Affiliate foundation

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Party-affiliated foundations (alternative names: party foundation, party foundation, political foundation, party- affiliated foundation associations ) are institutions that are closely related to political parties in Germany for the purpose of political education, but which are separate from their affiliated political parties for legal reasons. Each of the parties represented in the Bundestag works with a foundation that represents its political principles. The fact that a foundation represents the political principles of a party or a political movement also means that each of these foundations promotes the political principles and views of this party more or less directly. Each political foundation maintains the archives of its related party.


The political foundations are mainly financed by funds from the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), the Foreign Office (AA), the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The federal funds that are transferred to the party-affiliated foundations reach hundreds of millions of euros annually and have shown a strong upward trend in recent years. Federal government grants to political foundations rose by 43.5% from 295 million euros in 2000 to 423.2 million euros in 2011. From 2005 to 2014, the budgets rose by almost 50% (for comparison, Budget increase in federal budget: 14%). In 2017, the amount increased further to 581.4 million euros.

The official tasks of party-affiliated foundations are cited above all as the political education of the population at home and abroad, the promotion of gifted children and development cooperation. According to a judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court of July 14, 1986 (AZ 2 BVerfGE 5/83), this task is in the public interest . In July 2011, the party-affiliated foundations presented their self-image and their tasks in a joint position paper.

Special regulations

The prerequisite for the allocation of tax revenue is that the party concerned has successfully entered the Bundestag for the second time. The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation received tax money for the first time in 1999; For a foundation close to the AfD, there is no such entitlement as of 2017.

If a party is no longer a member of the Bundestag, the foundation close to it will only be financed in the following legislative period in accordance with a transitional arrangement. That was the case from 2013 to 2017 at the FDP and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom .


The Federal Court of Auditors has repeatedly criticized the use of financial resources by political foundations . According to a report by Welt am Sonntag  , the Hanns Seidel Foundation (CSU) paid for the losses incurred in the conference and hotel operations with tax revenues. In the same report it was stated that the responsible tax office - in addition to many other tax law complaints from the bookkeeping of the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation  - had demanded additional taxation of 85,000 euros from its chairman Wolfgang Gerhardt and the then managing board member Rolf Berndt, because they would have used their "opulent" company car for private trips in an unauthorized manner, because they were incorrectly documented.

In addition, the financing of trips abroad and the associated hotel costs are objected to at political foundations ( Carsten Schneider at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung , SPD; Helmuth Markov (Die Linke) at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung ). Finally, the subsidies for educational institutions are also criticized. The Federal Office of Administration was able to prove that the Hanns Seidel Foundation was misused for the Wildbad Kreuth and Banz monastery venues .

In her video documentation, the publicist Gaby Weber criticizes the fact that all party-affiliated foundations still store official documents in their archives, so that they are out of the reach of historians, journalists or the federal archives and thus the public. The archives of the political foundations counter this by stating that all documents they hold are accessible in accordance with the rules of the Federal Archives Act and the blocking periods specified therein.

In 2015, the News Enlightenment Initiative named opaque finances at political foundations a neglected topic in the mass media.

legal form

In terms of their legal form , the party-affiliated foundations - with the exception of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation - are not foundations in the actual sense, but registered associations . The political foundations employ a total of 2,000 people worldwide and have almost 300 representations and offices abroad.

Union-affiliated foundation

The Hans Böckler Foundation , which is closely related to the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and often presents itself to the public with studies on working conditions in Germany, is similar to a party-affiliated foundation in terms of tasks and structures . The same applies to the Otto Brenner Foundation, which is related to IG Metall

Party-affiliated foundations at the federal level

institution Political party legal form founding Seat
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung SPD society 1954 Bonn
Konrad Adenauer Foundation CDU society 1955 Bonn
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom FDP Foundation, endowment 1958 Potsdam
Hanns Seidel Foundation CSU society 1967 Munich
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation PDS , since 2007 Die Linke society 1990 Berlin
Heinrich Böll Foundation Green society 1996 Berlin
Desiderius Erasmus Foundation AfD society 2017 Berlin

The efforts of the party The Republicans to set up a Franz Schönhuber Foundation under private law were unsuccessful. The foundation supervision and the courts justified the rejection of the approval by saying that the planned foundation would endanger the common good .

