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National Democratic Party of Germany (East Germany)

The National-Democratic Party of Germany (German: National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands, NDPD) was an East German political party that served as a satellite party to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) from 1948 to 1989, representing former members of the Nazi Party, the Wehrmacht and middle classes. It should not be confused with the National Democratic Party of Germany (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD), which was a party in West Germany and continues as a minor non-governmental party in the modern united Germany.

National-Democratic Party of Germany

National-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands
Founded25 May 1948
Dissolved27 March 1990
Merged intoFree Democratic Party
HeadquartersEast Berlin, East Germany
Membership (late 1980s)ca. 110,000[1]
Ideology1948-1989:
Conservatism[2]
National conservatism[3]
Socialism[4]
1989-1990:
Centrism[5]
National liberalism[6]
Political position1989-1990:
Centre[5] to Centre-right[7]
National affiliationDemocratic Bloc (1948–1950)
National Front (1950–1990)
Association of Free Democrats (1990)
Party flag
Flagge der NDPD.svg

HistoryEdit

The NDPD was co-founded by Lothar Bolz, Wilhelm Adam (a former member of the SA) and others. It was intended to reach out to social groups that had been attracted by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) before 1945 (such as military men and some of the middle classes) and provide them with a political outlet, so that they would not be tempted to support the far-right again or turn to the anti-communist Western Allies. German nationalism had been a potent force during the interwar era and millions of Germans had been members of the NSDAP, and Stalin wanted to use them to create a new pro-Soviet and anti-Western strain in German politics.[8] According to top Soviet diplomat Vladimir Semyonov, Stalin even suggested that they could be allowed to continue publishing their own newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter. German Communists and some Soviet officials were initially appalled by Stalin's ideas and weren't enthusiastic in their implementation.[9] Similarly, in West Germany, the neo-nazi Socialist Reich Party, which was co-founded by Otto Ernst Remer and soon became the first party to be banned by Federal Constitutional Court, also had very warm attitude toward Soviet Union and received Soviet support.

 
NDPD house in East Berlin in 1959

In addition to old NSDAP members, former officers and displaced persons were also to be intercepted by the new party, like the West German All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights and the Austrian Federation of Independents. The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) Board, meeting in May 1948, stated that "these politically unclear people" should not vote "cadets" for the bourgeois parties CDU and LDP at the next election,[10] like the West German CDU and FDP.

The NDPD was recognized by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany on 16 August 1948 and later sent 52 delegates to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, as part of the National Front. None of these ever voted against the government on any issue, similarly to other block parties which were effectively puppets of the ruling party, the SED. Nonetheless, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the NDPD became an independent agent in politics, participating in the only free Volkskammer election ever held (on 18 March 1990). NDPD was not included in the electoral cartel of the other liberal-to-be parties in East Germany and entered the race alone. The results were a debacle: with 44,292 votes (0.38%) they received fewer votes than they (nominally) had members. After these results, they soon merged with the West German Free Democrats (FDP).[11]

According to Klaus Schroeder,[12] the NDPD had fewer former Nazis among its ranks than the communist SED had. This was due to the NDPD being much smaller than the SED.

The NDPD programme demanded, among other things, the promotion of the middle class. Bolz was one of the few prominent members who was not a former Nazi and was, in fact, a member of the SED until he founded the new party. He had previously been a member of the Communist Party of Germany until it was suppressed by the Nazis. The NDPD was established by the communist authorities with the aim of claiming support among these ranks of society. The NDPD was organised on democratic centralist grounds and had 110,000 members in the late 1980s.

The party was supposed to represent liberalism, like the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany, and (at least initially) also played with the German national sentiment. However, the NDPD was even more loyal to the SED and was reluctant to criticise the government even during the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.[4] After the revolution, there were attempts by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD)[5] and the right-wing populist The Republicans[13] to win the NDPD as an ally, but this failed.[14]

Later, the NDPD understood itself as a centrist party and distanced itself from communist and nationalist/neo-fascist endeavors. Likewise, they were pro-European and rejected designation as "right-wing party", right-wing national or national conservative. It was also argued to rename the party "New Democratic Party of Germany".[5][15]

On 27 March 1990 the NDPD became part of the Bund Freier Demokraten, a short-lived organization that eventually merged into the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Chairmen of the NDPDEdit

Lothar Bolz 1948–1972
Heinrich Homann 1972–1989
Günter Hartmann 1989–1990
Wolfgang Glaeser 1990
Wolfgang Rauls 1990

Electoral historyEdit

Volkskammer electionsEdit

Volkskammer
Election Votes % Seats +/–
1949 with Democratic Bloc
15 / 330
[a]
1950 with National Front
30 / 400
  15
1954 with National Front
45 / 466
  15
1958 with National Front
45 / 400
 
1963 with National Front
45 / 434
 
1967 with National Front
45 / 434
 
1971 with National Front
45 / 434
 
1976 with National Front
45 / 434
 
1981 with National Front
52 / 500
  7
1986 with National Front
52 / 500
 
1990 44,292 0.4%
2 / 400
  50
  1. ^ The 1,400 elected members of the Third German People's Congress selected the members of the second German People's Council.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dirk Jurich, Staatssozialismus und gesellschaftliche Differenzierung: eine empirische Studie, p.31. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006, ISBN 3825898938
  2. ^ "Parteien der DDR". MDR.
  3. ^ "Zwangsvereinigung zur SED". Lebendiges Museum Online.
  4. ^ a b Richter, Michael (2009). Die friedliche Revolution: Aufbruch zur Demokratie in Sachsen 1989/90. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 1077. ISBN 3647369144.
  5. ^ a b c d Richter, Michael (2009). Die friedliche Revolution: Aufbruch zur Demokratie in Sachsen 1989-90, Band 1. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 1211. ISBN 352536914X.
  6. ^ Günter Bannas; Eckart Lohse; Karl Feldmeyer; Albert Schäffer; Peter Carstens; Johannes Leithäuser; Stephan Löwenstein (1 October 2003). "Volksparteien verlieren Parteivolk". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German).
  7. ^ Güth, Luise (2018-09-24). Die Blockparteien im SED-System der letzten DDR-Jahre: Wahrnehmung und Partizipation am Beispiel des Bezirks Rostock. Tectum Wissenschaftsverlag. p. 262. ISBN 382886984X.
  8. ^ Zubok, Vladislav. A failed empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007, p. 89.
  9. ^ Zubok, Vladislav. A failed empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev. The University of North Carolina Press, 2007, p. 90.
  10. ^ Klaus Schroeder: Der SED-Staat. Partei, Staat und Gesellschaft 1949–1990. 2. Auflage, Propyläen, München 2000 (1998), S. 41/42.
  11. ^ Udo Leuschner. "Die FDP übernimmt zwei "Blockflöten"". Geschichte der FDP (26) (in German). Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  12. ^ Klaus Schroeder: Der SED-Staat. Partei, Staat und Gesellschaft 1949–1990. 2. Auflage, Propyläen: München 2000 (1998), S. 42/43.
  13. ^ "Die Extreme Rechte in Thüringen: Entwicklung der Neonazi-Szene". Heinrich Böll Foundation.
  14. ^ Oskar Niedermayer and Richard Stöss. Parteien und Wähler im Umbruch: Parteiensystem und Wählerverhalten in der ehemaligen DDR und den neuen Bundesländern. p. 129.
  15. ^ Oskar Niedermayer and Richard Stöss. Parteien und Wähler im Umbruch: Parteiensystem und Wählerverhalten in der ehemaligen DDR und den neuen Bundesländern. p. 130.

External linksEdit