anti-Semitic forces split off within the party and founded the German Volkish Freedom Party with other German-Völkisch-oriented associations .

Oskar Hergt became the first chairman . Kuno Graf Westarp , who had played a major role in the founding negotiations, did not appear as a signatory of the call for founding due to his involvement in war politics. Other leading German nationalists in the early part of the party were Karl Helfferich and Alfred von Tirpitz . Despite all the continuities with the predecessor party, an important innovation of the post-war period became clear when it was founded: although the majority of the Conservatives had spoken out against women's suffrage, they quickly accepted it when it was introduced in the German Reich in 1918. Margarete Behm, a woman, was even involved in founding the party .

Supporters, constituencies and members

The DNVP drew its program from ethnic nationalism , national conservatism , monarchism and anti-Semitism. She was supported primarily by East Elbe landowners, nobles and former officers of the old army and navy. Their electorate also included freelancers, intellectuals, civil servants, farmers, parts of the workers who were not covered by the political left or the Catholic center , as well as white-collar workers. This explains why the party, in its heyday in the mid-1920s, achieved two-thirds majorities in some Pomeranian rural districts in parliamentary elections. In 1919 the DNVP had around 350,000 members and was able to increase their number to around 950,000 by 1923. The party benefited greatly from women's suffrage . After that, the number of members and election results declined. For employees , there was an organisationally independent, but party-related, collecting pool in the form of the German National Action Aid Association (DHV), which was founded in 1893 and which also fulfilled trade union functions. The best-known members and founders were Oskar Hergt (former Prussian finance minister), Alfred von Tirpitz (Grand Admiral in World War I and founder of the German deep sea fleet), Wolfgang Kapp (formerly Fatherland Party and initiator of the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch in March 1920), Alfred Hugenberg ( until 1918 chairman of the board of directors of Friedrich Krupp AG , then until 1933 influential media entrepreneur, from 1928 chairman of the party and finally economics minister in the first Hitler cabinet ), Karl Helfferich , a former state secretary of the Reichsfinanz, who changed from a liberal to one of the most vehement spokesmen of the German nationalists had, furthermore Johann Victor Bredt , Hermann Dietrich , Siegfried von Kardorff , Martin Schiele , Wilhelm Wallbaum , Ferdinand Werner and Kuno Graf von Westarp . Also Käthe Schirmacher , a previously left-leaning women's rights activist, and the theologian Gottfried Traub and Reinhard Mumm sat from 1919 for the DNVP in the Weimar National Assembly .

Election poster 1932

The DNVP stood in the right-wing conservative spectrum of the party system. In contrast to the conservatives of the imperial era, however, it was able to expand its social base and, in addition to its strongholds in the East Elbe agricultural areas (Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Pomerania, East Prussia), also win voters in the urban lower and middle classes. In the early years she fought the republic and excelled in partly hateful polemics against representatives of the new democratic state, namely against President Friedrich Ebert and against the later murder victims Walther Rathenau and Matthias Erzberger . In the case of the latter, the historian Ulrich Herbert sees a "division of labor" between his slanderer Helfferich and the right-wing students of the Consul organization who murdered Erzberger in August 1921.


Many members sympathized with the Kapp Putsch of March 1920, especially since Kapp himself was a DNVP member. Gottfried Traub had made himself available to the putschists as minister of culture and acted during the putsch in the Reich Chancellery as “a kind of information chief” for Kapp and Lüttwitz. Ulrich von Hassell , the founder of the “State Political Working Group” within the DNVP, was planned as Foreign Minister . Otherwise they only received open support from a few leading DNVP politicians, mostly from East Elbe Junkers . After the coup had collapsed miserably, party chairman Hergt tried to cleanse the DNVP of any trace of involvement in the coup plans and thereby weakened the right wing of the party. Because the party did not believe this distancing itself, it was unable to exhaust its voter potential in the Reichstag elections of June 6, 1920 : many of its supporters preferred to vote for the state-loyal DVP .

After the Kapp Putsch, the party leadership was forced to distance itself from the influential Freikorps, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic MPs. She campaigned for the exclusion of MP Wilhelm Henning , who had previously publicly threatened Rathenau with anti-Semitic language. The solidarity of the MPs Albrecht von Grafe and Reinholf Wulle with Henning, who had been excluded from the DNVP parliamentary group, led to the establishment of the "German Völkische Arbeitsgemeinschaft", founded in November 1922 with Reinhold Wulle and Albrecht von Graefe-Goldebee, to split off the particularly völkisch-anti-Semitic and Freikorps-affiliated parts of the party. In December 1922, the radically anti-Semitic DVFP split from the DNVP.

