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Sopade (also SoPaDe or SOPADE ) was the name of the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) from 1933 to spring 1938 in Prague , then until 1940 in exile in Paris during the Nazi era . The name is also used as a collective term for its employees and followers.


The Sopade group emerged from the circle of leading social democrats who, in May 1933, after the Nazi takeover of power in Germany, first went to Saarbrücken and a little later to Prague. From there he had raised the (repeatedly contested) claim to be recognized as the party executive and “trustee” of the entire party. Since 1934 the Sopade developed into an organizational center for those social democratic exiled politicians who refused any cooperation with the KPD . Critics of this line such as Siegfried Aufhäuser and Karl Böchel , who were the main actors of the Revolutionary Socialists in Germany , and Paul Hertz , who maintained contact with left-wing opposition groups such as the Red Shock Troop and Neu Beginnen , were gradually removed from the organization or - like Rudolf Breitscheid , Victor Schiff and Erich Kuttner - ignored. Attempts to change the course of the Sopade by admitting new members - for example Robert Keller - failed to some extent, as by-elections were simply rejected.

Until shortly before the Second World War , the Sopade based its political conception on a collapse of the Nazi regime brought about by internal contradictions or a military coup. She saw allies primarily in bourgeois liberal forces and political Catholicism . Since 1938 the Sopade assumed that war was inevitable and pursued a course closely based on the German policy of the Western powers . During this phase, the remaining leadership group tried to completely break away from Marxism programmatically . After the defeat of France , the Sopade staff fled to Lisbon , where it disbanded in early November 1940; its members mostly emigrated to Great Britain and the USA .

The German Labor delegation in the USA was the political and ideological successor to Sopade . The Sopade group in London operated under the old name until 1945, but set aside the no longer enforceable claim to sole representation for the party as a whole and joined the Union of German Socialist Organizations in Great Britain , which was founded in the spring of 1941, and which initially included left-wing and left-wing socialist organizations Groups played an independent role.

Significant members of the Sopade were Otto Wels , Hans Vogel , Friedrich Stampfer , Siegmund Crummenerl , Erich Ollenhauer , Rudolf Hilferding , Curt Geyer and Fritz Heine .


After the occupation of the trade union houses in the course of the National Socialist Gleichschaltung on May 2, 1933, the party executive decided that some particularly endangered members of the executive committee should immediately evade the possible access of the Nazis. Otto Wels , Paul Hertz , Friedrich Stampfer , Erich Ollenhauer , Siegmund Crummenerl and others were commissioned to set up the Prague foreign center.

The Sopade was the approval of in Berlin remaining party executive to Paul Löbe to Hitler's "peace speech" on May 17, 1933 does not prevent that was interpreted as approval of the SPD to the National Socialist foreign policy. Two weeks later, in mid-May 1933, this led to the break between Berlin and Prague. With the final ban on the SPD on June 22, 1933, there was no longer a split between the SPD at home and abroad.


The new leadership initially set itself four main tasks in exile:

  1. Management of rescued party assets;
  2. Preservation of the organizational remnants of the party;
  3. Rebuilding the movement;
  4. Representation of the social democratic principles.

To this end, the exile leadership built up a network throughout Europe, the center of which was in Prague with a good 25 employees.

Border Secretariats

At first it was decided to set up so-called border secretariats, which had to bring information and political recommendations to the illegally working comrades. For this task, people were usually assigned who, for example, had experience in the party organization as district secretaries or even had special relationships with the responsible area. The locations chosen were mostly - if the respective asylum regulations of the country permitted - municipalities directly bordering Germany, from where one region in Germany was looked after. There were a total of eleven such institutions.

With this system, the exile leadership managed to maintain contact with almost all regions of Germany. There was regular letter contact between the party executive and the border secretariats, with the help of which the secretariats repeatedly received detailed instructions, as well as financial resources and materials for illegal transport to Germany. In addition, numerous training courses and speeches were held where, if possible, the employees of the border secretariats, members of the exile leadership and social democrats operating illegally in Germany could meet.

List of border secretaries

Activities in Germany

At least in the initial phase, there was also direct contact between some board members in Germany. Until 1934 there was still an “illegal Reichsleitung” in Berlin, as well as two camouflaged offices set up in 1933. In addition, some board members repeatedly took courier trips to Germany in order to arrange financial and organizational matters. However, the longer Hitler's rule lasted, the more dangerous this direct contact became, so that it was finally given up in the mid-1930s.

Germany reports and the Prague Manifesto

In collaboration with Rudolf Hilferding the Sopade also gave Germany reports out who informed about a secret system Rapporteur on the situation in Nazi Germany international. The reports appeared from April / May 1934 to December 1936 under the title Germany Report of the Sopade , from January 1937 to April 1940 under the title Germany Reports of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sopade) , on behalf of the exile executive committee of the SPD, edited by Erich Rinner , until March 1939 in Prague, from May 1939 in Paris .

Under pressure from the inner-party opposition groups Neu Beginnen and Revolutionary Socialists in Germany , the Sopade published the Prague Manifesto , written by Rudolf Hilferding , in 1934 , which called for the revolutionary overthrow of the Hitler regime.

After the so-called smashing of the rest of the Czech Republic , the exile leadership had to move to Paris in 1939. After the defeat of France in the following year, they evaded to London until the end of the war. From 1940 there was no more direct resistance activity by the Sopade.


  • Francesco Di Palma: Liberal Socialism in Germany and Italy in Comparison. The example of Sopade and Giustizia e Libertà , Berlin 2010.
  • Rainer Behring: Democratic foreign policy for Germany. The Foreign Policy Concepts of German Social Democrats in Exile 1933–1945. (Contributions to the history of parliamentarism and political parties, vol. 117.) Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1999.
  • Germany reports from Sopade . After the copy in the "Archive of Social Democracy" of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, reissued and indexed by Klaus Behnken , 7 vols., Verlag Petra Nettelbeck, Salzhausen, and Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 1980 (4 editions).
  • Lewis Edinger: Social Democracy and Nationalism. The party executive committee of the SPD in exile from 1933–1945 , Hanover and Frankfurt a. M., 1960 (translation from English, original edition: "German Exile Politics. The Social Democratic Executive in the Nazi Era" Berkley and Los Angeles, 1956)
  • Marlis Buchholz / Bernd Rother : The party executive of the SPD in exile. Protocols of the Sopade 1933–1940. (Archive for Social History, Supplement 15), Bonn 1995.
  • Erich Matthias: Social Democracy and Nation. A contribution to the history of ideas of social democratic emigration in the Prague period of the party executive 1933–1945. Stuttgart 1952.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Dennis Egginger-Gonzalez: The Red Assault Troop. An early left-wing socialist resistance group against National Socialism. Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2018, especially pp. 205 to 259. describe the dispute between left opposition groups against the Sopade majority in the period from 1934 to approx. 1937.
  2. Peter Longerich: “ We didn't know anything about that!” , Munich 2006, p. 29