|Preceded by||Progressive People's Party|
|Merged into||German State Party|
|Youth wing||Young Democrats|
|Political position||Centre to centre-left|
|Colors||Black Red Gold (republican colors)|
The German Democratic Party (German: Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) 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 (German: Demokraten).
In 1930, the party changed to the German State Party (German: Deutsche Staatspartei).
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".
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 (i.e. compared to most other parties during that era). 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 (Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1927) 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.
|1919||5,641,825||18.6 (3rd)||New Party|
|May 1924||1,655,129||5.7 (7th)||11|
|December 1924||1,919,829||6.3 (6th)||4|
After 1945, former politicians of the DDP joined mainly the new Free Democratic Party (1945/1948) 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.
Feminist and DDP co-founder Helene Lange
Funeral celebration for Walther Rathenau, the murdered DDP minister of foreign affairs, 1922
One of the political leaders of the party, Hermann Dietrich, 1926
Former DDP minister Bernhard Dernburg in 1931
Allied prisoner Hjalmar Schacht in 1945
Federal President Theodor Heuss in 1953