In the mid-1920s, the governmental-conservative forces temporarily pushed through government participation by the DNVP at the Reich level. During this period, the DNVP made constructive contributions to the governments in various coalitions and appointed various ministers to the Luther I 1925, Marx III 1926 and Marx IV 1927 cabinets . The ministers included B. Otto von Schlieben as Reich Finance Minister , Albert Neuhaus as Reich Economics Minister , Oskar Hergt as Vice Chancellor and Reich Justice Minister , Walter von Keudell and Martin Schiele as Reich Minister of the Interior or Wilhelm Koch as Reich Minister of Transport . In a number of countries (including Bavaria, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Schwerin , Mecklenburg-Strelitz , Saxony, and Württemberg), the DNVP came to government for a time as part of coalitions.

After the election defeat in the Reichstag election in 1928 , in which the DNVP lost 30 seats in the Reichstag and lost its status as the second largest party, Alfred Hugenberg was elected party chairman, who initiated another shift to the right and the moderate forces such as the former party chairman Kuno von Westarp or Gottfried Ousted Treviranus from the party. Their attempt to split the party or at least pull some of the MPs and voters over to the newly founded Conservative People's Party (KVP) largely failed. The Christian National Peasants and Rural People's Party (also called CNBL or Rural People) came into being in 1928 as a further split from the DNVP. Other moderate politicians who had left the party in opposition to Alfred Hugenberg also gathered here. In December 1929, the 9 previously non-attached members of the CNBL together with 12 members who had resigned from the DNVP faction formed the Christian-National Working Group in the Reichstag . The break-offs removed the ground from any internal party opposition to Hugenberg's now openly anti-republic policy. From now on, parliamentary cooperation with parties based on the Weimar Constitution was ruled out.

In the Reichstag and in various state parliaments, the DNVP formed a parliamentary group with the members of the Landbund , who had been elected on their own lists of regional divisions of the Reichslandbund (e.g. Hessischer Bauernbund, Thuringian Landbund, Württembergischer Bauern- und Weingärtnerbund).

In Württemberg the DNVP appeared under the name Württemberg Citizens' Party , in Bavaria as the Bavarian Central Party . Outside the German Reich there was the DNVP in the Free City of Danzig . In Austria at this time the Greater German People's Party, closely related to the DNVP, represented the German national camp.

In 1929 the DNVP cooperated with the NSDAP in the referendum to reject the Young Plan .

Loss of significance and participation in the election as a black-white-red battle front

From 1930 the DNVP fell significantly behind the NSDAP, but together with them on October 11, 1931 they formed the short-lived Harzburg Front . The DNVP lost more and more importance. Also in 1932 she supported u. a. the Papen cabinet by means of the Volksdienst advertising center . The presidential cabinets Papen and Schleicher were DNVP members as ministers.

On January 30, 1933, the DNVP joined Hitler's cabinet . Hugenberg took over both the Reich Ministry of Economics and the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture . For the Reichstag election in March 1933 , the DNVP stood under the designation Kampffront Schwarz-Weiß-Rot . It received eight percent of the vote and thus 52 seats in the Reichstag. The DNVP chairman Hugenberg continued the coalition with Hitler's NSDAP.

Renaming to German National Front and self-dissolution

On May 5, 1933, the DNVP was renamed the German National Front . Many party bodies were also renamed, e.g. B. “leadership staff” instead of party executive committee. Around this time, Hitler announced to Hugenberg that he wanted to integrate the DNVP into the NSDAP, which the latter refused. During the London World Economic Conference in June 1933, the draft of a speech by Hugenberg became known in which the demands for the return of the German colonies in Africa and the development of settlement areas in the east were included. However, aggressive tones of this kind did not come in handy for Hitler during the phase of secret rearmament and soothing "peace speeches". This put Hugenberg in trouble.

From late May to early June, the DNVP Reichstag members Eduard Stadtler and Martin Spahn joined the NSDAP. On June 21st, the German national youth and self-protection associations (including the fighting ring of young German nationalists ) were dissolved because they were supposedly communist and social-democratic . Individual state and district associations reacted by dissolving themselves. Thereupon Hugenberg submitted his resignation on June 27, 1933. On the same day, the DNVP dissolved itself under pressure from the NSDAP. Their members of the Reichstag immediately joined the NSDAP parliamentary group as members or interns, for whom they were in any case only “stirrup holders” towards the end of the republic.

Controversy after the resolution

It is not clear to what extent the self-dissolution pursued by the party leadership corresponded to the attitude of the members. It is known that opposing opinions had formed since the March elections: Some wanted to wait for the DNVP to be banned because they hoped for help from the Reich President or the Reichswehr or because they considered the differences between the German national and the National Socialist worldview to be irreconcilable. Others pushed for a quick self-dissolution because they saw resistance as hopeless. A third tendency advocated an active merger with the NSDAP, because the differences between the parties were hardly significant any more.

