ⓘ German Party (1947)

                                     

ⓘ German Party (1947)

In 1945 the Lower Saxony National Party Niedersachsische Landespartei, acronym: NLP was founded as a re-creation of the regionalist German-Hanoverian Party or German Party that had been active in the period between the creation of the German Empire in 1871 and the Nazi Partys seizure of power in 1933. Two groups of people initiated the process: one around Ludwig Alpers and Heinrich Hellwege in Stade, the other around Georg Ludewig, Karl Biester, Wolfgang Kwiecinski, and Arthur Menge in Hanover. On May 23, 1946 Heinrich Hellwege, Landrat in Stade, was formally elected to serve as chairman of the NLP. The NLP aimed principally at the establishment of a Lower Saxon state within a federal Germany as well as representing Christian conservatism.

In 1947, a year after the establishment of Lower Saxony as a state, the party reverted to its former name of the German Party. It soon expanded into neighbouring states under the chairmanship of Heinrich Hellwege and gained 27 seats 18.1 per cent of the total in the first Lower Saxon Landtag election in 1947 It sent two delegates to Bonn to serve in the constitutional convention Parlamentarischer Rat of 1948/49. The German Party was among the parties that supported a market economy in the Bizonal Economic Council, thus laying the groundwork for the "bourgeois coalition" in power in Bonn between 1949 and 1956.

                                     

1. Coalition

In the 1949 federal election the party received 4% of the national vote and won 18 seats. As a result, it became a coalition partner of the Christian Democrats CDU, the Christian Social Union CSU and the Free Democrats FDP in the government of Konrad Adenauer. The DP vote fell to 3.3% with 15 seats in the 1953 election, although it retained its place in the governing coalition and again in 1957 when the DP went back up to 17 seats with 3.4% of the vote. A short-lived Free Peoples Party FVP had been formed in 1956 by Franz Blucher, Fritz Neumayer and others who had left the Free Democrats FDP, but the following year the FVP merged into the German Party, possibly contributing to a slight increase in the DP vote in 1957. German Party ministers in these governments were Heinrich Hellwege 1949–1955, Hans-Joachim von Merkatz 1955–1960 and Hans-Christoph Seebohm 1949–1960. In 1955 Hellwege resigned his federal office to become Premier/ Prime Minister of Lower Saxony.

The party opposed a planned economy, land reform and co-determination and sought to represent those who had served in the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. The German Party of the 1950s has been characterized as a "party of indigenous Lower Saxonian middle class", that featured extremely "states rights, monarchist and partially also nationalist volkisch positions".

                                     

2. Decline

The German Party had been instrumental in setting an electoral threshold either five per cent of the national vote or alternatively three constituency seats for all parties contesting a federal election and this led to problems when the CDU refused to allow German Party candidates a free run for a reasonable number of constituency seats as it had done in 1957. With the DP facing elimination from the Bundestag, nine of its 17 parliamentary incumbents left the party to join the CDU. As a result, the German Party quit the government in 1960, a year before the next federal election, and merged with the refugees party All-German Bloc/League of Expellees and Deprived of Rights to form the All-German Party Gesamtdeutsche Partei, GDP.

However, 2.8 per cent of the vote in the 1961 federal election did not win the GDP representation in the national parliament Bundestag. A merger of two parties, which represented opposing voter clienteles indigenous peasants of Lower Saxony and German expellees and refugees from the eastern territories, had turned into a political disaster unforeseen by the national party elites. The DP last entered a state parliament by winning four deputies in the Bremen state election of 1963. A year later, however, the deputies were involved in the founding of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany NPD.

                                     

3. Bibliography

  • Rudolph Holzgraber: Die Deutsche Partei. Partei eines neuen Konservativismus, in: Max Gustav Lange et al., Parteien in der Bundesrepublik. Studien zur Entwicklung der deutschen Parteien bis zur Bundestagswahl 1953. Stuttgart: Ring-Verlag, 1955, pp. 407–449.
  • Karl-Heinz Nassmacher et al.: Parteien im Abstieg. Wiederbegrundung und Niedergang der Bauern- und Burgerparteien in Niedersachsen. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1989, ISBN 3-531-12084-0.
  • Hermann Meyn: Die Deutsche Partei. Entwicklung und Problematik einer national-konservativen Rechtspartei nach 1945. Dusseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1965.
  • Horst W. Schmollinger, Die Deutsche Partei, in: Richard Stoss ed., Parteien-Handbuch. 2nd ed., Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1986, vol. 2, pp. 1025–1111, ISBN 3-531-11838-2.
  • Michael Kle"in: Westdeutscher Protestantismus und politische Parteien. Anti-Parteien-Mentalitat und parteipollitisches Engagement von 1945 bis 1963, Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005, ISBN 3-16-148493-2.
  • Ingo Nathusius: Am rechten Rand der Union. Der Weg der Deutschen Partei bis 1953, phil. Diss., Mainz 1992 no ISBN available.
  • Hermann Meyn: Die Deutsche Partei. Ursachen des Scheitern einer national-konservativen Rechtspartei im Nachkriegsdeutschland, in: Politische Vierteljahresschrift, vol. 6, 1965, pp. 42–57.