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National Front of the German Democratic Republic

  (Redirected from National Front (East Germany))

The National Front of the German Democratic Republic (German: Nationale Front der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik) was an alliance of political parties (Blockpartei) and mass organizations in the German Democratic Republic, controlled by the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which stood in elections to the East German parliament, the Volkskammer ("People's Chamber").

National Front of the German Democratic Republic

Nationale Front der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik
ChairmanErich Correns (1950–1981)
Lothar Kolditz (1981–1990)
Founded30 March 1950
Dissolved20 February 1990
HeadquartersEast Berlin, German Democratic Republic
IdeologyCommunism
Marxism-Leninism
Political positionFar-left

The purpose of the NF was to give the impression that the GDR was a pluralist society governed by a broad-based coalition. In fact, all parties and mass organizations were subservient to the SED, and had to officially accept the SED's leading role as a condition of their existence. In elections, voters only had the option of approving or rejecting a single "united list" of NF candidates. Two of the block parties were formerly independent and two others were established on the instigation of the SED. The SED members on the list were always the majority because many candidates of the mass organizations were also SED members.[1]

In the last weeks prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 1989), some politicians of non-SED parties started to moderately criticize SED dominance. The Front disbanded in February 1990, a month before the first–and as it turned out, only–free elections in the GDR.

Constituent partiesEdit

Party Emblem Flag Foundation Dissolution Seats in the Volkskammer (1986)
Socialist Unity Party
SED
    21 April 1946 16 December 1989 127
Christian Democratic Union
CDU
    26 June 1945 1/2 October 1990 52
Liberal Democratic Party
LDPD
    5 July 1945[2] 11 August 1990 52
Democratic Farmers' Party
DBD
    17 June 1948 15 September 1990 52
National Democratic Party
NDPD
    5 May 1948[3][4] 27 March 1990 52

Constituent mass organizations represented in the People's ChamberEdit

Organization Emblem Flag Foundation Dissolution Assigned representatives in the Volkskammer (1986)
Free German Trade Union Federation
FDGB
    1946 1990 61
Free German Youth
FDJ
    1946 exists today 37
Democratic Women's League of Germany
DFD
    1947 1990 32
Cultural Association of the DDR
KB
    1945 1990 21
Peasants Mutual Aid Association
VdgB
    1945 1990 14

Other organizations associated with the National FrontEdit

The following organizations, which were part of the NF, did not send elected representatives to the Volkskammer but were active in the performance of its activities.

Organization Emblem Foundation Dissolution
Society for German–Soviet Friendship   1949 1992
People's Solidarity   1945 exists today
Sport and Technology Association   1952 1990
German Gymnastics and Sports Federation   1957 1990
Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation   1948 1990
Writers' Association of the GDR   1945 1990
Association of Gardeners, Settlers, and Animal Breeders   1952 1990
Union of Journalists   1945 1990
Chamber of Engineering [de]   1946 1990
Peace Council of the GDR [de]   1949 1990
Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime   1947 banned in East Germany in 1953
Committee of Antifascist Resistance Fighters [de]   1953 1991
League of Lusatian Sorbs   1912
founded before the creation of the GDR
exists today

HistoryEdit

 
Pavilion of the National Front in Leipzig, 1953
 
The Nationale Front election poster from 1950

The National Front was the successor to the Demokratischer Block which had been founded in the Soviet occupation zone. The Front itself was founded on 30 March 1950. It operated through the issuing of a generally consistent proportion of seats (divided between the Front's parties and SED-controlled mass organisations) submitted in the form of a single list of candidates during each election to the People's Chamber. Seats were awarded on the basis of a set quota rather than vote totals.[5] As voters only had the option of approving or rejecting the list in far-from-secret conditions, it "won" with virtually unanimous levels of support.[6]

Although nominally a broad-based coalition of parties, in practice the SED was the only one with any real power. By ensuring that Communists dominated the lists, the SED essentially predetermined the composition of the People's Chamber.

In 1950-1951, the public rejection of the validity of the list by some German politicians resulted in some of them being imprisoned for "rejecting the electoral law of the German Democratic Republic" (as in the case of LDPD leader Günter Stempel). Although the SED had already become a full-fledged Stalinist "party of the new type" by the formation of the GDR, the other parties did not completely bend to the SED's will for a time. By the mid-1950s, however, the more courageous members of the constituent parties had been pushed out, and the parties had all been transformed into loyal partners of the SED. By this time, the SED itself had purged its few independent-minded members as well. The Front now took on a character similar to other groupings in the Eastern Bloc. For the next three decades, the minor parties in the Front had to accept the SED's "leading role" as a condition of their continued existence.

On 1 December 1989, the Front was effectively rendered impotent when the Volkskammer deleted the provision of the Constitution of East Germany that gave the SED a monopoly of power. Four days later, the Christian Democratic Union and Liberal Democratic Party, having thrown out their pro-Communist leaderships, withdrew from the Front. On 16 December the SED, having transformed itself into a democratic socialist party, reformed itself into the Party of Democratic Socialism. On 20 February 1990, an amendment to the constitution removed mention of the Front.[7]

Chairmen of the National FrontEdit

Electoral historyEdit

Volkskammer electionsEdit

Election Votes % Seats +/– Position
1949[a] 7,943,949 66.07%
330 / 330
  330   1st
1950 12,088,745 99.6%
466 / 466
  136   1st
1954 11,828,877 99.46%
466 / 466
    1st
1958 11,689,110 99.87%
466 / 466
    1st
1963 11,533,859 99.25%
434 / 434
  32   1st
1967 11,197,265 99.93%
434 / 434
    1st
1971 11,207,388 99.5%
434 / 434
    1st
1976 11,245,023 98.58%
434 / 434
    1st
1981 12,235,515 99.9%
500 / 500
  66   1st
1986 12,392,094 99.94%
500 / 500
    1st
  1. ^ As Democratic Bloc; 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. ^ Andreas Malchya: Der Ausba des neuen Systems 1949 bis 1961, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, last retrieved 2019-05-01.
  2. ^ "Aufruf der Liberal-Demokratischen Partei Deutschlands an das deutsche Volk vom 5. Juli 1945" (PDF; 1,0 MB) (in German). Retrieved 2017-10-20. Digitalisat des Archivs des Liberalismus
  3. ^ http://www.ddr-wissen.de/wiki/ddr.pl?NDPD
  4. ^ http://www.ddr-lexikon.de/Nationaldemokratische_Partei_Deutschlands
  5. ^ Eugene Register-Guard October 29, 1989. p. 5A.
  6. ^ Kurt Sontheimer & Wilhelm Bleek. The Government and Politics of East Germany. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1975. p. 66.
  7. ^ Peter E. Quint. The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. 1997. p. 37.

External linksEdit