The fact that there was no dispute between these groups and no division was due to the circumstances. When Hugenberg presented his resignation to the Chancellor at noon on June 27, he declared that his party did not want to go over to the opposition, but rather stepped aside while waiting. Hugenberg believed that after leaving the cabinet, the party leadership could freely decide on the future of the DNVP. The day before, however, the latter had authorized Axel von Freytagh-Loringhoven and Werner Steinhoff to “pretend” to Wilhelm Kube and Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick (both NSDAP) about a possible self-dissolution of the DNVP. This was brought to Hitler at once. So there was hardly any room left when the party leadership voted on the afternoon of June 27 to dissolve itself: 56 votes for and 4 against.

The dispute over whether the self-dissolution was inevitable lasted (at least) until autumn 1935.

Resistance to National Socialism

Important resistance fighters against National Socialism came from the DNVP or its environment (including Carl Friedrich Goerdeler , Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin , Ferdinand von Lüninck , Fritz Goerdeler , Ulrich von Hassell , Robert Lehr and Paul Lejeune-Jung ). This applies in particular to the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 .

Attempts to start a new company or to re-establish it

First attempt (1945–1950)

As early as autumn 1945 there were efforts in the British zone of occupation to reactivate the DNVP under a different name. At this time the German Conservative Party and the German Reconstruction Party were formed , which merged in 1946. The new party name was German Right Party - Conservative Association . The programmatic basis was formed by the “Manifesto of the Right”, also known as the “Conservative Manifesto”: This party program was more moderate than the programs of the former DNVP; they gave themselves away from the temptations of extreme nationalism and anti-Semitism and wanted to establish a parliamentary monarchy in a unified Germany integrated in Europe on Christian ethical foundations. Nevertheless, from 1948 on, former NSDAP members streamed into the DNVP successor party, so that there were soon two wings: one German national-conservative and one völkisch-nationalist. In 1948 it was renamed the German Conservative Party - German Right Party (DKP-DRP); under this designation she ran in 1949 in the British zone of occupation for the Bundestag and came nationwide to 1.8% of the votes. The party sent five MPs from Lower Saxony to the 1st Bundestag because, in the form of the German right-wing party in this federal state, with 8.1% of the votes, it had passed the five percent hurdle that applied at state level until 1953 . At the end of 1949 the radical wing split off - above all from the Lower Saxony state association - and formed the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) , which was banned in 1952 .

The attempt to revive the DNVP in the form of the DKP-DRP finally failed in 1950 when the German right-wing party Lower Saxony split off and merged with the NDP Hessen from Heinrich Leuchtgens to form the German Reich Party (DRP). The rest of the party, i.e. the German Conservative Party in North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg, renamed itself National Rights and, from 1954, mainly joined the FDP and the German Party (DP).

Second attempt (1962–1964)

On September 21, 1962 the former FDP and DP member of the Bundestag Heinrich Fassbender , who had already been a DNVP member in the Weimar Republic, founded a new DNVP with some national-conservative like-minded comrades . After this was unsuccessful, Fassbender transferred it to the newly founded NPD in 1964 .

Party platform

Overall, the program aimed to restore pre-war conditions. The central demands were advertised by the Hugenberg Group's high-circulation newspapers .

Domestic politics

  • Representation of the interests of large landowners and heavy industry
  • Restoration of the monarchy ; Demand for a strong executive ( Reich President )
  • Independent professional civil service
  • "Strong German Volkstum " against the "un-German spirit" and "against the increasingly disastrous predominance of the Jews in government and in public since the revolution "

Foreign policy


Name (life data) Beginning of the term of office Term expires Remarks
Oskar Hergt (1869–1967) December 19, 1918 October 23, 1924
Johann Friedrich Winckler (1856–1943) February 3, 1925 March 24, 1926 previously managing director from October 23, 1924
Kuno Graf von Westarp (1864–1945) March 24, 1926 October 20, 1928
Alfred Hugenberg (1865–1951) October 20, 1928 June 27, 1933

Election results

Results of the Reichstag elections , including the election to the constituent national assembly in 1919:

Election results of the DNVP in the Weimar Republic (1919–1933)
January 19, 1919 10.3% 44 seats
June 6, 1920 15.1% 71 seats
May 4, 1924 19.5% 95 seats
December 7, 1924 20.5% 103 seats
May 20, 1928 14.3% 73 seats
September 14, 1930 07.0% 41 seats
July 31, 1932 05.9% 37 seats
November 6, 1932 08.7% 52 seats
March 5, 1933 08.0% 52 seats


