German Democratic Party

The German Democratic Party was founded in November 1918 by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party, left-wing members of the National Liberal Party and a new group calling themselves the Democrats.
In 1930, the party changed to the German State Party.


The Democrats were a more left-wing or social liberal party whereas the German People's Party was right-wing liberal. Many of the leading figures in the party had been supporters of Imperial Germany's aim of Weltpolitik and Mitteleuropa.
Along with the Social Democrats and the Centre Party, the Democratic Party was most committed to maintaining a democratic, republican form of government. Its social bases were middle-class entrepreneurs, civil servants, teachers, scientists and craftsmen. It considered itself also a devotedly national party and opposed the Treaty of Versailles, but it emphasized on the other hand the need for international collaboration and the protection of ethnic minorities. The party was the one voted for by most Jews. The DDP was therefore dubbed the "party of Jews and professors".

People and governments

The party's first leader was Protestant parish priest Friedrich Naumann, a popular and influential politician, who ten years earlier had failed with his Nationalsozialer Verein to link progressive intellectuals with the working class. He died early in 1919. Other well-known politicians of the DDP were Hugo Preuß, the main author of the Weimar Constitution; the eminent sociologist Max Weber and his brother Alfred. Physicist Albert Einstein co-signed the Democrats' founding document but was not an active party member. Hjalmar Schacht, president of the Reichsbank and one of the founders of the party, left the party in 1926 and eventually helped Adolf Hitler to power. Women played a relatively active role in the party. Notable female politicians include women's rights activists Helene Lange, Marianne Weber, Gertrud Bäumer and Marie-Elisabeth Lüders.
Nearly all German governments from 1918 to 1931 included ministers from the DDP, such as Walther Rathenau, Eugen Schiffer, Hugo Preuß, Kurt Riezler, Otto Gessler, Max Weber and Erich Koch-Weser. From their 18% share of the first German federal elections under proportional representation in 1919, they dropped, for example, to 4.9% in the 1928 German federal election and to 1.0% in the November 1932 German federal election.
The party merged with the more right-leaning Young German Order to form the German State Party in 1930. With Ludwig Quidde and others, the party had a pacifist wing which left the party in 1930 and founded the Radical Democratic Party, which represented radical democratic and more left-wing policies.
Other prominent figures associated with the party include the philosophers Ernst Cassirer and Ernst Troeltsch, the patron of the arts Harry Graf Kessler, and the pacifist Hellmut von Gerlach.

Election results

After 1945

After 1945, former politicians of the DDP joined mainly the new Free Democratic Party as did the liberals from the German People's Party. First Federal President Theodor Heuss, a journalist and professor of history, had been a German State Party deputy in 1933. In the Soviet occupation zone, the liberal leader was former DDP minister Wilhelm Külz.
Other DDP members went to the Christian Democrats, such as Ernst Lemmer, the former leader of the Young Democrats and Federal Minister in 1956–1965, Ferdinand Friedensburg, interim mayor of Berlin during the 1948 blockade, and Otto Nuschke, leader of the East German CDU.