In the Alternative für Deutschland , many AfD-affiliated associations competed as candidates for a future foundation for several years. The Immanuel Kant Association, the Johann Gottfried Herder Association for Democracy and the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (Bonn) left the race in this dispute until 2018. On June 30, 2018, the national liberal Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (Lübeck) prevailed against the right-wing national Gustav Stresemann Foundation as a party-affiliated foundation of the AfD. However, all of the other nationwide AfD associations were retained and continue to operate independently.


The party-affiliated foundations maintain the archives of the parties closely related to them. The documents of the respective federal and state associations as well as the parliamentary groups and parliamentary groups are collected here. In addition, the holdings of the former block parties LDPD and CDU (East), which belong to the Foundation Archive of Parties and Mass Organizations of the GDR in the Federal Archives, are stored in Gummersbach (ADL) and Sankt Augustin (ACDP). In addition, there are documents from the parties' preliminary organizations as well as legacies from politicians.

Archive (abbreviation) Political Foundation Foundation of
the archive
Headquarters of
the archive
Party holdings Extent of the (analog)
stocks (in km / 2016)
Yearbooks / magazines
Archives of Liberalism (ADL) Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom 1968 Gummersbach FDP, LDPD 4.9 Yearbook on Liberalism Research (JzLF) (since 1989)
Archive of Social Democracy (AdsD) Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 1969 Bonn SPD 56 Archive for Social History (AfS) (since 1961)
Archive for Christian Democratic Politics (ACDP) Konrad Adenauer Foundation 1976 Saint Augustine CDU, Eastern CDU 17th Historical-Political Messages (HPM) (since 1994)
Archive for Christian Social Policy (ACSP) Hanns Seidel Foundation 1979 Munich CSU 4th -
Archive Green Memory (AGG) Heinrich Böll Foundation 1990 Berlin Alliance 90 / The Greens 6th Green Memory Yearbook (since 2006/07)
Archive Democratic Socialism (ADS) Rosa Luxemburg Foundation 1999 Berlin PDS , Die Linke 1.5 -

Promotion of the gifted

The party-affiliated foundations, like those that are close to trade unions and churches, maintain organizations for the promotion of talented students that award scholarships for domestic and foreign first-year students and doctoral students.

Source of funds

The payments to the six party foundations totaling 534 million euros (2015) came from the donors listed (values ​​in million euros):

Federal Ministry amount
Federation 513.3
Federal states and municipalities 007.9
European Union 013.4
Share of government grants in total revenue in 2015
Foundation, endowment Political party proportion of
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation The left 99.8%
Heinrich Böll Foundation Alliance 90 / The Greens 99.7%
Konrad Adenauer Foundation CDU 97.2%
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung SPD 96.8%
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom FDP 96.5%
Hanns Seidel Foundation CSU 88.3%

These payments are distributed among the individual foundations as follows:

State Foundation Payments 2015
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
Konrad Adenauer Foundation
Hanns Seidel Foundation
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom
Grants in millions of euros

In the federal states, the foundations also receive funds from the state budget and partly from the income of the state lottery companies. In Berlin, the last-mentioned income from 2006 to 2016 totaled 27.5 million euros.

Role in German foreign policy

In a study by the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP) from 1998, the foundations are referred to as "diplomatic auxiliaries" that pursued a "secondary foreign policy". According to this publication, the foundations are about "promoting political, economic and social elites abroad, who play a particularly important role in establishing democratic and market-economy structures" - a goal that "the government's official foreign policy due to a fundamental international legal norms required restraint hardly in a comparable direct way. If one follows the authors of the DGAP, it would be a mistake to assume “behind all possible important developments and changes in other countries an 'invisible hand' similar to the secret service of the foundations”, but they would have played a decisive role in setting the course for foreign policy. The fact that the large number of foundation projects financed from federal funds actually add up to a significant "albeit little visible and hardly headline-grabbing" element of German foreign policy shows that German "power politics" have "not fallen into oblivion".