  • Werner Bergmann : German National People's Party. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus, Volume 5: Organizations, Institutions, Movements. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-598-24078-2 , p. 191 ( online excerpts ).
  • Hans-Dieter Bernd: The elimination of the Weimar Republic on the “legal” way. The function of anti-Semitism in the agitation of the ruling class of the DNVP . Dissertation Fernuniversität Hagen, cultural and social sciences, 2004 (online resource available here ).
  • Stefan Breuer : The nationalists in Germany. Empire and Weimar Republic. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-534-21354-2 .
  • Lewis Hertzman: DNVP. Right-Wing Opposition in the Weimar Republic 1918–1924 . Lincoln 1963.
  • Friedrich Freiherr Hiller von Gaertringen : The German National People's Party . In: Erich Matthias , Rudolf Morsey (ed.): The end of the parties. Representations and documents . Droste, Düsseldorf 1984, p. 543-652 .
  • Heidrun Holzbach: The "Hugenberg System". The organization of bourgeois collection politics before the rise of the NSDAP . DVA, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-421-01986-X .
  • Thomas Mergel : The Failure of German Tory Conservatism. The transformation of the DNVP into a right-wing radical party 1928–1932 . In: Historical magazine . tape 276 , 2003, p. 323-368 .
  • Maik Without Time: Between the “sharpest opposition” and the “will to power” - The German National People's Party (DNVP) in the Weimar Republic 1918–1928 (= contributions to the history of parliamentarism and political parties , volume 158). Droste, Düsseldorf 2011, ISBN 978-3-7700-5305-6 .
  • Jan Striesow: The German National People's Party and the Völkisch Radicals 1918–1922 . Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt / M. 1981, ISBN 3-88129-405-8 .
  • Anneliese Thimme: Escape into the Myth. The German National People's Party and the defeat of 1918 . Göttingen 1969 ( digitized version ).
  • Christian F. Trippe: Conservative Constitutional Policy 1918–1923. The DNVP as opposition in Reich and Länder (= contributions to the history of parliamentarism and political parties , volume 105). Düsseldorf 1995.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Benz (Ed.): Handbook of Antisemitism, Volume 5: Organizations, Institutions, Movements. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-598-24078-2 , pp. 205 ff. ( Preview in Google book search, accessed on July 2, 2013).
  2. ^ Daniela Gasteiger: Kuno von Westarp (1864-1945). Parliamentarism, monarchism and utopias of rule in German conservatism. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2018, ISBN 978-3-11-052905-0 , p. 164 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  3. ^ Kirsten Heinsohn : Parties and Politics in Germany. A proposal for historical periodization from a gender-historical perspective. In: Gabriele Metzler, Dirk Schumann (eds.): Gender (dis) order and politics in the Weimar Republic. Bonn 2016, pp. 279–298.
  4. ^ DHM-LEMO - The dream of the re-establishment of the monarchy, 3rd section
  5. Ulrich Herbert: Who Were the National Socialists? Typologies of political behavior in the Nazi state . In: Gerhard Hirschfeld, Tobias Jersak (Ed.): Careers in National Socialism. Functional elites between participation and distance . Campus, Munich 2004, p. 29 .
  6. Imanuel Geiss : Traub, Gottfried. In: Wolfgang Benz and Hermann Graml (Hrsg.): Biographisches Lexikon zur Weimarer Republik. CH Beck, Munich 1988, p. 343 f.
  7. ^ Gregor Schöllgen : Ulrich von Hassell 1881–1944. A conservative in the opposition . CH Beck, Munich 1990, p. 31.
  8. ^ Hermann Beck : The Fateful Alliance. German Conservatives and Nazis in 1933. The Seizure of Power in a New Light . Berghahn Books, 2008, p. 35.
  9. ^ Werner love: Contributions to the history of parliamentarism and the political parties . tape 8 . Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1956, p. 62-71 .
  10. Ernst Piper : 75 years of “seizure of power” - When Hitler seduced the youth. In: one day. Contemporary stories on Spiegel online, 2008.
  11. ^ A b Anton Ritthaler : A stage on Hitler's path to undivided power. Hugenberg's resignation as Reich Minister (PDF; 1.4 MB). In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , 2nd issue / April 1960, pp. 193–219.
  12. KAS: Robert Lehr
  13. ^ Principles of the German National People's Party from 1920 . In: Wilhelm Mommsen (Hrsg.): German party programs . Munich 1964, p. 537 .
  14. ^ Started as a black-white-red battle front , an electoral alliance with a steel helmet and a federal state .