Party-affiliated foundations at state level

institution Political party
Karl Arnold Foundation (since 1959) CDU North Rhine-Westphalia
Union Foundation (since 1959) CDU Saar
Hermann Ehlers Foundation (since 1968) CDU Schleswig-Holstein
August Bebel Institute (since 1947) SPD Berlin
Georg von Vollmar Academy (since 1948) SPD Bavaria
Frankenwarte Academy (since 1965) SPD Bavaria
Reinhold Maier Foundation (since 1977) FDP Baden-Württemberg
Thomas Dehler Foundation (since 1971) FDP Bavaria
Karl Hamann Foundation (since 1991) FDP Brandenburg
Liberal Society Bremen (since 1965) FDP Bremen
Dr. Emilie Kiep Altenloh Foundation (since 1979) FDP Hamburg
Karl Hermann Flach Foundation (since 1977) FDP Hessen
Arno Esch Foundation (since 2009) FDP Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Rudolf von Bennigsen Foundation (since 1980) FDP Lower Saxony
Wolfgang Döring Foundation (since 1967) FDP North Rhine-Westphalia
Villa Lessing - Liberal Foundation Saar (since 2012) FDP Saarland
Wilhelm Külz Foundation (since 1991) FDP Saxony
Erhard Hübener Foundation (since 1993) FDP Saxony-Anhalt
Life & Environment Foundation (since 1983) Alliance 90 / The Greens Lower Saxony
Petra Kelly Foundation Alliance 90 / The Green Bavaria
Kurt Eisner Association The Left Bavaria
Bright panke The Left Berlin
Thuringian Forum for Education and Science The Left Thuringia
Jenny Marx Society for Civic Education Rhineland-Palatinate The Left Rhineland-Palatinate
Academic Erasmus Foundation AfD Brandenburg
Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (Bonn) AfD North Rhine-Westphalia
Desiderius Erasmus Foundation Schleswig-Holstein AfD Schleswig-Holstein
Friedrich Friesen Foundation AfD Saxony-Anhalt
Education Center for Home and National Identity (since 2005) NPD Saxony


In Austria, the party-political training organizations of the parties represented in the National Council ( called party academies ) have a similar function to the party-affiliated foundations in Germany. Funding is provided through a separate pot as part of state party funding.

institution Political party Funding 2017
Dr. Karl Renner Institute SPÖ 2.45 million
Political Academy of the ÖVP ÖVP 2.42 million
FPÖ educational institute FPÖ 2.01 million
Green educational workshop Green 1.56 million
NEOS Lab NEOS 1.06 million
Team Stronach Academy Team Stronach 0.99 million

European Union

There are also foundations at European level that are close to the political parties at European level . These are financially supported by the European Union . The national party foundations are usually members of the corresponding European foundation. There are currently eleven foundations registered with the Authority for European Political Parties and European Political Foundations .

institution Political party Seat Website
Center Maurits Coppieters European Free Alliance Brussels
Europa Terra Nostra Alliance for Peace and Freedom Berlin
European Liberal Forum Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Brussels
Fondation pour une Europe des Nations et des Libertés Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom Paris
Foundation for European Progressive Studies European Social Democratic Party Brussels
Green European Foundation (formerly Green European Institute) European Green Party Brussels
Institute of European Democrats European Democratic Party Brussels
New Direction - Foundation for European Reform Alliance of Conservatives and Reformers in Europe Brussels
Sallux (formerly Christian Political Foundation of Europe) European Christian Political Movement Amersfoort
transform! europe European left Brussels
Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies European People's Party Brussels

The following foundations have received funding from the European Parliament in the past:

institution Political party Seat Period
Europe - Osservatorio Sulle Politiche Dell'unione Alliance for a Europe of Nations Rome 2008/09
European Foundation for Freedom European Alliance for Freedom Mosta 2011-2017
Pegasus Foundation Coalition pour la Vie et la Famille Brussels 2017
Fondation Politique Europeenne Pour La Democratie Alliance of Independent Democrats in Europe Lyon 2008
Foundation for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy Movement for a Europe of Freedom and Democracy Paris 2012-2015
Foundation for EU Democracy EU Democrats Brussels 2008-2010
Identités & Traditions Européennes Alliance of European National Movements Virginal 2013-2017
Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe Brussels 2015-2017
Organization for European Interstate Cooperation Europeans United for Democracy Solna 2011-2016


  • Bianca Beyer: Political Foundations in Germany. The importance of the foundation's activities for the parties , Saarbrücken 2008, DNB 1002818923 ( archive item for authorized users).
  • Manfred Born: Foundations affiliated to a party: Foundation or party? A study of the legal structure of party-affiliated foundations and related organizations , Boorberg, Stuttgart 2007.
  • Hans Herbert von Arnim : The lawless five . In: Der Spiegel . No. 52 , 1994, pp. 26–28 ( online - Constitutional lawyer Hans Herbert von Arnim on party-affiliated foundations).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Comments 2012 on the budget and economic management of the federal government.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 5.9 MB) Federal Audit Office.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  2. a b Martin Lutz, Uwe Müller: Foundations affiliated with a party cost taxpayers 581 million. In: February 12, 2018, accessed May 10, 2018 .
  3. Judgment of the BVerfG of July 14, 1986 AZ 2BvE 5/83 .
  4. The educational work of the political foundations in Germany (PDF; 1.1MB).
  5. Stefan Braun: The last liberals . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , February 7, 2015, p. 13.
  6. Martin Lutz, Uwe Müller: The cartel of the state plunderers. In: Welt online . October 10, 2014, accessed October 11, 2014 .
  7. ^ Gaby Weber: The parallel administration. The Foundations 6 + 1 model .
  8. ^ Lecture by Ewald Grothe , the head of the Archives of Liberalism, at the Archive Law Forum 2018 of the Marburg Archive School .
  9. 2015: Top 2 - Opaque finances in political foundations. In: Initiative news clearance . Retrieved October 26, 2019 (German).
  10. BVerwGE 106, 177; NJW 1998, 2545.
  11. Sabine am Orde: Foundation funding of the AfD: Millions for a think tank . In: The daily newspaper: taz . January 19, 2018, ISSN  0931-9085 ( [accessed December 29, 2018]).
  12. By Anant Agarwala: Alternative for Germany: Will there soon be millions of euros for the AfD? Retrieved December 29, 2018 .
  13. ^ WORLD: Party-affiliated foundation: Gauland wants Gustav Stresemann Foundation for the AfD . In: THE WORLD . December 19, 2017 ( [accessed December 29, 2018]).
  14. The AfD Foundation has Lübeck roots. Retrieved December 29, 2018 .
  15. ( Memento of the original from December 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  16. Sebastian Bartsch: Political Foundations: Border Crossers between the World of Society and the World . In: Wolf Dieter Eberwein, Karl Kaiser (Hrsg.): Germany's new foreign policy . Volume 4: Institutions and resources (publications by the research institute of the German Society for Foreign Policy, series: International Politics and Economics, Volume 63). Munich 1998, pp. 185–198, here p. 196, quoted from: Matthias Rude: instruments of German power politics. Political foundations in the FRG's foreign policy (first published in: Background News Magazine, Issue 4, 2014, pp. 34–39).
  17. Promotion of civic education work by political parties ( memento of the original from January 31, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Federal Chancellery (Austria) . Accessed January 30, 2018
  18. - ( Memento of the original from January 8, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  19. ^ Grants from the European Parliament to political foundations at European level per year. October 2017 (PDF).